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    When It Hits the Fan

    Inside the world of crisis managers and spin doctors as David Yelland and Simon Lewis watch the week's biggest PR disasters unfold. In each episode our hosts go behind the scenes of the latest news stories and find out how, where and when it all began to hit the fan.

    When It Hits The Fan is hosted by two of the most influential and experienced people in the game; David Yelland is the former editor of the Sun and alongside him is Simon Lewis, former trouble-shooter for the Queen and Gordon Brown, as well as for major corporations like the Nat West, Vodafone and British Gas. Together they bring decades of experience in both creating and managing crises. They'll share all they know about what's keeping those big stories in and out of the news.

    enBBC52 Episodes

    Episodes (52)

    Can Keir kill spin?

    Can Keir kill spin?

    Just days after Sir Keir Starmer entered Downing Street, David Yelland and Simon Lewis take a special deep dive into what may prove to be a great communications reset at No 10 under the new Prime Minister, with greater transparency at its heart.

    But will Sir Keir be able to create the space to govern between the media and his administration? And if he plans to build, build, build, how is he going to manage being very unpopular in a populist era?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enJuly 09, 2024

    Positive campaigning, how to deal with disappointment and why PR loves Wimbledon

    Positive campaigning, how to deal with disappointment and why PR loves Wimbledon

    With the UK general election upon us, David Yelland and Simon Lewis look at the two sides of campaigning of all kinds – positive PR and negative PR. Who decides whether to go for optimism or fear, and what works? In the great game of persuasion that is PR, connection is key. When Banksy’s migrant boat was carried across a sea of hands at Glastonbury it was a moment of powerful positive communication. But in the world of short-term political campaigning, negative PR can be an equal but opposite strategy.

    Also, as many MPs and prospective MPs face the possibility of defeat, David and Simon dsicuss the art of being disappointed in public. How best to lose with cameras whirring?

    And the power of being seen in the right place with the right people at the right time – why the PR industry loves Wimbledon.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enJuly 02, 2024

    When It Hits The Fan x The Today Podcast x Newscast

    When It Hits The Fan x The Today Podcast x Newscast

    Three podcasts, one question: How influential is the media on the election?

    Newscast, The Today Podcast and When It Hits The Fan are coming together for a special election episode. Hosts from all three podcasts will discuss the role of the media in this summer's political campaign. Do newspapers still matter to political campaigns? Do the TV debates change people’s minds? And how much impact is social media really having?

    The episode features Adam Fleming, Amol Rajan, Alex Forsyth, Marianna Spring, David Yelland and Simon Lewis.

    This episode was a collaboration between the teams that make Newscast, The Today Podcast and When It Hits the Fan.

    When It Hits the Fan
    enJune 25, 2024

    Taylor Swift’s PR stardust, the Putin effect and Southgate’s pundit problem

    Taylor Swift’s PR stardust, the Putin effect and Southgate’s pundit problem

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis discuss Taylor Swift’s 'magical air cover' and the power of having your photo taken backstage or anywhere inside the Eras tour, whether you’re the Royal family or Keir Starmer. But would every politician risk the Taylor test?

    And the latest political fan-hitters - why no-one wants to be a 'Putin ally', the Conservative’s 'Betgate' and how to get your message across if you're the SNP and you know most people listening can’t even vote for you.

    Also, how podcasts, social media and the change in the velocity and ferocity of comment has so damaged the reputation of Gareth Southgate’s England. Is it possible to recover from losing the commentariat?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enJune 25, 2024

    Can Starmer do PR?, the Green Party and being Taylor Swift's ex

    Can Starmer do PR?, the Green Party and being Taylor Swift's ex

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis administer the Fan Hitter PR slide rule to Sir Keir Starmer's election campaign. How has the Labour leader dealt with some of his stickier PR moments around his previous endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn, questions on tax and his dad's job as a toolmaker provoking laughter in Grimsby? Also, even though they are currently ahead in the polls, Labour - like the England football team - has to deal with the perennial PR problem of expectation management. Perhaps they could both learn a thing or two from the Royal Family?

    Also, the Green Party's election campaign. How do you keep people listening when your core message - climate change - could be seen as alarmist? One solution is to focus your comms locally, which is what the Greens are doing. As is Nigel Farage...

    And finally, actor Joe Alwyn has spoken out about his previous relationship with Taylor Swift. What can we learn about being dragged into the media spotlight on account of who you love – and then break up with? How best to deal with the global glare of Swifty scrutiny?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enJune 18, 2024

    Sunak's D-Day blunder, is Farage using dog whistles?, and Mike Lynch

    Sunak's D-Day blunder, is Farage using dog whistles?, and Mike Lynch

    David and Simon analyse what is arguably the biggest PR moment in British electoral history - Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's decision to leave the D-Day celebrations in Normandy early. Simon takes us behind the scenes at Number 10 to try to work out exactly how things went so wrong for the PM.

