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Opponents of St Michael's should worry - Neville and Giggs are masters at media management

24 February 2017
Opponents of St Michael's should worry - Neville and Giggs are masters at media management
24 February 2017
Helen Furnivall
Former Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are not just good at football. They’re pretty good at playing the media too.

Neville and Giggs scored a blinder in October 2015 when homeless people chose to stay in the former Stock Exchange building in Manchester which the two footballers were renovating. Things could have got very messy from a reputation management point of view with a struggle to get the building back, but instead Neville provided food and security and said the squatters could stay. Not only was it absolutely the right thing to do, it also secured mountains of positive press coverage. In short it was a PR master-stroke.

However positive media coverage is proving a little more tricky to secure for the footballers’ latest £200m project - building two huge towerblocks on the site of several historical buildings in the heart of Manchester city centre. At High-Rise Communications we’re fonder than most of tower blocks, but unfortunately the St Michael's architects have been shortlisted three times for the Carbuncle Cup which goes to the ugliest building of the year. And with the St Michael’s plans it’s easy to see why.

Historic England has spoken out strongly against the proposals as has Eddy Rhead from High-Rise Communications’ client the Manchester Modernist Society. Eddy was quoted in an article outlining opposition to the scheme in The Guardian this week; and there has also been negative media coverage in other publications including the Architects Journal and The Telegraph.

It will be interesting to watch Neville’s and Gigg’s PR machine whirr into action now, seeking to refute negative press coverage and take back control of the story by talking about all the benefits the scheme will bring in terms of jobs and investment into Manchester. Perhaps they’ll throw in a few stories about what a good pair of lads they are and how they help in the community for good measure.

Unlike with the homeless story, this time I’m not so sure Giggs and Neville will do the right thing and re-think their plans - no matter how much negative media coverage they get. Perhaps they know they don’t need to – all the signs seem to be that Manchester City Council will wave the scheme through despite objections.
Category: Reputation Management & Crisis Communications