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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Guess Who Confessed To Hacking Again?

Phone hacking1 Guess Who Confessed To Hacking Again?

The PR Verdict: "F" for Murdoch and public interest

Fancy that!  BSKYB the television broadcaster has fessed up to phone hacking.  Is the latest revelation from another Murdoch controlled news organization all that surprising?

Besides being astonishingly embarrassing for Murdoch, it follows on the heels of his son James’s resignation from BSKYB and increases scrutiny on a proprietor who has broken his trust with the public.  The circumstances of the cases were detailed by BSKYB,  who while acknowledging that hacking was illegal, said it was authorized by the News Editor to benefit the public interest.  SKY thundered this illegal act was only done under strict rules and for a specific purpose.  No need for us to worry then.

Next time it may be less of a hassle to simply hand over the file to the police to avoid these sorts of problems.

The PR Verdict: “F” for Murdoch (yet again) and his newly found PR strategy of claiming protection by way of public interest.  Is there any thing else to confess while we are here?

Cloaking the issue in the mantle of public interest has inherent risks.  Since when has society broadly consented to giving editors carte blanche to break the law?  Without defining the “public interest” served in this case, the waters are now muddied.  Why not simply say they were all errors of judgment?  Far simpler given the pattern and volume across Murdoch based businesses.

To read more click here.

What is your verdict? Is claiming the public interest a good PR strategy?

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Why Are Rebekah And Her Friends Still In Trouble?

rebekahbrooks 300x168 Why Are Rebekah And Her Friends Still In Trouble?

The PR Verdict: “F” for a crisis strategy that is failing.

Rebekah Brooks, former CEO of News International and best buddy of Rupert and James Murdoch has been arrested for the second time.  Previously arrested last year, she is hitting the headlines again for all the wrong reasons. This time speculation is that the arrest concerns a charge of perverting the course of justice. Tough times ahead.

Despite endless protests from News International denying knowledge of widespread phone hacking and corruption of public officials, the arrests proceed and the parliamentary inquiry deepens. Public rage continues unabated.

In terms of crisis management, the hacking scandal was always a PR issue first and foremost.  Prioritising legal concerns over PR has been the major blunder.  As it happens things are looking bad on the legal front anyway.

The PR Verdict: “F” for a crisis management strategy that is failing.   Is it possible that News International’s ordeal might have been shorter-lived if PR concerns had driven and shaped the crisis strategy, with legal concerns in second place?

Pubic and political pressures have a nasty habit of taking a crisis in surprising directions.  What might have happened if News International had conceded wrongdoing and made amends at the outset?  The closing of News of the World, millions paid out in damages, the BSKYB acquisition blocked and multiple staff arrests could hardly be described as a strategic success.  It might have been wiser to take an earlier hit with a PR strategy that paid less attention to legal risk and prioritised reforming the company and closing the issue. No doubt Rebekah can tell us more in court.

To read about the latest arrests click here. To read more background about the phone hacking scandal click here.

Is there a news item that you think needs a grade? Send us your suggestion for the next PR Verdict: info@prverdict.com

What’s the PR Verdict on the Latest Chess Move by Murdoch?

murdoch and the sun Whats the PR Verdict on the Latest Chess Move by Murdoch?

The PR Verdict: "B" for a chess move designed to startle.

Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he will begin publishing the Sun on Sunday has surprised followers of the phone-hacking scandal.  In one move, Murdoch has managed to change the conversation from criminal charges and ongoing arrests, to one about a new newspaper, and fresh jobs for journalists. The 81 year old has moved quickly and as a game changer this is perfect.

Though unanswered questions will continue to plague Murdoch’s empire, the company now has a definitive reason to start talking about its future without having to answer questions solely about the past.  By creating a new newspaper, News International can confidently reply:  That Was Then –  This Is Now.

The PR Verdict: “B” for a chess move designed to startle.  The new story about News International will be the Sun on Sunday’s actual content and business performance.

If News International really wants to put the past behind it, the first issue of the Sun on Sunday should carry a pledge from management and journalists making a clear break with the past, outlining core values and making a public promise of integrity to its readers.  It might just be the definitive line-in-the-sand the public has been waiting for. After that, the editors will need to work out just what type of paper they can create when they are not putting celebrities under surveillance or hacking phones for gossip.

Will the Sun on Sunday be that different from News of the World?  Let us know.