When is a joke no longer a joke? When Kate Middleton and human tragedy is involved

Kate M MoD

The Duchess of Cambridge
Credit the MoD

We all know the story, but now it has happened we can stand back and look at the PR lessons. First, the story: on December 5th, two happy go lucky DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian at the hitherto unknown Sydney-based radio station 2Day FM, had their scoop of a lifetime – they managed to dupe an unsuspecting nurse in a hospital to put them through the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was undergoing treatment for severe morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. She is the future Queen Consort of England – unless there’s a Republican coup – and her progeny will be the future King or Queen of England depending on sex. Continue reading

Are apologies overworked in PR? IKEA versus Apple

IKEA, founded in 1943, and one of the most successful international retailing companies, is undergoing a practical lesson in crisis management after admitting last week that political prisoners in the former East Germany laboured under cruel conditions to produce its furniture.

In May, a documentary made in Sweden – the home country of IKEA – made claims that the company had used the forced labour of political prisoners suppressed by the former head of the German Democratic Republic Honecker and his ubiquitous Stasi police to make its furniture. Continue reading

Petraeus’ tactical retreat: an almost flawless execution

Gen. David Petraeus
Photo by Hector Alejandro

Normally, nothing provokes more ludicrous and hysterical behaviour from our public figures than sex scandals. Bill Clinton famously queried the definition of the word “is” to defend his contrary statements on Monica Lewinsky. Newt Gingrich used allegations made against him by a former wife to launch an uncharacteristically terse attack on CNN.

The Petraeus affair, in contrast, has so far managed to stay relatively clean-cut – at least for Petraeus himself. Continue reading