CAN YOU DO A BORIS IN TECHNICAL PR?
15th August, 2012
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Boris Johnson has become one of the most admired politicians in the UK since being elected London Mayor in 2008. But he’s done it by doing, almost literally, everything wrong from a PR point of view.
The cult of the politician was truly established in British culture when we elected a young Tony Blair as Prime Minister in 1997. Since then we’ve had Blair-a-likes such as David Cameron and Nick Clegg, as well as a mountain of more junior politicians clambering their way to the top.
In fact, one might argue that it started when Margaret Thatcher took elocution lessons and embarked on a diet of 28 eggs a week before her own landslide election triumph in 1979.
But Johnson isn’t like any of them. In fact, from his zipwire disaster to his jogging outfits, he’s possibly the least polished politician the UK has seen for some time.
This was highlighted for me when, during the Olympic closing ceremony, as he was about to symbolically pass the Olympic flag over the Jacques Rogge, who would in turn pass it to the mayor of Rio Di Janeiro Boris did the classic, ‘will I, won’t I’ hand you this item routine. It’s beloved of Father’s of toddlers everywhere, but toddlers find it funny. Adults? Not so much.
So poor old Boris; he’s the future Prime Minister, Mayor of London and a PR disaster who is also, somehow, a PR genius.
But is it possible to copy Johnson’s style in technical or corporate PR? Can you do everything wrong and somehow get it all right?
Well, today, in 2012, I don’t think so. I don’t think you could commit B2B faux pas on a par with Boris’ antics and still get a result.
However, even as recently as three or four years ago I didn’t think Stone Junction would be writing blog posts for clients about marine technology using National Talk like a Pirate Day as an angle. I didn’t think we would ever draft a piece about The Titanic movie, explaining how the boat could have stayed afloat with better technology. I wasn’t expecting us to be writing about Boris Johnson either.
But Blogging appears to be the only area of corporate and technical PR where you can get it right by getting it wrong; by being humorous, light hearted or just plain stupid. So, maybe the next five or ten years will prove Boris right in other ways as well.