The PR Guru

December 16, 2010

Zai Bennett moves from ITV to BBC, hotel is getting publicity from having the most expensive Christmas tree ever and Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress was a PR triumph and has been voted Fashion Statement of the Year

It is hard to know what to think when someone goes from one company to its competitor, but that is exactly what has been making headlines today…

Zai Bennett, the ITV director of digital channels, has been appointed the controller of BBC3.

Bennett succeeds Danny Cohen, who became the controller of BBC1 in October. His BBC start date is yet to be confirmed.

BBC3 had an £88m budget in the year to the end of March. But BBC3’s budget is likely to be cut next year as the BBC deals with the licence fee settlement. With the licence fee frozen for six years, the BBC is facing a 16% cut in funding.

So was it really a wise move for Bennett then? And it begs the question of why de decided to move from ITV in the first place…

He started his TV career in the post room at Carlton Television in 1995, occasionally delivering David Cameron’s post to him when the prime minister worked as the ITV broadcaster’s communications director.

In other news, vying for publicity today, is the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, which has a jewel-encrusted Christmas tree it says is worth over £7m.

The idea came the hotel’s marketing team. The hotel has a tree every year but this year they wanted to do something different.

Items of jewellery studded precious stones are draped on the tree’s branches, along with more traditional baubles and lights. It is the jewellery that dramatically increases the value.

The bracelets, necklaces and watches which adorn the 13m tree contain 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones.

The tree sits in the lobby of the 302-room hotel.

Previous publicity-seeking efforts by the hotel include the creation of a $1m Valentine’s Day package and the installation of what was said to be the world’s first gold vending machine.

Finally, the famous meat dress worn by Lady GaGa at the Video Music Awards (VMAs) back in September has been named as the fashion statement of this year, by Time Magazine.

The magazine said, “If making fashion statements is your primary raison d’être, it’s easy to get bored. Exploding bra? Flamed out. Dress made of bubbles? Please. Using your hair as a bow? Not again. But a dress made of meat — with shoes, hat and purse to match — well, that’s fresh.”

It generated so much publicity for the singer and helped her to become one of the most popular singers of the year.

Eight different waxwork models of the singer were unveiled in Madam Tussauds across the globe this month – all in the unique and spectacular outfits fans have grown accustomed to.

In London, GaGa is a dial icon with the Philip Treacy hat she wore on the Jonathan Ross chat show this year to plug her single Telephone.

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December 14, 2010

Image of police is going to suffer due to atrocious illegal actions by officers during student protests

Police launched an internal investigation last night after footage emerged of a man being pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the road by an officer during Thursday’s student protest in London.

The grainy video on YouTube does not show the moment Jody McIntyre leaves his wheelchair but shows the 21 year old being dragged to the side of the road by an officer.

McIntyre was interviewed by BBC’s Ben Brown last night.

During the interview, Jody talks of how the media has ignored people like Alfie Meadows, who had to be hospitalised after receiving brain injuries, and what the media reaction would have been if Charles or Camilla were in the same situation. As expected, the presenter completely ignores that and asks whether Jody himself had thrown missiles at the police.

The presenter then later asks whether Jody had shouted anything that would have induced the police to take action.

McIntyre said it was the second time police had pulled him from his wheelchair during the protest. He said in the first incident several officers lifted him from his chair and carried him 100 yards.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police service said that although no complaint had been received it had launched an investigation: “As a result of media coverage, the MPS directorate of professional standards is investigating the circumstances surrounding this matter.”

There has been mounting pressure on Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson after footage emerged showing an officer policing Thursday’s student protests not wearing identification.

Following the G20 protests last year, during which Ian Tomlinson died after being pushed to the ground by a police officer not wearing ID, Stephenson said it was “absolutely unacceptable” for officers to cover or remove their shoulder tags bearing identification numbers. However, a video taken by one of the protesters at Thursday’s London demonstration clearly shows an officer not displaying her ID.

On The Chris Moyles Show on Radio 1 this morning, Chris Moyles said that the BBC have been flooded with complaints about the interview Ben Brown did.

The complete opposite to this is the news that one of America’s top foreign policy advisors, Richard Holbrooke died following surgery to repair a torn aorta. His last words were “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” He has been praised by the president and all the American government for his passion and dedication to peace.

December 9, 2010

Simon Hughes called Mr Integrity for going against the Lib Dem plans to raise tuition fees

Prince Charles and Camilla had their Rolls Royce Phantom VI limousine attacked on the way to the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium by students yesterday after the news that tuition fees will go up to between £6000 and £9000 starting next year.

Charlie Gilmour, son of Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour, says he didn’t realise what the Cenotaph was as he was swinging on it. He studies History at Cambridge.

Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Paul Stephenson now faces questions regarding the handling of protests.

Yesterday those fighting the rise in fees, Julian Lewis, Simon Hughes, Greg Mulholland and David Blunkett got massive praise for standing against those in power, with Mike Crockart even resigning over it.

