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Good and Bad PR: Another week, another scandal… BBC is under scrutiny (again)

Hey there communications fans. Another week, another scandal across the media. There is no avoiding this one either, no matter where you hide so let’s get it out of the way.

Bad PR

BBC v The Sun

It has been an evolving crisis communications campaign across several organisations and individuals. The main name is now out. It is now about finger pointing and who did what and why.

The BBC has to get Bad PR for its handling of the initial situation, regardless of everyone not knowing any of the true facts. Whilst its news teams remain the most respected and trustworthy outlets in the world, the corporate side did not living up to the same standards.

It looks like a reform of the escalation and communications process at the BBC is likely needed. This is not to put the blame on the comms people involved. If anything, this has once again shown the danger of not inserting your senior communications professionals in the highest-level meetings that take place.

I know some of the senior comms people at the BBC and they are nothing short of outstanding at their jobs. They will be deeply frustrated that they had not been consulted or even advised that this was potentially heading down the line. Whilst they could never have stopped this story from happening, they could have advised on the best approach to take.

On Tuesday morning, a bullish approach to reporting on the story in the BBC’s favour by their own news teams looked like it was working. Wiggle room was emerging in terms of doubts being raised about The Sun’s version of events. We all know, in crisis comms terms, creating “wiggle room” is key to protecting your own reputation.

By Tuesday evening that bullish approach was in tatters as more scandal started to emerge but the whole story flipped in a three hour period on Wednesday. By Wednesday evening the story had evolved fully towards The Sun being the organisation that needed to try and defend itself. As we all know though, The Sun does not do apologies. The closest it came to an apology was a commitment that it would not reveal any more of the accusations that it claimed it had on the presenter. I can’t help but keep in mind that there is a political agenda maybe in play here and not just commercial news versus licence fee funded news. Who knows where this story will end up in a weeks time “

Commercial organisations taking a pop at a licence fee funded news organisation is to be expected. The political grenade throwing that is now starting to emerge is one to keep an eye on though. As phrases like “losing trust” gets banded about by the political rivals to the BBC, an agenda is starting to emerge. Hats off to the news teams and comms professionals caught up in all of this, it is a minefield of legal drama.

Good PR

Renault and Geely

We can expect a fantastic and nonironic “Brexit is working” rhetoric from the Government very shortly after a big business win for our next Good PR story. Renault and Chinese car marker Geely has announced that the UK is set to be the HQ for its new joint venture. The details have not been fully announced yet, but the company will make low-emission diesel and hybrid engines.

It is set to employ 19,000 workers across 22 operations bases. We don’t yet know where all the factories will be based and how many, if any, will be in the UK. The assumption by industry analysts is that the new HQ being based in the UK will lead to some factories or research labs also being housed here.

If this is confirmed, you can expect the Britain is Open For Business banners to be unveiled by Team Brexit. As it stands though, it does seem like a major coup for British business.

Financial Conduct Authority

The Financial Conduct Authority has had a Good PR win this week too. It announced that, in a joint operation with law enforcement agencies, it has now shut down 26 illegal crypto ATM across the UK.

It has been widely publicised that the FCA and the Bank of England are serious about putting Britain on the crypto map and clearing up the landscape is a massive part of this. The FCA has warned that people using crypto ATMs are actually using illegal machines and it is worried about criminals gaining access to consumers’ information.

A strong statement by the FCA and a brilliant PR win.

Amazon

I find myself writing positive things about Amazon and its strong PR approach more and more in recent months. Regardless of the reasons why so many media are writing about Amazon Prime Day, you cannot help but doff your cap at the sheer volume of the coverage.

Practically every news website in the UK has created multiple pieces of content about the Prime Day bargains. The reason? It is using affiliate links to link to the products it is highlighting, and this earns it money every time a muggle buys something from clicking the link.

This means the UK media landscape is saturated with positive stories about the big sales promotion. Not to try and emulate a certain Martin Lewis, but I would offer a word of caution.

Not all the deals represent brilliant value for money, and it is worth using a price tracking app to see just how great or bad the deal is that you are thinking about. Yes, I own a price tracking website, but I am not going to mention its name so as not to muddy the water.

Still, you can’t fault Amazon for generating arguably one of the most hotly anticipate sales periods of the year.

Bad international PR

US Government

Moving back to more sensible stories and Harvard University has caused a political spat between the US Government and its equivalent in Papua New Guinea. Harvard University researchers are said to have stolen fragments of a meteor that landed in the sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

This all happened in 2014 and it is not quite clear why the story has come out now but the opposition party over there is now calling on the government to cancel a security agreement that was in place with the US Government, unless the fragments are returned.

The US Government has remained tight lipped (triggering the Bad PR mention) but this is looking like it could have wide reaching geo-political ramifications and all from a bunch of thieving boffins.

LIV and PGA

Details of the LIV and PGA merger are now starting to emerge and as we could have all predicted, it is all a bit murky. The US Senate held a meeting to look into the framework of the merger and it looks like offers and pay-outs have been bandied around like sweets.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are/were set to get LIV franchises as part of the deal and the PGA demanded that the LIV head protagonist, Greg Norman, also be give the Spanish Archer.

The whole situation deserves Bad PR but I can’t help but feel this will develop into Terrible PR as more of the facts start to emerge. Since the merger was announced, all that Rory McIlroy has said is that he “still hates LIV” so I can’t imagine he will take well to hearing, via a senate committee meeting, that he was being lined up as a sweetener for the deal.

Woods has yet to publicly comment, but I can imagine he will be similarly miffed.

Escape to the Chateau couple

Escape to the Chateau fans will be saddened to hear that the dream is finally over for the couple after they announced they are selling up and leaving France. There has been a steady flow of negative stories about the couple following on from a leaked recording of them going Clarkson on some of the production team associated with the Chateau.

A Channel 4 investigation was launched, and the broadcaster then announced it was stopping working with the charismatic pair. A book tour is now being planned but the Chateau business is no more.

They don’t get Bad PR for closing the Chateau, but instead receive it for the way they handled the investigation and for the leaked recording itself. It will be difficult to see how they may bounce back into a new TV show unless they address the elephant in the room around their interaction with the production crew.

Last Good PR

Hugh Grant

Finally, I am going to end with a Good PR gong for Hugh Grant. He is a media enigma and gets a mixed press because of his alleged grumpiness. I like to think though, that he has just had enough of the media intrusion which he has long campaigned against.

He has also reached the level of fame where he does not have to pander to the type of inane questions he regularly faces from reporters on the red carpet. His surly approach was blown away though this week when his appearance as an Oompa Loompa in the soon to be released Wonka film generated huge positivity.

Dare I say it, he looked very cute in the images that were released by the film company and they are in stark contrast to some of the darker roles he has played in recent films.

Fun Hugh is back and he wins Good PR just for this. Love him!

Got it right or wrong, you know where to find me, on Threads (I joined!) or Twitter, the name is the same, @10Yetis.

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

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