Posts Tagged 'PR'

How climate change scepticism works

Some interesting thoughts from Media Lens on how the media distort attitudes to climate change here

God – the greatest PR man of them all

It seems that anybody’s image can be made over for some people, so long as they claim to have God on their side. According to this article in the New York Times, the Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz is being held up as an exemplar of redemption by Christians in the US.

Berkowitz terrorised New York for over a year from 1976 to 1977, killing 6 people. He claimed variously that he had been commanded to do so by a demon that had possessed his neighbour’s dog and that he was a member of a Satanic cult that had carried out some of the killings. You might argue that the belief in demons and his subsequent belief in God are connected and that the people lauding his redemption should be wary.

But, as is the modern way, a church is hosting a blog for him to pontificate on everything from homosexuality to his fellow inmates’ hip-hop. So, you might also argue that he lost the right to pontificate in public about other people’s taste in music and partners at the time he was busy murdering innocent people. But then sometimes it seems all is allowable if you claim you have God on your side.

World Cup – the PR winners and losers are…

Loser – Ashley Cole

Given the turmoil in the England camp, it seems harsh to pick on an individual …. so who better than Ashley Cole? It’s true that he was one of the better performers in the England squad, but then he has to go and ruin it all by allegedly texting a friend that he hates England and its people. What is so baffling about him is that he is clearly surrounded by highly paid agents and advisors as well as an entourage of friends but nobody seems to be asking him whether he really thinks it’s a good idea that his autobiography should feature the infamous passage about feeling sick at only being offered a contract worth £55,000 a week or that he should text women he’s picked up in nightclubs to ask for pictures of their body parts or that his reaction to being dumped by the nation’s sweetheart should be a trip to the local nightclub to pick them up in the first place.

Winner – Bavaria Brewery

Dutch brewers Bavaria (I don’t know why either) couldn’t believe their luck when FIFA went bananas about their publicity stunt of sending 36 orange-mini-skirted blonde women into a match. FIFA worked with the local police to arrest the women before somebody pointed out that it was giving the company the sort of PR the official sponsors Budweiser could only dream of. Maybe the call came from Budweiser.

Losers – France

At least England just stuck to blaming the team. France went into a collective meltdown as the French squad under Raymond Domenech made complete arses of themselves. President Sarkozy made a public statement and sports minister Roselyne Bachelot  said: ‘I told the players they had tarnished the image of France. It is a morale disaster for French football.  I told them they could no longer be heroes for our children. They have destroyed the dreams of their countrymen, their friends and supporters. The government has to intervene as the reputation of France is at stake.’


Winner – Paul the Octopus

Or rather the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium who have a real life draw on their hands now that their psychic octopus is world famous. It’s such a great story it’s a shame to point out it’s a load of nonsense.

Winner – South Africa. Oh, what the hell. The whole of Africa

Before the tournament, many people appeared to be predicting that there would be problems with infrastructure, crime and organization. They were all wrong and the tournament has been a great success with no more problems than any other. The atmosphere appears to have been superb and the event inclusive for a whole continent.

Winner and Loser – David Beckham

Although it was never entirely clear what exactly he was doing there, Goldenballs spent far more time on camera than any member of the coaching team with the exception of Fabio Capello. Beckham has now found himself associated with the England World Cup bid debacle and the England actual World Cup debacle. Brand Beckham appears to be untarnished by these associations, but for how long?

Losers – The FA

Clearly unable to do anything right, in the space of a few weeks the FA managed to lose yet another Chief Executive and Chairman in acrimonious and embarrassing circumstances, fouled up its own bid for the 2018 World Cup (before roping in David Beckham as the face of the bid in the apparent hope that people would forget about it all because he looks good in a suit), offered a very generous new contract to a manager before he had proved he was worth it, lost a lucrative sponsorship deal with Nationwide and was dubbed ‘unfit for purpose’ by former sports minister Richard Caborn. Is anything likely to change? Given its track record and its ongoing refusal to implement the recommendations of the Burns Report, not likely.

Winner – Football

While previous World Cups have often been marred by fan violence and unsporting behavior from the teams, this one seems to have been played out in the right spirit on and off the field, even allowing for the involvement of France.