On Newsnight on Wednesday Hughes earned the praise of the public for standing by his own view that he is against the coalition’s plans.

Thousands of students took to London’s streets yesterday (#dayx3 or Day X3) in a final bid to stop the change going ahead, despite Government assurances that nothing will have to be re-paid until graduates are earning £21,000 a year.

December 2, 2010

England World Cup Bid 2010

Today’s England bid to host the 2018 World Cup was unsuccessful despite it being similar to the one used for the 2012 Olympics.

The presentation was all about legacy and ideals of inspiration.

Eddie Afekafe’s speech, in particular, has been praised. Afekafe works with Manchester City on their community football programmes and gave a great presentation before famous faces such as Prince William, David Beckham and Prime Minister David Cameron spoke.

The two short video clips in particular prompted memories of the London 2012 bid with youth and the power to inspire the world playing a leading role.

Afekafe spoke of how his life had been transformed through football and tugged on the heart-strings of the FIFA executive committee members who believe in football’s transformative capabilities.

“Choose England today and England will deliver many more stories like mine,” said Afekafe. “Football United – it’s a new idea, a big idea, but one that everyone supports.”

Five years ago in Singapore, it was a young South African sprinter who was the focus of the video presentation, dreaming of glory and eventually competing at the Olympics in London in 2012.

It turns out Russia are the nation who will host the World Cup instead, with Quatar hosting in 2022.

November 25, 2010

McDonalds try to improve image by introducing a degree course for managers, UK snow could mean businesses need to work even harder on PR, and railway changes are bad PR for government as it is travellers who must pay

Today it has been revealed that McDonald’s is introducing its own degree course in business management for its restaurant bosses in the UK.

The foundation degree, which will be accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University, marks the company’s latest move into education, following the launch of an apprenticeship scheme 18 months ago.

Senior vice-president, David Fairhurst, says it challenges “snobbish” misconceptions about McDonald’s staff.

The degree is a customised version of Manchester Metropolitan University’s management development programme.

It will mean that McDonald’s employees will be able to get a nationally-recognised qualification without leaving their jobs.

McDonald’s is set to publish a company education prospectus as well, after it was given awarding body status two years ago, allowing it to develop and award its own qualifications.

The department store Harrods set up a degree course for its staff, in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University.

Microsoft has its own qualifications which were awarded to about 17,500 people in the UK last year.

In worse news, last weekend was supposed to be the busiest of the year for Christmas Shopping, with the traffic free shopping day (also known as VIP or Very Important Pedestrians’ Day) taking place on Oxford Street and Regent Street in London, but people are continually being put off from going out to the shops because of the snow. Snow is threatening to make it so that retailers do not benefit on what should be an extremely lucrative time of the year.

It seems that is going to be more important than ever for the retailers to get their PR right and make it more enticing for people to go around their shops.

Lastly though, in more bad PR for the government, they have announced plans to spend £8bn on Britain’s railways; buying about 2,000 new carriages to tackle overcrowding, electrifying some lines and pressing ahead with the Thameslink programme; but it is passengers who must pay more for tickets for the investments.

So we are having to pay ourselves for the changes, which seems unfair in this time of recession, when the government could surely help to fund these plans – plus, the work won’t be completed until 2019, with a few changes coming into place in the coming months.

November 22, 2010

Ellie Goulding reaches the height of popularity

She’s been trending on twitter for days now, and it seems that singer Ellie Goulding’s career has reached its peak. This weekend she played three very different London gigs in three nights, including T4’s Stars of 2010 at Earls Court yesterday.

Aside from this, her cover of Elton John’s Your Song had reached number 3 in the charts.

The other two shows were a gig in Hammersmith and an acoustic church gig organised by DJ Jo Whiley to support her chosen charity.

She also managed to impress everyone at the latter gig, turning a completely unamplified solo rendition of The End into the biggest triumph of the night.

Goulding is dating Radio 1 DJ Greg James and she has even managed the impossible – making fitness cool to young people.

However, the odds were stacked against her making it in the music industry after a tough upbringing.

Her dad walked out when she was just five, leaving her mum to bring up four children.

Ellie hated her stepdad and witnessed some traumatic scenes growing up, including visits from bailiffs who repossessed the TV as she sat watching it with her brother and sisters.

These experiences just serve to make what she has acheived all the more extraordinary and helped her popularity grow to this immense level.

November 17, 2010

“Dear Santa, I don’t want any toys this year” – Why many children could be left without this Christmas…

38 days until Christmas. Probably the only other thing you didn’t want to hear today, behind the endless stories about the Royal Wedding.

But you can’t escape it…. Mickey Christmas is trending on Twitter and companies like Disney are already focusing on selling toys for Christmas.

