Media meltdowns never fail to astound me; the Archbishop of Canterbury’s PR faux pas last week is probably one of the biggest slip ups – it’s high on a list of cock ups alongside Pope Benedict XVI’s Islam blunder, Prescott’s Green Pledge, Stephen Byers getting his times-tables wrong, John Selwyn Gummer feeding his daughter a beef burger, Jo Moore’s 9/11 email, John Redwood’s attempt to sing Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, and even Boris Johnson gaffe in “Liverpooland”
It underlines the importance of discussing issues as enormous as this with trusted PR advisers. His ill thought through remarks have now isolated him with his flock and indicate that, like others who sermonise by using the media, that he fails to see that a few words go a long way. In a week when Fabio Capello, the new England Manager, managed not to give away a miss pronounced sound bite to English sport media, the Archbishop was in a league of his own. Capello refused to speak English at any press conferences, even though it was thought he would after the first month in the job. His PR team knew a few English words and phrases, badly executed, could be misinterpreted and taken out of context. Sadly the Archbishop didn’t take notes from Fab’s PR bible. Where was Lambeth Palace media team? Does it exist? Does the Archbishop have any kind of relationship with them, because he clearly didn’t discuss his thoughts on the sensitive issue with them? Someone of such high standing should have the best possible advisors around him, and like many other public figures, his media department at Lambeth Palace seems out of step with their capo. The row continues to rumble on and the media is still pecking his eyes out with gusto. Very little is being said about the blame that his press department should shoulder. Encounters with the media – however brief need careful and considered management. I suspect that in the future the Archbishop might look for a shining light to lead him through the darkness. Clearly he is a lost sheep in search of a media shepherd.