Why Doesn’t Rebekah Brooks Have Any Supporters?

rebekahbrooks2 Why Doesnt Rebekah Brooks Have Any Supporters?

PR Verdict: “F” for Brooks and her PR strategy.

There was a surprising moment at the press conference held by Rebekah Brooks and her husband yesterday.  Rupert Murdoch’s favorite power editor had assembled the media to respond to news that criminal charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice had been levied against her, her husband and assorted colleagues. Complaining the charges against others were unwarranted, Brooks emphatically stated  “I was the Editor of the News of the World.  I was the Editor of The Sun and I was Chief Executive.”   What a surprise! Was Brooks acknowledging she had been in charge after all?

The odd thing about the situation Brooks now finds herself in, is that despite many powerful friends, she has no visible supporters, apart from her Murdoch cronies.  Issues keep escalating, new discoveries are made and there is no brake on the relentless pursuit of those involved.  With charges being announced yesterday, the moment to sway public opinion and temper the investigating zeal of others may have just passed.

Put simply, Brooks’s problem is that no one believes a word she says.  Maintaining her line that she was unaware of phone hacking (bar one rogue reporter) has tested the limits of her own credibility. Coupled with her now infamous testimony where she acknowledged the routine payment of police officers, she has become the target of rage for all matters Murdoch.

PR Verdict: “F” for Brooks and her PR strategy.  Disliked and disbelieved, the  future of Rebekah Brooks looks bleak.  Her salvation may lie partly in mustering some public supporters but where are they?

PR Takeaway: Sometimes it’s better to concede something rather than deny everything.  Brooks and her cronies have faced an uphill battle, hemmed in by a legal strategy that obsessively denies any responsibility let alone culpability. A radical rethink might be needed.  To restore some credibility to Murdoch’s fallen angel, comments to the media should acknowledge some  personal failure and fault.  What else might encourage supporters to come forward publicly and guide this issue into another direction? That’s the question her legal and PR team might want to ponder.

To see the press conference and read more click here.

What’s your PR Verdict?

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Wal-Mart, Anything You Would Like to Say?

walmart Wal Mart, Anything You Would Like to Say?

The PR Verdict: “A” for Wal-Mart and an elegant way to decline comment.

Big trouble ahead for retailer Wal-Mart.  The firm is reeling from Sunday’s NYTimes which claimed that as far back as 2005, Wal-Mart’s big wigs learned of allegations of widespread bribery of government officials in Mexico by its own peeps but did nothing about it.

At heart is an allegation that the internal review conducted by Wal-Mart at the time was a whitewash.  Allegedly conducted by some of the very same people who stood accused of paying up to $25 million in bribes, the NYTimes suggests the firm not only failed to investigate the matter properly but also failed to notify the relevant authorities.  In so doing the firm and its management are now potentially exposed to seriously punitive penalties.

What to say to the NYTimes?  Priority one in a case like this is to buy time and establish distance between what is alleged and where the company is now.  Wal-Mart’s besieged PR commented, “If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.  We are deeply concerned by the allegations and are working aggressively to determine what happened.”

The PR Verdict: “A” for Wal-Mart’s response,  an elegant way to decline comment.  As an immediate PR response it established the allegations are unclear, circumstances vague and not what the firm is about.

PR Takeaway:  When in doubt buy time and create distance from the allegation.  While a legal investigation and fallout could take years, the damage to the stock price, relations with regulators and overall reputation will start hurting immediately.  There is very little time.  Suspend or remove the implicated management from the day-to-day workings of the firm.  The faster Wal-Mart can say that was then, this is now, the better for its stockholders.  This is going to be a crisis communications strategy that will have to run and run.

To read the original article click here and to read more click here.

What’s your verdict on Wal-Marts’s response?

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What Did Mike Wallace Tell Us About Journalism?

mikewallace What Did Mike Wallace Tell Us About Journalism?

The PR Verdict: “A” for a career that helped define broadcast journalism.

What does the death of veteran 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace at 93 tell us about the way we like our news?  The justifiable tributes have been flowing in thick and fast.  What’s noteworthy is what he is being remembered for.

CBS in its own tribute to Wallace said he “took to heart the old reporter’s pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  He (Wallace) characterized himself as “nosey and insistent.”  CBS then lists proudly the 20th century icons that “…submitted to a Mike Wallace interview. He lectured Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, on corruption.  He lectured Yassir Arafat on violence and asked the Ayatollah Khoumeini if he were crazy.”

The complaint du jour of journalism, particularly broadcast journalism is that that it has lost the art of professional objectivity.  Journalists nowadays always have an angle, so goes the refrain from both the media establishment and opinion formers, and crusading journalism that starts with a point of view isn’t that way we want our news.  CBS and Wallace however proved that that isn’t always true.

The PR Verdict: “A” for an impressive career that helped define broadcast journalism.  In looking back over interview footage it’s clear that ‘nosey and insistent journalism” was always in vogue.

The material CBS chose in compiling Wallace’s interview highlights makes for fascinating viewing.  Confronting, insistent questioning and getting a rise out of the interviewee seem to be the hallmark of success for both Wallace and his producers at CBS.  The truth may be that we don’t mind opinionated and righteous journalism after all.

To see the compilation of Mike Wallace’s greatest interviews from CBS click here.

What’s your PR Verdict on the interviews?

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