Well hello there and welcome, once again, to my Good and Bad Public Relations from the week gone by. It is a bit of a strange one this week as a few of the stories from last week have developed further and get another mention.
The theme of repetition has to start, once again, with Liz Truss and Team Tory. Its annual conference can be viewed as nothing other than a media disaster. Attendees being pictured asleep in the hall, videos on social media platforms going round of Conservative politicians being absolutely pilloried by muggles on their way to the venue and the revelation that the Labour Party has jumped to its biggest lead in the polls for years during the conference, is naming just a few of the issues Truss faces.
And then you consider her and the Chancellor’s fiscal U-turns, Truss’s appearances on interviews being below par in both style and substance and you can understand why her party members are mumbling about Letters of No Confidence once again. It has been a terrible few weeks in the media for Truss and if we think back to Alastair Campbell’s old mantra of politicians struggling to survive a single story situation if it lasts longer than two weeks, I think Truss could be in real danger of losing her position.
Plain, old Bad PR
The second Bad PR has to go to NASA, or maybe it should be called the “I told you so” PR of the week. Remember the space boffins tried to nudge an asteroid off its course just to see if they could? Last week I said that I felt this should not be heralded as the Good, long term, PR success that Team Space was crowing about and whilst the results are not in on the asteroid moving off its original course there is some wider, rather worrying fall out.
NASA's Dart spacecraft which was intentionally crashed into asteroid dimorphos as part of the first planetary defense test has left a trail debris stretching around 10000km.#NASA #DARTMission #Asteroid #ESA pic.twitter.com/iXSFhIYk1Z— Space And Planetary Science (@SAPS_Official) October 5, 2022
A space telescope operator in Chile had a look at the asteroid and spotted that it now has a 6,000-mile tail of space rock debris. Six Thousand Miles. Just take a moment to think about that. NASA is hoping that the space rocks will disintegrate before entering any wider planetary atmosphere, but if I was a little green man who was sat on my planet and got clonked by a rock caused by some numpties on Earth, I would be very, very annoyed.
As I stated last week, no good will come from this space tomfoolery being carried out by NASA.
The cherished national brand and the Christmas chocolate legend Quality has fallen foul of the muggles’ general fear of change. A decision to change the material used to wrap the individual chocolates in its tubs was made and positioned, quite rightly IMHO, as being for protecting the environment.
The muggles went mad and by default, the media jumped on it. Accusations of the new packaging looking cheap were thrown around and The Daily Mail even went as far as suggesting this could help QS’s biggest rival, Roses’ sales, as people switched to the Cadbury-owned brand.
Quality Street’s owner is Nestle and its comms team found their backs against the wall as the media coverage triggered social media hate. A move that should have been positive and will have cost the company at least hundreds of thousands of pounds in machinery developments and investments has definitely turned sour, but I can’t realistically see it affecting sales in the long term. Once again, a brand getting Bad PR, but really does not deserve it in my eyes.
Someone who continues to deserve Bad PR is Rebekah Vardy and her Instagram account. Despite losing her Wagatha Christie case; despite being branded untrustworthy by the judge; and despite being advised by all and sundry from the media and comms industry to maybe try and keep her head down before trying to plan a comeback - she has had another go at Rooney on the social platform.
This time it was suggesting that Rooney give some of the money she had been awarded by the judge over to a charity. Something that Rooney had already hinted would be the best move before Vardy pressed ahead with the doomed case. The social post was accompanied by shoddy stock images, I mean, has she not even heard of Canva?
Vardy needs to move the story on now and not keep going back to the legal case as it does not present her in a positive light. She needs a big launch or big announcement that will move the agenda on. She is, of course, going to keep having the Rooney battle referenced in articles, but over time, and if she keeps moving the story on, the mentions will get shorter and less frequent.
Shockingly Bad PR
Let’s end Bad PR with the Bond-Villain-esque actions carried out by Britain’s biggest power station owner, Drax. The BBC ran an expose that suggested that Drax, which has been given billions of pounds of UK tax payers money in green energy subsidies, has been responsible for clearing environmentally important forests in Canada.
The company had claimed that its power stations used pellets made from sawdust and lower-grade, surplus-to-requirements, levels of wood, but the BBC said that this was not the case. The true picture of what is happening is still emerging, but it looks like Drax tried to unsuccessfully offload the blame by citing it did not own the logging licences, which was later proved wrong by the BBC, and also doubled down by sticking to its story about only using the scrap wood, and again, the BBC said this was wrong as well.
The comms team will be hung out to dry for issuing these statements but they will only have been acting on the information given by those higher up the chain. And we wonder why Britain is loathed by other countries around the world.
Another brand that got a mention last week, and has hit the headlines again this week, is Greggs. Last week it got the nod for Good PR for saving a red squirrel that went rogue in one of its stores, and this week it gets it for the way it handled a very tough PR message.
The awkward messaging was that it put up the price of its sausage rolls. It balanced this by referring to the well-known supply chain pricing increases and also highlighting that sales themselves were actually up by 15% year on year. Greggs is a positive brand growth case study for all to see. It operates in a tight-margin space yet have still been able to gradually become a trusted and respected UK brand.
Got it right or wrong, hit me up on the Twitter, @10Yetis.
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
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.
We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: