Category: CRISES

Some recent Clients

**A recently acquired Client is  the prestigious SOUTH ASIA & MIDDLE EAST FORUM,  meeting inside the British Parliament on key issues affecting the relationship between Britain, the EU and South Asia and the Middle East.

**On behalf of an international sporting client, MediaZones secured a contract in July 2015 with the fast-rising British channel BT Sport,  for a sport it had never before broadcast.  The broadcasts on BT Sport, included eight half-hour slots within peak-time viewing in September and October 2015, revolving around its World Championships.

**MediaZones also supervised some of the content of the broadcasts so that the sport would ‘come alive’ and so that viewers would be more likely to be attracted to a sport with which they would be unfamiliar.  That included the creation of feature stories about the athletes.

One example of a very good “spot” was the story of an unknown Scandinavian athlete, desperate to qualify for the 2016 Olympics while being trained by his wife.  They had brought their very photogenic 3-year-old daughter into the training area, where she was filmed going into ‘combat’ with fellow-athletes! The athlete himself lost his contest in 19 seconds, but his indomitable spirit came through in the uplifting little video feature within the overall World Championships coverage.

Because of this World Championships success,  and because of the provision of a well-polished human-interest mix in combination with the actual contests, the BT Sport channel agreed to a new contract.  It broadcast the highlights of all the main competitions for late-2015 and the whole of 2016.

MediaZones also made sure one of the Olympic gold-medalists received extensive coverage on BBC World television in the run-up to the Games and soon after she won.  MediaZones is commissioned to make two films showing aspects of the sport, for worldwide distribution in 2017.


Nelson Mandela: “Yes Paul. It worked!”

When Nelson Mandela, recently released from 27 years in jail, wanted to develop a means to bring his country to a peaceful transition to power, he realised he needed to build bridges with the ruling ethnic group.  He developed a smart but highly controversial strategy called “nation-building through sport”: it was to be a major tool for reconciliation between sports-mad black and white South Africans.

In that quest,  international correspondent and film-maker Paul Martin became one of his closest confidantes.   Defying the white sports establishment, Martin had been part of South Africa’s anti-apartheid sports movement.  But in the late 1970s and the 1980s while in exile in Britain, Martin  had kept contacts with the leadership of the white South African sporting establishment too.

In a seminal article for the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), and in special programmes on  national television in Britain, where he gone into exile, Martin had argued that the sports boycott weapon should be used with the “efficacy of a rapier, not the crudity of a sledge-hammer”.

Over the four years leading to Mandela becoming the country’s official leader, Martin and Mandela were able to discuss a range of tactics.  That dialogue started on a plane-flight days after Mandela’s release, but continued elsewhere, for example, in Mandela’s house in a smart Johannesburg suburb, at the Presidential residence in Pretoria, and at the 1992 Olympic Games.

Martin was able to generate important stories about the sport-reconciliation strategy in the international media, including in British newspapers, on the BBC and on international sports magazine television programmes.

When South Africa’s national cricket team was to make its first tour to England, Martin was the only media specialist invited to meet Mandela and the team – at his official home in Pretoria – and to do an exclusive interview with him there.

After South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 1995, with Mandela donning the green-and-gold Springbok jersey – until then despised by most black people as a symbol of white racism – Martin had the only exclusive  interview with the great leader (at his Johannesburg home, two days later).

As the filmed interview ended, Mandela threw Martin an imaginary rugby ball.     “You see, Paul,” he said. “Nation-building.  It worked!”



Alert and Instant Advice

Please send us, on our Contact Form, or by email, details of any crisis with media implications that you have read about, heard about, or that you yourself are currently experiencing. Or any details of any firm or situation that could usefully call on our expertise.

We will reply confidentially, giving confidential pointers as to how this crisis could be or should be handled in the media … or how to avoid the media  … or, if the crisis is being (or has been) mishandled, how things can be turned around.

Making the decision look really good

In the early 1990s a major world sports organisation, the International Olympic Committee, had to decide how to handle the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Would the IOC allow the former Soviet Union countries to complete in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games as one united team, and if so under what name?  Or should it allow each of the various new states just being formed to send its own team or squad, providing a logistical nightmare?  Either way,  the International Olympic Committee seemed bound to face widespread international controversy.

MediaZones’ solution was: make a documentary about the International Olympic Committee’s intervention.  The IOC commissioned MediaZones (via its sister company East-West Productions) to accompany the IOC President on his team’s highly confidential trip around the former Soviet Union, and to create the video. 

In filming and distributing documentary material, the focus was placed on the complex difficulties faced by the individual IOC leaders taking the decision, and on the skillful and diplomatic way in which the process of decision-making was taken.  It showed the IOC’s actions (in taking that decision) as logical and understandable.

No amount of article-writing or television debate could have achieved this purpose.  The decision was generally approved by most of the world’s sporting bodies and media commentators.

Protected: ‘Up, down, but not my fault’

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Protected: ‘Yes but here’s a better story’

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