THE BLOG

The PR Challenge Of Email And #BrandBeckham

16/02/2017 13:50

Now we all know that David Beckham desperately wants a knighthood courtesy of his leaked emails. Hundreds of media articles around the world have meticulously recounted the email dialogue that Beckham had with his PR consultant, detailing both his ambitions, his views on the Honours Committee and the other celebrities that have been recognised and his thoughts about some of his specific charitable donations. It was not a very appealing spotlight to be shone on one of the UK's most iconic figures.

But in all of the media coverage that appeared, very few asked this question - why was he consistently sending such candid emails in the first place? It's also a timely reminder to all of us in the communications industry that what happens on email stays on email!

I don't think anyone would ever say that they have never sent an email or a message without a mistake or perhaps a comment they later regretted or even a phrase that could be taken out of context by another reader.

But the important thing is to try to make sure as far as possible that you and your clients stay away from needless controversy and do not commit any questionable comments to email.

In my PR career, I have worked for many colourful characters but most of this colour did not make it into their emails to me. If I had received any emails containing either defamatory content or bad language I would have put a stop to it sharpish, simply on the basis that emails, perhaps a bit 'old school' now compared to social media platforms, are not and never will be a platform for casual conversation.

The digital footprint they leave means things that might be written in the "heat of the moment" are forever committed to print - in the wrong hands in this new digital world, as Beckham and his team have discovered, their content, if not properly managed, can cause irreparable damage.

I know it must be challenging, managing a megawatt personality like Beckham, when the risk of upsetting him would mean you could lose a multi million pound contract. But it would have been far safer for the #BrandBeckham PR team to have halted any inappropriate emails as soon as they began.

In my view the best PR practice is actually founded on good old fashioned manners - engaging in an open dialogue, not avoiding questions that are being asked, responding to a question as helpfully and politely as possible, never seeming to criticise others and if you have to, apologising when you have made a mistake with tangible evidence that you have changed your ways.

So no doubt we will soon see a confessional interview with Beckham and a trusted interviewer, offering both profuse apologies and promising transparency in his future charity work, possibly even launching a new charitable initiative as well, so that the public will look at him once again as one of its national heroes. And behind the scenes I would imagine there will now be a complete stranglehold on all his emails.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS