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Good and Bad PR: Leaky Southern Water, delivery fails for Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats and messy Meta

Credit: Credit: Deliveroo's image library

Here we go again, Good and Bad PR time. By me, for you, thank me later.

Let’s get straight to it and see who has had a shocker or a winner of a week.

Southern Water sinks

In all the “who is going to have a bad year in the media” reviews that I have done of late I have consistently said “water companies”. They are not letting me down.

Southern Water has just announced that 5-10% of its customer base have had their details swiped as part of a cyber-attack. Its databases seem as leaky as its pipes.

Here's a statement from Southern Water's chief customer officer, Katy Taylor:

As ever, it is the comms people that I have felt sorry for.

You can clearly tell that their crisis comms advice is being completely ignored. Having worked in-house in the utility industry myself, the ignorance probably came from a C-suiter who starts sentences with “I don’t know much about PR but I do know…” and they then proceed to tell you everything they have ever heard about our industry.

Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats all under the cosh

Roses are red,

Working conditions are brown,

No Valentine’s Day meals for you,

There is a delivery strike in your town.

Thank the lord that my PR skills are slightly (only slightly) better than my poetry. Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are just some of the brands that got nailed by a delivery driver strike on Valentine’s Day.

They are protesting about working conditions and pay. The brands are trying to fight back but their comms messages are just not landing. This is helped by the media falling back in love with grassroots activism instead of over-aggressive, trade-union led media campaigns.

The campaign by the delivery drivers is timed to coincide with thousands of similar protests across the globe and seems to have been co-ordinated using social media. With so many fantastic picture opportunities for the media to use, this is one campaign that needs a more thought-out strategy from the takeaway giants.

Falling out of love with Meta

Romance scams hit the headlines this week and Meta caught the brunt of the media ire. Reports of these scams have risen 60% in the last four years. Instagram and Facebook are the platforms where this happens the most according to Action Fraud, a consumer watchdog.

Whilst the UK Government says that the fraud figures are dropping, the figures from Meta are eye watering. In the last year alone the company took action against 825 million accounts which were accused of fraudulent or scam activity. 825 million! That is a mind-boggling amount and no wonder Meta is struggling to get to grips with it.

Disruptive car company wows again

Some Good PR came from car-buying industry-disruptor, Carwow, this week. It has raided the coin pot next to the handbrake and bought several of the UK’s biggest motor industry media titles.

Whilst a number of these titles have a strong web presence that you would assume would be strongly aligned to the Carwow brand, it is interesting to note that they are also massively interested in the physical print magazines too.

The shift in online-only brands moving to having a more tangible presence is growing. Think of Amazon opening its money-less stores and Gymshark announcing its own store opening programme, could this see the green-shoots of recovery for the high-street?

I wonder what online-only brand will try this next? OnlyFans opening a “pop-up” store in your local high street could set the Facebook Noticeboard pages off.

Sherriff of Nottingham buys from the rich to give to the poor

Let’s end on a high, and a story that I felt deserved more media attention. Nottingham City Council has become (maybe) the first council to buy back former council houses that were sold under the Right to Buy scheme.

It did this to add them back into its community housing stock which is much needed thanks to the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. The housing acquisition hunt will begin in May of 2024 and is not just limited to former Right to Buy properties.

Small developers (in terms of builders of a small number of houses, not builders under 5ft in height) are also being included in the move to restock the housing suppliers. A lovely story to end the week on.

Daney the superstar

Finally this week, a massive thank you to Daney, from this very website, for all she has done over the years to make this column happen. Daney has sadly decided to leave the mighty PRmoment and the whole PR industry seemed to be just as shocked and saddened as I was.

I will miss you Daney and once again, sorry for this column being late every week.

Got it right or wrong, I don’t really care what you think, but do please be sure to let me know.

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 andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email

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