Good and Bad PR: Top take outs this week are Starbucks coffee, fish and chips and curry - not smoothies from Pret
Welcome along to another week of hits and misses from the world of public relations with me, Andy Barr, offa 10 Yetis Digital.
We can’t start the week without addressing the very troubling case of Nicola Bulley. I will offer no comment on the very sad outcome other than to speak about the communications side, which has been truly awful in regard to how Lancashire Police handled it.
Operationally, I am sure the police did everything correctly, but the way they handled the media announcements were shocking and when I commented publicly about this I was inundated with messages from communications professionals who work with the emergency services to say this is becoming all too common. Considering the vast amount of money being spent by police forces across the UK on hiring communications staff, the fact their advice is being ignored is farcical.
Looking at the Lancashire Police press conferences alone it would appear that media training was either ignored or declined - and certainly no attempt at role-playing potential questions to give answers that would increase trust in the force took place before the event.
As many commentators have said, due to recent high-profile criminal cases involving serving police officers, UK consumer trust in the police is at one of its lowest points in history. More needs to be done to get people on side and stronger and more effective leadership needs to be set in place. Part of that effective leadership stems from great communication and oratory skills.
I am firmly of the opinion that we muggles in the street have no right or need, to know what actions a police force is taking to solve an active case, but the 24/7 demands of the modern media means that the police are increasingly being drawn into seemingly narrating their every move and this cannot be right. More trust in the advice given by the communications professionals hired by the emergency services needs to be given in order to navigate their way through this low-consumer-confidence time.
Department of Health and Social Care
One area of Government communications that is doing well this week is the Department of Health and Social Care. It has finally made a small breakthrough on the negotiations with striking NHS workers.
We've agreed to enter talks with @theRCN to find a fair and reasonable settlement, recognising the vital role nurses play and wider economic pressures.— Steve Barclay (@SteveBarclay) February 21, 2023
Strike action will be paused while this happens. Read our joint statement here. 👇 https://t.co/xa37MTJgDq
It won’t sound like much, but Steve Barclay, secretary of state for health and social care, and the Royal College of Nursing have issued a joint statement (for the first time since the strikes began) saying the next set of strikes were being put on hold so that “intensive talks” could take place. Both parties have made hugely positive noises about negotiations taking place and although these talks are only affecting the nursing staff, it shows a sliver of hope that our own Winter of Discontent could finally be showing signs of easing.
It's good news for fish (and chips)
If the number of industries going on strike seems to be on the way down, the same can’t be said for the price of the nation’s favourite takeaway, fish and chips. The owner of the UK’s largest chain of beige food specialists has said that prices for the battered goodness are yet to reach their peak. This is a hard message, expertly communicated, which is why I am giving James Lipscombe Good PR.
Fish and chips are yet to reach price peak, industry boss warns https://t.co/U9sexXJfW7— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 22, 2023
James is the CEO of the Chesterford Group, and he said that no longer being able to import Rusky fish, combined with higher potato and oil costs has seen the brand having to raise its prices five times over the last 12 months. Fish prices have increased by 50%, cooking oil by 75% and increased cost of poo to fertilise potatoes meant that a tonne of spuds was now costing £400.00
The only way that they have been able to stabilise prices is because consumer demand has switched from battered fish to my own favourite, battered sausage and chicken nuggets which have seen demand increase by over 10%.
All of this is before the energy price increases come into play. This is a great example of a negative story being fantastically communicated by the CEO, James Lipscombe.
Another takeaway chain that has had a strong global communications week is Starbucks. It announced that it is launching olive-oil infused coffee in Italy. The brand has struggled to crack the coffee-snob-packed nation of Italy and its plan to combine two of the nation’s three favourite items (coffee and olive oil) seems to be a winning formula.
The next obvious step would be to add some form of pasta or pizza element, but I think that is a long way off yet.
Pret A Manger and adult Slush Puppies
In what seems to be a takeaway heavy week, Pret gets Bad PR for upsetting the middle class media elite. It announced that it was canning off milkshakes and smoothies because they take too long to make. Consumers who use the Pret subscription service seemed most annoyed.
Pret A Manger to scrap smoothies, frappes and milkshakes https://t.co/8A1MPymwLr— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) February 21, 2023
Pret announced it was bringing in what it described as “the biggest drinks innovation in more than five years”, which turned out to be ice machines, so I am guessing it is an adult slush puppy. When I was first tipped off about this story by my mucka Alan Morrison I really felt it was a meh story.
Then I Googled it and saw the flood of big ticket hatchet jobs being done on the brand by the likes of the BBC and realised two things. One, many journalists use the Pret subscription service. Two, brands need to check how many journalists are customers before they change anything. I jest… poor Pret.
My final story has to now also be takeaway related and I loved seeing the coverage coming in for the National Curry Awards. It was media hit thanks to it having plenty of regional news opportunities.
The overall winner of Indian Restaurant of the Year went to Alessi restaurant in Stoke on Trent. Personally, I am a chicken balti fan, should anyone be interested.
Mentions in dispatches this week goes to; Bad PR for the meat industry lobbyists who stand accused of running a slow-burn conspiracy theory campaign against plant-based and cell-cultured meat producers. Bad PR for Insta and Facebook for copying Elon and his paid-for Blue Tick monetisation plan. Bad PR for Twitter for removing two-factor authentication unless you sign up to Twitter Blue. Good PR to Southeastern Railway for rebranding London St Pancras station to London St Pancake for pancake day only.
Thank you very much and please do get in touch to tell me how wrong I have got it. I love those messages the most.
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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