Friday, October 27, 2006

How Not to Be a Director of Communications

Rob McGibbon is a great interviewer. Sadly his interviews have a rather restricted audience as they only appear in the Press Gazette. This week's is with Sebastian Coe. It isn't on their website yet, but if you click HERE you can see his past interviews - well worth a look.

The Coe interview is a masterclass to any PR person in how not to handle an interview for your boss. Jackie Brock-Doyle is the London Olympic's bid director of communications. Perhaps we should be worried. She sat in on the interview and appeared to radiate hostility towards McGibbon throughout. She had clearly coached Coe to say absolutely nothing of interest, so McGibbon was able to lace his text with sarcastic comments.

I'm not quite sure Ms Brock-Doyle quite understands the meaning of the word 'communication'. Too often PR people think their job is to prevent any communication taking place at all. Well in this case the journalist was brave enough to give her her come-uppance. However, I am sure Jackie has her side to the story, so if she wants to give it I'd be only too happy to oblige.

UPDATE 8.27pm: Jackie has sent me an email explaining what happened from her own perspective. It's quite lengthy so I have posted it in the Comments Section.


Anonymous said...

Is that the same Jackie Brock-Doyle who was (is?) one of the Conservative Party's candidates?

Iain Dale said...

I have no idea if she is a Tory candidate.

Anonymous said...

You are confusing her with Jackie Doyle Price who is an A lister

Jackie Brock-Doyle used to be Director of Comms at the FT...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ms Brock-Doyle knows how these people want things done ? The SA (so appropriately named) have their exigencies in return for office.
'Redmond O’Neill - Director of Transport and Public Affairs. In Mr Livingstone’s first administration Mr O’Neill was responsible in the Mayor’s Office for oversight of transport policies including the introduction of congestion charging and the expansion of bus ridership by 1.5 million a day. He was responsible for drafting the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. Mr O’Neill is in charge of the Mayor’s public consultation programme, its major public events and the GLA’s relationships with central government, parliament and London stakeholders.
Murziline Parchment - Director of Major Projects and Service Delivery. Ms Parchment in the Mayor’s first administration was responsible for ensuring preparation of new large scale infrastructure projects and services such as the Thames Gateway Bridge, the projected West London Tram, and the London Development Agency’s affordable childcare investment programme. She is a Member of the Board of Transport for London appointed by the Mayor'. She is now on the Olympic bid board representing our Ken.
'John Ross – Director of Economic and Business Policy. In Mr Livingstone’s first administration Mr Ross was responsible for the Mayor’s policy for London’s economy, was the Mayor’s chief point of contact with the business community, was in charge for the Mayor of the Crossrail project , was responsible for the economicand business dimension of the London Plan, and was responsible for London’s tourism recovery package following the Iraq war. Mr Ross attends the Board of the London Development Agency as the Mayor’s representative.'

MorrisOx said...

Not the first time that Ms Brock-Doyle has taken a neanderthal attitude towards interviews.

Trying to get through to Seb Coe at the moment is like waiting for hell to freeze over.

Great advert for 2012, Jackie.

Ellee Seymour said...

Surely Seb Coe is experienced at giving interviews and doesn't need anyone to hold his hand. If he does, I'm probably quite a bit cheaper than Jackie whatshername.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Poor PR seems to be a common theme today, I have touched on it too,

I also love Friday mornings for the same reason, a similar bundle arrives on my doormat too, including PR Week.

Anonymous said...

Ellee is right. Seb Coe needs no coaching in saying nothing of interest. He spent 4 years as an MP and never once uttered one word of interest.

Anonymous said...

I recently had an interview with JBD for a job. They left me waiting for about twenty minutes. They asked the normal bullshit HR questions about what are your weaknesses. 'Oh my excessive appetite for hard work..'

When she said that her team was 'passionate' about communications - my eyes glazed over.

It's obvious they've got themselves a cushy number at the Olympics. Six years dossing then a year's work at the end.

And, yes, I didn't get the job.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone manage to read "Hatfield girl said" before sinking into a long and troublesome sleep?

Anonymous said...

Haven't we recently elected a PR 'Jack the Lad' to some fairly senior position in the Party? I'd be watching my step if I were in your shoes Mr. Iain. You'll be wondering if being a politician has anything to do with having policies next.

Just a thought.

Iain Dale said...


