Ian Monk: Cowell gambles on candid approach

The upside for Simon Cowell in the publication of Tom Bower's 'unauthorised' biography is its compelling case against evidently baseless rumours that he is gay.

Ian Monk: Cowell gambles on candid approach
Ian Monk: Cowell gambles on candid approach

The downside is that the torrential evidence of heterosexuality is likely to rule out much future privacy.

Too much kissing, too much telling and too many women. And, as many female commentators are sternly pointing out, not enough commitment.

The PR dilemma of how to handle the book, as with all unauthorised biographies, was whether to co-operate pre-publication to try to achieve accuracy and balance.

Cowell's strategy was to grant many hours of face-to-face interviews to 'get things straight'. During these, material unearthed by the author was put to the subject, evincing what were obviously frank, full and sometimes toe-curlingly honest responses.

Thus, although billed 'unauthorised', Bower's intriguing book took on the full mantle of authority.

Refusing any co-operation would have left room for later denials. The book, once published, could have been discredited. Pre-emptive legal action could also have been taken pre-publication to have errors excised.

Such a strategy depends on a measure of knowledge or suspicion that the author is about to publish untruths.

Bower's fearsome reputation for accuracy may well have been the reason Team Cowell eschewed the arms-length approach and embraced the author.

But the strategy and the publication of the book have left a series of PR dilemmas, heightened by a perception that Cowell's shows are losing their ratings edge.

It will be hard to prevent any further kiss-and-tells. Neither judges nor editors are now likely to greet sympathetically suggestions that such individuals should be gagged. Also, there may be offence taken by women at Cowell's views as well as sniping from commercial rivals.

Doubtless it will all make another fascinating interview. Anyone betting against the next Piers meets Simon TV special?

And at the end of it all, if the PR strategy works, many will never know where the myths begin and end.

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

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