Posts Tagged ‘Telegraph’

William Hague: Myred in Rumour

In the greater scheme of things, does it really matter who William Hague shares a room with? I’m sure his wife, Ffion, would think it does, especially as she’s the one who’s been thrown unceremoniously to the wolves in the name of promoting her husband’s heterosexuality, in the wake of the rumour-mongering hoo-ha over his supposed relationship with special adviser Christopher Myers. I feel for Ffion, caught in a clutches of desperate PR ploy. Promoting a happy marriage is a recipe for disaster if the marriage is not actually happy.

The story floated in the Telegraph last week that a allegations about to be printed by Sunday tabloids would be met with strident legal action potentially alerted the wider audience that to a breaking scandal. This was rash and perhaps too clever. Read the rest of this entry »

Stunt of the Week

It’s been a good week for stunts – the Barefoot Bandit’s a classy effort, but a little over-complicated. More gloriously simple is Island’s approach to promoting Tom Jones’s new album of hymns, Praise and Blame.

Leaving the praise to the critics, who see it as an equivalent to Johnny Cash’s late bid for credibility, Island’s VP, David Sharpe, seems to have taken it upon himself to do the blaming, in an accusatory leaked email that suggests he would rather not have spent millions on a church album and wanted a repeat of Jones’s Sex Bomb stylings.

This was written in May, but leaked only now, in the week of release, just in time for the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and pretty much every other media outlet to get all hot under the collar about it and puff the album’s arrival in spectacular fashion in news and reviews pages.

Stunt of the week, without a doubt. But that’s not unusual, given that it was also the conversation of the week.

How to Keep Your Head in Advertising

The Media Buying world is clearly in need of some PR help to drag it out of the 1980s. I found myself reading, jaw dropping to the table, this Media Week article by MediaCom’s Claudine Collins. It’s as if it had been ghosted by Charlie Brooker, Chris Morris and Helen Fielding – it reads like an unholy alliance between Bridget Jones’s Diary and Nathan Barley.

Snippets like “Later, the Telegraph’s party goes to dinner at the Goring Hotel in Victoria, where I sit next to Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6 – it is a real-life James Bond moment” and “Back in the gym for 5.45am where my personal trainer Gary nearly kills me – but luckily he is gorgeous to look at so I don’t mind” really set the tone, if a tone can be found in amongst the slew of names of the successful, rich and famous. Read the rest of this entry »

Laws of Attrition

New media commentators have decreed that the age of the personal PR minder is dead. “Long live Twitter” is their clarion call. It’s the new communication tool for folk in the public eye. Openness and willingness to feed the twitter cycle offers an opportunity to unveil the ‘real you’; to be judged as well as to engage in an open, public conversation.

Who needs a flak when you talk directly to the people? The evidence that stellar Twitter personalities – in the shape of Ashton Kutcher, Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry and Sarah Brown – have benefited from this thesis is proof that they are shining examples of successful DIY #PR 3.0. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity and the Dying Art of Debate

I took part in a debate at the University of Westminster last night alongside that wily old fox Max Clifford (the second time I’ve shared a stage with him – it always makes for an interesting experience) and others, discussing Celebrity Brands: Desire, Dollars and Danger?

It was a rather curious and disappointing night; most of the questions from the floor were from people seeking insight via anecdote and I found myself missing the grillings I got from wannabe journalists 15 years ago about the nature of PR. The media has changed, without doubt – celebrity has come to be a sop they use to send us to sleep easily at night, a sort of weak-horlicks fairytale with all the calories and morals removed. Read the rest of this entry »

Jedward and the X Factor

Jedward may finally be gone from the X Factor, but that’s no reason to expect that they have automatically dipped straight off the fame radar. For all of you wondering why and how they lasted so long on the X Factor, I contributed to a couple of articles in the Independent and the Telegraph looking into the phenomenon, the manipulation and the plundering of the Jedward brand.

To read the Independent article, click here. To read the Telegraph article, click here.

Snapshots of the Past

A bumper day for picture stories in the Telegraph. First up, there’s the photo op for the launch of the Guinness Book of Records, which shows that the Barnum model of photo opportunity has never gone away – this picture of He Pingping, the Mongolian man, who, at 2ft 4in, is the world’s shortest man being a direct reference to the one staged by PT Barnum, below.

...and the Barnum original

I believe that Barnum would revel in the way that the Guinness Book of Records has legitismised his interest in the biggest, smallest, oldest and oddest – and he’d surely revel even more in the fact that the sort of picture opportunities he was creating with General Tom Thumb 140 years ago are still as eagerly lapped up (and copied) by news editors today as they were then.

