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Good and Bad PR: Cadbury and Bitcoin are this week’s heroes. The villains are META and St James’s Place

Here I am again, back with the PR love and loathes from another week. I am going to ignore The Budget in today’s column and let you decide if it was good or bad in the end.

The Milk Tray Man always delivers Good PR

Starting with a positive, a big dollop of Goodness fell on Cadbury this week which celebrated its 200 year birthday. I did a few media interviews myself on why the brand has been so loved for such a long time.

I think it is a mix of constant innovation combined with nostalgia marketing at its finest. There doesn’t seem to be a year that goes by without a media campaign championing the return of a former national favourite chocolate.

Add to this the kind of innovative advertising campaigns that always perform well and you have a winning formula. Underneath the marketing shine though is a core business that has always treated its staff well and looked after its people. This is one of the key reasons for its 200-year success and why the brand deserves all the love it is currently receiving.

Crypto all the way to the bank

Bitcoin gets my second Good PR of the week. It has a mighty resurgence this week, reaching an all-time high. This was down to the American financial rule-makers saying it could be classed as an official exchange.

As a result of this ruling the institutional money-houses started pouring money into it and hey-presto, an all time high was hit. It is quite the reputational turnaround for Bitcoin. Just a year ago it was in the doldrums with many analysts writing it off.

Fast forward 12 months and it is back being the darling of the financial districts around the world. Keep an eye out for the newsjacking digital PR crew piggybacking on this for months to come.

META goes down but still gets a happy ending

Moving over to the Bad side of PR and META has had a poor week in terms of media coverage. It suffered a global outage across Facebook, WhatsApp and everyone’s favourite dinner picture platform, Instagram.

The outage lasted for around three hours, depending where in the world you are based. In tech terms, three hours is a lifetime and the company duly picked up a swathe of media pokes.

META is now at a level where it does not have to justify or explain anything and just said it was due to a “technical issue”… best filed under the No Shit Sherlock file of comms responses.

St James’s is not the place for your money right now

Sticking with Bad PR and St James’s Place, the wealth management company has had a torrid time in the media lately. Negative mentions of the brand have slowly risen over the last six months, and it feels like it has come to a head this week.

The main crux of the issues are around the lack of transparency on how much it charges to “manage” your investments and if it actually does any management at all. It looks like over 15,000 customers are claiming compensation over this fees issue.

Where the comms-fiasco element comes into play relates to its treatment of respected Times chief money reporter, and all-round great guy, Ali Hussain. In my previous life working as an in-house PR I worked with Ali quite a lot. He knows his stuff but is fair and nice with it.

Quite why St James’s place ignored its comms team advice (surely no PR person would ever suggest that a journo be treated so badly) and let him be treated so poorly is beyond me. It has really come back to bite it and I would not be surprised if it is not now in full-on crisis communications mode and trying to stop people getting their money out of the business in their droves.

Historically, the likes of St James’s Place have been the steady hand of the industry. Right now though, it is in disarray and needs a clear and firm communications strategy to get out of this mess. One to keep an eye on.

Got it right or wrong? I don’t really care either way, but please, do feel free to let me know.

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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