Tag Archives: PR

Told you so…

So there we have it – an answer to my previous post, what was wrong with the press office is that it’s head honcho was resigning… It’s been covered endlessly elsewhere, and to be honest the whole phone-tap marlarky isn’t a topic that I’m all that interested in, so I’m not going to give it any more air here other than to say that the ex-hack in me can’t help but chuckle when the likes of John Prescott, himself of a profession steeped in corruption, lies and thievery, can even begin to keep a straight face saying he thought that hacks might have had ‘higher standards’.

Higher standards? He’s lucky most hacks have any standards at all these days!

Conservative Press Machine in Crisis?

It’s not been a good week for the Conservatives in the press: they’re being slammed over interest rates, job cuts, still-rioting students, and now Baroness Warsi has put her foot in it with a speech which for the most part I think we can agree with, that there is a level of casual discrimination in the UK where all of those who follow Islam as a faith are either moderate and quiet, or extremists with suicide vests.

It could have been dealt with as a quiet matter, a general rebuttal that the PM/ Cabinet/Government agree broadly that all forms of discrimination should be tackled openly – but no. Furious ex-ministers led by the swivel-eyed-past piled into studios up and down the country, a messy operations note came out from No.10 that the speech hadn’t been ‘approved’ – possibly the worst thing that they could have said about it.

So we all looked at this, and we scratched our heads and wondered – just what the hell is going on in the Downing St. press office these days? How did they drop such a clanger in a week of on-going bad news…

This week should have been easy: Miliband is the most ineffective party leader since Iain Duncan Smith, the opposition are in disarray flip flopping, the Shadow Chancellor can’t add up, and today we find out that he’s allegedly (according to the Daily Mail) a cuckold. On top of all of that the golden goose of bad labour press is back: Blair is all over the news dragging the expensive and potentially illegal war back into the public consciousness all over again.

One can only assume that there is something bubbling under the surface about to break miserably all over the Government.

Communications Control

Dear lord, the past few days have been interesting: the Liberal Democrats are really showing how far in opposition they really are – they’ve got so little control of their communications it’s hard not to feel sorry for them – they’re a mess. No clear line, briefing against each other secretly (but in a horribly obvious way) and just generally having the communications strategy of a bunch of rabid puppies.

They desperately need to get a grip: for the first time in their history they’re in power – and it’s all about to go awfully wrong if they don’t stop a few movers from acting like they’re running a university debating society, it’s shabby and unbecoming of a party in power.

This goes for the Conservatives as well – better press handling will result in slicker relations with the media; not spin, but at least making sure people are saying the same things at the same time: what will kill the coalition dead is the press, if they scent descent or a mixed message it’ll be leaped on every single time. I’m amazed with all of the support they have from really influential lobbyists, communications specialists, old-style PRs and digital and social media people that it’s still such a mess.

Some have blamed it on the state of the economy, the mess they’re having to sort out – the rush of the coalition talks, but they’re all just making excuses. A good communications plan and superb people to carry it out will work whatever the situation, so please. Stop making excuses and start exercising some communications discipline.

The Mic is Always On

It’s one of the first things we tell people in media training whenever we’re asked to do it – it doesn’t matter how well you know the hack, it doesn’t matter how quiet you think you can do it, it doesn’t matter how flippant your remark might be, the open mic of the news media is guaranteed to pick it up.

So to see such a huge cock up today, from a seasoned political operator, clinging to power  desperate to stop his party not just losing power, but losing the right to form the official opposition was stunning. To call a voter you’ve just patted on the back a bigot for asking questions (which incidentally weren’t in my opinion bigoted at all – just concerned) is naive beyond belief.

Of course, behind a closed fader or a slammed phone or door, we’ve all said what’s on our minds – “tosser” is my favourite insult to hurl – but in the middle of an election, to someone that you’d probably just won around to your side again, an easy win – jesus. Brown was right, it was a disaster!

In between the chuckles and gawping at the slow-motion car crash that unfolded all afternoon, Brown made his appearance in a radio studio and looked like a broken man, head practically on the table, perhaps the funniest part of that interview wasn’t shown much after the initial live encounter: when challenged on losing the election, he chucked his head and arms back and rolled his eyes so hard he looked like he might damage himself. It was a tragic display from a broken man, and a broken party – there was no defence from Mandelson, Prescott or any of the others in the cabal: then the squatting in the poor old dear’s house until an awkward apology was no doubt extracted… it was just a car crash.

As a communications specialist I think this will be an important nail in the coffin of the Labour campaign: I don’t think it’s the stake through the heart that certain commentators are predicting it’s going to be – but I do think that Brown’s now a wounded animal, and that’ll be a dangerous game for both Cameron and Clegg to play with. CCHQ have been remarkably restrained all day, LDHQ slightly less so – but it shouldn’t be forgotten that wounded animal’s lash out – sometimes fatally – so it’ll be interesting to see how they both handle him.