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Good and Bad PR: Utility Warehouse and Brexit aren’t winning any fans, whilst West Mercia Police come to the rescue

Well hello there PR fans. Here I am once again with the gongs and gobshites from the last seven days in public relations. Whilst Twitter has lurched from one algorithm disaster to another, in general it feels like the slightly warmer weather is bringing the UK media scene out of a wintery haze of negativity.

Good PR

West Mercia Police

Let’s start with Good PR for West Mercia Police who made claims of saving Easter. When 200,000 Cadbury’s Cream Eggs were pinched from a depot in Telford, the local plod sprang into action.

Within a few hours, a lorry was stopped that contained the diabetic time-bomb and arrests were made. This, however, was just the start of it for the boys and girls in blue.

The media announcement was littered with puns around the Easter Bunny and when the BBC came to run the story, it sprinkled its own level of humour on top. “Police said other chocolate varieties were taken from the site in Stafford Park but the force appeared to flake on those details”. See what it did there?

A fun and nice story to start the week, well played to all involved.

Bad PR

Utility Warehouse

Utility Warehouse gets this week’s first Bad PR or should that just be “tone-deaf” PR? Against a backdrop of some of the highest home-energy costs the UK has ever seen, the utility flogging franchise flew a load of its best performing sales people over to the Maldives on a jolly.

Utility Warehouse is a strange brand with a wisp of cultish undertones and I suspect the media loved writing a hatchet job. Everyone has a friend who has worked for a Utility Warehouse franchise and who, at some point, tries to flog you its services and it is always a bit cringe.

My favourite UW story comes from a former colleague of mine who regaled us with the time she went on a Tinder date to a restaurant with a chap who worked for Utility Warehouse. It turns out it wasn’t a date, he was using the platform to try and flog her an energy deal!. Says it all really.

Brexit

I try to avoid political PR fails as there are, quite frankly, at least 10 per week. This week though, the Brexit mistake debate has reared its ugly head again and it has been triggered by two very different sources and I can’t really ignore it.

A member of the Bank of England interest rate setting committee has declared publicly that he believes Brexit has cost the UK £29bn in lost investment. Anyone who has a client who trades outside of the UK or works in-house with a brand that used to sell overseas until Brexit will know how true the BoE guys statement is.

The second source of highlighting just how much Brexit has cost the UK is… Jeremy Clarkson and his farm show. In the opening episode of his latest season he explains the negative change of rules for farmers falling out of the Brexit disaster using FIFA as an analogy and, wow, it resonated with a nation.

Kids have been chatting about it just as much as adults and the media and it is even getting mentioned in reviews of the show itself. Clarkson and the Bank of England, what a partnership!

Good PR

Heathrow Airport

Let’s end on a high and give Heathrow Airport the final good PR of the week. Its recent passenger figures update gave the UK a boost in terms of showing that, despite Brexit and Covid, Britain is once again opening up for business people coming back into the UK.

Passenger numbers in January are now at pre-pandemic levels and the story was going great guns, so it was only natural that the unions got involved to bring us all back down to earth again. The bunch of Mick Lynch wannabes (notice how all union bosses now try and copy his media-interview style, not always with success) announced that there would be travel chaos at Easter due to strike action. Buzzkills.

Dispatches

This week’s Mention in PR Dispatches includes Cadbury getting some Bad PR for shrinking the size of its Easter chocolate stock. I would also say that the Government trying to buy some time away from negative headlines about how it is coasting the country along by trying to get in on the Americans shooting down UFOs smacked of desperation PR. Louis Vuitton appointing Pharrell Williams as its menswear creative director came out of nowhere, but is also strong PR win for both brands.

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

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