The PR Guru

December 22, 2010

The new FA Chairman David Bernstein oversaw French Connection’s controversial FCUK campaign and LHR manager Colin Matthews has given up his Christmas bonus due to the LHR’s bad handling of the snowy conditions

David Bernstein has just been appointed the new Chairman of the FA.

The same man who was responcible for giving French Connection its controversial FCUK (WARNING: swearing on external link) name.

However, many are saying he is a safe choice because he is known by members of the board – which is why they chose him – but this may stop him from making the radical changes that are needed in order to keep the relationships maintained.

The Advertising Standards Authority said the use of FCUK for French Connection “caused problems for parents trying to explain to their children what it was about.”

It was deemed offensive, but all right when commas were used – as in f,c,u and k. “French Connection Me” attracted similar criticism but profits went up, although they did backfire among those who thought them ridiculous.

What is the message here? Is radical PR good PR and will Bernstein be able to use his controversial tactics whilst keeping in with the board?

Only time will tell….

In other news, that is to give Heathrow Airport some good PR, airport manager Colin Matthews is foregoing his 2010 bonus following the recent disruptions caused by the snow.

Mr Matthews said: “We’ve had a crisis here. I am responsible and I have decided not to take my bonus.”

The media had speculated that he was receiving a secret bonus but he denied these allegations.

BAA would not say what Mr Matthews’ 2010 bonus would have amounted to but his salary and bonuses in 2009 came to £944,000.

Mr Matthews has been heavily criticised for his handling of the air travel chaos, which saw thousands of passengers stranded at Heathrow after heavy snow fell on Saturday.

Many have had their Christmas holiday plans ruined.

Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his “frustration” at the length of the disruption at Heathrow.

The EU Commission also criticised Europe’s air travel disruption as unacceptable and urged airports to “get serious” about better planning for bad weather.

Matthews added: “It’s not just two runways we need – we need every other link in the chain to be fully up to speed and it’s going to take some time to do that.”


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.

December 13, 2010

Michael Dugher writes letter to Prime Minister condemning Tories for comments about the North

Today, Labour MP Michael Dugher has written a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, asking him to make a public apology because of a comment made by one of his party members at a recent meeting.

Not the first time Mr Cameron has had to apologise for his staff/unpaid consultants in recent weeks….

Councillor David Shakespeare, who obviously doesn’t have the same mastery over words as the playwright he shares his surname with, said “The north may replace the Romanians in the cherry orchards…. and that may be a good thing.”

Not only is this incredibly rude to everyone living in the North of England, it is also old-fashioned (something that the Conservatives have always been criticised as being).

Dugher said the comments were “out of touch, insensitive and insulting”, referring to the Conservatives as the “same old nasty party.”

December 7, 2010

The Sound of Silence released to show-up the X Factor

This year’s anti-X Factor campaign to get the winner off the Christmas number one slot has been called The Sound of Silence.

Madness star Suggs and dance acts Orbital and Pendulum were among those who did nothing in a recording studio.

They were recreating composer John Cage’s experimental work 4’33” – the sound of musicians not playing.

This follows the high-profile campaign last year when Rage Against the Machine beat X Factor winner Joe McElderry to number one.

Dozens of musicians were present and the campaign – dubbed Cage Against the Machine – currently has 69,000 Facebook fans.

Cage Against the Machine follows the success of another silent song that recently made the charts.

The Royal British Legion’s 2 Minute Silence video featuring Prime Minister David Cameron, actor David Tennant and Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, reached number 20 in November.

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 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.

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.

October 28, 2010

Boris Johnson – a walking PR gaffe

There is a famous saying, “Always think before you speak”, which is even more applicable to politicians and people in the public eye because if they say the wrong thing then the media instantly have a field day.

However, some people – including Lord Major of London Boris Johnson -, seem to keep slipping up and saying the wrong thing.

Today, Ministers have criticised Johnson for saying he would not allow Kosovo-style social cleansing in London, in relation to housing benefit reforms.

Many of London MPs have expressed concerns over the £400 per week cap that will force people out of the city, but the Lord Major was particularly vocal and vowed that he would not allow it to happen.

However, Vince Cable took offense to this, saying he had used inflammatory language, whilst the Prime Minister distanced himself from the comments – saying that he does not agree with them.

Mr Johnson later said his remarks had been taken out of context – as politicians and celebrities always do in these circumstances.

According to government figures, 21,000 people will be affected by new caps on the amount families can claim for properties across the UK including 17,000 in London.

Read more about this story on the BBC website.

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.

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