An insider’s eye on the murky, surprising, funny and sometimes shocking history of the fame industry

Fame Formula Update

Mark My Words » Jose Mourinho produced a PR masterclass to land his dream job at Manchester United

Posted 6 days ago

Jose Mourinho’s journey to Manchester United is the culmination of an impressive behind-the-scenes campaign of media manipulation. Assistant professors at Harvard Business School – where Sir Alex Ferguson has taught – would call it strategic positioning. It has been a masterclass in PR and playing between the lines. To read more: [Link]

Mark My Words » Manchester Utd’s PR is stuck in the dark ages

Posted 8 days ago

Louis Van Gaal reportedly first heard of his sacking from his wife after she’d seen the BBC breaking news alert. Harsh stuff. Despite the FA cup win there clearly was no love lost between the Dutchman and the Glazer family. As the bungled leaking of Van Gaal’s sacking showed –first he was out, then he wasn’t, then he definitely was- the club’s PR is stuck in the dark ages. Its communication with the media has been as cryptic and obfuscatory as a Panamanian tax return. Rather than putting forward eloquent spokespersons Manchester United delegate spin to maverick commentators like Paddy Crerand whose invocation of gas chambers and attacks on journalistic integrity wasn’t exactly a PR masterclass. Man U is not unique in its relentless pursuit of sponsorship –deals of which are contingent on Champions League-standard football. But the club’s readiness to chew and spit out managers and players, with little … [Link]

Mark My Words » Noises off: The EU referendum and the virtue of shutting up

Posted 11 days ago

Every political campaign eventually enters a silly season. Apocalyptic scenarios are invoked; pledges are carved into stone; statistics are rendered meaningless. Even the dead aren’t safe as our great icons are dragged up and ventriloquized by either side. For the EU referendum the shift from apathy to absurdity has been sudden and overwhelming. One day we were discussing the benefits of a common market and the next we are hearing about the fulfilment of Nazi dreams for European domination and our collective fight for survival against terrorism and environmental oblivion. Today we discover –to no one’s great surprise- that the great and good of British film and theatre think our membership feeds the country’s creative juices. Many of the signatories to this Remain letter are the self-same luvvies that are simultaneously bemoaning the obliteration of creativity beckoned by the EU’s TTIP and its threat to national arts subsidies. Who benefits … [Link]

Mark My Words » Woody Allen: The ties that bind old media to protecting old men

Posted 18 days ago

It was not a cover-up or an establishment conspiracy that let the likes of Savile, Harris and Cosby off the hook for so long. So much had been invested into building their public personae. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em they are part of our cultural fabric. For a journalist to ask awkward questions would be to piss on that fabric and potentially lock them and their colleagues out of the star’s orbit. Besides, surely it’s the job of investigators-not poorly paid hacks- to dig up the dirt? This is the blinkered thinking that accompanies our relationship to the ‘national treasure’. It is one thing to be healthily sceptical of accusations that at first seem far-fetched. It is quite another to refuse to even entertain the prospect. This thinking not only ‘takes care’ of bad publicity- it ensures that is doesn’t have any oxygen at all. Woody Allen is a case … [Link]

Mark My Words » Peston on Sunday needs a much stronger marketing push – and less of the daytime TV vibe

Posted 21 days ago

It was always going to be an uphill slog. Robert Peston’s new politics show seems to have been dwarfed by the Andrew Marr juggernaut. BBC One’s Sunday morning programme found an audience 10 times that of Peston’s debut 10am slot yesterday. The producers of the ITV show will, not unfairly, cite the hot weather as disproportionately eating into the later programme’s audience. It may be too early to start speculating on a New Day-style collapse for Peston on Sunday. But heatwave or not, should ITV be worried? Read more here [Link]

Mark My Words » Feeling Good: in defence of the New Day

Posted 3 weeks ago

The obituaries to the New Day appeared before the first edition. The announcement, 49 issues later, that the paper is closing has come with little surprise. The media bubble postmortem has latched onto not what went wrong but the lunacy of launching a new for-sale paper in the first place. Was failure really written from the beginning? The facts speak for themselves- we all know papers are in decline. Since 2005 the circulations have dropped by up to 50% for the Guardian, 40% for the Sun and 30% for the Mail. What made the ND bold enough to defy the bleak statistics is rigorous targeting of core readers. Trinity Mirror’s research had identified a demographic that isn’t engaged by the national press. As Roy Greenslade points out in his frank skewering of the ND it is rather gutsy to pin all your hopes on getting “an audience composed of people … [Link]

Mark My Words » Labour needs to learn the art of Ranieri

Posted 5 weeks ago

To paraphrase one Vladimir Ilyich, the more something is said the more it becomes so. This is the essence of spin. A few weeks ago it was all about David Cameron’s family finances. He tried to dodge hard answers until it dawned on Carlton’s ex-PR chief that denials and prevarications were only fuelling the story. Our proposition this week is that the Labour party has a problem with anti-Semitism. If the first scalp in the fracas, an obscure MP from Bradford, kept the story rumbling the fall of big beast Ken Livingston has provided Labour’s poachers a prize trophy. The story is as toxic for Labour as off-shore account fiddling is for the Tories. In both cases the damage is directed at the party leader. Corbyn’s enemies, outside of Labour but more particularly within, know the issue of Israel is a key vulnerability. Although few buy that Corbyn himself is … [Link]

Mark My Words » No title

Posted 6 weeks ago

Hannah Woods – whose “arch” eyebrow, print knitwear and encyclopaedic IQ captivated University Challenge viewers as she led her team to victory – has the potential to earn millions if she capitalises on her new-found fame, a leading PR expert said today. Read more of Mark’s thoughts on becoming an internet sensation overnight here [Link]

Mark My Words » Mark with Newsweek on whether or not Amazon’s investment will pay off.

Posted 6 weeks ago

British PR guru Mark Borkowski tells Newsweek that Amazon’s investment could prove wise and boost the streaming service, which is said to have 46 million Amazon Prime subscribers worldwide. In comparison, Netflix has 75 million. Read more here [Link]