Monthly Archives: January 2013

“People book holidays online!” says online holiday company

Are you using your time at work to book your holidays? Apparently so, says the Daily Mail:

A fifth of holidays are booked on work computers, says new poll

If you’ve ever wondered why your colleagues occasionally look more happy than they should do dealing with the daily grind, there’s a chance they might be booking a holiday rather than addressing their workload. 

As many as 21 per cent of people polled in a survey by sunshine.co.uk admitted they sorted out their holiday arrangements during their company’s time.

Source: Daily Mail, 6 January 2013

It’s worth bearing in mind a number of things, at this stage:

  1. This is a self-reported survey, of which options some people select, in an online survey where speed is rewarded over accuracy.
  2. The survey was commissioned by an online holiday firm called ‘sunshine.co.uk’, who really only care about telling you that you can book your holidays online with them.
  3. The main take-home point in the statistics isn’t anything to do with whether holidays were booked during work hours (that’s merely the attention-grabber), but instead that:

In what is a sign of the times, just 4 per cent of those who have been away recently booked their trip at a high street travel agency, the poll found.

In fact, this entire story is published simply to remind you that booking a holiday online is simple, and that sunshine.co.uk is a website where you can do exactly that.

“Men use the internet!” says internet company

Men, it turns out, are heavy internet users, and sometimes use the internet to look at women, according to the Daily Mail recently:

Want to know what he’s really doing online? Keeping Up With The Kardashians! Men are hooked on celebrity gossip too (but they also surf for sport news… and porn)

While many women may be aware that their other half frequently checks the sports results online and occasionally takes a peek at porn, they might be shocked to learn that their boyfriends or husbands may well know as much about the comings and goings of the Kardashians as they do.

A new study has revealed that men are spending more time per week surfing the internet than (sic) – and the study of 2,000 adults found that while women use the internet mostly for Facebook and shopping, men surf for porn, sport and news – including plenty of celebrity gossip.

Source: Daily Mail, 4th January 2013

It transpires, then, that men are spending more time on the internet than women – of course, if the results had been reversed and it were women who logged more hours online, that too would have been headline worthy. So, for the company using this as the angle to get their name into the press, it’s a no-lose situation.

From there, throw in a little data-mining from an unreliably self-reported online survey (bear in mind this isn’t measuring what people do, but what people admit to, or even which options people tick when asked to fill-in a quick-turnaround PR survey), add a Daily Mail-friendly celebrity name to guarantee a nice eye-catching photo, and it’s easy to see how this can become a perfect piece of Daily Mail fodder for the company behind it. And who is that company?

The research, which was commissioned by Siteopia.com, found that men are four times more likely to access porn or ‘not safe for work’ material. 

That would be Siteopia.com, the domain registry site:

And just to force the point home, there is of course the inevitable self-serving quote from a company spokesperson:

A Siteopia.com spokesman said: ‘The results showed men to be the biggest internet users, spending more time reading the news and showing a much bigger tendency for gaming online.

‘Like everything, it’s important to recognise what enhances and benefits our day to day lives, while making sure we focus on quality sites and services that add convenience and enrich our routines rather than simply fill time.’

So, essentially, ‘the survey we funded says the internet is vital to people, so people should use a quality intenet based-service such as us’. 

“People are forgetting to eat breakfast!” says breakfast food company

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – we’re told this regularly, and it’s constantly in the media – and, as we all know, if a message is given to us relentlessly in the media, it has to be because it’s the truth… from the Daily Mail, January 3rd:

Too BUSY to diet? Half of Brits say fast-paced lifestyles makes it impossible to eat heathily (sic)
– More than 50 per cent of Brits say they are too busy to go on a diet
– 40 per cent revealed they eat breakfast in less than 10 minutes
– A fifth admitted to skipping breakfast and lunch altogether, instead choosing to snack throughout the day

If you’re planning a January diet to shift the extra pounds piled on over Christmas, you had better make sure you can find time in your schedule.

A new survey has revealed that more than 50 per cent of British people are too busy to eat properly and instead rely on food eaten on the go.

As a result, healthy eating is made harder, with many relying on snacks and sandwiches to get through the day.

Source: Daily Mail, 3 January 2013

It seems we’re a nation intent on losing weight and eating right – it is January, after all, and resolutions are kicking in – yet we’re persistently thwarted by the age we live in, meaning our attempts always fall on stony ground.

It’s fair to assume, also, that the Daily Mail are decrying our ability to eat healthily, and that it was a mere typo in the very headline of the story that suggested we instead struggle to eat ‘heathily’ (either that, or the Mail are particularly frustrated at the restaurant facilities in the most isolated areas of the moors).

