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Good and Bad PR: West Ham and BP get a good kicking this week

The world of public relations shows no signs of slowing down as we head towards the nation’s favourite day of Love. By this I mean Valentine’s Day, not national Pizza Day that took place on Wednesday 9th Feb.

Bad PR

Loads of agencies and brands!

Speaking of love, and pizza, the digital PR sector continued in its crusade to eat itself this week thanks to bad Glassdoor reviews which are written by employees now seemingly evolving into a “red flag” spreadsheet of hate.

A number of high-profile agencies feature, along with the new added twist of big brands getting a mention as well. The agencies are powerless to defend themselves but I am hearing on the grapevine that the big brands are not quite as scared and a flurry of cease and desists are being prepared. Definitely one to keep an eye on and as everyone’s favourite roving PR gossip columnist, I will fully commit to trying to keep you, dear reader, up to speed.

Newsjacking PR

In a deviation from the norm of this column, instead of focusing on a single media story, I am going to look at Newsjacking to start with this week.

Hargreaves Lansdown

Newsjacking is a media tactic that goes back to the 1800s which is amazing when you think that the digital PR brigade claim to have invented it, but putting that to one side, Hargreaves Lansdown wins Great PR of the week for its use of it.

Asset management firm Hargreaves Lansdown (for full disclosure your honour: not a client, but I do use its app) uses newsjacking perfectly as part of its day-to-day public relations activity. Towards the end of last week, I happened across a brilliant reactive quote by HL Equity Analyst Laura Hoy in relation to the Facebook share price collapse story. I was so in awe of the quote and the speed at which HL put this out that I got in touch to personally to offer congratulations. I know, I am sure this meant a lot to the HL press office!

I then did a bit more digging into the success of the HL newsjacking machine and my God, it is a thing of wonder. It is worthy of award wins, and I immediately tried to collate some notes to send around our own team as an example of how to do it well. Whilst newsjacking is one of the simpler tactics in the arsenal of tools available to the modern-day PR, the way that HL does it has become an art form.

As an example, on the day of writing this, it has got nine comments out for nine separate brands. That is not nine media hits, that is nine reactive statements with multiple media hits, on one day alone and this is happening every day. Hargreaves Lansdown I salute you, in particular Laura Hoy whose quotes are a perfect mix of fact, spice and engaging content.

Bad PR

West Ham

Trying to get back to the humdrum normality of this column, this week’s first Bad PR goes to West Ham and its cat-kicking player Kurt Zouma. Yet another example of how football is just a ruthlessly managed business where the only thing that matters is results for Premier League club owners.

Instead of Kurt Zouma getting the chop from the team in the short term, and maybe booted out completely in the medium to long term, the player was chosen to play, on just the day after the video footage appeared.

The West Ham board has clearly never seen the Netflix documentary “Don’t Fuck with Cats” because it would have realised how serious the situation was if they had. It was left to the muggles watching the game in the stadium to dish out some immediate justice thank to the sheer amount of abuse the player got throughout the 90 minutes.

The pinnacle of the vocal attacks ended with the crowd chanting “that’s how your cat feels” when he was hurt in a tackle. The police and RSPCA are now investigating, and I suggest the West Ham board head off for a hearing test to try and cure its situational tone deafness.

Good PR


Moving back to Good PR and lentils, of boring food fame, received some fantastic PR this week thanks to an interesting piece of research from the University of Bergen revealing that if you add more of them to your diet then you could live for an extra 10 years.

Lars Fadnes (is this a comedy-diet related name?) carried out the research which has gone on to garner media hits from around the world by revealing that the optimal diet would include 225g of whole grains, 200g of fish, 200g of legumes and 400g of vegetables per day and could extend your life. In my house there was some debate as to the enjoyment levels associated with that suggested diet and if it was actually worth it, but, you know, the vegetarians and pescatarians would love it and eventually outlast us all.

Final Bad PR


The final Bad PR of the week goes to BP for the way that it handled the announcement of its largest ever profit of £9.5bn. Against a backdrop of the global increase in the price of fuel, the rising cost of keeping homes warm and the rise in food prices due to production costs going through the roof, the oil giant dropped a profit bombshell.

This triggered a point scoring opportunity for politicians and made the company look out of touch with the harsh realities faced by many of the end users of its products. A windfall tax now looks likely although I think we can all agree that consumers will be suspicious that the likes of BP and other successful global brands won’t pay as much as they morally ought to.

Final Good PR

Captain Tom fund

Ending on a high, The Captain Tom Fund deserves praise for the way that it handled the media allegations around potential mismanagement of the funds raised by the legendary former soldier. Trying to manage the significant media and public interest in the amazing fundraising achievement does come with its own financial costs and I don’t think any member of the public would begrudge the family recouping the costs of their work.

The family answered all the media questions perfectly and deserve praise for the dignity that they showed.

Got it right or wrong? I am easy to get hold of!

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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