By Louise Findlay-Wilson

Why did Matt Cardle win the X Factor? Sure he sang well and he’d been the front-runner for weeks. But something happened in the final that nailed it for him…

His partnership worked...

When he sang with Rihanna she towered over him by some measure, and looked like she’d eat him for breakfast, but this didn’t diminish him. Indeed he looked like he’d enjoy it if she did! The moment he looked her up and down appreciatively, then looked her in the eye and sang his top notes, I knew he’d won. We were reminded that he might be an ‘ordinary bloke’ but was masculine, confident, a good singer …a winner.

In contrast the gorgeous, likeable Rebecca Ferguson — arguably with the better voice — had a partnership with Christina Aguilera that didn’t work. With one classy and the other brassy, their brands didn’t fit! And damningly, Rebecca looked star struck. As she looked on in awe at the peroxide warbler, we were all reminded that Christina was the star here (albeit a faded one), and Rebecca was the wannabe. It worked for Christina but not for Rebecca!

As for One Direction’s pairing with Robbie Williams, this was a fundamental error on Simon Cowell’s part. His group looked like enthusiastic puppies not entitled pop stars! Sure the ‘boy band fit’ was good, and they had lots of confidence, but with Take That in the ascendance at the moment it made me think (and lots of others I’m sure) who needs One Direction, when we’ve Take That!

Interestingly Cher’s pairing worked well. It fitted with brand ‘ Cher.’ She was confident, comfortable with Will.i.am and held her own on the stage with him. Indeed it was a genius partnership. But it couldn’t do it all. It wasn’t going to make her more likeable or mainstream enough for the zillions watching in their homes.

There are PR lessons to be learned from all of this. Partnerships (be they joint initiatives, sponsorships, co-branding opportunities) can be a valuable part of a PR campaign but only if you ‘sleep with the right people

* Have a clear strategy for why you are partnering with them
* Ensure the connection says the right things about YOU
* Your pairing should reinforce your brand’s messages
* Your brands must fit and look comfortable together
* Even if your company is smaller, you must be able to hold your own
* Don’t partner with some who makes you look small, diminished
* Just because it works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you
* Don’t expect it to solve all your PR problems

To read more by Louise Findlay-Wilson, you can visit her blog