The Online Bodyguard Podcast - PR, Crisis Communications and Strategic Advisory to the World's Elite
In this podcast we talk with Paul Blanchard, Media consigliere for global CEOs, entrepreneur, broadcaster and author.
This is a genuine masterclass on PR, crisis communications, and advising the global elite
Paul gives his views on why sharing a bit about yourself is good for business, what Personal PR is and the objectives of many of the world’s elite in hiring him.
He explains why press releases often fail and how to maximise our PR opportunities.
Paul shares the difference between PR and Marketing, and how to respond in a crisis and why many get that wrong.
He talks about the challenges of crisis communications in the internet age and how he manages those cases for his global clients.
Paul is a hugely successful Media consigliere, and he shares some of the secrets behind that success including why he never tenders or prepares proposals.
Paul Blanchard is one of the founders of the personal PR industry having been in the reputation game for nearly twenty years.
Based in the UK, he is a serial entrepreneur and investor, he started his first business aged 17 and has never looked back.
With his award-winning media and reputation consigliere Right Angles, he works exclusively with global CEOs, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, and global investors delivering discreet, high-intensity strategic support.
With a full-time team of over a dozen experts on his team… Paul has offices in London, New York and Los Angeles
His podcast agency operates on a first-to-market Joint Venture model, unique in the industry, and has many big-name clients with whom we create premium, impactful content.
A podcaster himself, he’s also a best-selling author, media commentator and speaker.Support the show
Hello, welcome back to the online bodyguard.Today is a real pleasure for me because I'm going to be chatting with one of my good friends, and he's somebody that's very generously over the over the years that we've known each other helped me and I know that he's helped lots of other people. So I'm delighted to introduce you to Paul Blanshard. For those of you who don't know him, he's one of the founders of the personal PR industry, having been in the reputation game for nearly 20 years. If you see him, you'd never know that it looks far but far too young. based in the UK, he's a serial entrepreneur and investor starting his first business when he was just 17. And he's never looked back. With this award winning media and reputation or constantly, right angles. He worked exclusively with global CEOs, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, and global investors delivering discrete and high intensity strategic support. With a full time team of over a dozen experts. Paul has offices in London, New York and Los Angeles. His podcast agency operates on a first to market joint venture model unique in the industry, and has many big name clients with whom we'll he creates premium, impactful content, a podcast for himself. He's also a best selling author, media commentator and speaker. Now I bought his book Fast PR ages ago. And I have to say I have if you ever see me with it, you'll see it's got 101 tabs in it were highlighted and tabbed everything else. And diffuse are very fortunate in that we've got a great PR mechanism in place. And we get lots of good publicity or we get lots of opportunities. And some of that, or certainly a lot of that has come from this book. So I'd highly recommend it fast PR. Now also his wife, Heather, she's an author, she's a she's a novelist, and they live with their two dogs, Billy and Betty on a farm in Buckinghamshire in the UK. Now, as many men in middle age do, he's become a bit of a health geek more recently, and in fact, he says this is his words, not mine, in the possible futile effort to fight the flab and remain attractive. And those are words I never thought I'd say about you. But anyway, I don't think I'm attractive but remain attractive. You stipulate you remain attractive, not be attractive.Paul Blanchard:
I used to look good in the old pictures. I just look all right. Well,Philip Grindell:
I've never seen the new ones. I don't know but stay away from them. But Paul is vegan teetotal, he fasts for 18 hours daily. And he avoids all sugar. He's also a keen runner, although at the moment, he's not a keen runner, because he's he's injuredPaul Blanchard:
and they do enough said about that. Possibly Naomi electric scooter? What an idiot. Exactly.Philip Grindell:
I mean, you know, I don't think we need to add anything to that makes me sound really dull. IPaul Blanchard:
should probably cut that last bit from the bio because it's makes me sound like some kind of weird monk. You remember the Davinci Code? Remember that? Monk in it? Yeah. It makes me sound like that, isn't it?Philip Grindell:
Well, I think it's really interesting. Because this is a really interesting point, actually, is one of my first questions too, is that, you know, when we talk about personal PR, so we're not talking about, you're going to represent a company, you're representing an individual. And one of the things that struck with me of this bio, and one of the things that I'm also aware of when I look at your website and look at the BIOS of your team, is that you include that sort of personal information that sort of, you know, kind of behind the profile information to get to know you a bit, I guess, it is from people is that is that, you know, good practice.Paul Blanchard:
Yes, people buy from people. And no one wants to know your inside leg measurement, or what hobbies you had when you were 12. But on the other hand, they want to get a sense of, of who you are. When you buy a commodity. It's very objective and very measurable. The failure points, you can say I want 300 widgets in blue delivered by Wednesday. And if it's the wrong colour, or they're not delivered in time, or it's the wrong type of widget, there's something very obvious about very provable and so you don't have to trust people as much when you are driving, or buying widgets or anything that's objective because it's it's very obvious when things go wrong. When you're buying services, you refer if actively buying trust, you're trusting that person, because in any relationship and consultative relationship, things can go wrong miscommunications and so on. So what you're looking at is, can I trust this person. And I think the more that someone knows about you as a person that you can, you know, be trustworthy rather than appear trustworthy. I think that that's the best sales technique really, because it's not even about whether you're paying someone up front, it's not just about the loss of monies could be the loss of reputation or getting something wrong, or just even just wasting time if I hire a builder, and he's not very good. I haven't been able to knock down the wall he built to before another building collapses, I've we've wasted everyone's time. So it's ultimately about that person. And interestingly, people look for buying signals. So micro signals in the buying process, when it's services stumped what we think is important actually isn't. So if you go to see a brain surgeon, you don't know anything about brain surgery, you trusting him that he's doing that. But on the other hand, if you go to his office and his shoes untied, and his hair's a mess, and his office is a shambles, you think, Well, look, I don't think about brain surgery, but the things I can measure, this guy doesn't stack up. And that's what that's incredibly important. When people are buying services, you've got to, you've got to be respectful of the cards that you're you know, that you dealt and choose the where to play them. Because actually, it's not about whether you're any good Phil at your job, I unless you've come highly recommended by a trusted third party, you've got to earn that trust, and you saying you're good, is the same as all the other people who say they're good, but I'm good. So so far, you do nothing to differentiate yourself. It's the same way that you know, my wife had a couple of boyfriends before me. And they also had to be faithful. And, you know, the best husband or potential husband ever lived. But they all turned out to be horrible people I am the I'm the latest in a long line of putative, you know, partners. And but I'm saying the same things, as they do at that point, or yeah, you can trust me love, I will wreck your house. This is what I mean, it's the same thing when you're buying services is that how can you how can you differentiate yourself, it's not by words is by deeds. And that's the thing, you've got to show people that you're trustworthy. And a lot of that is just by being authentic. I mean, fill the I would have trusted you anyway, because you're a great guy. But you and I were recommended to each other. So like, we didn't have to prove each other you I think we already trusted each other. And of course, you have the advantage of an absolutely incredible previous career of service keeping us safe and keeping our parliamentary parliamentarians safe. So like, I think, you know, you have a strong trust foundation to build on. And I think that's one of the greatest things for you personally to leverage is because you're not just some Johnny come lately to this, you know, you're a copper for all those years, keeping us safe. And if you weren't very good at your job, you wouldn't have stayed so long and you now taking those skills into the private sector so that you know, you can you basically you protecting people. And that also fascinates me because there's there's two things isn't there about what you do and and a bit about what I do as well, which is this the distress purchase side, in the same way that if I blocked my toilet, I'd call a plumber, and He charged me 100 quid to unblock it. But there's also an element with those of we'll help you make sure you don't block your toilet anymore. This is a terrible analogy. But you know what I mean? So where the both the toilet and blockers, but we're also the people who says And here's some fibre tablets to make sure it doesn't happen again. Because what we also get to graphic but what ultimately people are buying from us is peace of mind, they come to us with a problem. So we've got to solve that. But we've also got to stop it happening again.Philip Grindell:
So go back to the person information. Is there a risk, though, of if you're expressing if you're sharing your values? And you know, you're saying I'm a vegan? And I'm this and I'm that? Is there an Is there a risk also around people saying, Oh, buddy vegans, I'm not dealing with him?Paul Blanchard:
Well, my only worry about all of it makes me some dull, but not not that I'm not worth hiring, which is I might delete that I will share vanity not out of any commercial imperative. But at no is the short answer. Because ultimately, people want results like they are buying the end result. And, you know, I don't care if someone wears flared trousers, as long as they can do what they say they're going to do. Like, like, you know, I think, a few quirks here and there make you interesting as a person that helps to establish that rapport. And I think it also makes you memorable, because I'm sure you've been to networking events or conferences where you come back and you're in your hotel room that night and you you open your briefcase or your trouser pocket and there's like 20 business cards in there. And like I have, I've got no attention anymore because the internet but like, part of me is thinking Who the hell was that guy again? And I once saw someone about five years ago, when I was at a conference and he I can't do my caddy wrote down a few things I said on my card. And he said because he said in tomorrow what remember, it'll all merge into one of us a clever idea. So now all of our business cards have fade out our portraits on and also they have a little bit about what we do, because actually, that's the thing that makes you memorable that hook but ultimately selling trust. So yeah, you've you've got to give away just enough, I think just to show that you're a real person. Listen. And I think the more the less you give away, the less likely someone is going to buy your services. I don't like these websites when it's just stock photography, and there's no sense of a name or a person behind it. I think the first thing I do, when I click on a company website is I go to the About page, I want to know who's the who's behind it, who's the who's the leadership off the dome, etc. because I'm doing that to sort of make sure that these are the kind of people that I'd like to do business with.Philip Grindell:
So okay, let's move on. So, so personal PR, what is it? Well,Paul Blanchard:
it's, I suppose you could say what we do builds on and runs alongside traditional PR. So the old way of doing PR is that a company would have a think about how many widgets they want to sell, and what territory everything and they do all that thinking internally, and then they reduce it to writing in the form of a brief and then they send that brief out to 50 agencies and say, right, which one of you wants to work with us? And normally, there'd be what I call a beauty parade. Where that shortlist five and all five companies will be nervously waiting in the company's reception waiting to go into the boardroom to present and, and then they just hire the cheapest one or that hire that hey, the one is brother in law's secretly on the team and undeclared, so you don't I mean, it's always the state shop. It's why we never tender, because it's always a stitch up. And I think sometimes my refusal to tender or do a proposal is the very thing that's actually differentiated us from from that anyway. And so and then the problem with that is that you then reduce the sort of action points and tasks, it becomes a transactional relationship. And I think the clever thing to do PR properly is it is in absolute in the, in the inception of the idea, you know, and I want a blank sheet of paper, I want the client to say to us two lines, like make me famous, get me a Nobel Prize, you know, Why is that guy got done this and that we haven't and, and I like that way, ultimately, we're given the goal. And we we decide what the means are rather than then. Because it is slightly odd actually, that I wouldn't, I wouldn't call this a fictional plumber and say, I want you to unblock my toilet. But I want you to use this type of plunger, it says, can you just let me get all my job fallow. And let me do it the way you want me to turn on block tonight. I know better than this. I've been doing this 30 years. And I think it's a little bit odd in marketing and PR that clients, they obviously know their own business, but they don't, that's not the same as knowing how to take it to market that can fatten the cow, but they don't know what the buyers of that cow in the farm marketplace, want and need. And I think that ability to communicate it. So I've often thought that's slightly odd. So I refuse to sort of be reduced to sort of that. And so what we do builds on and runs alongside it. And the I think organisations and companies under leverage the power of their people. So we have these superhero entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, and Elon Musk that have got it right. But there doesn't seem to be any sort of medium type successes where people think, Oh, well, I'm not Richard Branson's. That's not for us. But actually, Phil, you know, you've got your business diffuse. Let's be honest, though, people are going to buy from you. Like, it's not just about checking you out and seeing it everything that you've done, it's also if you aren't on the front foot as the ambassador, then actually, I think that that's, you know, that's, that's a missed opportunity. So what we do is we amplify that build on or run alongside traditional PR, because people buy from people. And it was also based on the fact that no one wants to read brochures anymore, and sales pitches and stuff. So thought leadership is the actual best way to sell the best way to sell is to not sell, I wouldn't even read a brochure on my own company, because it's going to, it's gonna have stock photography of people looking at a chart around the boardroom table, it's gonna have a few bubble quotes of some generic person saying these people are great, well, we wouldn't quote them if they weren't saying that. So like, no one looks at that. So how do you get on the radar of meaning meaningfully, it's by doing thought leadership by giving away what you've learned, because that's actually the way to do it. And I always say, All anyone who might be interested in in dealing with you is always listening to the radio station wi I fm. And that stands for what's in it for me. Like they're interested in you, but only to the point that they satisfy themselves, that you're the person to unblock the toilet. Now it's about roll can you do it? When can you come everything else? So it's a two stage process. And people sort of, as I say, under leverage that that important part of, of hiring someone you know, we just changed our gardener, the previous guy did an alright job. And now we've got this amazing gardener. And he does the same thing the other guy did. He just does it with more passion is more reliable, he's friendlier. And he's actually a bit more expensive, but I don't mind that I'm willing to pay me because he's a pleasure to deal with. And I you know, it's that meta narrative, that meta relationship where it's not just about the gardening it's also about my relationship with the gardener.Philip Grindell:
So in the in the internet age, though, where I don't know about you, but I mean, you know, whenever I'm dealing with someone I'm straight on to Google, straight onto LinkedIn. I'm straight into all these things to try and check out well, who is this person? And, you know, there is so much information out there now that people in fact, there's more information out there about people than they even realise is out there about them. That's true. Okay, exactly. But why do they need you? Why why with all that, that that masses of media out there? It how do you then control the narrative, if you like about what is being said about this individual?Paul Blanchard:
Well, to some extent, you can't. And also, I tell clients, that they're adrift on the sea of news, because there's no such thing as an objective story value. I mean, you, you know, launching an amazing products or saving the life of a celebrity or whatever it might be, could be incredibly interesting and could be a front page of a newspaper. But if the Prime Minister was shot, or the Queen died on that day, you're not going to get in like so. And it also works the other way. Sometimes I'll think that story could be a page lead on page seven of the Evening Standard. And then because nothing more interesting has happened, it gets put on the front page, you know, that's the thing be one of my clients, my old clients, Metrobank, we've got him on the front page once and he said, I can't understand why that is on the front page. And, and other more interesting things that we've done half an hour, I was like, Well, that's because other more interesting things were ahead of you in the queue that there was if if the Evening Standard had something that was more interesting that day, they'd be tough not to put on the front page, of course, they're going to do that. So it's just that they didn't have it. So there's a little bit of there's no such thing as an objective story value. So I don't I don't necessarily think it's about controlling the narrative. I think there's two there's two issues is one is inbound attention, and the other one is attracting attention. So inbound is usually scandal led, a company will have an accusation levelled against them, and it could be false could be true, who knows. And there's an element of human nature. So we get hired for crisis PR. And the first thing is, even though they're very clever people, their first thing is, well, can we can we ignore this and it'll go away? No, Jeff, you can, it's going to be happening. And they'll say, well, let's just say nothing. And I'm like, well, the Guardian are going to do two, two pages on this, it's a big story, they can either spend all of that time speculating on the seven things that you might do, all of which are damaging, or we can just tell them the thing we've actually decided we are going to do, and then they can at least discuss the the ups and downs of that, but discuss it there will, and you know, we can make sure the facts are right and corrected, blah, blah, blah, you know, that part of it is telling the client, this isn't going to go away. In fact, you know, let's let's seize this as a try to make the best the best of the opportunity, or the least worst damage, as it were. The harder job, though, is actually engendering interest. And in a product. So like, you know, I might say to a journalist got a new range of widgets out and they're really proud of it. I'll go to a journalist and they're not paid for the to represent a company that don't have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome like I do. Because you know, Leslie runs that widget company. I've been to lunch with him on the flip blog, he deserves all his coverage, I start to believe these widgets are good, right? Then you get that big reality check that record scratch where you talk to a journalist and said, these widgets are amazing. And he's like, who cares? Why should my readers care about this new range of widgets, what's new, and it's that that's the bit he's trying to engender interest is incredibly difficult, because people don't see it from the journalists point of view. It's why and I say this in my book, it's why people dress as chickens when they're doing the London Marathon. Because look at it, from your point of view, you've trained for three months, you're gonna raise money for charity, your family and friends are behind you. It's incredibly exciting. You pulled your muscle a month ago, and you've just recovered and you were worried about whether the marathon was going to happen. And now you're going to do it. And you're so proud. And your mother's there to cheer you on. What an amazing thing. Why wouldn't a journalist be interested in you? Why? Because there's another 26,000 people doing it. And why? Why are you any different. And that's ultimately the key about dressing as a chicken. Because if you dress as a chicken, that's the only thing that interests a journalist, because they're going to put a microphone in front of you and say, Why you dressed as a chicken, and you're gonna go, Well, I'm glad you asked that is because of this, this and this. And that's the bit about like, making yourself more interesting and optimising the story. The other thing that's interesting, as well as tension cells is makes stories interesting. And that could be tension between people. But it could also be tension in terms of uncertainty of outcome. So the difference between marketing and PR, is marketing would say, we've made 2 million quid this year, stick a press release out there, it wouldn't get any coverage at all. Who cares? A company you've never heard obviously made 2 million quid, who cares? PR is convincing them to say this company was facing bankruptcy last year 4000 jobs were in the in the in the risk, and now because of this big order, not only they're safe, but we're going to hire more people. Now. The chief executive thinks well, why do we have to put that bad stuff in because like, it's good news, but they they're not PR people is it's only in the relief of the tension that makes it newsworthy, so I can't say well, there was a generic, unspecified threat to the business last year which is now gone, do you not I mean, I'm not your Uh, I have to say no, you know, it was. And that's PR because it because if you get if you can persuade people to be fully authentic and tell the whole story, that's the bit that interests them. But so half of it is working on the client as well as, as working on the, you know, working in the media as well, because actually, if you get a story strong enough, you don't need to control it sells itself. You know, think about if your local library lent its millions book, now, they'd have to do a press release, they'd be Mrs. Miggins, their 92, with a nice picture had been handed the book by the Lord Mayor, and it'll be nice. And you know, the local newspaper might do something about that, if you persuaded them and they had a journalist available, they probably wouldn't send a photographer, you'd have to send your own picture. And it might be on page eight, right? But you'd have to persuade them. Once if the library burnt down to the ground, and there was four fire engines out there and one person died. Do we have to press release that and persuade them to? Absolutely not, it's that whole push pull thing. So by working on making the story interesting in and of itself, you don't have to then persuade the journalist to do it, right, you have to do that you're already on to a loser. And there's loads of techniques that you can do that are that are truthful, to optimise the stories interesting, this the way a journalist will, will want to cover it. And that's the bit that I found absolutely fascinating.Philip Grindell:
So you've used the word story, a number of times. And, you know, the more I'm kind of immersed into the business world and have been for the last three years. This this concept of storytelling comes up time and time and time again. Is that is that part of PR the ability to tell that story and and you know, we we as human beings, our you know, our ancestor is steeped in storytelling. And once upon a time we sat around the fire we, you know, we learned from stories and what have you. So is that part of the gift of PR, but to be able to communicate that story?Paul Blanchard:
I think it's everything. So like, once that microphone has been put in front of you why you dressed as a chicken? Why are you dressed as a chicken? But you have to work that out? Yeah. So it's called the the old marketing formula is called AI da attention, interest, desire action. And so as the attention you know, you've dressed as a chicken, you've engendered the interest. But at that point, you have to have that story so that you're ready. And you do see it where sometimes on the telly embarrassing, where we're at, you know, they've got on the news, but then they've they probably didn't think they'd get on the news, even though they set out. And they're shocked by that. And then they they actually don't have that story to tell, or they think they've got seven minutes on BBC News at Six. Whereas, you know, Laura coons Berg doesn't get seven minutes, I'm not gonna give you seven minutes, John, they're gonna, they're gonna give you 30 seconds. So you better have something to say upfront, and and sort of home that you've ever so called elevator pitch. So it's preparedness, and knowing what that story is. But yes, absolutely. I mean, as I said, people buy from people that, you know, you do have to have that sorted out, because because otherwise, what are you selling? With matrix widgets, you know, that it's only the story that that gives you that something to sell your life story, or the story of client journeys, successes, learned, where you're taking things next. Ultimately, if you're a conference in the audience, and you're watching people on stage, what they're telling, they're telling stories,Philip Grindell:
and stories of the way, a key way of communicating I mean, in terms of rather than just regurgitating facts, if you can embed that into the story, so that so that there is, in some instances learning from that story. That is obviously a better way to communicate.Paul Blanchard:
I have a Ford Mustang. I don't know what the talk range is for my Mustang. I don't care. What I care about is it looks a million dollars. And in 1960s, American or all those adverts are really attractive women in bikinis there. So even though I'm very happily married, and ultimately, I got a car like that, because that might, you know, increases my progress with other men and makes them more attractive. Because whether that's true or not, I don't care about what torque level it is. I buy all the car magazines, and that these fat boxes right? On the side, who cares? I don't maybe other people do. I want to know what the colour is what the dashboard looks like, and how it makes me feel like that's what you're selling. You're selling the outcome. And I think sometimes you can get distracted by the measurements because no one cares about the features of a product or a service or very few people. They care about the benefits. Why is someone buying that car? Or is it just to get to a to b? Well, you could you can buy you know, a secondhand car for three grand that'll get you to the shops reliably. If you're going to spend more than that, then why are you spending more than that? Is it status? Is it reliability? Is it speed? That's what marketers do? The cliche is, you know, no one goes into a DIY store to buy a drill Bates. They're going into a dry stall because they want to put pictures up in their living room and they need a drill to do it.Philip Grindell:
So in your book, you say PR is not about you. It's about Then the reader, the listener, the viewer, is that what you mean in terms of, you know, no one wants to just hear about you. It's about well, okay, this isn't who I am, this is what we do. But this is how we benefit you. So that's about the listener, the viewer, etc.Paul Blanchard:
It's just, it's about me, it's about, it's about you just enough to satisfy that person, that you're trustworthy. After that, if you go on more about yourself, you then boring that person and missing an opportunity. So you've got, you've got dwell time, you've got attention deficit, but you've got that attention time to try and catch someone's attention. The analogy I use to use because I'm all is the yellow pages. And when when you need a plumber, you open the yellow pages up and all of the plumbers adverts used to really annoy me, because they all used to say the same thing. We unblock drains, blocked toilets to do this. We know what a plumber does, why are you wasting my time doing that, right? That they should have been using that advert to differentiate themselves from the other plumbers on the page, we come faster, were cheaper, where we wear uniforms, whatever we speak 20 languages, whatever the USP is, are, that's what it is, but regurgitating a list of things that the customer already knows you can do. It's just a total waste of time. But it's exactly the set it so that finiteness of, of attention. I used to be able to communicate that in the sort of 90s When I used to do this started doing this as a yellow pages now it's dwell time its attention. You'll give a banner advert half of one second, you might you might listen to five seconds of an advert on a podcast before you fold winder. You've got to get that message across quite quickly to distil that unique selling point and differentiate yourself from the from the listener, what are they buying? It's, it's either the old adage is fear of loss outweighs the desire for gain. So you've got to you've got to show you're trustworthy, but you've also then got to show them what are you getting for? You're gonna give me some money, Phil, you're gonna give me 500 quid, why am I making a problem go away? Or am I preventing a problem from happening, and therefore you're buying peace of mind. So you've either unblock your toilet, and that helps you or you've had some blocked toilets recently, and I've got a product that'll stop that from happening and will save you money in the long run. Because you've spent 600 pound on plumbers, unblocking toilets. Last year, this 100 pound products I'm going to sell you means you don't have to call the plumber ever again. So like, is it Saving money is that kind of thing? And it's that distilling of well, what are they buying? What's the outcome? And I think people don't do that. Because they get distracted by the doing of it. People fall in love with the process of their own business. And they said they therefore dwell on selling that process. Who cares? Like if I can get you in Forbes Phil, declare our do it. As long as long as I'm not bringing into disrepute, and I don't anything unethical. Who cares if I DM the editor, email him or send it out to me? Ultimately, if I get you in Forbes, happy days,Philip Grindell:
it's fascinating. My wife is, you know, you've met Amanda and she has amazing yeah, she has this thing about, you know, selling the benefits. That's what you got to do exactly as you're saying no one cares about, about what you do, or how you do it about how does this impact their life? How does this better their, their life and that's, that's all people are really interested in. So when you're looking at personal PR, and you're looking at individuals is that is that in a way kind of branding, building up that individuals brand?Paul Blanchard:
It's the problem with that phrase personal branding is these words become meaningless don't because I am not a personal branding person. Because to me, that conjures up imagery of buying the right pairs of trousers and whether to wear makeup on telly and design. I don't know, I am legally prohibited from giving anyone fashion advice, for legal reasons my wife has an injunction isPhilip Grindell:
ordered auditory only. Exactly. for that exact reason.Paul Blanchard:
So, and I also think, you know, short of advising is of a shave or whatever, like, it's not my place to say that as long as you look, you know, look respectable in your dress, you've got clothes on then that, that if that's authentically, I'm fine with that. So what branding to me is is is is that capturing attention in the right way establishing trust, and showing trust but then distilling what those the three sort of key things are that you want to get across to someone you know, this I hate the phrase elevator pitch, but ultimately it is about that. So I think branding for me is is distilling what what who you are and what you're offering is rather than not being clear on that and then just trying to hold a press release around or saying what branding is because I think if your product is strong enough, it will sell itself I've always thought that so like, like with yourself you know are a are you trustworthy? Because fear of loss outweighs the desire for gain but also be okay I like this guy. What can you do for me? And like you've got you've got 60 seconds to tell me because I'm not to sell me because I'm already sold on IKEA right? So now what is it what you're trying to alleviate? Is it pain, future pain? You're gonna give me peace of mind. Are you going to solve a problem abovePhilip Grindell:
but does that not Does that is that not more thing to what you're who I am as a brand or you know, in terms of, if we look at, if we look at Elon Musk, you know, he has a personal brand, he may not necessarily have consciously developed it. But when you think about Elon Musk, you have a certain perspective. And the same way we think about Richard Branson, is that not their personal brand?Paul Blanchard:
I've, I've met Richard Branson many times. I don't think he's inauthentic. But he's very shy. And he's not the same when the cameras aren't on him. It's hard. So he like switches on. You know, one of my clients used to work with Prince and Prince never said a word to anyone like literally was mute. And then the second the TV lights went on and went live Prince, thank you for joining us, He would then be Prince. And I think that's, I don't know, that doesn't necessarily work for me. Because ultimately, it's not about selling you it's just about just selling you a you being you just enough to establish trustworthiness, because then it's about what is what is it that they want. And I've often found that my best sales meetings in the first one is just listening, that again, cliche alert, but you know, you've got two ears and one mouth and she was in that order. Half of my proposals are just repeating back to them. What they told me, and that's not some trick, that's actually important that I've actually, you know, effing understood, I've got to show genuine understanding. So how do I do that unless I genuinely listen and be actually codify what my understanding is? So and again, I always think that someone says, also your proposals are just repeating back to them what what that client has told you? And I'm like, Yeah, because that's what they that's, that's sort of the net effect. Like, surely, surely we all if we're going to have a target and a series of milestones, we need to be clear and aligned on what they are. So if I'm not gonna say that, what am I gonna say, Monica with a completely different set of goals?Philip Grindell:
You deal with, you know, top end people, you know, you're dealing with the most successful people on this planet very often. And that may mean the wealthiest it may mean, some of the most famous it may mean some of the most influential do they have? Do they have similar concerns? Are there are there? Are there kind of trends about why they want you and what are they concerned about? What are they worried about?Paul Blanchard:
