Sunday, 27 March 2011

Ed Milliband's address to forget

#March26 will live long in the memory for many reasons - but Ed Milliband may well wish otherwise.

The Labour leader must have known he was taking a huge risk addressing a TUC rally that would see the largest protest in the capital since the anti-war movement of 2003.

What did Ed have to gain from it? Many in the crowd will have been sceptical of his role in the economic crisis anyhow and it wasn't as if he was marching, he wasn't.

His gamble backfired on live TV when anarchists picked that very moment to launch a series of violent attacks - meaning Sky News and the BBC both carries his words over images of violent outbreaks:

That was a mistake, and an avoidable; yet perhaps he didn't have a choice - the younger Milliband famously owes the Unions his leadership victory over his brother, David (

If the Unions did force his hand then they can't be blamed for the speech itself which questionably linked the anti-cuts protest with the suffragettes and anti-apartheid movements. Unsurprisingly, this has caused consternation even in the left-leaning press:

It caps off a poor week for Mr Milliband who has to handle the juxtaposition of a party poll lead and poor personal approval ratings.

I have previously said that 'Red Ed' needs a cause to make his own but until he has clearly made the case for the 'alternative' he speaks so passionately about, he will struggle to reach those voters beyond the Unions and leave himself open to allegations of hypocrisy.

David Cameron started his early years as leader riding huskies and hugging trees - how Ed Milliband must wish he had the time to dip his toe in such less contentious waters.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Budget 2011 predictions

The Sundays are full of 'predictions' and ''source' based info on this week's budget. Why on earth they just don't say 'The Treasury tells us' is another thing! A miss the good old days when Ministerial announcements weren't leaked in advance; although when those days were is another thing...

James Quinn in the Sunday Telegraph focuses on how George Osborne will attempt to convince big business to stay in Britain, whilst sending a message to the public that these same organisations must pay their way

This is the Catch 22 budget, Osborne is arguably damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Either way, his 'enterprise' policies to promote growth in Britain and to send the army of enterprise (some of the metaphors being briefed are truly cringe-worthy) in to battle, need to hit the mark. The public will not tolerate spin over substance this time, any gloss will melt away rather quickly under scrutiny.

Can the Conservative Chancellor succeed in delivering a budget that pleases Joe Public, The City, small businesses and his Cabinet colleagues?

Of course not. It's who he chooses to prioritise which will define this budget.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Matt Baker asks Prime Minister David Cameron "how do you sleep at night?"

This is worth a watch - did he or didn't he mean it?!

The reaction of the co-presenter seems to indicate Matt Baker's question was unscripted, which suddenly makes the One Show interesting!

I think Matt knew exactly what he was saying.

A rare moment of controversy from the Beeb's  early evening snooze-fest.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

'Churnalism' website must not be used as an attack dog on PR industry

Flat Earth News (Nick Davies) was a monumental game changer in the debate as to how the 24/7 new media culture has had a damaging impact on the quality of journalism.

In the book, Davies is scathing about the 'copy and paste' techniques used by certain publications upon receipt of a press release. Now, the Media Standards Trust has launched the website to help people check press releases against articles and see how much of this has simply been copied and disseminated around the world.

The website itself has the potential to have a positive impact on journalism if it encourages fact checking and real journalism in place of copying and pasting. It could also, however, be detrimental for several reasons.

Firstly, if an article becomes infamous for its appearance on the site, then a journalist could feasibly receive real damage to their career; yet we have no background as to why the decision to publish the press release in full took place. It could have been a line manager's decision. The reality is also that commercial pressures require spaces to be filled and if the release is 'non commercial' and of genuine interest, then large parts of it could be of legitimate use.

At this point I must point out that although I work in public relations, I value relationship building and acting as a door to a source for journalists, I have no interest in 'forcing' copy on to a page or not recognising the value of an independent and pluralistic media - I even defended the media in my MA dissertation after John Lloyd's What the Media is Doing to Our Politics book.

I think it will also be a shame if the site is used as an attack dog against PR per se. Public relations is about managing reputations. It is every organisation's right to manage their reputation and the practice has been going on since the dawn of society. Yes, from time to time, methods can be criticsed but so can journalists'

So, simply using content from a press release isn't a crime. There might be legitimate insights via statistics, quotes or facts. A journalist can write around this and use counter arguments if needed, but there could be a large number of words used in a release and an article; without the article being compromised.

So, certainly puts the cat amongst the pigeons but whether or not it is here to say, who knows. It also strikes very much as a 'PR stunt' by the Media Standards Trust, does it not?

And there's the irony, simply defining something as 'PR' is in many ways an anachronistic exercise and one would be better served to understand the way reputation managers work with the media in today's climate.