• John Terry – A Bridge Too Far for England Captain “Honest John”?

    Feb 5 • Celebrity, Sponsorship, Sport • 6215 Views

    Will it all end in tears again for Captain Terry

    At some time this afternoon, “Don” Fabio Capello is understood to be making an announcement regarding his captain, John Terry, as he looks to prepare a promising England side for this year’s World Cup in South Africa.

    Whether he sticks to this media-imposed timetable is another thing, Capello is clearly his own man. However, what is unescapable is that he will have to have a will of cast-iron if he is to ignore the media and make his decision based purely on “footballing terms”.

    For anyone who isn’t aware of the rumours sweeping Fleet Street and the terraces of football grounds around the country, Terry is said to have had a four-month affair with a Miss Vanessa Perroncel, which began in September and also allegedly paid for her to have an abortion at a private clinic in October.

    Perroncel, a French lingerie model and former nightclub hostess, is considering selling the story of her affair with Terry and has received offers in excess of £250,000. She has been thrust under the spotlight after details of her affair with Terry emerged when an injunction blocking reporting of the matter was revoked on Friday.

    In today’s times, “Sports Star in Affair Shock” is hardly news. So, why this one? There’s a number of issues here. One – the affair, Terry has been happily married to childhood sweetheart Toni Poole for some time now, even gladly picking up a “Father of the Year” award recently.

    Two – Terry is a no-nonsense player, he inspires those around him and in turn the fans by rugged example, he’s a man’s man, no Brylcream endorsements here. Three – the affair is not only with a former lingerie model (ooh and she’s foreign and all) but the ex-girlfriend of his England and ex-Chelsea teammate, Wayne Bridge.

    Bridge and Perroncel in happier times

    Oh, and she is the mother of Bridge’s baby. Oh, and Bridge left Chelsea a couple of years ago despite showing good form for club and country.

    Terry’s problem is that he played the role of “honest John” too hard. He’s just a guy who likes to play football guv’nor etc etc. However, beneath this veneer are further allegations of secret payments for behind the scenes tours of Chelsea FC, bids invited for commercial endorsements playing upon his England captaincy and who knows what else? No wonder he was so keen to try and secure that injunction.

    Capello’s problem is that Terry is a fine player and has, until now, been a fine captain of club and country, leading both in their resurgence. However, a captain, by definition, needs the respect of the changing room and the fans. One would suspect that what respect he did have is now hanging by a thread.

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    Terry needs to make a statement. Capello needs to listen. It will be interesting to see what football grounds around the country do this weekend and Capello may even pay heed to the chanting. Are the fans cheering for Bridge? Do they feel his pain or are they more concerned with mocking Terry. Is it both? Can Terry be a great leader of men if he shows no greatness himself? Is he too good to drop entirely?

    Maybe he should “rest” Terry for a game and give someone else the captaincy, hoping that he excels and that he is then un-droppable. Then blend Terry back in again. Whatever happens, Terry has caused this problem for himself. Like Tiger Woods before him he has been exposed as the antithesis of what he portrays. It is that portrayal which has, along with his undoubted talent, elevated him to where he is today. It is that portrayal which may ultimately be his downfall.

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  • PR “Bill of Rights” – An Inconvenient Truth

    Jan 29 • Uncategorized • 2039 Views

    Today I thought I’d engage in some navel-gazing and turn the spotlight on us PR folk. Why? Well, essentially, some of the UK’s PR big-wigs have got together and pulled together a manifesto of sorts aimed at “cutting PR spam”.

    This sounds good on paper as there is far too much lazy work going on out there and the more of us who actually seek to build relationships with journalists as opposed to our bcc email field the better as far as I’m concerned.

    The campaign, named An Inconvenient PR Truth, includes a ‘bill of rights’ – a list of demands on behalf of journalists and bloggers about how they want to be approached by the PR industry.

    The first, ‘permission required’ asks that press releases are only sent to recipients who have given express or implied permission. Other rights include that press releases are sent in a timely manner, that PROs read the targeted publications first and that after a recipient receives a press release, a PRO should not follow it with a call.

    All of this is great to hear – whether you think the authors are just trying to give themselves a nice little pat on the back for their sterling work and gain a few clients and journalist contacts from this or not is a different matter!