    Nigel Farage - he's been accused of 'dog whistle' politics. What are they, and how do they work?

    And - the acquittal of tech tycoon Mike Lynch. What are the lessons to be learned from surviving the nine circles of media hell?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enJune 11, 2024

    Private school PR, Lib Dem tactics and Trump's conviction

    Private school PR, Lib Dem tactics and Trump's conviction

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis look at why private schools seem to be losing the PR battle over their VAT exemption. A core principle of PR is to anticipate problems and mitigate them. This one has been coming down the track towards independent schools for years - why did they get it so wrong?

    Also, the Liberal Democrats' election strategy of "tactical disruption" - which mainly involves Sir Ed Davey getting wet and apparently having the most fun of all the leaders on the campaign trail. As David and Simon continue to look at the use of PR by different political parties during the election campaign, they ask if the Liberal Democrats are adopting the PR tactics pioneered by disrupters like Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic and Airbnb in the US. It's winning the party precious press coverage, but is there a downside to the election stunts?

    And what does it mean for the concept of a Fan Hitting crisis if being a convicted felon is not necessarily career ending? David and Simon are, of course, talking Donald Trump's guilty verdict in his hush-money trial. Does reputation matter in a post-shame world?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enJune 04, 2024

    General Election PR strategy and the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry

    General Election PR strategy and the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis debate the first of a series of PR reviews into the up and coming general election. Starting with Rishi Sunak's announcement in the rain last week, they'll be looking at how the parties launched their campaigns, their use of campaign videos and slogans, and how and when the press decide to take sides.

    They also discuss how PR has been put on the stand at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry.

    New to When It Hits The Fan, if you have a “Quick Wins” question for Simon and David about managing your personal PR, send them a voice note on WhatsApp with the word “Fan” to +44 3700 100444 followed by your question.

    Producer: William Miller Editor: Sarah Teasdale Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enMay 28, 2024

    Quick Wins: How to say no

    Quick Wins: How to say no

    Quick Wins is a series of short episodes from the When It Hits the Fan team to help you navigate your own personal PR.

    In your professional life as well as your personal life, what you say no to can be more important than what you say yes to. In this episode David and Simon share their advice on how to do it the right way - to a boss who is asking you to overwork, to a job offer that's not the right fit or when you smell a rat. How to set the right boundaries?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enMay 23, 2024

    UK water crisis, the Rich List and PR wellbeing

    UK water crisis, the Rich List and PR wellbeing

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis discuss South West Water’s handling of the Brixham water contamination and what this tells us about the fundamental problems in the UK water industry. Why were the people of South Devon told their water was safe when it was not? And when a crisis hits, who is the best person to speak on behalf of a company. Is it the 'chief customer officer'?

    Also, in the week The Sunday Times Rich List is published, Simon and David share some secrets about how the blue chip PR world tries to get people on the list - and also get people off it!

    And does the PR industry look after the mental health of its own people well enough? They take a look at a concerning report.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enMay 21, 2024

    Quick Wins: How to say sorry

    Quick Wins: How to say sorry

    Quick Wins is a series of short episodes from the When It Hits the Fan team to help you navigate your own personal PR.

    In this episode, David Yelland and Simon Lewis discuss the power of an apology. Professional - and personal - relationships are based on being able to say sorry at the right time. So how do you mark sure yours hits the mark? Do it before the sun goes down, do it the hard way and always mean it.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enMay 16, 2024

    Apple’s ad backlash, 'I’m not your mum' and Zahawi’s exit strategy

    Apple’s ad backlash, 'I’m not your mum' and Zahawi’s exit strategy

    This week, two of the world’s biggest tech companies have found themselves in PR crises of their own making. Why did Apple's new iPad Pro 'crush' advert misfire so badly? Meanwhile at Baidu - China’s biggest search engine - its PR boss has lost her job after videos of her promoting a toxic work culture went viral.

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis go to the heart of a secret and little understood reputational war and look at the real battle between the west coast of America and China’s Silicon Valley.

    And - bowing out gracefully. How Nadhim Zahawi’s exit strategy from politics ticked all the PR boxes.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    When It Hits the Fan
    enMay 14, 2024

    Co-op Live, political spin and inside the Trumpian bubble

    Co-op Live, political spin and inside the Trumpian bubble

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis discuss Manchester’s Co-op Live arena opening delays – will these prove to cause long-term reputational damage to the great north-western institution, or will they be a blip that's soon forgotten?

