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Good and Bad PR: England scores! Own goals though for Brewdog, Matt Hancock and Royal Academy

Best PR

England and Southgate!

I am writing this week’s column through a slight fog, only a slight one mind you, thanks to England finally beating Germany in the kick-ball. No matter what happens on Saturday, how can there be anyone else other than Gareth Southgate and his England team be more worthy of winning the first Good PR of the week.

Bad PR


Speaking of beer, Brewdog get the first Bad PR of the week for yet another issue hitting the fan. In short, a muggle thought he had won a solid-gold can of Brewdog via its competition, only to get it valued, ready to sell to raise money for a house deposit, and find it was worth nowhere near what it was said to be and was in fact just gold-plated.

Everyone was outraged, the competition small print was scoured, vague terminology was discovered, but that didn’t stop the story blowing up and even reaching the mighty BBC. Brewdog is in a very tricky brand situation. Rather than it having one large, individual, crisis communication issue, it is getting crisis comm’d by a thousand cuts. Something now has to change to stop this downward publicity spiral. After all, it was the darling of the media just a few years ago.

I have worked on crisis communications for some of the biggest brands in the world and in some of the trickiest situations a short, greying PR man could ever wish to not deal with, so I guess I am qualified to dish out a bit of advice; it needs a big, bold move at a very senior level.

By this I mean, one of the Head Sheds has to go… big cultural changes need to be announced and this then needs to then be the catalyst for change, or at the very least, seeming change to the untrained eye. At the minute, the brand is playing around the edges in the hope that it will fix the reputation situation, it won’t. It needs a big announcement and a big change.

I don’t know anyone at Brewdog, I don’t know any of the agencies that it uses anymore, but I do know it is connected with a few agencies who more than know their stuff and I am surprised that the company is clearly not listening to the advice being given.

Matt Hancock

One guy who didn’t listen to his own advice, especially around social distancing was the Not So Honourable Member of Parliament for Sexy Time, Matt Hancock. There is no quibbling for the second bad PR of this week, although the amount of memes he triggered almost nudged him into the Funny PR of the week category. There is nothing funny about the story that his family had to wake up to and the ensuing media scrutiny that they were all then put through.

Hancock was clearly stitched up and even Boris managed to bungle the open PR goal he was given of being able to sack him with the public’s full support, but you already get the feeling that he won’t be kept down for long.

Royal Academy of Arts

Before I try and end on a high, thanks to @GabrielleNYC for bringing this absolute, cast iron, Mea Culpa to my attention from our creative friends over at the Royal Academy of Arts:

I don’t know the full ins and outs, but I am very good at spotting an apology that has come on the back of the kind of legal letter that would scare even OJ’s lawyer! The lefty press had a field day, the Royal Academy of Arts has since gone very quiet. Probably the poshest recipient of Bad PR in my history of writing this column.

Good PR

Kim Jong-un

From posh Bad PR, over to dictator Good PR. Kim Jong-un gets the final Good PR of the week. If I ever lose a bit of weight then I am lucky if my family and a few friends even notice it, let alone a state-controlled media machine. Kimmy J (to his friends) has got his people worried, allegedly, as he is reported to have lost so much weight.

This is the never-ending curse of the weight-loss world though, you will always get someone saying that you have gone too far. To be honest, I just wanted to be one of the first people in history to write the words “Kim Jong-un deserves credit for Good PR”. Go get ‘em Kim (not literally!).

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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