CAMPAIGNS: JUDGE AND JURY; Where is PR at work in this special baby boom story?

The story of Mandy Allwood, the woman carrying eight babies, has highlighted the problem of a good tale riding roughshod over medical facts. As public opinion of Allwood seems to be so low, Max Clifford’s role can’t be called public relations says Matt Tee, head of PR at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals

The story of Mandy Allwood, the woman carrying eight babies, has

highlighted the problem of a good tale riding roughshod over medical

facts. As public opinion of Allwood seems to be so low, Max Clifford’s

role can’t be called public relations says Matt Tee, head of PR at Guy’s

and St Thomas’ Hospitals



Max Clifford should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers

Commission. Just where is the competition for the ‘You’ve-got-a-big-

story-and-I-know-the-editors-with-the-big-cheques’ market?



The simple reason why he has a monopoly is that Clifford is very good at

what he does. He has an almost infallible instinct for which stories

will appeal to the tabloids, packages them with glorious headline-

grabbers - who could forget David Mellor having sex in a Chelsea kit? -

and has the contacts to make the deals.



Mandy Allwood is pregnant with eight foetuses because she ignored

medical advice. She went to Max Clifford because she wanted to sell her

story and he has done her proud. But isn’t this story a bit different?

Isn’t there a conflict here between the money she might make and what is

best for her and her unborn children?



The medical advice is clear; Allwood is very unlikely to carry eight

foetuses to term and if she tries to, she risks damaging her own health.

But, of course, the way to get a maximum payout is to try to carry all

eight, even if she fails heroically in the effort.



Of course no doctor will go public and say that she could not carry all

eight to term, for one of the frustrating things for those of us in

hospital PR is that doctors will never say something is impossible, but

there is an awful lot of head shaking over this one.



The sad truth is that Max Clifford has to sell the suggestion that she

will carry to term for the story to run. My worry is that the client may

start believing her PR adviser more than her doctor, not least when the

PR says publicly that the doctor is a frightened man because he thinks

he will be blamed if the pregnancy goes wrong.



So where does that leave Clifford? Top PR or evil manipulator of an

innocent woman? Well neither really. Within the bounds of what Mandy

Allwood wanted him to do he has succeeded. I don’t think it’s in her

best interest and I don’t think it has enhanced the public’s perception

of her. Max Clifford may be successful, but if what he does is public

relations I’d like a new job title.



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