Sir Richard Branson – a great communicator

Sir Richard Branson heads The Virgin Group of more than 400 companies. Despite being right at the top, he is happy to get involved in communications, whether it’s good or bad news. When he spoke to the media following the recent space disaster, you could hear a pin drop. Liz looks at why Sir Richard is the consummate communicator.

King of communications

Just pop his name in Google and you can see Sir Richard Branson in a myriad of guises. Whether it’s his airline, his bank or his media company, Sir Richard knows the value of a publicity stunt – and he is a world pro. In fact, his PR machine has helped make him one of the most well-known faces in the world – and a favourite global entrepreneur.

Always happy to step into a space suit, wedding dress or a bungee rope, Branson rarely misses the chance to spread the word according to Virgin.

He is not afraid of PR – and has not only seen the value, but has admitted that public relations saves him millions in advertising.

Despite being right at the top of his organisation, he knows the value of getting involved in his own PR – and he is not afraid of well, frankly looking ridiculous in the media glare.

Virgin is undoubtedly a company which gets its communications spot on, and it’s thanks to the personal touch of Sir Richard.

So, when something goes wrong, can Sir Richard step up to the plate?

A week ago, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two crashed during a test flight. It was a terrible accident which killed a pilot and injured another.

Never one to shy away from his responsibilities, Sir Richard flew to the US as soon as he could. Before that though, he used social media to great effect.

In an online blog he said: “I wish that the families of the brave pilots get all the necessary comfort from knowing that they were living a dream, and helping other people dream with space flight.”

He tweeted several compassionate tweets – saying: “We commend the passion of all in the space community who take on risk to push the boundaries of human achievement.”

These were wonderful words showing empathy and responsiveness at a time when those involved wanted to hear from him most.

Branson then spoke to media at the test site. A difficult task, but he chose his words perfectly. Whether it’s for positive PR stories – or in tragic circumstances like this – Branson is not just a brilliant communicator, but knows the value of the personal touch.

By Liz Cartwright

Liz heads up the team and set up Cartwright Communications in 2006 after working as a journalist for more than 20 years on titles including the Nottingham Post and Daily Mail. Liz’s PR experience spans the property, professional services and public sectors and she has significant crisis communications and internal communications expertise.