Max Clifford could learn a lot from Online PR.

It’s a shame each member of the IAB blogging team only gets to write once a week, because i’ve been wanting to talk about Kerry Katona for days! The IAB totally ground to a halt for 10 minutes last Thursday as we all sat glued to the projector screen in our seminar room, almost unable to believe what we were seeing, watching in a state of sheer disbelief, yet hugely entertained at the same time. It’s quite bad really. Now i don’t have a problem with Kerry Katona – i’m obsessed with all things celebrity so she’s interesting to read about, plus she performed at my university in her Atomic Kitten days and seemed like a very pleasant lady. What i do have a problem with is the appalling public relations ‘strategy’ that she has fallen victim to, being used as catalyst for car crash TV, and the awful message this sends out about the industry asa whole. Which bringsus to MaxClifford–in my view one of the worst men ever toexist.

People refer to Max Clifford as a ‘PRGuru’ – given that the definition of a guru is ‘a leader in a particular field’ or a ‘an acknowledged and influential advocate’, this title couldn’t be further from the truth. What Clifford represents is the old ‘press agentry’ model of public relations that the majority of today’s practitioners would rather distance themselves from. A model that is characterised by money, and lies, and spin, and incredibly unhelpful to the development of the profession. Where’s the reputation management? Where’s the communication of any kind of key, positivemessage? This PR activity is based on quantity of coverage, not quality, and is incredibly harmful to the client.

But at least Iceland haven’t sacked her. As quoted on Brand Republic last week Tom Reddy managing director of the Tom Reddy Agency, said: “Iceland shoppers are still very loyal to her… [and see her as] one of their own”. So a PR job well done then…

Furthermore, if you Google Kerry Katonathe results shout headlines such as ‘anger grows over Kerry Katona train wreck interview’ and ‘Mum-to-be Kerry snorted line and said: ‘It’s ok, you can wean babies off coke after’ as well as a link to Kerry giving birth hosted on the MTV site. What the hell are her managementdoing?! If nowadays it’s commonplace to think of celebrities as brands, then whydo people rarelymarket them online accordingly? Search should be treated as a core channel for reaching your audiences, and the natural results in particular monitored and incorporated into your PR strategy moving forward – sounds like common sense, but many in the public eye still fail to recognise its importance.

Kerry has now severed all ties with Max Clifford, possibly the most sensible thing she’s done in years, and now he is pulling out all the stops to protect his own reputation, offering quotes aplenty to have himself appear as a caring andresponsible individual and PR practitioner. However, given that this is the man who brought us Rebecca Loos, Danielle lloyd and Jude Law’s nanny, he’s got quite a task on his hands.

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    Apparently Max Clifford will be ‘working with’ the grand-daughter of Andrew Sachs…

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    I guess the marketing of the Katona brand is indicative of the ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ ethos that seems prevalent, particularly when it comes to entertainment brands. I have marvelled in wonderment and intrigue as the buses promoting the latest instalment of the Saw franchise have sailed past me with the marketing creative hidden from view beneath a teasing, “poster banned because it’s too frickin’ scary” message. Sweet lord! What ghastly devilish evils lurk beneath?! I’m sure I’m not the first to compare the peoples’ princess Kerry Katona to a horror film. Similarly I have seen at first hand some of the alcoholic beverage bottles that have not made it to market and surely, SURELY the designs were only ever intended to cause uproar and intrigue? Beer in a baby bottle anyone?

    Who knows… maybe the latest Kerry Katona incident is part of a grander, ten-year marketing plan, that will see the ultimate reinvention of the Katona brand. My word! Won’t we feel silly then?

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    I get the impression that many of Max Clifford’s “famous for 15 minutes” clients approach him to make the most money from their story. As such, he delivers what they want: publicity, not PR.

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    Well, it’s great publicity for her MTV ‘behind the scenes’ – I’ll definitely watch when that episode’s on. But at what cost Amy? At what cost?!!

  • Emily Hare

    So glad to hear you enjoyed Most Contagious and it lifted your spirits a bit Steve. 
    If anyone else would like to read the report, and see links to the work that Steve picked out, Most Contagious 2012 is available free here:
    Emily (editor, Contagious)