Tag Archives: PR

Gooses and golden eggs at the News of the World

So, Max Clifford has accepted £1m from the News of the World in return for him dropping his legal action against the paper over them intercepting his voicemail messages. That’s illegal phone tapping to you and me – an offence that would see us prosecuted and probably sent to prison quicker than you could say: “press three to delete”.

A profitable relationship: Max Clifford and the News of the World

Clifford and the News of the World’s cosy cover-up (sorry settlement) means that the downmarket tabloid may now avoid having to disclose court-ordered evidence that was likely to reveal the involvement of its ‘journalists’ in illegal information gathering (phone tapping of celebrities and others) by shadowy private investigators.

So far so grubby. It’s par for the course for a so-called newspaper that apparently believes it can buy the silence of people who had their phones hacked. Apart from wondering whether the paper will now hand back the various awards it has won over the years for ‘investigative journalism’, I can’t help wondering about Max Clifford’s motivation in helping the News of the World avoid further embarrassing disclosures.

Over to you Max. “I’m now looking forward to continuing the successful relationship that I experienced with the News of the World for 20 years before my recent problems with them,” said Clifford after the settlement was announced. I’ll bet he is.

Gooses and golden eggs anyone?

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My top ten sporting interview clichés

Sky News reporter Enda Brady has tweeted to say that he’d just heard Jonny Wilkinson use the phrase “going forward” in a radio interview. “Only in rugby!” Enda said.

Jonny, looking like a man ready to go forward.

This got me thinking about my top ten sporting interview clichés. Like Jonny Wilkinson’s above, some of the phrases below you might also have heard in a business or political context. Wherever you’ve heard them, they are all hackneyed clichés that should be avoided, dare I say it, like the plague . . .

1. At the end of the day.
2. As sure as night follows day.
3. We’ll be taking the positives out of the situation.
4. They’ll be disappointed with that.
5. We’ll just take each game as it comes.
6. It’s always been a dream of mine to play/work for [insert team/company].
7. To be fair . . .
8. We haven’t really talked about the competition.
9. He’s a legend.
10. Going forward, I’m confident about my future here.

I’d like to hear your sporting clichés too, so feel free to comment.

Bullygate: More balance from journalists please

Hands up all of you who had heard of the National Bullying Helpline (NBH) before its chief executive hit the airwaves yesterday to claim that Downing Street staff had used the service as a result of alleged bullying at Number Ten? This previously unheard of charity now finds itself at the centre of a media maelstrom over allegations, which if definitively proven, could bring down the prime minister.

When I first heard and saw NBH chief executive Christine Pratt’s comments yesterday, I have to say I was immediately suspicious. Her use of the term “Mandelson” when commenting on the business secretary’s denial of bullying in Gordon Brown’s office, showed a level of barely disguised contempt that no reputable organisation’s spokesperson would ever show, not publicly at least.

National Bullying Helpline chief executive, Christine Pratt, speaking to the BBC on Sunday.

On closer inspection of the NBH’s patrons and supporters, it was clear that the group had links to the current main opposition party. It had also failed to file financial records with the Charities Commission. While this in itself doesn’t disqualify the NBH from making allegations, it should certainly have set alarm bells ringing at the BBC who, given their vast resources, should have done a bit more homework on the organisation before allowing its chief executive to make those allegations live to camera.

Today, the NBH has been roundly criticised by many in the voluntary and charity sector for betraying client confidentiality in naming Downing Street as a source of calls to its service. Again, I would have thought that the media should have raised this issue much more than it did when the story first broke. In fact, it was left to bloggers and tweeters from the left and right of the political spectrum to bring the confidentiality question to the fore. Only then did journalists start raising it.

The woman at the centre of the story, Christine Pratt, has been portrayed, at best, as a PR car crash in slow motion and a maverick looking to boost her HR business and, at worst, as a politically motivated axe grinder who wants to damage Gordon Brown for party political ends. I have no doubt that there is more to come out of this story and it will be interesting to see what the media turns up over the coming few days.

Given the many unanswered questions about the NBH charity and the fact that it was hardly heard of before Sunday, I would expect journalists to dig a little more deeply into its activities and motivations. Hopefully, they will do so with the same degree of alacrity that they have shown in reporting the bullying allegations in the first place. That used to be what good, investigative journalists did and one hopes that there are still a few of those left.

Tiger talks and the world listens

It’s not often that the worlds of golf and PR collide but that’s what certainly happened today with Tiger Woods’ very public apology for adultery and letting his family and friends down. Seasoned Tiger watchers will have been surprised at his candour – not something he’s been noted for in the past – and also at the emotion he showed in delivering his mea culpa address.

Tiger Woods steps up to the mic at his stage managed 'press conference' in Florida.

At a time of personal distress for all concerned chez Woods (interesting that his wife wasn’t in the specially selected audience when he spoke) it seems somewhat unseemly to ask how Woods’ statement will play in PR terms. Make no mistake however that every word and syllable will be dissected in the minutest detail by the world’s media and PR experts.

Straight after his statement, PR personality Max Clifford gave Woods’ performance the thumbs up, dubbing it sincere and well put and predicting that it would play well in the US – the golfer’s key audience. Woods’ invocation of his previously hidden Buddhism surprised many and will be viewed by some as a cynical attempt to give his redemption a theoretical and religious base. It will certainly be used by his advisers as further proof of his contrition and his renewed determination to atone and to become a better person.

PR watchers in the US and on this side of the pond will be looking at the reaction of the public and the media that will ultimately dictate whether ‘Brand Woods’ will be able to recover from recent events. The widely held view is that there is too much at stake for too many people to allow Woods not to re-establish himself as the world’s number one golfer and sports advertising cash machine. That may well be the case but it is not a certainty in my view.

As Tiger heads back for more therapy, I would not be surprised if it was a little while yet before he returns to the fairways. When, and if he does, I think he’ll find it difficult to get back to his former position at the top of the game. I wonder if his head will ever again be right enough to fully concentrate on a game where the smallest distraction can knock you off course. And even if he does return, he will face opponents who are no longer overawed by the image of an all powerful and invincible Tiger.