DIARY: Puzzling tactics of IDS's fading days

Paul Baverstock and Nick Wood - two of the Tory spinners axed as part of the PRO cull when Michael Howard took charge (PRWeek, 14 November 2003) - made contrasting media appearances last week.

First up, former media director Wood penned a mammoth four-page feature in the Daily Mail, headlined 'True Blue Murder!', while ex-comms director Bavvers shared his opinions in a column in The Observer slamming the Tories' 'so-called modernisers'.

But whereas Bavvers's piece focused on policy issues, Wood revelled in exposing some of the PR tactics deployed (in vain) to shore up support for former leader IDS last year.

Wood reveals that the shadow cabinet 'wasted hours' discussing whether it was acceptable to wear jeans for TV interviews and concedes that party conference stage management that resulted in 18 'less-than-spontaneous' ovations was 'over-orchestrated'.

In an echo of New Labour's notorious media relations tactics, he even details how he once rang Sunday Telegraph political editor Colin Brown after one disastrously off-message story to call him a 'shit'.

Intriguing stuff, but why tell the Mail and its readers all about it, PRWeek asks?

'I think it's important for the public - and party - to know what happened (in the latter days of IDS) and why,' Wood tells us.

Have we got doner kebab news for you When PRWeek broke the story that Vatan Catering, a north London-based doner kebab company, was on the hunt for a PR agency, it caused something of a stir in the national press.

The story even caught the imagination of the panel on the BBC's Have I Got News for You.

We are delighted therefore to alert our national rivals to the fact that, a full nine months after the search began (PRWeek, 18 April 2003), an agency has finally been recruited for a campaign to help Vatan boost its kebab sales.

Vatan chief executive Alvin Harris this week confirmed to us that he has appointed Surrey-based PR specialist the PM Partnership.

Roddy MacCrimmon, the agency's MD, says it has secured a 'rolling contract' on 'modest' fees for the work, which will kick off with a B2B media relations campaign targeting up to 40 titles.

PM will aim to promote the 'quality' of Vatan's kebabs, says MacCrimmon, stressing the cleanliness of its north London premises by claiming that 'you could eat a picnic off their factory floor'.

Hamper packed, PRWeek is heading for Tottenham Hale. Yum!

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