Ed won the media war as well as the Labour Leadership election - cause and effect?

PRmoment commissioned research to analyse the online news coverage of the candidates in the build up to (and just after) the election of the Labour Party leader. As most candidates’ names appeared in stories that also mentioned the others, only a minority of coverage focused on one candidate. When stories focused on one candidate, it is no surprise that the victor, Ed Miliband, got most coverage (25 per cent). However, he scored far less positive coverage (28 per cent) than his brother David (48 per cent).

Supplied by Echo Research

Analysing the coverage of the Milibands, Paul Afshar, account director for public affaris at PR firm Edelman, says: “Another day another Mili-story. Ed Miliband will be boosted by Tuesday’s Sun poll which gave Labour a one point lead over the Conservatives, the first time in three years, yet frustrated, no doubt, by his elder brother’s stage exit from British politics. For the time being.”

Supplied by Echo Research

Afshar believes that the attention paid to the brotherly drama comes as some surprise given the campaign itself failed to ignite or excite much media attention. He explains: “The human interest angle (two bright, competitive brothers vying for power) was the stronger narrative during the campaign, with coverage of policy debates somewhat more muted.“

Looking at coverage of the other candidates, Afshar says that Andy Burnham was the real loser in the media air war: “When compared with the novelty of Diane Abbott or the media establishment’s fascination with their own bête noir, Ed Balls, his campaign crumbled in a sea of indifferent hacks.

“In politics, perception and personality are close siblings, yet this very relationship between the Mili-brothers will be a continuing source of interest – that is until our attention turns singularly, once again, to the long awaited Comprehensive Spending Review.”

Here is a breakdown of the topics mentioned in connection with each candidate:

Ed Miliband: The liaison with the trade unions; his surprise win; his second place to brother David in the opinion polls; and how gay voters backed Ed more than the others.

David Miliband: How he was expected to win throughout; how he wanted to unify Labour; the move away from 'new Labour' values; and how he was a popular choice with Tony Blair and Lord Mandleson.

Ed Balls: Disagreement with coalitions academies policy; why unemployment was central to campaign; how he was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying the Miliband situation was a "soap opera"; and how he publicly criticised Gordon Brown.

Andy Burnham: His admission that Labour would have to make cuts and job losses; involvement in discussions over the future of NHS Direct, his criticisms of the previous Cabinet.

Diane Abbott: She was criticised for sending children to private school and it was also mentioned how she wanted close liaisons with the unions to prevent cuts.

MethodologyPRmoment asked Echo Sonar to analyse online media coverage of the Labour Party leadership race, looking at share of voice and tonality. The research period was 1 September to 27 September 2010.