And then there was the image of British Catholics venerating the remains of ‘the greatest saint of modern times’, the Carmelite nun who died in 1897, at Portsmouth Cathedral.

It is rather astounding that such mediaeval-seeming devotional practice still takes place in this modern era, replete as it is with the Jordan vs. Pete parables and the secular Sleb iconography of Heat and its peers. More astounding still is the fact that people are knowingly coming to look at a coffin containing only portions of the saint’s thigh and foot bones, her body having been divided into three after her death. Normally nowadays that’s the sort of behaviour that lurid tabloid headlines are built on…

Lord Mandelson, Louis Vuitton and Bags of PR Hell

The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Walker asked me for my opinion, in today’s paper, on Bernard Arnault’s response to Lord Mandelson’s insistence that the Louis Vuitton bag he was photographed with last week wasn’t his…

“Bernard Arnault responded with a polite “merci, mais non” when I asked him if he would care to comment on why Lord Mandelson should have felt the need to clarify that the Louis Vuitton bag that he was pictured beside at Gatwick airport last week did not in fact belong to him.

“Mark Borkowski, the ubiquitous brand manager, tells me it was probably a wise call on the part of the normally chatty boss of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. ‘The sooner the case was closed on that one the better for all concerned,’ he says. ‘For Mandelson and for LVMH, it was always going to be a match made in PR hell.’”

To read the article in situ, click here.

PR Gaffes in Fashion Retailing

The Daily Telegraph asked for my opinion yesterday on the ruling against Abercrombie & Fitch, who were found to have “wrongfully dismissed and unlawfully harassed” Riam Dean, a 22-year-old woman with a prosthetic limb who was shuffled off the shop floor last year.

“Mark Borkowski, a leading brand and celebrity publicist, said: ‘This is probably one of the biggest gaffes by a fashion retailer – it is a disgrace and a PR nightmare.

‘When people are confronted daily with pictures of heroic soldiers returning from Afghanistan with missing limbs, people will look at this case and think that Abercrombie & Fitch is incredibly shallow.

‘It is potentially very damaging to them and they will need to work hard to restore some depth to their brand if they are to maintain their position in today’s competitive environment.’”

To read the full article, click here.

The Ongoing Expenses Scandal and What to do About it

Day fifteen of the Telegraph’s ongoing revelations about MP’s expenses rumbles into view with no end in sight and I’ve just recorded a piece for the Trevor Macdonald show on the affair – another in a long list of opinions given to the media. It may seem easy for a PR pundit to hand out opinion from on high, but this is fundamentally a PR issue – it has been created by a poor understanding of PR on the part of MPs and will be solved by good, transparent PR. The dispiriting thing is that there are MPs out there who believe that this is a recoverable situation without help – MPs who believe that this will all be over by Christmas, as it were.

There are a couple of things that need doing before trust can be restored. First, politicians should be paid a wage that befits their job, as they are in Germany. It needs to be a wage that makes the need for fiddling expenses redundant, that makes the need for expenses redundant; a wage that they can then spend how they see fit on running their homes. If they have moats to clear – and there will most likely always be rich men in Parliament who need to clear their moats – then the cost must come from their own pockets.

Secondly, the rules must be changed. There are most likely a number of politicians out there who have let their accountants loose on their expenses whilst they pursue a comfortable life in politics, often with little understanding of anything beyond a blinkered vision of their next step up the greasy rungs of Parliament.

There are a lot of MPs out there who have no sense of the real world, who are so wrapped up in stepping from Oxbridge to politics without ever setting foot in reality that they cannot see or understand why there is so much anger directed at them by the electorate.

There is a lot to be said for age and wisdom in parliament – for politicians with a sense of the world, who have had time to live and make mistakes in business and learned from them when the integrity of politics and the country is not at stake. Perhaps we should not allow people to stand as politicians until they are 35 or older?

You might argue that this would not allow in the next William Pitt the Younger – who, it should be remembered, campaigned vigorously against the rotten boroughs that allowed him to enter Parliament, was seen as the honest candidate by the electorate and yet only clung on to power thanks to the patronage of the King. Much has changed since Pitt’s day. Perhaps, then, an aptitude test should be set up, testing potential MPs on how well they understand the world and their place in it?

Britain needs MPs who are savvy, who understand PR – and not in the Machiavellian sense. We need MPs who are able to look clearly at the world and at their place in it, who are able to communicate transparently and effectively with voters through Twitter and the blogosphere, who are willing to be completely accountable for their failures and mistakes and who remember that they are in a position of power by the grace of the people who voted for them and that if they betray that trust, they must pay the price and stand aside for someone else.

Borkowski