Losers – The makers of the Jubulani ball

There have been more misplaced passes in this World Cup than any of the previous four tournaments, causing some commentators to complain that the Jubulani ball very nearly ruined the tournament. Even Craig Johnston who set up Adidas’s research lab in Germany has written to Sepp Blatter to complain that “football is all about texture, flavour and colour. That has been taken away by a ball sanctioned by who? Fifa and its sponsors. They may have been rewarded by making tens of millions of dollars profit, but the result is they have removed the art and craft from the game. If a sponsor came into your office before the World Cup and said: ‘We are going to give you a new, perfectly round match ball, the players won’t like it at all, there will be more mistakes made than in any other World Cup, there will be fewer goals scored, fewer passes completed, less control by players and roughly 70% of shots on goal will go wide or way over the crossbar.’ What would you say to them?”

Winner – The makers of goal line technology

 Ahead of the World Cup, FIFA President Sepp Blatter had claimed that he wouldn’t introduce technology to major football games while he was in charge. That all changed when Frank Lampard’s goal was missed by the officials in the game against Germany. Although technology would not have changed the outcome of that game, it was clear that it might well do at a crucial point in another. On past form Sepp Blatter may try to bury the issue once the World Cup is a memory, but it’s inevitable it will happen one day.

The ends and the means

When I was young, I used the library in Newcastle under Lyme to educate me in ways that school didn’t or couldn’t. I was after the sort of vicarious ‘interlectewalism’ you can only get by carting around Orwell, Dostoevsky and Kafka and which is only impressive in your own delusions. A lot of it inevitably either went over my head or was beyond my maturity and none of it helped make me more attractive to women, which is what I was also preoccupied by at the age of 17.

While large chunks of what I read passed me by, bits of it stuck. I recall reading the essays on war and humankind by Aldous Huxley in a collection called Ends and Means. His core argument in one essay was that the ends can never justify the means because the means determine the ends. It’s an idea that I still use to filter the thoughts of other people and it came to mind when thinking about the latest justifications of Tony Blair, that supposedly committed Christian, forthe Iraq war. 

What Blair has said about his commitment to the war, which he now admits was going ahead regardless of whatever justifications were needed for it, is fundamentally wicked. Huxley the humanist was way better and way ahead of him. In 1937 he wrote: ‘no government has the right gratuitously to involve its subjects in war. War is so radically wrong that any international agreement which provides for the extension of hostilities from a limited area to the whole world is manifestly based on unsound principles. Modern war destroys with the maximum of efficiency and the maximum of indiscrimination, and therefore entails the commission of injustices far more numerous and far worse than any it is intended to redress.’

‘Those who prepare for war, in due course get the war they prepare for.’

New faces

There are a lot of interesting aspects to the Meredith Kercher murder case. But one of the most remarkable is the role that PR and marketing has played and continues to play in the defence campaign of Amanda Knox. The family of Knox has waged an impressive PR campaign in their battle to free her.

Her father Curt is a marketing executive. So it was perhaps an instictive response when he hired PR consultant David Marriott, a former TV journalist, to organise a campaign including appearances on the main US TV networks. Whatever you think of this sort of thing, the campaign was impressive and has certainly swayed opinion in the US. Amanda Knox has also counted on the support of the Friends of Amanda pressure group, which posts messages of support and seeks donations on its website and has mounted an equally impressive if misguided and unnecessarily abusive campaign in the blogosphere where ad hominem attacks on people are often seen as perfectly fair. In fact, earlier this year, Seattle police were asked to investigate death threats issued by people who believed Knox to be innocent against others who had argued her guilt on a website.

The voices that went up in protest when she was found guilty of the murder were loudest from this lobby, understandably. In part I believe their bewilderment at the verdict is rooted in a failure to grasp that US public and media opinion have little impact in Italy, where the system of law is very different and more dependent on the judgements of magistrates, not juries. However wonderful a campaign they put together, there is a less powerful jury to influence ahead of a trial.

