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Good and Bad PR: You may laugh at Elon Musk’s Tesla whistle, but no laughs for Jack Dorsey or Clearview AI

Dearest reader, this week’s column is being written whilst the wind and rain causes mayhem outside with the weather looking all doom and plenty of gloom. This could not be in more contrast to the crazy world of public relations where December has arrived and Christmas campaigns are flying out the door and landing in journo inboxes, like a virtual snow globe of press releases. There is lots to wade through this week!

Good PR

Christmas parties

The first Good PR goes to; the annual Christmas party. Remember me saying only last week that BoJo would give us a feel-good announcement to get his ratings back up in the muggles eyes… well, far be it for me to say I told you so, but… yeah, you get the gist.

Never has the humble Christmas party become such a hot political potato. An event that is historically best known for causing more HR dramas than a night out with an advertising executive who has just received their first company credit card has, seemingly, been on every politician’s lips. Whilst some wanted them banned and some wanted them OK’d, Boris has come out and said they should go ahead. This is not Good PR for Boris, it is great PR for Christmas parties and especially employees who need and want to get together, in some cases, for the first time ever. Well done Christmas and brilliant news for employment law solicitors up and down the UK.

Bad PR

Jack Dorsey

The most famous Jack in the world gets the first Bad PR of the week.

In my considerable experience of the corporate PR world, any CEO who writes “I want you all to know that it was my decision and I own it,” and then leaves, has, in fact had very little say in the decision and been forced out. In Twitter Jack’s defence, this has probably come after a few years of torrid abuse from politicians, bankers and muggles in general and so whilst he has chosen the timing of his exit, his exit has most likely been fast-forward by the powers that be at Twitter because of the situation around him.

In my mind Twitter, a platform that I love, is better with Jack around and I think he will be a huge loss to the micro-blogging social platform.

More Good PR


Uswitch offa digital PR fame gets the next Good PR for its fastest and slowest streets in the UK media campaign. Such a simple, but effective, execution and yet this kind of story always does incredibly well. When we worked with a large broadband comparison website I always wanted to do a story on the highest porn-streaming street in the UK.

I was always told that this data was not available. Maybe one for one of the many adult sites out there, based on IP address hits? “Flawed stats” I hear the holier than thou PR brigade cry… I will leave it in their hands, so to speak, to make the data work. Anyway, I digress, well done Uswitch.

More Bad PR

Clearview AI

Clearview AI gets this week’s next Bad PR. In short, this company scrapes and stores all of the facial pictures it can find and identify on the internet from the likes of social media platforms and alike and then offers this database to police and law enforcement agencies around the world.

Some police forces in the UK trialled this software but decided it wasn’t for them, however Clearview AI continued to scrape and store all of our data and pics. The Information Commissioners Office decided this wasn’t on and this week fined it £17m. The clear fear for many is that despite this data supposedly being for Plod use only (and very few would have issues with this) there is a strong chance that this data would eventually end up in advertisers and big companies’ hands and this is a clear breach of personal data.

Remember the scandals about the likes of Tesco getting its hands, entirely legitimately and legally, on the DVLA number plate database and how it was matched to Clubcard data? Think that but on a far more intrusive scale. Well done to the ICO, be off with your evil technology dear Clearview AI.

Funny PR

Elon Musk

Finally, the last Good PR goes to Elon Musk, he of the space-obsessed-billionaire-brigade. He decided to launch a toy that was a whistle in the shape of a Tesla. He said it was for anyone wanting to whistle blow. See what he did there?

The global media lapped it up, everyone had a jolly good laugh, the product sold out and we all ignored the elephant in the room, ie, That Tesla faced some horrific company culture allegations from whistle blowers. Is no one at Tesla brave enough to tell him when he has a bad idea? Still, he got a lot of positive coverage from that whistle and the cynic inside me would say that this would also nudge all the whistle-blower referencing stories down the SERPs in Google.

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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