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Good and Bad PR: Take it outside Boris and Cummings!

Hey there PR fans. After a rollercoaster of a news week, we are back to earth with a slow bump. Back to Boris and his various scandals and back to general accusations of Government shenanigans.

Bad PR

Boris and Cummings

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings must get the main gong for Bad PR. Their tit-for-tat spat has dominated the papers and even led BoJo to the situation he now finds himself in where his policies and strategies have to play back seat to the party answering questions about more dodgy deals and funding.

Or, could this all be the latest “Dead Cat” strategy for avoiding the inevitable Tory loss-fest that is heading over the hill in the form of the local elections that arrive here in the UK on 6 May? It’s a mess.

Good PR

Dan Barker and Lucy Wood

Moving on to something a little lighter in PR terms, but dark in terms of some of the content, and regular readers will remember me raving about Dan Barker, who receives the first of this week’s Good PR. During lockdown Dan and his wife Lucy gave several London-based homeless people a disposable camera (and also paid them) to take pictures of their surroundings. As Dan says, it shows “what life has been like, without a home, at a time we were all told to 'stay at home'".

The pictures are stunning and now form part of an exhibition at St Martin-in-the-Fields church. For transparency, the church is a client of ours, but I am keen to stress that Dan did the PR for this himself and has achieved hundreds of media hits for this exhibition. It is a really moving tribute and insight into everything that has gone on since Covid hit and Dan and Lucy should take great pride in what they have achieved.

Department for Transport

Whilst Downing Street has been mired in controversy, other Government departments have been awash with positive media mentions around the world. Step forward the Department for Transport which this week issued guidance on its next steps for allowing Self Driving cars on the UK roads from late 2021.

Whilst I may not fully understand the rules and regulations around self-driving cars, I can understand an amazing PR campaign when I see one. Not only did all the UK heavy hitters pick this up, but even the likes of CNN and NBC went big on the news. It also gave the automotive industry the perfect news-jacking opportunity, so thank you Department for Transport, for a double PR win.

SafeLane Global

I like to look far and wide for examples of Good and Bad PR and a story reached me this week of a Mine clearance company potentially saving a muggle’s life. SafeLane Global was on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show taking part in a section around how unexploded sea mines should be handled, when found, in such a way that doesn’t hurt the finder, or the marine environment. Joanna Lumley was also giving her opinions on this (who knew she was an expert on unexploded ordinance, I didn’t!) and when the segment ended, muggles were invited to ring in with their own stories.

Step forward “Simon”. He rang in and proceeded to tell everyone how he and his mates used to go and look for unexploded (missile) shells on the beach “tap the heads” to retrieve the copper that could then be sold on. Gasps could be heard from unmanned BBC studios around the globe!

Blog posts were written, releases were issued and we presume “Simon” was suitably chastised into never doing this again. In a world where we (or maybe just I) regularly shout “Its PR, not ER”, to see a company like SafeLane Global doing PR campaigns that actually saves lives, I think, deserves a lot of credit and it’s well suited that it receives the final Good PR of the week.

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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