Crisis management can be one of the most challenging aspects of PR, but challenging turns into outright brutal when you bring certain things into the situation. Say, for example, a pig’s head, a major political figure and rumours of photographic evidence. The news about David Cameron’s university rituals today are going to make hard work for the very best of PRs, but here’s how I’d handle it:
Find out exactly how bad the situation is. Does the photo exist? Who is likely to have it? How likely is it that someone may be waiting to use it against him?
- Ask him if it’s true. I mean, it sounds pointless. Of course it’s true, why else would Downing St have missed the chance to give an outright denial? But sit down with the man and find out, in excruciating detail, just how bad things got and prepare for those details to make the news too.
- Fill his diary with high agenda stuff. Nothing concerning meeting the public until the whole thing has died down, and absolutely avoid any direct contact with the press. I’d make sure Cameron was so busy doing his job this week – the really serious stuff – that any attention given to a pig’s head seems immediately trivial.
- Release press releases about said high agenda stuff. The whole story will die down quicker if there is something coming from Downing St rather than nothing, even if those news stories have nothing to do with what the journalists are after.
- Do not let him eat bacon, sausage rolls, ham, or anything remotely pork-like in public. Ever.
- Avoid all future photo opportunities around animals. Especially farmyard animals.
- Finally, thank every possible higher being that Jeremy Corbyn has vowed not to get caught up in ‘tell tale politics’. This might be the only time in history the PM’s direct opposition is not likely to make this worse for him.