Archive for category Bad PR

Bad News: Happily Promoting Bogus Research?

Today, I want to talk to you about Man Bags. Or, rather, I specifically don’t – what I WANT to do is tell you a tale of two bullshitters. You’ll see what I mean as I go. So, from the Telegraph on Feb 14th:

They are the ultimate symbol of a modern metrosexual, sported by David Beckham and Brad Pitt: the man bag. But the grown-up satchel is responsible for causing serious back injuries, according a group of medical experts.

Please note the medical experts bit there, that’s important.

Man bags have come of age in the last decade, replacing the old-fashioned briefcase, and sported by an increasing number of commuters. Unlike a stiff attache case which has a carry handle, a man bag has a strap and is usually made of soft leather or canvas, allowing men to sling it across their backs.

When they first appeared in offices across the country, the owners were often mocked for adopting the distinctly Continental fashion of men having handbags. They were the final nail in the coffin for the era of furled umbrellas, sturdy brief cases and even stiffer upper lips.

But an increasing number of high profile men from David Beckham to Jude Law sporting them meant the trend took off. John Lewis said sales of man bags have increased 21 per cent over the last year, with shoppers buying ever smaller ones thanks to the iPad, the tablet computer made by Apple, being able to squeeze into smaller spaces.

Quite the appeal to celebrity to sell this story so far, with Beckham, Jude Law and Brad Pitt getting a mention. Even the photo was of Beckham and Jude Law. The Mail, similarly, went for a huge Beckham picture, despite the fact that the article is supposedly about back pain caused by heavy man bags – not something we know of Beckham suffering from. Hey ho, this is the news.

Footballer David Beckham has one, as does movie star Robert Downey Jr and model David Gandy (no idea!)– but slinging a man bag over your shoulder could give you a serious back injury, experts warn.

There’s that expert again I wonder who they might be. A medical back specialist? Physiotherapist? Posture expert? Even a humble old GP?

New research from the British Chiropractic Association found that men are carrying too many ‘essentials’ with them on their travels.

That’s right, the BCA – latterly famous for unsuccessfully suing Simon Singh for alluding to the fact that Chiropractic is based on nonsense and is bogus. Red flag ahoy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad News: If Only The Sun Knew What ‘Hypocrisy’ Meant…

Occasionally, my searches for Bad PR / Bad News (rebranding, here!) take me places I wouldn’t otherwise go. Like, for example, to The Sun website, where I was alerted by @cathyby and @DrPetra to this odious piece of PR bullshit:

You’re the affair-er sex, girls!

WOMEN are now more likely to cheat than men, a survey reveals.One in five said they would “definitely” have an affair if they fell for another bloke.

In contrast, just nine per cent of fellas were certain they would betray their partner.

The study of 3,000 people has for the first time exposed girls as the bigger love rats.

Wildly-misogynistic with an undercurrent designed to promote the kind of sexual mistrust which can really damage a relationship? I’m sure I read something similar in the not-too-distant past… oh, yes, that’s right, in The Sun:

One in 10 trick dads

One in ten mums TRICKED their fella into getting them pregnant, a survey revealed yesterday.

Top ruses were lying about being on the pill or just not mentioning contraception.

A quarter of those who duped their man said he ‘would have given in one day anyway’, the survey of 3000 mums found.

But half said they were not even bothered if the father stuck around.

Back then it was a poll by my favourite bullshit-mining marketing team OnePoll on behalf of misguided parenting club Bounty, and caused some genuine controversy, more of which you can read here. Although I’ve not seen anything which confirms this, I’d say the angle and the structure of the story strongly reeks of OnePoll again, but that is of course just conjecture. So, back to this latest worthless PR guff (because I’m going somewhere with this) Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad News Prediction: Connection Personal Trainer

So, it’s 2011 (Happy New Year, by the way). It is. I know, I know, 2010 has only just finished and now we’ve a whole other year to deal with, but that’s the way cyclical progression works I suppose.

Anyway, not a long article from me today, more of another attempt at a spot of PR predicting. If it comes off, I’ll tell you how I knew, but for now I’m going to be all Mystic Meg and cryptic. So here goes:

Within the next 2-3 weeks, I predict:

  • We’ll see articles in the Daily Mail (or Mail on Sunday) and a few other outlets all trumping up the wonder of a company called Connection Personal Trainer or IWantRealResults.com, or both.
  • The article(s) will run with or refer to the point that many people are engaging in new diets as part of their New Year’s Resolutions, and weight loss is a concern to them.
  • The article(s) will potentially have a celebrity angle, around the topic of personal trainers, probably pushing the notion that they’re now not just for the rich but for the everyday man too.
  • The article(s) will potentially include a case study of someone who has lost weight with the programme, or someone who wants to lose weight and is starting it.

I think that’s enough to be going on for the moment. Now, let’s see if I’m right…

(Also, I’m toying with renaming my Bad PR stuff to Bad News, because it’s snappier. Just so you know).

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Bad PR Prediction: Football, Love and Gambling

You’re all used to me finding a news story and tracking it back to the company who sponsored it, by now, I’m sure. Today I’m feeling a little adventurous, and so instead I’ve written the news story myself, based around surveys I’ve seen lately. This may not come off, but if it does – remember where you heard it first!

One in four British men would rather kiss goodbye to their girlfriend than their teams chances of a cup win.

A recent survey of 1000 UK fellas revealed that a quarter of men put footy above nookie, with more than one in five confessing they’d rather be dumped than have their team be dumped out of the cup.

To make matters worse, almost a third of men would choose football over their partner.

These startling results were revealed after research was carried out by betting exchange company FictionalBetExchangeCompany ahead of the third round of the FA Cup this weekend (8th January 2011).

Stevenage Borough fan Joe Bloggs, whose team of minnows play premier league giants Newcastle United this weekend, said he wasn’t surprised by the findings: “I’ve followed Stevenage all my life, and this weekend is the most exciting weekend of the year for me.

I love my girlfriend, but girls come and go – your team is yours for life. I’d give up sex for a year if it meant that Stevenage won the cup this season.”

Elsewhere in the survey, it was revealed that we’re happier risking our lives on the road than risking a fiver on a flutter. More than 1 in 5 of us avoid crossing the road on a red light, while 1 in 6 of us claimed to avoid gambling. FictionalBetExchangeCompany spokesman Bob Bobson said, “This just goes to show how bad we are at judging risk. People cross the road on red lights on a daily basis, but it’s surprising how many people won’t put five pounds on a football match.

Gambling can be a fun, exciting addition to a sporting event, and with the great rates we offer at FictionalBetExchangeCompany it’s easier than ever to have a little flutter on the big match”

The above, I stress again, is my entirely-made-up account of where I think the survey might go. If you see it in the news, let me know!

For those of you who are curious, here’s the source questions in the survey which inspired me: http://yfrog.com/h4yxsunj and http://yfrog.com/h2vsxfj. Of course, I could be completely wrong – one of the practices of these kinds of stories is to tailor a survey around the result you want (‘footie-mad men prefer cup success to girls‘) and then get the data to back up your conclusion.

However, sometimes the data entirely contradicts what you predicted – so you simply mine that data for interesting angles, and go with that instead. So if you see a ‘loved-up guys would give up the cup for their girl’ story, that counts too… after all, this is PR, and an angle is an angle, so long as the company’s name gets in the papers.

On top of that, there are a couple of hooks which I’ve taken a bit of a gamble on – given the mention of the FA Cup, it would make sense for the story to come out in January, around the time of the FA Cup 3rd round. I picked a Stevenage fan, as they’re the smallest team playing a relatively-big Premiership team that weekend, and so they’re amongst the most newsworthy, especially in a story about the magic of the cup. And I’ve thrown sex in there, for the hell of it.

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Bad PR: Misogyny on the Bounty

As readers of this site will probably know, I have a bit of a beef when it comes to bullshit PR companies spouting Bad PR, and in particular with a company by the name of OnePoll.com.

OnePoll is an interesting beast – is business model is to pay people around 10p for their participation in a relatively quick online survey, with the idea being that the more surveys you take part in, the more you earn. The upshot of this means the quicker you complete the survey, the faster you can move on to the next one. It also means that when you’re asked a screening question like ‘Are you single or in a relationship?‘, and you can see the name of the survey is ‘Being In Relationships!‘, it’s pretty easy to see that to enter the survey and claim your shiny 10p, you obviously pretend to be in a relationship. Or pretend to be a football fan. Or pretend to be self-employed. Etc. For the sake of your 10p, you enter a load of results which become utterly meaningless.

The speed issue has a knock-on effect elsewhere, too. As I’ve pointed out before, when asked a badly designed question like ‘Which celebrity would you least like to go on holiday with?‘ where the possible responses are from a set list, rather than stopping to think, ‘Actually, I don’t care about any of these people, I’d like to tick the none of the above option, but there isn’t one‘, instead you pick a choice fairly-randomly, fairly-quickly and progress on towards your 10p, and so we get this in the newspapers: Cheryl Cole is celebrity most Brits want to holiday with unlike Katie Price.  I can imagine the most significant factor in these types of questions is often the order the options are presented, rather than their actual content, with a bias towards the options that appear first in the list (that would be my prediction, anyway).

What’s more, to get you started, when you first sign up to One Poll you get something in the region of £2, too – so it feels like a breeze to start really earning. Here’s the kicker though, and of course there is one – before you see a penny of your earnings, you need to accrue £40. At 10p per survey, that’s 400 surveys. I’ve been playing for about months now, and I’m on about £17. So, I can imagine there would be a pretty reasonable fallout rate as people became disillusioned with the process and give up, and thus often OnePoll never have to pay a penny to most of the people they survey. Which makes their business model pretty cheap, then.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad PR: Marriages Go Stale After A Decade!

Bad news for married couples today, as researchers have shown that marriages go stale after 10 years 11 months? From the Mail (amongst others):

Couples may feel relieved to make it past the ‘seven-year itch’ without marital strife.

But it seems their problems may only just be starting.

Married couples begin to grow bored with each other after ten years and 11 months, according to researchers.

Researchers indeed, but who funded the survey? Read the rest of this entry »

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