Prince Charles, Labour, Scientology, Paris Hilton: When PRs strike back

Being a press officer for a high-profile individual or organisation can be a challenging and thankless task at the best of times, let alone when the media are eager to pounce on a juicy story.

Following the high-profile intervention of Prince Charles' PR representative on Wednesday, we take a look at how PRs have handled some of the more awkward situations they have been presented with. Veteran broadsheet journalist turned PR director Adrian Michaels also shares his thoughts.

Prince of Wales – You shall not pass

When attempting to doorstop the Prince of Wales about the imminent publication of the ‘black spider’ memos, Channel 4's political correspondent Michael Crick barged into comms secretary Kristina Kyriacou to get through to His Royal Highness.

Keeping her cool, Kyriacou acted as a human barrier. Despite the physical contact between the two, the only casualty was a microphone cover.

Labour – It’s a penalty

In a scene reminiscent of old-fashioned Italian Serie A defending, a Labour press officer snuck up behind a camera man and pulled him to the ground as he tried to film Ed Miliband getting off a coach.

The slow-motion replay showed there was a definite shirt tug, which would have resulted in a stonewall penalty...


NFL -–No means NO!

Tony Willie, PR for the Redskins, didn’t want his quarterback to miss the coach’s post-game speech. He rather aggressively ended an interview before it got started so he could escort the player to the sanctuary of the locker room.

In a statement later, Willie explained his actions: "I wasn’t denying access. I wanted Colt to hear coach talk. I felt we needed to get him inside… Right after the speech, Colt went out and did the interview. I explained the situation to them. They were happy in the end."

Paris Hilton – The look

Sometimes all it takes is a look – and when Paris Hilton was made to squirm with difficult questions during a sitdown with ABC News, she gave a pleading look over to her representatives, who told her that the pain would stop.

Scientology – I’m gonna stop you

Former Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis showed that even the most seasoned veterans can be caught off guard. During an interview with Martin Bashir for a show called 'Inside Scientology' in 2009, he repeatedly declined to answer a question about his beliefs before deciding to walk out.

And special mention goes to....

Quentin Tarantino – I’m shutting your butt down

Not technically a PR intervention, but we couldn't resist sharing this one anyway. The outspoken film director took matters into his own hands and showed there’s a career for him in PR should he ever grow tired of directing. When Krishnan Guru-Murthy attempted to ask him about violence in films, Tarantino wasn't having any of it.

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The journalist's view

PRWeek got the thoughts of Adrian Michaels, director at content marketing agency FirstWord Media, who spent a combined 21 years at the Financial Times and The Telegraph.

"I've never been manhandled, no. But I've been shouted at a lot and people have gone round me to try to get me sacked," he told PRWeek.

"There's a lot of PR behaviour that has annoyed me intensely: jumping in to field every single question when I have been granted an interview with an executive; not knowing anything at all about the subject matter and refusing to help. I could even say I've had the opposite to the Michael Crick incident, with PRs flirting outrageously in an effort to deter my critical faculties."

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