    However, decent PRs have been doing this for ages. This isn’t anything new, so, is this really news? The problem is that bad practice is rife, with far too many agencies lazily utlising software and databases and forcing junior staff into PR “Sweat Shops” where they have little grasp of the story, the journalists’ requirements, the clients’ briefs and goals or the whole picture.

    Account Directors hand down decrees to Account Managers, Account Managers frantically try and juggle the time they have got, farming menial tasks out to the juniors who then have to find a way to get the story into as many places as possible. Given that brief and the software available – shooting fish in a barrel is always tempting. Send a release to 100 journos and hope it sticks – that way they’ll justify their role to the managers, the managers utilise their staff and the directors report back coverage – however relevant.

    However, as the dust settles, media relationships are broken (sometimes forever, sometimes without having even started) and staff are demoralised, having performed menial tasks with zero use of the creative talent that hopefully got them in the door in the first place. These juniors (if they stay) then rise through the agency/their career and repeat this bad practice all over again.

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    Agencies should seek to empower all staff, however junior, to create relationships with journalists. It is a two-way street, even if some seem to hate PRs with a vengeance and delight in intimidating junior PRs and those of a more nervous disposition. Agencies should also seek input and buy-in from their more junior staff into each campaign, rather than just sending the poor souls over the top with a scatter gun.

    If the goal is understood (and that goal isn’t “send 100 and see if they stick”) the media is understood and the approach is right, this journalist v PR battle can cease and relationships can flourish. This is why I love what I do. I call the journalists, I email the journalists and I read their articles. I (hopefully) thus have a far stronger grasp of what they want and the results will follow. If you do use a larger agency, do ask them about their tactics as much as their master strategy and confirm who it is exactly who is going into bat for you every day.

    You may be suprised to find it isn’t the person you met at the creds presentation!

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  • Simon Cowell, Haiti and the Power of PR

    Jan 22 • Celebrity, Charity, Sponsorship • 3730 Views

    This morning I accompanied a client of mine, Ali Baylav, MD of Cavendish Lettings www.cavendishlettings.com to a media opportunity with the BBC. No great surprise there; “PR consultant and client in front of journalist and mass audience shock” will hopefully not surprise many. Par for the course really if you know your onions.

    The core reason for us being there, whether the cynical reader believes it or not, was to promote Cavendish Lettings’ charity prize draw on behalf of Nottingham YMCA. Essentially offering a luxury break for two to Marbella http://www.nottsymca.org/cavendish with the proceeds going to charity.

    The trade-off for us was helping the BBC by reading the morning papers, thus giving them a fresh voice and a studio guest for the presenter to chat to, whilst breaking the programme up and injecting some colour. However, it is also undeniable that we gained positive PR for Cavendish Lettings. Which got me wondering, what does the public see when we crank this example up a couple of notches to say, Simon Cowell.

    Simon Cowell

    What motivates Simon Cowell's proposed charity single?

    Here is a man who effectively sells records on the back of human interest stories, making millions in the process. Does the public see that or even care? More interestingly, what do they make of his pledge to produce a charity single to aid the poor victims of the Haiti disaster? What do we think of the celeb circus lining up to join him? Do we trust him? Do we trust them? Do they really care or is it just another vehicle to ultimately sell themselves and in the worst possible taste? Are they taking advantage of media appetite, public grief and a horrific disaster, or is there a trade-off here?

    Just a thought. I’d welcome yours. Here’s my opinion.

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    The media offers the ultimate tool to raise awareness of campaigns – be they cynical or philanthropic. PR consultants and their clients have the skills, contacts and ability to utilise this tool. Whether that be for pure commercial gain, charitable causes or a combination of both, I’d argue that the question should always be “which came first?” The PR campaign or the urge to help? If it is the latter, I can rest easy. I’m not so sure that is always the case for everyone.

    What say you?

    Here are some links I have found, in no particular order, for those wishing to donate to the Haiti disaster. That is my trade-off for using this as an example.



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  • Tiger Woods – media reaction par for the course

    Dec 14 • Celebrity, Sport • 1187 Views

    Last week I wrote about how I thought Tiger would ride through this storm. I thought that the big sponsors would stick by him. Granted, some would fall by the wayside but others, surely, would stick by him.

