In the last week of the election, Conservatives were most often in the media’s spotlight

This week’s research on the online coverage of the three major political parties shows that although the Lib Dems significantly increased their share of coverage in the four weeks before the election, in the last week media interest waned slightly. The Lib Dems’ share of media coverage was just 18 per cent in the first week of the campaign (compared to Conservatives’ 45 per cent), and this jumped up to 32 per cent in the next two weeks, only to fall to 27 per cent just before the election. Leading up to polling day, Conservatives won the online media war with 39 per cent of coverage, while Labour had 34 per cent.

Political party media trend over the 4 week campaign

Supplied by Echo Sonar

Now that it’s all over, PRmoment asked PR commentators to list their highlights (and lowlights) of 2010‘s campaign:

Fernando Rizo, head of digital media at PR consultancy Ketchum Pleon UK
“It's been very interesting to me that social media hasn't played a bigger role. Much was made about parodies of Cameron and Brown by wags online, but what really moved the poll numbers wasn't online incidents but offline events – the televised debates in particular. Social media isn't as mainstream as it is in the US yet – and I'm a social media guy saying this.”

Ben Abbotts, head of public affairs at Lansons Public Affairs & Regulatory Consulting
"Labour's campaign has been shambolic from start to finish and has stood out for all the wrong reasons. The two big moments of the campaign were ‘bigot gate’ and the historic polls for Clegg after the first debate. With just one day left, Lib Dem support seemed to be waning so what may, ultimately, stand out is a victory for fear (of a hung parliament) over hope (for change)."

Paul Sutton, head of digital at agency Bottle PR
“The highlight of the 2010 election campaign for me has been the exchange of thousands of opinions and thoughts on Twitter in real time as the debates have been taking place live on TV. Watching the debates while simultaneously monitoring Twitter with my smartphone was a fascinating experience and provided strong evidence of both the power of real time communications and the value of Twitter itself. The way tribes of digital immigrants and natives came together to discuss the debates as they happened was truly amazing. It was like watching the TV in my living room on a sofa with hundreds of other people.”

Tom Watson, professor of public relations at Bournemouth University
“'Old' TV has dominated media coverage of the election, as well as providing the platform for debate. Newspapers and radio have bobbed along in its wake with new-fangled social media on a distant shore. As a result, the campaign has been much more presidential.”

Juliet Bernard, owner of agency Bluebear PR
“We were all expecting this to be the Facebook/Twitter election and I have been struck by the impact of the television debate. Another highlight has been the fundamental gaffs each party has made. A glorious one was the crying 14 year old whose mother and grandmother can't live on what they earn as cleaners, used to promote Labour's fight to raise the living wage. Did they not think the fact that they worked as cleaners in Whitehall was a supreme irony? And I say this as a Labour supporter! Silly me. Politicians ... irony?”

Deborah Saw, managing director of agency Citigate Dewe Rogerson
“I was struck by the complete anonymity of any politician apart from the party leaders. The party organisations now believe that the voters elect one man not a team. Thank you Tony Blair for finally killing off cabinet government. The other moment of the campaign apart from ‘bigot gate‘, was the 14 year old telling an audience that her mother and grandmother could not live on the wages they got as cleaners at the Treasury and after 13 years of Labour governments, Gordon Brown having the audacity to trumpet he was for fairness.”

MethodologyPRmoment asked Echo Sonar to analyse all UK online media coverage of the three major UK political parties in the build up to the 2010 general election. The research period was 7 April to 4 May 2010. Metrics included share of voice and volume of coverage of political issues.