Most interesting of all is the finding that we’re increasingly skipping breakfast – the meal we’re told is:

…said by nutritionists to be the healthiest meal of the day and essential for dieters…

This is of particular interest, given that the originators of the ‘study’ were the New York Bakery Company – purveyors of fine breakfast bagels, and entirely impartial on the matter of how many people ought to be eating breakfast, and where they ought to buy their breakfast from.

“Everyone else’s New Year’s resolution is to clean their houses!” says cleaning product manufacturer

In the PR world, New Year’s resolutions provide a common, popular and fundamentally easy hook, as was proven once again in the Daily Mail on January 3rd:

Filthy houses and flabby thighs, be gone! Britain’s top New Year’s resolutions for 2013 (but they’ll be ditched by February)
– Sixty percent of Brits make three resolutions in January…
– …but half give them up after five weeks
– A cleaner house, more exercise and less spending are top goals for 2013
– Londoners most likely to make resolutions, Welsh people the least

Filthy houses and flabby thighs are the things we’d most like to banish in 2013, according to new research.

But although cleaning up and exercising more have been named Britain’s top New Year’s resolutions, most of us will give up both of them by February, as the average person sticks to their new life goals for a measly five weeks.

Source: Daily Mail, 3 January 2013

People everywhere, it seems, are intent on cleaning up their ‘filthy’ houses during 2013. If only someone were on hand to help us…

Research by Vileda revealed that 29 per cent of Brits plan to keep their house looking spotless next year – the same number that plan on exercising more.

That would be Vileda – ‘Europe’s leading cleaning brand and your solution for household cleaning’.

And to explain just how important cleaning is, here’s a helpful spokesperson from the company, speaking in the Mail:

Lindsey Taylor of Vileda said: ‘Exercising, dieting and giving up things such as smoking or drinking are all traditional resolutions for the New Year.

However, cleaning up the home is now top of our agenda as well as cleaning up our lifestyles. Many of us want a completely fresh and clutter-free start to the year and as they say, a tidy house equals a tidy mind.’

Essentially, then – cleaning company says cleaning is important. Go figure.

“Women have lots of make-up!” say make-up retailers

Have you ever noticed that women have a lot of make-up? The Daily Mail has. Frequently. For instance:

That’s a lot of lippy! Women spend £172 to fill average make-up bag

A make-up bag can be among a woman’s most precious belongings.

So perhaps it is no surprise that the average value of its contents is a rather expensive £172.

A survey of more than 2,000 customers of beauty retailer Escentual.com found that a make-up bag and contents were often the single most expensive item that many women took out of the house with them.

Source: Daily Mail, 17 January 2013

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Who were the company who figured out that women spend a lot of money on make-up? That would be make-up retailer Ecsentual, who make money from women spending a lot on make-up.

Such startling and mascara-heavy-eye-opening findings isn’t Ecsentual’s first foray into hard-core research – in fact just a week earlier their crack team of researchers discovered that women keep the make-up they buy until they’ve used it up:

Is YOUR eyeshadow a breeding ground for bacteria? Women keep make-up for six YEARS after expiry date – leaving them at risk of infection

A new survey reveals British women keep hold of their make-up products for six years after they go off – behaviour that could potentially be a ticking health time bomb.

Many Brits are holding onto their make-up treasures much longer than the use-by date, exposing them to toxins and bacteria, which lead to unnecessary breakouts and risk of eye infections.

Eyeshadow was revealed as the item that spends the longest time languishing at the bottom of make-up bags, with women keeping hold of them for seven years – nearly six years too long.

Source: Daily Mail, 9 January 2013

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The real tragedy to Ecsentual’s research is that it comes just too late for the poor hapless male, who may have been tempted to venture into the make-up market just weeks before these remarkable findings came out, in buying their partners gifts for Christmas.

‘Of course it’s what I wanted dear’: Women will throw away £676million of unwanted Christmas and birthday beauty gifts
– On average, British women will bin £26 of unwanted beauty gifts
– Total wasted money of spurned presents adds up to £676million
– ’Always check it’s her brand’ says firm that did the research

Nine out of ten British women will receive beauty products from loved ones this Christmas – but a jaw-dropping £676million worth will never be used, according to a poll.

The average British woman will throw away two Christmas beauty gifts, worth an average of £26, according to new research by teeth-whitening brand Blanx.

Source: Daily Mail, 2 January 2013

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If only British men had the advice of cosmetics firm Blanx before Christmas, just imagine how many comsetic products could have been spared the January bins! Think of the lipsticks, oh God won’t someone please think of the lipsticks!

