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Good and Bad PR: Bad PR table is topped by Post Office and Brewdog, Good PR by Greggs, M&S and Sainsbury’s

Happy New January to one and all. I hope that your festive break was all that you hoped it would be.

We are back to it once again. I was hoping to start the year by writing a positivity-only column but it is near-impossible. We know that 2024 will be an extra special “odd-PR” year because of the likes of the UK and US general elections. Hold on to your hats.

I think I can confidently predict the potential PR baddies of the 2024 already. I will wager 18 pence that Brewdog, Elon, The Asda Brothers and Rishi are going to have a tough 2024. Enough of my navel gazing, let’s get to it.

Bad PR

Brewdog

OMFG, you will never guess who gets the first bad PR of the year, Brewdog (you all now owe me 18 pence). At the time of writing a few media outlets have picked up on a Tweet/X from Unite Hospitality, the trade union for bar and catering workers.

In the X/Tweet (I can’t keep this up all year btw, I am just going to settle on Tweet, Elon can sue us later), a letter from Brewdog bosses to its staff announcing the end of the Real Living Wage is leaked.

Whilst it is natural to say, based on recent media headlines involving the brand, that we would expect no less from Brewdog, I feel we should also note that the sector is in a bad way and operators are having to find ways to cut costs. As much of the media coverage mentions, this would not be so bad had the company not really gone on a PR drive in 2019 to announce the move to paying the Real Living Wage. Bad PR for Brewdog but I can see how it is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Post Office

Sticking with Bad PR and in one of the first signs that it is an election year, we must mention the Post Office scandal. It is clearly Bad PR for the Post Office and all those in senior positions across the company and various political parties involved in the saga over the years.

There are not many positives falling out of the story. I do really hope that muggles realise that whilst the ITV show brought the public awareness to a new high, it is years of dogged investigative journalism that got the story over the line.

We live in a world where people expect to read their news for free and, as such, are served clickbait and ads that they then moan about. If consumers want more stories like the Post Office scandal being exposed, then they need to pay for the content and the experienced journalists who deliver it. I tip my hat to all the journalists involved in exposing the Post Office scandal.

Good PR

Greggs

Moving to far more positive news. In many of my 2023 media round-up conversations, I talked about Greggs having a bonza year. It is continuing for 2024.

Two Greggs related stories have hit the news already this year. Food retail analysts Panmure Gordon revealed that £2 in every £100 is being spent at the beige food giants. This is up from £1.60 in 2022.

To add the icing on the Good PR sausage roll, Greggs also then announced it was set to open 140 to 160 new food shops in 2024. The City loved this and its shares rose by over 9%.

With the downward trend of the Issa brothers' media reputation in 2023, I really think Greggs is now the UK’s number one business brand success story that we all need. I eagerly await my Greggs beige-card for handing out such rare praise.

Marks and Spencer

Over the next few weeks we can expect a flurry of positive announcements from the supermarkets about Christmas sales and market share. Marks and Spencer let the positive news parade. It topped an NIQ retail research report for being the fastest-growing supermarket in the Christmas 2023 quarter.

Its food sales grew by 12% in the 12 weeks to 30 December. The nanna’s favourite food hall grew its household market share by 2% to 29% and is rumoured to have added 1/2m new customers.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s then came out and said that its own grocery sales were up 8.6% over the festive period and the media loved it.

The orange retail giant lauded the success of its Nectar card offers scheme to help drive the uplift. It needs to be careful though, as retail watchdogs and regulators are said to be keen to look at how Sainsbury’s and Tesco are using their “deals”.

See, we ended on a high. Got it right or wrong, I still don’t really care, but feel free to let me know what you think.

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

Image courtesy of: Post Office

Thanks to Meltwater, Good and Bad PR's data and insights supplier.


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