Opinion: Leader - Beckhams' PR will stand test of time

There is, to some, a certain poetry in David and Victoria Beckham's squeaky-clean public image being put in jeopardy by, of all people, someone the media identify (mistakenly) as a PR practitioner. They lived by the PR sword, the argument might go, and so they shall die by it.

It is certainly the case that the Beckhams - not uniquely, but with unique success - milked the news media for coverage and cash in a manner most brands, corporations and personalities can only dream of. The sale of their wedding photos to a celebrity magazine, for example, and the tussle over David's 'image rights' when he played for Manchester United, must now be a cause for regret.

Informed sources now insist they are, and point to a shift in approach since the contract with David's agent SFX expired last autumn and greater control over 'the Beckham brand' was given to former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller. There have been no new deals since then, just the honouring of existing obligations. Indeed, the last major interview sanctioned by David's PR adviser Caroline Macateer (who has launched on her own with Fuller's backing) was almost two years ago.

At a time when their reputations appear to be at risk of serious damage from the Rebecca Loos allegations, it is worth stating anew that their PR work to date has been exceptional. For David in particular, the technique of transferring a footballer from the back pages to the lifestyle glossies created a template for celebrity exploitation that most entertainment PROs now seek to emulate and most celebrities now demand.

There is a chance that none of that success will matter when the tabloids take such joy in the details of their private lives. Of course, whether he had an affair should not matter to anyone outside their relationship, but their is nobody outside their relationship because they made it such public property in the past.

Despite this, unless the Sunday papers uncover evidence of wrongdoing on a different scale from that which has so far been presented, the pair's enduring reputation seems set to emerge intact.

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