    Tiger Woods is ducking the issue

    Tiger Woods is ducking the issue and needs to engage the media

    Tiger’s biggest mistake/s are his indiscretions with what now seems to be a string of women. He has jeapordised his relationship with his wife and family and now his fan and sponsors. As I advised last week, Tiger’s second mistake after the indiscretions was to keep quiet and hope it would all blow over. That was never going to happen. The media have jumped all over this and, for all we know, made it even worse than it actually is.

    Could this have been managed better? Undoubtedly. One would have thought Tiger would have had a conclave of media figures who he could trust to go to with HIS story. Surely his PR team could have been making calls to uncover the extent of any forthcoming revelations? He could and should have come out before he was dragged out of his hole by the pack of terriers, blinking in the glare of an unwanted media spotlight.

    I’m not suggesting he could whitewash the situation or spin his way out of it. That isn’t how it works. What he could have at least attempted to do though was to beat the media to his own story. To trump each sordid revelation by getting there first.

    The cash and appetite for stories that are already confessed is far less than that on offer for secrets that fuel an already ravenous fire. He couldn’t have stopped this storm but he could have at least seen where the lightning bolt would strike next.

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  • Is Gillette out of the Woods?

    Dec 4 • Celebrity, Sponsorship, Sport • 2562 Views

    Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the shaving water….

    Close shave for Gillette's PR team

    Those poor guys at Gillette. You sign up three of the world’s most outstanding sportsmen in response to replacing Golden Balls Beckham. You feel pretty confident. They are genuinely the outstanding players of their generation, they are all charming, clean-cut chaps with a loyal following and their own successful brands. It can only get better for us all guys – break out the balm, it’s going to be a smooth ride.

    And then the hurricane hit. I discussed the Henry problem last week and just as I didn’t get involved in that futile debate I will offer no opinion on the rights and wrongs of Tiger’s actions. Nothing has been proved, nothing has been admitted.

    What is undeniable is that once again there is trouble concerning associating your brand with celebrities, or with anyone for that matter. People make mistakes. No matter how clean their image when they signed the contract you never know what is around the corner. Even false allegations can damage your brand. I cannot fault Gillette for hiring the three amigos. They were the perfect match and to be honest, I’m not sure that the indiscretions of Mr Henry and Mr Woods will do long-term damage.

    Why? Simple. They were hired because they were the best. They still are the best, although Henry’s form may have stalled of late at Barcelona compared to the halcyon Arsenal days and they will remain at the top of their games for some time yet. Henry, like it or not, will be at the World Cup, Tiger will still be world number one and with Rafa Nadal still struggling for form, who would bet against Federer at the US Open?

    Sure things are not so smooth as they were before but the audience Gillette seeks to influence is primarily concerned with the skills of these super sportsmen, their image is secondary. Whisper it quietly but there will also be a small conclave that finds Tiger Woods MORE appealing as either a rogue or at least a human being compared to his somewhat robotic persona of the last decade.

    Tiger with Ellen

    Before the incident - believe it or not!

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    Tiger would have been better served by coming out and making a statement to the media immediately. Instead, he sat back, probably worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. The resultant vacuum of silence was then filled by a voracious media, determined to get their pound of flesh and now the leeches are forming on the underbelly of the popular press, feeding their faces at the banquet before the platters are removed.

    Phew, had to get that off my chest. No need to fuel the fire of the greedy, self-obsessed shameless characters currently crawling out of the “Woods-work” (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    In the meantime and on a lighter note, if I was Mr Federer I’d be looking to open contract negotiations now. He holds all the aces – once again.

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  • Thierry Henry – Charm Offensive?

    Nov 20 • Sport • 2270 Views

    Henry quiets the crowd

    Henry would be best advised to keep quiet now

    So, 2 days on since the hand of frog and the media is still all over this one. Why is that? Doesn’t this happen all the time in football? Yes, it does.

    So, what’s the problem? Is it because it is a World Cup issue? Is it because it is the French? No. It is because it is Thierry Henry. Henry is a man who has carved out a reputation for skill, flair and (compared to many other superstar players) for fair play.

    He is a charming, good-looking chap and he has the world at his twinkling feet. Gillette certainly thought so when they hired him to appear alongside the likes of Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. So is his contract with Gillette in jeopardy now he has been exposed as a mere human being playing a professional game in which cheating and bending the rules is common place?

