When journalist turns PR man and starts teaching BBC press officers how
to handle difficult questions from the media, it becomes rather
difficult to work out just who is on which side of the PR/journo divide.
Now I hear that the BBC has hired Burson-Marsteller’s tabloid-hack
turned-media-adviser, Steve Ellis to take some of its staff, including
press officers, through the media mire and toughen them up for the
So, let me get this right, Steve...the BBC, employer of the likes of
Jeremy Paxman and John Humphries, is paying a PR company to train its
press officers on how to handle aggressive questioning from the likes
of, well, Jeremy Paxman and John Humphries?
‘It’s a question of objectivity,’ says Steve. ‘They wanted someone like
a tabloid hack and there aren’t many of them kicking around Broadcasting
This may well be true, but don’t you recall the one about Roger Hayes,
director general of the British Nuclear Industry Forum who emerged
unscathed from a grilling by Today presenter Peter Hobday? His secret? A
session on how to be interviewed given by Peter Hobday.