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Good & Bad PR: UK Government fuels discontent and NASA's Mars bot comes to a standstill

In a media world where it is hard to steer past the doom and gloom of the current news agenda, I hope that you will join me in looking through some of the lighter stories of the past seven days. Yep, it’s Good and Bad PR o’clock.

Bad PR

UK Government

Prices are hitting home hard, not least the petrol pumps which takes us to this week’s first Bad PR. A joint winner this week, the UK’s Business Secretary and the Petrol Retailers Association who got into a spat over Fuel Duty cuts.

The UK Government wrote to petrol retailers this week encouraging them to pass on its recent 5p Fuel Duty cut to motorists and the Petrol Retailers Association quickly told them to get lost. The Government’s message landed harder in terms of headlines but the Petrol Retailers Association message was valid and credible.

The reality is that the muggles don’t care about political gesturing or who won the PR game, they just want lower prices at the petrol pumps. The same could be said about the news this week that energy prices could be raised again and the cost of everyday food continuing to go up. Consumers don’t want to hear empty words, they want tangible actions that will reduce the impact on their wallets.

I fear that civil unrest really can’t be far away, especially when you hear football fans boo-ing the National Anthem which I personally felt was more of a message about being anti-establishment rather than directly dissing the Queen.


Speaking of throwing shade, bad news for NASA as it has been hit by an unusual problem for one of its Mars rovers. Sand from the Martian planet has started to build up on the solar panels that keep the robot energised and the lack of light means that the bot is slowly dying.

Similar to the scenes saw in Apollo 13, the space-loving-science-crew put together a task force to try and come up with a solution, but whilst a few of these have delivered a short-term boost, try as they might, they could not remotely create a windscreen wiper to clear the dust off. The robot will be “retired” and this very sad story will grind to a halt. RIP you Martian Bot.

One rather crude solution from our own Head of Operations was that NASA should send over another of its bots to give it a blowy to see if that helps (to clear the dust off you perverts).

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Good PR


Moving swiftly on, and let’s have a dollop of Good PR. You know when you are trapped in a terrible WhatsApp group, usually made up of relatives or former colleagues, where leaving would cause a stir, well, worry no more because them clever IT people at the comms platform are devising a way for us all to sneak off quietly.

The admins will still be notified, but most importantly, creepy Cedric, or Uncle Handsy won’t see the exit. This will save all of us from unwanted notifications blocking up our WhatsApp and our archives being clogged with awkward relative chat. Great PR WhatsApp.


Keeping on the tech wizard theme, Mastercard got a wide hit of Good PR this week thanks to its announcement that it is going to be trialling a biometric payment system where you can pay with your smile (or a handwave). It is basically facial recognition for in store payment, but let’s not let that get in the way of a good headline.

The global media loved the story, as do I. As a recent first time visitor to the successful Amazon walk in and walk out store in London (I didn’t buy anything, I am from the countryside and have fear of change), anything that creates innovation and helps support the high street in these tough times must be good. Kudos Mastercard, brilliant PR.


Staying with Good PR and ending this week’s ramble, hats off to Coca-Cola for trying to reduce plastic waste by announcing that it is doing away with bottle tops on its range of drinks. I am with you when you think, “well, how will the fizzy sugar-monster stay in the bottle” but apparently the bottles will now be one single unit of plastic rather than having a separate top.

This should, in theory, stop the (already recyclable) tops from being littered and disposed of in a way that is not good for the world.

The various plastics charities and eco-groups have even showed their support for the idea and it is a nice contrast for the drinks brand which is regularly cited as being the world’s biggest plastic polluter.

Got it right or wrong? You know where to find me.

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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