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Good and Bad PR: Harry Styles and the NHS storm it, whilst Boohoo accused of using slave labour

So bars, pubs and restaurants have finally reopened, many people are logging on to travel websites to try and find a bargain in the sunshine, and workers are eagerly awaiting the announcement that they can return back to the office and their co-workers. As our lives welcome back some semblance of ‘normality’, you can count on some brands triumphing in their attempts to communicate to their audiences, whilst others experience what can only be described as epic fails. Here is my take on the very best and worst examples of PR from the last week.

Good PR

Harry Styles
Everyone’s favourite member of One Direction (don’t argue with me on this one!) has teamed up with the Calm app, where fans will be able to listen to the singer narrate sleep stories in a bid to help them unwind and relax after a stressful day. The news has obviously got directioners and fans around the world VERY excited.

The stories, which released on the app on 8 July, were first teased on Calms Twitter account last week with the simple message: ‘Wednesday. #DreamWithHarry’ along with a clip of Harry saying ‘Hello. I’m Harry Styles.’ Basically enough to break the internet I think you’ll agree.

Whilst I for one will 100% be checking out Harry’s soothing tones, I am also pretty excited to see which A-listers signs up to lend their voice to the app next. My money is on the actress that played Janice in Friends.

I don’t think there’s any British individual who hasn’t felt a new level of respect and admiration for the dedicated and hard-working employees of the NHS over the past few difficult months, with the claps for the NHS on Thursday evenings a staple for the majority of households during lockdown.

It was therefore only fitting that another clap, inspired by the weekly ‘clap for carers’ initiative was arranged to commemorate the 72ndbirthday of the National Health Service earlier on this week. It is hoped that this will now become an annual tradition and a way for the nation to highlight their appreciation for the long-standing institution, and realise how lucky we are as a nation to have access to it.

A really positive and inclusive move from the team at online dating service OkCupid, which will now give all its users the option to list their pronouns on their individual dating profile – regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

This follows its pioneering decision back in 2018, which introduced a pronouns-listing feature for users who identified as any gender other than male or female. The new feature means that from now on, all cisgender women and men will be given the opportunity to list how they like to be referred, eg, she/her or he/him.

The site hopes to make dating easier and safer for trans and non-binary individuals, who may have otherwise struggled in the past to date and find romantic partnerships without coming up against difficulty.

Bad PR

Virgin Media
With Britons still being advised to work from home if possible, the demand for fast and dependable internet connections and broadband speed is still a top priority within millions of British homes, yet unfortunately customers of Virgin Media were let down earlier in the week.

On Monday, Virgin Media customers from around the UK began experiencing significant connection issues, with routers either having trouble connecting to and keeping and internet stream, or delivering much slower speeds as expected.

The fact that this is the second time the issues have occurred in less than a fortnight is no doubt a huge concern amongst customers who rely on a strong internet connection in order to be able to work efficiently from their homes whilst Covid-19 safety measures are still in place. Spokespeople for the brand blamed the ‘high demand’ of customers for the strain on its network, but surely that’s to be expected?

The online retailer has been accused of imposing conditions comparable to modern slavery after numerous stories stating that workers at one of the brands factories in Leicester are being paid as little as £3.50 an hour, almost five pounds an hour less than the national living wage for those aged 25 and over.

An undercover report conducted by The Sunday Times discovered that workers at the factory were being told that their pay would be determined by ‘how you work’, and that almost no protective equipment was being offered to staff, despite the fact the city has recently been put back on a ‘local lockdown’ following a surge of coronavirus cases.

Following the disappointing news, shares in Boohoo – which also owns the Nasty Gal and PrettyLittleThing brands – have plummeted, with influencers and celebrities previously associated with the fashion retailer condemning the accusations and distancing themselves away from the name. Furthermore, companies such as Asos, Amazon, Very and Zalando have all removed clothing from Boohoo and it’s associated sites from their own offering.

A full investigation into Boohoo is now pending, but it is hard to see how the fast fashion brand will be able to recover from such a spectacular fall from grace.

Written by Lauren Wilden, head of PR at 10 Yetis Digital. Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or on email

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