Consultant reveals pilot for ‘How would you spin that?’, Gruen for the PR world

A Melbourne PR consultant has created a pilot episode of a TV panel show which he believes could be a Gruen for the public relations industry.

Richard Craig, who says he has more than 20 years experience working with brands like Shell and PwC, hopes that one of the TV networks will pick up his idea for “How would you spin that?”.

The idea features four PR practitioners discussing hypothetical crisis management scenarios.

While the pilot is animated, the final version would feature a cast of real PR practitioners.

The hypothetical cast for the pilot include:

  • Fenella Hamilton-Smellings, who is presented as an upper class British public relations expert, who tells viewers she is “plastered nine days out of ten”;
  • Cynical US PR expert Steve Kennedy whose clients “have more money than reputation”;
  • “Asia Pacific PR whizz” Felix de Valen who claims that “In Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong there’s always some sort of stuff up happening … and that keeps my cash register ringing”.
  • And “tabloid king the UK” Charlie Barnes, who tells the audience “People sticking their private parts where they shouldn’t be is food and drink for my table”.

According to the format, the panelists are each awarded points for the advice they give on the hypothetical crisis of a high profile, vocal environmentalist software multibillionaire who destroys hundreds of acres of untouched coral on his private boat.

The analysts “spin that” by “having a couple of hundred thousand deposited into my Coutts bank account before I put down my glass”, saying “it never happened, I’d call it a mass hallucination” or  “I’d pay some dodgy university… to put out a report saying that that stretch of coral was already dead because of global warming”.

Craig is the managing director of Richard Craig & Associates

Craig told Mumbrella he was in discussions with PR firms and the “heavy hitters” regarding their involvement, and is currently pitching the program to “major” TV networks.

He said: “The very popular Gruen program is essentially about advertising. Our program is about PR. While there is some overlap at the centre, they are two separate management and business functions. The world’s biggest ad agencies include firms like BBDO, McCann, J Walter Thompson. The world’s biggest PR firms are names such as Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Burson Marstellar.

“Having worked at Shell, I can say that when the oil major was planning to launch a new brand of petrol, they would call in the ad agency. If one of their refineries caught fire, the PR advisors were summoned.”

The program will be funny, entertaining and different, Craig claims.

Gruen, which is produced by CJZ for the ABC and has been running for nine years, focuses on the wider communications industry and features four practitioners explaining the strategy behind the issues. It includes a regular segment called “How do you sell”.

Craig says “How would you spin that” is a completely different idea because it focuses just on PR, and he has applied to trademark the phrase.


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