Monthly Archives: October 2015

“Some companies are really cool to work for!” says recruitment firm

These are the top 10 friendliest workplaces in the UK

The fastest growing jobs and recruiting site, Glassdoor identified the places with the friendliest atmosphere

TK Maxx has topped a list of the UK’s friendliest workplaces.

Source: Independent, 23rd September 2015


The 13 UK companies that offer their employees free beer

Work drinks provide a space for employees to let off steam

Most employees can’t wait to get to the pub on a Friday. But some don’t have to – because beer is supplied at the office in fridges packed with unlimited cans, or provided free on tap.

While workers get the advantage of a free tipple or two, employers boost morale on their team and help build trust among colleagues.

Source: Independent, 8th October 2015


Clearly someone at the Independent recently has been very keen to emphasise just how many super-cool workplaces are out there. Specifically, a recruitment company:

Glassdoor, the jobs site, put TK Maxx at the top of a list of the 10 friendliest workplaces as decided by employees.

The good thing about a door made of glass is how easy it is to see that the grass is greener on the other side… and there’s a recruitment company publishing PR in national newspapers who profit from encouraging you to make that step with them.

“You’re probably going to be too poor to be buried!” says insurance company

The not-so-great leveller: dramatic differences in cost of dying just miles apart

Bereaved cutting back on flowers and opting for cheaper coffins to curb impact of funeral inflation

It is meant to be the great leveller but in Britain even death comes with a dramatically different price tag depending on where you live.

New research has exposed wide variations – as extreme as differences in house price – between the cost of funerals and burials in different postcodes.

Source: Telegraph, 5th October 2015


Average cost of a basic funeral has leapt by £140 in one year, says new report

‘Vulnerable bereaved people are taking on increased debt; and we predict this problem will worsen’

The average cost of a basic funeral has leapt by £140 in the space of a year, a report has found.

Across the UK, the typical cost is now £3,702, a 3.9 per cent increase compared with 2014, when the average cost was £3,562, the insurer Royal London said.

Source: Independent, 5th Ocotber 2015


This story garnered a lot of coverage recently, not just in the Telegraph and Independent, but also in the BBC, the Guardian, the Mirror and a host of local sources. Which would be fine, if all of those outlets made it absolutely clear that this story was sourced by an insurance company:

Simon Cox, a funeral cost expert at Royal London, said: “Our study shows people are striving to meet funeral price hikes, which they have little control over.

“Given the stressful situation, shopping around for a funeral is often not an option.

“Instead people are coping by cutting back on non-essentials if possible, and reconsidering how loved ones are buried.

While it’s undoubtedly true that funerals are costly affairs, it’s equally true that there’s a clear financial incentive for an insurance company to ensure people are afraid that their loved ones won’t have enough money to pay for their burial once they’re gone. I’m sure it won’t be a surprise to Royal London if they see an increase in interest in their life insurance policies as a result of stories like this. As ever with PR, it’s hard to distinguish the genuine message from the sales hook.

“Vegetarians are secretly eating meat!” says voucher website looking for attention

A third of vegetarians own up to eating meat on nights out

A survey of nearly 2,000 so-called vegetarians finds more than two thirds admit to eating meat on a night out – with one in three doing it every time they get drunk.

A third of vegetarians admit to eating meat every time they get drunk, according to a survey.

Two in five of 1,789 vegetarians questioned owned up to treating themselves to a sneaky kebab after a few drinks.

Source: Independent, 8th October 2015


A third of ‘vegetarians’ eat meat when drunk on a night out

The survey found 69 per cent of so-called veggies said they kept their meat eating a secret from friends and family

A third of so-called vegetarians eat meat when they are under the influence of alcohol, a survey has found.

One in three have also said they eat meat every time they were drunk on a night out with kebab meat and beef burgers being the most common.

Source: Telegraph, 8th Ocotber 2015


Those sneaky vegetarians! I knew it all along! Surely this story has to be true, and there can’t possibly be any other explanation for how a ‘finding’ like this could appear in two national newspapers, right?

The survey was conducted by money-saving website Voucher Codes Pro.

George Charles, founder of the website, said: “I know a few ‘vegetarians’ who sometimes crave meat, but it seems that a few are giving into their cravings when drunk.

“I think it’s important for friends of these ‘vegetarians’ to support them when drunk and urge them not to eat meat as I’m sure they regret it the next day.”

In fact, it’s just a case of a discount voucher website trying to do anything to get a mention in the paper, just to remind you they still exist.

