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Blacksmith Bureau - Part Three - What a Coincidence!

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Blacksmith Bureau - Part Three - What a Coincidence!

Post by Keitei on 10.04.17 11:00

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Part Three - What a Coincidence!

The Name of the Game

Reputation Management, broadly, is the defence of a business against  intangible threat rather than   material hazards such as accidents, internal fraud, acts of violence and so on. Reputational  threats can be derivatives or second derivatives of such disasters - such as investors’  fears that a company’s reserves might not survive a similar blow in the future, or they can be independent of any material origins, as rumours, founded or unfounded, often are.In all cases the company is forced to deal with degrees of belief and confidence – psychological, not physical matters, demanding specialist skills.
Note that, unlike Crisis Management, which reacts to events, Reputation Management is pre-emptive and activist at all times, penetrating national media on a continuing  basis to influence public and political perceptions of the client. It stinks but it's necessary. It is rarely used  by individuals, however rich. 
The subject is too vast to deal with in detail here and interested readers should look up its origins and development on the net, preferably going further than Wikipedia. What matters to us is that the RM industry exists by systematically  exploiting  the mass media  Gerry McCann had been using, amateurishly but effectively, for his own purposes since May 4. And now here was nice Mr Woolfall to provide him with a crash course on its inner workings for a whole fortnight. Of one thing we can be quite sure – Dr McCann got a great deal more out of  Woolfall than the latter got out of him.

So Very Helpful

It was obviously from Woolfall that  Gerry McCann learned about the absolute necessity for  supposed "spokespeople" to make Reputation Management work.  Without one, or a dozen, such people, RM simply  cannot exist: there has to be a human mechanism that anonymises the source of  "information" - “spin” - being put forward, that distances the client from the propaganda and disguises its real motivation. The mechanism is the  “cut-out valve” spokesperson, whose words can ultimately be disowned  by the client and who can be blamed and paid off if exposed.
The "McCann narrative" often speaks of McCann spokespeople as “taking the load of dealing with the media from the parents’ shoulders”. If you believe that, you'll believe anything. 
Instead, with the exception of Sheree Dodds, the spokespeople were reputation managers – for the McCanns.  Both Mitchell and McGuinness stepped far over the line separating speaking for the couple from identifying with their interests; both got too close to the PJ investigation. McGuinness, so lightweight a personality that she probably needed to avoid strong winds, remains  notorious for her coquettish meddling with the September police interviews. Less publicly noted has been Mitchell’s contributions on like lines – in his first meetings with the McCanns he pushed for the release by the PJ of pictures of the non-existent “bundleman”, for example. That really helped Madeleine, didn't it?
That was one of the reasons, along with the Papal visit and similar stunts, why he  – the supposed “powerful cover up agent from  the government” – was warned by the Civil Service and then, after only three weeks in the job,  summarily ordered back to London  and never permitted to work with the McCanns again. Only three weeks - it seems he was there much longer, doesn’t it? Yes, because Mitchell, as always, inflated both his contribution, his significance, his value and his role.

So What Were They Doing

According to the McCanns the “fight” and “search” for Madeleine, in which their PR experts joined, was the absolute priority. If that was the case it was a grotesque failure. But is it a credible description of what they were actually doing?
The first problem in deciding that question  is the nature of our sources. Gerry McCann provenly   and deliberately misled the British public in his blogs about the police investigation; Kate McCann is a self-confessed liar about it; Clarence Mitchell and Woolfall are hopelessly compromised as people who lie (“spin”) to order and for a living. Going on that record we’re not going to get transparency, are we?
Still, the narrative runs like this: we were overwhelmed by the media, offers of help and advice; we did our best to do what the experts advised us* to and we made up for deficiencies in the PJ investigation with our own innocent attempts to campaign and search for the child.  Then, months later, we found, to our amazement and horror that the PJ might have come to suspect us, the parents of the victim! We were treated like common criminals and made arguidos.  By early September it was obvious that we could do no more for Madeleine in Portugal and we returned to Britain.
Now Kate McCann may be many things but she is not an idiot. Can she possibly  be telling the truth with these claims of total ignorance about the PJ's suspicions until the 8 August?
We have the words of her own book to contradict her.** There is quite another interpretation of those three months - that the aim was always to bypass, find out the details of, attack or attempt to influence the Portuguese police investigation, while protecting their reputation in the UK. And the Fund, the “Campaign”, the “Search”, the financial backing from multi-millionaires, the Control Risk initiative, the employment of a campaign manager and RM person – all these original pillars of the save-the-missing-tot edifice just happened to fit exactly into that  plan. What a coincidence!   

From Small Seeds...

That structure of support for the parents was, by the time of their departure for the UK, ready to be put into practice at an international level: the two celebrated criminal lawyers from Kingsley Napley that Rachael Oldfield had “found” would be meeting them almost as soon as they got off the plane – perhaps to discuss the question of who would be paying their £600+ per hour fees, for it certainly wouldn’t be the McCanns. The power, professionalism and resources first put in place in the name of Madeleine McCann in early May  were now driving a Team McCann capable of  defeating the Portuguese authorities and preparing the way for an eventual grand rehabilitation, as well as the ambush on the investigating detective - to save the parents, not the child. We will deal with the result in the next article.
One of the most famous documents in the whole McCann Affair dealt in its own sweet way with  the return of the couple - the Hanover Communications press release, of which that company were once so proud:
"We helped the McCann family [the parents]deal with the media storm which surrounded them on their return from Portugal in September 2007. From scratch, we created a comprehensive media handling package within six hours which enabled us to handle 850 media calls in the first week. By giving journalists positive stories to report, coverage turned from hostility to the McCanns to sympathy about their ordeal. This campaign won the crisis communication category at the 2008 CIPR awards."

The transformation was complete: that was what the "Campaign for a Missing Child" had become. 
Anyway, here's the  City balance sheet for the period May 3 - September 10.  

1) The IFLG and McCann established “Fighting Fund” founded in early May, no doubt with the best intentions.  
What did it achieve in this period for the child?
Nothing. Nothing at all. The money and effort, the consciousness-raising and campaigning   produced zilch. No trace of the child or her remains was ever found.
What did it achieve in this period for the parents?
Resources from the fund were used for the benefit of the parents, in travel expenses, for example, and to finance the parents’ reputation management by paying for a full-time employee to act, campaign and, in September, text illicitly from Portimao PJ police headquarters.
The claim by the McCanns that they were “searching” – something they couldn’t have done from their own resources – using fund money provided them with all-embracing cover for anything they wished to do and continues to do so: stay in five star hotels? Yes. Fly around in private jets? Yes. Sue those "damaging the search?" Yes. And so on.

2) The legal incorporation of the Find Madeleine Fund  by Messrs BWB.
What did this structuring achieve  for the child?
Nothing, nothing at all.
What did it achieve for the parents?
It made it easier for payments to be made by the public and therefore increased the pool of money available.It enabled the fund to be structured in a way that would and did benefit the McCanns financially -  and not just for mortgage payments.
3) The arrival and employment of Control Risks, the security specialists.
What did their arrival achieve for the child?
Nothing, nothing at all. There was nobody for them to track, no kidnapper to negotiate with, no traces to follow. They could have stayed in the UK.
What did they achieve for the parents?
Within days the company was being used by the parents to take down and go through their police statements, for reasons not yet satisfactorily explained. These were, of course, strictly confidential to the PJ investigation. It is no use saying that the McCanns did not provide written copies of their statements to the police. They did it from recollection which is a clear breach of confidentiality.
A donor, who had offered to pay for Control Risks to help locate the child, ended up paying for these so far unexplained  activities concerning the PJ investigation. Given the secrecy which, when it suits them, the McCanns so delight in, we do not know what else they did for the parents while they were in Portugal.
4) The establishment of, and training in, media handling methods and structures, enabled initially by Alex Woolfall.  
What did these media efforts achieve for the child?

Nothing, nothing at all. The media campaign, the “search” campaign, produced no results of any kind, ever.  By interfering in the investigation – see Clarence Mitchell and KM pushing the PJ over the non-existent “bundleman” sighting, see Justine McGuinness giving fictional and anti-police accounts of the arguido interviews – these two PR operators helped affect the outcome of the investigation and overshadowed it. 
What did they achieve for the parents?
Enormous benefits. The McCanns were, for example,  given carte blanche to ration information under the excuse of using a spokesperson to “handle the media load” - see what we described as the "cut-out mechanism" above. During the period when the McCanns claimed not to know that they were suspected by the PJ the media management techniques were used on the broadest scale to feed information to selected journalists in their favour, to smother criticism, to deny facts and to deceive the British public – see the admitted KM lying.

Notes for those interested:  *Doing what they were told?

The claim that the important decisions were usually taken by others and the pair went along with them is not perhaps the wisest line to adopt.
“IFLG “told us” to set up a [the] Fund”; “Alex Woolfall  told us we would have to engage with the media”; “Woolfall told us we would need to engage a spokesperson.”; “…whatever the case, it was suggested to Gerry that we should use Madeleine’s Fund to employ someone to replace Clarence”.
“Hugh  had been brought in by a firm called Control Risks, which was primed to help…”; “By the Sunday evening, we found ourselves[my italics]giving our statements again, this time to a couple of detectives from Control Risks.”
Many other examples of this affected passivity can be found throughout the book, sometimes blurring the lines of responsibility, as in the examples above, at others acting as pre-emptive alibis for actions which the public might question ( “Responsible parenting”, accepting private jet offers, being told to look emotionally blank on TV and all the rest.)
None of these are particularly reprehensible, yet taken together, as any reader of the blog or Madeleine can easily ascertain, they add up to show an intense, obsessional and uninterrupted  awareness of public perception and reputation management –  “Sir Philip Green kindly offered us the use of his private jet. But what would people say?” –  a highly dubious faux naiveté, and, most important, their profound unreliability as witnesses of their own actions. 
** We never dreamed...
Madeleine was generously seeded with Kate McCann’s obliviousness – to the point of idiocy – of the threat from the PJ, just  in case any reader might not be aware that she was reely, reely, shocked to find that they were under suspicion. Examples:
“If 18 July was the date I now identify as a turning point, the following Monday, 23 July, was the day when the warning sirens should have started to sound”[meaning they still hadn’t]; “With hindsight it is clear to me something was going on in Portimão I would never at that time have anticipated”; “Apart from finding little things like this slightly puzzling or exasperating, I hadn’t sensed any profound change in the behaviour of the PJ, or in the direction their investigation was taking”;  “Our attention was focused on the search, and on campaign plans... By 2 August, however, those sirens were wailing so loudly I cannot understand how I missed them. And yet I did. [my italics]
Leaving aside any speculation and the fact that we know that the PJ suspected them early on, we have, first of all, KM’s statement that after thirteen hours (!) questioning at PJ headquarters as early as  May 10 Gerry McCann  had heard Oldfield “shouting and crying” under accusations of complicity in the disappearance.
Kate McCann never mentions this again. Are readers supposed to believe that neither she nor Gerry wanted to find out more and never asked Oldfield about it? Not even to ask Oldfield why he was being accused? Not even to say to each other, Jesus Christ, you don’t think it could be Matt, do you? Matt?
We’re expected to believe that when Gerry told her about this nightmare scene KM droned, “that’s interesting dear, now do you want chips or beans?”
Three weeks or so later the German lady at a media conference mentioned gossip that the McCanns were involved. Gerry answered: "I have never heard before that anyone considers us suspects in this. And the Portuguese police certainly don’t."
KM adds “…we were so totally dumbfounded when the tide turned against us two months later. We knew we were innocent, and we believed the PJ knew that too”
She writes “On the evening of 17 June, the Portuguese police were quoted on Sky News as having stated that the crime scene at apartment 5A had been contaminated by us and our friends, and that as a consequence vital evidence had been lost. I was livid.”
So livid that she contacted everyone she could think of with any influence to interfere in the investigation and get the PJ to withdraw and apologise. But not so livid that she thought  that she and the group were under suspicion.
“On Saturday 30 June,” KM writes, “a piece entitled ‘Pact of Silence’, written by journalists Felícia Cabrita and Margarida Davim, appeared in a Portuguese newspaper.” But the penny supposedly still didn’t drop.
“It was on Monday 6 August that the atmosphere changed.” That was after the car had been impounded. She writes, “Again we assumed, at least initially, that this was a procedural measure recommended to the PJ by the British experts.[!] ”

Those who play games do not see as clearly as those who watch. 

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Re: Blacksmith Bureau - Part Three - What a Coincidence!

Post by Verdi on 10.04.17 12:10

Indeed - what a coincidence!

It's nice to know, with all it's bluster, the blacksmithbureau still reads, absorbs and is guided by CMoMM - with a touch of deviation and a tweak here and there to add the personal touch.

Cut the the chase, despite the grand effort, it's largely stating the bleeping obvious.  As the old saying goes.. 'fine words never buttered no parsnips'!

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made" - Groucho Marx

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