Media Should Say No To Max

24 03 2009

It is time for the British media to end their unholy alliance with the publicist Max Clifford.  Max plies his trade by doing deals and peddling untruths, he says so himself and I have witnessed it at first hand.  

If Max wants to be part of the story then his own integrity should come under press scrutiny.  During the sad demise of Jade Goody he was ever present but I have never seen him asked or answering the question as to whether his normally substantial fees have gone towards Jade’s estate or the future of her family.

The public relations industry has never been particularly celebrated for its ethics.  In fact we PR people are right up there with politicians and journalists in terms of how our honesty is often perceived.  To some extent we only have ourselves to blame and in part it is because we allow the line between Public Relations advisers and publicists to become blurred.  Public Relations is a strategic marketing discipline, whereas publicity is a rather more straightforward activity that more readily accepts compromise.  In some cases both publicists and journalists have gone along with the old maxim to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  

At the heart of the social web is the concept of transparency. The access that it affords should mean we are at the beginning of the end for publicists like Clifford.

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7 responses

24 03 2009
Phil Szomszor

Funny, we were talking abou this in the office yesterday. A colleague thought he was on a % fee basis and would be taking around 20% of every deal he brought it. There’s an argument to say that none of that money would be there for the kids if it wasn’t for him, but that doesn’t make it right.

24 03 2009
steveshark

My father died exactly a year ago to the day and settling his estate was a real eye-opener.
The solicitor’s fees were staggering.
However, to make the whole process as hassle-free as possible there seemed to be no realistic alternative, so we coughed up.
I’d put Clifford on that sort of level – the easiest way to sort the whole mess out.
I don’t particularly like the whole celeb/PR thing, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he did a good job and that he shouldn’t have provided his services for free anymore than my solicitor should have.
It may not be a particularly savoury business but, as Phil points out, had Clifford not been involved, her kids might not have been left so well-provided for and that’s what was most important to Jade it seems.

24 03 2009
Steve Taylor

In the case of the media and a Max Clifford a good jury would find both parties guilty of feathering their own nest I suspect. Not the most heinous crime in the world and one which we may all be guilty of at some point. So long as the public show interest in celebrity (and the associated schadenfreude), then the media will fulfill the publics desire seemingly to vicarioulsy live the dream that it brings the famous into their own lives.

It is worth remembering that there is significant difference between what interests the public and what is in the public interest. It is the one measure our media that truly sets apart the best from the rest. As a former tabloid hack who wrote for the ‘red tops’ show biz gossip columns many years ago, my perspective is either insightful or sanctimonious…or maybe both. Hypocritical even.

Once thing is for sure: There is no way the tabloid media particularly are going to dump Max Clifford so long as he helps provide column inches of copy and fill front pages. Otherwise, heaven forbid, the news desks would have to find real stories that are truly important all by themselves.

24 03 2009
Kate Hartley

At the risk of sounding cold, I don’t see why he should give up his fees. Jade (presumably) employed him to attract the highest possible amount of money for her family, by publicising the last weeks of her life. She wasn’t a charity – this was a purely commercial deal between her and Clifford.

25 03 2009
K7 Media

This is a tweet from Katie Price (validated by Valebrity)

@sandieb321 max clifford is a nob i HATE him he is a stich up man an would do anything to make money HATE him…i have reasons
4:59 AM Mar 16th from web in reply to sandieb321

28 03 2009
RaiulBaztepo

Hello!
Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

1 11 2012
Phil Morgan

Rob,
It was depressing to read adulatory tweets from some who attended his session at the CIPR Northern Conference. It shows that we have to do more to highlight the real difference between the trade that Max Clifford plies and the profession of public relations.

The CIPR has stated its intention to promote our Code of Conduct and, with a public register of members, is creating a platform to offer stronger commentary on the ethics of practice. The standards of professional conduct in public relations are a significant contributing factor in shaping the image and perception of the profession.

The need for this is highlighted strongly by those tweets, many of which appear to be from students or younger practitioners. We need to show them that there is a professional path and an unprofessional path, and which one they should follow to achieve a worthwhile career.

Phil Morgan
CIPR Policy and Communications Director

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