Posts Tagged ‘media training’

Ken Clarke – in need of a new PR team?

Friday, May 20th, 2011 by Claire Beesley

An apple’s an apple. A spade’s a spade. And let’s agree that rape is rape shall we? No? It’s not? Well then, Justice Minister, Kenneth Clarke, you have confused me indeed; but not due to your statement, but why you would make it to begin with.

Whatever your stance on the comments Clarke recently made regarding rape sentences, which have seen the media up in arms and anti-rape campaigners demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister, I am sure we can all agree that Justice Minister Clarke should never have said what he did.

Playing devil’s advocate, one can understand the point Clarke was trying to make – and which he has since clarified to the media – that the circumstances of each case are different and so the lengths of sentences then depend on the individual case and the judge hearing it. However, misunderstanding or not, the fact remains that Clarke is a seasoned politician and should know better than to make a statement that was always going to create widespread controversy.

Having been in Parliament for over 40-years, Clarke would have given hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews, probably been media trained and been the recipient of constant PR counsel for over four decades. Why then did this undoubtedly adept politico make such a rookie mistake?

No doubt Clarke would be armed with a string of prepared and PR approved answers for tough questions on the most controversial topics, so did he just forget his composure and set answers? Or is Clarke getting complacent in his long-held role as one of the country’s best known politicians? Just like celebrities and footballers who admit infidelity and expect the public and their wives to still love them, do politicians suffer complacency after long holding office? If so perhaps Ed Miliband and the others calling for Clarke’s resignation are right.

However, if it was a genuine misunderstanding, should the public accept Clarke’s subsequent apology and give him another chance – after all, we all say dumb things but it wouldn’t necessarily cost Joe Blogs his job.

Or, perhaps Clarke just needs a new PR team or refresher course in how not to cause a media and public furore.

Whatever the reason for his comment, the media frenzy continues and it will be interesting to see if Clarke will be the latest in a long line to fall from a few small words.

Even Mad Men’s Don needs to be on message

Thursday, September 9th, 2010 by Jon Clements

Getting the best out of the media is easy, right? Just put on a suit, invite in a reporter, put the kettle on and wait for the journalist to hang on your every word.

Wrong. And this couldn’t be better illustrated than by Madison Avenue’s favourite alpha male and advertising industry reprobate, Don Draper, of the TV series, Mad Men. 

Series 4 of Mad Men got underway on the BBC last night with an episode suitably entitled “Public Relations” in which “Don’s secretive demeanour results in an unfavourable interview by a reporter”. Clearly, it’s not bad enough the characters are lunchtime drinking and chain smoking themselves to death.

The interview, conducted by a one-legged Korean war veteran and reporter for Advertising Age (Don’s colleague, Roger, quips about how “cheap” the magazine is, sending only “half a reporter”), has Don at his most louche and uncommunicative. When the finished article appears, Don’s personality takes centre stage,  and he’s described as probably having a Dorian Gray-style portrait slowly decaying somewhere in a loft. His fellow directors are appalled with the outcome and the fact that Don has singularly failed to “sell” their relaunched company. Don is indignant: surely it’s the reporter’s job to get the story.

Well, yes, that’s true. But it’s the responsibility of the senior company spokesman to at least influence the direction of that story.

Not every C-level executive in a company is a natural communicator and nobody is so senior that they can pass on having proper training to handle media interaction. Dealing effectively with journalists isn’t solely about managing a media crisis but maximising a media opportunity. Don’s mistake, either through arrogance or laziness is thinking that the sheer magnificence of his presence will achieve the desired result with the magazine. He says: “My work speaks for itself”.

Maybe, but don’t assume the media gives a hoot. You have to ensure you speak for your work.

Meanwhile, I’ll have another Martini…

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Good PR – the best club in the bag

Friday, September 19th, 2008 by Jon Clements


Nick Faldo, golf’s iceman, was more than a little shaky in the opening ceremony speeches of this year’s Ryder Cup. And the media doesn’t miss a trick. In fact, the trick becomes the news.

Radio 5 Live this morning took great pleasure in lampooning European team captain Faldo for getting one of his team’s name wrong, for asking another whether he hailed from “Ireland or Northern Ireland” and for a sub-Muhammed Ali gag involving butterflies and bees. By contrast, the American captain, Paul Azinger, came across as “assured” and ultimately winning the PR battle.

Of course, the winning or losing will be on the green. But if the top man, in any role, is seen to be a communications liability, the media will leap on it like dingos. Often, the problem is everyone’s too scared to suggest the top guy needs to work to a brief or at least some well-rehearsed and clear messages.

Bosses have been responsible for damaging their company’s reputation and even sinking their own businesses with ill-judged comments (stand up Gerald Ratner). Politicians, who should know better, can be just as bad. Our media training friends at Perris-Myatt this week highlighted deputy leader, Harriet Harman’s response to the Times when asked if she would want Gordon Brown’s job if ousted: “I cannot remember the answer to that”, she allegedly replied.

Even the top people need a helping hand with their communications skills at times.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''