Shortly after the second plane struck the Twin Towers on 9/11 and it became clear that something world altering was happening, a UK government spin doctor named Jo Moore sent the following message to her colleagues in the Department of Local Government, Transport and The Regions; “It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors’ expenses?”
As Andrew Rawnsley said in his book on the first four years of the New Labour government, Servants Of The People, Jo Moore’s sin was not that she was bad at her job but that she was very, very good at it, relentlessly good at it, focussed on it to a mind-bending and even callous sounding degree.
You can argue that her she had gone badly awry in terms of her basic humanity, but her political antennae were as sharp as any in Whitehall that day.
Picking the right day to bury bad news is an old school trick in politics and in communications as a whole.
Over at Ibrox they’ve released dreadful accounts on Friday nights, knowing, as political hacks do, that nobody really reads the weekend papers and you can’t get journalists to write hard-hitting analysis on those days if you were wielding a cattle prod or a stun gun.
Of course, you can release bad news at Ibrox on any given day and get the same result … our press is weak and biased and easily coerced. But the old wisdom can be applied just to make sure.
There are some days on which burying bad news is relatively easy to do.
There’s another trick in the same vein, but using a slightly different set of press releases; it’s the good news game-changer.
It’s a piece of positive information to change the news media narrative, to wipe one story off the newswires and replace it with a better one.
Celtic has used that quite brilliantly on occasion, with no example more spectacular that unveiling Brendan Rodgers the day before the Ibrox club played its first cup final, against Hibs.
Not only did we dominate the news cycle on what should have been their big weekend, but we destabilised their club in the process and sent shockwaves through their support, at the same time as we engendered our own with genuine positive emotions.
It was a PR masterpiece; the kind of thing we just don’t do anymore.
Or don’t we?
What if we’re preparing to do something exactly like that, something that no matter the result next weekend will dominate the headlines for the rest of the week, and either heighten the pleasure of a win or make us put it aside to focus on the future?
All the fans really want here are signs of life; imagine an announcement that answered all the big questions at a stroke? Nobody would ask why it all took so long. No-one would care.
There would be more important things to focus on.
What if next Monday we unveil the new CEO, the director of football and the manager of the club at one press conference?
What would the headlines be?
Would they be about the cup match two days before?
Of course not, they’d be about the future of Celtic.
I can see this as being exactly the sort of thing Celtic would do.
The logistics of it would be tough, and keeping it a secret right up until the last minute would be extremely difficult, but the announcement is on a Monday. The game is on the Saturday.
If the story doesn’t leak on the Friday night you’re looking at something that drops into the news cycle for the match or in the immediate aftermath of it, either on Saturday or in the Sunday papers.
Either way, the game itself becomes almost a minor matter.
The management decision alone would wipe all else away.
Combine it as part of a triple appointment and the press will have no choice but to write about it at the exclusion of everything else.
The dream scenario is to win the game and then drop these three appointments on Monday.
It will hit Ibrox like an atom bomb.
That’s why I wonder if this is the plan, because it’s so perfect for us, such a great moment to just transform the mood inside our club … and outside it too.
All the waiting has been frustrating up until now, but we can change all that at a stroke.
Not just a sign of life but a positive vision for the future … and just days after knocking them out of the cup?
Can you even imagine how good that would feel?
Celtic might just be cooking up a PR masterpiece here … either capping a great triumph or something that transforms the mood after a shattering defeat.
Our club used to do this stuff so well.
It would be awesome if we could get this one right.