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Good and Bad PR: Bad TikTok, bad oil-price fixers and bad NASA!

Another week races by and the world of Good and Bad PR continues to deliver. To get it out of the way, I am not going to talk about the Russell Brand story, let’s try and keep this a bit more “light and fluffy” as they say.

On we go then.

Bad PR


Quite a few of you mentioned that last week’s column didn’t include any Bad PR. You miserable lot!

Therefore, the first story this week is Bad PR and it goes to TikTok. The short form video sensation received an eye watering £295m fine from the EU, via Ireland’s data protection commission.

The company was publicly flogged for its perceived poor handling of kids’ data. Areas such as not making kids’ accounts private by default has irked the authorities around the world. TikTok’s comms defence completely stacked up and made sense. It pointed out that the issues outlined had already been rectified before the investigation began.

You can have the best crisis comms team in the world, but when fines as big as that are mentioned, any defence tends to fall by the wayside. This is the second big fine by a European-based watchdog in the last 12 months. It is clearly denting the reputation of the social media giant, at a time when it is trying to reassure markets, consumers, and governments that it does not pose any security or privacy risks to consumers.

Good PR


A company that I believe deployed a strong and successful crisis comms campaign, and therefore wins Good PR of the week is BP. On Monday morning of last week the PR team of the oil giant will have been dreading the week ahead.

It had a tough message to communicate to the media, shareholder and the global financial markets that its CEO was having to step down due to allegations of misconduct. At the start of the week the hope will have been that the market reaction did not trigger the share price to fall further than a 4-5% loss, which is the usual barometer (in my experience) of a CEO getting the push.

As you would expect from one of the most respected comms teams in the world, it nailed it. The share price had an on the day dip of around 2.5% but rebound the next day and is now nearly at a 6-month high.

It did this by perfectly drip-feeding reassuring chunks of information out to the press and the markets in a way that alleyed any concerns. I have massively oversimplified the amount of work that will have gone into this comms project, but I really do doff my cap at its achievements.

Bad PR


Switching back to Bad PR and I am going to have to give NASA a little probe this week. I, like millions of others, tuned into its live broadcast last week, fully expecting to receive a full and comprehensive briefing on the existence of alien life forms and their interactions with us humans.

It was a pointless show! Oh, and yes, I am a believer that aliens exist. Instead of getting shown pics of aliens wandering the streets of America (they only ever seem to visit America), we instead got a bucket full of conjecture, promises of further investigations, committees being formed, and no actual concrete evidence.

This is starting to make me think that aliens may in fact run NASA and it is all a ploy to convince us that they don’t exist, and we should stop looking. A real waste of time.

Good PR


Moving to something far more positive and Amazon scored big brownie points with people of a certain age this week by bringing back TV show Neighbours. 14 months after our very own Channel 5 stopped making the show, the streaming giant has brought back one of the most iconic shows ever made in Australia and even sprinkled on a little bit of glam.

The production value looks far better than I ever remember. Yes, the continuity issues still exist, but I think this is now very deliberate and part of the charm. A new Hollywood filter has been put over the camera lens and that extends to bringing in some global talent; step forward Mischa Barton offa OC fame.

It brought back the feel-good factor that the UK so badly needs right now.

Bad PR of the week

Oil barons and supermarkets

And why do we need the feel-good factor of PR like the above? Step forward our last Bad PR of the week, oil pricing barons and supermarket petrol price setters.

The price of a barrel of oil is at a 12-month high and this has meant that petrol has gone up by nearly 10p just from August alone. Whilst there is no doubt that oil producers are guilty of market manipulation via supply chain throttling, the RAC and the Competition and Markets Authority continue to maintain that a portion of the blame is with the supermarkets.

They insist that some of the supermarkets are falsely maintaining higher margins and over-emphasising oil price increases by charging more at the pumps. Given the flaky performance by the likes of the Asda owning Issa brothers in front of a parliamentary scrutiny committee into petrol pricing earlier this year, you can see why the big retailers are getting the blame.

Finger pointing is not what drivers want though, they want urgent action to reduce the cost of petrol, not least as we head into the most expensive time of the year.


Let’s end on some notable mentions in dispatches. Liz Truss gets Bad PR for trying to defend her crazy time in charge and instead attracting more ridicule. I think she needs a higher-level reintegration comms plan that avoids talking through her economic theories.

Those who keep snakes as pets get a bite this week too. A guy in Bishopstoke, Hampshire, went to close his conservatory window and was bitten by an escaped, 11ft python. This has triggered himself and animal bothering charities to call for greater scrutiny and regulation over who is allowed to keep snakes as pets.

You would think someone would notice if their 11ft snake had escaped, but as of the time of writing, no one had come forward to claim it.

Got it right or wrong, you know where to find me.

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

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

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