“The Harry Potter films are still popular!” says film company looking to be in the news

A nice, simple story, here: pick a name people know, and use it to promote yourself in The Telegraph, The Metro and the Daily Star:

HERMIONE GRANGER A ROLE MODEL

HARRY Potter sidekick Hermione Granger has been voted the best big-screen role model in a poll of young film fans.

The brainy student, played in the films by Emma Watson, 22, picked up 19% of the votes.

Source: Daily Star, 7 January 2013

The story was placed to promote the charity ‘Filmclub’ and it’s associated commercial sponsor LOVEFILM, who know that putting a film star’s name onto a press release and tying in the name of a popular film series will get their own name advertised in the mainstream media cheaply and reliably.

“People leave things in hotels!” says hotel chain

What’s the weirdest thing to have been left in a hotel room? According to the Independent and the Daily Mail, the answer might be weirder than you imagine:

A python, a winning EuroMillions lottery ticket, Harry Potter’s wand and breast implants: just some of the bizarre items left in UK hotel rooms last year

A python, a winning EuroMillions lottery ticket, Harry Potter’s wand, breast implants, a bucket of live crabs and a diamond-encrusted iPhone have topped a list of the most bizarre items people have left behind in hotel rooms.

Budget hotel chain Travelodge has named some of the items relegated to their lost and found offices across the country last year.

Source: The Independent, 2 January 2013

Breast implants, a bucket of live crabs and a £10,000 Tiffany engagement ring… some of the bizarre items left behind in hotel rooms
– 20,000 books left at Travelodge hotels – a third were Fifty Shades of Grey
– Also forgotten were £50,000 Rolex and an 8ft pop-up spray tanning booth
– 76,500 forgotten cuddly bears reunited with their owners by hotel staff
– 200 Queen Elizabeth masks were found at a Travelodge hotel in Windsor
– Also left behind were pet python called Monty and a pantomime horse

It’s an impressive list of items – an original Harry Potter wand, breast implants, a bucket of live crabs, a pet python, a £10,000 Tiffany engagement ring and a set of four Power Rangers costumes.

And all of them were left behind in Travelodge hotels last year, along with a winning EuroMillions ticket, a £50,000 Rolex watch, an 8ft pop-up spray tanning booth – and even a pantomime horse.

There are no prizes for being able to spot that this story is, in fact, a press release from the prolific PR department of Travelodge – the eye-catchingly varied nature of the items left behind proving perfect tabloid fodder. 

“Smart Irish people sell their unwanted gifts to make cash!” says Irish classified listings website

Are you Irish? And struggling to know what to do with those unwanted Christmas gifts? The Sun and The Independent have some not-too-subtle PR-led advice for you:

Passed the parcel

NEARLY a quarter of Irish adults have sold unwanted gifts online to make some extra cash in January, a report found.

The practice is becoming increasingly common as post-Christmas blues make this the year’s tightest month.

Source: The Irish Sun, 3 January 2013

One in four sells festive gifts online

Almost a quarter of Irish adults admit to selling unwanted presents online in order to earn some extra cash in January.

According to a new survey, the practice of selling unwanted gifts online is becoming increasingly popular among Irish adults, with younger adults “substantially” more likely to engage in the practice.

Source: The Irish Independent, 3 January 2013

Good to know there’s money to be made from unwanted gifts, but if you were looking to heed this sterling advice and cash in on the generosity of your loved ones, where could you possibly head? Fortunately, both newspapers carry the name of the company which commissioned the research:

According to the survey, almost three in five adults would now consider buying second-hand gifts online in order to save money in the future. DoneDeal.ie CEO John Warburton said: “It’s great to see so many people are now buying and selling online in Ireland.

“Why leave those unwanted gifts languishing in the back of your wardrobe gathering dust when you can sell them online and make some cash for yourself?

That would be DoneDeal, ‘Ireland’s biggest classified listings site’.

“People should remember to make a resolution to go to the gym!” says gym chain

At the turn of the year, with people around the country making their traditional New Year’s Resolution, one resolution which was sadly lacking was a pledge from the tabloids to ditch the PR churnalism. Which is a roundabout and clumsy way of introducing this ‘research’ published in the Telegraph (and also paper editions of the Daily Express and The Sun):

Traditional New Year resolutions shunned in favour of reading and saving money

Traditional New Year resolutions such as quitting smoking have been replaced by modern life changes like reading more and saving money, a study has revealed.

New technology and healthier lifestyles mean three quarters of Britons have scrapped “old fashioned” vows relating to smoking, alcohol and exercise.

Current top resolutions are reading more books and saving money, the poll of 2,000 people found.

