The impossible PR job

Tomorrow's Business

Who fancies the job as Mike Ashley’s PR man? A few have tried, they come and they go. Some seem to have made genuine progress in getting the Sports Direct boss to behave like the leader of a serious company, but it never lasts.

Before long, he’s throwing up in pub fireplaces, failing to pay his staff the legal minimum wage or starting rows he can’t win with beloved former managers of his football team.

The flak trade would normally see someone like Ashley as a challenge. There’s an opportunity here, they’d say. The only way is up.

I asked a couple of top fire-fighting PRs if they fancied it and both groaned. Life’s too short. The fee could never justify the hassle, was the feeling.

Some people are just beyond PR, they cannot be helped, mostly because they don’t want to be. There’s something refreshing about a business person who couldn’t care less how he is perceived. That does mean that working for him is going to be a short-lived, frustrating affair.

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