New research suggests the public want to see a different approach from the usual seasonal extravaganzas from brands, with a greater focus on real stories and a move away from big-budget blockbusters.
PRWeek asked some creative comms experts to gaze into their crystal (snow)balls and predict some of the main trends in Christmas campaigns for the Covid-19 era:
Show that you matter – Mark Borkowski, founder and chief executive, Borkowski PR
“As we inch towards a new normal, we’re prioritising what we need over what we want. This is bad news for those reliant on a collective sense of hysterical consumerist abandon (ie: most brands, most Christmases). Top Christmas PR tips this year: 1) Show that you matter, and 2) Don’t rub it in for those who have struggled. Most brands will understand this basic premise but overegg the nog by adopting a sombre, worthy tone. Don’t expect the equivalent of John Lewis’ Edgar the dragon in a mask, or a social-distanced Sainsbury’s ‘plug boy’. The challenge for PRs out there is to reinvent Christmas as something other than cheesy, sentimental consumerism… but not many will be brave enough to aim that high.”
Read more at: https://www.campaignasia.com/article/swerve-socially-distant-santa-focus-on-joy-pr-pros-on-christmas-2020/463090
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could be affected by the upcoming Presidential election if the Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, according to a tax expert.
Meghan recently confirmed that she would be voting in the 2020 Presidential elections. Although she did not say who she would be voting for, royal fans have assumed she will be supporting the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. The Duchess of Sussex was vocal in her opposition to Donald Trump when he was running for President in 2016 and she claimed he was “misogynistic” and “divisive”.
While members of the Royal Family are not expected to vote in order to remain apolitical, Meghan and Harry’s decision to leave the royal frontline means they no longer represent the Queen.
As a US citizen, Meghan will be able to cast her vote but Harry will not — unlike his wife, he was not born in the States.
Still, the couple’s new lifestyle in the US could be seriously affected if Mr Biden takes the presidency.
Tax expert David Lesperance recently told Express.co.uk that a change in presidency would “absolutely” affect tax laws, and agreed that Meghan and Harry’s current tax situation could therefore change significantly in the event of a Democrat win.
He said that if the Democrats won all three houses, at a minimum what they would promise is they would “increase capital gains tax to ordinary tax relief”.
Mr Lesperance continued: “If the Democrats ‘do a sweep’ there will be a jump in capital gains tax from that 23 percent up to the 47 percent.”
Capital gains tax is paying tax on the profit of the sale of the item — and Meghan and Harry have just bought their first house together in Santa Barbara, California.
They paid a whopping $14.7million (£11million) for a lavish mansion, with a $9.5million (£7million) mortgage.
As the Tax Foundation website explained, Mr Biden’s plan would only affect “filers in the top long-term capital gains bracket”, but he would nearly double capital gains tax for big earners like the Sussexes.
Mr Biden also plans to raise the payroll tax to income over $400,000 (£318,000), which is likely to cover Meghan and Harry.
The Tax Foundation website claims that the former Vice President wants to revert the top individual income tax rate for taxable incomes above $400,000 from 37 percent to 39.6 percent.
Indeed, Meghan and Harry have recently signed on to the same high-profile speaking agency as Barack and Michelle Obama, meaning they are likely to earn more than $400,000 per year.
Some sources have claimed that Harry could already have made more than $750,000 (£596,800) for completing a speech at a JP Morgan event earlier this year.
Mark Borkowski, a PR expert even speculated recently that the pair could earn more than $1million (£795,000) for each occasion.
The Sunday Post
Our new normal will include big changes for the world’s biggest stars as we inch in and out of lockdown, say experts.
Celebrity watchers and public relations professionals burnishing the image of the world’s biggest stars believe the pandemic might be ushering in a new kind of superstar. As countries around the world went into lockdown, and coronavirus changed our daily lives, our adoration shifted from the celebrity elite to the key workers and frontline staff helping to keep us safe.
Our applause was reserved for nurses, doctors and other key workers every Thursday night, and even our glossy magazines featured everyday heroes, with fashion bible Vogue picturing a train driver, supermarket worker and community midwife on its front cover in July.
So, why has the Covid-19 pandemic changed who we admire?
Leading publicist Mark Borkowski, who has written on the history of public relations, believes the shift started years ago with reality television, and later the birth of Generation Z – young people who now expect more from their celebrities, and won’t settle for anything less than authenticity.
He explained: “What we’re beginning to see is a generation who, arguably, can be described as the woke generation. They’re more aware, politically, of what’s happening in the world, especially in terms of climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, trans issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“And this time, this moment of Covid, has exploded that change. We’re beginning to see sacrifice, we’re beginning to see who has true value, who has true purpose, and who is actually contributing.
