Good and Bad PR:  Good PR for Asda, but Michelle Mone and Mick Lynch get Bad PR

Well hello there mince pie and tinsel fans, here we are again with a fresh dollop of Good and Bad from the world of Public Relations.

Bad PR

Oil price fixers

Let’s start with the real baddies in life, petrol pricing strategists. At a time when many of the UK is about to take long car journeys to see the relatives that they have successfully avoided all year, the main winners in all of this are the people associated with the petrol and diesel industry.

The Competition and Markets Authority stopped short of calling them all price-fixing-b*stards, but in one of the sternest announcements from a Government department since that time the former UK Prime Minister, Hugh Grant, nailed the American President in Love Actually, shots were fired across all fronts.

The refineries are being accused of not passing on price cuts from the oil drillers and the retailers (big brand garages and supermarkets) are being accused of running “Rocket” (fast up) and “Feather” (slow to come down) pricing. The only group showcased for any kind of praise was the independent garages which are reported to be slashing their prices to well below the supermarkets to try and drag customers in. Small retailers for the win, keep your eyes peeled.

Good PR

Asda

Speaking of supermarkets and Asda has had a brilliant week in the world of PR. The main win obviously being that it was announced as being the cheapest online grocery store for over 12 months now across the CPI basket of goods courtesy of Alertr.co.uk (cough, I own 50% of Alertr, for the record) but it also announced a hiring spree that got it even more coverage.

It will be hiring 10,000 new employees across the roll out of its convenience stores by 2026. Against a backdrop of economic doom and gloom in the UK, this stood out as a shining beacon of positivity. This is part of Asda planning to have around 300 new convenience stores in operation by 2026 and this is on top of the ones it is buying from the Co-op. What a week for the mighty Asda PR team.

Munro Vehicles

Continuing the positive UK business theme and Munro Vehicles of The Scotland announced two wins this week.

The first is its launch of a glorious looking, made in the UK, all-terrain, 4x4, all-electric vehicle that will be seen as a credible threat to the Land Rover Defender (the once British icon, now owned by the India based Tata). The second was that it is moving to a brand-new, purpose-built, factory in Scotland in 2024. Kudos to the small, but super strong UK car brand for giving us some cheer this week.

Murky PR

Michelle Mone

Moving back to the world of murky and Lady Michelle Mone announced this week that she was taking a leave of absence from her position in the House of Lords in order to “clear her name” about the growing number of accusations that she faces around her allegedly financially benefitting from PPE and Covid contracts that she helped various companies to win.

To the untrained legal or investigative eye (me!) it would appear that her defence is that no monies from these contracts actually went directly into her bank account. The audit trail dug up by various national newspapers, allegedly supported by a bank investigation document that looked into the goings on, makes for fairly grim reading in terms of her family having allegedly benefited, but until the final investigation results come out, we should probably not jump to any conclusion.

I have a very uneasy feeling that somebody, somewhere, is about to get thrown, or is at least being moderately pushed, under the bus, and not just the UK taxpayer. Having danced in the political PR arena a few times I do wonder if this is a classic dead-cat strategy and Mone is potentially being thrown to the wolves in order to distract us away from bigger, more high-profile individual(s), doing something similar, or maybe worse. Or, am I just an old cynical PR?

Mick Lynch and RMT

My PR spidey senses also tell me that the tide of public opinion is maybe beginning to turn on Mick Lynch and the rail worker strikes as they come in for Bad PR this week. Everyone (including myself) laughed along as he destroyed the UK political and media elite earlier in the year with his ruthless and fairly rare interview technique of speaking honestly and factually (will never catch on).

Fast forward to strikes looming on the run up to, and over the Christmas period and even the BBC and Guardian have ever so slightly changed the tone of their reporting around the strike action. I took to the social media home and mouthpiece of the historically lefty community, Twitter to take the pulse on what the whiners had to say via another one of my entirely scientific polls.

At the time of writing 60% of the respondents said that they felt that public support was falling for the rail workers and unions. Of course, the power of this column means that you cheeky scamps will go and skew the results by voting in your droves, but as is rarely the case, could my initial spidey sense be correct? If so, then I am afraid it is Bad PR for Mr Lynch today as he may well have overplayed his hand.

So what do we reckon? Got it right or wrong, you tell me over on The Twitter.

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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