Posts Tagged surveys

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 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: A Peek Behind The Poll Curtain

Regular readers of the site are possibly familiar with a few reports I’ve done in the past, looking at Bad PR. I’m not sure I ever clarified what Bad PR actually is – instead I’ve just taken a headline or a story touted around the various rags of the English press, and tracked it back to the initial press release issued by some company or other – often only peripherally related to the subject of the press release – and generally banged a big grumpy drum at all of it. Fans of that, don’t dispair – I’m sure I’ll be back some other time, drum in tow, merrily – and of course grumpily – banging away for your amusement. Or something.

But for now, I’m going to put my drum away, step away from the awkward and restrictive music metaphor I seem to have forced on myself, and take you through the other side of this sorry affair that is this whole murky world of surveys, PR and the news.

You see, newspapers need content – gone is the day when a journalist can scout stories, call up sources, check facts, and do all that other good stuff you see in political thrillers, where the diligent and handsome-in-a-shabby-sort-of-way journalist uncovers some political scandal or other, and – after huge rows with his cartoon character of an editor – publishes the lot to international acclaim. Those guys don’t really exist any more. Instead, more often than not, journalists have so many column inches to fill that they barely even have the time to check what day of the week it is.

Because of this, it’s insanely easy for any PR company to hand them a nice juicy press release, a write-up of a public survey complete with numbers and percentages and opinions, topped off with a nicely surprising or sexy finding. Newspapers lap that up, and goes out pretty much unedited, which is where my big grumpy drum comes in.

But where do these survey come from? And what role do they have in fashioning said sexy or surprising findings? Well, I’m always one to put my neck on the line, so I decided to visit the charming website of my favourite pollsters – One Poll, who were responsible for finding out that people think Jeremy Clarkson is probably well hung – and I joined up as a poll-ee, which you might think is a made up word but 78% of the 100 people I asked said it was perfectly valid. See, I’m getting into the spirit already.

Being a pollee is not without it’s benefits, of course. I mean I say that, but it almost literally is without it’s benefits – for each poll you take part in, your account is credited with a generous ten pence, which is yours to do with as you please. Slight catch – you only see the cold hard cashola once you’ve accumulated £40, so unless you’re in it for the long haul, One Poll don’t have to pay you a penny. Excellent. Read the rest of this entry »

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