“You’ll regret not travelling more while you’re young!” says young persons railcard company

A few regrets: Most of us would change our past

SIXTY per cent of us would change the way we have lived our lives, research has revealed.

Choices made in school, work and relationships are some of the many regrets people share.

Source: Daily Express, 16th September 2015


Any regrets? Half of us want to change our lives…

A SURVEY has revealed the top 50 things people would change if they could live again include saving more, finding a better job and being nicer.

According to a new study, 60% of us would alter major decisions.

But most people have four things in their lives they wish they had done differently.

The biggest regret was not saving enough money (35%), while 31% said they wished they had made more of an effort to keep fit, according to the research.

Source: Daily Star, 15th September 2015


We all harbour huge regrets about how our lives turned out, according to this story from dailies Express and Star, as well as in the Daily Mail, Mirror, ITV News, Blackpool Gazette and Click Liverpool.

Our biggest missed opportunities relating to such crucial things as not having saved enough money in our lives, and not having traveled enough… which is an astonishing coincidence, given that the story was commissioned by a company which looks to save you money on your travel while you’re young:

Andrew Robertson, from 16-25 Railcard which commissioned the study of 1,500 adults of all ages, said: “Many of us have things that we might do differently in our lives, whether it’s travelling and exploring more, making an effort to keep fit, or being more careful with money.”

“The findings go to show how important it is to make the most of our time and live life to the full.”

Good to see that 16-25 Railcard managed to save money on advertising by using this PR story as a glorified advert for their services. Plus, with the coverage they got in four national newspapers and a handful of other media outlets, it’s fair to say their PR is well-traveled too. I’m sure they have no regrets.

“People have back pain!” says chiropractors: experts in hurting backs

Decade of back pain for millions: Seven in ten Britons admit living with twinges for more than 10 years

Seven in ten Britons have lived with neck pains or back twinges for more than a decade, a survey has found.

Back pain forced just under three in ten to take time off work with the number of sick days jumping 29 per cent last year to 9.9million days, the figures show.

Source: Daily Mail, 29th September 2015


People are just coping with back pain and failing to get it treated? That sounds like a terrible idea. If only there were a group out there who use back pain as a gateway to claiming to treat all manner of unrelated symptoms such as colic and deafness, perhaps a group willing to pay for PR like this to appear in the news…

Yet two fifths have never done anything to protect their back actively, according to the British Chiropractic Association.

It goes without saying that one of the best ways to actively protect your back is to not allow a chiropractor anywhere near it, given that the disproven pseudoscience has been shown repeatedly to offer no reliable benefit and yet cause all manner of side effects.

Chiropractor Rishi Loatey said: ‘As modern lifestyles put increasing amounts of strain on our backs and necks it’s becoming even more important for people to take proactive measures to protect their back health.

‘Yet, we are seeing more and more people who have been struggling with back pain for longer periods of time.

It’s untrue that people should proactively seek pseudomedical treatment to avoid developing back pain, and it’s even less true that chiropractors are a body people should turn to for health advice. It’s very likely true, at least, that chiropractors see people struggling for long periods of time, although that might be due to their insistence that most ailments take a lengthy course of treatment to fix…

‘Prevention is always better than cure and it’s encouraging to see that some people told us they are taking steps to maintain a healthy posture, including limiting the amount of time they spend on laptops.

‘However, there are a number of other simple processes that people can incorporate into their daily routine to reduce the effect that back and neck pain can have on their everyday lives.

‘For example, people are often surprised at the positive impact that simply ensuring you take regular breaks when sitting for long periods of time, or walking regularly can have on your back.’

Here, I can agree with the chiropractor – taking regular breaks from your laptop or desk can help avoid developing bad posture or increasing your chances of getting aches and pains. However, that’s as far as the chiropractic advice goes – when, in fact, this story is in the newspapers to reputationally link common sense advice on back pain with the chiropractic industry, in order to stimulate interest in the public. Fortunately, most newspapers by now are well aware that there is not a jot of evidence in favour of chiropractic – just as there is often not a jot of truth behind the figures and statistics trotted out in headline-grabbing PR stories.

“Go to Eastern Europe for a stag party!” says stag party company

Stag parties: Cheapest European cities to celebrate your last night of freedom

STAG party Brits should go to Eastern Europe to get the best value for money.

A survey found the Czech city of Brno is the cheapest of 23 popular stag-do destinations in Europe.

An average two-night stay with plenty of Budvar lager thrown in works out at just £281.92.

Following closely behind is the Slovakian capital Bratislava, where a weekend break is usually around £283.51.

