Thursday, 17 April 2008


As a community service to fellow PR practitioners and marketeers, I offer this link to a site “lovingly” maintained by frustrated US hacks. The site lists a range of bĂȘte noire phrases, regularly featured in press releases that have crossed their desks en route to the waste paper bin.

It is worth a browse around the rest of the site. The Hall of Shame ought to be standard reading for new recruits to media relations and the PR profession. Read and weep.

Be warned, friends, and bear in mind that they have yet to get their saw teeth into the whole blog/social/network/two point whatever phenomenon. It’s only a matter of time…..

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Peckham couture

I dare say they did the minute calculations. “If you don’t wear one, Minister, it will look as though police are being diverted from their duties to protect you on the streets of your own constituency. If you do wear one, it will look as though you are afraid to walk the streets of Peckham without protection.”

The arguments, I’m sure, were very finely balanced on each side. Advisors will no doubt have concluded that neither felt like the absolutely right decision.

In cases like this, it is seductive to assume that fine balance in the arguments will equate to a similarly finely balanced reaction, with no scope for hyperbole, extremes of view, etc, leading in turn to a negligible, neutral reaction. At times like this, it is worth returning to the original “what if” statements and thinking again.

This story is an object lesson in the need to be even more cautious when the “right thing” is difficult to define.

Once the story had broken, Harriet Harman was right to put her flak jacket back on and enter the Today programme to defend her decision. It was an opportunity to make the simple case for doing so, and in my view she used analogies to good effect to dismantle the story – though by this stage, of course, it was damage limitation more than anything else.

Quite what will happen when she stands in today at PMQs is anyone’s guess, though she should be prepared for predictable double-edged remarks about the cut of her jacket from the benches opposite.