Good and Bad PR: Mercedes in the driving seat
5th September 2018
Andy reporting in on another week of great news and bad form.
Let’s start with the good stuff and I am going to go with a bit of unashamed nepotism here and give Rich Leigh (brother from another mother) the first good PR slot for making the decision to take his PR agency, Radioactive PR down to a four-day working week. The number-one author in PR has been testing this for the last few months and it has worked so well that he has decided to make it a full-time gig. There is a vicious rumour going round that the secret reason he did it was for more gym time in order to keep industry stalwarts and PR-beefcake-hotties, Ste Davies and Darryl Sparey off the top spot in the “most buff man in PR” rankings. Anyway, the coverage and love that this move has got (mainly via passive aggressive “likes” from my own team) has been nothing short of astounding. Great work Mr Leigh.
A for Amazon
Speaking of hench businessmen, step forward Good PR number two this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. His own figure is not the only thing he is transforming. After years of getting grief for not making good enough profits, Amazon is now well on the way to overtaking Apple as the world’s biggest company. For a short time this week, the company’s shares took it over the $1trillion valuation, ok so they dropped back but come on… what an achievement by Bezos and crew. I must admit to buying into the Bezos hype and I read pretty much every book and article he features in. My favourite tip of his has to be around managing teams and team sizes. He says that if you cannot feed a team with two pizzas then that team is too big and should be split out. A golden nugget for you all there.
Hot Mercedes ~
Mercedes emerged from the shadows of what feels like a PR slump in recent times with the announcement that it is going to be launching an all-electric car that can rival Tesla. It looks hot and the consumer and car media alike, lapped it up. Given Tesla is heading further into the PR doldrums (more on that later), this could be the chance that Mercedes needs to get its PR mojo back and start dominating the news headlines again.
Over to the bad stuff and, as I just mentioned, Tesla is getting further dragged down by the actions of the Tony Stark wannabe, its CEO Elon Musk. After the company had to quietly admit that the Muskonator was not actually going to take it private, and whilst being knuckle deep into government-led investigations into his tweets claiming he was taking it private, he started up his crusade against the cave-diving hero. He committed PR fuckery 101 by sending an email with a subject line “off the record” to a journalist that make a load of claims about the British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue being married to a 12-year-old girl.
It feels like Musk is self-imploding just days after he got into a tit-for-tat row about whether or not he cried during a supposed-to-be puff-piece newspaper interview that went wrong, and as stories emerge about his working style being a bit James-Bond-villainesque, he just needs to keep his head down, but he can’t help himself. If the Tesla board stand any chance of fixing their brand image then they need to distance themselves from him, but it feels like this could be a messy break up. He needs a strong comms person to sit him down, tell him how it is and get his activity in order. Consider yourself told Musk!
Speaking of Bond Villains and their white cats, over to the fat cats now (seamless link I know), the final bad PR goes to Lloyds bank. A “glitch” meant that consumers using debit cards to pay for things were accidentally charged twice. Because life is not complicated enough, it appears to be a bit of a confusing one. Lloyds runs a card-processing system called CardNet and this, along with its card-processor partner company, First Data, caused the balls-up to not just affect Lloyds customers, but basically anyone who used that system with a debit card. I am confusing myself right now. Either way, Lloyds claims that all the duplicate transactions have been refunded and all is as it was.
A crisis comms 101 (lots of 101s this week) has been rolled out, including phrases such as the classic “urgent investigation” and “sincere apologies”. Expect a mid-level head to roll at some point in the not too distant future.