Good PR requires time, skill, patience and perseverance. The best-executed PR often requires good timing and a subtle touch.
However, there are those who sometimes prefer to ignore the subtleties of PR; going instead for ‘I’m going to cosh your face in with a brick’ method of public relations. And be warned; this can sometimes be more damaging to yourself than to the people you intend to damage. Sometimes you just shouldn’t require the services of an agent to know when something’s bad PR.
Try telling that to Chris de Burgh.
Ireland’s award-winning crooner has been around for a good lick. Bear in mind he’s just hit 60. It’s testament to his songwriting that he’s still as popular with the ‘in’ crowd as he ever was.
Yet over the weekend, the silky-haired beagle of love put his foot in it with a huge and seriously misjudged PR blunder.
So, how could a man so greatly loved put off his potential audience? What could such a national treasure possibly do to draw ridicule?
As it turns out, having been to see one of de Burgh’s sell-out gigs in Dublin, a journalist writing for The Irish Times, Peter Crawley, wrote a less-than-favourable review of the white-suited pop donkey.
So far, so simple. All singers get bad reviews, right? Musical taste is a fiercely individual thing. de Burgh is not for everybody. The best thing to do with a bad review is sweep it under the carpet and not be too sensitive. Take a deep breath and carry on; perhaps stopping off at your huge house to cheer yourself up with a brief Scrooge McDuck-style backstroke through a swimming pool of cash. There’s no need to draw too much attention to a negative review, right?
Mr de Burgh decided that, far from keeping quiet, the best thing to do is to write an open letter to The Irish Times, publicly throwing all your dolls out of the pram, throwing catty names at the journalist in question, guaranteeing that an otherwise relatively insignificant negative-press story was escalated to the level of The BBC. Of course, de Burgh’s hissy fit also got a prominent mention The Irish Times and several other sites, and will doubtless make it to print several times over as well.
If de Burgh’s agent/PR representation was on holiday at the time, I can only presume they won’t allow him such ready access to writing implements or email in future.
One thing’s for sure, from now on, whenever anyone in the office throws a hissy fit that makes them look worse than their intended target, I’m going to refer to them as ‘doing a de Burgh’.