When is a PR disaster not a PR disaster? (reprised)

From The Guardian newspaper; A seasoned ‘exec’ has been jailed for four months, a supplier for six, plus a senior exec has resigned, offering to make substantive donations for any offence caused.The crime? Burglarising mobile phones to find out private information (free subscription) which is then used for commercial and personal advantage.

In any area of business this would be labelled a complete PR disaster, but in this case it’s not; simply because it happened to a newspaper. And as I’ve said before, the news media is the only industry that somehow never labels its own commercial embarrassments as PR disasters. But why should they be exempt?
In this case the ‘newspaper’ was Britain’s ‘News of the World’. The paper’s nickname, News of the Screws – given for its tendency to report on celebrity bonking and sleaze – has taken on a new and sinister meaning because of the ‘phone screwing’ practiced by disgraced royal reporter Clive Goodman and gumshoe Glenn Mulcaire.

The scenario offers a salutory tale for PR consultants (free subscription) (Lahndan publicist Max Clifford and Royal Comms Secretary Paddy Harveson were said to have been targets of the phone tapping scandal), as ‘celebrity espionage’ brings another difficult dynamic in managing client reputation. Forget brain tumours, using mobiles can definitely be highly dangerous…to your career.

2 thoughts on “When is a PR disaster not a PR disaster? (reprised)

  1. At a personal PR disaster level, it’s gotta have a detrimental effect on the rep & careers of the fallen three. For an already beseiged newspaper industry (the Edelman Trust Barometer suggests their credibility is waning yet again), I think it’s another detrimental knock. Sure, the passive stakeholders (the Screws readers) won’t care, but whether increasingly sensitive advertisers (like Carphone W’house did with BB) care, we’ll need to wait ‘n see.


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