Rudd broad appeal

Rudd broad appeal was achieved over a number of years through a number of strategies. Any reasonable person would have to admire the degree of commitment and effort that was made to ensure the level of success gained. There is little doubt that the changes were achieved as a result of incredible ambition. What is less clear is the extent to which matters were dealt with as they became issues - or whether there was a long term plan to cover each of the key areas.

So, what were the changes?

Media Contacts and Profile

When Kevin Rudd was defeated in his further attempt to gain a seat in Parliament, he worked for The Courier Mail (aNews Limited/Rupert Murdoch) media outlet. This role (writing about China) provided him with a number of benefits.One assumes he was paid - probably fairly highly. Secondly, he was in a position to have a much better understanding of how the media and politicians interacted. In particular, he bacame aware of how critical was the media support - and how to best gain that support. His knowledge and use of the media since that time has been outstanding.Thirdly, he became much more aware of (aligned with?) Rupert Murdoch. He realised the importance of other media leaders and began building relationships with the television owners and employees - so that, later on, opportunities such as a weekly spot on Sunrise just "happened" to fall his way.


There are many leaders in various fields that are held back by appearance - especially relating to "fashion". The election loser certainly looks vastly different to the Prime Minister. The obvious items include changes in clothing and hairstyle. Some of the other changes are probably far more important. The body language behaviour is enormously different. In fact, the perception of people who have known Kevin Rudd for a long period of time seems to be that there are still occassional outbursts of the original "quite aggressive" - and the vast majority of time, the "new" Kevin Rudd is on show as an interested listener.

"Common Touch"

There are various components to the "common touch" situation. Rudd broad appeal required a move in perception from Rudd as a remote, nerdy public servant - to a representative of the electorate. The challenge for most politicians is to appeal to the vast majority - while continuing to show some level of intellectual leadership. (Many, either by choice or by necessity, fit into the representative group without the intellectual leadership.) For Rudd, the representative approach meant finding some areas in which his priorities and intelligence fitted with ordinary, every day issues for many. A key solution came in the form of prizes for school and his committment to LOTE (Language other than English) fitted perfectly. It is educational (one of his real priorities), appeals to both English speaking and non-English speaking groups - and gave him an excuse to be in front of large numbers of people "giving" without stretching the budget. A second key was to campaign against aircraft noise - because it annoyed him! It ensured a constant source of annoyance about which to stir up public opinion - and showed his involvement.

The actual "touching" was much more difficult. The shy retiring person who avoided contact - even reluctant to shake hands!- gave way to a seemingly warm and inclusive "contact person". The change in this aspect has been much more gradual - and that has probably helped it to now seem more natural.

Team of Influence

The challenge for many politicians who are very ambitious is to gather sufficient support to gain advancement without alienating too many of the people whose support is needed to gain the top job. The issue of selecting and recruiting the right team is something at which many are very poor. While Kevin Rudd managed an intersting relationship with ALP heavyweight Bill Ludwig, a later article will describe Kevin Rudd's inability to see the obvious in this area.

These are many challenges for those who are new to politics. Setting up something similar to the Rudd broad appeal is important but you should also take the opportunity to grab some other ideas as you progress through the Politics How To and Succeed in Politics sections.

Consider what issues you would face in developing a broad appeal. Would it be similar to the Rudd broad appeal. What are the key areas for initial focus? Is itfashion? knowledge? media contacts? building a customer relationship management system?

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