Richard Morris, a good friend of mine, has founded a brilliant organisation Heropreneurs - http://www.heropreneurs.co.uk/ - it's the UK's first social venture fund which supports the British Armed Forces Community (including dependants and spouses of those killed in action) in starting up new exciting enterprises.
He is a journalist by trade and has written for a wide variety of print media including the Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal, FT, the New Yorker, Independent and me. Richard has also held a number of top blue chip roles. We were both discussing today the latest debate over Max Clifford's role in the John Terry saga. We both agree that there is much more to Max Clifford than meets the eye and to refer to him as a PR can sometimes devalue his worth to our international and British media landsape.
Here is Richard's opinion:
The impression that footballers are a breed apart was emphatically confirmed by the antics of John Terry last week as it was let out he’d accumulated more female baggage than Louis Vuitton.
Now on a par with major entertainment stars, with predictable consequences for their egos, his extramarital affair with the former girlfriend of Wayne Bridge would scarcely be any of our business if it were an aberration. Instead it is just another marked card to chuck on his toppling tower of unwanted publicity.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for him, Veronica Parracel had a powerful tool at her disposal: step forward Max Clifford and no-one rises to a challenge quite like him. Such is Max’s influence that when the News of the World won the newspaper of the year award, rivals complained that many of its stories were ‘Clifford jobs’.
And barely a Sunday goes by when a newspaper splash doesn't have something to do with Max Clifford, which of course included David Beckham's alleged affair with PA Rebecca Loos and Jude Law's alleged liaison with nanny Daisy Wright. Along with clients including Simon Cowell and Peter Jones, of BBC2's Dragons' Den fame, Clifford says three quarters of his business is "conventional PR", representing property businesses and health and beauty companies.
But Max is a much more complex character than just a purveyor of sleaze, as many of his victims have branded him. After bringing up a disabled child - his only daughter Lousie, who has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since childhood - is also a motivating factor behind many of his decisions. I remember interviewing him for a health magazine some time ago and although he did not criticise the NHS treatment Louise received, he said he had watched with growing anger at what had happened to the health service over the past 20 years.
He does a considerable amount of fund-raising for medical charities including media work for a children's hospice at the Royal Marsden Hospital of which he’s a patron. He also handled the publicity for the Daniels family and helped set up the Rhys Daniels Trust which combats Batten’s Disease - a devastating neurological degenerative childhood disease which leads to an early death - usually 3-4 years from its onset.
A public relations is at times a risky business but when Max Clifford is involved you can bet that the stakes, whether good or bad, are often high.
An interesting link that monitors Clifford's media mentions - http://tiny.cc/0F7cm