One commonly used PR trope could be termed the “Stat reversal”: where a headline-grabbing stat runs contrary to the perceived aims of the company behind it, but that stat is immediately recontextualised or reversed in the copy, to suit the commercial needs of the client.
For example, take the following story that 72 Point published in the Mirror:
Posting more than EIGHT holiday photos on Instagram is seen as ‘spamming’
It’s official – posting more than EIGHT holiday photos on social media is seen as ‘spamming’, a study has found.
A poll of 2,000 Instagram users found that rather than enjoying their friend’s travel snaps, followers are more likely to be annoyed by a deluge of pictures.
And two thirds think seeing too many of someone else’s holiday snaps leaves them feeling like they are missing out.Source: Mirror, 13th June 2019
The client here is a holiday company, and on first glance it might seem like the message “people get annoyed by seeing too many holiday photos on social media” would run contrary to their business aims. However, fear not, because the fourth paragraph of the story turns the original stat on its head:
Despite this, the research, by MSC Cruises, revealed 54 per cent do like to see friends’ holiday photos, with these getting the most engagement on Instagram.
They prove to be more popular than pictures of pets and group shots with friends, although 28 per cent of Insta-fans claim their carefully-crafted shots don’t get as many likes as they deserve.
So barely three sentences into the story, and the original line “people get annoyed by your holiday photos” has been morphed into “people really like seeing your holiday photos, and they get great engagement”. We’ve done a full about face! And now we’ve turned the stat on its head, we can go even further:
It also emerged beautiful landscapes, iconic locations and images of the sea are the most loved types of holiday imagery.
Now, not only are holiday photos more desirable and engaging, but images of the sea in particular are most loved – a handy message to send when you’re a cruise company.
Finally, here’s the original press release on the SWNS website, which was naturally reproduced verbatim by the Mirror.