Archive for category PR

Bad News: How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism – Full talk plus Q&A

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to our lovely Skeptics in the Pub crowd, where I took about dissecting the media and generally picking out just how to spot PR bullshit in the press. For all of you who were sadly unable to make it, fret not! For we have the whole thing on video. Feel free to discuss in the comments below!

*Sorry for the random sound issues in the middle – apparently passing taxis were interfering with the radio mics. It was not – repeat NOT – any kind of nefarious hacking tactics from the tabloids…

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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, 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: and 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: Women Fake Orgasms!

Fake Orgasm Story? Trot out a Meg Ryan pic

Fake orgasm story? Trot out a Meg Ryan pic

To help me vent my frustration and ongoing obsession with the dodgy PR stories that make the papers on a daily basis, I thought I’d start a bit of a ‘BadPR’ series, taking a look at stories as they appear in the papers, the press release that inspired them (often word-for-word inspiration, no less), and the companies who benefit. Regular readers of the blog will know the score, and irregular readers of the blog will soon pick it up, so without further intro I give you today’s offering:

Ex girls top at fake fun

The fake orgasm capital of Britain is Exeter, claims a new survey. A whopping 57 per cent of women in the Devon town admit to feigning it. Meanwhile, girls in Oxford were happiest in bed with only a third faking their big O. Nationally, one in 10 women admits acting most times. And a fifth said they thought about another man if they wanted satisfaction. – Source: The People

And, alternatively:

Poor show, chaps: Survey reveals nearly one in ten women fake it between the sheets

It is enough to make even the most confident lover a little worried. One in ten women fake an orgasm almost every single time they make love, according to a poll. Researchers found that 48 per cent of British women had faked the height of passion. But an Oscar-worthy 9 per cent admitted it happened every time they have sex. Seven per cent have ended a relationship because they were unsatisfied in bed but just one in ten of those told their partner the real reason for the break-up.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Rude Cockneys, Shrewd Women, Skewed Surveys: Who’d Have Thought It Was All PR?

Few things in life amuse me as much as blatant PR passing off as news. I’ve said that before, and it remains true. So, on this Easter Monday, I thought I’d set you all a little quiz – look at the following headlines, and see if you can guess which company paid for the stories. Got it? Excellent, here we go, answers and analysis below the fold.

  1. Londoners ‘Least Friendly’ in EnglandMetro
  2. Why Women Are Better Handling The Family CashDaily Express
  3. Cheryl Cole Is Celebrity Most Brits Want To Holiday With Unlike Katie PriceMetro
  4. Kids’ £1.8 Billion Repair CostThe Mirror
  5. DIY Ability ‘In The Genes’Press Association

OK, there’s your headlines, have a quick guess (no peeking), answers below.

Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Men Don’t Know Anything About Women’ Says Company Who Don’t Know Anything About Men

Look out fellow men, our secrets are out! Not only is Valentine’s Day is swift-approaching, and therefore supplies of the colour pink and badly-drawn teddy bears on overly-sentimental cards bearing the motto ‘I Wuuurrrrrrve You’ or something equally-nauseatingly trite rapidly running out , but now – now of all times! – the Daily Mail has chosen to expose a dirty, filthy, shameful and completely 100% true fact: none of us male folk know anything, at all, about our womenfolk. Nothing. Nada. Nowt.

Seriously, nothing. Age, hair colour, eye colour, general shape – all alien to us men. Really. It’s remarkable we’re even able to pick them out of a police line-up. Although try asking them what the hell they’re doing in a police line-up, and you’re in trouble. Bloody Women. Harumph. Oops, that might have been wildly sterotypically ignorantly sexist towards the end there, and I can’t go around like that…

…because clearly wild, ignorant, sexist stereotyping is the Daily Mail’s job, as evidenced by their stunningly-accurate-and-definitely-not-made-up research on the amount we fellas know about our missuses:

Think he knows you? Think again! How millions of men don’t know their partner’s dress size, date of birth, or even eye colour

Millions of men! Millions of men don’t know their partner’s date of birth! If the UK population is 60 million, let’s simplify things and say that 50% are male (ratios tend to favour a higher female population, bloody women harumph and all that), that’s 30 million men at most, of which millions don’t know their partners’ eye colour! That’s assuming all have partners. And are straight. Realistically, we’re probably talking about 15 or 20 million men who are straight and attached. So the Mail’s ‘millions’ of ignorant men speaks to a real epidemic! What bastards we are!

ORRRR the Mail made it up. Hmm. Let’s read on beyond the headline, and see if we come out the other side. Read the rest of this entry »

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