We have all become familiar with such terms as “fake news” in today’s world. The media of late has come under scrutiny and general distrust and not only from idiots like Donald Trump. News broadcasts, stations or shows no longer just tell us the news, but give us their opinion. What happened to the days of just keeping us informed rather than politicizing everything? Have I just become an old grump or am I right?
Whatever you think, there is no doubting that our news sources are in doubt. Directors Richard Poplak and Diana Neville look at why by shedding light on the influence of PR companies on political figures and the news we get. More specifically we look closely at Lord Timothy Bell and his PR company, Bell Pottinger.
Bell Pottinger was one of the UK’s biggest and best known PR companies. Headed by Lord Timothy Bell, a man who had been in the PR game for decades. The company was influential and had its fingers in many a pie. They did not discriminate. Meaning that if you had the money they would take you on as a client. Powerful people such as arms dealers, Margaret Thatcher and South African President F.W. de Klerk. This PR company did not peddle products, but politics. It attempted to shape the world’s leadership and thinking.
Influencers. When we think of that term we think of those people on social media gaining followers by pedaling product. Well, there are other kinds of influencers in today’s world and they are more insidious. These influencers are powerful PR companies with plenty of staff, reach and money behind them. They decide what we know and who we like. Even in the world of politics.
A whole new type of spin doctors has cropped up. At their disposal they had the new form of media which seemingly was easily controlled. At the top of that problematic heap was Timothy Bell. Using his PR skills and influence he softened the images of several politicians who hired him to win elections and more. He pretty much made Thatcher, helped those at the end of apartheid in South Africa benefit financially and even convinced Iraqis to accept their change in regime. As long as you had plenty of money he could shape your image.
The late Lord Timothy Bell is one of the most controversial characters on this scene. No matter what you might think of him, his methods or clients, you have to admit he was brilliant at what he did. When he managed to get Thatcher elected three times it made him the man in the PR world. Bell was the world’s premier “fixer”.
While every ride has its time limit, Bell’s last almost until his death in the late summer of 2019. He was finally knocked off the pinnacle by the people of South Africa exposing his nefarious ways and leading to him being expelled from the British Public Relations and Communications Association.
A picture of the man and his methods is constructed with the use of interviews with Bell himself along with old new clips and expert opinions. It is a film that urges us to take another look at the media and insist on the unbiased truth. Not slanted stories constructed by paid PR or communications agencies.