This idea that an investigation and trial is carried out as much in the media as it is in the courts is a very modern one. It is also disturbing to think that defendants with access to the resources can influence a trial through the media, especially in countries such as the US and UK. There are elements of the Kercher case that are likely to sway public opinion in such campaigns, not least the fact that she is an attractive middle class woman with a devoted and industrious family, accused in a foreign country (crucial) with evidence that may be compelling but which can also be disputed. Add in to that the campaign’s ongoing appeal to paranoid suspicions that the case is tainted by anti-americanism and you can see why this whole thing will roll on. And on.

Even if Knox is unsuccesful in her appeal, which seems likely, the battle will rage on the Internet. What remains to be seen is whether this is an isolated incident or whether the Law will have to find new ways to take account of expensive co-ordinated marketing campaigns for those who can personally afford them or drum up enough public support to fund them.

What could possibly go wrong?


Nadine Dorries, Tory MP and publicity whore, has announced she is suing the two Labour imbeciles who’d plotted a smear campaign against her, along with Gordon Brown who knew nothing about it but did do his nut when he found out in his usual (allegedly) unhinged fashion.

I know that’s putting it in blunt terms but I’m happy to predict nothing will ever come of this because the smears were never published and Derek Draper and Damian McBride have already been punished by losing their jobs. Given its timing at the start of the conference season, not to mention its futility, it’s clearly a publicity stunt that a) will do absolutely nothing to redeem MP’s reputations and b) may blow up spectacularly in her face.

PS. I’ve been informed that she once implied on her own blog that a Labour researcher was a paedophile because they had looked at the Facebook page of her then 15 year old daughter. It’s wrong and a bit creepy, but that may well be actionable. Politicians eh?

Johnny Dangerous

Any suggestions for this guy?


MEDIA OUTLET: Sunday Mercury (Birmingham) (editorial request)

JOURNALIST: Steve Wollaston (staff)

DEADLINE: 02-December-2010 10:00

QUERY: We have a reporter here called Jonny Dangerous. In the past he has swam with sharks, jumped out of a plane, ate the hottest pizza in the world and various daft stunts. We are after new challenges for him ideally in the West Midlands. Any ideas let me know! No deadline for pieces… the articles get a good spread in the sunday mercury and a video and article on the website

How the media works part 49a


More from our feed of appeals from journalists.

MEDIA OUTLET: ShortList (personal case study)

MEDIA TYPE: Consumer Press

JOURNALIST: Rachel Lewis (freelancer)

DEADLINE: 10-July-2009 08:00 

QUERY: I’m writing a piece about why it’s harder for smart women to date. I’m looking for an intelligent woman (20s/30s) who can talk about her experience of men being intimidated by her IQ. She might be a high flyer in the City on a six figure salary and/or have a double first from Oxford, for example.

This is a classic of its type.

1. Start with premise: In this case, men don’t like smart women

2. Look for evidence that backs up premise

3. Limit the sorts of people you want to talk about this by age

4. Add one more drop to the ocean of dissatisfaction

How the media works part 31


More from the feed my company gets from magazines looking for stories. This week – FHM

MEDIA OUTLET: FHM (spokesperson or expert request)

MEDIA TYPE: Consumer Press

JOURNALIST: Ben Wilson (staff)

DEADLINE: 28-May-2009 12:00 

QUERY: I’m very keen to interview experts on the following subjects:

1) How to eliminate stains from chino trousers

2) The science behind building a decent rope swing

3) How to build a homemade barbecue from an oil drum and a Sainsbury’s trolley

4) A legal expert to tell me five surprising summer laws

5) An agriculture expert to tell me the top 8 smelliest roads in Britain (to do with drainage, manure, etc)

6) A surfer to explain how to successfully surf a lilo

7) A hat tailor or stylist to describe how to wear the following hats correctly: a chef’s hat, a straw hat, a baseball cap, a Trilby, a fedora

8 ) A fashion expert or stylist to describe how to choose a beach towel that doesn’t clash/ flatter with your complexion or body composition.

 Thank you.


I’m sure that the readers of FHM do have to worry a lot about stained trousers, but I’m not sure about the rest.

How the media can help to reduce the number of mass killings

July 2020

Desk Jockey