    Also, why did so-called "well-placed sources" in Westminster seek to spin the London Mayoral Election result after the polls had closed? Was it good PR?

    And how’s it going for Donald Trump trying to spin from inside his Manhattan court room? David and Simon peak inside the Trumpian bubble and look at how PR advisors sometimes protect the rich and powerful from bad news.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    Huw Edwards, PR speak and runaway horses

    Huw Edwards, PR speak and runaway horses

    David Yelland and Simon Lewis discuss the resignation of Huw Edwards and how the BBC has handled this ongoing crisis – its PR, its strategy and the enduring power of the tabloids in this country to throw an incendiary device into famous places.

    They also lift the lid on the art of euphemistic spin and how the language of PR was used in the Post Office IT Horizon scandal - or should we say “anomaly”?

    And, runaway horses - how the Army responded to the surreal and shocking Household Cavalry rampage through central London and why you’ll now find a significant number of former Army officers in PR.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    Matthew Freud special

    Matthew Freud special

    In a special episode of When It Hits the Fan, Simon Lewis and David Yelland talk to Matthew Freud about his 40-year career at the head of one of the most influential PR businesses in the world. Freud Communications has promoted and protected the reputations of the biggest names in Britain.

    Born into the famous Freud family, he married into a global media dynasty to become Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law. He has kept the secrets of the rich and the powerful as well as advising prime ministers and pop stars.

    In this rare broadcast interview, Matthew Freud discusses power, politics and his views on British public life from his unique perspective at the pinnacle of public relations.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    Dorothy Byrne special

    Dorothy Byrne special

    On When It Hits the Fan, we often talk about crises as if they should be avoided at all costs. But Dorothy Byrne, the former head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, is living proof that walking towards the fan is often a hallmark of people that effect positive change.

    In this special deep-dive interview, David Yelland and Simon Lewis talk to Dorothy about the relationship between PR and journalism, being lobbied, and her fearless approach to reporting the truth – including her 2019 MacTaggart lecture when she called the then prime minister a “known liar”.

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    Mick Lynch special

    Mick Lynch special

    In this special episode, David Yelland and Simon Lewis talk to Mick Lynch, the leader of the RMT, about how to get your point across.

    We seem to be living through a time when words too often fail us. But there are some people in our body politic whose words cut through - regardless of our own thoughts on their views. Many of Mick Lynch's head-to-heads with journalists and politicians have gone viral. Like - when speaking directly to a government minister - “He’s lying… you are telling lies.” To a journalist: "You do come up with the most remarkable twaddle,” and, during a speech, his rallying call: "We refuse to be poor anymore.” He even managed to win public sympathy for that most unpopular of disruptions – a nationwide train strike.

    How does he do it?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    What can we learn from Kate?

    What can we learn from Kate?

    In this episode, David Yelland and Simon Lewis discuss the lessons learnt from the Princess of Wales’s video announcement that she is undergoing treatment for cancer.

    It raises some important issues for the Royal Family in a social media age. And for all of us. What is privacy in the online world? How can people in the public eye manage their privacy in the global village that is social media? And for the Royal Family going forward, what can the Palaces do to protect individual members while also promoting the royal brand?

    The Royal Family are in the vanguard here. What Kate is experiencing is what many others may have to face in the future. Will this be a turning point?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Assistant Producer: Sophie Smith Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    TikTok and China, how to make a royal story go away and cybersecurity PR

    TikTok and China, how to make a royal story go away and cybersecurity PR

    In this episode, David Yelland and Simon Lewis are talking TikTok. In the US, the social media platform is facing an existential threat. But behind it is a world of Chinese PR that’s not making the headlines. How does it work? And what are all the western PR agencies embedded in China doing there?

    Also, as the risk of IT system crashes and cyber attacks escalates, David and Simon lift the lid on the role of communications in the booming cybersecurity sector.

    And following the short video of the Princess of Wales released on The Sun’s website, they ask if this is a PR master stroke, or something else. What is going on?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Assistant Producer: Sophie Smith Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

    The Palace in crisis

    The Palace in crisis

    As a former editor of The Sun, and the late Queen’s first communications secretary, David Yelland and Simon Lewis used to be on opposing sides of a Royal PR disaster – David working to expose a story that Simon was trying to control. In this special episode, they bring everything they know about how Palace PR works to shed some light on the events surrounding Kate Middleton’s absence and the controversy surrounding her Mother’s Day family photo.

    What’s really going on behind the scenes? And does a failure to master 21st century communications pose a genuine, real danger to the Royal Family’s survival?

    Producer: Eve Streeter Editor: Sarah Teasdale Executive Producer: William Miller Assistant Producer: Sophie Smith Music by Eclectic Sounds A Raconteur production for BBC Radio 4

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