Clarkson apologised yesterday for his comments made on Wednesday’s edition of The One Show, in which he suggested public sector strikers should be shot for taking industrial action.
The BBC’s Vision comms team has been handling the issue, led by acting head of comms Sam Hodges, alongside comms manager Tara Davies, who is understood to have a close working relationship with Clarkson.
Taylor Herring co-founder James Herring argued that thanks to speedy handling, the outrage will not cause the same problems for the BBC as the controversy caused by Russell Brand’s Sachsgate broadcast.
Herring said: ‘Sachsgate was dragged out and it took a long time for everyone to engage with it. When it goes into day two or three then it takes a different turn. I would suspect that by Saturday they will have put this behind them.'
Herring added that Penguin, the publishers of Clarkson’s book, Round The Bend, would be ‘rubbing their hands with delight’ at the media coverage generated for Clarkson in the run-up to Christmas.
‘A well timed controversial remark is going to make sure in the three-week run-up to Christmas that he’s going to sell lots of copies,’ said Herring.
BBC acting head of press and media relations Julian Payne explained the corporation’s handling of the issue: ‘The approach has been to relay information accurately and inform people who are not aware of the context.
‘What’s happened is people have clipped the second half of the interview and distributed that – our job has been to ensure that people are aware of the entire context of the remark.’
Payne added that the team had also worked closely with Clarkson to ensure that his views were relayed to the public. The BBC released Clarkson’s apology on Twitter at the same time as it issued it over traditional media channels.
A former BBC comms employee said of the issue: ‘While it was a daft thing to say, not many people will be surprised at Jeremy Clarkson being Jeremy Clarkson. The BBC probably shouldn’t implode, provided they get the handling right.’