Good and Bad PR: Bad turns to good this week for Microsoft and Amazon

Good day to all in the world of public relations. I feel like this is the week where my scathing cynicism has come back to bite me on the bottom. Two of this week’s Good PR stories have accidentally been referenced as Bad PR in my historic columns.

Let’s get the awkward out of the way and head on through it.

Good PR

Microsoft

Remember when I took the Michael out of Microsoft for not being cool enough to get positive PR when it announced the retirement of a product? Well, don’t I look a fool now that the media gave nostalgic love to tech giant’s announcement that it was closing down the OG internet browser, Internet Explorer.

For many, this was their first gateway to the internet (be that good or bad) and back in 1995 it was pretty much the only browser. Fast forward to today and the likes of Chrome, and Firefox have stolen a march on Microsoft and it has itself thrown all of its efforts into a new browser, Edge.

I think the outpouring of admiration for Explorer leaves Microsoft with a great brand opportunity to bring it back in a few years’ time, maybe when the internet goes through yet another reinvention of itself and we crave a return to more simple times and easier internet interactions. Who knows? No matter what happens, I got it wrong and Microsoft, I admit it.

Amazon

The second of my “sorry for my mistake”, Good PR goes to Amazon. Not only have I talked about its drone delivery programme in rather cynical ways in this column, but I have also used it in conference talks and university lectures over the years. I talked up how I felt this was a massive ongoing PR stunt to get it a Google boost in the run up to Black Friday and other key ecommerce shopping times.

Well, time to eat my hat as Amazon has announced that “within months” it is going to be starting the drone delivery service. It may just be in one American town with a population of less than 4,000 people, but Lockeford is the chosen area and the media will descend with vigour once the service starts.

If you will allow me a personal sentimental moment about this story; my very Scouse Dad (now sadly passed), rang me about three months after this original story broke many years ago (it took him that long to get up to speed on current news stories) to tell me I should use this in my Good and bad PR column (he was the only reader back then I think). He chuckled as he told me how he planned to sit in his council house garden and shoot down the drones that he most suspected were carrying the more expensive items so he could retrieve them from the garden and sell them. Ever the entrepreneur and sorely missed.

Amazon, kudos for getting it done and double kudos for proving cynical PR idiots like me wrong.

Enough of this apologising and namby pamby emotion, let’s get back to handing out the brickbats.

Bad PR

Cadbury

Cadbury has 99 supply chain problems, and the Flake is one (I may set up an OnlyFans for my alternative writing skills). The heatwave should have landed by the time you read this and by which time the UK’s favourite ice cream van product, the humble “99” could be no more.

Ice cream van owners (I have always felt there was something of the night about them to be honest) have whistle blown on the fact they have been rationed on the number of Flakes that they can buy because of a shortage. Cadbury owner, Mondelez, has admitted there are supply chain issues that are causing it to not be able to make the product fast enough to fill demand.

This combined with the public reaction of horror and disgust to KFC having to replace lettuce with cabbage in its burgers has meant that the brands themselves and also this mysterious “supply chain” fellow (it has to be a guy, a lady would never be this disorganised) are getting constant grief in the media. What are we going to do?

Missguided

Sticking with Bad PR and Missguided got a further trouncing in the media with the news that it will not be issuing refunds for returns that have come in since it went bust. It has instead suggested that customers claim back through the credit card, debit card and buy now pay later platforms that they used to buy the products in the first place.

With Mike Cashley’s Sports Direct team waiting in the wings to take over the brand after its £20m purchase, there is a Good PR opportunity open goal for it to announce that it will be honouring the returns when it takes the reins. I know Frasers Direct is not the best when it comes to winning public opinion, and I guess there is a due diligence process going on that prevents it from making a public statement like this, but would it not be brilliant if it did? Come on Mike.

Airbnb

According to language historians (and in my case a Google search) the phrase “a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on” can be credited back to prose written by Jonathan Swift in 1710 (digital PR was in its infancy back then).

Airbnb experienced the full force of this phenomenon this week when a story went all around the globe about a lady who claimed the Airbnb she used in Philadelphia had covert cameras scattered all over the place.

Having a quick glance through the timeline, it looks like companies with apps that help detect hidden cameras may have put budget and resource behind the amplification of this story without maybe doing any due diligence into it being true or not.

Within 18 hours of this story having broken, Airbnb publicised as loud as it could that the Philadelphia police department had now closed the case after investigating the allegation and having found no evidence of any hidden cameras in the apartment, anywhere.

Despite this, the false story was still doing the rounds on social media and across the global news spectrum, leaving the biggest rental industry comms team no option but to spend forever and a day doing rebuttal PR work to get the headlines changed. To emphasise the PR power of Airbnb, some of the headlines have now been updated, but it will be impossible to get them all changed. A great example of Good AND Bad PR to end on.

Miscellaneous PR

Notable stories I could not fit in this week. Good PR for the Burger King owned Popeyes chicken restaurant that has announced it is opening six new restaurants in the UK. Funny PR for the Australian goalkeeper who shot to fame this week for his crazy antics that won a penalty shoot out. It was later revealed that he carried out the ultimate football-shit-housery by hiding his rival keeper’s water bottle which had all the notes on about which way the Australian penalty takers would shoot. Nice.

I could also mention that the government maybe mistimed its decision to announce the date the emergency fuel relief payments would be made, to deflect from the Rwanda scandal, only for the plane not to take off and the announcement seemingly wasted. Oh.

Got it right or wrong, you know where to find me.

Written by Andy Barr, owner of 10 Yetis Digital. Seen any good or bad PR lately? Abuse and contradictory points welcomed over on The Twitter @10Yetis or andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email

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