What an absolute shit show of a week in general. How is that as a starter for today’s Good and Bad PR? To be fair, the world of communications has fought its corner well this week and not much blame can be laid at the door of the PR industry, as ever, it is the companies that we all work for that are causing the drama.
Michael from Asda
You know what though, before we get on to the misery of the week, let’s celebrate a winner. Delivery driver Michael (of no-surname fame) jettisoned Asda to the top of the Good PR charts thanks to helping a 90-year-old lady out.
When Michael from our Hartlepool store turned up to deliver groceries to a 90-year-old customer he discovered she was sat in the dark as her lightbulbs had died. The lady, who struggles with her mobility, couldn't change the bulbs herself, so Michael stepped in and changed them. pic.twitter.com/1YJ17p39VY— Asda (@asda) June 15, 2022
He arrived at the person’s house to deliver the groceries and found her sat in the dark as her lightbulbs had blown and her carers had not yet arrived to fix them. Michael did the right thing and sorted the situation and I presume Asda made sure the story, quite rightly, got out there. We need far more Michaels in the world and he is the shining beacon of Good PR we all need right now.
Government vs RMT
Onwards to the bad side of PR and this week has been all about the rail, tube and transport strike. The Government and the RMT have been locked in talks and things have got nasty courtesy of both sides briefing against the other in the shadows.
My time as a PR at FirstGroup gives me a good insight into union negotiations and all I am going to say is that it once resulted in a trade union rep spitting at my face, and I was not even leading the negotiations at the time. So you may expect me to rally with the Government, and seemingly, the wider media and support the Department for Transport and Railway companies, but not this time.
Surprising good PR
One guy came through as the clear winner in all of this and that guy is Mick Lynch who is leading the negotiations for the union. He batted off media bomb after media bomb on Tuesday (21 June). The media had swallowed all of the behind the scenes briefings from the Government on how badly the unions were behaving and how outdated the working practices of the rail workers were.
The problem came when Mick started pointing out that the Government lackeys were lying and all of a sudden the court of public opinion switched to being on his side. He has struck a chord with muggles who are sick of being lied to, sick of seeing costs going up and being told there is nothing the Government can do, and sick of being told that things like Brexit have been good, when clearly it has been the worst decision since that time PRmoment decided to give me unlimited free wine at an awards bash.
You would think that the Government would have taken stock of the changing public opinion on Tuesday and revised its off-the-record media briefings on Wednesday morning but it didn’t. Instead, it doubled down and started highlighting one or two working practices that do seem odd, but in the grand scheme of things, have no real place being mentioned in the context of these talks.
Mick Lynch has become the hero that consumers in the UK have been looking for. He is not taking Kay Burley’s attack-style interview questions (btw dear reader, she is still blocking me, still no idea why, I love her, actually, maybe that is why), he batted off ‘Partridge’ Madeley’s Marxism attacks and he gave short shrift to Piers Morgan referencing Lynch’s comedy Facebook profile picture.
The longer this goes on, the closer this is going to get to Boris having to comment and he really cannot afford this, given the summer of discontent he is experiencing around prices rising and the lack of real Government action.
Great PR for Mick Lynch!
Sticking with murky and Glencore, the oil and mining company who you suspect every film that has a “baddy company” is based on, faces criminal charges against some of its most senior staff after it admitted paying $28m in bribes around its oil operations.
I suspect this will drag on for years before then silently sliding out of the public eye and being settled out of court, but it really does not help the reputation of UK Business PLC given the company is listed on the UK Stock Exchange. It also comes on the same week where Euro politicians are questioning if the UK Government is so desperate to be seen as a tech-entrepreneur friendly country that we are turning a blind eye to some of the more dubious practices of technology companies.
Glencore operates in a weird world where negative publicity does not really affect its share price or operational ability, largely because there seems to be a general acceptance by consumers that companies like this do shady things, but they are providing essential services, ie, coal and oil, so we appear to turn a blind eye.
In a week of such doom and gloom, let’s try and end on a high and at the time of writing, the great unwashed are slowly descending on Glastonbury to listen to music, drink cider and partake in some herbal remedies. Again, going back to my First Group days, this was a torrid time for the local bus and rail companies as the insides of the carriages needed jet-washing clean and this cost a fortune. Maybe the rail strike was strategically chosen after all.
Anyway, the positivity around the festival is exactly what the UK needs right now. The BBC will lead the way in trying to cheer the country up with its positive coverage and no doubt there will be some form of viral feel-good factor that will give us all a boost.
Fingers crossed that next week will be a far more positive column, but right now, it does not look like it.
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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