Monthly Archives: September 2015

“People don’t know enough about kitchen appliances!” says kitchen appliance manufacturer

But what IS a spiralizer? Half of Britons have never heard of healthy eating gadget loved by Hemsley sisters… and a tenth don’t even know what a spatula does!

It is the kitchen gadget de rigueur, championed by the likes of chefs such as Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella, and sisters Hemsley + Hemsley.

But more than half of hapless Britons (55 per cent) admit that we don’t know what a spiralizer is, let alone how to use it.

And while it may be one of the more common kitchen utensils, what’s even more shocking is that one in ten say that they don’t know what a spatula is, a new research reveals.

Source: Daily Mail, 1st September, 2015

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Here we have the shock finding that a fair few people are not intimately acquainted with a fairly niche kitchen appliance. Hardly the most headline-worthy of findings, one would assume, yet the Daily Mail managed to print almost 800 words of PR copy on the subject. But PR copy from whom?

The study was conducted by Kenwood to launch the fourth year of their annual competition, Kenwood Disaster Chef, which offers 10 people the chance to be tutored in the kitchen by some of Britain’s top chefs including Raymond Blanc OBE.

Kenwood, of course, are manufacturers of kitchen appliances, so they know only too well what a spiralizer is.

Commenting on the findings, Neal Jones from Kenwood said: ‘The study suggests that when it comes to the kitchen, 2.9 million of us admit to being complete disasters – which amounts to a lot of dissatisfied diners.

‘Kenwood Disaster Chef, now in its fourth year, aims to help build culinary confidence and show that with the right equipment and training even the nation’s worst chefs can feel more at ease in the kitchen.’

“Mentioning a faddy word will get us in the headlines!” says dictionary company

Every year, a number of words get added to the dictionary, and every year the oddest or faddiest of them make for national and international headlines:

‘Manspreading’ added to online dictionary

The act of “manspreading”, or sitting with legs wide apart on public transport, is among 1,000 new words to enter the online Oxford dictionary.

OxfordDictionaries.com issues quarterly updates on current definitions of English words.

Other new entries include Grexit, Brexit, hangry, beer and wine o’clock and NBD – meaning “no big deal”.

Source: BBC, 27th August 2015

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11 weirdest words added to online Oxford dictionary from ‘bants’ to ‘manspreading’

Oxford Dictionaries have been having some bants with their new website update, adding more than 1,000 awesomesauce new words and phrases. It’s NBD though and if this all annoys you then maybe you’re just hangry.

Understand all that? ‘Bants’, ‘awesomesauce’, ‘NBD’ and ‘hangry’ are just a handful of the new entries that reflect current trends in the English language. Many of the nouns, verbs and adjectives will be familiar to the younger generations bringing them in, but there are still a number of unexpected additions that most people will need explaining.

Source: Independent, 27th August 2015

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Why bants about manspreading at beer o’clock is NBD: 1,000 new words are added to the Oxford Dictionary

Britons are offending commuters by manspreading, revelling in bants with their friends at beer o’clock, and having a brain fart while talking about the Grexit – but it’s NBD.

These are just some of the 1,000 new terms added to OxfordDictionaries.com in its latest quarterly update, which reveals current trends in the usage of language.

New entries include manspreading, when a man sits with his legs wide apart on public transport encroaching on other seats, bants – short for banter – and NBD, an abbreviation of no big deal.

Source: Daily Mail, 27th August 2015

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How much of this represents the natural changing of language, and how much of it is an overt attempt to grab headlines? The question could be answered by looking at how Oxford Dictionaries announce the new intake of 1,000 words in their official press release, which all of these media outlets picked up on:

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It’s quite clear that of the 1,000 words admitted to the dictionary, it’s the ones with the most faddy usage that are prioritised in the press release – knowing that it’s these words that will generate the media headlines and gain the column inches the PR team desires.

Fiona McPherson, senior editor of Oxford Dictionaries, said the addition of multiple slang words did not represent a dumbing down of English.

She said: “There’s always been new slang words. I just think we are more aware of them because of the ways in which we consume and live our lives now.

