Saturday, 31 March 2012

What services did I offer the Sunday Times?

For a more detailed rebuttal to the Sunday Times sting operation I urge you to read yesterday's blog which is here.

The fundamental point being the Sunday Times are clearly planning to paint me as someone who was suggesting a secret route to buy influence in British politics. What I was actually suggesting was the complete opposite; to get away from meetings to influence ministers replacing this with a transparent approach to generate new ideas.

The Daily Telegraph have covered the allegations today which, unfortunately, read as if I were in some way looking to facilitate money being given to the Conservative Party. I wasn't and never have. Furthermore, from the way the Sunday Times were challenging me via Twitter yesterday some may try and suggest I was offering my professional time to do this. Once again I was not.

As I wrote yesterday, during the meeting I was perplexed as to what 'Global Zenith' (the Sunday Times) were suggesting, basically cash for access, which is why I advised a transparent approach to fund new policy generation.

For complete transparency I am today publishing the documents (including original typos) I provided to 'Global Zenith' after our meeting which is rather ironic when they had made clear they wanted complete anonymity in their commercial activities.

This is a proposal for the work I was offering to conduct for them. Nothing more, nothing less. It makes this post very long, but I thought it very important to be clear as to what services I was suggesting they pay me for, before others start insinuating I may have been looking for payment for something else.

The following document was completed on February 14 and emailed to 'Hayley Harris' who is actually Heidi Blake of the Sunday Times:

Global Zenith Issues Management Campaign - Proposal

Following on from our meeting last week, I would like to provide you with a brief summary of issues management and crisis planning actions I believe your firm should be taking, how I plan to do this for you; and the estimated costs for undertaking this work.

Please find below a list of the proposed work to be done and, in brackets, the expected timeframe for completing this work:

·         Review of media landscape (immediately);

·         Issues and crisis preparedness plan (March/April 2012);

·         Issues and crisis training (if deemed necessary, April 2012);

·         Crisis support (ongoing or as required from March 2012). 

All work would be subject to contract and a non disclosure agreement signed to protect your anonymity.

 In-depth Media Review

A review of this kind wasn’t included in my initial document. However, after meeting with you both, I feel this will be a very useful document to assist your public affairs engagement.  The review will include a thorough look at the media landscape as well as those media identified as important to Global Zenith. It will highlight recent trends and include an analysis of future opportunities and threats to your commercial activities.

This review will look at both traditional and social media – blogs, Twitter, Google+, Facebook for example – and will readily assist your preparedness in proactively engaging in the UK. It will include desk research, analysis of trends and sentiment as well as qualitative research through interviews with a selection of journalists. Your anonymity would be guaranteed through this process.

I would recommend undertaking this review immediately so I may deliver the results to you before your engagement begins in earnest. Cost: £12,000

Issues and crisis preparedness plan        

This was outlined in my original document supplied at our meeting on February 8. The simplest and most productive way of building this plan would be for a series of one-to-one interviews with your team to be arranged at your convienence. These could be conducted either when the team is in London or elsewhere in Europe. I would usually recommend a one session workshop for your entire team but recognise that this may not be possible. 

I would also need access, in advance of the interviews/workshop, to any non-commercial documents which help to illustrate your internal and external communication processes.

The plan will be the ultimate guide for dealing with any future issue or crisis in the UK.

Depending on the availability of Global Zenith staff, I would recommend this work is undertaken in March/April with a final plan delivered as soon as possible once the research has been completed.

Estimated cost: £25,000 plus costs

Issues and Crisis Training/Workshops

This training was also outlined in my original document. Taking into account Global Zenith’s relatively small management team, we could provide  workshops either for the entire team or solely for John Brewster and Hayley Harris, who appear will be the public facing team for Global Zenith.     

Cost: £2,500 plus costs  

Crisis Communication Support

In addition to extensive research, evaluation and planning, I offer on-going or on-call support to clients so they can deal with issues or an erupting crisis quickly and efficiently. This relationship can be on a retained or as required basis. Due to the nature of Global Zenith’s business, I would suggest the work outlined above will be sufficient to make a retainer unnecessary and therefore would suggest an on-call relationship.

Cost: £1,500 per day crisis rate to include 24 hour support for as long as necessary, plus costs


  1. Keep fighting those who seek to smear and entrap.

  2. Well done for being so open and transparent in the face of the ST's shoddy behaviour.

  3. I think this episode, and your response to it, is as good an advert for your crisis management services as you could have hoped for. You should be paying the papers for this.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Journalists in all media, but perhaps more so in print media, seem to equate access with influence as if this were an absolute given. In my experience as a sometime public affairs consultant, this is seldom, if ever, true. What is true is that access allows someone an opportunity, usually brief, to put a case, explain an issue or make a recommendation, on a face-to-face basis with a politician, policymaker or researcher/adviser/analyst. However, he or she had better be very well-briefed, because, despite the low regard in which they are held, politicians and their advisers are usually well-briefed and very busy - and the more influential they are themselves, the busier they will be.
    In my experience, business people are not only naive about politicians and the political process but they are also very ignorant of it. For example, I once had to explain to a VP a global IT company that the World Bank was not actually a bank. This is why public affairs specialists exist, either in-house or external. Without it, many organisations, public, private and not-for-profit, would not be able to articulate the issues that concern their own stakeholders and politicians and policymakers would make even poorer decisions than they do now.
    'Investigative journalists' shuld understand what they are investigating, but that my be too much to ask?

  5. Well done on your response to the ST entrapment attempt.

    I, and others, have posted the link to your rebuttal post in the comments section of the DT article repeating the ST's allegations.

    It's a shame they couldn't have included it themselves in their article. Lazy journalism.

  6. I have never met you before and know of your name but vaguely (sorry!)

    However upon the evidence I have seen, I posted on Guido today that I would back you. I still do. As you follow Guido, you may have seen it.

    Someone replied thus:
    How the hell could he be taken in by a media outfit called “Global Zenith”? – they might as well have named it Hoaxmaster 2

    It is a fair point to which I responded. But how would you respond?

  7. Pretty standard crisis comms proposal and as James Cleverly says could act as a good promotion for your services.

  8. In response to schrodingers8cat, in retrospect, as I said to Iain Dale on LBC yesterday I looked them up on the web. They had a website as the majority of companies do. I'm a glass half-full kind of guy. I don't go into meetings thinking, 'Oh my goodness, this is going to be filmed and this is part of a sting operation.' You just don't think that, but unfortunately I may well be thinking that in future. Which is a great shame.

  9. Understand.

    In my days of banking consultancy I used to get an Equifax or Experian search on my potential client before going to see them. As a result, I was able to tell them what they were doing and this never failed to impress. A relatively small cost and half an hour or so of combing the report in advance, brought me back fee income many times over.

    Your game is different to what mine was. However, you can still be glass half-full in approach and better informed but also avoid this sort of sting - which is an occupational hazard nowadays.

  10. Thanks schrodingers8cat good advice. I will certainly be more careful in future to check who I am meeting.


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