Source: Daily Star, 5th October 2015


If you’re thinking of going on a stag do soon, you’re in luck: the Daily Star and Mirror recently published important information on where gets you the most bang for your buck. As it were. But is this really news? Or just PR?

“Stags and their mates who make it to Eastern Europe and further afield often find that the extra hour or so on the plane makes a big difference, as their accommodation, food and drinks are much cheaper,” said Rasmus Christiansen from

“It also means they have more spare cash to use for some adrenaline pumping fun, shooting machine guns, riding quads through forests and sampling other local delights.”

You’ve been around the block by now – I don’t have to tell you who are, what they do or why these articles are nothing but adverts for’s services.

“Music is great!” says stereo manufacturer, via paid scientist

Mathematical formula finds the number one song to listen to ‘if you wanna have a good time’

A mathematical formula has been created to discover the number one song that will really make you happy – and it’s not by Pharrell Williams.

Queen’s hit, Don’t Stop Me Now, topped the charts after expert in cognitive neuroscience and emotion, Dr Jacob Jolij, sifted through 126 songs from the last 50 years.

Source: Mirror, 17th September 2015


Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now is the top feel-good song of the past 50 years… and a scientific formula has proved it

Despite being released 37 years ago, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now still has the ability to lift moods and fill the dance floor.

Now a neuroscientist has confirmed the impact it seems to have on listeners with an equation that shows it is the top feel-good song of the past 50 years.

The 1978 hit has just the right tempo, lyrics and is played in the musical key identified as producing a happy feeling.

Source: Daily Mail, 18th September 2015


Good old scientists – always working on the important stuff, right? Isn’t it amazing that a university would pay a professional scientist with public funds to spend all his time putting together formulae for things like pop songs? Isn’t that what science is all about and why so many people think it’s not something they should value?

Well, obviously, not quite: as ever with PR formulae, the ‘science’ is likely secondary to the PR, with the body commissioning the research using the legitimacy of a scientist’s reputation to give their advert more credibility. In this case, the scientist is Dr Jacob Jolij and the company dressing up their adverts as science is Alba, the stereo manufacturer:

Dr Jolij concocted the formula in a project with technology brand Alba, whose products are sold by Argos.

A survey by Alba found three quarters of people in Britain use music to lift their mood and 54 per cent use it to motivate themselves.

In stories like these, a quick look at the formula is always worthwhile:


The equation developed by Dr Jolij requires a combination of positive lyrics (L), a tempo of 150 beats per minute (BPM) and a major third musical key (K) to produce the ultimate feel good song (FGI)

So in essence, a song is a ‘feel good’ song if the lyrics are universally positive, if it has a reasonably fast tempo and if it isn’t in a minor key. I’d be astonished if those were findings that were lead by the ‘research’, rather than a conclusion outlined ahead of time which had a formula clunkily retro-fitted to it to make it seem impressive.

PR stories which use a ‘scientific’ formula as a hook come up from time to time, and I’ve covered plenty on this blog in the past. Whenever such stories arise, it’s worth highlighting that for many people, this is what they see of science: the silly PR puff-pieces that appear in the news, involving no real research and paid for by commercial bodies. These are the stories that carry the reputation of science, and these are the stories which leads some elements of the general public to assume that scientists are out of touch, wasting their time and our money on things are are never going to be important. Just take a look to the comments:

If it was real the "scientist" would have used it to write chart topping hits, and make millions (or billions). Every time I read DM I think of the term 'scientist' or 'expert' with less respect.

Each time a scientist accepts a commission from a PR company to create spurious research in order to push a product, a little of the legitimacy and public trust in science as a whole is cashed in. For my money, it’s a waste.

“Culture is really important!” says yoghurt company (geddit?!)

Sometimes this jaded PR commentator really does have to hand it to some PR stories – they really do come out of left-field. Take this, for instance, from the Daily Mail and Express:

Owning a library card, watching subtitled films and being skilled in the use of chopsticks are among the traits which make us cultured

Owning a library card, watching sub-titled films and being skilled in the use of chopsticks are among the traits which make us cultured, according to a new survey.

Drinking ‘proper’ coffee, knowing the difference between cuts of meat and watching the Antiques Roadshow also set you apart from your less refined friends.

However, it seems you probably don’t have many of those: seven in 10 consider themselves to be ‘cultured’, although the majority admit to not knowing exactly what the term means.

Source: Daily Mail, 18th September 2015


Tell-take sign of a culture vulture

JUST by reading this newspaper you are showing that you are cultured, says a survey. You buy food from the “finer” store and know which wine would go best with the meal.
A study of 2,000 people found seven in 10 wish to be more “cultured” – although most admit to not knowing exactly what the term means.

