Margaret Thatcher’s PR Legacy

 Margaret Thatchers PR Legacy

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Lord Bell and Margaret Thatcher for consistent PR packaging that made a political icon.

The passing of Margaret Thatcher was announced yesterday by none other than her trusty PR adviser Lord Timothy Bell, the man who packaged Thatcher for an electoral win. It was a fitting end to an astonishing PR trajectory – the PR man who transformed the grocer’s daughter into a global figurehead ended up publicly drawing the curtain on the former Prime Minister’s final act, and possibly his greatest PR achievement.

To realize quite how successful Lord Bell has been in creating a myth and icon, one only need look at the media coverage announcing Thatcher’s death. Blanketing most news outlets on both sides of the Atlantic, the consensus on both political sides was that Thatcher had genuinely transformed economic policy and foreign policy with her relentless prescription for free markets and hostility to the Soviet Union.

Bell’s PR packaging served Thatcher’s messages well. Yesterday’s coverage made endless references to the deepened voice loaded with gravitas, as prescribed by her PR team, while her signature handbag portrayed an impatient common sense. Though her politics are what made her famous, her clever photo ops and bon mots made sure that even those who weren’t fans felt compelled to listen, watch, and acknowledge her achievements.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Lord Bell and Margaret Thatcher for consistent PR packaging that made a political icon.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Consistency trumps inventiveness. Thatcher’s genius was to begin working with a PR team at the outset of her political launch (as portrayed in the film The Iron Lady) that took every opportunity to demonstrate qualities that she later traded on. From her famous “This lady is not for turning” speech to her impeccably groomed persona, her packaging over the years rarely strayed or experimented with doubt or ideological uncertainty. Bell found for Thatcher a PR formula that, once firmly established, simply improved with age.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners and Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Margaret Thatcher whose shadow continues to loom large. The Iron Lady was cited recently as a role model by the leaders of Japan and South Korea. While Thatcher might give both leaders a low grade for their economic policies, her renowned determination is giving her PR image a second renaissance. Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe told local media he was moved to tears twice in the biopic The Iron Lady, and in South Korea, Prime Minister Jung Hong-won has said that “Thatcherism” will “revive the nation from crisis.” While Thatcher may have been unloved by many at the time of her reign, anyone wanting PR associated with strong leadership need look no further than Maggie from some thirty years ago.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to Rutgers University for the delay in firing Mike Rice, its head basketball coach. Rice was sacked this week after videos surfaced showing him shoving, kicking, and screaming anti-gay slurs at players during practice last winter. Unfortunately,  top brass at the New Jersey university knew about the behavior in November but elected to “rehabilitate” him with a fine and three-game suspension. A poor decision on every level, particularly so given that Rutgers became a poster child for bullying-related tragedy in 2010, when a student committed suicide after his roommate filmed him with another man and mocked him on Twitter. What was university leadership thinking?

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO North Korea’s threats. At least, that’s the message coming from the US Defense Department, even as Kim Jong Un et al have announced that North Korea’s nuclear missiles are now aimed at US targets. The threats have been called rhetoric, though US officials have deployed stealth aircraft and assured the public that the threats are being taken seriously. Perhaps they’re not serious enough to warrant the “My fellow Americans” speech from the president just yet, but many must be wondering just how far these threats will go.