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Good and Bad PR: BP stands for Bad PR this week, Amazon and James Bond are the good guys

Good and Bad PR judge, Andy Barr, reporting in for duty. No messing about this week, there is one clear baddy for PR (BP) and one clear goody for PR (Amazon). If that is the TLDR, let’s get on to the who, why, where, when, what, etc, etc.

Bad PR


BP nearly toppled a government this week and unlike oil barons of older days, it was not some far-flung African territory, but instead; The UK! Boris (absent for most of the week because of the funeral of his mother, no issues with that) nearly came back to his marching orders and P45 thanks to BP starting the petrol shortage off.

It is, as yet, unclear if the statement that BP issued confirming tanker-driver-shortages and the effect it would have on the pumps was in response to a media question, or if it was a pro-active piece. The effect was crippling to the UK road infrastructure, crippling to police resources and manpower and has resulted in general disarray.

Whoever signed off the statement in the comms team at BP probably needs a bit of further training and the company itself will no doubt feature heavily in the independent Government enquiry that will surely be announced once this all calms down. A notable mention in Bad PR dispatches for Esso who, shortly after BP, put out a similar statement.

Good PR


If BP dominates the world of Bad PR, then Amazon absolutely smashed the world of Good PR this week with the launch of its new home-patrol robot; Astro. The coverage it received is phenomenal and quite possibly the best campaign since it announced its plans to launch drone deliveries of its parcels (coincidentally, the Amazon drone delivery team was quietly grounded and culled earlier this year).

The timing for this announcement could not be better, i.e., on the run up to Black Friday, again, like its drone story. And in another coincidence with the drone story, shocker, Astro may well never actually appear either. You see, you have to apply to go on a waiting list for Astro. The official line is that this enables Amazon to manage the initial build quantities. etc. A by-product of this is that it can also measure demand and quietly kill it if the demand just isn’t there.

If Astro never materialises the company can take great pride in the fact that it has been left with a “shit-tonne” (SEO PR term) of authority backlinks that will help it even further dominate the online shopping space on the run up to the busiest retail period of the year.

I sound cynical, I may actually be cynical, but I tell you what, I salute Amazon for doing this, it constantly raises the bar (just not using drones).

More Bad PR

Stags, rats and spiders

Moving swiftly on, it has not been a great week on the PR front for animals either. Or should that be, human interactions with animals? First up we had a Liverpool plod who, despite RSPCA pleas, decided to shoot dead a white stag because of the perceived danger it presented to cyclists and pedestrians. According to the police statement, the animal was in distress and failed attempts were made to tranquilise it. You can only imagine the pleading of the press and comms officers to get their bosses to change their mind at Liverpool Police HQ when asked to write the statement. The fallout was never going to be good, and it wasn’t.

Staying with our Merseyside based animal PR, the very next day a number of the UK media ran with a story that some suburbs of the city were being over-run by “rats the size of cats”. Where were the gun handlers when we needed them! There would be no public outcry over shooting rats, surely. Rats have the worst PR.

With stags and rats leading the way, and with Halloween just around the corner, spiders decided they wanted in on the action and launched a hugely successful campaign to get two schools in Northampton shut down. False Widow spiders, of “dangerous UK spider” fame swarmed the school leading to the creepy-crawly destroyer people having to be called and teacher and kids being sent home. Animals, what is going on?


Back to the more mundane Bad PR and once again a rail franchise was in the merde. Southeastern Rail had its trainset (literally) taken away by the Government and an Operator of Last Resort for "arriving £25m late."

The Government felt it showed that it was not willing to take any messing about. The opposition said it showed that the Tory-loved franchise model was broken. The Serious Fraud Office, when asked about ministerial pledges of a full investigation into the missing money that caused the situation, said it was not saying anything either way.

Ending on more good PR

Bond, James Bond

Finally; Bond is back and his PR game is stronger than ever. It must have been hard for the comms people to keep up the film-launch momentum after so many false starts, but they managed it and the coverage even came with Royal approval thanks to the two next heirs to the throne attending the premier. A shame to see Daniel Craig go, but he has been truly on-message throughout the filming of his last film and all in all, the coverage has been positive.

Got it right or wrong? You know where to find me, @10Yetis on The Twitter.

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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