Adidas score own goal with Brazil 2014 World Cup tee-shirts


A pair of 2014 World Cup tee-shirts has landed sportswear giant Adidas in hot water after Brazil objected to the sexualisation of its image in the run up to the sporting event – of which Adidas is a major sponsor. Cue PR crisis and uproar on social media!

I’m not sure what makes you a PR Crisis Expert, however I do have that tee-shirt from BBC 5 Live and in recent months have spoken about problems as diverse as the Co-op’s ‘Crystal Methodist’ Paul Flowers, the NHS and today on the breakfast show it was Adidas.

There is a certain inevitability of stories like this and with the enthusiasm for the Winter Olympics at Sochi thawing the focus will soon switch to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and Adidas has made an early run for most spectacular own goal by creating these woefully predictable and stereotypical tee-shirts.

I was chatting to BBC 5 Live Sport presenter Adam Parsons and recalled that back when I was at school Adidas stood for ‘All Day I Dream About Sex’, which is presumably what the designer who created these tee-shirts was doing.

I suspect they went through on the nod from some small department and were anticipated to sell in sufficient numbers to make it worth manufacturing them. If they sold they’d make more and if they didn’t they would bin them. No-one considered this might happen.

And what has happened? Brazil complains, Adidas withdraws the tee-shirts and everyone gets briefly excited, but not convinced this will capture the imaginations – not least as the tee-shirts were not being worn by models or anyone famous.

I think the BBC may have been hoping I would predict this will be The Next Big Thing in social media disasters, but honestly I do not think it will and honestly, I cannot see Adidas losing much sleep over this own goal and a quick search on Twitter doesn’t show this has been embraced in the way some problems are. Of course, it could soon be trending as it does have the ‘sex’ factor which does excite many of those adept at making the most of 140 characters.

What is the lesson here? Swift action has mitigated the fallout for Adidas for sure and they haven’t at this stage put up a spokesperson, which is why the BBC is talking to a PR Crisis Expert such as myself. Nor is Brazil so while it is not necessarily wise to only issue a statement, in this circumstance it has limited the story.

A word of caution and one that I shared on air; Brazil is fighting hard to combat its sex tourism image which is why it challenged these tee-shirts. However, in doing so it raises interest in looking more closely at how the country prepares for the World Cup and a quick Google search reveals plenty of stories far more damaging than these tee-shirts for Brazil’s reputation.
What do you think about the Adidas tee-shirts? Tell us in the comments below? 

Could poor customer service be why Tesco is losing its sparkle?

Imagine… you are at the checkout in Tesco and have just bought eight bottles of Taittinger Champagne as gifts for clients… the scene is set for an excursion into poor customer service which we can all learn some lessons from.

So back to the till… As you go to put them in your various bags for life a Tesco employee skips up and takes six bottles, replacing them with some pink fizzy nonsense and by way of explanation says that someone had already bought the bottles online.

Actually the sorry episode I’ve just witnessed over the past painful few days was different, but the principle remains the same. My better half bought the eight bottles online, they were available and she paid and delivery would be the next day.

Two bottles of Champagne arrived… with six inferior bottles of pink Champagne as replacements and when challenged, Tesco’s explanation was that someone had bought the other bottles in store. So to be clear, bottles which had been offered for sale, accepted, paid for and promised were then actually sold to someone else?

Really? Is that what passes for stock management at Tesco? You are able to sell something and promise it to a customer and then take it away and sell it to another customer and replace it with an inferior product.

Naturally in the days that followed there was sorry excuse after sorry excuse and the next promised delivery didn’t turn up and various coupons and platitudes were offered, before it finally turned up in a remarkably allotted ten minute window on Sunday morning.

There is scarcely a day when Tesco is not in the news for some failure or another and all the time you just know it is haemorrhaging customers faster than you can mutter ‘Champagne? Bit of a first world problem surely?’

Rather than crying over the spilt milk in aisle three Tesco needs to get a grip for this kind of customer experience has as much to do with why the likes of Aldi and Lidl are thriving as does price.

The lesson is blisteringly simple. Do not continue to offer for sale something you have already sold!

There is a PR lesson too… when you mess up like this today there is every chance it will be lived out on Facebook and perhaps someone will blog the sorry story and share that widely. Gone are the days when a snafu like this could be hushed away with platitudes.

Surely good customer service should be borne of a desire to help and provide a great experience, therefore engendering loyalty. Failing that, surely you should recognise that sloppy customer service is the bread and butter of social media rants and how many customers does that alienate?

