A lesson in PR from Brand Vs Paxman

Always conscious of adding to an overly saturated discussion, I couldn't help but comment on the on-going furore over Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand’s latest exchange.


A lesson in PR from Brand Vs Paxman

In recent years Russell Brand has taken the route many well respected entertainers have gone down, becoming somewhat disillusioned in their own self-worth, thinking that the fact they sell out stadium size venues means they have the know-how and duty to solve the world’s problems. Granted they have a platform to influence like few others do, however when they are declaring such orders as refusing to vote in general elections, their privileged position inevitably comes into question.


However this 15 minute interview has seeped its way into most news and discussion programmes and has sparked a nationwide debate. His claims about abstaining the right to vote have caused derision from his peers and many have joined in on the mockery of his claims.


In some ways this shocked me. Brand possesses an almost infallible ability and cunning intellect that usually sees him win over the majority of his audiences. Through his fluid and often mesmerising use of obscure and dated vocabulary he seems to be able to elevate his claims. However ordering people not to vote seemed a step too far, and people saw straight through his charisma.


Hidden beneath this, and bear with me, is a valuable lesson for PR pros.  Our industry often suffers from an image of being too obscure and airy in our day-to-day work, never really explaining hard facts or solid claims. However, as Russell has illustrated, no matter how much you dress up a claim or a pitch, if you haven’t got good content and a good angle that people are going to relate to, then you’re not going to get the results you desire. Having good content is as important as how you deliver it, and good content is something all organisations have, the job for the PR is to find it. For journalists to respond well to you, you need to give them what they want, and any journalist worth their salt will see straight through a weak story.


So the fallout from Brand’s Newsnight interview shows a valuable lesson for PRs – before going to press with a project, make sure your content is the type of thing that will be relevant and of interest to the people who will be reading the journalists article. If you attempt to present something that isn't there, then your sent box will fill up far quicker than your inbox, and you’ll find getting quality coverage to be a rare occurrence.

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