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Good and Bad PR: High-street brand of the week is KFC, definitely not M&S, and Matt Hancock is a PR mess

Ho ho ho and all that. I do believe that by the time you read this, at least two doors should be open on your advent calendars. Hoorah. A gentle reminder to one and all that my birthday is Christmas Eve this year (and every year). Anyway, come join me as I take a gentle stroll through the world of public relations from the last seven days.

Good PR


KFC and Freud PR starts us off this week with some deep-fried, but beautiful, public relations. December is historically the month where chickens get a reprieve and turkeys come to the fore, but as part of the Colonel’s global aim to rid the world of the noisy winged cluckers, they have devised a brilliant campaign to keep them in the public eye.

The chicken giant has hired Jimmy Bullard, of gobby footballer fame, to run the UK’s first KFC pub and it is called, you guessed it, The Colonel’s Arms. It has a loose tie-in to the World Cup and loads of eye-catching gimmicks like free gravy on tap. I am not sure how long it is open for, but it doesn’t matter because the positive coverage has come flocking in and it is a massive well done to all the PR people involved. I’m loving It.

Bad PR

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer gets the first Bad PR of the week for marching into yet another legal battle, this time under the guise of trying to protect Percy Pig from imitation. Just a few months after the dust settled in its case against Aldi over the caterpillar cake, it is going after UK-based, and family-owned, sweet maker, Swizzels.

There are never any winners in a situation like this, other than the legal companies, and it is very sad that two iconic British brands could not sort this out without it turning legal and without the situation being leaked to the press.

Legal Good PR

Pinsent Masons

Speaking about legal teams, how’s about our first ever Good PR for a legal firm. Step forward Pinsent Masons which did a Freedom of Information request to the National Crime Reporting service around the £ value of money lost to scams in 2021-22 compared to 2020-21. The amount lost is at nearly half a billion pounds, up from £171m in the previous year.

Pinsent Masons worked with Action Fraud to get the story out there and gave special mention to the crypto sector as being the most high risk in terms of trying to lure less experienced investors into fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes.

Science-y Good PR

Tulane University

Last week I gave Good PR to a gaggle of UCLA scientists who discovered the (surely blindingly obvious) fact that humans may pick their two-back-monster companion based on opposing character traits (rather than the previously thought similar traits) and this week the science brigade is at it again. Good PR goes to “Researchers” from Tulane University have formally announced that salt could be bad for you. WHO KNEW?! Oh, everyone.

In the tests that took place, muggles that rarely put salt on their meals had a 23% lower risk of heart disease than those who sodium’d to the max. It is not even a slow news agenda yet Team Science is consistently getting global headlines for what feels like obvious news. PR people, we need to work in science.

Reality Bad PR

Matt Hancock

Ending on a high and also a bit of a reality check for Matt Hancock it is clear that although he had a slight bounce in public support, he has come out of the jungle still very hated (despite me giving him surprising Good PR a few weeks ago). He may have ended up third in the Jungle TV show, but when you find yourself being defended in the media by a former Prime Minister who only staved off getting prosecuted about the Iraq war because the High Court blocked it, you know you are in trouble.

His team are crowing to the media that he has “reached a new, younger audience via social media” but after chatting to a brand monitoring and sentiment tracking whiz, it is clear that his appeal was short lived. He received negativity when it was rumoured he was going in. He had a positive bounce for a few days during the show. Sentiment for him then plummeted again towards the end.

Hindsight being an exact science and all that, I am now calling it a PR miss for the MP. Unless he scores some big-paying media deals on the back of his jungle appearance he will be forced to get back to his constituency role alongside fighting legal claims of wrongdoing around PPE contracts. Whatever was I thinking? Let’s hope he does better on the SAS-based reality TV show next year.

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

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