I suspect the beleaguered Chief Executive Philip Clarke will be getting a letter about this very soon and no doubt the response will be informative…
Have you had an interesting customer experience with Tesco? Or any of the other supermarkets? Do share, good and bad examples are welcome as are tales of what you do to provide great customer service. 


Let your public relations be inspired by McDonald’s… Seriously!

McDonald's food offers good PR inspirationNow fear not! I am not going to spend this post puffing up McDonald’s as a firm of PR genius – in fact far from it I could list the myriad bungles – they are often spectacularly poor at public relations.

However I do want to talk about how consistently they deliver their food and what that could mean for your approach to public relations.

The idea behind the success of the Golden Arches is simple; walk into any McDonald’s, anywhere in the world, and the service and product will be consistent whether the interior is coffee shop chic or still plagued by plastic chairs bolted to the floor.

I don’t know how long you have to work at McDonald’s to get those five stars on your badge, or how many times you have to use the same script, but I bet staff need to be consistently consistent and so do you with your PR – and of course social media too.

Consistency is the key to building your enviable PR reputation. As we explain in the popular 30 Day PR Challenge,  as you draw up your media list  of target publications and websites and jotting down opportunities that spread out through the weeks, months and years and plotting to share them on social media, writing your blog and so on, just pause and consider how consistently you can deliver and maintain your PR? How will you measure if it is being successful?

It is better to start and maintain a low level of PR and social media and deliver it consistently rather than some grand scheme or launch which crashes and burns as the daily pressures of running a business become a time sensitive reality. The web is littered with abandoned blogs and what will a journalist make of that?

A great approach I use with clients is to ask them to imagine where the business will be in terms of PR and Social Media in a year’s time – and then to backfill how that can be achieved. It soon will become apparent if the plans are too grand – or if you need more resources.

Call Morgan PR today if you can imagine how a Public Relations and Social Media Strategy could help promote your business.

The Joy of Six – exceedingly good advice from Mr Kipling

Mr Kipling wrote exceedingly good poems and not least this one, which underlines a fundamental rule for journalists and therefore one that anyone serious about PR should understand too.

I kept six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew
Their names are:
What and Why and When
and How and Where and Who.

How? What? Where? When? Why? And Who? These are six questions that all news reports and newspaper stories will have nailed down, often in the first few paragraphs. They answer the questions we ask as readers and viewers and when any of the six points are missing we can be left dissatisfied with what we are reading or watching.

Now, imagine your carefully crafted press release is perfectly delivered to a busy journalist that you have properly researched and guess what will happen when your joyful six is actually an infamous five, less than fantastic four or worse…

Having been a chief reporter on a newsdesk I can tell you precisely what happens. If I had the time, which I normally didn’t, I might have weighed up how good the story really was. If I had another release in front of me which was good enough to use and had the six points… well, guess what happened? Even farmed out to a journalist to chase up the missing information, you have created a reputation for sloppiness.

When we review press releases that have not been published this is often to blame and otherwise good stories have been spiked (not used) for omitting a vital point from the six that Kipling knew so well.

So here is your task for the day – visit The Sun and The Guardian online and find a major news story common to both. Find the six points in each. The Sun will achieve it in less than 200 words and The Guardian in closer to 500, but both will have them. Get into the habit of looking for these six points whenever you read and soon you will remember them every time you write.

Oh yes, just to be sure, I was talking about Rudyard Kipling and not the cake making Mr Kipling!

Adding video to Morgan PR with West Berkshire’s Dudleigh Films

Nigel Morgan of Morgan PR uses the green screen at Dudleigh FilmsFew can deny the appeal of video content on your website and on social media and this week Morgan PR has been working with Peter Cooke of Dudleigh Films to create some powerful messages to help Berkshire businesses understand the benefits of PR and how to get the most from their social media.

Dudleigh Films has a modern studio in Thatcham with a green screen background which makes adding after affects a breeze and for those who need it there is even an autocue device normally the preserve of television presenters and newsreaders.

We had allowed three hours to capture a host of tips and advice that will be shared on my own Twitter feed @Nigel_Morgan and the company twitter account @MorganPR and of course @DailyPRTips and @DailyTwitTips too. They will also provide valuable content for Morgan PR on Facebook.

Naturally, as the author of the 30 Day LinkedIn Challenge the filming also included some powerful tips to get the most out of LinkedIn which will feature within the daily updates we post on my LinkedIn profile. One video will reveal me telling you how important it is to use updates!

