According to Private Eye, Times media correspondent Patrick Foster was sacked after being earwigged by the BBC’s head of Press during a call in which he made a rather inappropriate comment to Caroline Thomson, the BBC’s chief operating officer. Paul Mylrea, head of press at the Beeb, swiftly raced off a letter of complaint to the Times and Foster has apparently been sacked.
Are we really operating in such a venomous and cut-throat arena these days? Are the new generation of PRs set to completely and unquestioningly inherit the methodology of the Alistair Campbell school of PR – to seek and destroy by any backstabbing methods available? Will we all be thrust into an environment of fear?
This last weekend, we heard how Chris Huhne had been (potentially) undone by his wife. Last week I did a number of media noddys on the great Twitter privacy debate. The same week I delivered an open heart-to-heart on the future code of business in PR at #think11.
As we hurtle into a new communications age, whipped into a new reality by the digital cat o’ nine tails, must we all, in some fashion, cling on to the wreckage, hoping against hope that our professional intuition and emotional intelligence will keep our heads above water?
In the past I suggested that staring daily into a screen does not help create or build meaningful professional relationships in the physical environment. We need to develop more islands of hope where working trust exists. This is a plea for some measure of contemplation in an age of democratic experimentation; necessary when many around us are using industrial tools to smash through wall and the speed of the public agenda is breathtaking.
We must sidestep the vicious paranoia in the world at large, which threatens to destabilise our ability to trust and understand. Relationships we think we are building are all too often so flimsy and false that sooner or later they will be exploited by the ruthless.
Some might argue that Huhne’s ambition would have led him to suspect a tactical leak coming. Pippa Middleton’s trust in those who are suggesting creating a walkabout snap for the paps might very well lead her on to a path she’ll regret. The lesson for today? Think carefully and be even more careful what you wish for…