Flack on Friday: PR beard debate resolved, Gary Lineker put to task on press regulation, a hack/flack blind date

In Flack this week: has the PR industry really reached 'peak beard'? Plus blind dates, the importance of good grammar, and more.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Great PR Beard Debate


When Hope & Glory's clean-shaven managing partner James Gordon-MacIntosh dared to suggest the industry would reach 'peak beard' as one of his seven brand comms predictions for 2017, even the occasionally heavily bearded Flack couldn't have predicted the outcry.

(Nearly) dozens of hairy-faced PR hipsters from (almost) across the globe got in touch with PRWeek to angrily dismiss the idea that their years of growing, trimming, coiffuring and stroking had been in vain, as the world became more accustomed to the idea of smooth-chinned comms professionals for the first time in years.

Do you have a beard? Do you think a good PR man needs a beard? Or do you want to banish the PR beard forever?

Have your say on our snap Twitter poll, here:

The last word on #PRBeards goes to Andrew Roache, who may already have answered the question of when 'peak beard' will arrive:

How journalists work: an insight

Flack met one of the journalists arrested under Operation Elveden (that's the payment to public officials one, not the phone hacking one) this week.

Having been eventually acquitted, the hack was able to laugh through one anecdote about the day of their arrest. A fellow journalist on another outlet had got wind of what was happening, and rang up the arrested journalist's home to ask what if their friend and colleague was okay. On being told what was happening by their teary spouse, this second journalist proceeded to break the story to the nationals.

"How could he do that to us?," asked the spouse, feeling betrayed, when the journalist returned home on bail that night. The arrested hack was nonplussed: "Of course he did it - it was a good story. I'd have done the same to him and he knows it."

And they say PR is the dark side...

Gary Lineker sent off over section 40

Watching a Twitter storm erupt can be wondrous to behold – particularly when it concerns journalists defending a free press against former England footballer, crisps salesman and (more recently) political commentator Gary Lineker.

That is exactly what happened earlier this week when the Match of the Day presenter lambasted The Sun for printing an article backing press freedom.

Lineker, it seems, is in favour of implementing section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 - a measure that would make members of a recognised press self-regulation scheme exempt from paying their opponents' legal costs, even if they lost a court case.

According to the footballer, section 40 "means journalists get costs protection within an independent arbitration service".

However, Mark Wallace, former PR and executive editor at political blog Conservative, reiterated the fact that if publishers fail to join Impress – the state-approved regulator part funded by Max Mosley – they would be forced to pay legal costs for writing true stories, and even if they won the court battle. 

Ever the steadfast journalist, Wallace concluded that fundamental aspects of a free society are more important than Gary Lineker’s personal dislikes.

If Flack had a mic, he’d drop it for Wallace.

Metro-politan elite follow PR's lead

Flack noticed with interest Sky News' Sophy Ridge's column in the Metro this morning.

The headline of the main section was entitled 'It sure is time to Leave... the London bubble', with Ridge writing that 2016 has taught us "that there is a real disconnect between the capital and the rest of the country". She went on to say that journalists and politicians "need to escape the confines of the M25 in 2017" in order to better understand how the UK works.

It would appear that Ridge has been paying attention to PRWeek - one of our most read stories of November 2016 was Marshall Manson's call for his staff to leave its "ivory towers" and connect with Britain beyond the emblematic ring-road.

Nice to see comms leading the way up the M1.

All you need is... PR

'Twas the night before Christmas, and Flack spotted a tasty fixture in the Guardian - journalist David meeting PR professional James for its Blind Date feature.

While the two had a good time of it, it wasn't love at first sight, it seems. David gave the PR man a six out of 10, but said he looked forward to meeting across a crowded inbox soon: "He’s a great guy, but I think we’d be better off as friends. I look forward to receiving his press releases."

James was a little less gushing, also giving David a 'six', but responded to the question of whether they'd meet again with the statement: "I don’t think we would, no."

Hit the road, Jack

Flack has noticed quite a few people making something called 'New Year's Resolutions' this week, and reckons that tightening up on the spelling and grammar front would be a decent bet for anyone working in the comms profession.

This tweet by University of Chichester press man James Haigh is a pretty good illustration of why...

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