12 June 2008

Rudd defensive in Japan

A PR nightmare. Your Prime Minister is in Japan having high-level talks with that nation's leaders. At the media conference he gets asked about the behaviour of MP Belinda Neal, who allegedly has threatened restaurant staff and also been found guilty of kicking an opponent (while she was on the ground) during a soccer game.

Incredible. What must the Japanese think of us?

Rudd at least phoned her, presumably dressing her down and saying she had to get anger-management conselling. Not good enough in my books. Hardly decisive. But he can't run the risk of putting half of his cabinet off side.

In reality Neal should be sacked, except that it would only be from the Labor Party and not from parliament – more's the pity.

Neal certainly has an image (PR) problem, apart from her behaviour. It seems she has a constant scowl on her face. Her language and intonation sound like they belong on the backstreets of the roughest neighbourhood.

What politicians don't get it that people want firm leadership. If it was you or I assaulting someone, then allegedly abusing and threatening workers we'd be on a hiding to nothing from our employer and the law.

Honestly. What federal parliamentarian kicks someone when they're on the ground?

These are the little incidents that mount and can contribute to a government's undoing. People DO pay attention.

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The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.