Don’t Mess With Guido!

April 21, 2009

The news agenda has moved on. We’ve entered a period of quiet reflection.

What can be learned from the McBride/Guido Faukes affair (or “smeargate”)?


Don’t make it personal.

Hazel Blears attack on bloggers included a swipe at the “vicious nihilism” of Guido Fawkes and Staines has claimed McBride tried to smear him. This gave Staines real personal motivation to get back at McBride. So attack your opponents arguments, but not them personally. Play the ball, not the man.


Don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t want made public.

This is blindingly obvious, but people still forget it. If McBride had made a telephone call to Derek Draper instead, he’d still be in a job.


Don’t mix up different types of information.

In McBride’s email he said he has one possible real story and a lot of (unpleasant) gossip. Ditch the gossip and if you think you have a good story just find a sympathetic journalist.


Don’t take on someone who has better skills than you.

We still don’t know how Staines got hold of the email. So he either has very good contacts or very good computer skills. We already know he has good social media skills. Regardless of the morality or legality of how he got the information Staines was a digital native, while his enemies were not. He won.


Think about the best vehicle for the information.

Staines didn’t just stick the email on his blog. He gave it to newspapers, maximising the public impact, and minimising his own risk. He used his blog as a teaser to build up anticipation knowing that people would find it when the story broke.
This is not about bloggers versus mainstream media. Staines has simply shown himself to be a master at using media (digital and print) to achieve an end. He’s proved himself more effective at this than most people with jobs in Comms and Government and journalism.

My guess is that he probably dislikes the BBC as much as he dislikes politicians.

If it wasn’t for that, I’d hire him.


3 Responses to “Don’t Mess With Guido!”

  1. Anna C Says:


    Now I bet you a cappuccino at Divertimenti that this still convince a number of people

  2. […] But this doesn’t mean Wikileaks somehow “needs” the mainstream media. Rather like Guido Fawkes they’ve worked out the way to get maximum impact and to get what they want. […]

  3. […] Comments Wikileaks, The Stalk… on Don’t Mess With Gui…nickreynoldsatwork on Strictly Come Dancing And John…George Kendall on Strictly Come Dancing […]

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