What politics can teach us out about a consistent content message


Barnaby Joyce has bowed out from the role of Deputy Prime Minister and no-one is surprised. His affair with former staffer Vicki Campion created reverberations around the nation, with calls to have him sacked for breaching ministerial standards. And after three weeks of relentless media coverage which crudely displayed Mr Joyce’s private life – who could forget the indelicate puns like ‘a bundle of Joyce’ – Australians can finally move on. But there’s a lesson to be learnt here for content makers.

Wind the clock back to late 2017, the former Deputy PM was declared ineligible to sit in Parliament by the High Court and was to face a by-election. Embroiled in the country’s embarrassing dual citizenship saga Barnaby Joyce was the most prominent head on the political chopping block. Under constitutional rules, MPs must be citizens of Australia alone. But the champion of rural Australia came out swinging – a month after he was disqualified he would retake New England. At the news conference, wearing a blue and white chequered shirt matching that of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Joyce was a triumphant picture of confidence. “We’re getting the band back together,” he grinned widely, fists gripped in a victorious gesture.

When Barnaby Joyce was re-elected, Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull was quoted as saying, “Barnaby Joyce has been elected with what appears to be a record in the history of by-elections in Australia.” So how did he survive the dual citizenship challenge and yet fell on his own sword when it came to be apologising for the way he handled his affair?

It’s all in the messaging.

In September last year Barnaby Joyce demanded same-sex marriage campaigners should, “get out of my face”. Mr Joyce stood firmly against same-sex marriage, explaining instead that he was a supporter of the traditional definition of marriage and the moral code that went along with that. His affair has raised question marks about how his actions contradict the ethics he claims he stands for. Strike 1.

And nobody has forgotten that mind-boggling international incident when Barnaby Joyce cracked down on actor Johnny Depp who smuggled two adorable fury intruders into Australia. Pistol and Boo – declared foreign pests – became just as famous as their Hollywood owner. And the catchphrase associated with Barnaby Joyce became, “declare everything.” Yet, Mr Joyce didn’t declare he was having an affair with a staffer in a timely fashion and didn’t take the steps to avoid public perceptions of conflict of interest. Strike 2.

Nor did he declare he was living rent free in an Armidale house owned by a local businessman, which he’d arranged for 6 months. This particularly got under young voter’s skins after Mr Joyce had made several flippant remarks about housing affordability – suggesting people living in capital cities should sell up and move to the country. Strike 3.

In the end it wasn’t Barnaby Joyce’s lack of ability to continue in his role that saw his demise – it was the lack of consistency in his political message.

The same mistakes can be made when creating content for your audience and must be avoided at all costs. Your content needs to have a consistent tone of voice and branding, whether you’re publishing a blog post or creating a podcast series. This applies whether you are creating cat memes or sharing informative content on educational trends. Every interaction with your audience needs to be genuine, sincere and coherent. Marketers refer to ‘touchpoints’ – any encounter where customers and organisations engage or exchange information. Your ability to communicate your company’s quality and culture will go a long way to determining success with your audience. Barnaby Joyce told his constituents, “I say to the people of New England I don’t take anything for granted” – if you take any advice from Mr Joyce, it should be this. Never take your audience and customers for granted.