    I think not. Believe it or not this story will blow over. Henry will continue to score goals for France and Barcelona and whilst Gillette may see sales in Ireland slip for a bit I don’t think this will worry them too much. If it did, would they be fretting over Federer beating Murray at Wimbledon on a dodgy line call or Woods leading the USA to victory over Europe in the Ryder Cup having marked his scorecard incorrectly? No. Sponsorship deals will always have more reward than risk and they will continue whilst the media and the public is obsessed with celebrity.

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    Henry should have come out early and apologised. However, he hasn’t and he is best advised to keep his trap shut now lest he fan the flames. If I was Gillette I’d do the same. However, if I was Wilkinson Sword I’d find it hard to resist a cheeky campaign to boost sales in Ireland. A limited edition green handle perhaps?

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  • Question Time for Griffin as BNP loses early christmas present

    Oct 23 • Uncategorized • 1464 Views

    Five minutes into last night’s Question Time and I had joined the 3,000-strong armer of tweeters eager to have their say about Nick  Griffin’s appearance on the BBC’s flagship programme.

    Nick Griffin's bizarre smirking tactic comes out again.

    Nick Griffin's bizarre smirking tactic comes out again.

    Prior to that and throughout the day, the debate had raged on about whether he should have been there in the first place. Griffin’s appearance, many argued, would legitimise the BNP and their hateful policies, giving them far greater credence than they deserve. The BBC’s Mark Byford was roundly criticised, some even asking whether “he would sleep soundly” that night, knowing he had given the BNP this massive opportunity.

    However, that was to miss the point and indeed the real opportunity – the opportunity to expose Griffin and his party for what they really are. It is not the BBC’s role to censor political debate. Whatever your feelings and politics, the BNP had reached nearly 1 million voters and as such, from an editorial perspective, they had a right to be heard or at least to be scrutinised – and it is this scrutiny that was the REAL opportunity.

    The danger of the show turning into a political X Factor, complete with hysterical audience was very real and I must say that the BBC may regret the perceived witch hunt format that at times threatened to turn the villain of the day into a victim. However, Griffin’s lack of skill and I’m guessing, zero PR strategy other than “get on TV Nick”, meant that he couldn’t exploit this chink of opportunity to the fore.

    He was evasive throughout, nervous and clearly flustered, as the audience and even the guests regularly lost their cool and sought to attack him. It was mob rule, it was in danger of playing into his clammy little hands and it was lucky that he did not have the wit or the skill to play the victim card.

    That was the real danger of having him on. If they didn’t let him speak and air his ridiculous views, they wouldn’t have given him enough rope to hang himself. Thankfully for all he still managed it, with a slew of feeble comebacks, bizarre smirks, and even applause for his critics, mingled in with his biggoted world view that he occasionally managed to blurt out.

    In the end it was a victory for free speech and as such, all that is good about the UK but there was undoubtedly an opportunity for all.

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    Nobody really took the opportunity. The other guests seemed to forget that they were under scrutiny too and had a platform to air their policies if they dared. They were right to attack Griffin but too keen to join the baying mob and keep the focus on him when they should have turned the focus on Griffin onto them and what they actually stood for. How many chances will they get to speak to a huge audience that was actually turned onto politics and eager to hear policies – however briefly? It was an opportunity for plain speaking for all parties and nobody took it – Griffin tried but failed.

    It was a dangerous game but as Nick Robinson said on BBC News just half an hour before; “No TV programme gives politicians power – it is the voter that does that.”

    So it now remains for the mainstream parties to get out there and say what they believe in –  that is the one lesson they could learn from Griffin.

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  • Update…Ryan Air v the BBC and Panorama

    Oct 22 • General business • 1231 Views

    Thanks to everyone who voted in the recent Ryan Air poll on this blog.

    Good news for them really. 50% of you may have not changed your opinion but a whopping 44% did and changed it in favour of the airline. Only 6% of you liked them less.

    A pretty good night’s work from the PR machine that is Michael O’Leary.

    Tomorrow’s post will be about the BBC again, with controversial BNP leader Nick Griffin appearing on Newsnight. I’ll be tuning in tonight and reporting back tomorrow.

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  • “No one likes us, we don’t care” – Ryan Air v Panorama

    Oct 16 • General business • 3487 Views

    Shock news this week as ace reporter Vivian White and his august Panorma team exposed Ryan Air as…CHEAP!

    Panorma logo

    Panorma logo

    Well, can you imagine the horror at Ryan Air towers?! “Save us, Mr O’Leary. Whatever will we do? Now the country has heard it from the BBC they’ll really believe our key message!”