“We are bombarded with more and more avenues where those sort of words are used and we just think that there are more of them. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case.”

What’s remarkable is that this story is exactly the same, year on year, every time new words and slang words are added to the dictionary. And every single year, the media run the story, complete with faux-outrage at the dumbing down of language.

Perhaps one of these years, ‘churnalism’ will make it into the Oxford English Dictionary

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“Houses are really quite expensive, you’ll need some savings!” says mortgage lender

Desperate parents are paying an extra £32k for homes near to top schools

DESPERATE parents are paying an average of £32,127 extra to live in the catchment areas of top-performing schools.

A survey concludes 1.8m households have paid over the odds for their property just to secure a good place.

And 31 per cent of the 4,570 people questioned have gone so far as to change jobs to give their children a helping hand.

Source: Express, 1st September, 2015

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Number of parents moving to their desired school catchment area is increasing, according to Santander research

The extent to which parents are resorting to to live within their desired school catchment area has been revealed in new research from Santander Mortgages as competition for places at the UK’s best schools continues to increase.

The bank surveyed just over 4,500 people to find families are prepared to spend over £32,000 to be near their most sought after school – significantly more than the average full-time UK salary of £27,195.

Source: Independent, 2nd September 2015

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School places desperation revealed: Millions of parents relocate their families at a cost of £32,000 and even change jobs to secure their child a better education

Millions of parents have moved house and even changed jobs to be within their desired school catchment area, research shows.

One in four parents has relocated their family so their children qualify for a place at a good school.

But a survey found almost half of all families who move to be within a catchment area will leave as soon as they have secured places for all of their children.

Less than a quarter said they planned to live in the area they had moved to for their children long-term.

Source: Daily Mail, 2nd September 2015

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Having kids is hugely expensive (I’m told), and buying a house is hugely expensive (I know) – so it stands to reason that buying a house as a parent comes with particularly expensive demands. Still, an extra £32,000 on average? That’s no small amount. What civic-minded institution can we thank for paying for this ‘research’ to appear in the media?

The study by lender Santander says a quarter were forced to downsize to a less attractive home while 31 per cent moved to an area they did not like.

The angle is clear: convince parents that they ought to be aiming high to keep up with the Jones’, and then be the ones to hold their hand when they over-stretch on the mortgage. Fortunately, that’s the kind of dependable and risk-free system sound economic models are based on, with no history of ever having gone wrong in the past…

Santander’s Miguel Sard said: “Being within a certain school catchment area can often come at a cost.

It’s important that parents don’t stretch themselves beyond their means.”

Wise words, Mr Sard, but we’d be more inclined to take them at face value in something other than a glorified advert for your services.

“Hackers are targeting you at every turn!” says mobile security company

Hidden dangers of Times Square, Notre Dame Cathedral and Disneyland Park: Infographic reveals tourist spots where your mobile phone is most likely to be hacked

They’re among the most popular tourist spots on the planet – but a new infographic has revealed their hidden dangers.

Times Square in New York, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and Disneyland Park in France have been named as the three attractions where mobile phones are most likely to be attacked.

Source: Daily Mail, 23rd August 2015

Hacking and data theft is a genuine fear right now, as married Sony executive sending explicit photos of himself via iCloud to the woman he met on Ashley Madison will tell you. That guy is really not having a good year. Still, who’d have thought that simply walking through a tourist hotspot could be the deathknell to your digital privacy? Well…

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Ocean Park in Hong Kong and Las Vegas’s strip are the next three mostly likely places for phones to be hacked, according to research by mobile threat defense company Skycure.

While I’m sure a mobile threat defense company is probably well placed to explain the threats your mobile faces, there’s more than a slight whiff of conflict of interest here – after all, those mobile defense software packages don’t sell themselves, right?

That said, looking below the fold it looks like plenty of Mail Online readers were less than convinced:

  • seableu: Seems like a promotional ad for Skycure. Regardless, the risk of hackers getting access to personal information seems higher than ever.

  • ghtblsk: It’s just scaremongering to make you buy yet another basically unnecessary app. Turn your wifi off other than when you’re using it; you’ll save battery and avoid any of these risks.