We have two types of clients. And we have type one would be ambitious chief executive looking to leverage their personal profile to help grow the business. So it's a it is a genuine win win for them. And the business like anti scam, which is a very dear friend and a longtime client, you know, he's like a virgin Richard Branson thing where, you know, he, he's, he's all over the media. But he's talking about skybridge. He's talking about salts, he's talking about all the things that he's doing. And he's authentic. He's passionate about crypto is even better on CNBC, when he's defending crypto, and it's going down because it's real, you know, and I love that about him. And he's a lovely guy as well. He's exactly the same when the cameras are off when the cameras are on. And I love that about him. So that's a type one client. The other type that we have. Type Two is what we will call a legacy client. They're they've made tonnes of money, they're an ultra high net worth individual, they have a family office, they're not in business, they've often handed the reins over to their protege. It might be their son or daughter, whoever, but they're not making widgets anymore. They've, they still might own the widget business, but they're not running it, they might be in the 60s. And then there might have some investments, but they're not actively in business. And they're looking at legacy. So there's usually three parts to that type of person one is looking backwards, they want some kind of recognition for what they've done. They they often would like, although they we can't be seen to be lobbying. But we do. Because there's a dignity issue, though. But behind the scenes, they'd quite like to win a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International widget Manufacturers Association, particularly because Jeff in the golf club, who also makes which is why he got it three years ago, why haven't I so you know, we so there's an element of recognition there, the middle bit is the precedent that they want to be kept busy. And I don't mean that in a patronising or shallow way, but it might be a memoir, it could be a blog, or a podcast or something, but they want they've got something to offer. And also those they'll think, Well, I used to be about, you know, kill or be killed. I wanted to dominate the widget industry. But now, now that I've moved on, I think the widget industry itself has got a problem or an opportunity that it's ignoring. And I want to help the widget industry, not just my own business, but you know, rising tide lifts all boats, they become altruistic, they become all of that. And so there's an element of that where they then want to get involved in sort of taking the industry forward rather than Doggy Dog increasing market share within the industry. So there's a bit of that. So that's the beginning the middle and then the end is something about legacy. They'll say, you know, do I'd like to be a philanthropist do I? Do I set up a trust fund? Do I invest in an existing charity? How can I do something that's genuinely going to outlast me? And that's an incredible privilege. I think they each have advantages and disadvantages, really the the advantage of type one is they've got stuff to talk about because if they're making widgets, then they've got a new random range of widgets next year to talk about some There's a pipeline of stuff that they can say. Whereas the type two, we have just legacy, they've got one Korea that they want to talk about. And they might want to talk about current affairs, it might not. But like, there's, there's no pipeline of announcements. So you know, you've got to keep the focus on them and keep them doing stuff. On the other hand, take one clients usually fires after sort of two or three years because either energies fizzled out, they might get taken over, they might move, there's like a finite amount of time to that kind of thing. And also, they might take ages to sign because, you know, big companies often have committees that have to sign things off. So like, we worked for a very big Japanese gaming company, and they took four years to hire us. And don't get me wrong, they're amazing. But like, literally, we started talking to them four years ago. And because of the Japanese culture with this ringy, I don't know, you know, it can take a while. But and they're a great client. But on the other hand, with the type two with the legacy ones, with how can I put this delicately, Father Time is not their friend, they're already old, they don't want to delay. You know, they might say, Well, I've only got 10 years left, so I'm not going to, I'm going to ask around and wait two years to decide it. So they tend to decide quite quickly. And then they're also slightly more in a hurry to get the right type of publicity earlier. So I take one client, I said, Let's do a TED talk in year two, whereas one of our type two clients will say, right, we need to do a TED talk in the next year. Or if we need to get a book out, let's do it. So I enjoy both of them. I think it's nice to have a spread. But, but they're absolutely fascinating. They're all incredibly interesting people, you know, I've got a team of 20 on staff, and I will say to all my team, we call it the triple multiplier of interestingness. So they're interesting people that are in an interesting period in their life, a transition period, and they want to do something interesting with it. And that is interesting.Philip Grindell:
So move. So if we go move on there to the other piece, because that's that's the sort of strategic PR piece, if you like, if you then move on to the kind of crisis communication bit. You know, Churchill was famously quoted as saying, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth, he has a chance to get his pants onPaul Blanchard:
about my Imagine if he was alive now during the Twitter age. Can you imagine it? I mean, can you imaginePhilip Grindell:
that? That's, that's incredible that that was said all those years ago. Now, in the internet age, how do you manage global clients? Well, all the different time zones as well, when the sorts of scandals are hitting in an age where, as Churchill said, before, you've been woken up? It's it's front page news in certain parts of the world? How do you manage that?Paul Blanchard:
It's difficult, actually, I mean, I'd say about 20% of our work is crisis management. Often Human nature being what it is, something will happen, because, and it's a shock that it happens. But it's not really a surprise, because it was inevitable. Like, I worked for a bank for many years, and the chairman and the vice chairman and CEO, they didn't speak to each other, it was a dysfunctional relationship. They had an unspoken agreement that if they walked past each other in the corridor, they would acknowledge each other, if there was colleagues there, because it would look weird if they didn't. But if there was no one else in the corridor that just blank each other, like there was that dysfunctional, and inevitably, you know, things went wrong. And so there's an element of having to persuade the company to do the right thing about it. And, and often, it's there, the very fact that the fail to address it is the very reason the crisis is happening. The other thing is, is sometimes there's like separate directors got caught in some wrongdoing kind of bordello or something, there'll be three people that can decide that person's fate want, but one will be at his mother's funeral, the other one will be up a mountain somewhere on retreat in Tibet. And then the other one will be on a train with no signal. And then like, if the Guardian needs to get back to me, I need to get back to them within an hour with what we're doing about this. I don't know what the company is doing about this. Are we firing this guy, we suspending him, I was standing by him and we're going to buy in counselling. I don't know, like, I need I need. Even if you give me one baby step in one direction, someone has to tell me what we're doing about this. And honestly, you'd be surprised just how difficult it is when just to get people in the right three people in a room. And, you know, so with some of our very big clients that we have a laminated card with the Zoom call thing on this is if there's a crisis, so you get into shipping number, like and I'll text them and say, right, let's get on the blower right now. I only need a minute of your time, what we're doing, and sometimes I'm there while they decide. It's like, you know, those meetings can get quite heated particularly if that guy was caught in that this fictional guy cotton bordello is mates with one of the three people who's who says we should give Jeff a chances is marriages you know, it's been seen his marriage is in trouble for for a few years now. Well, I told Guardian that then Jeff, do you know what I mean? Like, what are we doing about it? The next thing is how do we communicate that? So like, and again, no one you can make things a lot worse if you don't own the situation. So like United Airlines are this huge problem where A punch that poor guy in the face and dragged him off the plane. And what made it worse though, was the United Airlines did a tweet that says, We regret having to re accommodate this passenger was like written by a robot. And like that made it worse. And I and I think there was no humanity to it. And I know why that was. I actually saw it on this CNN when that happened. And I went to stuff. This is textbook failure, because CNN were doing it on a split screen because they had this tweet. And then they had the other screen that said, this bug, but you could see that Blooding, he wasn't really accommodated. And they lost, they lost a billion dollars off their stock market, because they mishandled that the next day. And I know why they did is because the lawyer wrote that tweet, that lawyer on day one would have said, well, if we apologise or we were gonna, we might have to pay this kind of a million dollars. So we got to be very careful about the language we use. So that lawyers thinking he was clever, to save the company a million dollars, wrote a tweet in such a way that lost the company a billion dollars the next day. And that's the importance now of reputation is we don't have a chief reputation officer at board level, when when the shades the fan, it's usually the lawyers that right that deal with this. And don't get me wrong, the lawyer is an incredibly important piece in the jigsaw, but they're not everything. They don't