The PR Guru

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 1, 2010

#uksnow PR Gaffe

Councils today made a PR Gaffe by saying that an “unexpected snowfall” was the reason the roads had not been gritted.

Drivers suffered terrible journeys across Staffordshire and the Black Country when lack of grit turned the roads into an ice rink.

Cars were abandoned, bus services cancelled and long rush-hour queues built up.

Walsall and Sandwell were among the worst-affected areas, with one three-mile journey between Willenhall and Walsall taking three hours.

Council bosses in Walsall insisted 75 tons of salt were used yesterday but an “unexpected” snowstorm at 4.45pm had frozen the roads over again.

Transport chief Councillor Tom Ansell said: “We did grit the roads, I can understand people saying we didn’t but we had a snowfall yesterday afternoon and when it hit the ground it froze. It was unexpected.”

Councillor Ray Nock, leader of the Conservative opposition, said: “I am very unhappy with the way the gritting operation has been carried out in Sandwell.”

Today, more than 20 schools across the West Midlands and Staffordshire were closed. Gatwick and Edinburgh Airports were both closed today. A number of flights from Birmingham Airport to Scotland were cancelled.

November 30, 2010

Vince Cable becoming walking PR gaffe by declaring war on BSkyB

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 12:20 pm
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EDIT: 22/12 – Today it has been announced that Jeremy Hunt is to replace Vince Cable in having the final say about who should control BSkyB, because of Cable’s gaffe yesterday.

Cable told undercover reporters he had “declared war on Rupert Murdoch” and planned to block his efforts to take full control of BSkyB.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband says that this whole affair proves the coalition is no more than “a sham”, going as far as to say Vince Cable is “a useful prop for David Cameron as he seeks to pretend this is something other than a Conservative government”.

Mr Cable said: “I am picking my fights, some of which you may have seen, some of which you may haven’t seen.

News Corporation, which is run by Rupert Murdoch, already owns 39% of BSkyB but wants to buy up the remaining 61% for £7.8bn.

Mr Cable ordered Ofcom to investigate the proposal over concerns about press freedom and consumer choice – but he will have the final say and has stressed the need to be politically impartial.

November 19, 2010

Jason Manford quits The One Show after admitting he shared sexual messages online with fans, and Lord Young resigns after saying we’ve never had it so good

Last night on Twitter a lot of people were upset with the BBC because Jason Manford has quit The One Show.

The presenter admitted that he shared sexual messages online with female fans.

It is only three months since the comic took over the show with Alex Jones after the departure of former presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley to ITV.

The 29 year old comedian handed his resignation to the show’s bosses, saying he wanted to leave to ease the situation surrounding newspaper allegations.

In an interview with The Sun, Manford said: “I have only myself to blame. I have never felt so low.”

BBC bosses are expected to hold talks over the weekend to find Manford’s replacement.

The presenter apologised to fans and his family at the beginning of the month after he was accused of exchanging a series of Twitter messages with a 22 year old female fan.

Manford took over presenting The One Show in August. He was an avid user of Twitter and had more than 200,000 followers – but has now removed his page (for obvious reasons).

Another story, making headlines today, is that the Prime Minister’s enterprise adviser has resigned after making a PR Gaffe. Lord Young apologised after saying most Britons had “never had it so good” despite the “so-called recession”.

He told The Daily Telegraph that the Bank of England’s decision to cut the base rates to 0.5% meant many homeowners were better off.

Following this, he wrote a letter to David Cameron apologising for his remarks, but has since resigned.

Other comments he made include his belief that the forecast of 100,000 public sector job losses a year was “within the margin of error” in the context of the 30 million-strong job sector.

Further to this, he suggested that the coalition government had overemphasised the impact of the cuts to “protect” the value of the pound.

October 5, 2010

Is getting Russell Brand on Newsnight a PR mistake?

On Friday, the BBC put comedian Russell Brand as the main guest in a programme where you would normally expect senior politicians to appear. The BBC could have been desperate to attract a new audience to the show; the several million old Jonathan Ross viewers who now have nothing to look forward to watching.

Two years ago, Russell Brand was the subject of a scandal involving a telephone call he made to Andrew Sachs, which left him leaving the BBC in shame. On Friday they seem to have considered him newsworthy enough to be the main interviewee on Newsnight.

The programme is supposed to be a news and current affairs programme involving the cross-examination of senior politicians.

Now, the reason he was there was because he has a new book out, which apprently mentions Liam Gallagher from Oasis. He was in a recent airport fight with a photographer, defending his girlfriend (Katy Perry).

