Monthly Archives: February 2013

“People have lots of expensive clothes!” says home insurer

Are you a dedicated follower of fashion? By which I mean, have you joined the legions of people around the country to buy into the onesie fad? The Daily Mail assumes so:

The march of the romper suit: Sales of ‘onesies’ soar as one in eight people now owns adult babygrows

Footballer Mario Balotelli has one, One Direction star Harry Styles has one, even Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has one.

Now it has been revealed one in eight people own a ‘onesie’ adult romper suit, according to new research.

Brits spent £10.7billion updating their winter wardrobe over the past year – with 17 per cent splurging more than £50 on an adult romper suit – or onesie, reveals a study of winter fashion trends.

Source: Daily Mail, 29 January 2013

In such financially-straightened times, it’s amazing to think that £10.7billion spent on winter clothing – although that equates to around £200 for every one of the 50 million adults in the country (or around £170 per person if, like the original press release, you include children in the maths).

With so much capital being invested in clothes – even faddy annoying clothes like the adult babygrow – you wonder what would happen to all of that investment in the event of an accident. Or, at least, you wonder that if you’re Jackie Brown, spokesperson for the company behind this story:

‘With the combination of the cold winter weather encouraging us to wrap-up warm and attractive sales encouraging us to splash the cash, it is no surprise that Brits have stocked up on winter clothing.

‘Whilst updating your winter wardrobe can be fun, it is also important to consider the full replacement cost as new of clothing and accessories that you have stored away in the house and make sure you have adequate home insurance to cover these because at Sheilas’ Wheels we don’t reduce for wear and tear.’

This story – purported to track the rise of the onesie – transpires to be little more than a reminder from an insurance company to insure your possessions. The original press release is proudly displayed on the Sheila’s Wheels website:

Just to complete the picture, a quick check shows that Leon Watson of the Daily Mail wrote just 25% of his article, taking the rest directly from Sheila’s Wheels’ press release. Presumably from the comfort of his onesie.

“People spend too little time over lunch!” says lunchtime snack maker

As I’m writing this, I’m actually currently on my lunch hour. I’m not sure what the company policy in my office is for debunking PR surveys at lunchtime, but I think I’m fairly safe. Plus, at the very least, I’m taking a full lunch hour – unlike most people these days, according to the Daily Mail:

Whatever happened to the lunch hour? How breaks have been reduced to just 29 minutes because we’re too busy

Frantic Britons now spend less than 30 minutes taking a break for lunch because they are too busy to take the traditional full hour, a new survey has found.

The average worker in the UK spends just 29 minutes munching down their food before they have to get back to business.

A year ago the average lunch break nationally was 33 minutes, but the latest survey shows it has shrunk by a further four minutes in the last 12 months.

Source: Daily Mail, 25 January 2013

We Brits are poor, frantic creatures at lunchtime, desperately filling our cheek-pouches with whatever morsels are to hand before scurrying back to our desks to take up our places as cogs in the corporate machine – apparently. Unless you work for the Daily Mail, I assume, as journalist Suzannah Hills appears to have spent too little time at her desk, leaving sentences tantalisingly unfinished:

The latest statistics come shortly after research showed 60 per cent of workers don’t even take lunch breaks and end up eating their sandwiches at their

Health minister Anna Soubry described office workers’ increasingly frequent lunchtime habit of eating a sandwich at their desk as ‘disgusting’.

Presumably Suzannah was out to lunch – along with her editor – and didn’t have time to finish the article. And, of course, by article I mean regurgitation of a press release from a lunchtime snack company:

Just one in five employees are managing the traditional hour-long break, says a OnePoll study of 2,000 full-time workers for food and drink company Princes.

Not just any press release in fact, but a PR poll from 72 Point’s OnePoll. Why would Princes want to promote the idea that people find it harder and harder to take a lunch hour at work? Well…

A spokesperson from Princes said: ‘As the UK workforce gets busier, mealtimes are being increasingly neglected.

It means there is a growing demand for convenient food that can be eaten quickly.

‘This is why we have developed a new range of Princes Tuna Salads as they are nutritious, taste great and don’t need to be refrigerated which means you can eat them wherever you are no matter how busy you are.’

That would be these Tuna Salads, helpfully featured in a related download on Princes’ website.

It’s rare – and slightly refreshing – to see a PR story so explicit in its angle: Princes commissioned research to tell you lunchtimes are getting shorter, in order to sell you a range of ready-made tuna salads.

“People are using eggs more often!” says egg spokesperson

Few fads from the 1980s have stood the test of time; leg warmers, perms, power ballads and keyboard ties have all long-since been consigned to the great neon-lit dancehall in the sky. Now, it seems, we’ve a new addition to the list, according to the Daily Express:

Home cooks shun microwave

THEY were the must-have kitchen gadget of the 1980s.

But Britons are now ditching microwaves and ready meals and are cooking their dishes from scratch.

Nearly one in four of the 2,000 people polled by British Lion eggs said either they did not own a microwave or it was “completely redundant”. Seven out of 10 said that when time was tight they would rustle up a quick dish from fresh ingredients. Just one in five people said they would turn to their microwave.

Source: Daily Express, 26 January 2013


Think of the microwaves, oh won’t somebody please think of the microwaves.

Of course, it would be simple to imagine this story was placed by Phillips or Bosch, reminding people of the irreplaceable value the microwave. That would make sense. However, it speaks volumes about the nature of commercial PR and these worthless surveys that the real sponsors of this story are the polar opposite:

Nearly one in four of the 2,000 people polled by British Lion eggs said either they did not own a microwave or it was “completely redundant”. Seven out of 10 said that when time was tight they would rustle up a quick dish from fresh ingredients. Just one in five people said they would turn to their microwave.

People are now so adept at cooking that the microwave is redundant – instead they’re relying on the true essentials in life… like eggs. And we know this is true, because a company which sells eggs commissioned OnePoll to create a survey to tell people how essential eggs are.

“Divorced people should get plastic surgery!” says plastic surgeon

Are you a silver separator? If you’re over 60 and recently divorced, you just might be – at least according to the Daily Star:

OLDIES IN RUSH TO BE YOUNGER

A BOOM in divorces by over-60s has led to a massive rise in older women and men booking cosmetic beauty treatments and buying anti-ageing products.

Newly-single female OAPs want to emulate still-got-it older stars like Dame Helen Mirren, 67, and Susan Sarandon, 66, as they get back out dating.

And men want to copy “silver foxes” such as Pretty Woman star Richard Gere, 63, and Taken star Liam Neeson, 60.

Source: Daily Star, 25 January 2013

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And the Daily Mail:

Rise in cosmetic surgery for over-60s as ‘silver separators’ aim to look younger to find new love 

A generation of ‘silver separators’ are booking cosmetic surgery and buying more anti-aging products as they return to the the dating game in their retirement years.

The number of couples divorcing in their 60s and 70s has risen dramatically in the last decade and now these newly single men and women are looking to enhance their image in their quest to find fresh romance.

The female ‘silver separators’ want to look like still-got-it older stars such as Dame Helen Mirren, 67, and Susan Sarandon, 66, while the men are emulating ‘silver foxes’ like actors Richard Gere, 63, and Liam Neeson, 60.

Source: Daily Mail, 25 January 2013

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There’s hope for the older generation in the dating game yet, it seems, with the over-60s back on the market – and it’s a good job there are companies out there willing to help out. Companies like, for example, cosmetic surgeons Lovelite:

LoveLite clinical director Donnamarie McBride said: ‘A year or so ago we had very few clients over the age of 60, and handful in a year at most.

‘But recently there has been a massive increase in demand and we’ve seen as many in the past month as we would have done in nearly half a year previously. The over 60s age group is without a doubt the fastest growing area in the non-invasive cosmetic treatment market at the moment.

‘Almost all of the women that come to us have just become separated or divorced, and they are wanting to improve their appearance and get back to their more youthful figure.’

Lovelite, you’ll be unsurprised, were one of the companies behind this story, with their press release surfacing on the MyNewsDesk.co.uk distribution site.

Another company on hand to help these mystical ‘silver separators’ is beauty retailer Escentual:

…CEO Rakesh Aggarwal said in just the last year the over-60s beauty market had gone from a tiny part of the business to a multi-million pound sector.

He said: ‘Many more anti-aging skin-care products are specifically created for the more mature market now.

‘A lot of our customers are looking for anti-aging products that slow the appearance of facial wrinkles and lines and many are looking for products that turn back the clock on other specific parts of the body but without the need for any surgical procedures.’

Handily enough, Escentual were the other company to have posted a press release to MyNewsDesk.co.uk describing their services for the ‘silver separators’. Which all makes sense, given that the two companies share a single PR Account Executive in the shape of an intern at AOBPR.

