In Crisis PR a critical component for recovery is the ability to set the news agenda*.
Lachlan, has been in, then out, now in again.
This is vintage RM, the ever-clever strategist, but dare we say, also the efforts of a loving father.
Recently, Lachlan has been quietly making a success of himself, building his own media empire in Australia. He’s chairman of the Ten Network; he has a a 50 per cent stake in DMG Radio Australia, which owns the Vega Classic Rock and Nova FM networks, and an 8.9 per cent shareholding in the regional television Prime Media Group.
But it wasn’t always this positive. As The Guardian noted in 2005, when Lachlan resigned as an executive (Dep COO) at the News Corp media empire:
“His resignation puts his younger brother, James, the chief executive of UK satellite TV company BSkyB, in pole position to succeed their 74-year-old father at the helm of a global empire that stretches from the Fox film and TV business to newspapers such as the Sun and the Times.”
This was after Lachlan made negative headlines (2005) giving evidence in the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s $92 million civil action against former One.Tel directors Jodee Rich and Mark Silberman. At issue was his unusual memory loss over his role in One.Tel leading up to its disastrous collapse in 2001. As Andrew Main (AFR) who followed the court case was quoted at the time: “It’s not been very edifying listening to a succession of “I don’t recalls” from a young man who’s clearly pretty smart.”
Well, now in 2012 it’s James who’s being accused of memory loss, and Lachlan (lessons presumably learnt) who’s assisting with the rescue in London.
Rupert has an uncanny ability to make the most of terrible situations. That’s one of the factors that has helped him create his remarkable empire. It may be that it comes naturally (becoming a Twitterer, opening a new paper when most people would be hiding, re-introducing Lachlan), but from a Crisis public relations point of view he’s ticking almost all the boxes.
Below is an extract from best article we’ve read summarising the current situation, from the NYT:
Murdoch Visits Downcast Tabloid, With Other Son in Tow
By JOHN F. BURNS and RAVI SOMAIYA, Published: February 17, 2012
In a gesture aimed at restoring morale in his battered newspaper empire in Britain, Rupert Murdochwalked the floor of his flagship British tabloid, The Sun, on Friday with his son Lachlan, ordered an end to the suspensions of reporters and editors who have been arrested in a Scotland Yard corruption scandal and announced a new Sunday edition.
The presence of Lachlan on the tour signaled to observers of the Murdoch family’s internal dramas that James — the overall head of British newspaper operations and the heir apparent until the phone hacking scandal that erupted last summer — may have ceded his place to his older brother. Lachlan, a onetime heir apparent himself, had a falling-out with News Corporation executives in 2005.
The scandal rocking Mr. Murdoch’s media empire took a new turn last weekend when the police arrested five senior newsroom staff members from The Sun and questioned them on accusations of paying police officers and other public officials for confidential information. The raids brought the total number of Sun editorial employees arrested and bailed out in the corruption investigation to 10, and had the effect of shifting the focus of the crisis enveloping the Murdoch titles in Britain at least somewhat from the accusations of illegal cellphone hacking that have dogged News Corporation and its British subsidiary, News International, for much of the last year.
The newsroom of The Sun, Britain’s highest-circulation daily newspaper, erupted in outrage on learning that the names of the Sun employees and their sources were given to the police by a special committee appointed by Mr. Murdoch that reported directly to his News Corporation headquarters in New York.
Mr. Murdoch, who is 80, met those charges in a characteristically direct manner, flying to London on his corporate jet on Thursday and going straight to the headquarters of his British newspaper operations in London on Friday morning. After distributing an e-mail to Sun staff members that combined an unapologetic defense of the special committee with reassurances about the future of The Sun, he strolled through the tabloid’s newsroom in his shirtsleeves greeting individual staff members. Some described it as a royal tour.
Mr. Murdoch told Sun employees that News International would be starting a new Sunday tabloid, The Sun on Sunday, “very soon,” and that it would aim to capture much of the circulation of 2.7 million copies every week lost with the demise of the weekend News of the World, closed last summer because of the hacking scandal. “Our duty is to expand one of the world’s most widely read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before,” he said in the e-mail.
He also lifted suspensions on employees arrested in the raids. “Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise,” he said, according to the e-mail.
His praise for The Sun was at once fulsome and feisty, suggesting that he saw the new crisis as an opportunity to begin a counterattack against his wide circle of antagonists in Britain. “Having a winning paper is the best answer to our critics,” he said. “I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs.” More
*The Three Crisis Objectives
- First, Win the Debate
- Do we have the winning argument?
- Can we set the debate agenda – daily?
- Are we being trustworthy: accurate, honest and transparent?
- Next, Stop the Debate
- From the beginning of a crisis, are we working towards ending it?
- Tacticians have to be able to judge when and how to turn off the tap, particularly media activity.
- Now, Work to Recover
- We start ‘working to recover’ from Day One.
- Our reputation depends on our recovery planning and skills.