  • pavretti: I went to Notre Dame and got a hacking cough

  • sanfranjonny: SCARE MARKETING by Skycure. The Hong Kong Ocean Park said they don’t offer wifi currently. But have plan to offer in September.

 

 

When even commenters from the Mail Online see through your marketing spin, you might need to re-think your marketing strategy.

“People want to go on a ‘cool’ adventure!” says rubbish beer with cold-based marketing campaign

Northern Lights top British holidaymakers’ travel bucket lists… with one in 11 opting for a subzero adventure over a beach getaway

When it comes to planning the dream getaway, icier climates are now topping the wish lists of many British holidaymakers.

In fact, a new study has revealed that as many as one in 11 people will opt for a subzero adventure in favour of a sunny escape.

And while any sort of thrill-seeking is preferable for 18-24 year olds, it’s a trip to see the Northern Lights that has been named the most coveted travel itinerary.

Source: Daily Mail, 27th August 2015

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British people want to head off to the cold weather for their next big adventure, Which is somewhat convenient, given that the company behind this ‘research’ is a cold, refreshing lager:

Research from Coors Light has found that British people are an adventurous lot when it comes to holidays, with those from London the most intrepid of them all.

Coors Light, who of course are currently marketing themselves with that rubbish advert featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme being cold up a mountain, want you to equate low temperature with high fun. Presumably to avoid you contemplating the taste of their beer for too long.

Ali Pickering, Coors Light Brand Director, comments: ‘It’s really inspiring to see that British people are so adventurous and want to make the most out of life – whether it’s trying out a new sport or activity at home, planning an action packed holiday or dreaming of a trip to see the Northern lights.

‘We’re excited to be able to offer Coors Light drinkers the chance to win an amazing subzero adventure to tick off their bucket list this year.’

“Getting on a bit? You should worry about your health!” says insurance company

Over-50s spend £1.5bn a year to keep fit: Half say they become more conscious of their health once they pass that age

  • Over 50s are spending £130million each month on gym memberships
  • More than half say they are more health conscious since turning 50
  • Four in ten say they do more exercise now than when they were younger
  • Most popular exercises were walking, cycling, swimming and stretching

When we reach the milestone of 50, it is often assumed that many of us start to dream of retirement and taking life in general a little easier.

But in fact, according to researchers, we tend to develop a new-found interest in exercise when we hit the big 5-0.

Source: Daily Mail, 21st August 2015

Apparently middle age comes with a renewed vigour to look after one’s health and increased concern for mortality. Or so says insurance provider RIAS:

A study carried out by insurance provider RIAS found that the UK’s over-50s are splashing out £1.5billion a year on keeping fit, spending £130million each month on gym memberships and fitness equipment as well as a wardrobe full of brand-new workout wear.

Needless to say, this story is a near-verbatim paste from the RIAS press release.

Here’s the RIAS MD to praise the health-conscious 50-year-olds out there:

Peter Corfield, Managing Director at RIAS, added: ‘The UK’s over 50s take their health and fitness seriously and looking after themselves is an important aspect of their life.

‘With the UK facing an ever increasing ageing population, today’s over 50s are tackling this head on by staying physically fit. And no matter how it’s done, people will reap the rewards of a better quality of life.’

And, of course, while you’re considering all of the ways in which you’re embracing your new lease of life at the age of 50, don’t forget that all-important insurance – for when things inevitably go wrong – right, Peter?

“Older things are very relevant!” says car firm selling old car model

Why we’re likely to seek adventure after reaching 50

FAR from feeling past it, the over- 50s are much more likely to try out online dating, go to Glastonbury or get their first tattoo.

An overwhelming sense to “live for today” first kicks in at age 24 – but hits again 30 years later with older Britons experiencing a “second wind” of life at age 54, according to a study of 2,000.

Far from showing signs of slowing down those interviewed confessed they are up for trying new experiences like hitting a karaoke bar or even swimming with sharks.

