Thursday, July 14, 2011

Madeleine McCann's parents seek PR figure

Gerry and Kate McCann try to evade the media spotlight
Gerry and Kate McCann try to evade the media spotlight 
Madeleine McCann's parents are looking for a high profile public relations figure to handle the overwhelming media interest in them.
The publicity surrounding their case has soared since they were officially named as suspects in disappearance of their daughter by Portuguese police and they are thought to have wanted a more heavyweight representative.
Until now they have been relying on the skills of former Liberal Democrat candidate Justine McGuinness, 37, who was appointed to head the find madeleine campaign in June.
She was employed through a headhunter hired by the McCanns but is due to stand down today, a move that had been expected.
The couple are believed to have been in talks with several big name players in the PR industry. They know the furore over their case will not die down until there is an answer to what happened to their daughter.

One of the leading contenders is the former News of the World and Hello! editor Phil Hall who has been in regular contact with the couple since Madeleine disappeared.

Now the head of his own PR firm, Mr Hall is understood to be considering taking over the mantle.

Madeleine's disappearance has received unprecedented coverage around the world, partly because of the couple's willingness to use the media to publicise their missing daughter.

In the first days after she went missing, British government officials helped the couple handle the extraordinary attention they received, taking calls from as far as Argentina, Japan and Australia.

Sheree Dodd, a former tabloid journalist and then Clarence Mitchell, a former BBC news reporter, took on the task.

Mr Mitchell travelled with the couple as they visited Rome, Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam and Morocco to highlight Madeleine's case.

In June, they appointed Miss McGuinness.

But now there is a "cloud of suspicion" hanging over them, they need a new strategy to deal with the attention and increasingly negative publicity.

They remain besieged by the media at their home in Rothley in Leicestershire while a large number of journalists have stayed in the Algarve in case the McCanns are forced to return.