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Gordon Brown is past the point of no return

Many things have been written about Gordon Brown’s leadership and the need for a ‘fightback’, ‘relaunch’ or ‘more effective communication’.

Quite frankly, there comes a point where public perception is so entrenched against an individual or organisation that absolutely nothing will work.

In many ways, Brown has reached this point of ‘perception no return’. The tide of public opinion is now so trenchant against him that it has even been suggested by credible Labour Party sources that he should ‘bypass’ the media and communicate directly with the public (News, 15 August).

This is a sign of desperation and arrant nonsense. If the product is fundamentally broken and the message flawed – no amount of PR or ‘spin’ will rectify it.

In today’s TV and internet age, Brown lacks a ‘core competency’: to convey a sincere, confident and commanding persona. The Government will continue to wither until it replaces him.

While Labour vacillates, partial paralysis sets in as Westminster and Whitehall wait for clear direction.

John Read, MD, International Insights

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Planners work best in a team of specialists

I was interested to read that Fishburn Hedges is ‘beefing up’ its planning arm with the hire of a new planning director (, 15 August).

Marketers have long recognised the importance of the planner’s role. It is now increasingly important for
PR agencies to base the development of their strategies and creative ideas on strong insights as audiences become savvier to brand messages and choosier about what they listen to.

Key to any audience insight is a planning team’s capacity to keep abreast of changing trends, including market place dynamics and emerging comms channels. This is essential in the current climate of constant change.

A lone planning director can do only so much. Far better to engage a group of planners, each with distinct specialisms, representing a broad range of viewpoints and comms channels. In our experience, planners work best with other planners in a team where insights are challenged, so only the most robust go on to inform the development of strategy.

Julius Duncan, MD, Lawton PR


Plans needed to deal with security leaks

So much of what we regard as valuable is stored as digital data, including bank account details, medical records and even children’s school reports.

If this data is compromised or leaked into the public domain, the emotional impact can be devastating. This is what makes data breaches so toxic for an organisation’s reputation. The situation is made worse when it is a public sector organisation, such as the loss of prisoners’ details by contractors working for the Home Office.

So what should organisations holding personal data be doing?

The first thing is to ensure that robust operational safeguards are in place. PR cannot spin an organisation out of persistently poor performance. But data breaches can affect even the most security-conscious organisations.

The second thing is to have a good, stress-tested reputation management plan in place.

Andrew Fairburn, director, Regester Larkin

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