The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

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This lady ain't for turning - John Lewis, Standard Chartered and RBS get the nod


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

March 7, 2013 | 4 min read

Where to start? It’s been a big week across the board.

John Lewis's snowmen have helped staff to bumper bonuses

First up, massive kudos to two lofty types from our sector: Stephen Waddington for being appointed chair of the CIPR (I describe them as the PR industry plod) Social Media Panel and Drew Benvie who has left 33Digital/Hotwire to form a new agency called

I am not too proud to say that I have a massive career-crush-admiration for both of them, not least for the fact that they let me, as the head of a yokel agency, ask them industry questions and advice. Best of luck to both.

Enough of the lovey-dovey nonsense, on to the brickbats and bonuses.

Bonuses ahoy over at John Lewis where their communications team had the pleasure of announcing that the entire company’s workforce was going to get a bonus that was the equivalent of 9 weeks' pay.

Add to this the fact that the release also referenced a snowman playing a big part in their success and I imagine it was a fun PR office to be in. The blanket positive coverage means that a level 3 size white whine spritzer could be in order tonight.

One brand that is probably best to stick to drinking from the slops bucket is RBS. Last week they were getting hammered for the loss v bonus situation and I said then that I felt that consumers would see through the headlines and support them.

Well, RBS decided to put the final nail in the coffin of consumer positivity by turning off ATM cash withdrawals and some card payment processing for its Natwest brand, allegedly the second time in a short period of time.

The chatty-cathy social network, aka Twitter, went code-red and a whole host of tear-jerking tweets about families and individuals in strife are now being copied and pasted into RBS-bashing editorial across the UK.

The PR team at RBS has obviously never sat in on the many, many crisis communications seminars that mention their rivals HSBC, who dealt so well with exactly the same situation last year that they actually got positive write-ups from the media.

Staying in the banking world, back in August 2012 on this very same blog, I confidently predicted that Standard Chartered Bank was going to bounce back from the Iran-gate reputation situation it faced in America.

Once again, well done for backing me everyone, I was right! Standard has posted good profits this week and has continued to grow.

I was a little disappointed that they did not crow about this a bit more; they deserved to given the tough year they have had but then again, I can see why (cough, a cheeky fine) they kept it on the down low.


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