Newsnight presenter, Emily Maitlis, actually mentioned the Andrew Sachs incident and descirbed it as a piece of media history, which shows that they were obviously trying to make Brand seem like more of an important figure.

The interesting thing about Newsnight is that the BBC are trying to attract a younger audience and to keep them watching BBC programmes.

October 1, 2010

A new ‘PR Gaffe’ as Ed Miliband announces that he is not on son’s birth certificate

There is always a new PR Gaffe every time we see the news and the latest one is that the new Labour leader, Ed Miliband, admitted he was really embarrassed, because he is not named on his son’s birth certificate. Obviously, the press are scrutinising everything about Miliband and his life at the moment, because of his recent rise in status. Something was bound to come out.

Ed Miliband’s circumstances ironically fit in with Labour’s view that unmarried couples should be treated on a par with married ones. However, the new Coalition government seems to have abandoned this, but we think that Mr Miliband should have a vested interest in resurrecting this issue.

The new Labour leader admitted that he made a mistake by not realizing that he had to go to the registry office in person, to be registered as the father of his son, because he and Justine Thornton are not married. He seems to be unafraid and very confident that he can speak to the press about the way he genuinely feels without having to sugar-coat things. However, he does seem to be coming across in a controversial way.

Some of the other very controversial things he has said to press include the fact that he is an atheist and that he is sure his marital status will not affect his run for Prime Minister.

Mr Miliband could go to the Council Offices any time to register his name on the Birth Certificate, but has yet to do so. If he chooses to do it now he is the Labour leader then it could generate some positive PR from this Gaffe. Let’s hope he makes the right choice.

September 28, 2010

Pornographic film sharers personal details leaked

On BBC Breakfast News this morning, a very big PR gaffe came to light that shocked us all here at Richard Swancott Associates.

It turns out that personal details of thousands of Sky broadband customers have been posted online, next to a list of pornographic films they are supposed to have shared online.

The list includes the full names and addresses of over 5,300 people thought to be illegally sharing adult films and appeared online following an attack on the ACS:Law website. This is obviously very bad news for the company because it breaches the Data Protection Act and the UK’s Information Commissioner is starting an investigation.

One of the problems with ACS:Law is that it secretly monitors IP addresses to find illegal activity and sometimes gets it wrong. Quite a few people have been wrongly accused of illegal file-sharing, which brings to life some of the fears suggested in movies like Minority Report (where people are wrongly accused of criminal activity through modern technology).

Sky can actually be required by Court Order to disclose information about customers whose accounts are alleged to have been used for illegal downloading. However, this data is kept encrypted to protect it from being leaked to the press and it has been confirmed that this whole process will continue even after today’s revelation. It seems that Big Brother is always watching us and there is nothing that will ever stop it.

Piracy is such a big issue in this day and age, with companies losing a large amount of money over free downloads, and hackers temporarily knocked out the websites of the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.

April 28, 2010

PR Gaffes for April

Has Gordon Brown just blown what limited chance he had of winning the General Election?

In the PR gaffe to end all PR gaffes, he was heard on microphone calling a voter he’d just spoken to ‘a bigoted woman’, and has probably destroyed what was left of his plummeting popularity.

Gillian Duffy, a 65-year-old former Labour voter from Rochdale, grilled the PM on crime and the economy, before moving onto the issue of immigration and specifically the number of Eastern Europeans in the country.

He made the comments as he got back into his car, not realising a Sky News mic was still attached to his shirt.

Speaking later on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2, he apologised unreservedly for his comments – he had no choice really as the recording was played back to him in the studio – but you have to wonder how the electorate will react.

It was only a matter of time before a PR gaffe happened on the campaign trail, but somehow you knew it wasn’t going to be David Cameron or Nick Clegg who came out with it.

With the outcome still far from decided, the PM‘s outburst could mean the difference between him being involved in the next Government and not.

And while we know he has never been the most media savvy politician, surely that should have been at the forefront of his mind before he opened his mouth?

Or will he be respected more for expressing his opinion?

I think we all know the answer to that question. I bet Cameron and Clegg are wetting themselves laughing, especially with the last leaders’ debate coming up!

Of course, he’s not the only politician to have made a PR gaffe this month.

Here are our thoughts on the so called “Twitter Suicide” of Stuart MacLennan, 24, who was standing in the Moray constituency for the Scottish Labour Party.

MacLennan’s sacking as the party’s candidate follows a plethora of gaffes made on Twitter, from referring to OAP’s as “coffin dodgers”, calling Nick Clegg “a B******”, and labelling fellow passengers at Stirling train station “chavs”.

