02 Oct Miliband row needs PR damage limitation measures by Mail
There are times when national newspapers get it wrong, but I must admit the past couple of days I have sat almost in open-mouthed astonishment as the Daily Mail drags its reputation through the mud.
The old saying goes a stitch in time saves nine- in this case the stitch would be an apology to the Milliband family after printing a story about how current Labour leader Ed Miliband’s father hated Britain.
Of course it’s obvious to most the whole purpose of this sorry tale from a tabloid known as a bastion of the right wing press, was to tarnish Labour’s reputation as the Daily Mail is firmly behind the Tories.
Now we’re not daft, and we know that digging dirt goes on in politics and lead to tales like this, but although politics is a dirty game sometimes there is over-stepping the mark and with the Tory leadership now openly sympathetic to Ed Miliband’s hurt, you would have expected the Editor of the Mail to apologise- however, not a word of it.
As someone very middle of the road politically, I feel I’m in a good place to comment from both a Joe Public floating voter standpoint and also a Public Relations expert.
And it is blatantly apparent that this is a huge own goal for the Daily Mail, which will do its reputation no favours at all.
Discussing the political views of a man dead 20 years, whilst printing pictures of his grave adds nothing to 2013 Britain.
It has opened up a can of worms with historians now citing editorial showing the Daily Mail supported Hitler.
It’s all undignified and the Daily Mail leadership of the 1930s is just as irrelevant as the views of a long dead sociologist, who was at the height of his powers at the time of the cold war.
Forgetting the commentaries of this squalid tale there is the reputation management side of a paper that sells almost 2 million copies a day.
It is also, whether you love it or loathe it, the paper that knows its readership better than any other. It has made a great success of pandering to the set in concrete minds of the right of centre man and woman in middle England.
In my news editor days where we analysed the nationals on a daily basis, we could only marvel as it stood head and shoulders above the others for cultivating yarns guaranteed to ensure their readership is screaming from the kitchen tables in suburbia.
I doubt this episode will do any long lasting damage to the paper. However, even its most ardent fans must be uncomfortable about this, whilst the anti-Mail camp will only have more fuel to explain to those willing to listen why they shouldn’t buy this tabloid.
Despite there being significant brains behind Britain’s most controversial tabloid the simple fact is apparent that they have no further mileage in their argument, which has been taken to pieces. They have to say sorry as they are looking a squalid and nasty bunch. This is purely damage limitation now.
I watch with great interest how they handle the apology when it comes.