Another crazy week in Westminster. A hugely controversial economic package filled to the brim with tax cuts by the new Conversative leadership. A huge resistance from within, and outside of the party. And now an unforgettable U-turn reversing the 45p tax rate.

It’s safe to say that the political landscape has never been more unpredictable.

Here at firstlight, as much as we follow events with intrigue and interest – we’ll admit we aren’t politicians. But we are communications professionals. 

And we believe that there are huge lessons to be learnt from Truss and Kwarteng’s communication of their economic package. Beyond politics, how should organisations be communicating big, controversial decisions? How can they do this and come out with the least bruises?

Here’s some lessons we think could, and should, be learnt from this week’s events. 

Never underestimate regional journalists

The Prime Minister’s first mistake was thinking that regional journalists are lighter touch. It’s likely that Liz Truss thought that taking the regional interview approach would mean her questioning would be less intense, less thorough and less visible. But the reality is that her comms team have clearly got the lower regional viewing figures confused with how professional, trained and specialist regional journalists are. 

It’s inevitable that regional journalists will ask on issues that matter to their people, on a local and more individual level. And they’ll be good at it. Ultimately, Truss just didn’t have the answers to the questions posed. The lesson here is, if you’re going on local radio, understand local needs.

Bridge to the audience need

There was a fatal misunderstanding by the PM and her comms team regarding what they think matters to the audience. Truss came equipped with answers on the broader national energy crisis and the economic situation. But she didn’t address people’s personal worries. 

In an economic crisis, people care about their pensions, their mortgages, their savings. But Truss didn’t how her decision impacts and benefits the ordinary person. She had no convincing answers on how her choices would be felt on a day-to-day basis. And that’s where she made her mistake. Good communication is all about bridging to your audience and their needs. And unfortunately, Truss just didn’t bring this to the table.

Be prepared, be prepared, be prepared

Not everyone is born camera ready. And that’s ok. But the bottom line is that if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, at a turbulent economic time, then you need to be kicking the tyres on your interview skills at the very least. And this is a wider lesson – every and any CEO should be thinking about whether they’d be prepared to be interrogated by media, and if they’re really trained enough. 

Liz Truss’ interview skills fell short of the mark – and this translated to a lack of conviction in her decision. When announcing something new, and particularly something controversial, you must be armed with a clear sense of purpose, a clear interview style, and confidence with handling media.