The toppling of the BBC’s Director General carries a red warning for everyone taking over at the top of a big organisation: if you don’t have a close-protection public relations team in place you may be in immediate peril.
Such a team might have saved George Entwistle from his spit-roasting on the Today programme on Saturday morning. It might have anticipated John Humphrys’ questions and helped him rehearse better answers, instead of allowing the veteran interrogator to destroy every shred of his credibility live on air.
Or it might have persuaded him not to go on the programme at all. A close protection team would have seen in advance that simply answering questions truthfully and saying no-one had told him of the impending disaster at Newsnight was no defence against a charge of incompetence.
Mr Entwistle was made to sound hopeless at his job because he hadn’t followed Twitter or read the Guardian and because the editor at Newsnight hadn’t warned him that he was about to drop a bomb on the political establishment.
He may not be incompetent, but the management information system at the BBC is. The job of DG is clearly far too big for one man, however honourable and however distinguished his broadcasting career.
It is hard to believe there is no-one in that vast organisation with the job of monitoring political hotspots, starting with Newsnight and the Today programme, and giving early warning of hostile incoming media missiles.
The new Director General was still in his honeymoon period, taking time to find out the issues and getting to know everyone, when he ambled blindly into the path of a hurricane.
For the sake of the organisation he should have been bundled into a car and taken somewhere safe.
And by the way, this will happen again unless the BBC, the world’s finest broadcaster, gets to grips with its own internal communications and pays urgent attention to managing its reputation.
– GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media Ltd.