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Good & Bad PR: Sunak and Starmer’s ITV debate, male contraception and the invasion of Asian hornets

Well, hello there and welcome once again to the must-read Good and Bad PR industry column of the week. Can I take a moment to introduce you all to Elizabeth, our new editor? I am sure you will wish her good luck in trying to edit and sub my column.

Onwards to public relations victory and my missive for the week.

Dishy Rishi stuns the world with a surprisingly strong TV debate performance:

It’s week two of the UK general election campaign, and what a week it has been. Farage announced his intentions and was immediately gunked with a milkshake (banana, apparently) by a protester. Davey was still faffing around with his, so far, very water-orientated, campaign.

The grown-ups, Keir Charmer and Dishy Rishi went head-to-head in their first TV debate on ITV yesterday (4 June). I called it as a narrow victory for Rishi with him landing on tax, national defence and immigration. Starmer landed well on the NHS, mocking the National Service idea, and being captured calling his opponent “a pr**k”.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how I called it. Actual data people, like YouGov, found that Starmer came out victorious from the TV debate, in most areas.

I think everyone was surprised by just how aggressive Rishi was. I don’t know how many Weetabix his comms team gave him before the debate, but it worked. Long gone was his “Simon from Inbetweeners” character, and in came a dominating and bullish Rishi.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Heat Magazine (is that still a thing?) will be replicating its “Torso of the week” for Rishi, as it did back in the day for Tony Blair, but he certainly woke a few people up.

Come again…male birth control gel five to 10 years away from launch:
Over in the US a male contraceptive gel has just completed early-stage testing and has worked. There is no name for the gel yet (send your best name ideas to my Twitter account please) but it is said to have become effective twice as fast as the male contraceptive injection Risug, developed in 2019.

The injection takes 15 weeks to be effective, whereas the gel takes eight weeks on average. That is a considerable amount of foreplay time. The gel works by being rubbed on the shoulders and contains the right ingredients to lower your sperm count, rendering it effectively null and void.

Scientists hope the gel can go to market ahead of the predicted five to 10 year forecast.

Good PR for team science, but with a notable sting in the tale. Apparently, women are (rightly, in my mind) dubious. Several articles popped up in the global media questioning if women would actually trust blokes to use it correctly, or even remember to use it at all.

As I say, a brilliant win for team science, but not so good PR for the untrustworthy end-user.

The mega hornets are here to stay and UK bees should be worried:

Whilst Team Science has won a Good PR gong, I am giving Team Nature a Bad PR accolade for not sorting out the ever-growing hornet problem in the UK, which has taken a sinister turn.

Reports have found that Asian hornets have “over-wintered” in the UK — the hornets have survived a winter in the UK and stayed here rather than buggering off in the cold months.

The issue with this is not just their sheer size, but also that they seek out, attack and then eat the traditional British bumble bee. It won’t be long before honey goes on the rationing list, and we are all being forced to have some form of syrup substitute on our toast.

And according to science, the hornets travelled across France and into the UK with such numbers and swagger, it was hard for them to be destroyed.

If you see a hornet in your garden, you have PRmoment’s permission* to don your preferred suit of armour and take them out. Maybe then place the body somewhere prominent, as a sign and a warning to other hornets.

*I am not sure PRmoment endorses, agrees with or encourages this message

Note from editor: “We do endorse this message. Death to all hornets.”

Chat GPT triggers worrying use of old-school brain power:

The AI tool went down for several hours this week, causing social media and editorial content teams around the globe to have a realisation: they may have to do some work.

No one knows the reason for the outage, but dare I suggest it is a good thing to happen, maybe every three weeks or so, to keep everyone on their toes. I am not sure if anyone has correlated the data points between it going down and LinkedIn post volumes also dropping in number, but it could be a worthwhile exercise.

My take is that it made more than a few people understand that there is an over-reliance on AI tools, bordering on obsession in some areas. I know of at least one global media brand that has commissioned an urgent review into its work force’s over-reliance on the content machine as a result of the sudden drop in article numbers when AI fell over.

Written by Andy Barr, owner of 10 Yetis Digital. Got it right or wrong? I don’t really care, but do feel free to let me know. You can find me over on The Twittering X, @10Yetis. Hoorah, thank you and, onwards.

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