“Instagram stars heading off to Ibiza to show off their glamorous lifestyle has no value. Value is the people who can keep you alive, so naturally Vogue puts a nurse on the front cover.”
Mark agrees that readers, listeners and viewers now want to see more “real” celebrities, and points to the likes of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, who graced the cover of Vogue’s September issue as one of the title’s “faces of hope”.
He said: “The people we are looking up to, going forward, are real people – the Greta Thunbergs, who have real values and stand for something.
“We’re slap bang in the middle of a very hot culture war. There’s a massive generational shift I don’t think we’ve seen since the 1950s.”
For celebrities who want to remain relevant, being relatable on social media is vital – but it’s tricky to get right, as Ellen DeGeneres proved when she likened quarantine in her Californian mansion to “like being in jail”.
Meghan Markle is set to become one of the most in-demand public speakers in the world after she delivered her first major speech since the royal split.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in Los Angeles, California for several months now after stepping down as senior royals in March.
Since then, Meghan and Prince Harry have occasionally been pictured out and about on various charitable causes.
But some royal analysts have recently said they have yet to start a profitable venture.
Now, PR expert Mark Borkowski has told The Sun Meghan Markle could be set to earn a substantial income as a public speaker, praising her “remarkable delivery”.
Mr Borkowski said the Duchess of Sussex, 38, could earn “many hundreds of thousands of pounds” per speech, helping the royal couple realise their goal of financial independence.
Meghan has spoken out on a range of powerful topics in recent weeks, most recently making an appearance at the virtual Girl Up leadership summit.
Mr Borkowski told the paper that Meghan is “on the message” with important topics such as mental health and the Black Lives Matter movement.
He said: “In the short, immediate term she could be the most sought-after speaker in the world.
“Brands want to learn from high-profile people, so having someone like that in the room, it can boost publicity and draw delegates.”
The expert claimed the Duke and Duchess should think about the number of speeches they make, however, as appearing at too many could lower demand.
Mr Borkowski added: “You choose one to four key moments a year to make a speech, then everyone is hanging on your words.”
According to reports, the Duke and Duchess recently joined the Harry Walker Agency – a public speakers agency claiming to work with some of the most high-profile speakers in the world.
These include Bill and Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matthew McConaughey and others.
Mr Borkowski added: “In the short term, this is a billion dollar brand.”
London (AFP) – Johnny Depp walked into the hallowed halls of London’s High Court three weeks ago seeking to expunge the stain of being branded a “wife beater” by The Sun tabloid.
But the 57-year-old will still have to win in the court of public opinion even if he comes out victorious once the star-studded trial ends Tuesday.
“I think the damage is done,” said London PR agent and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski. “Even if he wins, it’s going to be a Pyrrhic victory.”
Heard has enjoyed a less lucrative career but has potentially even more to lose.
The 34-year-old’s allegations emerged just as the #MeToo movement began exposing a history of sex abuse in film and media industry as a whole.
“She becomes a totem, an icon,” said Borkowski. “She becomes a significant figure in the ongoing culture wars.”
The judge must read through a dozen volumes of evidence and is expected to take some days before delivering his verdict.
But Borkowski said he has already drawn his own conclusion from the case.
“To me it says one thing, both for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard and the whole process: Fame is toxic,” said the legal expert. “Fame is a monster.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have sparked a publishing spree — but the Royal Family have always shifted books
There are not many hardback, non-fiction books that can generate 170 separate newspaper articles in the space of a week. But Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand has done just that.
In case you have been living in Tuvalu, the book is a biography of Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, due to be published on 11 August, which has been serialised across The Times and The Sunday Times. It has prompted another bout of what has become a regular feature of the British press since at least 1870, when the Prince of Wales stepped into the witness box in a divorce case: intense speculation over the private lives of our Royal Family.
According to Scobie, his book is different from the usual tittle-tattle. “For the first time we get to hear what’s been going on in their minds,” he has said. It is a bold claim and one that has fuelled the belief that the Duke and Duchess have given interviews to the authors, even though this has been hotly denied by the authors and the Sussexes themselves.
“That’s crazy. Everyone will raise their eyebrows that there’s been no contribution,” says Mark Borkowski, a public relations expert, who advises celebrities. “Maybe they haven’t sat down and given a formal interview, but there’s been amazing access. It’s what we in PR call ‘putting your own story forward’.”
