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PR lessons from Katie Hopkins?

If you read a newspaper (online or print) or use social media, it’s very likely you’ve come across stories about Katie Hopkins, the reality TV star-turned columnist for The Sun. She’s the one who’s made a name for herself by spouting ultra, un-politicallly correct (and downright inflammatory) views about all manner of issues that are on the current news agenda.

Technology PR lessons from Katie Hopkins






Here’s Katie’s recent rant about the Mediterranean migrants crisis:

‘Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit “Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984”, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.’

And in her supposed ‘campaign’ against Ed Miliband, (whose parents were refugees in the holocaust) Katie is reported to have tweeted of his wife

“Pollsters say Justine is the least popular of party wives. He might stick her head in the oven and turn on the gas.”

The Mirror recently gathered up a list of some her other outrageous quotes, including:

On plus-size women “Gemma Collins was at plus size fashion awards to receive her contributions to fat people award, which involved largely ‘being fat’. Well done on that, being fat.”

On Ramadan “Ramadan typically brings a spike in violence in Middle East. I get grumpy when I don’t eat but I don’t blow things up. Religion of peace?”

And on On Ebola “Glaswegian ebola patient moved to London’s Royal Free Hospital. Not so independent when it matters most are we jocksville?”

I’m sure you get the picture.

There are of course some serious questions we could ask here about the state of the media when someone like Ms Hopkins can generate so much press attention (including getting a gig writing a column for a national newspaper) simply by being deliberately offensive.

But the truth is, I seriously doubt Ms Hopkins actually holds many of the views she trumpets. She obviously has a PR strategy based upon calculated provocation. And it’s working. Unfortunately.

So are there any PR lessons to be learned from this approach? Well…sort of. There are occasions when PR clients I work with decide to hold back from airing even slightly controversial opinions about the market they are involved in for fear of ‘rocking the boat’ and drawing negative publicity. Perhaps they should be a little bolder and speak up a bit more if they want to raise their profile.

In corporate PR, you have to be very careful. So I would never encourage anyone who represents a business to be offensive about anyone or any issue. But if you have views or insights that go against the grain of what others in your market are saying – and you have rational arguments to support them – it’s something that could help you get a little more media attention. Journalists – even in  corporate,  business-to-business technology media – are always looking for a bit of controversy.