Politicians and leading figures should be wary, because once someone has committed comments to the blogosphere it is nigh on impossible to remove them from the internet.

If in doubt of the appropriateness of a comment do not use them (especially not when there is a forthcoming General Election).

Given that MacLennan‘s comments first surfaced in December of last year, the Labour Party seem to be incapable of monitoring the suitability of their social networking activity.

Why were these comments not moderated and dealt with by MacLennan‘s colleagues?

Politicians do need to work harder than ever before to both appear more human and show some individuality. Foul mouthed tirades such as those of MacLennan are entirely the wrong way to do this.

Hopefully the electorate will make their decision next Thursday on which party will run the country properly, rather than PR gaffes like these.

In either case I think the Labour Party is in pretty big trouble!

And finally, a long-awaited change of subject for our final gaffe.

Almost every modern family in the western world has one.

That unusual furry, fluffy, feathered or scaly individual we’ve come to accept as being a normal member of our close family.

I’m taking, of course, about our pets.

We spend countless hours trying to get a grasp of their complex personalities, a remarkable amount of our hard-earned cash to keep them happy.

We personalise their belongings, some of us even tuck them into bed at night.

Remember the grief you had as a child when Fluffy “ran away”?

Now imagine how that would be amplified if you found out your little friend had been baked to death in the hands of industry professionals whilst you were out running your weekly errands.

A branch of Pets At Home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, left pedigree Shih Tzu puppy Daisy in a drying cage unattended and as a result  the dog chocked to death on her own vomit.

Not the most pleasant of endings by a long chalk.

The staff member who was in charge of the dog went on her lunch break and asked two other members of staff to “keep an eye on” the dog while she was out.

It just goes to show that having the most stores does not make you the best.

A spokesman for the company said: “We have given our condolences to the family”.

I understand that taking a life of a family pet is not an easy thing to reconcile, but surely more than an apology is due here?

With outraged comments on the Daily Mail’s website, from users demanding to know why the police or the RSPCA we’re not involved in this matter, you would think that the company would go out of its way in order to at least take more responsibly on the matter.

Here’s a prime example where taking a strong business approach is crucial.

The glitz and glamour of a whirlwind PR campaign would simply add insult to injury. A lifetime’s supply of food and merchandise for future and/or other pets just would not cut it in this case.

The only way out of this is to knuckle down, reform your training ideas and as a company, step up to the mark, and rectify your tragic mistake.

That’s it for this month. See you again in May for more cases of foot-in-mouth disease.

April 7, 2010

PR experts make their own gaffe

It happens to the best of us. A slip of the tongue, a well-intentioned move which backfires, that kind of thing. We PR Gurus are only human after all.

But something came to my attention over Easter which simply beggars belief. It was so breath-takingly stupid I have been unable to blog about it til now.

And it came from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations – the people who supposedly set the standards in our profession.

They dimwittedly decided to give an award to Northumbria Police for their handling of a case in which a young pedestrian was killed by a speeding police car. Unbelievable.

Let’s assemble the evidence:

In May 2008 Hayley Adamson was hit and killed by a speeding police patrol car.

PC John Dougal was jailed for three years after being convicted of driving at 94mph – without using his blue light and siren – moments before he ploughed into her.

Just under a year on from the tragedy and a day before what should have been Hayley’s 18th birthday, the force managed to bag a “gold” prize from Chartered Institute of Public Relations, for their effectiveness and sensitive on dealing with the matter!

The entry, which was described as “An extremely sensitive issue that the judges felt was handled in a very professional and caring way”, came as a sickening blow to the girl’s family, who are obviously appalled by the award.

The main objective of the PR campaign was to “minimise the risks to Northumbria’s reputation” an aim that they have clearly failed to fulfil.

I think the main shock to the whole saga is the air of vulgarity from the police force.

Surely they should have maintained their dignity, and that of the victim’s family, and kept their own counsel?

They claim they were nominated for the award by someone else. But this is unlikely – the CIPR stipulate on the awards website that entry fees are required, so unless a very generous third party has nominated the force, surely they’ve handled the application themselves? 

So an appalling gaffe – how could anyone from Northumbria Police have thought this was a good idea?

And how could the CIPR endorse it by giving them the award?

Needless to say, while arguably the force merited the award for their handling of the case at the time, they have certainly undone all that hard work with this application.

The most disappointing aspect of it for me is the damage the CIPR have done to our profession.

They’ll need all their crisis management skills to turn this one around.

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