A doomed PR tactic

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A doomed PR tactic

Last week Home Secretary Suella Braverman made a visit to Rwanda accompanied by “friendly” hacks only.

She was there to discuss her plan to send asylum seekers to Kigali, the capital, a bill that is “about compassion”, she claimed, to general astonishment.

Accompanying her were journalists from GB NewsThe Daily Mail, The TimesThe Express and The Telegraph.

The BBCThe IndependentThe GuardianThe Mirror and others were not invited.

It is hard to see what the point is of this. Plainly, it is an attempt to control negative coverage. But it doesn’t really work, especially since social media folk including hacks are going to make fun anyway.

On Twitter, Parody Rishi Sunak notes that Braverman “has made it very clear that she doesn’t want anyone to see this photo of her laughing like a hyena beside migrant accommodation in Rwanda, so please DON’T share it.”

Definitely don’t share it.

The Guardian’s coverage of this trip was always going to be negative, and was no less so for them not being invited. The politicians just look ashamed of what they were up to.

In corporate land, this tactic seems even more doomed.

Friendly business hacks are going to get more access than critical ones, sure. But if I’m gunning for a particular CEO, that he won’t talk to me just makes life easier.

I don’t have to engage with the fact that he might be a decent guy with a family who read what is written about him. He’s just this snoot hiding behind his PRs.

A few years back an energy company and later a supermarket barred some of the sector specialists from a media dinner, because they had written unhelpful stories.

From memory, in each case it backfired, because supposedly rival hacks decided they wouldn’t go either. One of the dinners was just cancelled altogether, a complete embarrassment to the company concerned*.

Besides anything else, the friendly hacks would have felt and looked just like mouthpieces to their colleagues. So they then need to go out of their way to demonstrate their independence.

I don’t think a big company would try this tactic these days…

*I’d name and shame them, but recollections differ about who it was.

Press release of the day

Really solid stuff here from the Treasury Committee on bank savings rates.

Last month the Committee questioned the banks on why rates are so low, and asked if there was a link between that and CEO pay.

The bank’s responses are all included. Harriet Baldwin, the chair, says: “We anticipate that the financial regulator will want to look into this issue in further detail, in particular whether the market is truly competitive and if retail banks are relying on customer inertia to keep savings rates low.”

Stories that will keep rolling

1) How badly has the bond market turmoil hit Lloyd’s of London

2) Is the Bank of England out of step with the Fed on interest rates?

3) What have people stopped buying from Wickes due to price rises?

4) Is the banking wobble over?


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