Hello good and bad PR readers, how are we all? I’m back with this week’s instalment to distract you all temporarily from lockdown life.
Good PR – Rashford 1, Boris 0
This week, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has received high praise from the public and the media for taking on the government… and winning.
During lockdown, families with children who qualify for free school meals have been receiving vouchers or food parcels to help them get by. In Scotland and Wales, this additional help was going to continue over the summer holiday period, but in England and Northern Ireland it was due to stop at the end of term.
This decision was set to leave vulnerable families facing the possibility of not being able to feed their children, particularly those who have lost jobs and income during the pandemic. As many as 1.3 million school children in England alone (which is more than 15% of state-educated pupils) were eligible for and claiming free school meals, which goes to show how many would’ve been impacted by this government decision.
So, what does
22-year-old Marcus Rashford have to do with all of this? Well, he shared
his experiences of being a hungry child with a single mum who had to
make sacrifices and rely on food vouchers to help feed her five children
and he tweeted an open letter imploring MPs to #maketheUturn on the
The tag was soon trending, as was Rashford’s name, and many MPs and high-profile individuals, including comedian John Bishop, Gary Lineker and fellow football players showed their support.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey, on the other hand, showed her true colours when she replied to a tweet from Rashford that read “When you wake up this morning and run your shower, take a second to think about parents who have had their water turned off during lockdown #maketheuturn.” In response, Coffey tweeted “Water cannot be disconnected though”, showing a complete lack of empathy and support, and trying to make Rashford look stupid.
He took the higher ground and kept his composure, simply replying “I’m concerned this is the only tweet of mine you acknowledged. Please, put rivalries aside for a second, and make a difference.”
One day after Rashford shared his open letter and led the #maketheUturn campaign, the government did in fact take notice, with Downing Street announcing on Tuesday afternoon (16th June) that a ‘Covid summer school fund’ would be set up, paying around £15 per week per recipient at a cost of around £120m.
What a goal Rashford. What. A. Goal.
Bad PR – Raab Won’t Take The Knee
I didn’t have to look far for today’s example of terrible PR and we’re sticking with the government theme if that’s alright, because Therese Coffey wasn’t the only one to say the wrong thing.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has angered the nation after his comments in a talkRADIO interview regarding the gesture of taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
After the Premier League resumed on Wednesday evening, players from Man City, Arsenal, Villa, and Sheffield United showed their support of the movement by kneeing ahead of kick off, which was a huge step towards trying to tackle the racism experienced within football.
As Raab and presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer spoke, she asked him whether he would take the knee as the footballers did; to which he replied that although he understood “the sense of frustration and restlessness” that was driving the Black Lives Matter movement, this “taking the knee thing” seemed to be taken right out of “Game of Thrones” and was “like a symbol of subjugation and subordination, rather than one of liberation and emancipation.” He followed that up by saying he would only take the knee for two people, Her Majesty the Queen and his partner if he was proposing.
You can watch the clip here:
After seeing the backlash that ensued, he tweeted…
To be clear: I have full respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, and the issues driving them. If people wish to take a knee, that’s their choice and I respect it. We all need to come together to tackle any discrimination and social injustice.— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) June 18, 2020
…which, you know, seems a little contradictory if you ask me. Saying we all need to come together but then not being willing to kneel beside others doesn’t really work, does it?
As for the gesture being “from Game of Thrones”, well that just shows Raab’s disregard for the action throughout history. In 1965, Martin Luther King was photographed down on one knee in prayer before a civil rights March and in 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the US national anthem because he was not “going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour” (linked to police brutality and racism at a pre-season game) but later switched to kneeling.
If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.
Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.