Good and Bad PR: Bad British Gas, AA and NASA
3rd August 2017
Andy reporting in, bringing you the best and worst examples of PR life from the last week. Trump clearly deserves a small (see what I did there) column of his own, but let’s try and ignore him and his sacking of his comm’s supremo. Instead let’s look at the wider public relations winners and losers.
What a gas
Bad PR to start with and it is a toss-up between British Gas and the AA. British Gas increased prices by 12.5% and the only positive I can see about the way this story was handled was that it didn’t try to bury the story on a big news day. That being said, a half-written statement was accidentally placed, and duly spotted by a muggle, on the BG site the day before, so this may have caused it to rush the story out a bit earlier than expected.
The story went out and up popped the usual suspects to berate the utility giant (ourselves included, obviously). Someone with more time on their hands than me (I am always frightfully busy, you know) needs to create a money-expert-bingo-chart so we can cross it off every time it appears on a news couch during these kinds of events.
AA had a triple PR whammy disaster yesterday. Its share price fell after word was released of its Top Man Mackenzie getting the boot for Gross Misconduct (whammy one). There were accusations from some (mainly me) that it chose to release the news that day because it thought it could be buried under the British Gas story (whammy two). In a final kick in the clutch for the car-rescue giants, whilst it probably has a NDA in place for the sacked guy, you cannot legislate for family members and his son who went on the attack and outlined mitigating reasons for Bob Mackenzie going rogue.
On a personal note, my car broke down recently (faulty battery) and I had fantastic customer service from AA. Its HQ may be a car crash but their service is still second to none.
NASA goes nuts
The final Bad PR of this week is tough, should it be Lloyds v Kanye or ASDA’s falling sales figures. Meh, no, I am going for NASA. We have all rinsed and repeated the “Is this the best job in the world” PR angle but I think NASA has taken this to (literally) a new level. It has put out a job ad for someone to protect the earth from aliens and protect alien planets from earth’s inhabitants (erm, us).
The ad reads like a jargon lover’s wet dream, makes little or no sense and is apparently something to do with the “Outer Space Treaty of 1967”. Quite frankly I suspect Trump is behind all of this to try and distract us from his crazy reign. The salary is $187k and I have obviously applied for the job.
On to something far nicer, the good world of PR.
The sunny North
Scotland, take a bow. Whilst our northern, majority-ginger, mates are better known for their pale blue complexions and a fear of the sun, it turns out that their own climate is out to get them.
The Met Office (of bullshit weather guessing fame) has announced that The Shetland Islands were sunnier than Cornwall during the month of July. I could have guessed this myself having spent last week in rainy Cornwall, but I am glad the weather druids have clarified the situation.
Hopefully this will now mean than the Kensington folk who troop en masse to try Rick Stein’s over-priced (but very tasty) fish and chips will instead go and bother the good folk of the Shetland Islands for gluten-free batter and artisan chips.
My final good spot goes to Greggs. No longer is it the champion of pastry, diabetes and regret thanks to its recent sales increase being put down to its decision to sell salad and fruit. It has achieved higher sales despite costs going up and, all in all, it continues to dominate the great British break-time eating market thanks to its evolving menu.
If you are a cynical bastard like me and have a negative opinion on Greggs, you should dig out the documentary that was done on it during a previous rebrand and restructure. It was a fascinating watch and totally changed my opinion of the brand. It is the good guy of the industry. PS, if you like McDonald’s, don’t ever watch The Founder, it will make you sad.
Rolls and Apple
Mentions in Good PR dispatches this week goes to Rolls Royce for announcing strong results and Apple for another set of strong results.