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Good and Bad PR: Mixed reviews of energy companies and the NHS this week

Here we go again then, the Corrie Charlie is out of the way, largely without incident and we are back to a normal week in public relations. Do we ever have normal weeks in PR? Probably not.

Potential for Good PR

In a diversion away from Good or Bad PR, this week I am opening with a new slot “Potential for Good PR”.

Energy companies

The first Potential for Good PR (a better working title is needed) goes to the energy companies. The UK really needs one of the big supply companies to break ranks and announce a sizeable drop in energy prices. Wholesale prices are back at pre-Russia-war levels yet prices are still not coming back down as quickly as they could.

In late 2022, The CMA famously called out energy companies for operating a rocket (up) and feather (down) approach to fuel pricing, and it worked as a price correcting factor. It would trigger a swathe of positive PR for any energy company that went early and dropped prices before Ofgem comes out and makes a similar comment to the CMA’s.

I worked for a utility company in the early part of my career in a political affairs role and know just how much the power companies all talk with each other. They will all be having discussions about how to protect shareholder value, yet be seen to be doing the right thing by consumers.

The market is just as muddy in the commercial energy price industry. Food prices continue to rise and manufacturers and suppliers alike are all now starting to cite being trapped in high, fixed-price contracts that were hastily offered when energy prices were rising fast.

In short, the energy industry, and the companies that make up this vital sector have a chance to do the right thing for once. Will they? Let’s hope so.

NHS

The NHS has had a topsy turvy week. Millions of us cheered with delight when it was announced that if you had one of seven chosen illnesses you would no longer have to navigate around the evil-dinner-lady approach of GP receptionists.

I am not going to list the illnesses for fear of getting it wrong. The Department for Health has announced, to largely positive murmurings, that in an attempt to relieve pressure on GPs, pharmacies can now hand over prescriptions without sign off from a GP.

This got huge media pick up and, dare I say, seems a common-sense approach. The only people to moan were the Labour Party, who we can only presume, were annoyed they had not thought of it first.

Good PR

Diabetes UK

On the flip side of the PR fence for the NHS, it got heavily criticised by “my people”, Diabetes UK this week. It turns out that less than half of those with diabetes received all eight of the required checks that they are supposed to get every year.

I am a Type1 diabetic (or, “the proper one” as we call it in the sugar hating trade) and it was news to me that we are supposed to have eight checks per year. I have an annual diabetic check-up where I am labelled, very politely, as a little bit too chunky, and told to work harder at managing my blood sugars. And that is it.

The pressure that the NHS has relieved with the pharmacy announcement has been reapplied because all of us diabetics are now on the phone trying to work out what the other seven checks are.

Great work Diabetes UK, you really are keeping some of us alive!

University College London

Sticking loosely to human health and University College London boffins this week cited left-over Neanderthals bumping uglies with more modern humans being the cause for some of us having massive honkers.

Getting down to brass tacks, if you have a long nose, it is because someone in your very distant family tree, got it on with one of the Neanderthals and this is the result.

On the plus side, Neanderthals had massive conks, apparently so they could better manage and understand weather changes. I don’t know either, but anyway; big nose = one of your family had a very particular taste in their choice of partners.

Great PR for UCL, not so good for Neanderthals.

Skipton Building Society

Speaking of Neanderthals, over we go to the building Society industry. Another sector that I worked in, albeit with mixed results thanks to it being one of the most bizarre parts of the financial services industry out there. Maybe that is a column in its own right one day; The five weirdest things that go on in the building society industry. Yes, I was sacked!

Skipton Building Society this week announced the return of 100% mortgages. The last time we saw these was in 2008, right before the housing market and financial industry collapse.

I get why they are making a return and if Martin Lewis is even saying they are a good idea, then maybe I should keep quiet. Something feels a bit odd about them coming back though.

That being said, the coverage for the launch has been spectacular so let’s focus on that and great work by Skipton, one of the more progressive building societies out there.

Dispatches

Ending on Mentions in Dispatches this week and we give a Good PR to Under Armour for opening a flagship store on Oxford St. In other good business news, Ryanair has signed a big bucks deal with Boeing for some new planes.

Bad PR for the Competition and Markets Authority as its blocking of the Microsoft and Activision £75bn deal has triggered Activision into pressing the “go-nuclear” button.

The gaming giant, most famous for its war games, have hired a KC who once represented The Queen, Princess Diana, the UK Government and (airbrush the Wikipedia maybe) Max Mosley and the Saudi Government. David Pannick KC has clearly received his Call of Duty. (I’m here all week).

Love you all, you know where to find me if I have got it wrong and you want to moan.

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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