Good & Bad PR 4 minute read
Good PR of the week
Ever since hearing about the late, great publicist Jim Moran walking a bull through a china shop at the start of my PR career, I’ve loved the room for creativity the industry affords.
Capitalising on this scope for stunts, Bel UK, the makers of Laughing Cow cheese, has gained some great coverage having organised a stand-up gig – for an audience of cows.
Winner of a Perrier Comedy Award, comic Milton Jones, performed to a field full of cows to “prove they can laugh“, because happy cows are more productive, the coverage claimed. Jones was joined by Mock the Week producers and the necessary expert – in this case, bovine behaviour specialist Bruce Woodacre.
Gags from the comedian, known for his one-liners included: “So you cows say you’re vegetarians – but how come you all wear leather?”
Well done to Frank PR, who handled the stunt.
Love it or Ban it
Controversy lends itself well to PR, and getting banned from anything is a sure-fire way to pique interest.
Perhaps that explains why the UK press came out in defence of Marmite, fresh from a reported ban in Denmark for being “too full of vitamins“. The Guardian even hit out with a list of Danish items we could ban for the snub. However, the Danish Embassy has subsequently denied the claims that Marmite is banned.
The ability of Marmite’s PROs to push the line that the product is “too healthy” for Denmark is a skill in itself and a great demonstration of the art form or PR. Eagle-eyed readers (well, alright – Mum) will notice that this is the second time I’ve mentioned Marmite – after its brilliant April Fool partnership with Vaseline this year.
Bad PR of the week
Much has been said of the actions of a certain ageing Premiership footballer in the last few weeks. If you have a pulse, an internet connection and don’t drag your knuckles behind you as you walk, chances are, you’ve left some sort of online footprint related to the injunction imposed by Judge Eady preventing press coverage of an affair with Big Brother “star” Imogen Thomas.
The moment Twitter users started bandying the name of the footballer about, it all stepped up a gear, with the footballer eventually deciding to take legal action against San Francisco-based Twitter and, as was reported, “some of its users“, for breaking the media-gagging injunction.
Paul Sutton of Bottle PR called the legal action "quite possibly one of the worst PR decisions" he’d ever seen, with many other commentators suggesting it was an ill-advised move. As soon as news broke of the fact that he was to be suing more than 75,000 people who had, at the time, mentioned his name on Twitter, even more users joined in, mocking his decision – further spreading the news.
Here’s what happened next:
- A guest on Radio 4 got one syllable into naming the footballer when talking on the Today show (the listen-again show included the error at first, but after a deluge of Tweets linking to it, it was edited out)
- The Sunday Herald splashed with a barely disguised front page image of the footballer
- The Sun went to the High Court to try and have the injunction lifted to allow the media to cover it, given that his name was very much in the public domain
- Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming named the footballer in the House of Commons, claiming it “obviously impracticable” to imprison all 75,000 of those in breach of the court order
- Having been publicly named, the media scrambled over each other to react and name the footballer, with Sky News first to the punch
- An ash cloud caused by another volcanic eruption in Iceland caused flight cancellations across Europe, consigning Ryan Giggs’ news to chip wrappers everywhere.
To summarise, I think a good PRO should have seen the above coming and advised a) that the story should be left to come out naturally, and blow over quickly or b) advised Giggs to come out apologetically to try and win at least a bit of support – something he’s definitely lacking now he’s threatened members of the public with the law for mentioning his name.
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Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of 10 Yetis PR Agency.