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The eye of a media storm: What now for Boris?  

By . Posted 20 January 2022

Managing a crisis is an art.

Done right, it can preserve futures and build empathy and trust. Done wrong, and the results can be catastrophic, shattering reputations and – when it comes to business – dramatically impacting business performance, value, and profitability.

Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one example of someone experiencing a media storm right now. Criticism is coming via old colleagues, opposition parties, his own party, his biographer, the media, commentators, but also – increasingly – the wider public. Despite the denials and apologies, this one just doesn’t seem to be going away for Boris.

As an impartial PR professional and observer, let’s look at the positives for Boris at the moment.

To date, he hasn’t faced a massive revolt from MPs, and he still holds office…just.

That’s about it on the positives…

It’s clear that Boris is looking to ride this one out – despite other government leaders – i.e. health secretary, Matt Hancock and comms chief, Allegra Stratton – experiencing the chop for disobeying the rules. How long he can hold on, nobody knows.

We don’t know what other revelations may still come out, but he’s on the back foot and fighting for his political future. Hard to believe a sitting PM could lose power because of a simple party or two.

But context matters. It can be devastating.

And failure to prepare for this intense scrutiny and criticism has left him in a very difficult position. Some say untenable.

There’s no skirting around the fact the seemingly never-ending list of rule-breaking parties and work events that continue to come to light have cost the PM the trust of the British public – something as we all know can take years to build.

Sue Gray’s report might be the defining moment for Boris. But if he stays or goes, he should be preparing for this crisis if he’s to have a legacy to look back on with respect or scorn.

His comms team will no doubt be working overtime to do that, but it may just be too late.

I’m watching with interest and I’ll be fixed to Twitter to watch how this unfolds *insert Michael Jackson popcorn meme here*.

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If you’re like me and you’re hooked on finding out how Boris PRs himself out of this one, have a look at my recent white paper on preparing for and managing a crisis for your business. It includes things to prepare for in advance, risk-profiling, identifying your team, how to pick your spokesperson and the art of being honest.

Download it here.