Source: The Telegraph, 30 December 2012

The article went on to list all of the extravagant new resolutions people are making at the expense of more ‘traditional’ resolutions – with ‘read more books’ topping the list of fancy modern newfangled ways of self-improvement. Bafflingly.

However, what follows is a cautionary tale, reminding us that while we may have all had our heads turned by those shiny new book things, we ought to remember the importance of traditional resolutions – such as losing weight and getting more exercise. These are vital, imperative things to strive for, according to the entirely-impartial company behind the research – gym chain LA Fitness. 

Tony Orme, Marketing Director at LA fitness said: “The traditional resolutions we’re used to hearing or even making ourselves are less prominent this year.

“But it’s important to remember that taking time to exercise and eating a balanced, healthy diet not only give you more energy, but they also help to manage stress levels.”

It’s quite apparent, then, that this is simply a press release to advertise a gym chain at a time when many people tend to vow to get back into shape after a winter of excesses. In fact, the ‘research’ took the form of an online poll run by our friends at 72 Point’s Onepoll, who show the press release in full on their website.

If the quote from Tony Orme weren’t enough to convince the reader of the importance of using the service that Tony Orme sells, there are plenty of other subtle clues, such as:

The biggest aims Britons shared were to feel physically fitter, followed by less stress, and feeling happier and more secure overall.

Two thirds aim to improve their fitness in the coming year and improve their body confidence.

And, if even that were too subtle for the tubby Telegraph reader to take the hint, the article goes into all-out advertorial mode soon after:

LA fitness has launched its New Year Health Resolutions Campaign across its 80 private health clubs, with a half price membership offer for those signing up in January for 2013.

The service also included 24-hour online support service for members to help motivate them beyond the first month of joining the club – ranging from work/life balance to how to mix up diet and exercise to develop an ongoing fitness routine.

On the plus side, with the time Greg Walton of the Telegraph saved in churning out this story based on 68% of the original press release, I’m sure he was able to squeeze in an extra session at LA Fitness that day…

“Teachers get expensive thank-you presents these days!” says department store selling thank-you presents

Despite this cash-strapped age, parents looking to convince their child’s teacher into giving better grades are going to ludicrous lengths to impress, says unlikely-sounding news articles in the Express and the Daily Mail: 

FORGET APPLES…TODAY’S TREAT FOR THE TEACHER IS A PARADISE HOLIDAY

Parents are giving teachers increasingly lavishing gifts

AN apple on the desk will no longer get you in a teacher’s good books, according to a survey of parents.

Mums and dads are splashing out on expensive and elaborate gifts to win favour for their children.

Some presents are worth hundreds of pounds – including laptops, jewellery and even free holidays.

Source: Daily Express, 12 December 2012

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Modern ways of sucking up: Teeth whitening, trips to holiday homes and laptops among gifts being given to teachers to curry favour
– But teachers still appreciate the cheaper gifts like note cards and pot plants

While many will be tightening their belts this Christmas, there is one group who can still expect to be spoilt.

And no, it’s not the children.

Instead, cxpensive Christmas presents will be lavished on schoolteachers as parents splash out in a bid to curry favour in the classroom.

Despite a cash-strapped festive season, parents are still prepared to blow the budget when it comes to gifts for their children’s teachers.

Source: Daily Mail, 11 December 2012

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That parents spend such vast amounts on their child’s teacher is a shocking and weird notion, I’m sure you’ll agree – if it’s true. What can be said for certain, is that the article featured in both the Express and the Mail comes from a single source, with a clear vested interest in stressing that a good parent who really cares about their child will buy gifts for their child’s teachers:

Debenhams carried out their survey after their personal shoppers reported being approached by customers to help choose suitable gifts for teachers.

However … all that parental effort could well be wasted as some of the top ten Christmas presents teachers claim to appreciate the most, are the least expensive; such as chocolates, a bottle of alcohol, note cards or a pot plant.

Debenhams spokeswoman, Elena Antoniou, said: ‘While it is a lovely thought to buy a gift, we would stress that there are many low-cost options in our stores that would make delightful presents, without the need for any parents to feel they have to go over budget.’

In fact, both the articles in the Express and Daily Mail are derived from the same extensive press release put out by Debenhams, which itself was complete with quotes from teachers, parents and the Good School Guide, providing all the possible depth any news report could ever want, giving the journalist the least amount of work to do themselves:

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It’s fair to say it worked, too – with the Daily Mail reproducing an impressive 91% of the press release in their article. It’s not clear how much of the article in the Express was written by Nathan Rao, however, but it’s possible he contributed barely a word to it.

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