PRWeek TV: BBC examines comms staffing for future crises

The BBC is looking at how it staffs comms teams handling major reputational threats as part of the review into the impact of the Jimmy Savile crisis on the corporation, its comms head has revealed on PRWeek TV.

In the interview for PRWeek TV, acting director of comms for the BBC Julian Payne said PR staff would likely be switched around and rested to prevent exhaustion in any future crisis.

His words come after a PRWeek reputation survey revealed significant damage to public trust in the corporation following a scrapped Jimmy Savile investigation and the subsequent revelations that followed.

The crisis led to the replacement of director general George Entwistle – who resigned 54 days after starting the job – with Tony Hall, who brought in former Labour minister James Purnell to oversee comms.

Payne said that following a reputational low in October and November, internal polling had shown the brand regaining trust. He praised the PR teams that dealt with the scandal.

However, he acknowledged that during the scandal ‘resource’ and ‘tiredness’ were ‘definitely factors’ in the PR handling of the situation.

‘I think [in terms of] where we could make immediate improvements, it would certainly be about keeping the flow of people moving,’ he said.

The BBC's former comms head Paul Mylrea had previously revealed to the Pollard Inquiry that his team had been ‘running exhausted'.

The overall PR set-up will be looked at over the next six months as Hall and the BBC develop the corporation's ‘vision’ for the coming decade, Payne said.

In his new role as director, strategy and digital, Purnell will help bring together the ‘audience-facing parts’ of the BBC to help create more ‘uniform’ messages, he added.

Payne also pointed to ‘blockages’ in getting information from other parts of the BBC over the course of the Savile scrutiny.

A lack of engagement with the media by senior management was also identified as an issue.

‘It’s certainly true that we as a division would like to have seen more of our executives out on the airwaves,’ he said.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has been sent home and will reconvene tomorrow morning for a seventh day of deliberations.

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Fishburn's management have defended their reinvention of the 23-year-old agency amid industry mutterings, fed by a series of director-level departures, about the direction in which it is going.

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

EasyJet aimed to break the world record for the highest ever theatrical performance for Shakespeare's 450th birthday yesterday with the Reduced Shakespeare Company performing on a flight from Gatwick to Verona.

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Senior executives from IBM, Nestlé, Vedanta, GE, Cargill, Philips and Allianz will be among the speakers at PRWeek's first Global Congress.