Royals rarely emerge with dignity from airing their dirty linen in public. But those who do the laundry can end up winners.
Mark Borkowski points out that the real beneficiaries of this summer’s publishing bonanza are unlikely to be Harry and Meghan, but their biographers, Scobie and Durand. “It’s going to make two relatively young journalists megastars, just as Andrew Morton became a megastar. There isn’t the money in publishing that existed in the 90s, but there’s a lot more opportunity to take your content and make money out of it.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle moved to Los Angeles just before the coronavirus lockdown, where they have been working hard to support those affected by the pandemic through video calls and delivering food to the vulnerable.
Their decision to split from the royal family just before the Covid-19 outbreak means that their roles in the public eye are yet to become clear, although one expert believes that Meghan is set to become the ‘most sought-after speaker in the world’ following the success of her speech at the virtual Girl Up leadership summit earlier this month.
At the event, Meghan said: ‘Your generation is often referred to as digital natives, and you understand that our online world has the power to affirm and support as much as it does to harm.
‘We are not meant to be breaking each other down; we are meant to be building each other up.’
The speech has been become one of the most popular talks from the summit, and PR expert Mark Borkowski told The Sun that due to her ‘remarkable delivery’, the Duchess could be on track to becoming one of the most in-demand public speakers.
Meghan Markle’s popularity has been going through the roof ever since the royal exit, despite the immense scrutiny she faces.
After signing on to Harry Walker Agency, the Duchess of Sussex is all set to become one of the most in-demand public speakers all across the world.
Praising her “remarkable delivery”, PR expert Mark Borkowski told The Sun that this gift could help the duchess milk a hefty income as a public speaker.
He said the 38-year-old could earn “many hundreds of thousands of pounds”, which would help the Sussex pair get the financial freedom they had initially desired.
Jeffrey Epstein Investigation: Prince Andrew Doesn’t Have ‘Exit Strategy,’ But Experts’ Advice Could Indicate Future
Prince Andrew has continued to be connected to the ongoing investigation surrounding Jeffrey Epstein due to the friendship the two shared prior to the financier’s death. Now, following the arrest of Epstein’s former associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, some experts are offering advice to the Duke of York as he looks ahead.
Leading up to Maxwell’s next court appearance to face charges on four counts in connection with the trafficking of a minor for criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury, British public relations agent Mark Borkowski is sharing what he believes Queen Elizabeth II’s son needs to do moving forward.
After stating that the member of the British royal family is “inextricably linked with the story,” Borkowski told NBC News that he doesn’t believe there is a proper “exit strategy.” As a result, he indicated that he thinks Andrew should either remain silent about the investigation or invite U.S. authorities to the United Kingdom so that he can explain his relationship with both Epstein and Maxwell.
Their new paparazzi lawsuit shows that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are unafraid to sue their media tormentors. It is also a mark of their freedom of not being “senior royals.”
The invasion of privacy complaint, which was filed in L.A. County Superior Court, claims Archie was photographed in the backyard of the family’s Beverly Hills home, which is in a gated community.
It’s somewhat baffling to British eyes; the Daily Telegraph was far from alone in suggesting the retaliation would be counter-productive.
The media strategist and consultant Mark Borkowski disagrees. He said that while he suspects that the couple are “in a pretty deep bubble of folk around them supporting every last thing they do” with nobody “challenging” them, it was a misunderstanding to judge the success of failure of their strategy by the yardstick of conventional media coverage, especially in the U.K.
“They don’t care about the opinion of the fourth estate. They care about what their community and fans believe, and with the channels they access they are enjoying a lot of positive feedback. If they basically lose the territory of the U.K. and gain a territory like America, well, that is a positive for them.”
“They don’t see their future in the U.K. It doesn’t matter to them if the British media is selling this story of this mad, sad couple. They are not going to win any battles in the U.K. America is their home base now. This is about positioning their brand within the U.S. market.”
Essentially they are saying what Harry said to an imposter pretending to be Greta Thunberg: my wife’s a strong person and she won’t be bullied and silenced, and we will continue to “challenge” the media.
Asked by the fake “Greta” about the pressure of dealing with the media, he said that finding a wife who “was strong enough to be able to stand up for what we believe in together” had scared the tabloids “so much that they’ve now come out incredibly angry, they’ve come out fighting, and all they will try and do now is try and destroy our reputation and try (to) sink us. But what they don’t understand is the battle we are fighting against them is far more than just us.”
Epstein discovered The Beatles – indeed Paul McCartney referred to him as “the fifth Beatle” – and they signed a contract with him in 1961. He also worked with music artists such as Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black, and helped promote musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Cream and Pink Floyd.
