Sony potentially enters into mortal combat and Apple has a core problem


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

January 25, 2013 | 4 min read

What a stormer of a week in the world of corporate public relations.

Andy Barr says the City can no longer be 'arsed' with Apple

Where to begin? HMV appears to be rising from its near death; WH Smith’s PR team did amazing work and got the brand positive headlines across the board; Easyjet announced better than expected results and Carphone Warehouse had a stormer.

The positive coverage for all of the above is down to hard working corporate public relations types; but what goes up, obviously, must come down and a few companies have had a stinker.

I personally believe Apple has become a victim of its own mystery and intrigue approach to public relations. Denying XYZ new product story only for it to appear to be true several months later, and “accidentally” leaving concept products in high-profile places means that no one knows what is true and what is not.

This vagueness may be cool with the hipster folk of Shoreditch and San Francisco but it is clear that City analyst types can no longer be arsed to get to the bottom of the company’s mystery, and the share price has fallen.

The recent announcements that Apple sales had largely been hampered by the fact that they could not build the products fast enough to satisfy demand, whilst being a nice PR line, did not cut the mustard with analysts.

The share price fell by 10% overnight and the company has now failed to hit its earning targets for the previous three quarters. A sign that the company may be mortal after all.

One company that looks like it is about to enter in to, in my eyes at least, potentially mortal combat is Sony. The Playstationally famous brand got whacked with a £250,000 fine from the Information Commissioner's Office for its data faux-pas.

Now, the sum is not enough to trouble the pocket of our Far Eastern friends, so the news that Sony may be appealing the fine, and thus prolonging the painful headlines, seems to be an odd decision; one that I suspect the PR team may have suggested against.

This could be some senior type flexing their native country’s Never Say Die attitude, or it could be the first sign that Sony is planning to move away from the Playstation brand in the long-term and, as such, doesn’t care about its long-term reputation.

In the short-term, someone needs to have a word. Or, as Kenny Powers says, it could be “sayonara bitches” time for their brand credibility.

This week I am ending on news from the utility sector, an industry I loved working in until I was unceremoniously fired for entirely legitimate reasons (actually involving a fellow Drum columnist).

Moving swiftly on, Scottish and Southern Energy announced that its chief exec, Ian Merchant, was to step down. The media fallout is surely far worse than the PR team could have expected.

There are headlines flying around that he has left with up to a £15m payout, alongside old quotes he is alleged to have made about being tired with attacks on energy companies. This all means he is leaving a mountain of the brown stuff for SSE's PR team to clean up.

I suspect the company may have tried to bury the bad news under Call Me Dave’s Euro Speech and, as such, rushed the announcement; hence the attempt to bat off remuneration questions with rather odd sounding statements.

If you have any corporate PR gossip, why not Tweet me up @10Yetis or just drop me an email


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