Why PR companies like TCC won’t ever own the Interwebs.

Terry Prone of The Communication Clinic

Terry Prone and a nice new Merc

UPDATE 2 Dec 12.26

Things are getting murkier indeed. Or perhaps more transparent. Broadsheet.ie have update there piece on this today with this

On Wednesday night we were told and it has since been confirmed to us that Peter Murtagh has had a professional relationship going back more than 25 years with Terry Prone, owner of The Communications Clinic. We were surprised that Mr Murtagh had not told us about this. Particularly as we had spoken candidly with him of our fears (real or imagined) and those of Kate’s mother about the influence and reach of The Communications Cinic within political and media circles in Ireland and that we had mentioned Terry Prone by name.

But we also realise that many journalists on most national newspapers know Ms Prone. It would be perhaps more unusual if Mr Murtagh did not know Terry Prone. We also understand that the Communications Clinic was unaware that Saturday’s article about Kate was about to appear.

But it is a question of transparency or, as media training consultants call it, the ‘optics’. Mr Murtagh wrote in some detail about Kate’s working life. The article did not mention her time at the Communications Clinic. Peter Murtagh is a friend of one of the owners of that company. Perhaps it should have been left to another journalist to cover that important area of Kate’s life? We asked Mr Murtagh yesterday morning on the record about Ms Prone but he said he did not wish to speak to us anymore.

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OK can anyone explain how Terry Prone and her hubby Tom and  son Anton Savage can manage to retain clients like the Catholic Church (spinning on how to put the best foot forward around the media unfriendly topics of child abuse and cover ups),  Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael ( if you blame every one then no one is to blame etc) and yet not seem to have a fucking clue how the internet works?  Like as in seriously no fucking clue?  Dont they know you cant shovel your shit back into a PR presentation when you spill it on the nets? And do they really not get that in this public space,  our public space,  sharing for free is the rules and reason.

Seems The Communications Clinic (TCC ) and their legal reps are less than impressed with the fact that Broadsheet.ie have refused to bow to the to pressure to pull a story they have had up online yesterday

Hubby Tom Savage and Son Anton "wooden apprentice guy " Savage also posing in front of a Merc. Im currently investigating whether this is the first family to be sponsored by a car manufacturer

The story related to Kate Fitzgerald, a 25-year-old writer and PR consultant who took her own life in August this year. Kate wrote an anonymous piece which was published after her death in Irish Times on Sept 9th.  It was an article that spoke to the experiences of mental health and workplace bullying, and printed to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.

It has since become clear that Kate worked for TCC. This presumably has had the effect of leading many to suspect that the TCC was a workplace where there was a culture of bullying. However its not the aim of this post to speak to that.  In truth I don’t know. But lots of place are. In fact any workplace where your job and by extension your sense of security is precarious and not secure is by definition a place where you are bullied, though of course there very often is a much more explicit manifestation of power-over. If we are to really understand mental health and stress in the workplace we need to define the relationship between our workplace and our health on and in our terms, not on the terms of those who hold the power to sack us.  What is clear is that cases of bullying and constructed dismissal have been brought against the TCC, as stated in the Broadsheet article, itself citing the Indo and Times.

The Communications Clinic was also the subject of allegations by a former employee Karagh Fox (left), age 26, who worked at the company between March 2008-November 2009.”

Things took a dark and insidious turn yesterday when legal actions and threats where made against Broadsheet.ie as well as  the Irish Times.

After the legal threats from TCC, The Irish Times subsquently edited the letter of Kate Fitzgerald. Thats right, they made a decision to edit the letter of a woman who is no longer alive, written about workplace bullying and depression on the basis of threats from TCC, her former employer.   I mean it doesnt at all sound like the actions of agressive bullying company at all,  right?

Editing a written piece of text to remove the paragraphs or sentence and thus misrepresent what the author intented is the definition of spin itself. The Irish Times is engaging in acts of spin, purposefully misrepresenting the writing of a young woman who is now dead, doing so on behalf of TCC simply because TCC are afraid that people might jump to the conclusion that it was they, her employers, that were being decribed as insentitive and as bullies in relations to the mental health of their workers.

They certainly fucked that up, because right now I like many other can’t think of a more insensitive bullying thing to do, than to be throwing around legal threats.  When you addd  having the ability to delete threatening messages on  other peoples answerphones you have to start standing up and takin notice. This from the Broadsheet website.

5pm Update: The voicemail which warned of the “libel landmine” [that] was going to “blow up in our faces” (see above) has disappeared. It had been saved, the contents transcribed and was last played back at 2pm today. We have contacted Vodafone who have told us that it is highly unusual as all voicemails can be retrieved, even if deleted, within 24 hours.

News of the World anyone ?

Broadsheet initially pulled their pieces. But in a decision that puts them heads and shoulders about other media publications they decided to re print (and contextualise) and be damned. Its probably easy to miss the significance of this given the sensitive  nature of whats being discussed. They are standing up to often hidden yet very specific media powers.  Broadsheet admitted they where ‘scared’. That is a profoundly honest piece of journalism in itself, and should be recognised as such. It takes on a greater resonance when at it heart this is about the power of some media companies to create fear and silence from other media organisation, from the wider public and even former employees now deceased. Thats a pretty breath taking belief in your power, and entitlement, to silence others.

The monopoly of the creation of meaning-making held by mainstream media corporations – with O Reilly and O Brien holding the helm of Therapy Media, where “positivity and patriotism”  replaces critical thinking  and intellectual and emotional honesty, and where ‘facts’ are played like puppets by PR companies – may not be completey gone,  be we now have the possibility of genuinely challenging it.  Partly because people like those behind Broadsheet take risky decisions to make it so.   For that they should be applauded loudly.  And so can you! Support from the wider public couldn’t be clearer. Within minutes a suggestion of crowdsourced fundraising to cover legal costs also gained traction. There is a lesson too. Many many of us will support and defend good journalism, we will actively defend other as they speak truth to power. Something significant and perhaps even beautiful happened yesterday on their website that centainly helped brighten an otherwise depressing – in its literal meaning – display of corporate arrogance and entitlement to power.

(Get your server into Sweden though) The more of us that write about this, blog about it, the more ridiculous the threat of legal censorship actually becomes and the more insidious we understand the machinations of mainstream media and PR companies as a central component in injustice and inequality. It genuinely seems that TCC and it high flying stratgists a PR has no fucking idea how the interwebs work.

Their power as a company like all propaganda companies is about shutting up, drowning out and dismissing the voices that run counter to the narratives of their rich and powerful clients. For example if you are the a survivor of Church/State abuse,  TCC and other PR firms spinning and shaping narratives against your aims for truth, justice and people being held accountable for their actions.  They did this for cash. Parasites begins to come close……

You probably didnt know that companies like TCC  were essentially hired guns to fight against you.  Again their strength and power to do that is directly related to being invisible. Thats why they are pissed with Broadsheet.ie

When the last time any of you got the Irish Times to pull an article, print an apology otherwise bend to your legal demands. Lets face it they would- politely – tell you to sod off. And to be honest, there a good chance that the Irish Times could fight a legal case. You really think TCC  want a day in court. Does it fuck, where they have to take a stand and spill their stuff under oath? The Irish Times took the soft option. Much easier to upset the parents of Kate Fitzgerald than the Merc driving elite at TCC.  Kate’s mother described how she was horrified at the Irish Times for “butchering” her daughter’s article.

It in this specific context that when you mix a commitment to truth-telling-to-power and social media tools  in a fairly small and reasonably networked country like Ireland PR companies dont have a patch on ordinary folks. TCC are getting owned every single time someone reads this stuff about their legal threats that resulted in the most human of articles  – again written in anonymity by a former employee about their own experiences of bullying culture and an employers inability  give a fuck about the mental health of their employees. TCC are worried simply because the basis of their company profile is to remain invisible to everyone except those who can afford to keep them in new Mercs.

Most PR companies are from the perspective of ordinary folks, parasitic and dangerous, tools of the powerful to place stories, to spin and to smear, to cover up lies and fabricate narratives. You can be guarenteed PR companies will be paid lots of you taxes to spin the coming budget, to spin about your insecurity. The folks doing the advising are pretty secure though. If there is anything we need to learn from the past of this state is that vested interests need silence to operate and manipulate.  Hats off to Broadsheet for refusing to be muzzled.

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13 thoughts on “Why PR companies like TCC won’t ever own the Interwebs.

    • How right you were! I just noticed last week on a tv3 programme Anton Savage was one of the guest contributors! Seems to be a trend in Irish Media that people that have a little negative press or controversy appear to “lay low” for a while and then kind of slowly slip back in. Remember how Ulick McEvaddy made that comment about the maple ten been “national heroes” then vanished from the media for a few months until PK had him in the front row of RTEFL,incidently it was on todaypk on radio1 he made the comment!!

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  1. I am +100 on your efforts, but cynical enough to know it will be spiked. Terry P started life with Bunny Carr who was the first to set up meja courses for pols. He and she were so well up the arses of all pols they were untouchable. He died and she moved on, there was some funny stuff between her and the residues of Carr, and she is worse than he ever was.

    The only slight chink of hope is that she has not been a fixture of Kenny’s weekly look back item on the Friday radio show for a while. Must have had a falling out with the current producer, Kenny has brown nosed her for years (what a thought….. )

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  2. In my experience, Executives in PR firms need the most hand-holding when dealing with technology. They still use PowerPoint as if it is going to make them into Steve Jobs, and their idea of using the Internet is asking a junior person to help them set up a facebook page for their client. The rest of the time they are selling snake oil.

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  3. Anyone hear the piece on the breakfast show on newstalk. I think it was Friday am (maybe Thursday) sometime between 820 and 9. Worth listening back.

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  4. Wow,fair play on using a story about a woman dying tragically to get a dig in about the Catholic Church.Priorities eh?

    Kate Fitzgerald’s death was a tragedy that can be dealt with on its own merits,you shouldn’t use it to score cheap points against people that you don’t like.

    On the subject of this story,I hope that Terry Prone and her company get all that’s coming to them.

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    • I’ve been very conscious that that is how it might have come across, and indeed saying that was not my intention ( cheap digs) is not enough to absolved me from that claim.

      Its is the case that the organisation where Kate was bullied is also the same organisation that did PR for the Catholic Church. I didnt see that as a cheap shot, but rather part of a picture that helps readers understand the nature of some PR companies in Ireland.

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  5. Pingback: Quotegate: Digital remixing, augmented news and the desire for honesty. | Soundmigration

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