The film is described as “an emotional, witty, heartfelt story of the joy of success and the terrifying pressures of unspeakable risk and unfulfilled desire,” in a statement from the producers, Trevor Beattie and Jeremy Chatterton at Trevor Beattie Films, and Kevin Proctor and Perry Trevers at StudioPOW.
Peter Dunne, Mark Borkowski, and Twickenham Studios chairman and co-owner Sunny Vohra and managing partner Jeremy Rainbird will serve as executive producers. It is being produced in association with Er Dong Pictures, who will also be distributing the film in China.
Damian Collins: Spreading harmful content on social media should be an offence like dumping chemicals
Social media companies should be held liable for the spread of harmful disinformation on their platforms, according to a panel of experts, including the former chair of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee. They also warn that the next “fake news” battle will be over coronavirus vaccine take-up.
Mark Borkowski, founder and head of Borkowski PR, said there should be an aggressive and visible effort to call out bad actors and social media companies.
“I think we should go much further in terms of naming and shaming tactics and [calling out] what people are doing. And we need to increase the pressure on the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to go for these people who will take note,” he said.
“We talked about David Icke being pulled down, and Katie Hopkins as well, but it took a long time for that to take place. I’m involved with something at the moment and YouTube are really dragging their heels [to deal with] someone who’s falsifying a lot of information, making up statistics… [they are very] reluctant to intervene.”
Borkowski didn’t mince his words when describing the impact of disinformation spreading on social media.
“It is polluting the web – it is no different from throwing poisonous toxic effluent into the web,” he said. “We’ve got to start looking at those people.”
The Hollywood Reporter
A biopic of music visionary, impresario and iconic Beatles manager Brian Epstein is in the works, with Swedish filmmaker Jonas Akerlund tapped to direct.
Midas Man is being produced by Trevor Beattie and Jeremy Chatterton at Trevor Beattie Films (Attacking the Devil, Nureyev, Spitfire) and Kevin Proctor and Perry Trevers at StudioPOW (Funny Cow, Cordelia). Peter Dunne and Mark Borkowski are executive producers. Twickenham Studios chairman and co-owner Sunny Vohra and managing partner Jeremy Rainbird will also serve as executive producers. Midas Man is being produced in association with Chinese production and talent company Er Dong Pictures, who will also be distributing the film in Greater China.
We’re in the dough! Meghan Markle and Prince Harry volunteer alongside former gang members at LA bakery to prepare food for the vulnerable – after signing ‘£1m-a-speech’ deal with agency used by Obamas
PR expert Mark Borkowski told The Sun the pair will ‘clean up’. They plan to speak on social issues including racial justice, gender equality, the environment and mental health, according to the LA Times.
‘I’m surprised they haven’t done this sooner. It will be one of the great income generators for them. The speaker’s circuit is a natural safe space for them to plunder,’ he added.
PR expert Mark Borkowski claimed Meghan and Harry could earn £1million-plus for each speaking slot they complete in the future.
He told The Sun: “I’m surprised they haven’t done this sooner.
“It will be one of the great income generators for them. They will clean up — they are up there with the Obamas.
“The speaker’s circuit is a natural safe space for them to plunder.
“And they are doing it in America, which is where the money is.”
A critic once said that if a play was any good, it didn’t need PR. This utopian idea has come to fruition a few times over the years, but in the post-Covid landscape a production will be as likely to take off without effective communications as the Miss Saigon chopper without a production team.
Public relations, marketing and social media are a theatre’s lungs, and the industry is going to have to shout louder and more incisively than ever before, or risk drowning.
To survive, theatre must focus on relevance and social impact, embrace new technologies, break with identikit marketing, become the talk of the town, and make promotion part of the art.
Theatre must be unapologetic about its positive role in society. It’s the only art form that puts the audience in the room with huge topical issues and experiences. This powers a unique ability to foster social change that should be ingrained in the creation of a show, never retrofitted on a whim. Social impact has rarely been a more powerful form of communication – look at Captain Tom: a call to aid the NHS turned a pensioner walking laps of his garden into a fairytale of human endeavour.
If content is king, platform is queen. Many point to streaming as a means of attracting new and wider audiences. Lockdown has seen the medium take a necessary step forward, and a streaming release will likely be part of many shows’ life cycles going forward. But theatre is created to be live and a stream doesn’t truly put you ‘in the room’.
