Flack on Friday: Golin, Brooklyn Brothers, Apple, The PR Office

In Flack this week: Golin's picture perfect acquisition, Apple CEO Tim Cook's comms concerns, and which PR agency chief has been mistaken for a former football star?

He shoots, he misses

Something of a social media own goal for Mohammed Mdwb, a media officer for the Bahrain Football Association: Mdwb tweeted his shock this week that Prince Ali of Jordan – a rival of Bahrain's Sheikh Salman in the race to be named FIFA President next Friday – had hired 73-year-old former Israeli international footballer Shimon Cohen to work on his team.

One of the tweets included a picture of Cohen in his heyday, and another included a more recent picture of... hang on, not that's not him, that's a different Shimon Cohen – namely the Welsh guy who runs London agency The PR Office.

Embarassed after this mistake was pointed out, Mdwb had deleted the tweet faster than Flack could press Alt+Print Screen. (Welsh) Cohen, who has already been working with Prince Ali for a number of months, told PRWeek: "Racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination should have no place in football, but most of all I am upset at being mistaken for a 73-year-old."

Flack did not attempt to contact the other Cohen.

O Brothers, what are thou?

One of the biggest stories of this week has been Golin’s acquisition of New York-headquartered creative shop The Brooklyn Brothers, part of the Interpublic-owned company’s bid to create a "new type of agency".

Almost as interesting as the story was the inventive picture provided, showing The Brooklyn Brothers’ founding partners and Golin chief Matt Neale (far right) in classic police line-up mode:

Flack’s initial assumption was that much-loved 1995 movie the Usual Suspects, with its high profile line-up scene, was the inspiration:

However, a colleague pointed out that a promotional shot for another famous film of an earlier era, the Blues Brothers, may have provided the template – the 'brothers' link certainly adds weight to this theory:

It’s a conundrum that will doubtless keep Flack awake for hours. Either way, it's further evidence that Neale is a good sport when it comes to photoshoots, as the front cover of February's PRWeek proves. 

In good company

The UK PR industry is on a fresh drive to be recognised with the exalted rank of 'livery company', a term in use since medieval times that includes ironmongers, haberdashers and our old friends, weavers.

There are more than 100 livery companies in London, some dating back to the 12th century, but in more modern times their ranks have been swelled by the likes of insurers and tax advisers.

The Wall Street Journal reports this week that the Guild of Public Relations Practitioners, currently headed up by Francis Ingham, has been trying for a decade to raise both the money and the members to upgrade to livery status and has lobbied the City of London’s Aldermen to this end.

To gain the honour, all the guild has to do is show it can raise millions of pounds for good causes, attract at least 100 members and last for centuries. Should be a doddle. PR will still be around in 300 years. Won’t it?

Tim Cook’s comms concerns

Earlier this week Apple CEO Tim Cook released an open letter claiming that the FBI wanted the tech firm to redesign its iPhones and include a backdoor, which would allow government agencies access.

The Apple chief claimed that he would fight this request, claiming that the privacy of customers worldwide would be jeopardised.

However, it has since emerged that Apple has already complied with requests to unlock 70 devices for the government before doing a U-turn and refusing to comply with a request to unlock the device of one of the San Bernardino attackers.

According to court filings, Apple's change of heart is less a matter of principle and more because it's worried about the PR ramifications: "This reputational harm could have a longer-term economic impact beyond the mere cost of performing the single extraction at issue," Apple is quoted as saying.

The White House has also chimed in stating that no-one has asked for a backdoor to be built and Apple was asked to unlock the phone of a deceased terrorist. The truth is out there...

A social media manager walks into a car...

Good news this week for (law abiding) social media wizards at your PR firm – they no longer have to drive without marginally incorrect insurance.

A press release reached Flack's inbox from the agency To The End for specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux. The firm has added social media manager, alongside email marketer, professional gamer, app developer and drone operator, to its list of recognised occupations.

This was in recognition of the fact that the Association of British Insurers recognises rather niche professions such as agisters (who help with the management of commoners’ livestock in the New Forest) and ostler (a man employed to look after the horses of people staying at an inn).

"When was the last time you bumped into an agister or an ostler?" said general manager Gerry Bucke. Flack admits it has been a while.

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