Many thanks for inviting me to respond to your post on Rob McGibbon’s article for the Press Gazette.

I’d like to make a few observations.

First of all, I really didn’t coach Seb to say nothing of interest – that’s the last thing I’d want! We’re very keen that people up and down the country (and indeed overseas) should be engaged with our plans for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Seb takes part in a huge number of events, making speeches and answering questions, and does a lot of media work. He has even braved the Labour, Lib Dem and TUC party conferences!

As you know, it is however standard practice for communications staff to sit in on interviews. There’s nothing sinister in that – it helps us to keep abreast of the media’s concerns, and sometimes chip in with useful information. It’s also a way for us to establish a good relationship with individual journalists.

Obviously on this occasion the journalist concerned doesn’t seem to have warmed to me! I’m sorry if that’s the case – and that he resorted to a series of personal remarks – but I have to say that I don’t believe I radiate hostility. I may have been rather silent but then the interview wasn't about me, or so I thought!

The real pity here is that an opportunity was missed to talk about the London 2012 Games themselves – the sporting side, the regeneration plans, the legacies for sport and for young people.

I know that not every journalist will share my enthusiasm for the project. Some will have genuine concerns about what is undoubtedly an enormous undertaking. I promise you that nobody on the team – not me, not Seb, no-one at all – resents scrutiny or expects to be beyond criticism. We do hope, though, that people will stop short of ad hominem attacks.

Thank you once again for the chance to reply. I hope you and your many readers will continue to take an interest in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Kind regards ... Jackie

Anonymous said...

Well thank you very much for that Estate agent slab of interest free gloop ,Jackie , a cure for insomnia of rare potency .

Seb Coe has long been an inspiration to me . That a man with no relevant expertise, no command of English, and no understanding of politics , economics or , indeed , sitting the right way round on a lavatory seat , can climb so high, gives great hope to a layabout like me .

He is, after all, only an Adam Ricketts, and his early outings were hysterical exercises in ,Educating Archie style, “key point”, repetition. One of the problems that afflicts the winning party ,after a while, is that they attract those who enter politics only to be “successful” . This is very noticeable with the Nu Lab intake of cretins and sadly Seb hit the high water mark of prat adhesion,in the Conservative party.

I have frequently referred to this phenomenon as the Seb factor ,to instant recognition.It is to David Cameron’s great credit, which he is never given here , that the Conservative party only turned to him in desperation . He was not the safe pair of hands he was the man with a new direction and he has grabbed the swinging rope at the very nadir of its “seb factor “ trajectory . A more typical choice would be the “Quiet Man” who I recall I estimated at about the right level from the start. Not hard I know .

I know someone on Seb`s staff and have enjoyed stories of his having a mysterious loop at the back of his suit, that must be pulled out at the beginning of every day, revealing a long piece of elasticised string . This , for some reason is essential for the day’s meeting’s and interviews to proceed..

It is hardly surprising ,then, that his PR um thingy, has to sit next to him, although what interesting comments she might be preventing ,is a good game for the long Winter evenings . How marvellously ironic that someone has located the only person in the country less interesting than the wooden doll himself.

I have never believed that Coe had anything to do with the arrival of the Olympics , a dubious honour any way . In practice it seems to be another excuse for King Ken to brag, and in any case, such is the dire state of British athletics,that we will only embarrass our selves again. How I wish that Steve Ovett hadn’t blown it, in the 1500m, and the world were free of the Coe pestilence.

Mr. Ovett is a man with something to say and ,understandably, felt the need to leave this country entirely.Perhaps it was the prospect of visits from Angela Coe.

( Lord Longford , much underrated , had an excellent effect on Ian Brady by threatening redemtive conversations into the wee hours.)

P. S .-I `m not sure I understood Hatfield girl’s post . It seems to be suggesting something enormously insightful and I would rather like to know what it is ? Perhaps she would explain.

Anonymous said...


Rob McGibbon's "Press Conference" pieces for Press Gazette appear on his own web site after about a week.

ROB McGIBBON said...

... still giddy with Mr Dale's high praise [gratefully received, thank you] and my first appearance in a blog, I've only gone and got one myself. I know, a blog is for a life, not a day, but I'll try and keep it alive for a bit. that wider audience, maybe...RM.

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

Funny project this is, this 2012 Olympic project...
not as funny as the logo, though.
Did they ditch that thing yet?