know how to handle the media. So I think sometimes I do come into conflict with companies in crisis, because I say, Why is he deciding all of this? You know that? Because actually, that person genuinely believes that they should make all the decisions. Well, why? So? So that's important that we get that strategy, right? And then also is the leader of the business. believable, are they sorry, now, and there's what I call the outsole test. If they're in our sole, our job is to do a press release and hide them from the media because we're gonna make it worse. If they're genuinely apologetic, the first thing I will do is get them on the media. So like when that lady lost her legs on the Alton Towers roller coaster, the chief executive of Alton Towers went straight on Sky News that night, and Kerr burly, she basically knocked Seven Bells out of him. But actually, if you watch on YouTube, no one can doubt the fact that he's genuinely upset, like there was tears in his eyes, you could just tell from his language, everything he used. And like he's like, it's not in my interest that people feel unsafe, or whatever, of course, I've got, because he didn't operate the ride, but he's responsible for it. And it felt authentic. And it felt real. And most people watching this, watching that felt reassured that it wouldn't happen again, because he took it seriously. And I call that the pizza shop problem, the pizza manager when, let's say you're running a pizza shop, a pizza restaurant, and you're the manager and you sat upstairs and you're doing the box, and you're managing anything and someone calls up from downstairs and says, there's a family that's very upset here that the service that they've received, and you're walking down the stairs to come and talk to them, right? Did you cook the pizza? No. Did you take the order for the pizza? No. Right? So as you approach the family were annoyed. You, you, you don't know what happened, the chef might have got it wrong, the waiter might have got it wrong. Or it might be that the family just one of these horrible people. But you don't know. All you can do is the toolkit of methodologies. Number one, lead on empathy. I'm desperately sorry that this has happened to you and mean it. I don't know what went wrong. But I'm going to get to the bottom of it to make sure what I want again, tell me it from your point of view, let them be feel heard. And then that's what people want. They want to be treated with respect and treated and genuinely believe that you've taken it seriously, and that you'll do something about it. That's all you can do. What else can you do? You didn't cook the pizza? It's exactly the same then with the United Airlines thing. The reason why I winced is because what they should have said, and I don't work for United Airlines, the chief executive should have gone on the TV and said, Look, I wasn't there. But I can tell you my first thought was I felt desperately sorry for that poor man. I felt best buddy sorry for the officer that had to arrest him because it was nothing to do with him. And I feel desperately sorry for my colleagues and customers on that plane that had to witness that this is a horrible thing for everyone to to see. And my first thought is, is we have to get to the bottom of why this happened. So it can never happen again. And I'm embarrassed. That's all. Like, if they'd have done that they wouldn't lost the billion quid. If he meant it. That's actually how he should have handled it because it didn't cook the pizza. It didn't punch that man. But he is responsible for it. So one, is he sorry? Yes. So do I believe that he's going to get to the bottom of it, because three, that cat and again, if I believe those three things, problem goes away. And that's where people like NGOs have to work behind the scenes, because I remember when group four were had loads of prisoners escaping from their prisons, and they got some terrible PR from it right? The guy who does group false PR certainly did 10 years ago, is a genius. He's the best PR that you could possibly imagine. Now, anyone who doesn't understand PR will say what all those headlines saying with the prisoners escaping that you can't be genius. They don't understand how the media works, right? First of all, does the PR man lock those prisoners up with the key and walk away I've seen The Green Mile and jangle the key. No sign in office, right? Is his job to mitigate the potential worse outcome? Yes. So so no one would even think this, of course, unless you're an insider like me, a PR person would say, What a clever guy that could have been infinitely worse, but he mitigated that the damage what a genius. He can't cover it up. They run a prison for the public and the answer to the government and a prisoner escaped, right. But he didn't do. Like, in terms of managing the fallout of that he got it made sure that the governor was on there and everyone else and saying, look, look what you know, we take this unbelievably seriously. But we're gonna make, here's the things that we think we've got wrong. And this is how it's not gonna happen again. And again, we're back to PR versus marketing, listing the things that they got wrong. A marketer will say, Why the hell have you done that? Or a lawyer would say, Why the hell have you done that? Well, we've done that, because that's the only thing that's going to persuade people, we take this seriously. How can we stop this happening again, unless we can show that we're aware of what went wrong?Philip Grindell:
So I mean, I always feel when I listened to as an example, sort of celebrities reading a press statement, after something's happened. And It's blindingly obvious, they haven't written it. The vocabulary that's been used is quite clearly not their vocabulary. And, you know, I've got no doubt it's written by a lawyer or someone, but it comes across then is inauthentic, because it doesn't feel like it's come from them.Paul Blanchard:
Well, it hasn't as it reads like, it's a lawyer writing it because a lawyer has written it like you say, and it just looks, it looks ridiculous. And it can go the other way, though. Like, you know, when Alec Baldwin shot that poor lady, no one thinks he did that deliberately. Someone's made a mistake. who's made it? And it's turns out that he is innocent? Well, I think I think my job would think he was to open because he appeared with his wife, Ilaria. And, you know, I know Ilaria, which is lovely lady, but like they were almost bickering in front of the cameras. So like, you've got to strike that balance, because like you expect someone to take it seriously. But if there's a if there's alleged criminal wrongdoing, you have to be respectful of that process. And again, at what Alec did really well in that is he always led with well, and I'm desperately sorry for that poor lady's family and friends. She's dead. And no one wants, you know, I knew she was my friend, I'm gutted. Did I believe him when he said that? Yes. But on the other hand, he might have, you know, this is where it gets technical, isn't it? Because although he probably didn't set out to shooter, he is a producer on the film that has maybe has vicarious liability, and he needs to be careful. It's, it's always the difficult because I said this in my book, if you make canoes, and Little Timmy is drowned in one. They're going to come for you. They're gonna the family are going to say it was the canoe, right? What do you do? You can't say? No, it wasn't, you know, because that seems insensitive. But now that you need to say yeah, probably was our canoe. But that probably is why Little Timmy drowned, right? So you've got to end up just being respectful and say, look, we've been in business 60 years, no one has ever died in our canoes. When we heard the news of Tony's death. We were all absolutely shocked and upset for the family. And for everyone involved. Now, there's a health and safety investigation involved and the police so we obviously can't prejudice that. But you know, if there are any lessons for us to be learned from this, of course, we're going to do that. But you know, we at the moment, I just desperately Cypher for both Timmy and his family. And whilst Can you say? And that is actually Fair enough. If you mean it and you do it sensitively, then that's actually the right thing to do. She can't prejudice a health and safety or a police investigation. They might say that it is your canoe that killed in other Mike says I've got absolutely nothing to do with your canoe. It was the the instructor that told them that said yes, you take it on water to me, but don't worry about it, like, but what you can't do is this thing where you say, well, we're not even going to discuss it like this, we regret having to re accommodate this passenger, what you can do sound like a robot. But neither again, this is where you have to be very careful in getting that response. Right.Philip Grindell:
So that authenticity is key, then it is. Yeah. So talking of authenticity, you know, we're in an age now where fake news appears to be the flavour of the month. And it sometimes seems that news articles are driven by the headlines rather than the detail in the or the or the detail and the the evidence of the actual article. But when you're dealing with somebody who has had fake news, although there's fake stuff out there, how easy is that to get taken down? How easy is it to remove that sort of material?Paul Blanchard:
More difficult than you think? And so like most we have an online reputation repair service and most people come to us when they've already written to Google is so called right to be forgotten. Google don't like that. You know, they come from America. There's a First Amendment free speech sort of principle and the European Union have come at it from another angle. So Google have like 100 people in an office whose job is to it's a battle where those requests Ice anomaly you can do that quite easily if you're upset what the Luton Gazette said about you then take it out with an editor the Luton Gazette, you know, don't be going to Google and there's so much truth in that. And also the act of balance, you know, protection if your next door neighbour is a paedophile, you ought to be able to find that out if he genuinely is because that, you know, you want to just take care of your kids and use personal security just in case I mean, so there is an element of that. But like, you know, there was that very famous case of the Butcher of Harley Street poor laid as surgeon that she an operation went wrong. And of course, it's perfectly normal that surgeons like there were a lot of complexities and things go wrong one in 2000 operations, you know, the British Medical Association note no doctor surgeon is perfect. So it's the question is, is was, is the failure rate of this surgeon above the norm because you know, you are gonna get things wrong. And this with this woman was called The Butcher of Harley Street at the General Medical Council, the Daily Mail splashed on that, and the next day she was cleared. But of course, if you Googler, it comes up that she's the Butcher of Harley Street, because because there were factually right in quoting, a barrister saying that about her in court. So like, they haven't broken the law in that. But like, let's say that, you know, your lady wife needs an operation, and you just quickly check out the surgeon and it comes up that she's the Butcher of Harley Street, you're not going to have that you wouldn't think well, you know, given a meta analysis of all of the overall aggregate of her operations across a 22 year career, it's likely that she's actually over performing in terms of safety. And obviously, she won that. And, you know, it was unfortunate that poor lady did sewer and blah, blah, you don't think any of that? Would you click Page Two and find another surgeon? Because, you know, do you want the Butcher of Harley Street? operating on your wife? No. And that's the thing, isn't it? This whole duality of facts versus emotions, because actually, that and it ruined her career. So rightly, you know, we that was taken down, because he was just ruinous, he also wasn't right. So, so you can get some things removed. It's very difficult. There are lots of organisations like Trustpilot, and Glassdoor, and things like this that sort of thrive on anonymous negative things being posted about people, and that they're very difficult to remove. But you can get it done. If you you know, if you throw allies at it, you can also create new content to push it down. So there's, you know, particularly economically, economically, I will say, European media is more amenable to reason and having these taken down, because if a newspaper is printed something bad, then normally there will be a proper process in place to complain about it a managing editor and an editorial code were, at least are amenable to reason. The problem is the plethora of just absolutely not as with blogs, and things like that, where, you know, and they can create lots of fake Twitter accounts and everything. And then that can be that's the crazy because it's like the Wild West, you know, that you can't appeal to that reason. And sometimes it's even not even worth engaging with them, because they want to feel they've drawn blood. You know, if you've got a vexatious former employee, or why you for whatever it is, that might be might be bored, because they've lost their job. And they're just sat there, blogging about you all the time. How would you know even at engaging with someone like that, they'll feel that they've got Yeah, so it's just not worth it? So that the question is, how do you deal with it? So I'm some, again, on some blogs, he goes to the hosting company. If it's WordPress, they actually do have a legal team that will take things down. But if it's like medium again, their First Amendment, not as they will, unless it's like naked pictures of you. They will host a website saying you're a paedophile and not take it down. And they say, Well, you've got the right of reply. You could add a comment at the bottom saying that you're not a paedophile. Oh, that's all right. Yeah. Cheers, fellas. Appreciate that. And again, there's, there's a, there's a very strong element of if you deny something, does that give it legitimacy? So like, if I knocked on your front door and said, Oh, yeah, hi, I fell me on your neighbour Paul. Just so you know, my wife and I would not dog as we you know, we're not part of the dog and community. You think these guys knock us like why? Why if the lead on that, so so like sometimes, like you have when when you if you've got not as accusing you of things, it's actually you need to think twice about, is it even worth deny it legitimising it with a denial when David Cameron was accused of having sex with that pig, which is a ridiculous thing to suggest, but let's be honest, for three weeks, the prime minister the United Kingdom, was the hot topic was whether he had sex with a dead pig. Now, he said, I'm not going to dignify that with a denial. And actually, that was quite clever, actually. Because it was ridiculous. And I think if I accuse you full of having sex with the gorilla in London Zoo, you wouldn't write a blog post saying why it's nonsense. So there is an element of picking and choosing your battles here because sometimes the denial of it can actually increase the visibility of a problem. It's called the Streisand effect. I don't know if you've ever heard of that, but it's named after the actor and singer, Barbra Streisand. She We all have California's coastline is, is public property, and everyone has the right to take a picture on it. And a gentleman did a website about it, where it basically was the entire coastline, one of these pictures of Barbra Streisand's back garden in it, because she had a beautiful beachfront property in Malibu. And it is beautiful, because I've seen it, and it had like, but the point is, is they had like 40 views. And when they took action against him to try and have that removed that docket, that court action became a matter of public record, and led to lots of publicity about her attempt to silence this picture. Now, if you click on it, because there's a view counted as 1.4 million views. So again, you know, sometimes the act of engaging with critics is the very thing that amplifies it. And the problem with people like me, of course, is I can charge you 100 grand to make that problem go away. But if, if my advice is sent off infill, you might think, Well, that was underground. Like because you, you want like a something you can feel that you've paid me for, like a statement or something where you feel about some graph. But actually, if you're buying outcomes, then if saying nothing is actually going to solve the problem, then that is worth 100 grand.Philip Grindell:
Yeah. And it's, it's really interesting is we do we come at it from a different angle in terms of profile in the individual. And sometimes we've gone back and said, This person is narcissistic. We're not going to feed their narcissism by engaging with them. We're just effectively going to starve them of oxygen, and they will go away. But just one more question, because I think it's a very interesting one around this. I know we've taken up quite a bit of your time today, but I think I've waffled on you have enough that it a lot of we could edit that don't worry,Paul Blanchard:
my worry about editing out the crap is so as it might only be an eight minute podcast. But anyway, if wePhilip Grindell:
go for five minutes, and it's gonna be brilliant, five minutes, you're probably your best effort. But But podcasting, I know, you're big on podcasting. You know, waste of time got, you've got well, you know, you've got a business does it you've got your own really successful podcast, what is it about podcasts that seem to have gripped people's imagination and seem to be so popular? And I know we've got a podcast because it's a brilliant way for me to speak to people I really want to speak to much as anything actually get that out there. But what is it? What is the what is the real, you know, in terms of the benefit? What Why are podcast so successful?Paul Blanchard:
The three best things I've ever done in my life, marry my wife, get Billy and Betty, my two dogs, because they're amazing. And I couldn't be without them, I can wear out all three of them. And starting my podcast, it's been amazing. It's been utterly life transforming and been the best thing I've ever done in my career. Why? One, I genuinely enjoy it, I get to speak to the very best people in the world for an hour. Because I've got a big audience, and I learn. And like you, I don't think you can get that from anywhere else. You can learn that from a textbook. I think it's also builds my rolodex, I've established some amazing relationships with the very biggest editors, like I genuinely do know the editors of like the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times fortune Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, like everything, I know them, and I know how they do their job. And that makes me better at my job, because they're telling me how they want to deal with PR companies. I also think, even though I don't sort of trade on those connections, I think it's just an indirect benefit of what I call evidence of Rolodex, you know, people perceive that they want a well connected PR person, because they think that that's the means to an end. And actually, it's not necessarily about connectedness. It's about the ability to optimise a story. So people think I can get them in the Wall Street Journal, because I know that is to the Wall Street Journal. The reality is, and I tell this to clients is if I if I need to get a client in that I wouldn't pitch it to Matt Murray, I'd give it I'd say, right, so transport story, who's the transport editor? I'd look it up in our database, we get the story, right. And I'd say hi, Leslie, you're transported to the Wall Street Journal. Here's our client, you want to cover it? And she'd say, yes. So clients are buying what they think of his outcome and process. What actually as long as they get the outcome, the fact that the actual process doesn't differentiate, or is different how they perceive because I don't endorse that, but neither do I. Neither do I sort of challenge it. And then so it's great for business as well, indirectly. So I think the intention, though, is actually do I learn? Do I have an interesting conversation with some amazing people? And the answer is yes. And but for the podcast, if I email the the editor of Harvard Business Review, and said, Oh, hi, you know, I'm a generic PR person, one of 20,000 that's trying to spam me every day, can I have a coffee with you, our chat, rightly, that will just be bend. And you know, the podcast is a very good way of opening that door and starting those relationships. And I do enjoy and I think you can sense that because I really do like it but as you've said as well. It's also a great way of building a rapport and getting potential clients on and all of that. We say that to our clients, you know, you can have a podcast and invite prospects on it. Because if I if I because I have another podcast, new thinking podcast, and you know, I have some lovely people on there that aren't media. It started as a way of saying, Well, I can't even justify getting this interesting person on my podcast because he's nothing to do with media. So I have my my other broadcast as it were, but also I get prospects on there. And I'm very, very open about that, you know, I could say hi generic prospects, do you want to meet me? I'm on a 20,000 people, PR people that say they're great, and we'll deliver the earth and haven't got it. But I'm different from those guys, and have a coffee with you? And the answer is rightly, no. If I say, I present the new thinking podcast, and you know, you have a big audience, and would you like to come and talk? And they say, yes, it's a device. But it's so in one way cynical. But in another way, it's actually quite meaningful, because then we have a great when we do that it's also between me new, reveals them to want the limelight. Like if you're going to hire a PR person, if you shy and want to stay out the media, you're not going to hire me. So if you say, No, you've done me a favour, because I won't pursue you anymore. You either don't want you've got something to hide or you're shy or whatever. But either way I that didn't translate into dollars into my bank account.Philip Grindell:
So you're so your company that the podcast company, you have what's what's the trick then, to making that podcast successful and really building that audience?Paul Blanchard:
So the first thing is, it's got to be real, it's got to be interesting. You can put all the marketing tricks and social media optimization and all of these kinds of things. And that will get someone to listen to your podcast once if you crap. No one's going to come back. So like Steve, right? In the afternoon, listen to him for 30 years total ledge, they've now got some guy from Radio One who everyone else has heard of, and I haven't because I don't listen to Radio One. I'm old. And I'm gonna give him a week. Like, if he's not right, don't get me wrong. He's, I'm already tuned to radio two in the afternoon. So if he's good, then brilliant. But if he's not, then I'll go to magic or something. That's the so first of all, it's about dwell time about retention, stickiness, as it's called in their game is to keep people coming back, you've got to be good. So that's the first thing but in terms of establishing that audience it is it is making sure that your audio branding is right. You've visual branding, that you're you know that you've got key guests that have big audiences that can grow your audience, I've always found that one of the things that that can grow, my audience is having high profile guests on that are interesting, because they actually act as unpaid marketers and ambassadors. They tweet I was on Paul's podcast, click here to listen. They've got a million Scott Anthony was on mc squared, which has got million followers. He did like three tweets saying he was on Blanchard's podcast, and we got like 66 5000 New listens. Now of that about 10% 6000 stayed with us for future episodes, that's bloody good. You can buy that kind of publicity. Not only was he a really interesting guy, but he was an unpaid marketer. This brought on six and a half 1000 more regular listeners to my podcast. And those are the 90% could because it wasn't the right fit. We were boring, whatever. But it is a bonus. So yeah, I think it's important that you get the you work out what the audience wants. It's the whole Henry Ford thing, though, isn't it if you were asked what they want customers that say faster horse. So like you have to be, you have to be innovative, but also make sure that it's the right type of product that's going to because if you're the same as all the other podcasts it's going to come along, then you're not going to get the audience. But on the other end, the so left field, people aren't gonna listen. So it's that awkward middle point. But no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemies, they say. So like media masters has changed massively. I've done it for five, five and a bit years now. And you know, how I go about doing media masters as is the best it's ever been. Because I've got five years experience. Like I even like even the first year if I'd have asked a question that was that have said, well, you know, that was a bit of an obvious question, or you people shouldn't have known that I'd get caffeinated to put that question out. Because I was frightened of not being seen to be an expert in the media. Whereas now if I ask a question, and it was a bit of a stupid question on it, I'll leave it in, because I've got the compass to do that. But also what was if my listeners don't know that, I mean, you know, is that have you ever been at a conference or in a meeting where someone says, oh, what does n Qt Stanford Bob. And and everyone secretly thinks, glad he asked that because everyone's thinking it. So it's that kind of level ofPhilip Grindell:
building that. But that's going back to the point about, you know, much as the podcast that the doing the podcast, in many ways, benefits me because I get to speak to people like you and other people. But also I have to be conscious, it's not about it's not for me, it's for the listeners. And so I might know all about the subject. But I'm trying to introduce subjects to people that don't know about it. So therefore, the obvious question might pick up the best question.Paul Blanchard:
It's difficult. And then you've got the podcast, the pub, which is what do your listeners want out with this? You got to listen to them. Because don't get me wrong. It's your podcast, you're presenting it, you're going to benefit from it anyway. So the key is to make sure that you're delivering for the listeners because you don't want it you don't want what I call a graveyard podcast. You know, we we have those with clients that have started on their own and and come to us where they start them in a fit of enthusiasm, and then just give up because there's a challenge or whatever. And then they don't even know why. But they then leave it on their website. And I'm thinking why would you do that? Why would you have six podcasts that are two years old, one week after the other because it's obvious to you set it up in a fit of enthusiasm and have just left They can't you delete it and never speak of it ever again. You know, like I do that with all my failures. Like I just I just deny that they happened. I learned from them, I delete them. And then that's it. I pretend to myself that did not happen.Philip Grindell:
Listen, I could obviously go on all day talking to you because because I am because you're a friend but because I'm fascinated by what you're doing in the level of expertise and experience you have but I'm conscious of time. So thank you so much for your time and for your for your wisdom, and talking of exciting and interesting guests. Our next guest next month is going to be Bhaker who is the Chief Executive of the Suzy Lamplugh trust against a personal friend of mine and Susie and I work together in Parliament and she's going to be on it's gonna be a fantastic podcast of all about stalking and Susie Lamplugh Trust and all the work they do but for today, Paul Blanshard thank you so much. We will circulate as always the details of Paul's various podcasts and what have you and if you want to know more, I suggest you go out and buy his book Fast PR. Thank you very much.Paul Blanchard:
Thank you, Phil. It was a genuine pleasure. You're a legend.