Source: Express, 31st August 2015

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So life really does begin at 50, then? Well, perhaps – or perhaps it’s more the case that people don’t become commercially written-off at the age of 50 any more, as businesses seek the disposable income of the end of the baby boomer generation. Specifically, in this case, a car manufacturer:

The poll was commissioned by Vauxhall Motors to launch the new Viva, the first version of which rolled off the production line over 50 years ago.

Not the most tenuous link we’ve seen exploited for PR purposes, but impressive nonetheless. Though I’m not sure I’m convinced by the marketing slogan they came up with:

Vauxhall’s Denis Chick said, “There is a general belief that being impulsive is for the young. “But our research shows a growing trend for those in their fifties, sixties and beyond becoming more adventurous than they were in their twenties.

“We’re seeing people adopt what we’re calling a This Gran Can attitude in later life, challenging the stereotypes of the older generation and having a lot more freedom than those who were this age in the Fifties and Sixties.”

“This Gran Can”? Way to turn a previously-empowering-and-successful slogan into something utterly annoying, Vauxhall. As for what ‘The Gran Can’ do, and what it has to do with Vauxhall? See what came in second on Vauxhall’s press release list of wild, adventurous things 50 year olds can do:

Dipping into ‘life savings for treats’

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Presumably treats like new cars – even something as wild, adventurous and exciting as… a Vauxhall Viva.

“People should care more about toothpaste!” says toothpaste manufacturer

HALF of adults fail to brush their teeth at night because they’re too tired… while others admit to only using their FINGER to ‘brush’

Almost half of adults admit to not brushing their teeth in the evening – blaming being too tired or simply forgetting, a new survey today reveals.

Experts warn by doing so people are putting themselves at risk of cavities, gum disease and even tooth loss.

Forty-five per cent of the 10,000 people taking part in the study say they have gone to bed without brushing their teeth.

Source: Daily Mail, 25th August 2015

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It seems that the stereotype Americans hold of the British is true, and that we’re a nation of appalling oral hygiene. With such low standards, it’s a wonder any of us have teeth at all. What would be ideal would be for a company to come along to sell us a solution to our dental dilemma and tell us precisely how we should appreciate our smiles…

Experts have warned the survey, commissioned by GSK as part of its Love Your Mouth campaign, implies thousands of people could be at risk of dental health problems.

Ah, there it is – GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Aquafresh, Sensodyne and other toothcare products.

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If that weren’t all, there are some other interesting stats in the story:

Almost one in five people surveyed said they just brush their teeth with water, without toothpaste, while 14 per cent brush their teeth using a finger.

Really? 20% of people only use water to brush their teeth? And 14% don’t even use a toothbrush? Can that even be true? Well… no, almost certainly not – at least, not when viewed in the context of what’s actually being said here. Let’s take a look at an earlier claim:

Forty-five per cent of the 10,000 people taking part in the study say they have gone to bed without brushing their teeth.

It’s quite clear here that this statistic covers people who admit to having gone to bed, in the past, without brushing their teeth – not every time, but at least once, or perhaps at least once in the last few months. So with that in mind, those 20% and 14% figures cover people who have brushed without toothpaste or even a brush at least once. Which is to say, that time you unexpectedly stayed overnight with someone, or that time you went to a hotel and forgot to take your toothbrush – you’re in that 14%. Does it mean you don’t love your smile? Of course not. Does it make it much easier for GSK’s PR team to create headline-grabbing claims? Absolutely.

“Your boss doesn’t care about your retirement!” says retirement savings provider

Almost one third of British workers receive NOTHING from their bosses when they decide to retire

Almost a third of British workers don’t receive a single present from their bosses when they retire, according to new research.

A study of 2,000 retirees revealed that 31 per cent of people were not given a leaving gift. Another seven per cent did slightly better – at least they got a ‘sorry you’re leaving’ card.

The average retirement gift is worth just £2.17 for every year of work, according to the survey by Skipton Building Society.

Source: Daily Mail, 24th August 2015

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Our retirements won’t be all we hoped, according to this survey, and we’ll be discarded by our bosses like we’re yesterday’s news, according to Skipton Building Society:

Rebecca Willey, of the Skipton Building Society, said: ‘After years of working, particularly if you have done a long term with the same company, most would expect a nice gift, or something special to wave them off into their retirement.