    PR guru O'Leary

    PR guru O'Leary

    What started out as a pretty pre-meditated attack to take team O’Leary and Ryan Air down a peg or two backfired horribly. The BBC came over as far more arrogant than Ryan Air which is quite an achievement in itself. White’s revulsion as he sat on the flight with “seats that don’t recline and a health and safety leaflet that is just stuck onto the seat in front” was palpable.

    But hold on Vivian, surely if it is stuck on in front of you the safety message is IN YOUR FACE where it should be, not stowed under the seat never to see the light of day along with the £4.50 sandwich wrapper from the previous “on schedule” flight you accidently plugged whilst raining vitriol down on their heads from your ivory tower?

    The patronising tone continued throughout and by the time O’Leary was doorstepped by White for a comment, the audience was (I suspect) aching for O’Leary to fight back and boy did he do just that. Treating the broadcast/er with contempt, O’Leary cheerfully volunteered to do a live interview so long as it wasn’t edited. Panorama refused. Hmmmm – right to reply?

    So, O’Leary launched into a monologue about Ryan Air. “Cheapest”, “biggest”, “safest” etc, with White looking on incredulous. The problem was that most of the audience found it hilarious. They don’t enjoy flying in relative dis-comfort on Ryan Air and they hate the crush and the rush in the airport too. They probably don’t like O’Leary either normally but at that moment I dare say he earned some grudging fans and certainly delivered his key messages – that is a PR win guys.

    It got worse too when White effectively criticised a chief executive for negotiating hard on costs with regards airports and aircraft. Oh no, a chief exec with his eye on his costs? Whatever next Vivian, don’t tell me Ryan Air’s gone and made that dirty word “profit”?

    In conclusion, love them or loathe them, Ryan Air came out of the BBC hatchet job pretty much unscathed. We all knew they were cheap, somewhat tacky and that their chief exec can really get up people’s noses. What we didn’t all know was that they were also the safest and most punctual airline. I’m sure Ryan Air’s PR team will thank the BBC for that one for years to come.

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    Until a rival changes its offering and starts to compete on price, Ryan Air can continue annoying people and courting profits, not friends. For now, that includes the media. The media knows O’Leary and his motley crew will always guarantee a headline when news is slow and so does Ryan Air.

    The problems with their PR approach and market offering will only come when they suddenly need to build bridges. Time will tell.

    [polldaddy poll=2127861]

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  • Jordan dropped from Breast Cancer campaign – it Asda be a panic decision

    Oct 2 • Celebrity, Charity • 6064 Views

    At the risk of P4A becoming a blog about Jordan/Katie Price, she hit the headlines again this week with the news that Asda has dropped her from its breast cancer publicity campaign. The supermarket giant made the move following comments on her ITV show which angered cancer sufferers and campaigners.

    Asda logo

    Jordan/KP had been used by Asda to mark the 12th anniversary of the retailer’s Tickled Pink campaign.

    The retailer moved to quell anger among cancer victims who reacted to comments she made on her reality show What Katie Did Next last week about scars on her breasts caused by surgery.

    An Asda spokeswoman posted a news release on a forum hosted by Breast Cancer Care which said:

    ‘Nobody was happy with what Katie said on the show, especially us. The last thing we want to do is upset anyone and so in light of the conversations we have all had over the past couple of days we won’t be using Katie in any publicity shots.’

    Katie Price aka Jordan

    Katie Price aka Jordan

    The P4A Prescription

    Sounds sensible at first glance. On such a sensitive subject it is normally better to be safe than sorry. However, did both parties miss a trick here? Rather than just “dump” Jordan from its campaign, Asda had a golden opportunity deliver an educational message. Why not explain WHY such comments are insensitive and HOW Jordan could help in the future?

    She is a woman with a heck of a media profile and is PR-savvy enough to know when bridges needed to be built. I think Asda was correct to criticise Jordan but then both parties should have pulled together to deliver the message to an even bigger audience post-outrage.

    I suspect both of them have missed out. Asda has lost a major celebrity tie-up and Jordan/KP looks insensitive and has lost a contract but the biggest loser out of all of this, is the campaign itself, which could have benefited from a public apology and greater dissemination of this vitally important message.

    [polldaddy poll=2067850]

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