Author Archives: Michael Marshall

“You probably haven’t invested enough in your pension!” says investment company

Ageing news now, with the revelation that you almost certainly are going to be penniless by the time you’re able to retire:

Is your pension ready for a 100-year life? The average worker will need a pot of £447,000 at 65 to maintain a good income until death, study says

Britons will need to reach retirement age with a pension pot of nearly £450,000 to have a decent retirement if they are lucky – or unlucky – enough to live until 100 years old, new research suggests.

The study assumes someone on an average annual UK salary of £28,000 who wants to retire at 65 years old and who wants an annual retirement income of £20,000.

Source: Daily Mail, 25th June 2019

As someone young enough to be concerned that retirement will never be a viable option for me, and yet in a vocation which I may theoretically never want to retire from, this is somewhat bittersweet news for me. Which is lucky, because it may not actually be news at all: it may be effectively an advert for an investment company.

The £20,000 income is also based on the assumption of 5 per cent investment growth on the bit of the pot not taken as income that remains invested, AJ Bell said. 

‘The extent to which a withdrawal strategy is sustainable or not will depend on a number of things including overall investment returns, the timing of those returns and inflation,’ says Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell.

“You should look after your watch, you disgusting slob!” says watch company

Germ news now, with the revelation that your wrists and everything near your wrists frankly make me sick:

WATCH OUT! Stomach-churning swabs reveal your watch is eight times dirtier than a TOILET

OUR watches are up to EIGHT times dirtier than a toilet, after chemical swabs revealed what really gets stuck in our time pieces.

The new research also showed only one in four Brits have never cleaned their watches.

Source: The Sun, 23rd June 2019

Stomach-churning swabs reveal your watch is up to eight times more dirty than a TOILET – and why you should sterilise it once a month

Shocking new research has revealed that watches can be up to eight times more dirty than  a toilet, with a quarter of Brits never having cleaned their time piece. 

Tic Watches swabbed ten different types of watches, testing for aerobic bacteria, yeast and mould to find out how much of a hotspot they are for germs. 

The research found that each watch had a worrying amount of bacteria, yeast, and mould, with watches scoring an average of three times dirtier than a toilet seat. 

Source: Daily Mail, 23rd June 2019

Are there germs and bacteria on our watches? Almost certainly. Is that actually a concern or any kind of health risk? Almost certainly not… but it does make for a headline-grabbing pseudo-news article about watches, which is all that matters when you are a company that sells watches:

Commenting on the research, Daniel Richmond, Managing Director of Tic Watches, says: ‘Whether you wear a watch every day, or just during working hours, one thing is for certain, we don’t clean them as much as we wash our hands. 

‘For those who wear a watch every day, we recommend giving it a good clean at least once a month. 

‘If you think your watch is due a clean, take a look at our tips to see how to do it yourself or you can even take it to a specialist shop for a professional clean. 

“You need more storage space or your relationship will fall apart!” says home improvement company

Storage news now, with the definitely-not-sexist revelation that women be taking up too much space:

The battle of the sexes is over: Women take up two thirds of the home with men being forced to store their belongings in the garden shed

The battle of the sexes has been won – and it’s women who can claim a major territorial victory.

On average, women’s belongings take up twice as much space in the home as men’s, forcing their husbands or boyfriends to store their stuff in the garden shed.

Men have to manage with just three drawers in the bedroom on average. And one in seven has been granted just the one drawer.

Source: Daily Mail, 23rd June 2019

Why precisely might women be taking up much too much space? Well…

Tidiness guru Sarit Sela said: ‘Relationships are all about compromises. Women’s shopping habits might be different to men’s and so women might need more space.

That’s right: Women Be Shopping.

And it’s not just an abstract, 1980s hack-stand-up issue – this space-hogging from women could have a major impact on a relationship:

Almost 80 per cent of the nearly 2,000 couples quizzed have rowed over storage space, while six per cent of women have even considered breaking up because their partner is too untidy. 

It’s almost as if the company behind this story wanted to find some kind of way to underline how important storage space is!

A spokesman for Anglian Home Improvements, which carried out the study, said: ‘It’s probably time we had a bit of a declutter.’