Theatre productions native to digital platforms are still treated as a niche sub-genre somewhere between site-specific and multimedia. Creating theatre for new platforms, particularly virtual reality and augmented reality, is essential for building audiences and opening revenue streams. Comedy producers are making the biggest strides here and theatre should look to them for inspiration. The theatre experience also has to extend beyond the auditorium doors and be imbibed in every facet of a production.
It’s also worth considering specific comms practices in more detail. UK theatre marketing and PR pre-Covid was formulaic. It’s harder to stand out when a show’s public image is generated by an identikit, box-ticking formula. Producers should demand a genuine point of difference in the form their promotion takes, as well as the content.
This is particularly true for regional theatre. A huge amount of water has flowed under the bridge since I started out at the Wyvern in Swindon, but PR and marketing for regional theatres has been in stasis, notwithstanding the advent of social and digital media. If there’s a lesson to take from the olden days, it’s this: become the talk of the town, employ mavens (we’d call them influencers now), integrate productions with the local community, tell stories that break out of the arts pages and into news, and revisit the art of the publicity stunt.
The latter we owe to PT Barnum’s masterstroke of making publicity an extension of the art – the art and its ability to attract an audience are one and the same. As the former circus impresario Gerry Cottle once put it: “We either get an audience, or we starve.” The whole of theatre is now in the same boat.
PRINCE Andrew complained that the Jeffrey Epstein saga had become a “constant sore” for himself and his family in the bombshell interview with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis on November 16.
Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski said about the interview: “I have never seen anything so disastrous. For any students of PR that is how not to do it.
“It was like watching a man in quicksand and unfortunately, I don’t think anyone would have thrown him a line to get him out.”
PR experts and political analysts are divided on whether Mr Cummings will have to go. While some believe he has weathered the worst of the controversy, others think the media coverage over next few days could still prove crucial in deciding his future.
Top PR agent Mark Borkowski does not think the police statement, the recent nose dive in the polls, or a revolt by dozens of Tory backbenchers will make any difference to the prime minister or his defiant strategist.
“I’ve taken a bet with some US journalists who are amazed by this story, and I’ve confidently predicted that Cummings isn’t going anywhere,” Mr Borkowski tells The Independent.
“There are those will thick skins, and there are those with very thick skins who can simply ignore all this. Cummings is that person. He doesn’t give a flying f***. He really doesn’t.”
Mr Borkowski adds: “At No 10 he’s deemed necessary and powerful and they just don’t want him to go. They’re looking at the polling and choosing to take a gamble. It’s undoubtedly damaging. Keir Starmer and Labour will be able to hark back to this and say ‘look at this privilege’. But No 10 will wait and move on to the next controversy.
“We’re seeing the Trump effect in communications globally – you make a mistake and you move on without saying sorry. You deliver a better story or happily generate another controversy to move away from the previous controversy.”
The British brand consultant Mark Borkowski, who has long been fascinated by the royals, says that Harry’s commercial future success will be intimately linked to how well he manages his emergence into the post-COVID world.
“I just don’t see him having the skill set to be a producer,” said Borkowski. “What people forget about Harry is that because he was trained to be in the firm, so as a result he is a man who is very tuned into concepts like public duty, service and community. Putting him in California is a bit like putting an animal in a zoo. It is so far out of his natural environment. It would definitely be a mistake for him to become too closely identified with the Hollywood glitz and the glamor. That’s Meghan’s world.
“He is the outdoors guy, the explorer, the guy in your local community doing cup challenges for charity, and that was why the Invictus Games was a huge success; it had all the attributes and brand values he stands for. That’s why he is so strong on Africa and the environment. I can easily see him walking across Antarctica for charity and making a film about it, for example—the adventure for good purpose—and setting up a very compelling narrative about someone overcoming huge hurdles in life to establish who he is in the process.”
Borkowski says the money needed to fund the dreary details of life such as security teams will come if the narrative is right: “Harry can build a business structure around that kind of narrative and get paid big commercial money. It might involve sitting on the board of a Silicon Valley company, for example, leadership courses, inspirational seminars or helping corporations with their own philanthropic goals to give back. He could be a very disruptive force in that world.”
Mark Borkowski, a British publicist and author, addressed the unprecedented situation Biden is campaigning in, which he thinks is made harder given the position Trump has as the incumbent. This combination he said provides a communications challenge “like no other.”
“Joe Biden is running a Presidential campaign the likes of which has never been run before. The ability of the incumbent to grab media attention has been raised to an ultimate level,” Borkowski, whose company has worked with the celebrities such as Prince and Led Zeppelin, told Newsweek.
He added that there are “six months to go and pressure will only rise.”