Wedding in India, study trip to Malaysia,
cycling jaunt to Tour de France (A Labor one) – the reasonable voice of Liberal politics in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, warns his buddies that a PR disaster this early into their tenure is not a good a good look and, if in doubt, leave it out…
The Aussie political race is sometimes a one-legged one; especially when candidates shoot themselves in the foot by agreeing to TV interviews, yet not knowing at all how to handle even gentle journalistic probing. Today, media performance skills are more telling than political proficiency.
As electioneering begins, we have a couple of pearler PR disasters which display manifold perils; like knowing how to give an interview, bragging on your 6-point plan (but not knowing what the points are), knowing that Islam isn’t actually a country, knowing who your competitors are, knowing that it’s better to stay out of the media limelight, until you’ve done your A,B,Cs in media training. And while older politicians rush to defend these young goats with kind kid gloves, the fact remains that politics is a career that depends on the ability to understand and assimilate complex issues, having a strong position pertaining to key facts, staying on message and knowing how to deliver the sound bites the public will remember you by. Not the PR disaster interviews that become your e-legacy. It’s not easy, but it is a mandatory for those seeking a ridicule-free political career.
As an aggressive social media campaign compels advertisers to withdraw their support of the Alan Jones’ radio show, I read a neat precis by Troy Dodds of WA who summarises the issues neatly.
And for me, it’s not a PR disaster for Jones; this kind of unreasonable rant (and now pained bleating for alleged wrongs done against him), is his stock-in-trade and the exact outburst that shock radio jocks like him the world over need to keep their profile high and their easily-enraged listeners tuning in. Sponsors? They’re’ll always be new ones chasing the audience that Jones so easily corrals.
For me, the most ironic and iconic PR disasters are where there’s a PR person’s actions at the centre of the storm. Without wishing to go over the coals of the recent Canberra restaurant fracas, here’s a succinct recap of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Julia Gillard’s press adviser, Tony Hodges. Ta to The Australian.
Australian Liberal leader Tony Abbott has opened 2012’s PR Disaster contender list with an on-air gaffe comparing the sinking of the Costa Concordia to boat arrivals in Australia, News Limited reports: “Speaking on Triple M Adelaide’s morning show yesterday morning Mr Abbott was asked: “This is just a bit from left field, the captain from the Costa Concordia wants to know if you need any help with your boat policy?” Abbott replied: “Well that was one boat that did get stopped, wasn’t it,” and almost immediately was forced into damage limitation mode. He alluded to a lack of taste/judgement, but then attacked Labor pollies (quite rightly) who had tried to make editorial capital from his not so slick quip.
Via Ragan, news that a US Tea Party supporter sent an email depicting President Obama as a baby monkey. Clearly the pathetic racist slur says more about the immaturity and hatred that thrives in the sender – Marilyn Davenport, Orange County – than the intended object of her bile. As for her jenny-come-lately attempt at an apology; it has PR pressure – not authenticity – written all over it. Let’s hope this is a PR disaster for Davenport’s career.
Here in Australia, an academic/lawyer and indigenous affairs adviser seems to have got off lightly after having sent a Tweet suggesting that watching bestiality with a horse wasn’t as offensive as watching an(other) indigenous representative speak on television. While at first suggesting that people were taking her derogatory remark “out of context” (as if context could excuse away such a mean-minded barb), Larissa Behrendt offered an apology one day later (no doubt after being advised by government or similar PRs) which has been rejected by the object of Behrendt’s disrespect. Why can’t allegedly ‘smart’ people understand that commenting on Twitter is the same as sending out a personal press release to any and every media outlet in the world? Twitter is the no1 PR disaster platform of the social media space, and is the medium that reveals more about an individual’s true nature and character than a polished and prepared resume ever could.
Sh*t happens in media interviews
: Bullish Australian Liberal leader Tony Abbott is copping highly critical flak for seemingly being fazed into dumb silence when confronted by a newsman about comments he made about the death of an Aussie soldier in Afghanistan. Abbott defenders are saying he was maintaining a dignified silence, others opine it was blind rage. Some say rabbit in headlight syndrome. Whatever the reason, inability to think quickly and respond appropriately when in an interview tight corner can define the reputation of any politician.
Here’s a mind-boggling PR disaster story. A (Scottish) News Of The World editor (nicknamed The Beast) is alleged to have stripped down to his boxer undies to watch a video (incriminating a Member of the Scottish Parliament MSP) which a former pal of the MSP was offering to sell The Beast for 200,000 quid. The ‘pal’ – best man at the MSPs wedding – had ALLEGEDLY secretly filmed the MSP admitting to attending swingers’ parties and sex clubs. And just to further complicate matters and implicate others, David Cameron’s controversial (ALLEGED phone-hacking supremo) Communications Director Andy Coulson, was named in a court-produced email as the man who would personally sign the News of the World cheque for the pal’s implicating video.
Parallel universes, clearly.
Apparently, Aussie PM Julia Gillard banned a senior Labour honcho – Mark Arbib – from appearing on the country’s most credible political panel discussion (Q&A) last night. Mischievously, the producers left Arbib’s seat empty thereby creating a risible talking point throughout the show. Having agreed to appear, then pulling the appearance, this looks like another major PR mis-step from the faltering Labour Party.