Posts Tagged ‘fail’

Harry: Prince of Propaganda

Prince Harry is the ultimate recruitment poster boy for the Call of Duty generation. As a soldier Prince, he is in his element: today’s media is plastered with pictures of him in subtle battle dress, poses framed by an apache helicopter gunship, underlining his sense of purpose and presenting him in hero-like dimensions.

From Las Vegas to Camp Bastion, Harry’s headlines – both good and bad – build a modern heroic monomyth around him. He may be a professional soldier – but am I alone in preferring to read about his rock ‘n’ roll hedonism rather than this latest “I killed in Afghanistan” meme?

Hadley Freeman made an apt caricature of Harry’s media appearance in the Guardian, comparing them to “an especially sloaney university’s production of Top Gun (it’s the sunglasses)” and bringing attention to the media “omerta” that surrounds him.

Despite spending a considerable amount of money keeping Harry physically safe, the investment seems to be missing when protecting his image during his end-of-tour media commitment. Arguably, his complacent PR minders dropped their guard. However, some of these soundbites are already having negative resonance in the region he works hard to improve.

Harry uses the language of the squaddie in his interviews, comparing his experience to that of a computer game. Such comments have angered senior officials who have said it is disrespectful to those who died alongside Captain Wales.

Criticising the media was another own-goal – by now the prince should know better and should rise above the clichéd clamour. Harry is popular with the crowd, so why does he allow his cynicism towards the Third Estate create future tensions?

Harry’s comments have been a media failing for the military, diplomacy and his supporters here in the UK. As Rob Crilly pointed out in his recent Telegraph article, the fight against insurgents will be “as much about PR salvoes as it is about rockets and bullets”. Flippant comments have handed extremists a propaganda prize that will have a far more enduring sting than the inconvenience of the media junket.

The Pakistan Flood PR Failure

Given the scale of the flood disaster in Pakistan, it is distressing to see that the British media seems to be missing any sense of urgency about it. Any coverage seems to be being abrogated in favour of the urgent news that Wayne Rooney may have slept with prostitutes.

I am beginning to wonder if there is any racism involved here, ingrained in our reaction. The country is in turmoil, but we are busy with shaming and hounding our sportsmen. America is busy too – attempting to stave off a nut with a church to his name who wants to burn the Koran on September 11th. But the PR pressure and energy the American government is expending on saying that this bigot is wrong could surely be better spent helping the Pakistani people. We are talking about a disaster on a magnitude as great if not greater than Haiti. And yet nothing seems to be happening. Read the rest of this entry »

England’s World Cup: Hype or Hope?

Forty-eight hours can feel like an eternity when your brand is in the centrifugal force in the maelstrom of public ridicule. In poor old Robert Green’s case, the error he committed by fumbling a save and letting in a dismal equalising goal in the World Cup match against the USA will plague him for the rest of his life.

Still, at least Green is English, where all he faces is ridicule and crushing, sweaty disappointment. In 1994, Columbian footballer Andrés Escobar was murdered after scoring an own goal in the World Cup. If England fail to progress, Green is likely to be vilified by the myopic soccer tribe in full rhetorical flow and be verbally lumped in with paedophiles, murderers and rapists in bitter conversations down the pub.

This despite the fact that, post-match, Green fronted up his error and bravely faced the media, admitting to the gaffe whilst attempting to take control of the narrative. In PR terms, it was a flawless effort in damage limitation. But, reading the papers today, the media continue to sadistically throw salt onto his open wound. We need a scapegoat and Green is the man of the hour. Read the rest of this entry »

Cornwall: In Need of a PR Polish

There was no blog yesterday because I was in the heart of Cornwall, the jewel in Britain’s tourism crown, talking PR with a group of Cornish business people in Rick Stein’s fabulous Fish and Chip shop in Falmouth. The last time I spent this much time in a chippy was with an elephant and the Beverley Sisters.

One thing came to light, however; no matter how much business development and PR front one puts on something, that thing is only as good as the people who work for it. It’s as true of Cornwall as it is of any other sort of brand. If the staff in the many sections of the tourism industry don’t give a damn, you may as well try herding fish uphill as get a good reputation for the county as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »