The Gift of Presence

Deborah OgdenAs I write, Christmas is still a few weeks away yet already the stores are twinkling with their festive displays and the adverts on the television are attempting to brainwash us, and our children, that we truly cannot live without the latest robotic chimp or Nexo Knights Lego set.

As a nation, we spend a small fortune on the perfect present that will be opened in seconds and often discarded before the festive feeling has faded. Last year an advert from a well-known Swedish furniture store went viral. It featured an experiment where children were asked to write and tell their parents what they really wanted from them for Christmas. The list included ‘spend more time with me’, ‘listen a bit more’ and my personal favourite; ‘tickle me more’. The gift of our attention is one of the most powerful things we can share.

I frequently work with senior Executives who are seeking the holy grail of ‘presence’. We all know someone who seems to ‘own the room’ from the moment they walk in. We recognise those who have that certain ‘it’ quality. Barak Obama has it, Bill Clinton is a master (Hillary is not), Oprah, and our own Queen Elizabeth all exude this quality: presence. Presence allows you to connect and influence: drawing your audience in, earning their trust and compelling them to be a part of whatever you are offering.

Those who do it successfully seem to exude presence as if it were second nature, hence the common misconception that those who have it, are born with it; we even describe people as ‘born leaders’. Yes, some are dealt a better hand from the start, but the great news for the rest of us is that it can be learned.

The secret lies in a wonderful quote from Maya Angelou: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ How often are we truly present in someone’s company, listening to their every word rather than waiting for our turn to speak in the conversation?

The power of presence is well-documented in politics and a great example goes back to Victorian Britain during a close run general election contest between William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli. The week before the election, on separate occasions, both candidates entertained the same woman for dinner. When asked her opinion by the press she responded that on dining with Mr Gladstone she felt she was dining with the cleverest man in Britain. And dining with Mr Disraeli? ‘I felt like I was the cleverest person in Britain.’ Disraeli went on to win the election.

In our busy, busy lives 100 percent attention is a scarce commodity. Think about it today; each time you interact with someone give the gift of your full attention. A colleague at work, your mum, your friend, your child.

We all love presents, but presence is a true gift.

Get to know more how we can help you with personal branding and making a positive impact, or if you are looking for Media, Personal and Corporate Brand expertise, communication skills training and presentation training range.

Deborah Ogden – Brand and Media Consultant


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Why has the Rio Olympics struck a chord…?

My Choix colleagues would be the first to agree with me that I’m not the sporty type!

Helen StrawIt’s a little known fact that when I was younger I was a gymnast and competed at regional level (and came away with a silver medal – once!) I like swimming and am quite good at it, but I don’t do it regularly. So, why have I got so caught up in the Rio Olympics?

My family and HR are my first loves and I can see so much correlation with the Olympics and both of those.

First of all my family – we have a 6 year old son who plays football, tennis and swims. He also plays a wide variety of sport at school, participates in many sporting extra-curricular activities and has recently run a 5.2k Race for Life. He was mesmerised by the Olympics, our enthusiasm swept him up into a frenzy and he loved watching many different events, he especially loved the diving. He then declared he is going to be an Olympic swimmer – he has a mean back stroke. One of our very good friends completed in the Seoul and Barcelona Paralympics and won various Gold and Silver medals in athletics – our son got to try some of those on over the weekend – cue more ohhing and ahhing and declarations of his Olympic dream.

Secondly – HR, well, how many similarities can we draw between Team GB’s fantastic achievements and how we all go about our daily working lives. We all know that everyone in Team GB will have worked incredibly hard, we probably can’t comprehend how hard, to achieve what they have done. The sacrifices they will have made, the early starts, the relentless training regimes, the right nutrition, not seeing much of their family and friends. That is without question.

How did Team GB do all that and keep going? The desire to achieve the targets they had set themselves? The feeling they knew they would have of a great personal sense of pride and achievement of a job well done? Knowing that they trained and prepared so hard for something that they knew they could achieve if all went well on the day.

Don’t forget the coaching, guidance and mentoring they will have all received. Encouragement goes a long way to helping us achieve our goals. We can also never underestimate how working together with colleagues can sometimes make a project work better.

How many similarities can you see with Team GB’s success and either yourself as an individual or as a Manager of a team or Director of a business? I always say to clients that effective people management isn’t rocket science. Take a leaf out of Team GB’s amazing success story and see what principles you can either apply yourself or within your business.

If you need help with your approach to people management, making a positive impact or are interested in being a Corporate Athlete, speak to one of the Choix Team.

Helen Straw, Director of The Personnel Partnership


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First impressions … do your numbers add up?

Deborah OgdenYou cannot avoid making a first impression, and recently published research emphasises why it is so important to get it right.

As Warren Buffett, the American business magnate once said: ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently’.

The scientists can’t agree on just how many seconds it is, but in an instant someone has made a decision about you. In a blink of an eye we decide if someone is ‘friend’ or ‘foe’. It is what we are ‘hard-wired’ to do. For our cave-dwelling predecessors it could be the difference between life and death – today, in a business environment it may not be so extreme, but there remains a lot at stake.

It goes deeper than judging books by covers. Visual impact may be the initial sense to kick in, rapidly followed by sound, smell and kinaesthetic, that is touch and how someone makes us feel. These are all ‘clues’ being vetted by our subconscious producing a ‘gut’ feeling of ‘yay – I want to get to know this person and find out more’ or ‘o-oh, I’m getting out of here …!’ Your first impression impacts on your reputation, profile and future relationships.

In a business context perhaps more worrying is the research around getting it wrong. Psychologists suggest it can take a further eight interactions to change someone’s mind – how many times do we get the opportunity for a second go, never mind an eighth!

It’s a human instinct that we like to be ‘right’. As a result, our brains seek clues to back up our first impression – whatever that may have been – good or bad. All the more reason to get it right first time.
Recent research by Harvard Professor and Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy has shed light on what it is we are assessing about someone in that first impression. We consider two things: can I trust this person; and do I respect them? Psychologists interpret this as the behaviours of warmth and competence. Cuddy’s research went on to reflect that in a business capacity the majority would rate competence as most important here – we all want to be seen as good at our job – however it is trust, or warmth which needs to be established first. Competence is important, but without establishing trust, it can appear manipulative and off-putting.

We frequently hear that ‘people buy people’ and the research backs this up. Imagine a candidate who is technically 100% excellent but lacks personality and warmth; or an enthusiastic personality who may score 80% on expertise and fits the dynamic of the office. Attitude or aptitude? I know which I’d go for every time.

When clarifying and communicating an effective personal brand, it’s about being remembered for the right reasons. Be ‘so good they can’t ignore you’, whatever the context: networking; presenting; a pitch or promotion. We all have a personal brand – Jeff Bezos of Amazon is often quoted as saying ‘it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room’. Are you managing yours, or are you leaving it to chance? It all starts with a first impression …… .

Deborah Ogden – Brand and Media Consultant


0330 321 1460

Are Privacy Injunctions a Dead Law Walking?


3102d355-cc51-4c70-886e-9975fe9e4309Following the Court of Appeal ruling that a mystery celebrity who had an extra-marital threesome should be named, we digest the issues and arguments surrounding celebrity super-injunctions, and explain why trying to gag the press in the age of social media is a fool’s game.

Such is the power of social networking sites, there is nowhere to hide and no point in a super injunction if Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere tear the fragile privacy law?

The man in question, who can only be referred to as PJS, is married to another celebrity, identified as YMA. The couple, who have young children, sought an injunction to stop the Sun on Sunday from publishing the story.

Lawyers for the tabloid argued that the man has been named so widely that the injunction is effectively pointless. The Sun estimates that “two billion people worldwide” have access to the identities on the internet and in various publications.

The Court of Appeal initially agreed that PJS and YMA’s right to privacy outweighed the tabloid’s right to freedom of expression. However, their names have been revealed in the US, Canada, Sweden, Scotland and on various sites across the internet. Google refused to censor search results that identify the celebrity.

Ever since Ryan Giggs in 2012 famously decided to slap a gagging order on the world’s press, preventing them from blowing the whistle on his adulterous affair this summer, the clock has been ticking on the bomb labelled super injunction.

The fact it went off so spectacularly in the face of Giggs is a lesson to every wayward celebrity or organisation to think twice before throwing their hat in the ring and slapping a gagging order on the world’s media. Many believe, including people in the legal profession, super injunctions will soon not be worth the paper they are written on thanks to social media.

Where’s the point in a super injunction if Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere tear the fragile privacy law to tatters?

The couple involved in the threesome have also expressed frustration about the situation. One of them told The Sun: “This is getting more and more crazy. When does this injunction become pointless?… It’s humiliating that people in America, where the celeb was first named, have more freedom than us but now our neighbours in Scotland and Ireland have more rights, which is stupid.”

Such is the power of social networking sites, there is nowhere to hide now and the case of PJS and YMA shows that imposing such a news blackout can do more harm than good.

Lawyers around the country are familiar with the day-to-day tools by which a client can obtain an injunction – a court order requiring that his opponent either do something specific or very frequently not do it.

If an injunction is granted, it is usually fine for the media to report the existence of it. The difference with super-injunctions, and the reason why they have caused such a furore, is that as well as being an ordinary interim injunction to restrict an act, part of the Order is a restriction on the news media from reporting the very existence of the proceedings or the fact that an injunction has been granted.

A successful super injunction ensures a news blackout, until or unless the claimant declares it or a brave and/or anonymous soul puts themselves in contempt of court and breaches the order, by tweeting or blogging about it. Once something is in the hands of the electronic media, it is very hard to put a lid on it, whether the story being broadcast is true or false.

In 2011 Jeremy Clarkson, the former Top Gear presenter revealed that he had lifted an injunction banning the publication of details about his alleged affair with his ex-wife after the claims were outed online Clarkson said the gagging order became “pointless” when his name was linked with the allegations on websites including Twitter. “If you take an injunction out it isn’t an injunction because Twitter and Facebook mean that everybody knows anyway,” he said. “They are incredibly expensive to maintain and there’s an assumption of guilt about which you can do nothing because I’m as bound by it as everybody else.”

It can be hard to understand why a celebrity fling is so important that the public interest (and not merely tabloid curiosity) overrides an individual’s entitlement to privacy, but where that individual trades on an image promoting family values it may well be appropriate for the truth to be known and discussed. It is for this reason that there is increasing unease in the media and in Parliament about the growing trend for rich celebrities or companies to exploit the super-injunction, for fear that important scandals are being suppressed. But super-injunctions are often counterproductive.

It may be that the Trafigura affair would have gone largely unnoticed if it hadn’t been for the super injunction. In that case, social media sites spread the word that the Guardian and Parliament were unable to discuss the incident – and it soon became a word-of mouth scandal.

Privacy practices could have a serious shortage of new clients after the PJS and YMA case and the resulting widespread revealing of names and the claims in unregulated conversation across the globe.

Woefully misjudging the power of the phrase ‘common knowledge’, as well as the power of web gossip and keyboards, as in the case of Giggs, the lawyers of PJS and YMA have inadvertently turned the indiscretion into a front page story that has overshadowed a whole range of important stories. As privacy cases go, this this has to go down as something of a failure!

It could be argued that super-injunctions are not worth the paper they’re printed on, and that the High Court is dangerously out of touch with the rest of the world, particularly the huge section of it that ‘tweet’. An absurd situation has arisen where PJS and YMA had been named and shamed, repeatedly, throughout the world, first on Twitter and the internet, then in newspapers, and yet the High Court, only reluctantly allowed the lifting of the naming of the celebrity (but then two more days to allow the celebrity to mount a challenge in the supreme court!) – thus being in danger of making the law “look like an ass.”

Unfortunately, super injunctions are becoming the most effective form of promotion since the dawn of advertising. Keeping a story out of the traditional media no longer provides any kind of lasting protection for the publicity-shy public figure and rather than protecting themselves they are creating the reverse effect and providing the most effective form of promotion since the dawn of advertising.

Whilst there is, of course a place for legal action in matters of privacy but the PJS and YMA case proves the super injunction is not the answer. Twenty years ago, this might have worked but in the social networking generation there is nowhere to hide and feel sure this particular celebrity would have attracted considerably less attention, and at substantially less financial cost, if he’d announced it in a full page newspaper advertisement!

Looking back at the John Terry story a few years ago, it appeared after the revelations about his private life and after his super injunction failed, that such an approach can make things far worse for the subject in question. It is often the case that if you declare war on the press, in the end you will nearly always lose. It is much better to work with them and at least have a chance to shape the story, and to have your version of events heard. For a time afterwards, the newspapers seemed to target him, perhaps because they were gagged. It just builds up a torrent of anger, which when unleashed is much worse than letting the story come out. It’s like cutting your nose off to spite your face.

In defence of celebrities, the rich and famous there are those who are targeted by certain sections of the public in order to extract money, in which case an injunction is often the only means of protection. However, the public perception is now somewhat cynical and there is an assumption that the person has something to hide.

In such circumstances a course of action may well be to seek an injunction, but would it be the right thing to do? This is the dilemma that the person and their lawyers now face given the notoriety that injunctions cause. Over the years, David Beckham has continually had to deal with allegations and claims regarding his private life. In 2010 there were reports that he had an affair with a Beverly Hills jewellery designer, but he wasn’t fazed by the claim. As John Hendrie, Sports Consultant points out: “People make wild accusations about celebrities all the time and then stories get written that aren’t true. I think it was pretty obvious that’s what’s happened here.”

Mother-of-two Shery Shabani filed a lawsuit against her husband Kambiz, alleging that he tried to run Beckham off the road because he believed the soccer star was having an affair with his wife. She has since filed for divorce and has denied ever being romantically involved with the world-famous star.

There is of course another issue here, and that is the super injunction itself. It’s one thing protecting footballers and their families from unwanted press intrusion, but in this case would Beckham taking out an injunction have made matters worse, when he had clearly done nothing wrong?

If you are looking for advice on privacy laws, injunction or other similar issues contact the Choix Team for the best independent advice.

Choix Multimedia Team


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Brand yourself for the career you want : Be Media Savvy

From the sports stadium to the boardroom; being media savvy is a necessary skill to master.

Deborah Ogden

With the increased sophistication of smartphones and continued growth of social media platforms, interviews and film footage can go viral at the click of a button. Impact and media expert and Choix™ Consultant Deborah Ogden discusses the importance of media image and why how you appear on camera can have far-reaching effects.

The ever-intrusive nature of the media and 24/7 news coverage mean the need to deliver a message in the right manner has never been more important.

Who can ever forget the cringing moment when Wayne Rooney was caught telling the England fans what he thought of them as they booed the team off the pitch? You only need to log onto YouTube to view hundreds of image-damaging footage of sports and media celebrities caught unawares or under pressure.

In this increasingly media-led world no one is safe from the impact of reputation-damaging footage.

An award-winning corporate lawyer and Chelsea fan recently made the headlines when he was sacked by his firm after appearing on a video vociferously defending Jose Mourinho and voicing his view of an opposing football team. His employer immediately dismissed him stating the impact of the outburst on the firm’s reputation.

Anyone who has watched Sky or MOTD will recognise the discomfort when players, inexperienced in front of a camera, repeat the same lines, head down and mumbling into the floor. Or the latest Company Executive having to defend his firm’s actions or lack of response in the face of a crisis.

How do we deal with these situations? How do we protect our professional reputation and our personal brand to limit the fallout that can go global in seconds?

The answer is to understand how the media works. To understand the impact your communication is having and to know how to make it work FOR you, not against you.

When you’re faced with a difficult question from the media, or a subject you are uncomfortable with, it is important to know how to turn it around and take control of the interview, ensuring your brand and professional reputation remain intact.

Research tells us that 55% of our impact in any situation is what people see – We don’t even need to open our mouths before the impact of our body language is being felt. This might be an obvious “two finger sign” favoured by the likes of Wayne Rooney or indeed just a look or a physical gesture, but it can be picked up on instantly and may well be giving out a message that you don’t want to be sharing.

According to research 38% of our impact, is how people hear our voice – the pitch, the pace, the tone of the voice – all of which speak volumes about who we are and what we feel about the question being asked. Only 7% of our impact is what we actually say.

So our audience are reading much more into what we’re NOT saying than they are into the words we are actually using!

The message is clear: Brand yourself for the career you want not the job you have. Your personal brand and reputation have a huge impact on your career path. In the sport and entertainment industry the repercussions can be greater; impacting on financial achievements and endorsement opportunities, so invest in it. Whatever your area of expertise ensure the public are seeing what you want them to see and that any media opportunity that comes your way is positive and constructive, helping to build a strong personal brand and representing your club or business well.

Good media skills are a great asset during your professional life whether in the boardroom or on the pitch. For many sports professionals being media savvy can open many doors after retirement. With so many TV, radio and online channels devoted to sport, there is a constant need for good presenters and commentators who can work with the media to bring their years of experience and skill to the viewing public.

Rolling news and online current affairs programmes are under pressure to find media friendly spokespeople to comment and offer an opinion on news stories and features, providing a great opportunity to raise your profile and reputation as an expert in your field.

So whichever arena you perform in, the pitch or the office; be ready for your next media interview, avoid the pitfalls and view it as an opportunity to build your personal brand and reputation.

Deborah Ogden – Brand and Media Consultant


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The sting in the tail of social media

Judith Doherty

It’s just over  24 hours since the story emerged of a London-based female barrister, Charlotte Proudman, publicly calling out a male lawyer, Alexander Carter-Silk, for making ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’ comments about her Linkedin profile photo.

The story has hit the headlines, covered by the BBC alongside national press and digital titles, and a further story by the Mail Online has suggested hypocrisy on the part of Charlotte Proudman based on comments she has made about photos of men on Facebook.

Setting aside any views on specific media outlets and how this morality tale has been played out, there are a number of salutary social media lessons here:

1. Using social media appropriately
For the vast majority, Linkedin is a powerful business networking tool, bringing you closer to potential employers, employees and business partners.
It’s not Tinder.
Think about why the vast majority of users are on a specific platform and use common sense!

2. Post appropriately
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, it makes no difference.
Don’t post something that you wouldn’t be happy to be overheard saying in a pub, restaurant, office or any other social setting.
Because it’s online, it makes no difference.
Another useful barometer is, ‘What would my Mum, partner, child say if they saw that comment?’

3. Speed
Yes, just 24 hours and millions of views between the story being released, Charlotte Proudman being praised for taking a stand and the subsequent piece in the Mail Online raising questions about her own social media behaviour.
Social media is instant and has the power to gain a massive reach very, very quickly.
Great if you’re in control of the story, not so great if you’re not.

4. Privacy settings
Think about your privacy settings. For many, Linkedin is an open network; for others, they want to remain anonymous when viewing profiles.
On Facebook, do you want to limit posts to certain individuals, just your friends, friends of your friends or share with the whole Facebook world?
Do you want to approve Twitter followers first?
There’s a solid case for all of the above, but be aware of your privacy setting and how to change them if necessary.

Judith Doherty – Social Media Consultant



The Power and Pitfalls of Personal Branding

There is growing recognition that being ‘good at what you do’ is not enough and that a strong personal brand can be the differentiator that sets you apart from the competition.

Deborah Ogden

Jeff Bezos of Amazon summed it up when he said; ‘everyone has a personal brand; it’s what people say about you when you leave the room’. The question therefore is not whether you have a personal brand, but how effectively you manage it?

Consciously managing both image and reputation on and off-line will greatly improve relationships, profile and success. When we are authentic, communicate effectively and are consistent in our behaviours, our personal brand is a powerful tool, maximising profile and presence.

But what happens if we leave personal brand to chance, or commit brand blunders that detract from the brand value rather than building it?

Here are five faux pas to avoid when it comes to building a powerful personal brand.

1 All style, no substance

Personal branding is not about style over substance. Whilst great first impressions are the necessary foundations of any relationship, to create a credible brand and reputation it is crucial to back up the initial impact with the delivery of a quality product or service.

2 Be fake

It’s about being authentic and being YOU. That is the best version of you. People will spot a fake. We talk about a ‘gut’ reaction when we meet someone for the first time. If we like them the chances are they are congruent in their communication – their verbal and non-verbal communications are consistent. To fake this, for example, imitating something you are not is exhausting and in the long run impossible.

3 Be vanilla

You can’t be everything to everybody – try and please all the people you can end up pleasing none. Accept that a strong brand will resonate with some but repel others. Stick to your principles and express yourself. Be clear on your message and communicate that consistently, online and in person.

4 It’s all about me!

To build a successful brand it is not about you, it’s about serving others. Being generous is a great personal branding strategy. Develop a reputation as a giver and a great connector. Sharing your expertise let’s people experience what you excel at.

5 Online only

Social media has been instrumental in increasing awareness around personal branding. Having a clear, consistent message across different platforms online is important but should not be exclusive. People may google and get to know you virtually before you meet face to face, however your impact in person is paramount. A strong handshake, professional image and ability to connect and converse effortlessly are crucial.

Now is the time to evaluate where you are with your personal brand – make it a priority and don’t leave it to chance any longer. Remember, if you don’t decide how to brand yourself, others will, and it will be you that faces the consequences. If you would like one to one management of your personal brand, then do not hesitate to contact the Choix team.

Deborah Ogden – Brand and Media Consultant



Blurred Lines; High profile Premiership footballer sweating on appeal

Following on from last week’s High Court ruling regarding the lifting of an anonymity order protecting a wealthy well-known Premier League footballer who had a one-night stand despite having a long term partner, the whole issue of celebrity and sports ‘stars’ anonymity and reputation protection has again been brought into sharp focus.


The Premier League footballer at the centre of an alleged blackmail plot following a one night stand can be named a High Court judge has ruled. The defender, who has a long term partner and child, had been granted an anonymity order after claiming a woman had demanded £100,000 to keep quiet about their sexual liaison. The woman then sold her story to a newspaper, prompting the footballer to seek an emergency order to keep his identity private. But it was ruled that there are no grounds for his identity to be kept secret and has paved the way for him to be named.

The player’s lawyer, claimed it would be a breach of the star’s right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights for him to be named. But the judge said the court had not been given all the facts, but had seen no evidence that the player was concerned about his privacy for his sexual conduct.

Mr Justice Warby said he felt the anonymity order had been driven by others adding that he felt “commercial motives” had played a considerable role.

The judge ruled that the anonymity order should be lifted and ordered him to pay the woman’s estimated £25,000 legal costs.

The player has 10 days to apply direct to the Court of Appeal, after which point the anonymity order will be lifted.

Ever since John Hemming MP used Parliamentary privilege to reveal that Ryan Giggs had decided to slap a gagging order on the world’s press preventing them from blowing the whistle on an alleged affair, the clock has been ticking on the bombs labelled in a variety of ways as gagging orders, anonymity orders and super-injunctions.

Assuming the identity of the Premier League star that has been the subject of much debate on social media is correct, the fact that it has backfired so spectacularly is a lesson to every wayward celebrity or organisation to think twice about following suit. If there ever was a case of a dead law walking then this is surely it. Woefully misjudging the power of the phrase ‘common knowledge’ as well as the power of the Internet, the lawyers who tried to brush the now widely reported indiscretions under the carpet have turned a minor marital indiscretion into a front page story. As privacy cases go, this might be construed as somewhat of a failure!

Lawyers around the country are familiar with the day-to-day tool by which a client can obtain an injunction: a court order requiring his opponent either to do something specific or very frequently not to do certain acts. In some circumstances an interim injunction can be obtained on an ex parte basis, which is without the other side having a chance to be heard, although in that situation there is always a hearing within a few weeks at which the defendant can put his/her side of the argument. If an injunction is granted, it is usually perfectly legitimate for the existence of the proceedings and the injunction granted to be reported by the news media. The difference with super injunctions, and why they are causing such a furore, is that as well as an ordinary interim injunction to restrict an act – usually the publication of a story linking businesses with wrongdoing or people together – part of the order is a restriction on the news media from reporting the very existence of the proceedings or of the fact that an injunction has been granted.

If granted, a super-injunction ensures a news blackout, until or unless the claimant declares it, or alternatively an anonymous soul puts themselves in contempt of court and breaches the order by tweeting or blogging the news. The developments of recent weeks tells us that once something is in the hands of the electronic media it is very hard to put the lid on it, whether the story being broadcast is true or false.

More recently the remedy has become increasingly common in privacy cases where celebrities get wind of the impending publication of stories about them and seek by way of a gagging order, anonymity order or super-injunction to elevate their right to privacy over the journalist’s rights to freedom of expression, even if the story is true.

It can be hard to see that a celebrity fling is ordinarily a matter of such importance that the public interest – and not merely tabloid prurience and curiosity – overrides an individual’s entitlement to privacy, but where for example that individual trades on an image promoting family values it may well be appropriate for the truth to be broadcast and reported to a wider audience. In the latest case, Mr Justice Warby said if the star was not named it could lead to unjust speculation about other innocent footballers adding: “There is thus a degree of genuine public interest in ensuring that the story has an additional name attached to it.”

In addition no doubt the judge was mineful of the power of social media where a large percentage of the population are tweeting at this very moment. So what is the point in gagging orders, anonymity orders or super-injunctions if Twitter, Facebook and the general blogosphere can tear the fragile privacy law to tatters?

It is safe to assume that keeping a story out of the traditional media no longer provides any kind of lasting protection for the public figure. In fact it can have quite the opposite effect as online rumour, conjecture and general Chinese whispers can potentially do more damage to an individual’s reputation.No one is denying for a moment that there isn’t a place for legal action in matters of privacy, but this latest case clearly proves that gagging orders, anonymity orders or super-injunctions are not the complete answer. It is possible that the figure at the centre of the storm would have attracted considerable less notice to his infidelity (and at considerably less financial cost), if he had announced it in a full-page newspaper advertisement!

Rather than protecting their privacy, the example of another Premier League footballer who sought a super injunction highlights the pitfalls of taking such a course of action. Back in January 2010, then England captain John Terry attempted to suppress revelations of an alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of a former team-mate. After a week of being gagged by a super injunction, the full force of the British press turned on the Chelsea defender and the media furore led to him being stripped of the international captaincy.

That example proved that if you effectively declare war on the press, in the end you will nearly always lose. It is much better to work with them and at least have a chance to shape the story and to have your version of events heard. In mitigation for the celebrity and sporting rich and famous, there are those who are targeted by certain sections of the public to simply exploit their position in order to extract money, in which case an injunction is often the only means of protection. However, the public perception is now somewhat cynical and there will always be a perception that the person has something to hide.

David Beckham, has continually had to deal with allegations and claims surroundinghis private life. One such allegation emerged when playing for LA Galaxy, following reports that he had an affair with a Beverly Hills jewellery designer. However, deciding to take a completely different course of action, the former Manchester United ace and England captain chose to keep his counsel and take no action. 

So what next for those celebrities who wish to bury news about their private lives? With the current and future expansion of social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, you can drive a coach and horses through the argument that gagging orders, anonymity orders or super-injunctions designed to protect celebrities’privacy are the only credible solution. Future responsible regulation and redress will undoubtedly lay at the feet of the Press Complaints Commission who have to be given greater powers of responsibility, regulation and independence in which the public and the law have confidence.

Consequently, where there is clear misrepresentation from which libel or defamation arises,the individual with the help of the courts should have the confidence of having a right of redress in respect of his or her right to public privacy and to seek damages as a result of the intrusion. Where there is genuine concern over a person’s privacy gagging orders, anonymity orders or super-injunctions will still have a place in such protection, but only with due thought as to the potential consequences with the media.

As referred to above much of the concern involving celebrities and sports personalities is the impact that press intrusion has on their privacy and how they can combat unreasonable behaviour by journalists and photographers.

It would be fair to state that media intrusion into the lives of current and former footballers continues to be a real source of anger for many within the game – especially when that intrusion can sometimes have profoundly damaging consequences. At the Leveson Inquiry itself, former Blackburn captain Garry Flitcroft spoke of how press reporting on his private life may have led to his father’s suicide.

Concern over the issue is nothing new. Back in 2010 Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti attacked the media for its fixation on what players were up to off-the-pitch, while the presence of hungry tabloid reporters and paparazzi has become a daily fixture in the lives of many top-flight footballers. As someone who has witnessed the stalking of players first-hand, and heard accounts of photographers waiting at school gates to snap players when they arrive to pick up their kids, it’s clear that the behaviour of some journalists can be unreasonably intrusive.

But what does the law have to say on the matter?

Although there is no express right to privacy under English law and therefore no civil action available there are a number of rights that do relate to privacy. The majority of privacy cases are fought at the pre-publication stage. The player usually finds out about a threatened publication and seeks a gagging order, anonymity order or -injunction to prevent it. The injunction can also restrict reporting of the court proceedings with players commonly anonymitised. This is the issue with the High Court ruling last week.

If publication of the information has taken place, the player can seek damages retrospectively through the courts. The judge will have to conduct a balancing exercise to decide whether Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) or Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) will prevail.

The media will often quote Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which provides right to freedom of expression that does not mean they can automatically do and print what they like when it comes to well-known sports stars, and not face the possibility of real consequences.

Conversely Article 8 of the Human Rights Act provides individuals with a right to respect for private and family life, and a crucial test for breach of privacy is generally that of whether publication is in the ‘public interest’. What this means is that the breach of privacy or publication of personal activity should be of legitimate importance to the general public. This was one of the players lawyers contentions and considered as part of the ruling.

The cases of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were deemed to be of sufficient public interest as the media were correcting a false image promoted by the players. An additional factor both players faced at the time of the allegations was that they were both captains of their country at their respective times. The acceptance of the armband brings with it an expectation of a higher standard of conduct as the public’s perception is that they immediately become a high class role model.

If the story is seen to contravene an image which the individual widely trades upon for publicity and profit, then publication is generally upheld as in the public interest. But just because someone is a well-known figure, it does not mean that details of their private life are in the public interest. Former F1 president Max Mosley successfully sued the News of the World after they ran a revealing story on his sex life, and received significant compensation as a result.

Footballers need to be careful about their relationship with the media as the line between public and private life can easily get blurred. If a footballer answers purely football related questions in interviews and does not open up their private life to the likes of Hello and Ok magazine then their privacy deserves to get a much higher level of respect from the media. Players need to be wary about discussing injuries in press conferences for example, as a seemingly innocent question about a players rehabilitation can open that player up to an intrusion into their private life.

Injunctions, gagging orders or anonymity orders to prevent publication of intrusive stories can be obtained but, as widespread contravening of a so-called super-injunction in the case of Ryan Giggs proved, the power of the internet means that keeping the cat in the bag is often impossible.

Stars who seek and welcome publicity which demonstrates their private life in a positive manner when they are hitting the back of the net should not have a leg to stand on when they wish to complain about an invasion of their privacy which shows them in an unfavourable light. The relationship with the media is very much a double edged sword for many top-level footballers in that respect.

If you need any dedicated advice regarding Crisis Management, Privacy Laws or Media Relations Management please do not hesitate to contact the Choix team.

John Hendrie – Sports Consultant



Make it Personal; How to protect your media profile

The recent boom in social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram has given celebrities, sports people, media professionals and businesses unprecedented access to the general public (and indeed vice-versa!).


Unfortunately this level and ease of access can also expose users to a range of issues including defamation, negligence and more. A quick search reveals such cases are all too common, including one case where an Australian student was ordered to pay £57,000 in damages for comments made towards his music teacher.

Anyone who communicates to the public could face claims for defamation, breach of confidence or even breach of intellectual property rights.

Specialist insurance to protect individuals in the public eye

As an Independent Chartered Insurance Broker Choix partner Wilby Ltd can arrange personal media profile liability insurance specially designed to protect you and your reputation which includes a number of features that you may not find in a standard policy:

  • defence costs and damages – we will pay your legal defence costs which could be substantial, as well as any damages
  • defamation – you will be covered for actual or alleged libel, slander and malicious falsehood
  • breach of confidence – we cover you for breach of confidence and infringement of any right to privacy
  • crisis containment cover – you will be covered for crisis containment costs, to a limit of £25,000, to rectify a crisis which if left unmanaged would cause adverse or negative publicity of or media attention to you
  • negligence cover – including negligent transmission of a virus or negligence with regard to security leaks of personal, confidential information
  • broad civil liability cover – if it is not excluded, it is covered
  • geographical limits – we can provide full protection by extending the geographical limits and jurisdiction of claims to a worldwide basis.

This product is suitable for a range of high-profile individuals, including:

  • sportspeople
  • actors/actresses
  • musicians
  • TV personalities
  • comedians
  • lecturers
  • freelance writers.

If you wish to arrange personal media profile liability insurance then get in contact with the Choix team to arrange a policy today.


Victoria Pritchard – Media Consultant





Tackling the social media minefield head on

With social media now firmly in the mainstream and new channels for social media emerging constantly, the question for those choosing to build their online following and directly engage with the people who matter is less “Should I use social media?” but more “How should I use social media?”.


In 2015, 66% of UK adults have a Facebook page¹, one quarter of UK Internet users are on Twitter² and Instagram has overtaken Twitter in global user numbers. At the same time, the power and influence of traditional media channels is dwindling. Why wait for a news outlet to report something when you can find it out straight from the horse’s mouth on Twitter?

All of these trends make social media a fantastic platform for sportspeople and celebrities to engage directly with the people who matter, whether this is their fan base, their peers or potential business contacts.

Whilst everyone’s familiar with Twitter and Facebook, platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine all offer a variety of features which are worth considering.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the right platforms:

  • Be realistic about the amount of time you can spend and rather than spread yourself too thinly across many, do one or two really well.
  • Think about your objectives for social media. If you want to communicate with as wide a fan base as possible, choose Facebook. If you want to raise your profile with specific business targets, use LinkedIn.
  • Will you be a broadcaster or an engager? There’s no right or wrong way, but those with the most impressive social media followings usually engage with their followers and peers, commenting on and sharing what’s relevant. You may choose to simply broadcast certain aspects of your life and not actively engage. That’s fine but you may be missing a trick by doing so.
  • How much of your life do you want to share? Just your professional life or an insight into your personal life too? Again, there’s no right or wrong, but think carefully about whether you want fans to see your home or your family.
  • Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Vine allow for easy sharing of photos and videos and can by synced with Twitter and Facebook. If you’re someone who believes a picture speaks a thousand words, these are the channels for you.
  • With Snapchat, there’s no comments thread, so no opportunity to engage but that rules out trolling.

An opportune moment to mention some of the dangers of social media.

As leading social media and marketing communications company, Aletho Communications , points out, it’s incredibly important to apply a figurative filter on what you post. Think carefully about what you write and any picture that you post. If you wouldn’t want someone to overhear your comment in a pub, don’t put it on social media. If you think your comment could be misconstrued or cause offence, don’t post it. Aletho Communications has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious brands

There are plenty of salutary lessons from those who’ve paid professionally, financially and often both for errors of judgement on social media. Just Google Rio Ferdinand, Joel Monaghan, Mario Balotelli and more recently Robert Hutch.

For further guidance on how to make the most of social media, including the setting of realistic objectives, account set-up and ongoing management, contact Choix.

Victoria Pritchard – Media Consultant




1 Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2014, Ofcom

² eMarketer 2014