How to photo bomb the president (and other useful tips)

Have you seen the video of Prince Charles’s press advisor, Kristina Kyriacou, swatting a microphone out of a reporter’s hands? I did and I think it’s brilliant.

In fact, I watched it ten times and Ms. Kyriacou is my new favorite person.

So I was surprised that the commentary that followed on the BBC was so negative about her. Who are they to call it a “daft move” and suggest it’s something she should regret?

But then again, I suppose that’s what the media would say about a press officer doing her job. If I have one complaint about working with reporters it’s that they sometimes seem to think that PR people exist to make their lives easier.  We don’t. We have our own job – and that’s to do what’s in the best interest of our clients.

I had this issue play out a few years ago when I was staffing the opening ceremony of a new national park. Before things got underway, a photographer tried to talk his way out of the press box and get closer to the stage.

“How do you expect me to get a good picture from here?!” he asked.

I shrugged. I had plenty of things to do that day, but worrying about how the photographers could get a better shot just wasn’t one of them.

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” I said.

A few minutes later, I saw him move two of the metal barricades and try to slip between them. It was such a pathetic (and noisy!) attempt that I could hardly get worked up. I walked up behind him, put one hand on his shoulder and in my best bored voice said, “Please don’t do that.”

“What’s going to happen if I do?” he asked.

photo bombTruthfully, I had no idea. But I didn’t want to find out and evidently neither did he because he got back in the pen with everyone else and stayed there for the next two hours.

(Sidebar: As it turned out, a certain keynote was all too happy to pose for close-ups after the event ended – though I have a hard time believing anyone got as good a shot as this one of me photo bombing President Clinton. Special shout out to my natural hair. All 10 pounds of it.)

My point is, if you’re timid in this industry, you’re not going to get very far. I’m sure Ms. Kyriacou would agree. After all, she probably  didn’t come to be Prince Charles’s top press advisor by backing down when the media got pushy.

And I’m glad she didn’t. Because that would be something to regret.




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