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Good and Bad PR: Wightlink’s spoof crashes Andy Barr’s Twitter! Good PR awards abound this week

Everyone gets praise this week, including Wightlink, Stonegate Group, AB Foods and the campaign against shoplifting

So much constructive feedback from “Team science” last week, yet here I am again handing out the winners and no-so-winners certificates from the world of public relations.

Good PR

Wightlink Ferries

There can only be one winner for Good PR of the week and that must go to Wightlink Ferries in the Isle of Wight. Its social media team did a spoof of the breathy, Russian, super model, car adverts that are plaguing TikTok right now.

Wightlink’s one focuses on its FastCat ferry and one of the crew members, mimicking what had gone on in the Russian Mercedes advert. It is hard to explain, but watch the video, below. I played a very small part in this by sharing the video on my own Twitter/X account. It crashed my account!

Our friends at Meltwater have been in touch to offer some data behind how Wightlink's PR wonderfulness travelled.

Mentions of @wightlinkferry increased by 2071% to 2.95k over the last week. The numbers speak for themselves and it’s clear the Wightlink ferry team got the balance just right. Overall positive sentiment reached nearly 70%, which is fairly unprecedented.

A massive well done to the Wightlink team who deserve huge credit.

Stonegate Group

Stonegate Group, the pub chain owners are up next and I have been deliberating on whether it gets Good or Bad PR for the “dynamic pricing” announcement. I think I am going to say Good PR.

Although it is never great to hear that prices are going up, this is a pricing strategy that has been deployed by several pub chain owners in recent years. At least Stonegate is being open and transparent about it rather than just upping and lowering prices without saying when and why.

The drinks industry has been hit hard in recent years and if this move helps protect local boozers, then this has to be seen as a strong idea. It did remind me of stock market drinks nights at university.

This is where the price of the drink in the Student Union on themed nights would fluctuate in real time, but based around popularity. The more popular a drink was, the more it would raise in price by 5p increments, but then the lesser popular drinks would then drop in 5p increments. It balanced the night out for the bar owners and was generally a bit of fun. I have always been surprised that larger venues don’t try running these nights as well.

We will need to keep an eye out for Stonegate Group’s annual results to see if this new pricing strategy has worked.

Associated British Foods

One company that announced huge results this week is AB Foods. It wins Good PR for the achievement and for also managing a very tough comms message.

It has revised its profit forecast upwards, which is no mean feat given the struggling UK high street right now. The core message was that Primark was pretty much the jewel in its crown, although a word of caution was aired in the results about the state of Oxford St and falling visitor numbers.

The tricky comms message was that the food division is also performing above expectations. This is great news for shareholders but a tough message to communicate against a backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.

With so many Government-led inquiries being mooted around accusations of profiteering by the supermarkets, it will be interesting to see if food manufacturers get dragged in to these conversations and if so, how results like could will be treated. Ab Foods share price rose by a staggering 5% on results day, so fair play for once again leading the way.

Campaign against shoplifting

Sticking with retail and over the last seven days the big shopping brands have put their rivalries aside to try and tackle the increase in shoplifting. The chonky weekend papers were packed with stories about police not attending shoplifting crimes if the value of the goods stolen was below £200.00 and how far more products were now getting security tags attached to them.

The heavily stretched police forces were keen to stress they were doing their best and that attendance depends on officer availability and is not just price related. A group of stores then announced they were grouping together to fund an anti-shoplifting campaigns and put in place extra security staff patrolling between various branded stores to try and act as a deterrent.

Will this cost end up being passed on to consumers via price rises? Probably. It is however, a great campaign for the retail industry and seemingly being led by the supermarkets and big retailers working together for once.

One point to add, I did carry out my own independent research by chatting to various store workers. A checkout person at Tesco said their shoplifting limit before calling the police was £200.00, Sainsburys said the same. Waitrose however, much higher. The member of staff said it was £500.00 but we then both joked that this would just be three grocery items from the store.

I hope that you fully appreciate the lengths of investigative journalism that I go to, in order to stack up the stories I write about in this column!

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

Thanks to Meltwater, Good and Bad PR's data and insights supplier.

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