Flack on Friday: PRCA boat bash, Boris' comms plan, partying with WIPR, WA and ING

In Flack this week: All aboard the PRCA boat party, summer loving with Women in PR, WA and ING, and Neil Bennett channels Shakespeare.

Messy: the PRCA annual boat party
Messy: the PRCA annual boat party

Ships ahoy!

The PRCA held its annual summer boat party attracting tonnes of PRCA members and friends.

Flack understands the four-plus hour trip up and down the Thames got progressively messier per mile travelled, with tequila shots and questionable dance moves in vogue.

Plenty of folks did the Hawaii theme, particularly Rax Lakhani, who somehow avoided the camera.

Flack is aware that a few party-goers with sore heads the next day.

PRWeek hack not All-bright

Wednesday saw the Women in PR summer party at the new Mayfair branch of the Allbright, the membership club where only women can be members.

The well-attended event featured many of the cream of the UK's female PR talent, and also doubled as a celebration of the Mentoring Scheme, the initiative to help more women get to top leadership positions in comms. The scheme is organised in partnership with PRWeek, and WIPR president Bibi Hilton's speech included a shout-out to the mag's deputy editor John Harrington, who's been involved in the scheme for over four years.

Pity, then, that the trade hack managed to miss the speech, having turned up at the wrong Allbright in Fitvoria. Flack is happy to say his colleague made it eventually and was soon sipping rose with the best of them.

Johnson has Balls

The following evening was the turn of WA Communications, the public affairs specialist that hosted a summer bash at its new, airy Westminster office on Artillery Row.

Attendees heard a talk from Katy Balls, deputy political editor of The Spectator, and host of the podcast Women with Balls, who gave numerous insights into the political landscape including what a (probable) Boris Johnson government might look like.

Johnson's comms strategy has certainly got Flack's head scatching in recent weeks, with the bizarre garden photo opp with partner Carrie Symonds following an alleged row, his non-appearance at events, and, most recently his perculiar interview in which the PM-in-waiting discussed his love of making model buses.

A few commentators have seen it as a genius move, with SEO searches for Boris and buses now directing people to the interview rather than his deceptive claim about extra money for the NHS post-brexit written on a bus.

Balls' take was that people she knows who have not been fans of Johnson's in the past are starting to warm to him after the interview, as a normal guy with a, umm, specific hobby.

Balls also alluded to Johnson's approach in hustings of referring to himself as the former London Mayor, where he was seemingly able to unite enough disperate people to win office, rather than his torrid spell as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May.

Unsurprisingly, baring a huge upset, Balls predicts the former Telegraph journalist will win the leadership election on 24 July.

Party environment

Quite the gallivanter, Flack also made it to the 20 year anniversary bash at ING’s swanky new offices in Shoreditch on Thursday night.

Around 200 guests, including several dogs, watched as MD Leanne Tritton toasted the agency’s birthday, complete with a happy birthday sing-a-long and a cake.

Later, several people really wanted Flack to write about the built environment more. "Have you anything newsworthy you can tell us?" asked Flack.

"Not just yet," said one PR pro. Unfortunately Flack had to duck out early just as the DJ was warming up, but one suspects it was a late night.

Is this a strategic communications plan I see before me?

Flack's pal Neil Bennett, the CEO of Maitland/AMO, is quite the cultured PR veteran (he's CityAM's wine columnist, no less).

In a new, non-wine-related column for the newspaper, Bennett harnesses The Bard on the topic of corporate reputation.

"Shakespeare, as you might expect, has the best lines on the subject. 'I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself and what remains is bestial,' wails Cassio in Othello. Or if you prefer, there is Iago’s more sinister retort: 'Reputation is an idle and false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving.'

"Paul Polman versus Mike Ashley, perhaps, in Elizabethan tragedy."

Flack would like to see that played out in the modern media.

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