Do the ‘Silver Separators’ exist? Who knows. All we can be really certain of is that a PR company thought it made for a nice way of convincing an older generation that cosmetic surgery and beauty treatments could reinvigorate their lives.

“People put off annoying household chores!” says oven cleaner manufacturer

Have you ever noticed how those pesky little chores add up? You know the ones, those everyday duties which you just keep putting off, until your laundry basket is overflowing, there’s no clean plates left and you’ve weeks worth of pr-based news stories just lying around your inbox waiting to be exposed. We’ve all been there, right?

Hairy plug holes, filthy ovens and dusty skirting boards: Busy Brits have 12 jobs which need doing around the house, research reveals

Vowing to clean up was one of the most common New Year’s resolutions at the start of 2013. But it would seem many of us are still procrastinating when it comes to keeping up with our household chores.

The average busy Briton currently has 12 jobs which need doing around the house, new research has revealed.

A lack of time, forgetfulness and being daunted by the prospect of starting them are the main reasons that tasks such as cleaning the oven and scouring the bath are languishing on the ‘to do’ list.

Source: Daily Mail, 5 February 2013 (and paper edition)

As the article – which also appeared in the print editions of the Daily Express and Daily Star – clearly highlights just how annoying household chores can be, with tasks like dusting and hoovering making unsurprising appearances high on the list. 

Speaking of unsurprising, the most annoying and dreaded of all the household chores – as helpfully demonstrated by photograph of the nice lady in the marigolds – is cleaning the oven. Filthy ovens, it seems, are a source of irritation to us all. I for one feel better that someone put the time into paying a pr company to create a survey designed to find this out.

Yesterday a spokesman for Oven Pride, which carried out the research, said: ‘We all lead such hectic modern lives that it’s sometimes hard to keep on top of everything.

‘Of course the longer you leave a job, the worse it usually is when you finally get round to facing it, but making sure you have the right tools for the job can make household chores less of a nightmare.

When it comes down to it, the thought of doing a job you’ve put off is usually a lot worse than actually getting it done.’

That it was the makers of oven cleaner Oven Pride who commissioned the research (carried out, of course, by OnePoll), ought to be the least surprising thing about this whole affair. 

As for the journalist at the Mail – Katy Winter – given that she took 79% of her article from the original press release, it’s fair to assume she has plenty of time on her hands at the moment. Her oven must be spotless.

“Some accents are better than others!” says casino firm trying to get into the newspapers

To be filed neatly away in the ‘nope, not a clue’ drawer, we had the revelation in a number of news sources recently that the Essex accent is hard to stomach:

WILL THE TOWIE STARS JUST SHUT UUP?

THE Essex accent made famous by TOWIE has been voted worst in Britain.

The trademark twang of babes Sam, 22, and Billie Faiers, 23, and fellow stars in the hit ITV reality show bombed in a new study.

Brits were asked to name their favourite accent and just 1% chose Essex, where the TOWIE cast tell each other to “shuut uup!

Source: Daily Star, 23 January 2013

Shuuutuup! Essex accent voted least attractive

A controversial new poll is set to be the talk of Essex after naming the county’s accent as the least attractive in the English language.

Source: Metro.co.uk, 22 January 2013

Shaaht aahp! The Essex accent is revealed to be the worst in Britain as women admit to swooning over a soft Irish twang

The Irish accent is the most popular in Britain, a survey revealed yesterday.

More than a quarter of people questioned said they prefer listening to a soft Irish lilt to any other manner of speech and women were particularly keen on the accent.

Those polled found the least attractive was the Essex accent, popularised by the stars of The Only Way Is Essex such as Amy Childs, Mark Wright and Gemma Collins and it scored just ONE per cent.

Source: Daily Mail, 22 January 2013

The source for all of these stories – which essentially amount to a local-newspaper-pleasing ‘some accents are better than others’? 

The survey, conducted by online casino RoxyPalace.com, asked 1000 people to name their favourite accent.

I must admit, I can’t see an angle in this one – sometimes, whatever gets you into the press is justification enough. Clearly, it works so well, you could barely call it a gamble.

“Women look really fresh and young and tired and old!” say cosmetics companies

There was a spot of good news for beleaguered women recently, with even the usually-very-critical Daily Mail celebrating a win for the girls in the never-ending, media-fed competition of ‘which of the two main genders is best’:

Good news girls … we are FINALLY ageing better than men (but one in 10 women still worry that their partner will leave them for a younger model)

The age-old stereotype that men age better than women appears to be a thing of the past.

