Coming your way: non-stop Richard Branson | Hugh Muir

Coming your way: non-stop Richard Branson | Hugh Muir
Ive seen the amiable businessman up close. From Virgin Atlantic to Galactic, hes proved the value of media accessibility

In the aftermath of that spacecraft crash, Richard Branson is fighting for his reputation. What will happen now? Hell be everywhere; on TV, in the newspapers, in magazines. Talking, talking, emoting, agonising, empathising. I had dealings with Branson when Virgin Atlantic rather than Galactic planned to fly to Kuwait before the first Gulf war to rescue stranded Brits, and media organisations saw his flights as a way of transporting their journalists. If you wanted even the smallest update, you grabbed Branson himself by the arm, or rode with him in the lift at Gatwick, and he would tell you everything he knew. Of course he wouldnt. But he would convey that impression.

I dealt with him again over his lottery bid. He briefed the press at his house/office in Holland Park, west London. Smiled. Served coffee and danish. Were cynical, but suckers for public figures who make free with the pastries. Branson learned the lessons of media accessibility early, not least in his seminal battle with the lumberingly corporate British Airways. Amiable everyman is a shtick. Amiable everyman doesnt get to be a billionaire. Still, it has served him well. Criticism peters out; mud never sticks.

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Source: Guardian Transport