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GoodandBadPR: Seagulls look ‘triumphant’ and Blair appears dodgy

Hello PR-Land, here are this week’s beauties and bruisers from the world of public relations. Straight from the off, I warn you that I am not going to mention that power-couple split. It is just a very sad story that doesn’t need analysis from my good self.

Bad PR

It has been a weird week in the world of public relations with some very odd stories floating about. One story that is bad PR, (but I am not quite sure who for) that has been gossiped about on the secret PR Facebook groups for the last week is the Claire Barber PR v Katie Cutler saga. Let me be completely honest, I am 100% Team Claire Barber PR. Cutler clearly agreed to the services and fees (and was probably just caught up in the moment and did not think she would have a problem paying).

Team Barber did an amazing job and this whole story supports my oft-floated rule that nothing ever really “goes viral”* organically. All these kinds of mass-media stories stem from someone somewhere, and more often than not there is a PRO or a news agency behind it all kicking off in the first place. I bet Barber PR is actually inundated with new business enquiries now brands have seen how well connected it is.

The next bad PR trophy goes to Tony Blair who has been back in the news for negative reasons and this time it relates to how he was advised to set up his consultancy companies when he left office. He formed his companies in such a way as to try and hide who he was being paid by, presumably because of the reputation of some of the countries that he was taking money from.

The main accusation seems to be around potential tax dodging, something he vehemently denies, but there is now growing intrigue into who exactly he has been taking money from. The Guardian has made this story its focus for some time now and I fully expect some murky details to be leaked out that could be the final nail in Blair’s reputational coffin… stand by!

And finally, let’s end on something light hearted but evil… seagulls! Round our parts (Gloucestershire) there are massive problems with seagulls, to the point where the council has decided to oil their eggs. I’m not sure what that means either.

Anyway, a seagull in Bristol has not helped the gull campaign to try and become loved by Brits after “torturing” and “gobbling up” (The Metro’s description) a pigeon whilst being filmed. The creator of the video went as far as to say that the seagull “looked triumphant” when it had finished. What an evil, feathery bastard. Seagulls now have no choice but to hire Claire Barber PR for a reputation recovery campaign, they should be warned though, she don’t come cheep, sorry cheap.

Good PR

On to far more frivolous forms of good PR. Step forward IKEA for a simple, but genius, execution. It turns out that IKEA store managers can do their own promotions in order to appeal to localised issues. One of its overseas stores decided to lower the price of umbrellas when it rains and restore them back to their normal price when it is sunny. What a lovely gesture and one that the online media lapped up.

I can only assume that the IKEA in Birmingham will soon be launching a Yam-Yam range of products, with instructions that don’t really make sense and a slightly depressed look to them when finished – sorry Birmingham.

Another good example of PR that I spotted was essentially the firing pistol in brands trying to get their Black Friday pages ranking in Google. Yes, a pure search-engine-optimisation campaign, played out across the media. The most famous example of this from years gone by is THAT Amazon story about it being ready to start using drones for delivery that secured global blanket coverage two days before Black Friday. Every SEO savvy brand that we work with is striving to replicate this.

eBay has gone for it this year and has even been so bold as to actually mention Black Friday in the story. It is a stats release, I think devised and executed by the lovely people over at Launch PR (kudos) and it relates to the most popular buying times of Peppa Pig related gumf on eBay. There is specific detail about the sales volumes during Black Friday and, whilst this is a nice consumer/parenting story, it is actually a really smart move to get the brand ranking higher for Black Friday related Google searches by consumers.

Nice move Launch PR, hat doffed.

As an aside, there is a story just breaking that I suspect is also SEO-related around a consumer posting a review of a washing machine on Currys' website, complete with a naked reflection of herself on the washing machine in question.

I put forward, your honour, that “Louise from Stevenage” is actually a made-up person paid for by the SEO or PR agency to try and get far more branded search traffic and help improve its rankings in the long term. I am calling it bullshit, or if that is not polite enough, I am calling it ASOS Yellow Dress 2.0 (Google it). Nice idea though!

*Apologies for using the over-used-by-every-client term “goes viral”, sends a shiver down every PR’s spine when mentioned in meetings, usually used in the sentence “How can we ensure this goes viral?”

Written by Andy Barr, head of PR agency 10 Yetis

Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or on email

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