‘But in reality, it seems that the gift you receive is nothing compared to the time and effort you have put into working over the years…

‘At Skipton, we believe everyone should be able to look forward to retirement. Leaving work behind after so many years can be an exciting and daunting experience.’

But why would they want us to contemplate this harsh vision of the future? Might it perhaps have something to do with their retirement planning services?

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“People believe healthcare should be privatised!” says private healthcare firm

Do YOU know how much surgery on the NHS costs? You might be surprised…

DO you know how much procedures on the NHS really cost? New research suggests the British public is grossly ignorant about the real price of medical care.

The National Health Report 2015 was launched today and figure show we haven’t got a clue about how much procedures are really costing the NHS.

The report, compiled by mutual health and wellbeing provider Benenden, questioned 4,000 people across the UK asking them to put a cost to some common procedures and treatments.

Source: Express, 21st August 2015

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Smokers and alcohol abusers should PAY for NHS treatment says new study

Most Britons believe treatment should not be free if damage has been self-inflicted

Almost nine in ten of us believe alcohol abusers should pay for their own treatment and not get it free on the NHS, a comprehensive new study reveals.

Last year more than 1.4 million people used NHS drug and alcohol services – including rehabilitation – at a total cost of £136 million.

Source: Mirror, 21st August 2015

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Smokers and heavy drinkers should pay for treatment of ‘self-inflicted’ illnesses rather than expect NHS to foot the bill

The vast majority of people believe alcohol abusers should pay for their own treatment rather than get it free on the NHS, a survey has found.

More than half said the NHS should not fund treatment if the illness was a consequence of smoking and patients should be forced to pay for it themselves.

The report questioned 4,000 UK adults about the cost of common procedures in the UK and whether it should be publicly funded.

Source: Daily Mail, 21st August 2015

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Not everyone in the country believes they should be responsible for jointly funding the healthcare of the nation – and at a time where the government increasingly looks to hand over parts of the NHS to private healthcare firms, articles like this can form a part of the justification for privatisation. Not only do stories like this serve as ‘proof’ of the current feeling of the public, but they also help to set the agenda and lead public opinion… which is why the source of this story is, as ever, absolutely key:

But the study, carried out by the Benenden National Health Report 2015, revealed how people were willing to con medical officials so they could have treatment paid for by the public purse.

Benenden are a private health firm, which makes their ‘discovery’ that people prefer to pay directly for health services they themselves need far from surprising. In that context, calling their PR survey the ‘National Health Report’ seems incredibly dicey – it’s not hard to see how some unsuspecting readers might assume this has something to do with the NHS, rather than with a private healthcare firm.

The obligatory spokesperson quote is just as interesting:

Medical Director of Benenden, Dr John Giles, said: ‘I suspect most people view diseases caused by excessive drinking and smoking as being self-inflicted and therefore potentially avoidable.

‘They probably feel that they should not have to pay the price for the consequences of the poor choices of others.

‘It comes as no surprise that the public has a staggering and destructive ignorance regarding the cost of treatments on the NHS.

‘As a nation we have lost touch with the role we should play in our own health and wellbeing, expecting the NHS to pick up the pieces.

‘If the public was more aware of the cost of appointments, treatments, operations and prescriptions, and really took responsibility for their own health, using the NHS only when absolutely necessary, the crisis the service finds itself in today would be significantly lessened.’

It’s uncontroversial to suggest that we ought to take care of ourselves and take responsibility for our own health. However, what Benenden are doing with this story and with this quote is to shift responsibility for the wellbeing of the NHS away from the politicians who continue to freeze funding, and onto the patients – and, specifically, onto certain groups of patients. This kind of thinking is the wedge that opens the door for separating oneself from these ‘problematic patient groups’, and into privatised medicine.

As far as this blogger can see, this is not a story about a report on the health of the NHS and the cost of treatments, but a cynical piece of privitisation propaganda PR. This is where the effect of Bad PR can be at its worst, influencing public perception and potential policy decisions.