On Message: The case for strident PR


CEOs often adopt the principle that it’s best to be seen and not heard when it comes to big, divisive issues. However, in a time of Trump, Brexit and Fake News is that still the best policy? Host, Adam Batstone, is joined by senior MHP colleagues Nick Laitner, Barnaby Fry, and Kate Pogson to discuss what this means for the communications industry.

In this episode of On Message

The panel discuss a speech given by Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price, part of a widespread corporate backlash against Donald Trump’s changes to US immigration policy.

While Trump has triggered a strong reaction from some more vocal CEOs, the opinionated chief executive is not exclusive to the United States. In the run-up to the UK’s vote to leave the EU, Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary – no stranger to controversial public statements -used his position to argue forcefully against Brexit.

Strident opinions and aggressive language aren’t just being used to respond to world news, they’re also being deployed when bosses are on the defensive. Both Philip Green and Mike Ashley got plenty of attention for their combative select committee appearances. The panel considers whether that tactic proved to be effective.

Outspoken defence can be advantageous, particularly if your image is under fire. Virgin Trains came out fighting following Jeremy Corbyn’s allegations of “ram-packed” trains.

Whatever the strategy, it’s important to match the tone with appropriate language. The panel discusses whether TMobile CEO John Legere got it wrong when he used strong language to refute suggestions that the new iPhone was prone to bend if left in a back pocket.

Warning: This podcast does include some language which some listeners may find offensive


  • MHP Managing Director, Nick Laitner is an expert in the UK political and media scene, and advises some of our most high profile clients on their political and media engagement strategies.
  • MHP Managing Director, Barnaby Fry has over 18 years’ experience of financial and corporate PR advising clients from sectors including professional services, financial services, retail and business services. He is also head of MHP’s crisis communications team.
  • MHP Managing Director, Kate Pogson has spent ten years working in the health sector helping clients from pharmaceutical companies to small charities to get their voices heard


  • MHP Director, Adam Batstone has a 25 year journalistic career covering newspapers, radio, TV and most recently the BBC News website. He joined MHP with a brief to use his extensive editorial experience to help clients frame their messages in a way which would have maximum impact for both traditional and new media channels.


On Message is produced by Tom Gillingham and edited by Nick Carter of Mixsonix Audio Production

If you have any thoughts or comments about this podcast do please get in touch via email: contact@mhpc.com