Bridgid Nzekwu named ‘Outstanding Woman in Professional Services’

Bridgid Nzekwu, Director of Media Training at TNR, PA Group’s specialist communications consultancy, was named Outstanding Woman in Professional Services at the 2018 PRECIOUS Awards on 27 September.  Established in 2007, the PRECIOUS Awards celebrate the professional achievements of women of colour in the UK.  In addition to a 20-year career in broadcast journalism which saw Bridgid appointed the country’s first female mixed-race news reader, the award recognised her current role as one of the UK’s most sought-after media training and public speaking coaches.

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Facebook’s crisis handling – epic fail

Facebook’s response to the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal is proving remarkably inept. The dynamite revelation by a whistleblower, that the data of 50 million users was mined without their consent and used by a political consultancy, threatens the very future of the social network.  Yet it has taken five days for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to issue a statement.  The story broke on Saturday, by Wednesday Facebook shares fell by more than 2 per cent and were down more than 11 per cent on Thursday.  At the time of writing, $57 billion has been wiped off the market value of Facebook in less than a week (whilst Twitter’s share price has risen 3%). Only after all this fallout has Zuckerberg belatedly admitted that the company has “made mistakes” and that there has been “a breach of trust”.

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How sports bodies should respond to Bradley Wiggins drug abuse allegations

Sport is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as professional cycling gets its head around the conclusion by MPs that Sir Bradley Wiggins abused drugs to enhance his performance. Clearly it’s a distressing and frustrating moment for all clean athletes and their representatives. So much more than individual reputations is at stake: trust in whole sports, sporting associations and federations, agents and competitions is vulnerable, not to mention commercial interests such as sponsorship deals.

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Will Oxfam survive its #MeToo crisis?

As the shockwaves of Oxfam’s sexual misconduct scandal continue to reverberate painfully throughout the NGO sector and beyond, the charity’s very survival is in doubt.  This horrifying story is a brutal wake-up call.  Even an organisation built on more than seven decades of inspiring, selfless work by employees, volunteers and supporters can see its reputation quickly trashed when its response to a crisis is botched.

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Steering stories – what we can learn from Formula 1

Formula One has played a PR blinder by skilfully steering the story preoccupying critics and fans alike.  In the wake of coverage of the notorious Presidents Club, attention has inevitably turned to other industries, as journalists develop the story.  Liberty Media, which owns the rights to Formula One, has handled the situation with aplomb, recognising that many view ‘grid girls’ as outmoded, undignified, even offensive and announcing that it was “at odds with societal norms”.  It also recognised that some fans, including many ‘grid girls’, would disagree with the decision to dispense with the practice of employing “glamorous” women to stand prettily next to cars, while male racing drivers, male motorsports engineers and mostly male F1 team bosses went about their multi-billion pound business.

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How Theresa May should prepare for her Trump photo call

It’s a big day for the British Prime Minister, becoming the first world leader to meet newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump.  The cream of the British and American media will be there to record the moment and ask questions, so May’s team will have worked closely with Trump’s team to create what they hope will be iconic, impressive images captured for posterity…and to be repeated in news reports for years to come.  Except with a maverick installed at the White House, it might not be that straightforward.

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Learn from your interviews

It’s not unusual to discover that spokespeople have no idea how their interview went because they didn’t watch it back.  Confident spokespeople can (sometimes wrongly) assume they came across well and their messages hit their mark.  Less confident spokespeople can (often wrongly) assume their interview was terrible and be put off accepting future interview opportunities.  In both cases, their organisations lose out.

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Public Speaking:  Conquering the Fear

For most people, public speaking is something to avoid or endure. Having to do it can bring on all kinds of reactions. Uncontrollable shaking, profuse sweating, racing heartbeat, breathing difficulties, even an inability to stand up. I’ve trained public speakers who suffered all of these frightening feelings and many more. Even people used to the public spotlight are not immune. So it’s no surprise to hear the experience of Harry Potter actress and UN goodwill ambassador, Emma Watson.

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Why Empathy Trumps Performance in Interviews

One of the most important attributes of a good spokesperson is empathy.  So important is this aspect of emotional intelligence that it frequently trumps a slick performance in a media interview.  Your spokesperson may have the answers to the journalist’s questions and carefully crafted key messages but if they’re unable to come across as human, if the audience can’t relate to them, then it’s highly likely that your organisation will fail to get its message across.

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Fools Rush In…to Media Interviews

In An Essay on Criticism, the eighteenth century poet Alexander Pope wrote “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”  This certainly applies to media interviews.  An encounter with a journalist – even when there is no crisis or sensitive issue as a backdrop – is never to be entered into lightly and always involves an element of risk.  To mitigate that risk, organisations need to properly consider the risks of doing an interview, as well as the (frequently greater) risks of not doing one.  If you or your company/charity/group have decided to speak to the media, get on with it.  Why let your competitors/detractors get all the attention? If you don’t do an interview, somebody else will, so take the opportunity to get your message across as soon as you can, giving you the chance to get ahead of the story and contribute to the coverage.  This is especially true you’re facing criticism or a media storm.

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ABC – How to Handle a Media Crisis

In February 2016, Mars faced one of its worst case scenarios – a contaminated product with the potential to harm customers. The company issued a worldwide recall of Mars, Snickers and Milky Way bars, after a customer found a piece of plastic inside a Snickers. Inevitably this was a big story for the media in terms of reach (everyone who loves chocolate), scale (worldwide) and implications (would people/children stop eating the chocolate bars, would Mars see big losses in sales, the future of the brand/company?).

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Charities Under Scrutiny

Enduring media scrutiny when something goes wrong is pretty high on the list of worst nightmares for any organisation.  How much worse, then, when you’re a charity – an organisation set up to help people, to do good, to effortlessly occupy the moral high ground?  Some of the UK’s best known charities, such as Age UK and Help for Heroes, know exactly how that feels, following allegations, relentless media coverage and confirmation that they’re being investigated by the Charity Commission.

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