Sometimes this stuff just lands in your lap.
Literally it falls right there, smiles sweetly up at you and coos, ‘Andy, fill your boots’.
It would be rude not to. So here goes.
Jeff Fairburn doesn’t have to worry about the kind of stuff that keeps millions of the rest of us awake.
You know, paying the mortgage/rent, keeping the kids in school uniform, how to afford the gas bill.
Or increasingly in this country, actually having enough food to eat – according to the Trussell Trust, the UK’s national food bank provider, there was a 13% increase to April this year in the number of people needing emergency three-day food supplies.
Nah, none of that trivia for our Jeff.
You see, he pocketed a bonus of £75m yes SEVENTY FIVE MILLION pounds as boss of Persimmon Homes.
The company, which has done very nicely thank you out of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, reported pre-tax profits of £513.8m for the first six months of the year, up from £459.4m over the same period last year – so what’s 75 mill between friends, eh?
But when a BBC reporter actually asked him about it during a site visit, what does our Jeff do?
A) Deftly deflect the question away with an answer along the lines of “We’ve already dealt with that question, what’s important here is the work we are doing to help first time buyers.”
B) Look suitably embarrassed.
C) Describe the question (one he and his PR flunkies should have seen coming a mile off and been prepared for) as “unfortunate” and walk out of the interview.
No surprises, or prizes, for guessing it was C. Let’s all take a look and collectively wince shall we?
He looks stupid. His PR/media team deserve a kick up the backside and he comes across as a greedy fat cat, who was either too lazy, too unprepared or simply couldn’t give a toss about how he came across.
Big, big mistake.
He is now the story. This clip provides media trainers like me with a gold-plated example of what not to do.
And his PR/press team are fighting a fire they effectively poured petrol on by not anticipating this question and having an answer ready. His bonus and the reaction to it is only the biggest story the company has faced in at least the last decade. It was hardly a surprise.
BBC Look North’s Spencer Stokes was absolutely right to ask the question – on behalf of his audience. It’s what journalists are supposed to do.
The lesson from today is do your bloody homework! If you are going to do a media interview, work on what you are likely to be asked and how you are going to deal with any awkward/difficult areas.
It really isn’t that hard.
If you would like some help, I media coach clients across the UK so get in touch with me here.
Maybe Persimmon Homes would like to call?
They need to.