A new BBC TWO TV series is looking at ‘Business Nightmares’. The show, now two episodes in, is hosted by Evan Davis and so far has looked at advertising gone wrong, PR crises and bad customer service. The most recent episode gave us the familiar stories of Dansani ‘tap water’, Hoover and their ‘free’ flights, Gerald Ratner, Barclaycard and the iphone 4 (yes, we admit that many of these could have done with media training or at least some careful thought about potential damage to their corporate reputation).
While topics of this nature are fairly usual reading material for those of us who work in PR, media or communications it’s perhaps a little surprising that the BBC feel this is now a good subject to push to the wider public, on primetime TV. It’s no secret that shows like Dragon’s Den and the Apprentice have been a big success, but you could argue this was due, in part, to the reality show trend that has taken over much of what UK audiences watch. Does this mean we are going to see more shows on business and business mistakes? Is this a good thing? Does it highlight to the consumer what can go wrong or is it just, rather belatedly, jumping on the band wagon of ‘anti-big business’ in the wake of crises like BP’s spill and the banking meltdown?
The show’s description on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010tbnd) announces;
“Evan Davis uncovers the scarcely believable stories of how some of the world’s most successful businesses have made monumental mistakes… Evan reveals how product design and manufacture can go horribly wrong, leaving customers in revolt and companies in crisis… Evan extracts invaluable lessons from each misadventure in this riveting guide to what not to do in business.”
This indicates the rest of the series will do nothing to help rebuild people’s attitude towards big business. It is a shame that there aren’t a few more programmes which applaud business for getting it right and give the companies involved the right of reply rather than just offering an opportunity for the presenter to point and tut.
Is it too much to ask that we support UK business a little bit more? The economy certainly needs the help at the moment and even with the occasional boost from events like the Royal Wedding, UK-Plc is still suffering from the downturn. Americans are much better than us when it comes to supporting and even championing their own brands and business, whereas we in the UK don’t like to make too much of a spectacle about our feelings towards a brand.
It’s actually quite difficult to find mainstream news stories that champion UK business (even if we accept that it’s bad news that sells). Bankers have again been ‘bashed’ in the media after giving up on the PPI fight – most of the quoted commentators were ‘anti-bank’ (one of the very few quoted from banking itself was the Barclays’ CEO Bob Diamond who said “We don’t always get things right: when we get them wrong, we apologise and put them right.”). Oil and gas companies are given a hard time daily, construction firms only get headlines when associated with falling house prices and in fact about the only positive story we could find on the BBC Business pages a few days ago, concerned the success of Sunseeker in selling yachts to China’s mega-rich; you would be forgiven for wondering if this is a story about UK business succeeding or whether it’s just highlighting the success of the Chinese economy!
Sometimes Public Relations is about being reactive and fighting issues, but the team at Bluewood have got a bit tired of bad news. Surely it’s time for business to ensure they are generating some good news? Otherwise, it’s just up to us to do our bit to champion our own successes a bit better.
Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – May 2011
Footballers, Actors and Politicians are all rumoured to have had them. No not STI’s or conscience’s I’m talking about injunctions. Is it just me or does every Tom, Dick or random celeb seem to be taking out super-injunctions these days? A super-injunction is designed to stop the papers writing about things that could cause a risk to peoples’ lives. It’s ironic that the super-injunctions themselves are currently making the headlines. They seem to be becoming the latest court order to have, like the new ASBO, and are being slapped around left right and centre to prevent the public finding out who’s cheating on who – assuming we have nothing better to do with our lives.
The most recent to unsuccessfully avoid the press is Andrew Marr. He recently relaxed the terms of his super-injunction taken out to protect his reputation after having an extra marital affair. After being ridiculed for being contradictory as a journalist himself and taking out an injunction, Marr said he was embarrassed and “did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/apr/26/andrew-marr-superinjunction-cost-hislop).
David Cameron also got involved in the debate over super-injunctions saying “the judges are creating a sort of privacy law, whereas what ought to happen in a parliamentary democracy is parliament … should decide how much protection we want … so I am a little uneasy about what is happening”.
Another twist to the tale involves former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas who has been named as the woman that a Premiership footballer is alleged to have had an affair with. Unlucky Imogen didn’t have the cash to grant herself anonymity, has fallen foul of the super-injunction ruling and had her name splashed around the tabloids. She recently said on ITV’s This Morning “I just wish that my name was protected. I didn’t have £50,000 to get an injunction”. Though perhaps for an ex Big Brother “star” any publicity is better than no publicity as it’s certainly pulled her back from the z list reality celebrities and got her in the news. If it makes her feel any better the press have had a field day trying to put a second name to the story and he has apparently confessed all to his wife anyway.
Surely it would be simpler to not cheat on your partner and save the money, time and effort? At the end of the day the press are going to speculate and possibly make well informed guesses anyway. These super-injunctions don’t seem to be 100% fool proof, so if you aren’t prepared to do the tabloid time, don’t do the crime? Or is that just too obvious? Perhaps they should invest their money into getting good media training to deal with the fallout of their scandalous ways instead…
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382430/Imogen-Thomas-affair-Premiership-star-won-super-injunction-confesses-wife.html#ixzz1LK7FzNO1