Good PR handling of Ben Stokes means he can make Ashes, argues tabloid editor turned PR

England cricket vice-captain Ben Stokes will still go to the Ashes, according to celebrity crisis expert Phil Hall, who said the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had so far handled the media crisis well.

Stokes in 2015 (© Ben Sutherland via Flickr, under Creative Commons license - creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Stokes in 2015 (© Ben Sutherland via Flickr, under Creative Commons license - creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Former News of the World editor Hall told PRWeek's The Line podcast that the EBC had done the right thing in putting out "short, sharp statements" and not getting involved in "lengthy conversations" during the police investigation into Stokes.

However, Hall, now boss of 90-strong PR agency PHA, said that the Stokes story had not yet peaked, with details continuing to emerge. "That suits the journalists because the facts can emerge bit by bit," he said.

Stokes was filmed punching two people in the early hours of the morning outside a Bristol nightclub, during a night out with England teammates last month.

The Sun revealed shocking CCTV footage of the incident last week, escalating the crisis facing the ECB, which is preparing for the crunch Ashes series against Australia, which starts next month.

The camera sometimes lies

In the discussion on the evolving nature of media crises, Hall said online video had changed the nature of crisis handling, because it "makes it very difficult for anything to ever go away".

He said: "They say the camera never lies, but it does. Let's say Stokes was baited inside the club and attacked with a bottle, well that's not necessarily shown on a camera. The problem is you're horrified when you see the video but you don’t know the full facts.

"Yes, the fact that Stokes and [teammate Alex] Hales were drinking late two days before the next match against the West Indies is unforgiveable, but we know these things can run out of control quite quickly."

Hall has advised a number of high-profile celebrities facing media crises, including former England football captain John Terry, and singer Sir Cliff Richard. He continues to be retained by Premier League football clubs and handles corporate reputations as well.

Hall is interviewed by PRWeek editor-in- chief Danny Rogers and Cake’s associate director, Richard Gillis in this week’s episode of The Line.

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