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Good and Bad PR: Bad BBC! But well done to University of Ireland, Gavin Williamson, Depop and Etsy

I think we can all agree that we have to start with the British weather for Great PR this week. Not sure who is control of it, but well done them!

Bad PR


As the BBC faced blow after blow following on from the Bashir investigations it could not shake off the negative press. No surprise for it getting the first Bad PR of the week, not just because of its recent criticism, but also because of the uproar caused by The Beeb cancelling the long-running series; Holby City. Many speculated that this was a calculated decision to try and turn the shade away from the Bashir situation, but it genuinely looks like unfortunate timing. Still, whatever the truth, a very tough week for The BBC.

Space junk

Space junk gets the nod for Bad PR after a chunk of it tore through part of the International Space Station. The volume of little bits that are floating around the planet is somewhat scary. Apparently, NASA is currently tracking 23,000 pieces of space litter that are the size of a croquet ball or bigger. At the next stage down, NASA reckons there are half a million pieces of junk swishing about that are the size of a marble or bigger.

As we send more and more into space, this is only going to get worse and yet there is seemingly no plan to try and deal with it.

Good PR

University of Ireland

The noble false widow spider got some amazing headlines this week thanks to the University of Ireland (Galway) upgrading their toxicity from “meh, you should be ok” to “you need to get to hospital”. These are the spiders that are flooding Europe and even the UK who have historically been thought to be harmless. It now turns out that they are successfully evolving to cope with the shady European weather and even their venom is getting stronger.

Whilst we are far away from being as scary a country as Australia, in terms of the wildlife and animals killing us, we do now need to visit a hospital if we think we have been nibbled on by one of the wee beasties. Great PR for spiders and the University of Ireland.

Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson managed to score something unusual for him, some positive PR. Whilst the debate about post-Covid school funding raged on all week, Williamson was put under pressure to discuss the option of extending the school day. Clearly, this was going to be a contentious discussion; hated by kids, but maybe supported by teachers and unions, if it meant more money.

Williamson took a similar route to when you can’t hit that high note during a karaoke song and you throw the mike out to the audience… he said “there was a debate to be had”. This throws it over to the teaching unions to put their opinions forward and then the Tories can carry on their normal approach to policy planning, doing it via public opinion, rather than the far riskier tactic of putting their own opinions forward and getting shot down.

Well played G to the W, well played indeed.

Depop and Etsy

Speaking of playing well, Depop (the second-hand clothing app) and Etsy (the chintzy home-made goods marketplace) have clearly been playing very well together recently because the latter company has bought the former, in a deal worth $1.6bn. The British-based Depop has been flying since its launch and obviously, Etsy is keen to tap into its young audience and marketplace appeal. On a week where the newlyweds Virgin and O2 came out firing PR torpedoes, the Etsy deal dominated the consumer and tech press media, and as such the comms teams deserve a lot of credit.

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 on email

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