Media Training: Our Take...

Tea and sympathy: how Boris Johnson tried to head off a storm

 15th August 2018

We Brits generally love our tea. But can it get you out of a PR fix?

High profile people at the centre of a media storm often find a posse of journalists outside their home. It’s known as ‘doorstepping’, and it’s a tactic that’s seen as fair game by media outlets who want an immediate quote with a potentially flustered VIP.

One of the most famous examples is when Channel 4 News’s Alex Thomson doggedly questioned an unwilling Kelvin McKenzie about Hillsborough in 2012 - to the point of risking a bruised arm in a car door stand-off.

Whether you think doorstepping is fair or not, most VIPs are now dab hands at dealing with it - either with a diplomatic comment, or a stony silence.

Or - in the case of Boris Johnson earlier this month - tea.

Click on the picture to see the full video

You’ll notice that Boris didn’t offer any useful comments along with the cuppas. It was, after all, little more than a diversionary tactic. And while his critics weren't too impressed - and the storm didn't blow away - it did keep Boris in the news in a way his supporters will have appreciated, as the benevolent politician, diplomatic in the face of adversity. As the Telegraph has pointed out - it’s a well-trodden path.

So does offering tea help you out in the long run? Possibly not. But you could argue there’s little harm in keeping those pesky journalists happy for a while - even if you can't please everyone...

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