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Good and Bad PR: Top dog is Starbucks, bad dog is BrewDog

Welcome along to another jolly romp through the fun world of Good and Bad public relations. The week started so well with the sun shining and temperatures rising, but quickly descended back to rain and grey skies, which pretty much reflects the goings on in the world right now.

Bad PR


Let’s start with the bad this week and BrewDog just can’t shake off its wave of negative press. Stories emerged in the Guardian this week about the company hiring private investigators to look into former members of staff who appeared in a BBC expose.

The investigators were clearly looking for ways to discredit the whistle blowers and the BrewDog comms team put out a statement accusing some of the beer-brand bashers of co-ordinating a hate campaign against its CEO and founder James Watt (I paraphrase). Punks with Purpose were the group being referred to in Watt’s statement and they came out firing the next day, discrediting everything the brewer said.

It has been a torrid time for BrewDog over the last few years and any brand that claims to buck the establishment on one hand yet also then runs to the law when things don’t go its way is always going to struggle in terms of winning over public sentiment. From a crisis comms point of view there is still loads of wiggle room for the brand to be able to get its point across and navigate itself out of the stormy waters, but unless it does something big and dramatic to shift perceptions, that wiggle room is dwindling every day.

Jeremy Kyle

Speaking of wriggling, another brand that has had a terrible week is Jeremy Kyle. I have only ever watched one of his TV shows and absolutely hated it. Base-level television that somehow slipped through the standards net and eventually ended up with a tragic death.

Kyle has come out fighting and said that he will speak more about the true situation once the inquiry into the death has been completed. This gives him more time to refine his defence and try to manoeuvre into a position where he can make a media comeback but right now, that seems a lifetime away.

Oxfordshire County Council

One final Bad PR before we find something more positive and this goes to Oxfordshire County Council, which this week announced plans to only serve vegan food at its events going forward. As you can imagine, this upset some of its more controversial residents such as Jeremy Clarkson who highlighted the impact and message this has for local farmers.

With 74% of the county of  Oxfordshire being classed as agricultural land it does seem a little blinkered in terms of a county-wide approach. The County Council got its response out relating to the decision being for the greater good of the environment, but sadly for them, Clarkson is a rent-a-quote and his negative comments went far wider.

Good PR

DeepWell Digital Therapeutics

Finding some Good PR has been hard this week for obvious reasons, but the gaming world gave us something to celebrate courtesy of the launch of DeepWell Digital Therapeutics. A game developer has partnered with a medical device company to create a business that will make games that will help treat health conditions.

The games will help treat issues such as depression and ADHD and the media, quite rightly, loved the story. Kudos to everyone involved and one to watch in terms of the new initiatives and games that will launch.


Ending on a high is one of the main aims of consuming the product that is most sold by my final Good PR of the week. Starbucks began trading on Wednesday with a near 10% increase in its share price courtesy of the news that its former owner, CEO and chairman, Howard Schultz was back at the wheel.

The guy transformed the coffee industry and with the company facing a challenging future thanks to the former CEO stepping down and supply chain prices increasing, Schultz clearly offered the safe pair of hands that the stock market, and consumers, clearly wanted.

He may only be in the role in a temporary capacity, but his power is clear to see and the positive headlines that pinged around the globe (it even triggered a BBC News Alert on mobiles) speaks volumes about his credibility and position within the elite members of the business world.

Got it right or wrong, let me know over on the Twitter. Got a story you want to share, get in touch.

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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