News Corp launches comms offensive to repair brand reputation

News International is placing full-page apology ads across a range of national newspapers as part of a raft of marketing activities to repair the company’s tarnished brand perception.

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The ads are to appear in all national newspapers, including rival publishers’ titles including the Daily Mail and The Mirror, this weekend apologising for the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World.

James Murdoch said today that News International will follow this campaign with “future communications” about the actions it has taken to address the “wrongdoing that occurred”. The company is also sending letters to its commercial partners with an update on the actions it is taking.

Rupert Murdoch has also given an interview to the Wall Street Journal, marking his first significant public comments on the phone hacking scandal surrounding his company.

He says that News Corp had handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible”, having made just “minor mistakes”.

Murdoch adds that the damage to the media company’s reputation is “nothing that will not be recovered”.

“We have a reputation of great good works in this country,” he adds.

Rebekah Brooks, who resigned as News International’s chief executive today (15 July), said in her resignation statement: “The reputation of the company we love so much, as well as the press freedoms we value so highly, are all at risk.”

The under fire media company has also hired PR agency Edelman to provide public affairs and communications support to promote News International’s management and standards group, which is leading its internal investigation into phone hacking.

Murdoch has also given a strong indication that News Corp will not try again to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not own, to boost the company’s exposure in the pay-TV market. He says the News Corp is now buying back shares and “looking for better places to put our money”.

He also dismissed reports that he is to sell off his News International portfolio of UK newspapers as “pure and total rubbish”.

It had been speculated that Murdoch might sell The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times in order to strengthen his bid to take full control of BSkyB, which would ensure that the takeover would pass the Competition Commission’s “media plurality” test.

News Corp cannot make another offer for BSkyB for six months, according to takeover regulations, after it withdrew its initial bid to take full control of the company earlier this week following mounting political and public pressure levelled at the company.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch, News Corp’s chairman and chief executive said of the rumours that he would sell his UK newspapers: “give it the strongest possible denial you can give”.

Rupert Murdoch, his son James and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks are to appear before parliament next week to be quizzed about the phone hacking scandal that took place at the News of the World.

News Corp is also under fresh investigation by the FBI in the US, after accusations emerged that journalists at the company had hacked into the voicemails of the victims of 9/11.

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