The London MEP Seb Dance has gone from what might respectfully be called “relative obscurity” to front page news literally overnight. He has achieved the heady heights of going viral and is now a politician we will remember for years to come.
Surprisingly, this has not been achieved through the more traditional route of leadership or policy setting. Neither is it a tabloid-style set up, sex scandal or political blunder.
Instead it has been achieved by a simple approach, timing and the bravery to act. These three elements are a kind of ‘holy trinity’ in the world of communications, often so sought after they become ever-more elusive.
However, not so for Dance. In PR terms, he has achieved in a matter of moments what politicians, celebrities, brands and businesses alike seek with well-honed, expensive and time-consuming communication strategies – namely, cut through and profile in a busy news agenda.
In his own words he had a ‘screw it’ moment, saw his chance and took it, even though he admits his behaviour was not in keeping with the rules of the European Parliament.
But, independently of your view of his sentiment, there are some serious lessons to be learned by this unsophisticated but passionate approach.
- In the four simple words ‘He’s lying to you’ he taps into a strong vein of emotion (and probably accidentally also creates a perfect hashtag). If you’re a Leave or UKIP voter, you might be angry that Farage has been treated this way, but if you’re a Remainer you will be likely to agree wholeheartedly with the statement.
- He was able to capitalise on the timing perfectly, the UK Parliament was voting on the triggering of Article 50 that very evening so his actions had more chance of being newsworthy
- He worked his environment well - noting where the camera would be trained on Farage, he spied an empty seat and plonked himself in it with his newly-formed protest poster
- He included an arrow. We don't really know why, but somehow it adds a bit of light relief - something this serious situation needs.
So, next time you’re planning a PR or communications campaign and looking for that elusive ’moment’ just remember that a pen, a piece of paper and the courage of your convictions can be enough.