Writer, communicator and strategist Alastair Campbell is best known for his role in helping the U.K. Labour Party under Tony Blair win three successive general elections and has been described as a ‘genius’ by Tony Blair himself. Throughout his extensive career, he has advised governments, parties, businesses, sports teams and charities in different parts of the world.
We sat down with Alastair to find out some of the secrets to his success.
What are some of the key strategies behind prolific communications leaders, like yourself?
The key strategy is to have one. Too many people confuse strategy with objectives or, more often, with tactics. My mantra is OST – set the objective, develop the strategy, only then go tactical. Every time you communicate, you land a dot. The dots have to join up to communicate and help execute the strategy. Communicators and leaders today must not only develop and execute, but also narrate the strategy. You must never tire of doing so. Just when the communicator is getting tired of communicating the same message, that is the point at which there is the possibility you are just reaching the outer orbit of public consciousness.
Where do you think most people or organisations fail? Why is that?
They tend to fail if the strategy is weak or unclear. Some fail because they take the media too seriously, and allow it to dictate strategy, others because they are fearful of the media and so do not get their heads about the parapet when it is needed. The media, mainstream and social, is there among the many platforms to be used. Some fail because they do not have the requisite teamship throughout the organization. Many fail because communications is seen as an add on not an essential in the modern age. There is also a tendency to give up too early. Good communicators are resilient.
What can communications leaders draw from your latest book, “Winners & How They Succeed”?
I wrote the book to see if there were parallels between successful leaders in politics, business and sport, and also if it is possible to learn across those fields. It is. A political team can learn from seeing how a great sporting team builds its teamship. Business can learn a lot from the way politics, with greater experience of high profile crisis management, does crisis management, good and bad. I came to the rather depressing conclusion that the best of sport does winning best, followed by the best of business, followed by politics.
For those attending your masterclass, what key tools, lessons or strategies will they learn?
I hope that they will hear both the principles which underpin good communications and strategy in the modern age, but also real practical guidance in how to develop strategy, how to execute and narrate it, and how to deal with the pressures of the modern media landscape.
What advice would you give a younger you?
Put that glass down. Put that cigarette out. Go for a run.
To register for Alastair’s unique masterclass, go to www.connectdevelopment.com.au/corporatecommunication