16th July | Simon Mowbray back

When it’s right to shout ‘YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS’

When British number one tennis player Johanna Konta – ranked
the 15th best player in the world following this year’s Wimbledon
tournament – suffered an agonising defeat in her Wimbledon Quarter-Final
against the now world number 32 Barbora Strycova last week, few batted an
eyelid about the reasons behind her loss.

She hadn’t particularly ‘bottled it’, as the saying goes to
explain why elite sport stars don’t always achieve the greatness that their
talent suggests should be theirs for the taking. She hadn’t timidly played
pit-a-pat returns in the vain hope that her opponent would blast their own
shots into the net. And she hadn’t lost her cool with a self-defeating fit of
pique that had led to yet another career-defining implosion so typical of many
fine talents that never fulfil their potential (see Nick Kyrgios if you want a
good current example).

Instead, Miss Konta had at worst succumbed to the severe
pressure of the occasion to start missing her range – with her trademark
power-drive ground strokes beginning to land just beyond the baseline.

As a mediocrely talented club player myself, I can only
begin to understand the pressure she was under. But, as an ex-journalist and
seasoned media coach, I can understand why Konta lost her cool with one of the
press corps in the post-match round of interviews.

Asked whether she “needs to have a look at herself” following her defeat to Strycova, a genuinely shocked Konta, who had conducted herself with her usual dignity up to that point, responded: “I don’t think you need to pick on me in a harsh way… Please don’t patronise me. You are [patronising me] in the way you asked your question. You’re being quite disrespectful and patronising me. I’m a professional competitor who did her best today and that’s all there is to that.”

She added: “I went out there and did my best and it wasn’t
good enough. Every decision I made, every thought process, every opportunity I
gave myself, I have no regrets. I did the best I could.

“Obviously, I’d have liked to play two more matches, but I
can take a lot away from this. I really feel that, even including today, I can
take a lot away from these 10 days, the players I’ve beaten and also lost to
today. Overall there’s a lot I can be proud of.”

There is no record of who the anonymous reporter is, and
neither is there likely to be.

By contrast, Konta’s reputation as a tough cookie and top
media performer is strengthened, as well as setting down a new marker for her
fellow professionals on how to deal with lazily worded insults from reporters
who really have no idea what it takes to play elite sport in front of thousands
of spectators and millions of viewers worldwide.

The parallel for anyone who ever goes in front of a camera
or microphone is clear – don’t just accept what the journalist is saying to
you. Feel free to challenge.

OK, Miss Konta might have lost her cool a little – and we
wouldn’t advocate that in a BBC Panorama-style interview or crisis – but she
stood up for herself in difficult circumstances, whilst giving a lengthy,
heart-felt and honest answer to a ridiculous question.

And for that she deserves respect.



14th October | Matt de Leon
Climate Change, Sustainability and Our Role In It

I’ve always worked in consumer PR and have been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s best brands, from Coca-Cola, Reebok and Samsung, to Shell, Ford and Estrella Damm. And I’ve worked with those brands in environments that many could only dream of, including the Olympic Games, UEFA… Read more

24th September | Richmond & Towers
Confused by media? For the uninitiated it’s about…

Ok, so pre-Covid it was clear that digital was king, print was on the way out, and Joe Wicks was among the UK’s most influential sources for advice on health. Read more

24th September | Anouska Leon
Celebrating Talent and Nurturing Careers – Richmond &…

Running a London PR & digital agency is a competitive business, and the one thing that keeps Richmond & Towers ahead of the rest, and makes us what we are, is our people. So, we’re thrilled to announce promotions to: Read more

Load more
See our latest work
Visit our portfolio
Read our latest news
Visit all latest news
7th May | Simon Mowbray back

Richmond & Towers Celebrates Successful Launch of MediaSmart

Richmond & Towers is celebrating the successful launch of its new MediaSmart division – a distinctive personalised approach to advanced media training, helping spokespeople consider and prepare for all types of communication and engagement – after receiving a clean sweep of top-rate feedback from its first clients.

Launched by three experienced [R&T] media trainers who
are also hands-on strategic communication consultants, MediaSmart offers
clients the opportunity to choose from a range of coaching modules that match
their most urgent requirements, which are then further tailored to individual
needs and circumstances.

The result is a bespoke service that can cover anything from
unravelling candidates’ most relevant media landscape landscapes and developing
key messages, to issues and crisis management, thought leadership, internal
communications and how to communicate effectively in the social and digital
world.

MediaSmart consultant Simon Mowbray explains: “We launched
MediaSmart in the knowledge that unfocused generic media training is often a
waste of time and money for spokespeople in companies and organisations, whereas
bespoke media coaching related to the targeted delivery of compelling key
messages is a smart investment.

“We are therefore delighted to report that the first
candidates to pass through MediaSmart clearly agree that we are successfully
bringing this philosophy to life.”

Asked to mark their course out of a maximum five marks
against three criteria – Usefulness, Relevance, and Coaches – all 15 candidates
to have passed through MediaSmart courses since the start of 2019 awarded top
marks across the board, with summary comments including “excellent”, “builds
confidence” and “fantastically educational”.

“The theory, exercises and feedback offered by MediaSmart are great, whilst learning how to focus on key messages, even when under pressure, in a credible and relevant way has already proved invaluable in preparing me for the interviews I have since completed both broadcast and leading business to business media,” explains David Jiscoot, Marketing Director at Alpro UK & Ireland, who has been among the first candidates to be put through their paces.

Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation at Irish Distillers –
maker of the world-leading Irish whiskey Jameson – adds: “The practice interviews
were really useful. We should repeat this every 1-2 years to keep refreshed.”

As well as Mowbray, MediaSmart is headed by coaches Robert
Metcalfe and Ian Jesnick. All have experience of delivering best in class
strategic consumer and business to business communication consultancy to start-ups,
SMEs, blue chips, multinationals and organisations operating in today’s fast
changing media landscape. The management team also includes MediaSmart business
development director Anouska Leon.

Companies, organisations and their existing and potential
spokespeople can get more information about MediaSmart, and initiate receipt of
a personalised quotation for media coaching at https://mediasmart.training/

14th October | Matt de Leon
Climate Change, Sustainability and Our Role In It

I’ve always worked in consumer PR and have been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s best brands, from Coca-Cola, Reebok and Samsung, to Shell, Ford and Estrella Damm. And I’ve worked with those brands in environments that many could only dream of, including the Olympic Games, UEFA… Read more

24th September | Richmond & Towers
Confused by media? For the uninitiated it’s about…

Ok, so pre-Covid it was clear that digital was king, print was on the way out, and Joe Wicks was among the UK’s most influential sources for advice on health. Read more

24th September | Anouska Leon
Celebrating Talent and Nurturing Careers – Richmond &…

Running a London PR & digital agency is a competitive business, and the one thing that keeps Richmond & Towers ahead of the rest, and makes us what we are, is our people. So, we’re thrilled to announce promotions to: Read more

Load more
See our latest work
Visit our portfolio
Read our latest news
Visit all latest news
31st October | Simon Mowbray back

William’s Halloween Horror – A Haunting Tale of Veganism and Ignorance in the Digital Age

When Waitrose Food’s previously esteemed editor, William Sitwell, had a personal Halloween horror by emailing a freelance journalist to suggest a series on “killing vegans, one by one”, he brought an abrupt end to a 20-year association with one the UK’s most progressive retailers. Standing down “with immediate effect” after the email exchange swiftly got into the Twittersphere and mainstream media, Sitwell had committed the cardinal sin of forgetting that each and every communication we make in the digital age has the potential to come back and haunt. Replying to an email pitch from Selene Nelson – who had suggested features on plant-based recipes and healthy, eco-friendly meals as “popularity over the movement is likely to continue to skyrocket” – Sitwell wrote: “Thanks for this. How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?” Once the exchange had become public, Mr Sitwell, who is also an experienced radio host and occasional guest critic on Masterchef, was at least swift with his apology, saying: “I love and respect people of all appetites, be they vegan, vegetarian or meat eaters – which I show week in week out through my writing, editing and broadcasting. I apologise profusely to anyone who has been offended or upset by this.” But the damage had been done. The ensuing social media storm ensured that his departure was inevitable, with Waitrose itself thanking Mr Sitwell for his contribution to their business but unequivocal in supporting the announcement of his immediate departure. One can only presume that Mr Sitwell thought he was exchanging some banter with a fellow hack, an exchange that he clearly – and extremely naively – thought would stay private. Of course, Mr Sitwell’s real mistake was to hold such ignorant views in the first place. And before you ask, no, I’m not a vegan, or even a vegetarian for that matter. But a career in food and drink media similar in longevity to Mr Sitwell’s has taught me a few things about both veganism and communication, not least: More and more of us are embracing plant-based eating as part of a more holistic diet Current wisdom opines that we actually require the equivalent of one and a half planets to feed the world adequately following our current meat-dominated diets, meaning that plant-based food and drink could play a huge contribution in helping us to redress the balance Ignorant views crudely conveyed will always come back to haunt Communicating with honesty, integrity and truth will always remain the path of true enlightenment when aiming to inspire our audiences, whatever the forum of medium I take no pleasure in highlighting Mr Sitwell’s plight, and I wish him well in rehabilitating himself into the food and drink media universe once he’s eaten and digested his (vegan) humble pie. But he offers us a timely example of how all communicators must only share well-informed views efficiently and effectively at all times if they want to avoid a horror of their own – at Halloween or indeed any other time.

14th October | Matt de Leon
Climate Change, Sustainability and Our Role In It

I’ve always worked in consumer PR and have been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s best brands, from Coca-Cola, Reebok and Samsung, to Shell, Ford and Estrella Damm. And I’ve worked with those brands in environments that many could only dream of, including the Olympic Games, UEFA… Read more

24th September | Richmond & Towers
Confused by media? For the uninitiated it’s about…

Ok, so pre-Covid it was clear that digital was king, print was on the way out, and Joe Wicks was among the UK’s most influential sources for advice on health. Read more

24th September | Anouska Leon
Celebrating Talent and Nurturing Careers – Richmond &…

Running a London PR & digital agency is a competitive business, and the one thing that keeps Richmond & Towers ahead of the rest, and makes us what we are, is our people. So, we’re thrilled to announce promotions to: Read more

Load more
See our latest work
Visit our portfolio
Read our latest news
Visit all latest news