Two major news stories broken in the past month by a British national newspaper demonstrate how the comms industry must increase efforts on crisis management, and business audits for major companies should become a priority.
The past month has seen a return to the hard-hitting journalism the British media are best known for, led by business broadsheet Financial Times.
Since the dramatic shift in the media landscape following the Leveson inquiry – a judicial public investigation into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press following the News International phone hacking – the British press has had to keep closer tabs than ever on its reporting and the means by which stories are sourced. Calls for transparency have dogged the media’s usual bullishness toward unearthing big news stories on a large scale.
Two recent stories run by the Financial Times have bucked this trend, however, signalling a return to the intense scrutiny and methods used to find news stories which have become synonymous with British journalism.
Today saw two of the world’s biggest tech companies, Facebook and Amazon, fail to reply to a journalist who contacted several companies to test how well they complied with rules on data protection ahead of the impending GDPR regulations shake up on May 25. As legal correspondent Barney Thompson reports for the FT, Apple, Sainsbury’s Nectar and Majestic Wine were some of the candidates questioned over the topic, and were exposed as being unprepared, however Facebook and Amazon emerged in a particularly bad light. According to the report, the two companies appeared to be completely unequipped to handle the new EU-wide regulation.
This follows another big moment for the broadsheet newspaper last month, where the President’s Club annual meeting found itself the subject on the front page as a result of an covert investigation by reporter Madison Marriage. The subsequent scandal spread across the news like wildfire and resulted in a TV appearance by the journalist on BBC Newsnight to discuss her time spent working undercover as a hostess at the men-only event, where many guests were well-known business leaders and representatives for powerful companies.
What does this mean for the PR industry?
We should think ahead to the possible impact investigative journalism could have on clients and develop deeper, more intelligent comms strategies to stay ahead of the curve. Forward planning is key – audits should be recommended to businesses in order to avoid them falling under the microscope of the British media’s newly-found appetite for aggressive tactics. As the saying goes, ‘the bigger they come the harder they fall’, and while the tech giants are bound to be targeted over their practices, Tesco also now finds itself under this spotlight as it faces Britain’s largest ever equal pay challenge.