Posts Tagged Bad PR

On Cheese, Sleep and Nightmares

Unlike Mike, who spends his days in a dinosaur and doctor who lined back bedroom surrounded by overly-sociable cats and DVDs of 90s kids TV, I work in an office for a living. Which means, office conversations, where office topics come up. So it means I know rather too much about Heat Magazine, Glee, Tinnie Tempah and films like ‘The Hangover’ and ‘The Hangover 2: Hangoverer’. And it also means when a standard nugget of urban myth or popular received wisdom comes up, people look in my way to dispute it.

Sometimes, that’s not too difficult – it turns out the world is in fact facing genuine climate change, and the US government were not involved in 9/11, and that dog’s CAN look up.

Still, there was one that caught me out for a little while, when a colleague of mine casually mentioned avoiding cheese before bed, so as to avoid getting nightmares. This is something that’s a real piece of received wisdom here in the UK – I’m not sure of it elsewhere in the world – but it’s something most people would have heard of. It’s the kind of thing your mum says to you, like the thing about not feeling the benefit of your coat if you wear it indoors. It’s also the kinda thing Mythbusters would look at, although it would represent a bit of a low-fi myth to bust, a bit like proving that once you pop you can actually stop if you like.

Now, I was fairly certain that it would be unlikely, as I couldn’t imagine a mechanism, but that doesn’t mean as such that it’s untrue, and I’m often wrong – probably more often than not. No, wait, that’s not right. See, I’m at it again. So I thought I’d check it out. First stop, Google, which picked up a few Daily Mail articles and the BBC Focus Magazine, the latter of which suggested:

“Any heavy meal before bed can make you spend more time in REM sleep and therefore dream more. But there is no evidence to suggest that cheese is particularly effective at causing dreams, good or bad.”

This seemed decent information, but a little obvious. How would a folk myth arise when the answer was so simple? I wasn’t sure, so I thought I’d look into it a little more. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad News: Clarkson’s Cock Rides Again!

A few weeks ago I gave a BadNews talk at Ignite Liverpool, a cool evening where people from all manner of backgrounds give 5-minute talks on something that interests them. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.

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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, 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: 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 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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