Dearest reader, thank you for joining me on the ride through Good and Bad PR over the last year. Who would have thought that Christmas would have arrived upon us so fast? Not to get too emotional, but I cannot thank you all enough for getting in touch to either give a tip, a bit of gossip or even a bit of hate (me bashing Camelot triggered the most emails coming in from lofty, bright-coloured-trouser-wearing, public-relations-industry types).
Good and Bad PR of the week
This week I was going to give the Good public relations gongs the, nuclear fusion scientists for making a breakthrough, and the supermarkets for clearly reading last week’s G&B PR column and dropping pump prices. The Bad PR is going to the idiot burger van people in Birmingham who came up with, and were rightly pilloried for, the Ann Frankfurter hot dog (I mean, dear god!), META for getting sued in a foreign land once again, and that weird Waitrose documentary on Channel 4.
Good and Bad PR of the year
Then, I thought it would be nice to take a stroll back through some of the highlights of the year. Despite doing this for (I think) 11 years now, I don’t think we have ever done this before. So stick with me.
Some common themes, panto (and actual) villains have been consistent throughout the year. The most notable being Boris Johnson who got so bad at PR I eventually gave up writing about him. On the brand side, BrewDog probably featured most frequently in the Bad PR section and on the bat-shit crazy front, Elon Musk clearly topped the bad PR polls for everything from annoying China, nearly stacking a space ship into the moon and his general approach to business and obviously how he went about buying and then running The Twitter.
My favourite story from January is probably Terry Smith, the investment fund manager, channelling everyone’s inner dad-mode and losing his shit over Unilever trying to find the “higher purpose” behind mayonnaise. He runs a £29bn investment fund and I really supported his rant.
February saw the end of the Marks and Spencer vs Aldi court case over cake, although M&S got bored of the calm and has now trained its legal eye on UK-based sweet brand Swizzels for allegedly ripping off Percy Pig.
February also saw the start of my love affair with Hargreaves Lansdown newsjacking team, I am not going through it all again, but basically, it is worth researching as it really led the way in responsive PR activities. Looking at the PR industry itself, February saw THAT Google- docs-based spreadsheet appear that nearly resulted in a swathe of legal action before finally being taken down.
I would like to say that the digital PR community has now evolved and come on leaps and bounds through the year, but even this week saw a load of petty squabbles, side eyes and snidey comments get fired across the land of social media.
February also saw the Harry and Meghan PR war against the media and Royal Family start in earnest and I have to say, right now, The Royal Family are probably winning just because they have remained silent on the matter. The Firm’s “never complain, never explain” mantra has just about paid off and, whilst we won’t know the full outcome until the Netflix docu-soap ends, Harry and Meghan may struggle to recover their reputation in the UK going forward.
One Royal who’s career was finally written off in February was Prince Andrew and I think we can all agree that it was for the best.
March saw us celebrating leisure industry bosses fighting back against muggles posting bad TripAdvisor reviews by calling out the lies; and also the first strikes came along via Tube workers although at this stage, there was no Mick Lynch to fight back against the media so the public reaction was fairly scathing.
Spotify got some bad PR for its service daring to be down for a few hours in February (and never again since) although the tech sector got good PR via Google thanks to a strong cyber security acquisition. Explorers found Shackleton’s ship, but this was blown out of the water (not literally) by the P&O bad PR war. What a mess that was.
The start of April was dominated by Will Smith slapping the shizzle out of Chris Rock and also THAT Camelot story that I mentioned above. Manchester Airport got a Good PR gong from me for the way that it handled its communications around the flight and customer delays.
May saw Electrical Safety First zap its way into Good PR for the first of a few mentions in 2022 around its dangerous energy saving gadgets report. May also saw Coca-Cola launch its new strategy to stop billions of bottle lids being littered by making them fix permanently to the bottle. Two life/planet saving campaigns in one month!
⚠️The Advertising Standards Authority sharing important information following our investigation into highly dangerous devices claiming to save people on energy bills— Electrical Safety First (@ElecSafetyFirst) April 29, 2022
🚨Today the @OfficeforSandS has also included these devices on their product safety alert database https://t.co/RCoMaioiPj
23andMe won Good PR for being behind the amazingly odd Our Father Netflix documentary and the Elizabeth Line finally went live in May as well. A notable mention has to go to the Wagatha Christie trial starting too. What a month.
