Corporate PR world leaps tiger-like into 2013 but Morrisons stumbles


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

January 8, 2013 | 4 min read

Boom, back on it like a car bonnet and the festive period is long gone.

Morrisons' Dalton Philips has his hands full

Positivity and enthusiasm seem to be oozing everywhere at the minute and none more so than in the world of corporate PR, where the spinners and sinners are doing their utmost to try and get their brands the front page love that they so rightly deserve.

But enough of the positivity, let’s start with a brand that is really struggling to shake off its New Year hangover, my favourite northern supermarket, Morrisons.

I was surprised that Dalton Philips, the Head Shed over at Morrisons, did not get a mention in the New Year’s dishonest list for this fantastic PR statement about their plan to move into online shopping: “We're not too late to the party. It's still only 5% of the market, but it is growing very quickly. In some cases, there are last-mover advantages."

There are 'last-mover advantages' - you iron out bugs that other retailers have identified. But I think every business strategist would say that being the last entrant to a very fast moving sector and pinning your recovery hopes upon this is a bit of an uphill struggle.

Minus marks for the PR that put that statement together. It would have been far better to have wrapped it up into a more general statement about the raft of plans they have to get back on their game.

Christmas trading updates are expected from Sainsbury’s on Wednesday and then the biggy from Tesco on Thursday, and any newbie from the world of corporate PR could do worse than read how these two PR-savvy retail giants word their updates and spokespeople statements.

Moving swiftly on, the Virgin Atlantic v British Airways spat is looking as though it may heat up nicely, although I cannot help but feel that it is a very convenient row between Willie Walsh and the PR machine Branson.

It is keeping both airlines in the headlines at the peak holiday buying time and also seems a bit timid compared to the old days, where public bashing resulted in court action.

Walsh should be commended for taking it to a level where he suggested the loser in their current war should get a “knee in the groin”. However, he obviously forgets that, following on from a failed Virgin America PR stunt involving a bungee cord and his Crown Jewels, Branson has balls of steel!

Finally, hats off to the Department of Transport who replied to a toy railway company, BigJigs Rail, who wrote in to apply for the West Coast Mainline franchise.

According to the Telegraph, the application was supported by a free train set that now has pride of place on the MP’s private secretary’s desk.

Vicious rumours that the application was initially and accidentally taken seriously are being denied, although there may be truth in the story that Stagecoach has hired the copywriter who penned the letter to help them write their own transport tender documents (I am, of course, kidding).

Remember, if you spot any corporate PR gossip, tweet me up @10Yetis or, for those less inclined for such nonsense,


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