Perhaps they should try reading a book before bed and be happy to watch the news rather than change channels as both are cited as signs of sophistication mentioned by respondents.

Source: Express, 18th September 2015


Clearly, culture is vitally important, and people these days just don’t have enough culture in their lives as they should have – right? So who might be behind this story? The British Tourism Board? An opera company? An art gallery? Not quite…

A spokesman for health drink Yakult, which commissioned the research, said: “It seems that perceptions of ‘culture’ can vary, but the one thing that almost everyone has in common is a desire to experience more of it.

Being cultured can simply be a case of showing interest in the world and experiencing new things. We can all benefit.”

That’s right – a yoghurt. Because yoghurt is a culture, isn’t it? That’s literally what’s going on here. Because yohhurt is a culture, the company behind Yakult decided to start a promotion giving 2-for-1 access to cultural venues. That’s dedication to a weak pun that even I can’t overly-criticise.

“Everything kids do is digital these days!” says bank promoting app for kids

Forget mowing the lawn or cleaning the car – today’s children make their pocket money from digital chores such as setting up their parents’ online DATING profiles

There was a time when extra pocket money meant cleaning the car, dusting the fireplace or being elbow-deep in hot water while standing on a plastic footstool.

But today’s children appear to have found a slightly less arduous way to earn their crust – by carrying out ‘digital chores’.

Research shows tech-savvy youngsters are cashing in on their know-how by helping their parents in the virtual world, including by setting up their online dating profiles and posting their photos on social media.

Source: Daily Mail, 16th September 2015


Tech tasks replace household chores as parents pay kids £20 per job

Half of parents have paid a child £20 for a single digital chore as adults tap their kids for their technological nous, Barclays research has found

Giving a child pocket money to buy sweets as a reward for doing household chores is a thing of the past.

Doing the dishes has been replaced with iPod duty, according to research from Barclays, which has released a mobile banking app for 11 to 15-year-olds.

Source: Telegraph, 16th September 2015


Are parents really abandoning traditional chores and making their kids do new, modern-era digital chores to earn pocket money? Or is this just a transparent attempt by a bank to promote their new ‘move into the digital age’ banking app for kids and their pocket money?

“We are moving into a digital age and hope that the app will help support parents across the country in encouraging their children to take responsibility for their pocket money earnings,” said Barclays’ Luke Christoforidis.

“It will provide them with a tool to confidentially carry out their banking needs with ease and speed via their preferred channel.”

So transparent, even a child could see through it.

“Your future boss is stalking you on Facebook!” says bank and recruitment company

Nine in ten bosses vet applicants on Facebook: Half have reconsidered offering a job after seeing a candidate’s social media accounts

Nine out of ten employers admit they always check social media before hiring applicants, it has been revealed.

Ninety-three per cent use Facebook and Twitter ‘to keep tabs’ on potential candidates and to vet them pre-interview.

But over half (55 per cent) of recruiters have reconsidered appointing someone based on their social profile – with 61 per cent of these U-turns due to ‘negative’ reasons.

Source: Daily Mail, 16th September 2015


You should be careful what you post online these days, as there’s a 90% chance your next employer will Google you at the first available opportunity. While this is almost certainly true, what you might be surprised to learn is that you could lose out on a job opportunity due to the spelling and grammar of your Facebook posts… according to a survey run by a recruitment company:

The findings were revealed by recruiting software company, Jobvite, which surveyed 1,855 human resources managers in industries including engineering, IT, marketing and sales.

If it weren’t enough that a recruitment company is aiming to get its name in the news by commenting on general web trends, the initial survey has been rolled into one by a second company, churning up the PR to add a new hook:

It comes as a separate survey of 2,000 14 to 25-year-olds by Barclay’s LifeSkills initiative found that one in five (22 per cent) admit to posting pictures from nights out.

It’s a genuinely staggering finding that only a fifth of young people share photographs of their nights out on social media (it’s surely far, far higher), but nevertheless the detail matters less than the company behind the story, and Barclays have a clear reason to provoke fear in the millenial minds:

Kirstie Mackey, head of LifeSkills, said: ‘Employers are increasingly using social media to find out more about prospective candidates prior to meeting and making their hiring decisions.

‘In a competitive job market, it’s important to present yourself in the best possible way – both on and offline.

Which, presumably, is precisely the advice-niche Barclays are trying to fill – knowing that most people never change their bank account. Secure customer loyalty early on in their career and you might well have a customer for life.