Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron

18
Feb
11

Spin doctor or just Alistair Campbell?

I went to the Q&A session at De Montfort University last night with Alistair Campbell in the hot seat. I was really interested from a PR point of view and wondered what he would say about spin doctors and the future of the media.

First of all it needs to be said that this man has a way with words. I was very impressed by the things he said and how transparent and honest he seemed (or is this all the magic of the spin doctor?). He was very clear that he doesn’t mind talking about his past especially the pornography (no, he was not  a pornography pin-up but writer for pornographic magazine Forum) part and the alcohol addiction.

The Q&A session started with a few pre-selected questions and then the chair opened up the floor and everyone could ask Alistair Campbell a question about anything. 

An interesting point Mr. Campbell made was that the media is not always truthful and does sell stories that aren’t true. For instance the story that he was going to start managing a football club. Campbell phones the journalist and told him that the story wasn’t true and the journalist replied by saying: “I know but it’s a good story”. So does this mean that journalists are mainly selling us lies because they think we like to hear stories that are untrue but seem interesting and entertaining?

Journalist are trying to keep their grip on the agenda and want to have the power of deciding what we talk about as the public. They thought they were loosing their grip on the agenda setting because the government and politics had the upper hand in setting the agenda.

The point Alistair Campbell made is that media is trying to come up with stories that sell more newspapers but this isn’t really what the public wants and therefore the media is not going to change until the public demands a change from the media. This is a very interesting point made.

Another point that I found interesting was that Alistair Campbell said that the true spin doctors are the journalists. Journalists write a certain way to make things seem different from what they actually are and during Campbell’s spin doctor period for Tony Blair he was trying to set these stories straight. This was then seen as spinning. Who do we believe the former spin doctor or the media? Interesting topic I would say.

Interesting person to follow on Twitter, his tweet from last night was nice, or was het only being kind? Once a spin doctor always a spin doctor?

“Terrific session with students from De Montfort University. Bright, engaged, really good questions. Wouldn’t advise Dave or Nick to go there.”

Have a look at his blog:

 http://www.alastaircampbell.org/blog/2011/02/18/hezza-signals-discontent-at-lack-of-cameron-grip-but-osborne-wont-u-turn-yet/

He even mentions DMU in his latest blog post!

Got the book and he signed it to my mum from me and my new best friend. Thanks for that again Alistair Campbell!

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17
Nov
10

Lie to me

Lying

There was an interesting article in the Citylife and County living magazine last week: “The truth about lying“. Because PR is linked to the word ‘spin’ and can be seen as ‘lying’, I thought it might be interesting to read the article.

A sentence in the article that really got my attention was: “A world without deception might be a very difficult place to live – mean, do you want to hear that yes, your behind does look big in that?” I’m not really sure what my answer to this question would be and I thought really hard about it. It depends on what your behind looks big in doesn’t it? If my behind looked big in something that I really love I wouldn’t want to hear it, but if my behind looked big in something that was reasonable then someone could actually say that to me.

But we are not talking about behinds looking big in things are we. We are talking about lying in the PR business. An interesting quote from the article that I thought went very well with explaining PR and what it’s all about is: ”Know what they know. Be aware of their interests and activities so you can cover your tracks.” It’s all about relevance to the target group and what they want to believe and then you feed that to them. Is this lying? Not really, you are telling people what they want to hear or maybe trying to persuade people what you want them to think.

Then we always end up at the question: “Is lying, I prefer the word spinning, to your target audience ethical?” The answer that I think answers all the questions about if some actions are ethical is, NO. It is not ethical to lie or spin the truth, but as long as nobody knows there is no harm is there?

For example: Constructing a list of favourite music for David Cameron to help him manipulate his public image. Is this ok to pretend you like something because it makes you look cool or cultured?

The subject surrounding David Cameron might be a touchy subject but again the answer is: NO. It is not ethical, but do we really mind if we don’t know that David Cameron didn’t actually picked the songs? No. But we would mind if all the national and local newspapers wrote that David Cameron actually didn’t pick the songs, someone else did. Well then all hell would have probably broken loose. Wouldn’t it?

In my opinion ‘lying’ is a very strong word, especially when using it in combination with PR. It can be seen as ‘being economical with the truth’. We all do it sometimes to make ourselves look better, sound better, impress people, to get things our own way.  I don’t think that we have to be too cynical about this, we all know that the truth is manipulated but if we thought too much about that we would never believe anything! The manipulation has to be subtle, not too in your face, or it wouldn’t be credible.

Tell me what you think about PR spin. PR and the ethical aspect of it and if you think this is acceptable in this field of work.




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