Good and Bad PR: Google loses but Boaty McBoatface wins
28th June 2017
In a week where the news was dominated by Theresa May appearing to make a pact with the devil there have been other stories floating around that have caught the eye.
Let’s get the bad stuff out there early doors. Google got the mother of all fines by the European Courts for using its monopoly over search in order to present its own shopping services at the top of search results and push down rivals’ shopping comparison sites. When a fine is so big that you find even Kay Burley fighting your corner (in a Sky News interview on the subject) you know you are in trouble.
Not only was it a front-page story, but it even brought some of the monitor-tan search engine optimisation folk out from their darkened rooms in order to line up and beat the search giant. Interestingly, no one really went to town on Google, largely because it has a history of remembering who has given it a beat-down and going after them later down the line. For the record, I think the fine was too much and I am a massive fan of Google and all of its products and services (hope this keeps me safe!).
Trump is once again dominating the headlines, but this week on several new positive and negative fronts. CNN had to ask three members of its investigative reporting team to go spend more time with their families due to a duff story on Trump and Russia links and Team Trump went to town on this, culminating in another car-crash of a press briefing by his team. Then there was a really odd story about him flirting with Irish reporter Caitriona Perry during a call with newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Finally, Time magazine felt the need to ask Trump to take down a fake front cover of its magazine that he keeps at his golf club. He had the mocked up cover featuring himself on show for all to see and, when the story broke, I feel Time sensed it could get a bit of good PR out of calling for it to be removed. I feel someone like Funky Pigeon have missed a trick to piggyback on this story but, hey ho, maybe next time when he awards himself a Nobel prize and gets the front cover of National Geographic.
The final bit of bad PR goes to Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero, who were found to have traces of human poo in their ice. No more needs to be said about that.
On the good public relations side of things, I can’t lie; it has been a tough week of hunting around. Step forward the Natural Environment Research Council and the never-ending PR dream, Boaty McBoatface. For those who forgot, the NERC bailed on its deal of letting the public name its new research boat and, in a rubbish compromise, gave one of its new submarines the name instead. Anyway, the submarine has returned from its first-ever mission and delivered a new set of data that will get science folk all steamed up. The story of its return was pimped via a press release and, hey presto, further media coverage for Boaty McBoatface has hit the global media. A nice turnaround by NERC in terms of it once being a negative story about it not bowing to public demand and now it is getting positive headlines for the submarine’s first mission. Hat tip.
To end this week’s ramblings, here is one of my favourite ever good news stories and a great example of just piggybacking on modern society. The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has decided to rebrand because of the negative association of its three letter acronym; WTF (this means “what the fuck” for those of account director level and above). It is now just to be called World Taekwondo. Not the most innovative of rebrands, but one that I imagine the Turkish nappy company PEDO should take note of.