Wikipedia’s blackout makes PR sense, unlike Michael Gove’s sinking suggestion

Good PR of the week

Wikipedia blackout

In a bid to highlight the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) US bills, online encyclopaedia Wikipedia blacked out on Wednesday 18 January for 24 hours, effectively making its content unreadable. The mobile version was still available, but the site, which is used by 25 million English-speaking people every single day, wasn’t.

If you don’t really understand the fuss about SOPA/PIPA, this, from comedy site the Oatmeal (which also blacked out on Wednesday) should help. If you’re after more than just a funny little GIF, this Reddit post is probably more useful.


The stunt has created a huge amount of interest in SOPA/PIPA, educating millions of people as to why it’s a bad idea for the future of the internet, and has also shown just how much we rely on Wikipedia. I even saw Encarta – remember that? – trending for a while on Twitter as users reminisced about what we used before.

Thanks to PR Agency One founder James Crawford for sending me some useful links about the bills.

The uncovered gain coverage

It took me a while to consider which side of the good / bad PR fence this one sat, but – and remember this is subjective – I think it’s been more good than bad.

Fashion chain Etam had a group of giggly models prance around (uncomfortably, I may add) in underwear at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, causing commotion, bewilderment and plenty of coverage for both the company and the museum, which is unhappy with the flagrant disregard for its no-cameras / filming rule. By the time the d’Orsay demanded the video be removed from the Etam site, it had already gone viral (horrible phrase), and has since been picked up by media worldwide.

Here’s the video: 

Thanks to Bell Pottinger’s Sandrine Powell for getting in touch with this one.

King of Shaves sponsors sprinter

British sprinter James Ellington offered himself for sponsorship on eBay after missing out on funding due to an injury. The funding was needed to enable Ellington to give up work to concentrate on his Olympic preparation, but after receiving a number of bids, the highest bid – £32,500 – was found to be a hoax.

In stepped toiletries company King of Shaves’ Will King, who saw the story on Twitter and told Ellington to contact him if anything fell through. Ellington got in touch with King after the bid turned out to be a hoax, and the shaving company’s founder has since stumped up the funding necessary and gained a decent amount of exposure in the process; proving that PR opportunities are there, you just need to have the ability to spot them and act quickly to capitalise.


Cheers to Adam Burns for getting in touch with this story.

Bad PR of the week


Gove gets grief

A letter from education secretary Michael Gove was leaked this week, proposing a yacht should be bought at public expense to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee, embarrassing the party in the process. This in a week that also saw Labour MP Tom Harris sacked for a Downfall parody.

Given the Costa Concordia disaster, it’s horrible timing for the story to surface.

Gove’s idea to have a yacht built “to recognise the Queen's highly significant contribution to the life of the nation” has been ridiculed by the press. It’s been a bad few days PR-wise for Gove and by extension the coalition – especially with news that his plan to send a bible to every school in the country with a personal inscription from him has hit the skids funding-wise.

Thanks to Martin Ballantine for Tweeting with this!

Costa Concordia disaster

I won’t say much beyond the fact that the Concordia disaster has been initially poorly handled in terms of communications, with staff members describing it as being “like the Titanic” to the media. Cruise ship accidents such as this are incredibly rare and this should have been highlighted on behalf of the industry. The public hanging of the captain doesn’t sit well with me either, if I’m honest – although we’ll all know more as soon as the details become clearer. Burson-Marsteller has been called in by Carnival to handle the media fallout.

Have you seen any good or bad PR?

Contact PR Rich Leigh with it by Tweeting him @GoodandBadPR or by emailing throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.

Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of 10 Yetis PR Agency

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