Researchers who carried out a detailed study into the perception of aging revealed women think they are aging better than men … and men agree.

The study found nearly two thirds of females said they were aging better than their partner, and 59 per cent of men said the same.

Source: Daily Mail, 23 January 2013

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Oh, finally, thank god! After all this time of waiting for the tables to turn, it’s finally, finally time for women to be the ones who age better. Take that, men! Because that’s how society ought to work – with the upperhand visciously see-sawing between genders. That’s how equality works, of course.

Still, see-saw it has, and now it’s the men who are old before their time, with women retaining that youthful effervescence for longer… but how much longer, exactly?

Men said they start to ‘look old’ at the grand old age of 44, whereas women said 46.

A full two years – or, as statisticians would likely label this, ‘noise’. What’s more, the story arose following an online opinion poll which asked people to choose which gender looks youngest longest – so an entirely subjective choice, based on very little.

Having not seen the questions asked in the survey, it’s impossible to comment on any bias present, although it’s not unreasonable to suspect there may be some… especially given the source of the study:

The study by anti-aging product Forever Youth Liberator by YSL also found two thirds of men said their wife or girlfriend looks better for their age out of the two them.

Yesterday a spokesperson for YSL said: ‘We wanted to discover the age at which men and women most widely consider to be the point of aging.

‘Women have always been much more aware of the aging process and as a result this may mean they are making provisions that men aren’t…

‘…perhaps women are taking action to fight the signs of aging.’

A survey funded by an anti-aging cream (conducted via OnePoll) discovers how great it is that women are using anti-aging products – congratulations to Daily Mail journalist Toni Jones for uncovering that particular gem. And by uncovering, I mean copying 71% of the original press release.

Still, at least it was good news for womankind – there hasn’t been a lot of that lately. In fact, on the very day before the YSL survey declared women to be aging wonderfully, another article in the Daily Mail (and The Sun) found quite the reverse:

Work stress and toll from weekend partying means women look their oldest at exactly 3.30pm on Wednesdays (while Thursday is the time for romance and Friday is fun day)

Women look their oldest at 3.30pm every Wednesday, a new study reveals.

This is when energy levels plummet, work stress is at a peak and the effects of any weekend late nights finally kick in.

The research shows one in ten women (12 per cent) find Wednesday the most stressful day in a typical week. 

But they reveal Thursday is the day they are most likely to have sex.

It gives them a youthful rosy glow which could contribute to why women feel so happy on a Friday – 60 per cent name it as their happiest day.

Source: Daily Mail, 22 January 2013

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This story – with an attention to detail regarding sex on days of the week not seen since Craig David was in the charts – clearly tells a different tale, with women looking tired, stressed and old. What kind of product would be behind such a negative, damaging story? Don’t they know what the anti-aging cream manufacturers YSL have discovered? Well…

The study, carried out by tanning brand, St Tropez to support the launch of their new anti-ageing products, revealed two thirds experience a ‘slump in energy levels’ mid-afternoon every Wednesday.

Nichola Joss, St. Tropez skin expert, said: ‘It’s fascinating that 3.30pm on a Wednesday is the time women look their oldest.

It’s fascinating, and yet wildly implausible, yes. 

Why would these two anti-aging product manufacturers disagree? Aren’t they working in the same industry – how could they possible come up with such totally contradictory findings, just one day apart?

And, more to the point, how could the Daily Mail publish these two entirely-opposing stories, on consecutive days? It’s as if the writing staff in their ‘Femail’ department don’t speak to each other. This whole contradictory mess could have been avoided, if only the author of the YSL piece – Toni Jones – had spoken to the author of the St Tropez piece… a certain Toni Jones.

Just to clear up any confusion: there is only one Toni Jones writing for the Daily Mail, and it appears she’s neither discerning nor subtle about whose press releases she publishes, or when.

“People shouldn’t trust their neighbours!” says security firm

Have you ever noticed how annoying your neighbour is? Gone are the days of borrowed sugar and shared barbecues – neighbours these days are not to be trusted, and ought to be viewed with a mix of cynicism, derision and fear. Don’t just take my word for it (not least because I don’t actually mean any of this), the Daily Mail agrees:

Neighbours? We can’t stand them: Rows over noisy kids, bins and loud music found to kill community spirit.

One in three Brits don’t get on with their neighbours, a study revealed yesterday.

New research into the state of the nation’s community spirit found millions of us have an uneasy truce with those who live nearest.

