Ian Monk: Pitfalls facing the self-correctors

A new front in the battle for reputation management has opened up with the launch of the website ICorrect.

Described by one excited commentator as the latest 'damn-why-didn't-I-think-of-that' star of the web, it was launched for A-listers to correct media inaccuracies.

The joy for Bianca Jagger, Cherie Blair, Jemima Khan and others, who have signed up at a cost of £650 a year, is that they write and publish the corrections themselves. No need, the argument runs, for expensive lawyers or PR spokespeople to craft and manage positioning statements into print or broadcast.

Postings so far vary from Blair repeating the fact that she had never met Saif Gaddafi, to Bianca Jagger denying that she rode a horse into a New York club in the 1970s. Apparently, the animal was taken there by a friend and she mounted it inside the studio.

The first error looks important enough to have invoked serious redress and, indeed, Blair had already instructed lawyers and had a correction published.

But Jagger's fatuous comments merely provided an invitation for further ridicule from the media.

ICorrect founder Sir David Tang says the site will be 'the stars' very own BBC'. But self-penned, unedited corrections published in return for a fee will never secure the credibility of a statement published by the BBC or any other credible branded, edited media outlet.

It is precisely in securing accurate and credible voice for a client in such media that a core skill and value of the reputation manager lies.

ICorrect carries other inherent perils for A-list subscribers. For example, Viscount Linley's protestations that his marriage is happy and Khan's denial that she ever changed her Christian name to a Muslim one could perversely provide additional fodder for the gossip columnists.

There is also the danger that if corrections fall demonstrably short of being the whole story, then the mainstream media will use those shortcomings to discredit the whole site. Equally, the media may seek to duck responsibility to publish corrections or apologies by arguing that those offended should use ICorrect.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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