How did Max Clifford become as powerful as he was?
Putting to one side his criminal conviction, which of course relates to his abuse of power rather than his practice of PR, Clifford’s influence came from the media’s and public’s weakness for celebrity.
The tabloid media bought his stories even though they knew some of them were untrue. They bought the stories because they knew their readers would lap them up. More serious media in turn treated him as the face of the industry even though his business was actually quite small.
In reality asking Clifford about the PR industry was like asking the guy who installed your kitchen about the state of the British building industry. But of course for the media he made better copy than a serious but unknown practitioner running a big consultancy or corporate affairs department.
I should know. I twice used Clifford in university debates on the PR industry. His name ensured the events sold out. Students were impressed by his celebrity. Clifford’s power was based on human and media weakness. Not a pretty sight.
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