A Rare Slip by the Message Master

Armchair commentators were awash with indignation after PMQs.

The usually composed and media savvy PM slipped up referring to refugees in the Calais Jungle as a “bunch of migrants.”

That one soundbite aside, Cameron’s a slick operator when it comes to PMQs.

For most people, the gladiatorial atmosphere in the Commons every Wednesday afternoon seems unappealing and outdated.

But you can sense Cameron is in his element. Since Jeremy Corbyn was installed as Leader of the Opposition, Cameron is positively enjoying himself.

Likewise when he’s talking to the media, you can tell he’s comfortable. It’s rare to see him really flounder.

He hasn’t always been perfect. Remember back in 2011 when he told Angela Eagle to “calm down dear”?

And his slip today shows he can still make mistakes. But he is, when it’s all weighed up, good. Quite often he’s excellent.

Cameron’s strength comes from a combination of self-confidence, mental agility and great discipline sticking to a message and hammering it home.

CEOs take note. Making a clever point once is never enough.

Jack Welch, Chief Executive of GE in the 80s and 90s knew that well.

In an interview with Alistair Campbell, he once said:

“You have to talk about vision constantly, basically to the point of gagging. There were times I talked about the company’s direction so many times in one day that I was completely sick of hearing it myself.”

During the May election – with some help from Lynton Crosby - the Tories kept hammering away on the core message of the economy. It’s a message the party is still sticking to.

Even when being questioned over Google’s dodgy tax arrangements, the PM managed to turn the tables. It was Labour’s fault Google paid no tax over the last ten years, and now we’re mopping up the mess. Amazingly, there’s now talk of Corbyn having to publish his tax return!

Too often businesses believe they require a strategy for dealing with ‘the media’. More often than not, what they really need is a clear sense what they stand for and what they really want to say.

Yes, understanding journalists and the news agenda is important.

But, it’s nothing like as important as understanding yourself.