I learned some formidable front of camera skills at the sharp end of public relations as a press officer for Thames Valley Police in Berkshire where an ability not to get tongue-tied was paramount when making the public feel safe while appealing for witnesses while the scenes of crime wandered in and out of the crime scene behind me. A busy public speaking calendar also polishes the presentation skills.

Consequently we managed to get 97 different videos ‘in the can’ during the session and now the post production work has begun, to edit and add relevant images, sounds and a professionally produced indent to each and every video. A sneak peak has already revealed some great HD quality to Peter’s filming.

In a few short weeks the videos will start appearing here and across the web and will hopefully help hundreds of businesses improve their PR and social media… and no doubt a few will become clients too.

Peter Cooke of Dudleigh Films, Berkshire videographerThere are still more videos to make, not least one where our clients will explain the benefits of working with leading Berkshire PR and social media consultancy Morgan PR!

Dudleigh Films is a client of Morgan PR and clear a great supplier. We use Peter Cooke with our Media Training in Berkshire.

Currently Peter Cooke (pictured right) from Dudleigh Films is running a cracking offer for businesses and professionals in West Berkshire who are keen to create video content for their website and social media channels. For a mere £200 he will host you in his Thatcham studio for two hours and create up to six ‘talking head’ videos. The price includes subsequent editing.

This is a really excellent way to dip your toe into video and discover how it can transform your online profile.

Michael Gove does PR homework over return to O-Levels

Michael GoveDo you go misty-eyed over O-Levels? I was in the final year to take them back in the summer of 87 and they already felt as if they’d been dismissed by the new kid as GCSEs were ushered in.

Fast forward a quarter of a century and students, teachers, unions and politicians were up in arms as Education Secretary Michael Gove effectively dismissed them and called for a return to O-Levels just as the latest crop of 16-year-olds were sitting those exams.

He was lambasted from all sides and criticised for, among other things, not recognising that many students, often from poorer backgrounds, were not able to flourish with the traditional O-Level exam, but had with GCSEs. It appeared to be quietly put to one side as we got excited about Jessica Ennis and GB team mates instead.

Fast forward to the exam results and those critics were in uproar over inconsistent marking and threats of legal action and it was a sorry mess… step forward Michael Gove today, a man tipped to keep his seat at the cabinet table in the imminent reshuffle, and he condemned the GCSEs as not fit for purpose and pledged an O-Level style exam most students could take by 2014.

Listening to him on Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said of the exam problems:

“It reinforces the case for reform in GCSEs. My heart goes out to those who sat their exams this summer because I don’t think the examination was designed in the most appropriate way. There were inherent problems with the system.

“In fact, what we need to do is replace GCSEs with new exams. I think everyone who sat the exam was treated in a way that wasn’t fair.”

Master stroke. The criticism is more muted this time. Partly because schools are not quite back in session and nor was Parliament, but crucially, much of the powder spent on taking pot shots at Gove has been left damp by criticism of the very exams he wants to replace.

Now, Machiavelli would be proud of Gove. It was trailed the marking of the exams would be tougher this summer and in that knowledge he attacked GCSEs, albeit with crass timing for the students. The results came and his critics took aim at the exam marking and up steps Gove to agree with them and push forward his nostalgic agenda for O-Levels. Clever eh?

If by some mishap in communication he didn’t anticipate the criticism of the results, he has still been nimble enough to let it play out and then step in and capitalise on the opportunity to push his agenda.

So what PR lessons can we learn from this? Clearly if you are setting the agenda and have some knowledge of future announcements you can play this game to mitigate criticism for a project or scheme that may be unpopular. Or at the very least recognise that when the news agenda switches to support your own aims you might be able to ride the coattails to success.

Do you need help with your public relations? Whether you need the ninja-like moves of a Government Minister, or some coverage in your local paper or online, contact Morgan PR today on 01635 812069.

Many thanks to Regional Cabinet for the photograph.

Firewalk PR crisis deftly handled by Tony Robbins press team

Tony Robbins PR CrisisThe media are getting hot and bothered over claims 21 people were burned at a recent firewalking finale to one of lifestyle guru Tony Robbins’ ‘Unleash the Power Within’ events in California. Whatever the truth it reveals how PR savvy the team behind Robbins are at dealing with PR crisis management.

Pausing for a moment to read the thorough stories in America, such as the San Jose Mercury and the Washington Post do reveal that of the 21 only three needed hospital treatment and that the most dramatic eye-witness was a passer-by rather than an injured participant or involved witness. That of course doesn’t stop the story!

