Good & Bad PR: Government Comms and Camelot are this week’s losers

In a week that saw April Fools’ Day sail past without any serious incident nor complications, why not join me in a jolly romp through the world of Good and Bad PR?

Good PR

Elon Musk

Elon of Musk fame claimed all the positive headlines this week and gave every PR’s favourite social media platform a welcome share price boost thanks to his buying nearly 10% worth of Twitter shares. In a rare deviation away from his usual Bond-villain approach to public relations, he played positively to the public gallery by immediately posting a poll on the platform asking if people wanted an Edit button. They do and it won him a new army of fans on the traditionally shouty-moany platform.

A day after the share-buying bonanza, Twitter’s CEO announced Elon was joining the board and, again, most of the community seemed to welcome the news. Great PR for team Musk and for Twitter by association.

Good and Bad PR

Government Comms

Government-led communications campaigns had a doubly whammy this week; one good and one not so good.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries took a swing and a miss with the court of public opinion thanks to the announcement that the Culture Club will be pressing on with its plans to privatise Channel 4. Channel 4 is clearly disappointed and, given it has some powerful allies, it will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Labour saw a chance to score some points and went to town on how damaging a decision this could end up being. Channel 4’s bosses have once again handled themselves brilliantly in their communications and vowed to “continue to engage” with the Government about its plans.

For me, the writing is now on the wall for Channel 4 and there is little scope for it to turn the decision around and, although the Government claims about where the money will go from the sale of the broadcaster seem a little over-zealous, it seems like a done deal. I am sure Elon or Mike Ashley will be checking down the back of the couch for enough spare change to buy such a respected media broadcaster, but fully expect an Amazon-style and shaped brand to win the bidding war.

The Government PR swing and a hit this week went to the Treasury which announced it was tasking the Royal Mint with creating an NFT that can be issued by the summer. Many wags over on The Twitter speculated that this was a late April Fool’s prank, but it really wasn’t.

It may even have served as a double whammy of Good PR for the Treasury in that it distracted attention away from Dishy Rishi’s falling ratings in the opinion polls, whilst also positioning the UK as a strong potential leader in the field of crypto currencies and NFTs. Great work by the Treasury comms team.

Bad PR

Camelot

Camelot gets the second Bad PR of the week around its decision to challenge the Government’s decision to give the lottery licence to someone else. The pro-active communications by Camelot have been expertly placed, but the messaging so far seems a bit vague and wishy washy with no real substance nor specifics as to why it feels so wronged.

Camelot just saying that the Gambling Commission has got its decision “badly wrong” is not enough, especially against the backdrop of the winning company talking up how much more it gives away in comparison and the historic issues that Camelot has had around fines for tech glitches, including sending marketing messages to players who had opted out due to showing signs of addictive gambling.

This legal case is going to drag on and Camelot needs to deploy far more high-impact crisis comms positioning if it realistically wants to turn around public opinion.

Ending on a Good note

Cambridge University

Although I publicly stated on social media that I felt that there was an air of it being a PR Stunt, I give a well-deserved Good PR to Cambridge University for the way it successfully announced the anonymous return of a set of stolen Charles Darwin notebooks. The notebooks were stolen over 22 years ago and were returned to the university library in a pink bag that just contained a note saying “Happy Easter”.

The BBC highlighted the theft from the university some 15 months ago and whilst I am no Hercule Poirot, I would guess this was an inside job and someone just felt too guilty to keep this national treasure. Failing that, the inner Scouser in me (Bootle, thanks for asking) thinks that the perp tried to fence them and found them too hot to shift. What say you?

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

Finally, SMMT (sorry dear reader but I am not typing that name out - I am a very busy and dynamic PR you know) got more positive headlines with this month’s new car registrations data than it probably got in the whole of 2019, and therefore wins the final Good PR slot.

What was the announcement you ask? Well, it turns out that more electric cars were sold in the month of March 2022 than in the entire year of 2019. A nice statistic and, hopefully, you see what I did there. Kudos SMMT, as a long-time fan and newsjacker of your monthly statistics I am loving your work.

Got it right or wrong? You know where to find me, over on the TwitMusk (rebrand pending).


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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