The PR Guru

November 25, 2010

McDonalds try to improve image by introducing a degree course for managers, UK snow could mean businesses need to work even harder on PR, and railway changes are bad PR for government as it is travellers who must pay

Today it has been revealed that McDonald’s is introducing its own degree course in business management for its restaurant bosses in the UK.

The foundation degree, which will be accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University, marks the company’s latest move into education, following the launch of an apprenticeship scheme 18 months ago.

Senior vice-president, David Fairhurst, says it challenges “snobbish” misconceptions about McDonald’s staff.

The degree is a customised version of Manchester Metropolitan University’s management development programme.

It will mean that McDonald’s employees will be able to get a nationally-recognised qualification without leaving their jobs.

McDonald’s is set to publish a company education prospectus as well, after it was given awarding body status two years ago, allowing it to develop and award its own qualifications.

The department store Harrods set up a degree course for its staff, in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University.

Microsoft has its own qualifications which were awarded to about 17,500 people in the UK last year.

In worse news, last weekend was supposed to be the busiest of the year for Christmas Shopping, with the traffic free shopping day (also known as VIP or Very Important Pedestrians’ Day) taking place on Oxford Street and Regent Street in London, but people are continually being put off from going out to the shops because of the snow. Snow is threatening to make it so that retailers do not benefit on what should be an extremely lucrative time of the year.

It seems that is going to be more important than ever for the retailers to get their PR right and make it more enticing for people to go around their shops.

Lastly though, in more bad PR for the government, they have announced plans to spend £8bn on Britain’s railways; buying about 2,000 new carriages to tackle overcrowding, electrifying some lines and pressing ahead with the Thameslink programme; but it is passengers who must pay more for tickets for the investments.

So we are having to pay ourselves for the changes, which seems unfair in this time of recession, when the government could surely help to fund these plans – plus, the work won’t be completed until 2019, with a few changes coming into place in the coming months.


November 11, 2010

Student protests continue – with fears poppies at cenotaph could have been attacked at Whitehall on dayx, following previous breach of Tory HQ

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg called on students to reconsider the coalition’s tuition fees plans before they take part in a day of protests, which is currently underway.

“Examine our proposals before taking to the streets. Listen and look before you march and shout,” says Mr Clegg.

A student protest two weeks ago resulted in an attack on the Conservatives’ headquarters building. Many students across the country protested about the massive increase of Tuition Fees, from just over £3000 per year to £9000 in some cases.

A Police chief admitted that he was caught off guard by the mayhem.

Prime Minister David Cameron this morning criticised police tactics during the riots and called for the full force of the law to be used against violent protesters.

He said: “I was worried for the safety of people in the building because I know people who work in there, not just the Conservative Party but other offices as well. So I was on the telephone. I wanted to know what was happening. I wanted to know that people were safe.”

He added: “People who assault police officers or who smash windows or who break property are breaking the law and yes, those people I hope… will be prosecuted. They should be.

A mob of around 300 had caused damage estimated at £1 million to Millbank Tower in Central London before officers regained control.

The Met said 50 suspected rioters have been released on bail until February pending further inquiries.

At one point officers resorted to issuing warnings on twitter that rioters faced arrest.

This is bad PR not just for students but also for the Police for letting it get out of control.

Today, it was thought that the Cenotaph in London could have been targeted by the protestors as they made their way down Whitehall, but it has been confirmed that not a single poppy was touched – despite rumours that they had been put on a fire.

Protestors did, however, charge the police for the right to pass them, supposedly to pay their tuiton fees in what has become known as dayx.

And, similarly to the protest the other week, the government – namely Michael Gove – have said that the protests have been hijacked by extremists – just as was suggested in the breach of the Tory HQ.

October 7, 2010

Lily Allen awarded damages after press falsely print offensive comments

Looking back to our blog yesterday, about Hipp Organic printing false claims about their baby milk, we have found yet another PR story relating to false allegations being made.

The latest PR news is that famous singer Lily Allen has accepted damages at the High Court in London following claims that she made offensive remarks about the Beckhams, Ashley Cole and Cheryl Cole.

Rude comments were published in French football magazine ‘So Foot’ in May 2009 but it has taken until now for the matter to be resolved.

Allen’s solicitor, Mark Thomson, told Mr Justice Eady that the publishers now accept that she had not made the comments, although obviously it was very bad PR for her. She does, at least, now get to put that behind her and move on.

This is not the first time she has recieved damages relating to this incident though, She claimed £10,000 worth of damages from The Sun, when they reprinted the allegations. The paper issued an apology in a later edition. It seems that she is someone who is not afraid to stand up to any negative comments made against her.

‘So Foot’ has also agreed to pay damages and it is hoped that Lily Allen can get back some positive press from this.

October 6, 2010

PR disaster as Hipp Organic makes false claims about product

Here at Richard Swancott Associates, we are always amazed at the extent to which some companies will go to make money.

In our press release workshops we always tell people to tell the truth, whenever submitting an article, and to be honest. The following is what can happen if you don’t.

The latest PR failure is that Hipp Organic, a manufacturer of Baby Milk, has had an advertising campaign banned for claiming the their product helps to develop a child’s brain.

The advert for Hipp Organic claimed that the milk contained Omega 3 fatty acids, which make for healthy brain and nervous system development.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority have now ruled that this was misleading and that the claims cannot be used in any more promotional material.

Hipp Organic have obviously defended themselves by saying that they were telling the truth and that the magazine advert was not about mental performance. It just suggested that a specific health benefit could be gained by using the product.

So, there you have it folks. Be honest and tell the truth – because no good will ever come of making false claims… only bad PR.

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