The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sam Moir Headshot

Murdoch: A PR perspective

Posted: Updated:

At 80-years-old, Rupert Murdoch has had an equally dated approach to public relations throughout the hacking scandal.

He had previously said his company had handled the crisis 'extremely well' making just 'minor mistakes' in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Then there was last Thursday's initial unavailability to appear before a Commons select committee hearing before the Murdochs reversed their decision having been served with a summons.

It is more than a coincidence that News Corporation addressed the problems around the time the company employed PR giants, Edelman for 'general comms support and public affairs counsel'.

So the campaign began.

Last Friday, Murdoch met with Milly Dowler's family. 'He apologised many times. I don't think anybody could have held their head in their hands so many times,' said Mark Lewis, the Dowler's family lawyer.

Then Murdoch accepted the resignation of two of his top executives, Rebekah Brooks, who ran his British newspapers, and Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones.

Over the weekend Murdoch apologised to the victims of his company's phone hacking by publishing a full page advert in every national newspaper.

Ahead of yesterday's appearance, Murdoch drafted in Steven Rubenstein and Dan Tench, one of the UK's leading media lawyers.

But all the preparation money can buy could not hide the 80-year-old's frailties in the Boothroyd room. The long pauses, short answers and, of course, the desk beating which led to his son, James, asking him to 'stop gesticulating'.

It was as if Murdoch junior was his own father's spin doctor - he regularly attempted to answer a question put to Murdoch senior.

The appearance is now over. Another potentially tricky box ticked for Edelman.

What do they turn their attention to now?

The organisation needs to regain the trust of the nation and politicians. Rebuilding bridges with the latter now appears to be an indomitable challenge with the current uprising in politics against the Murdoch empire.

News Corp, for now, have abandoned their bid to gain full control of BSkyB but it remains the long term aim. It is where the money is to be made.

While Murdoch insisted at the hearing, the News of the World's closure was not for financial reasons, it is hard to believe this was not an important factor behind the decision.

Closing the News of the World cut costs and removed one of Murdoch's titles from the market. The biggest objection to News Corp's bid was the issue of media plurality.

Offloading more titles, possibly the Sun and the Times, to Daily Express and Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond, is a possibility.

By moving out of the UK newspaper market, in light of recent events, and waiting for the spotlight to move on - it will eventually - before reigniting the BSkyB bid is probably the best option for News Corporation.

But it remains to be seen what strategy his new advisors, one of the world's most reputed PR companies, are currently devising.

We all wait with expectation to see what card Edelman advises Murdoch to play next.