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Good and Bad PR: PR heroes this week are Branson, Shu and MI5, but the villain is Southern Water

Well hello there public relations fans, it has been another crazy week of winner and losers.

Sadly, our football team lost the game, but they won our hearts with their efforts. Some idiots tried to ruin the whole event, before (Wembley being stormed), during (pitch invasion) and after (racist dickheads) but the love that poured out for the team after all of this has really gripped the nation.

Covid news

Talking of gripping the nation, Covid has quite rightly remained at the top of the news agenda with some serious lobbying going on from both the “open it all up” and “delay” teams. Boris has already declared that we shall fully re-open on the 19th, and despite all of the science pointing to that being a bad idea (in my opinion at least) he will be keen to avoid another U-turn. There are no winners on either PR front for this!

Good PR

Richard Branson

On to Good PR and we begin with Captain Beardy of Space, Richard Branson. He has undoubtedly had a great week. It has been interesting though, to see the differing approaches of the media from around the globe to this story.

Bottom line, he has beaten his fellow Bond-villain wannabe’s; Bezos and Musk, to being the first billionaire in space and over in America the media celebrated his achievement. Here in the UK though, after some initial fawning, there has been a clear media backlash creeping in. Mentions of him not actually going to space and questions about the funding.

Brand Branson has clearly taken a hit in recent years over the Furlough claims, the never-ending issues about the train company and now the is-he/isn’t-he astronaut speculation. He clings on to Good PR for this latest achievement, but it is clear there is work to be done on polishing the halo.

Bad PR

Southern Water

Talking of potentially being in the brown stuff, Southern Water (who recently got brickbats for dumping it, raw, in the sea) got another beating this week by being ranked as having one of the highest numbers of pollution incidents by the Environment Agency. South West Water actually came out worse which is very worrying for everyone in PR land who is heading off to Cornwall this summer, but both companies tripped out the usual lines about investing in the infrastructure and high hopes for the future etc etc. Good job we are not on an Island and that water is in plentiful supply… oh

Good PR again

Will Shu

Deliveroo CEO and founder Will Shu won some great PR this week courtesy of a classic “undercover boss” expose where he was treated poorly by restaurant staff during his regular stint of doing deliveries himself. Whilst working as a delivery driver he complained that the customer’s food was cold and was given short shrift by the eatery staff. This has all come out via a podcast and the UK media jumped on it.

Deliveroo has been dogged with scandal since it launched, around late and missing food, workers’ rights and even its delivery drivers eating a bit of the food they are delivering, so this will be a welcome boost for the brand. Will Shu has won a number of fans with this podcast announcement, and I can imagine the brand team will be encouraging him to get out to the media more and capitalise on his positive moment in the spotlight.


Over on the dark side of the Good PR world, MI5 gave rare early access to a speech being delivered by its head spy, Ken McCallum. The contents of the speech have been a huge media hit and lands MI5 with my next Good PR gong. The decision to release it early meant it got splashes all around the world, especially because of its content.

Essentially, us muggles are being warned that we are wrong to think that it is just the government who is being targeting by the likes of Chinese and Russian spies. MI5 has seen an increase in us all being targeted on LinkedIn by overseas baddies, especially those connected to healthcare, NHS and vaccine companies and their supply chains.

It was a timely reminder that threats to the country are not all directly emerging from terrorist activities and everyone needs to play their part. I am not sure if we will all be given explosive pens and Aston Martins that fire missiles from the exhaust pipe, but if so, alphabetically wise, I should be at the head of the queue.

University of California San Diego

On a final note for the Good PR brigade (there has been far too much misery across the UK this week), let’s take a moment to recognise some creepy AF, but brilliant, tech that could soon be released. The ability to power our phones using just our sweaty palms!

Step forward and receive your Good PR award; University of California San Diego. I’m not exactly sure how it works (I only went to a Comprehensive school after all) but as I understand it, we will have some form of “on-body energy harvester” that will transmit the elastic-trickery via wearable technology. At the minute, the “wearable technology” prototype looks suspiciously like metal strips sellotaped to the pinkies, but I am sure this will evolve.

Given my natural urge to lean towards the crude, I imagine the digital PR brigade will soon have infographics showing how many “me time” sessions it will take to power an iPhone compared to the Samsung. Let’s leave it there.

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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