June saw Platty Jubes come along and give the UK a much needed lift. PR machine Virgin got the first of two Good PRs around changes to its workers uniforms with it allowing tattoos to be on show for the first time for air cabin staff, and later in the year it said that male or female staff could wear whichever uniforms they wished.
We also saw the first immigration-based Rwanda flight set to take off only for a fantastic, last-ditch legal appeal, quite rightly, blocking it. June also saw me apologising for doubting that Amazon would launch its much talked about drone delivery service as it said it was actually imminent. It wasn’t, it lied, again!
Late June saw the media birth of Mick Lynch who arrived with much celebration and fanfare thanks to his destroying politicians and snide media interviewers alike. Fast forward to December and he is losing popularity but, back in June; He da man!
July saw the first murmurings of the big energy price hikes that were coming as a result of Russia invading Ukraine and a number of positive initiatives were announced to try and keep prices low. The first was the reopening of some of the coalmines and the second was The National Grid saying that it may pay people to use electricity at low-use times instead of high-use times. I predicted jacket potato dinners at 3am. None of these initiatives have actually materialised yet, although I do like a 3am spud (no euphemism intended).
Oh yeah, despite Boris clinging on like a poo to a sheep’s bottom, he finally went. Hoorah.
August was when the grocery and food prices really started to rise and it caused some spats between food manufacturers such as Mars and Heinz and retailers including Tesco. This resulted in big brand products being pulled from shelves - Ketchup and Whiskas to name just a few.
James Webb and his hoofing massive telescope arrived on the scene in August and the wonderful women’s football team brought it home as well. Yard Digital managed to annoy all of the Taylor Swift lunatic fans by outing her for having the most un-environmentally-friendly approach to using her private jet. I think the team’s social media accounts have only just recovered.
September was a media blackout because of the very sad news that our Queen had died. The nation was already on its knees when Liz Truss, of lettuce sales fame, did the kamikaze Budget announcement and I really felt the UK was very close to mass civil unrest.
In September, I also celebrated DebtBuffer for a reactive newsjacking story that caused the energy industry to change its policies to help those that were struggling with paying their bills. NASA got dubious PR of the week for announcing that it had crashed one of its rockets into an asteroid to try and prove that it could be done should one threaten earth. I am still not convinced that this was a good idea.
WE DID IT!— Debt Buffer (@DebtBuffer) September 2, 2022
DebtBuffer has forced energy companies to do the right thing this winter. Hopefully, more suppliers will follow OVO's lead and do what's right to protect households already in debt as we head into winter. 👏👏👏https://t.co/Np2iyOnzHj
October saw the BBC take on Drax, and Yankee Candles emerged as a secret Covid barometer thanks to scientists tracking complaints about their lack of smell on Amazon reviews and matching it up with spikes in the virus. James Corden was outed (again) for being a bit of a douche. Llandudno saw it receive some Good PR for probably the first time in its history thanks to it being revealed that the migration into the UK, some 15,000 years ago, most likely began in the sleepy seaside town.
November began with Matt Hancock winning Good PR for announcing that he was going into the jungle. I am delighted to report that he survived. Peter Kay gave the UK the bounce that it needed by announcing that he was going to tour again. Fast forward a month and he was moved to tears by the outpouring of love that he received at the start of his first show back. What a legend.
Given we are right now in the middle of a series of strikes, it is also worth remembering that November was the month where, for the first time in the history of the NHS, nurses felt that they had no option, but to take strike action to get better pay and conditions.
Today we have released the results of our strike ballot, showing we have a mandate for strike action in the majority of NHS employers.— The RCN (@theRCN) November 9, 2022
Members will be contacted by email with full results for their employer.
Read more. https://t.co/iuJzgto7P7#FairPayForNursing
This brings us nicely up to December where the strikes are in full flow across a number of sectors and all of a sudden, the muggles are not so happy with Mick Lynch and his merry band of union Christmas wreckers.
The RMT's Mick Lynch announces additional strike dates on 24 December to 27 December.— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 5, 2022
He adds that 'there has been no improved offer presented to his union' and that they have "no choice" as the current offer is "extremely detrimental"https://t.co/PAiZ4D1jU3
📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/s6vpIN56dk
So there we have it, a PR year in summary. I really can’t thank people enough for the help with this column and it really means a lot that I get so much abuse and occasional support because of my silly words. I love you all, especially Daney, the long-suffering editor of the site who has to read this nonsense every week, and when it always arrives late.
Have a great Christmas and New Year you crazy cats and kittens.
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
See here for more terrible PR disasters of 2022.
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