If only we could have a good old clear out, and throw away some of these annoying, sexist and definitely-not-news PR puff-pieces that are cluttering up the media, maybe we’d have a bit more space for genuine journalism.

“British people are literally cooking themselves!” says supermarket, weirdly

Inexplicable oil news now, with the apparent revelation that British people are frying themselves en masse in order to look tanned:

Fifth of Britons using cooking oil dangerously to achieve perfect sun tan, Asda warns

The 1970s trend of using of cooking oil as sunscreen is making a modern day comeback, according to a new survey.

More than a fifth of Britons are now turning to their kitchen cupboards in a misguided attempt to get the perfect summer tan.

Source: Telegraph, 22nd June 2019

This one, I have to admit, is a bit of a head-scratcher. From the accompanying photo and much of the copy, it’s obvious that this is a story placed by supermarket chain Asda:

A poll commissioned by Asda has found that a fifth of Britons use cooking oil instead of sun cream in a misguided attempt to tan faster. 

An obvious question is: could this possibly be true? Could one in every five people in the UK really be smothering themselves in cooking oil before they go out in the sun? The best way to answer that question is with some simple maths:

  • Population of the UK: 66.87 million
  • 22% of 69 million = 14.7 million

Is it remotely plausible that there are 14.7 million people in the UK who genuinely use cooking oil instead of suncream? Your humble Bad PR blogger would suggest not, and would posit instead that this is the outcome of a dodgy PR survey based on tainted methodology designed to conjure up headline-grabbing pseudo-findings.

But the bigger question is: why? Why would Asda want to spread this obvious untruth, what possible commercial aim could this align with?

As best as I can tell, this story was an attention-grabber so as to be able to tell the world that Asda’s range of suntan sprays are now in sustainable plastic bottles – indeed, that’s the main thrust of the company’s social media post and associated press release:

Kudos on the environmental sustainability, but zero marks on the statistical integrity, Asda.

“People should think about their home insurance!” says insurance comparison website

Shed news now, with the revelation that the small buildings at the foot of our gardens might actually have things in them:

Average Brit homeowner has £1,200 uninsured goods in gardens and sheds

The average homeowner has potentially more than £1,200 of uninsured goods in sheds and garden spaces, according to research.

Standard buildings and contents insurance policies usually include a certain amount of cover for items kept in the garden or shed.

However, two-thirds of Brits have never listed a key ‘outside’ item of value on their home insurance policy – leaving them with a potentially costly bill if thieves make off with the goods.

Source: Mirror, 28th June 2019

Who might be interested in encouraging the public to weigh up the value of the contents of their garden sheds?

MoneySuperMarket is advising people to minimise the risk of theft by fitting locks to garden gates and installing lighting to put off any would-be-thieves.

Helen Chambers, head of home insurance at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Particularly in the summer months, there’s the temptation to leave items of value outside overnight or keep your shed unlocked, but that could leave you open to a risk of burglary and in turn, possibly void your home cover if you need to make a claim.

“Most standard contents insurance policies include a small amount of cover for garden items, but specifics can vary wildly – so it’s worth checking to ensure that your valuable items are fully covered.

“The home insurance market is very competitive, so it’s also worth checking if you could get a cheaper premium elsewhere.

“If you haven’t switched for a while, that’s probably going to be the case.

“It takes minutes to switch to a competitive policy and you could save up to 43 per cent on your bills.”

Some classic making-the-marketing-message-explicit work from the MoneySuperMarket spokesperson, there.

Naturally, this is another 72 Point Bad PR special, with their very own Adrian Hearn given the by-line in the Mirror, as if he were a journalist and not a PR exec.

“Hotels in the future are going to be amazing!” says luxury hotel in the now

Hotel news now, with the fascinating speculation as to what hotels might be like in years to come:

Beds that instantly morph into sofas, holographic fitness trainers and beetle bolognese: What hotels will be like in 100 YEARS revealed

In 100 years’ time, it looks like all hotels will receive five-star ratings from customers – every time.

That’s because according to a report on what hotels will be like in the year 2119, ‘every area of the hotel will instantly morph into a guest’s perfect, hyper-personalised space’.

