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Good and Bad PR: The PR villains are Elon, Captain Tom family and So Divine. Heroes are AG Barr and Octopus

I am back in the game and delivering this week’s dollop of Good and Bad PR news.

For those not familiar with this column a gentle reminder that I don’t cover the more gruesome and nasty stories. This is light and fluffy boys and girls, light and fluffy.

TLDR, don’t DM me about not covering sinister news, I leave those write ups to people far wiser than I.

Let’s get to it.

Bad PR

Elon Musk

Elon is back in my vision this week and get the first Bad PR. He has got himself into a totally unneeded spat with Wiki Wales himself. The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, questioned the ability to tell fake news from real news on X/Twitter because of the Blue Tick confusion.

Elon did his usual; spat his dummy out at the slightest criticism, and then offered Wikipedia $1bn if it changed its name to Dickipedia. It feels a carbon copy of the time he called one of the Chilean mine rescue blokes a pedo, ie A total over-reaction.

He clearly needs his phone taking off him after 11am in the morning. At the very least, he should do what I do and sense check everything he is thinking of writing with Shannon Peerless, our agency MD. Saves me 98% of the time.

Good PR

AG Barr

Sticking with trying to relate everything back to me, the rich and successful side of my family have hit the headlines this week thanks to a strategic acquisition. Good PR all round.

AG Barr, owners of iconic brands like Irn Bru, and also my name twin, have bought drinks company Rio Topical Limited.

In my mind this is the perfect brand fit. Both brands have a cult-like following and an almost underground-style popularity that sits excitedly away from the boring norm of the fizzy drinks industry. The company cost AG Barr £12.3m which it funded entirely through its own cash position. Nice!

Great work, and just to set the legal teams at ease, I am joking about them being distant family members.

Octopus Energy

Carrying on with the Good PR side of the week and Octopus Energy has once again hit the headlines for a bold and courageous move. It will now be offering customers free electricity, at times when there is the least pressure on the electricity network.

The detail is that customers will be emailed when their free period pops up and they will be credited back for any payments made for using electricity during that time. This is part of the fast growing and respected energy company’s wider marketing announcement that it is launching a points-based rewards programme.

It provided regional media with a nice story that could be syndicated far and wide. Great work Octopus Energy.

Our friends at Meltwater have been in touch to add some data, insight and method to this column and it turns out that mentions of Octopus Energy increased by 87% to 2.88k over the last week. With key content themes focussing around these clusters:

  • The Government has announced a 50% uplift in the Government grant available for households to install air source heat pumps, providing an extra £2500 in support.
  • Net Zero Pioneers: 50 UK Businesses at the cutting edge of the net zero transition
  • Giles Andrews appointed Chairman of the Octopus EV to Drive Expansion

Here is the word cloud of the most popular coverage themes:

Methodology:  [19-26 Oct, search string “("octopus") NEAR/6 ("energy")”]

Bad PR

Captain Tom family

Moving back to the bad side of the PR world and the Captain Tom family are having nightmare after nightmare of late. This week it involves one of our very own as well. Freelance PR pro Daisy Souster did the original launch of the Captain Tom story, including the Just Giving announcement.

It is something she is, quite rightly, very proud of and she deserves the ability to shout about her amazing work. Sadly though, it has emerged that the family have said she can no longer talk about it.

The family have been plagued with negative coverage for several years now and the latest revelation does nothing to improve their image in the eyes of the public. As anyone in our industry will tell you, hell hath no fury like a PR scorned and this is going to be another battle for them to face.

Good on you Daisy for an amazing piece of work and well done for standing up and shouting about your success.

So Divine

The final bad story leaves a bit of a strange taste in your mouth. Thanks to the great awareness work carried out by the likes of the charity Electrical Safety First we are all more than aware of buying shoddy leccy items from dodgy retailers. Imagine the collective surprise when the latest problem item was being sold by the likes of Tesco and Superdrug.

What was the offending item you ask? It is an over-heating love-egg sex toy. So Divine gets the Bad PR nod for creating a product that is prone to overheating and may, allegedly, cause burns.

Trading Standards pulled it for not ticking all the safety requirements and all of a sudden So Divine’s marketing blurb of it being a “game-changer” takes on a whole new, slightly sinister, meaning. Please keep in mind dear reader that burning loins are not always a good thing.

Got it right or wrong? I don’t really care, but feel free to tell me what you think anyway.

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

Thanks to Meltwater, Good and Bad PR's data and insights supplier.


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