Firewalking has been around for millennia and is as much a matter of physics as it is mind over matter and it works tremendously well in a motivational setting as anyone who overcomes there fears of strolling over the coals will emerge the other side energised with a sense of self belief that has the considerable potential to serve them well beyond the few seconds firewalking.

It is the big name of ‘Tony Robbins’ that made this an international news story rather than a nib in the local paper, and the PR team at Robbins Research International recognised this and issued a statement that kept the man himself removed from the unfolding drama. Had he taken part the story would have been even bigger.

They were widely quoted as saying:

“We have been safely providing this experience for more than three decades, and always under the supervision of medical personnel … We continue to work with local fire and emergency personnel to ensure this event is always done in the safest way possible.”

If Tony Robbins himself had said this it would have had more currency, so it was good it was a spokesman, even an unnamed one. However, did you notice it has been abbreviated?

Promptly on request, Robbins Research International sent Morgan PR the full statement:

“On Thursday, July 19, as part of the “Unleash the Power Within” seminar, more than 6,000 attendees participated in the traditional Firewalk across hot coals. We have been safely providing this experience for more than three decades, and always under the supervision of medical personnel.

“A small number of our participants experienced pain or minor injuries and sought medical attention, both at the designated facilities on site and later in the evening. We continue to work with local fire and emergency personnel to ensure this event is always done in the safest way possible.”

The media dropped the date hiding the fact the story is older than headlines might suggest, and the fact 6,000 people firewalked – making 21 less than one per cent of those taking part. The media also omit the explanation of how the pain and injuries were minor and treated on site, with some people seeking medical attention ‘later’ in the evening – further suggesting the minor nature.

Even with these omissions, the media were probably tempered by the facts, which sometimes do get in the way of a good story. It is a good example of a comprehensive statement, which addresses the facts without adding too much information.

Still, the media will always feel free to cherry pick from statements and in PR crisis management it takes the kind of finesse developed as a journalist and refined representing the police or within politics to ensure the mitigating message is not lost and putting forward a spokesman to deliver the message would mean it is communicated in its entirety on any broadcast media – of course in this instance it was more important to minimise coverage rather than mitigate.

If you have a problem that risks turning into a crisis and do not have the resources of Tony Robbins at your disposal, contact Morgan PR or call on 01635 812069 and discover how we can help you manage a PR crisis.

Author names and shame ‘pirate’ and scores excellent PR!

The First Confessor by Terry Goodkind

When we talk to businesses about Organic PR we stress that the best stories simply reflect what you do and when it comes to an established author naming and shaming a ‘pirate’, Terry Goodkind has captured the headlines in a clever, if doubtful method, which simply reflects what he does.

Goodkind has self-published his new novel as an eBook and it went on sale at the beginning of July, with an interesting invitation for would-be pirates, seen below in a screen grab from the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon.

Leaving piracy aside for a moment, the First Confessor is a masterstroke for an established author, it is effectively a prequel and serves as an introduction to a behemoth of a 12 book series that I’ve glimpsed before but never felt inspired to discover which book comes first.

Publishing it as an eBook is clever too; while many book lovers have switched to the Kindle which risks cannibalising real book sales and impacts on book stores, many have become book lovers simply because of the Kindle.

So more sales of the series and other books by Goodkind are likely to follow anyway, but the exposure of a ‘pirate’ has catapulted a book launch which didn’t really capture the headlines, into a story being shared far and wide – and prompting blogs like this one.

It was as soon as the book appeared in a pirated form, stripped of any digital rights, that on the Terry Goodkind Facebook Page the author named and shame a ‘pirate’ and published a photo with the following message:

“So Josh, how about it — no respect for a hard-working author and fellow racing enthusiast? Not even for someone that is emphatically trying to reach out to people that might consider pirating our hard work? Can’t be bothered to read and consider our note on piracy in the front of the book? How ironic you claim to be a fan of books that uphold truth and honour above all else. We hope the price of fame is worth the cost of your infamy.”

As you imagine the ‘pirate’ was hounded and disappeared, deleting personal web pages, social media accounts and links to the pirated book disappeared too.

In the click of a mouse Goodkind achieved great PR and polarised opinion and stirred the debate that he clearly cares about and differs from Paul Coehlo

I do feel very uncomfortable with the name and shame approach, which has bypassed the presumption of innocence and driven an alleged pirate into hiding.

Goodkind is clearly a savvy PR operator and the proof of the pudding of this piece of public relations alchemy is that I’ve just downloaded The First Confessor to my Kindle.