This country is already suffering from lack of jobs and rising costs, but today it has been revealed that – because of this – many children may not be able to get the gifts they want for Christmas, which is not very good PR for the government. If we can’t get people the presents they want then what does that say about the state of the country?

Yes, toy stores – especially large ones like Hamleys in London – are already crowded with parents wanting to get their children the gifts they’ve asked for (that will never change), but it is expected that the situation will only get worse the more parents put off making the trip to get them.

One of the main problems is that toy stores can get it wrong (mostly because they have to place orders a year in advance) and can be caught out by unexpected demand – leaving parents to squabble over dwindling stocks of a must-have product.

In China, where a large proportion of the toys sold in Europe and North America are made, the toy factories have relied on a steady, and cheap, supply of migrant labour from poorer parts of the country where work has been less available.

Now, though, the supply is drying up. The government in Beijing has been investing huge sums recently to promote development in inland regions.

As salaries there have risen and more jobs become available, the migrant workforce has been dwindling, forcing the southern factories to slow production.

November 16, 2010

A super-injunction obtained by Take That singer Howard Donald is lifted by the High Court and news that Prince William is to marry has caused people to demand that Windsors pay

Take That are getting a lot of public attention just recently, with the band reuniting as a five-peice for the first time in years.

The latest Take That related story to break on Twitter concerns singer Howard Donald.

IIt has literally just been announced that The Court of Appeal have lifted a super-injunction preventing the naming of Take That’s Howard Donald, who has won an order restricting publication of confidential information by a former girlfriend.

No-one really knows what private information it is that is threatening to be revealed – and what it could do for the band’s image.

Adakini Ntuli, the ex-girlfriend, had hired famous publicist Max Clifford and entered into negotiations with the News of the World.

The court restrained her from doing specified but unpublishable things and prevented her and others from publishing the fact that the injunction had been obtained.

Now, the court has dismissed Adakini Ntuli’s appeal seeking the discharge of the injunction but allowed her appeal in relation to the super-injunction and anonymity issues.

Also making headlines this morning is the news that Prince William is to marry Kate Middleton. The two got engaged in Kenya last month and are to be married in London in 2011. This comes as much needed positive PR at a time when there is controversy over the Prime Minister’s decision to pay Guantanamo detainees compensation (at a time when we have little money to begin with) and the news that David Cameron’s vanity photographer Andrew Parsons was on the public payroll at a time when the Civil Service were facing cuts.

EDIT (Wednesday 17th November): There have been reports today that the UK is considering offering billions of pounds of direct loans to the Irish Republic, saying that they are our neighbours and we have an interest in ensuring they have a stable economy – but can we afford to do this? We have just promised compensation for Guantanamo detainees and now this… We need to be saving what little money we have. Although, saying that, it will benefit us in the long-run.

Also, yesterday, and today, one of the most talked about questions is who is going to pay for the Royal Wedding? One common answer is that The Windsors should because they are extremely wealthy, and the country is not. This debate has been fuelled by anti-monarchy group Republic – but even those in support of the monarchy are also calling for the same thing. Having a lavish ceremony at a time of recession would be wrong, and would send out the wrong messages to the world – and this is going to be a worldwide event.

November 11, 2010

Student protests continue – with fears poppies at cenotaph could have been attacked at Whitehall on dayx, following previous breach of Tory HQ

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg called on students to reconsider the coalition’s tuition fees plans before they take part in a day of protests, which is currently underway.

“Examine our proposals before taking to the streets. Listen and look before you march and shout,” says Mr Clegg.

A student protest two weeks ago resulted in an attack on the Conservatives’ headquarters building. Many students across the country protested about the massive increase of Tuition Fees, from just over £3000 per year to £9000 in some cases.

A Police chief admitted that he was caught off guard by the mayhem.

Prime Minister David Cameron this morning criticised police tactics during the riots and called for the full force of the law to be used against violent protesters.

He said: “I was worried for the safety of people in the building because I know people who work in there, not just the Conservative Party but other offices as well. So I was on the telephone. I wanted to know what was happening. I wanted to know that people were safe.”

He added: “People who assault police officers or who smash windows or who break property are breaking the law and yes, those people I hope… will be prosecuted. They should be.

A mob of around 300 had caused damage estimated at £1 million to Millbank Tower in Central London before officers regained control.

The Met said 50 suspected rioters have been released on bail until February pending further inquiries.

At one point officers resorted to issuing warnings on twitter that rioters faced arrest.

This is bad PR not just for students but also for the Police for letting it get out of control.

Today, it was thought that the Cenotaph in London could have been targeted by the protestors as they made their way down Whitehall, but it has been confirmed that not a single poppy was touched – despite rumours that they had been put on a fire.

Protestors did, however, charge the police for the right to pass them, supposedly to pay their tuiton fees in what has become known as dayx.

And, similarly to the protest the other week, the government – namely Michael Gove – have said that the protests have been hijacked by extremists – just as was suggested in the breach of the Tory HQ.

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