And how will it do this? Thanks to ‘individual data insights, gleaned from embedded chip technology [in the skin]’ that will ‘beam to the hotel, so the space will be ready the moment a guest walks in’.

Source: Daily Mail, 20th June 2019

Hilton reveals what its hotels will look like in the future

Hilton hotel rooms are a few rungs above what you’d expect at the local Travelodge, but that’s nothing compared to what’s coming.

The luxury hotel chain has released a ‘future-gazing report’ about what the hotels of the future may be like. To give you an idea, the company reckons the lobby will respond to each individual’s real-time needs.

Source: Metro, 19th June 2019

It’s little surprise that this story, in which a futurist looks at what hotels might be like in the decades to come, was compiled by a luxury hotel chain:

The report – published by Hilton to celebrate its 100th birthday in partnership with world-renowned German futurologist and university lecturer Gerd Leonhard and other forward thinkers – has some examples of what it means by the ‘perfect space’.

The angle here could not be clearer: “Hilton hotels have been luxurious for the last 100 years, and they’ll be luxurious for the next 100 too!”. The story was almost certainly picked up from a Hilton press release.

Perhaps the futurist might have some thoughts on the future of journalism, and if it will still exist in any meaningful form 100 years from now…

“It’s annoying to be ripped-off!” says mobile phone switching service, via OnePoll

Rip-off news now, with the revelation that we dislike paying too much for things:

Popcorn cinema and hospital parking top list of British rip-offs

Do you ever find yourself getting wound up at the price of healthy food, or the cost of anything at the airport?

Well you might be in good company, as a new study has revealed the top British rip-offs in modern life. Over 2000 adults were asked what they resent paying for, from eating, communicating and travelling.

The results show that more than half believed they get overcharged for things on a daily basis, with nearly 25 per cent even considering a move to another country to get away from ‘rip off Britain’.

Source: Metro, 27th June 2019

Brits’ biggest rip offs revealed from TV licences to cinema food and parking

Hospital car parking, food at the cinema and two-year phone contracts are among life’s biggest rip-offs, according to a study.

The study of 2,000 adults found eight in 10 believe there are ‘too many rip-offs in modern life’ in every area from eating, communicating and travelling.

Further overpriced products were found to be TV licenses, ‘anything’ at the airport and estate agent fees.

Source: Mirror, 27th June 2019

RIP-OFF BRITAIN: Hospital car parks, cinema snacks and mobile contracts found to be life’s ‘biggest rip-offs’

HOSPITAL car parking, food at the cinema and two-year phone contracts are among life’s biggest rip-offs.

A study of 2,000 adults found eight in ten believe there are “too many rip-offs in modern life” in every area from eating, communicating and travelling.

Source: The Sun, 27th June 2019

Who wants you to consider how miffed you get about paying more than you ought to for something?

The research was commissioned by SMARTY, tying in with the introduction of Auto-Switch on July 1st.

Under new regulations, all mobile providers will introduce Auto-Switch as a simplified way for consumers to switch between providers, this will ensure customers only have to contact their current provider once in order to move away from them.

SMARTY’s spokeswoman Jasmine Birtles said: “The results prove just how common rip-offs and hidden charges are and how frustrated Brits are at getting caught out by them.

Hat’s off to Bad PR regulars 72 Point, whose total infiltration of the Mirror’s online platform has once again paid dividends, with their full press release being printed without a jot of editing or fact checking, and by-lined to a 72 Point employee to boot.

“Breaking up should be easy!” says mobile phone company with easy way to ‘break-up’ with your current mobile provider, via OnePoll

Romance news now, with the revelation that British people have been dumped via text message:

EX-ED BY TEXT: More than one in five Brits have been dumped via TEXT by cruel partners

MILLIONS of Brits have been dumped by text, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 unlucky-in-love adults found more than one in five has seen their relationship come to an end following a quick message.

And one in eight has been ghosted – where a relationship is ended with no explanation and sudden withdrawal from all communications.

Source: The Sun, 30th June 2019

Millions of Brits dumped by a quick text – but two thirds of us prefer it that way

Millions of Brits have been dumped by text, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 unlucky-in-love adults found more than one in five has seen their relationship come to an end following a quick message.

And one in eight has been ghosted – where a relationship is ended with no explanation and sudden withdrawal from all communications. 

Source: Mirror, 30th June 2019

Who brings you this Very Important News Story about the role of mobile phones in our lives and our loves?

The study was commissioned by Sky Mobile to mark the arrival of text-to-switch in the UK, which means Brits will now be able to ‘break up’ with their phone provider by text. 

This story is nothing but an excuse to talk about Sky Mobile’s new SMS-based switching process, which is apparently so easy it’s like breaking up with your existing mobile phone provider over text. Everything else – the angle, the stats, the PR hook – is just the delivery mechanism for that marketing message, eagerly provided by Bad PR regulars 72 Point.

“Kids should wear sunglasses!” says kids sunglasses company, via OnePoll

Eyewear news now, with the revelation that parents want to protect their children’s eyes from the Sun:

Parents believes SUNGLASSES should become part of the school uniform

More than half of parents believe sunglasses should become an official part of school uniform, a study has found.

A study of 1,000 mums and dads with children aged 4-12 found 72 per cent worry about protecting their child’s eyes from the sun.

But only three in 10 send their child to school with sunglasses every time it’s sunny.

Source: Mirror, 27th June 2019

Which company is keen to emphasise the importance of sunglasses for children?

A spokesperson for monkey monkey sunglasses, which commissioned the study, said: “Parents are consistently telling us that their children are more likely to wear sunglasses on holiday or to leisure activities than at school.

“We just want parents to be aware that the midday and afternoon sun can be equally strong in the school playground, on the school sports field, or on the walk home from school, as it is on the beach.

While nobody, least of all anyone here at Bad PR, has any desire to see children’s eyes harmed by UV rays, it ought to be pretty apparent to any casual observer of the news that there is a problem with the media machine when a sunglasses company can create a headline in a national newspaper by paying 72 Point to create a non-story suggesting that people should buy their products.

What does this say for the independence and objectivity of the press?

“Wouldn’t it be good if we could bring some British ‘heroes’ back to life?!” says TV channel with show about British heroes, via OnePoll

Ill-judged mawkish news now, with the staggering news that British people think Princess Diana should come back from the dead in order to meet her grandchildren:

Princess Diana should come back to life so she can enjoy having grandkids, Brits say

The “People’s Princess” was chosen by a quarter of the population, who want her to return so she can enjoy her grandchildren and continue her charitable work.

Her life was tragically cut short on August 31, 1997 after a car accident in a Parisian tunnel, leading to an outpouring of national grief.

This Monday would have been Diana’s 58th birthday.

Source: Daily Star, 27th June 2019

From Princess Diana to Sir Alf Ramsey – people Brits want to bring back from dead

Princess Diana is the famous figure Brits would most like to bring back, according to a survey.

The beloved ‘People’s Princess’ was chosen by a quarter of the population, who want her to return so she can enjoy her grandchildren and continue her charitable work.

Her life was tragically cut short on 31st August 1997 after a car accident in a Parisian tunnel, leading to an outpouring of national grief.

Source: Mirror, 27th June 2019

While necromancy is an unusual look for any newspaper article, it’s an even bolder play for a PR story – but one that has clearly paid off for one particular company here, who secured several headlines with their supposed research finding that we all want to dig up Diana:

The research was commissioned by TV channel HISTORY, to launch series two of drama Knightfall on July 2 at 9pm.

A HISTORY spokesman said: “We’ve got no shortage of heroes and inspirational icons to look up to.

“But sometimes, it’s interesting to think back about the ones we’ve lost, and the impact they could have if they were around today.

“What lessons could geniuses and philanthropists from the past teach us now, if they could come back and see the state of the world?”

So, our supposed desires to resurrect famous British figures is little more than an advert for a TV channel which happens to have a show about British knights.

Naturally, we know who to thank for this mawkish ‘finding’ – 72 Point, demonstrating that when it comes to plumbing the depths to generate Bad PR headlines, they’re more than willing to dig to at least six feet under.