Who buried bad news on budget day? Step forward Barclays, Greggs and the Government itself


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

March 21, 2013 | 4 min read

Budget 2013 - or should it have been rebranded Budget 2014 as that is when many of the benefits that were announced by the Financially-Curious-George actually come into being - was all a bit meh…

Rich Ricci indeed

However, whilst every consumer, tech and SME PR worth their salt was trying to find ways to piggyback on the Budget, some in the shark-infested corporate PR world, once again, saw it purely as a great day to sneak out bad news.

How do I know this? Well, this is what I used to do when I too swam in those chum-filled waters (sadly, I was more of a bloated whale than a Great White).

So, who went a bit sneaky sneaky then?

First up, my old mates Barclays. By the way, they once offered me a job, but I turned it down when I heard they were going through a phase of stand-up-only meetings. Apparently this was to encourage shorter meetings. At the time I was at my all time heavyweight high and did not fancy standing up for hours so I stayed where I was.

I digress, Barclays' investment banking head shed, Rich Ricci, sold 5.7m of Barclays shares that he had been previously given as part of his bonuses over the years. He is rumoured to have trousered nearly £18m. Wow.

This news just happened to come out on the day of the Budget, tut tut (by tut tut I obviously mean great work from a PR point of view).

I entirely believe the Barclays press office when they say that this announcement was planned months in advance. In other entirely believable news, Kerry Katona has won mum of the year again, oh, hang on.

Second up is, erm, the Government.

Now, in their defence the (un)employment figures are announced around this time every quarter BUT, I wonder how much leaning was done to encourage the Office of National Statistics to get the negative news out on the day of the Budget to try and squash its impact.

This nearly bit the Government on the bum though, because the results were released so early that they started getting referenced as being another addition to Osborne’s problems. Luckily, the impact of the Budget announcement did its task and the jobs news has slipped down the agenda.

The one story that troubles me the most, largely because I am their biggest fan, is Greggs. They snuck out a poor sales update today, blaming bad weather for slower than expected trading.

Greggs being Greggs though, I have no doubt that they will bounce back; they have too savvy a marketing and PR operation to let it slide any further.

Finally, one company that got it all a bit mixed up, which is hugely surprising given they are one of the slickest brands out there, is ASOS.

They issued their annual results on Budget day, of all days, which is crazy given their results were so good.

Sales at ASOS rose 37 per cent year on year, a huge amount and something they should have dominated the business pages for, but the clash with the Budget means they have got drowned out and far smaller pieces have been written.

So, hats off to Barclays, The Government and Greggs for perfectly executing the “Bury Bad News” PR101.


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