In fact, as many as one in four homeowners admit they have a full-blown argument with the people next door.

Source: Daily Mail, 7 February 2013 (and paper edition)

The sense of community is an old-fashioned and outmoded idea, then, apparently. Gone are the days when you could rely on your neighbour, when you could leave your doors unlocked and know there’d be no problem, and when you could ask your neighbour to put your flat cap through their mangle without them charging you tuppence ha’penny for the privelege. A lost era.

Or perhaps that’s only what those behind the study want you to think… 

The figures emerged in a study of 2,000 people by Yale

That would be the lock manufacturers, Yale, makes of the Yale lock, explaining via a survey run via 72 Point’s OnePoll service how you shouldn’t trust those who live nearest your house:

Additionally, the average person has two people who live nearby that they struggle to trust, results showed.

The Yale spokesman added: Despite many of us having content relationships with our neighbours, there are occasions when neighbours don’t get along and sometimes they might not feel it would be any of their business to report suspicious behaviour.

Feeling happy in your home should also be a top priority, so taking action towards keeping your property secure should be simple and greatly add to that peace of mind

Action such as, for example, buying locks from Yale, who commissied this study. Knowing that Yale are out there, tirelessly and diligently funding research that tells me how badly I need their services – I for one feel more secure already.

How many Daily Mail editors does it take to correctly attribute an article?

A few days ago I highlighted a story, based on a press release from an ‘extra-marital dating website’, which took two Daily Mail journalists to write – even though 71% of the story was copied exactly from the original press release. You can catch up on the details here if you missed it.

Well, it appears there may be more to this than I first thought – after I tweeted the two journalists involved directly, I had the following exchange with Andrea Childs:

It’s the first time I’ve seen this press release or article. No idea why my name is on it… I do interviews for YOU mag so maybe name left on a template from old feature put online? I am going to check.

This, then, asks an interesting question: did the Daily Mail really attribute a story to a journalist who had seen neither the press release nor the finished article? Simply by neglecting to delete her name from a submission template?

If so, we’re in the quite amusing position whereby the Daily Mail are so used to copy/pasting entire articles, they’ll even copy whatever name is on the submission form – and their fact-checking skills are so atrophied as to entirely miss the error.

This from the most-read news website in the world, too. Interesting.

“Keeping a new baby healthy is hard!” says private health firm

Being a new parent can’t be easy, with your recently-minted bundle O’joy taking an inordinate amount of time and attention – just at a time when sleep deprivation leaves you at your least aware and attentive.

It’s a wonder more parents don’t crack under the pressure, and it’s why the Daily Mail were entirely believable when they declared:

Anxious new mothers make 16 visits to GP in child’s first year: Millions admit ‘panicking’ over minor ailments

Anxious first-time mothers make 16 trips to the doctor on average over a child’s first year, a study has found.

Millions of mothers admitted ‘panicking’ and taking a baby to their GP only to be told they had a minor ailment. As many as one in three went to the doctor for a common cold, according to the research.

One in ten dashed to the surgery believing their baby was unconscious – to learn he or she was sleeping.

Source: Daily Mail, 11 February 2013

The story also made the paper editions of the Daily Mail and The Times.

Those poor mothers, worrying their pretty little heads over nothing – how they must feel like such a drain on NHS resources and a burden to the busy GPs around the country. In fact, the article mentions this very worry:

One in five mums admitted worrying too much, while one third considered their worrying to always be justified.

However 44 per cent had been made to feel like they were a hypochondriac or guilty of wasting the doctor or health professional’s time.”

It seems the new parent can’t win – it’s a constant trade-off between the fear of an unwell baby and the guilt of wasting the important time of their healthcare professional. It’s just a huge shame, then, that there aren’t healthcare professionals you could pay to deal with these worries, who are private and therefore have the time to be reassuring:

The study, by mutual organisation Benenden Health, found the average mother did not get a full night’s sleep until 12 months after giving birth.

Yesterday Jean Scott, of Benenden, said: “Being a new mother can be an overwhelming experience.

As a mother myself, I know how daunting this can be and how vital it is to get support during this initial period.

Often getting professional advice when you feel your child may be unwell can be the only way to put your mind at east, even if it ultimately turns out only to be a cold.

There we are then – the perfect solution! This study, commissioned by a private health firm via 72 Points OnePoll service, has identified that what new parents really need most is a private health firm. Because – as Benenden’s own slogan declares – life is precious… and good publicity is even more so.