Tag Archives: Felicity Thistlethwaite

“Your partner is probably lying about an STI!” says online pharmacy

Would YOU admit to having an STI? A third of Brits wouldn’t… or use a condom

OVER three quarters of Brits have admitted they wouldn’t confess to having a sexual transmitted disease, a new survey has revealed.

Seventy six per cent of 18-45-year-olds surveyed in by research company MedExpress revealed they wouldn’t confess to having an STI.

The research – which involved talking to 2,521 British adults – is shocking, to say the least.

Source: Express, 7th October 2015

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Would YOU tell your partner if you had an STD? 67% of people would lie about it, and 8% would go on to have unprotected sex

Whether it’s a case of chlamydia or an instance of genital warts, most people would keep their STI a secret, a new survey reveals.

The majority of people (67 per cent) would lie to their partner about having an STI, the poll found.

When asked why, 92 per cent said they wouldn’t want to put the other person off sleeping with them.

Shockingly, 10 per cent said they would use a condom for penetrative sex but not for oral sex even if they had an STI.

And eight per cent admitted they would still have sex without a condom.

Source: Daily Mail, 8th October 2015

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We are, alas, a nation of lying philanderers, putting our sexual health and that of our partner at risk because of our insatiable lust for sex with strangers. Or so says this survey, commissioned to promote an online pharmacy:

Michael Ross, spokesperson for online pharmacy Medexpress.co.uk, which carried out the survey said: ‘It is also shocking to see how many people would actually lie if they had an STI.

‘Sexually transmitted infections should be taken seriously and willingly lying and then sleeping with someone, especially if you aren’t willing to wear protection, is outright nasty.

‘We urge people to be honest with anyone they plan to be sleeping with; this will help prevent the unnecessary spreading of sexually transmitted diseases.’

While the tone of the message from the Medexpress spokesperson is admirable*, it’s fair to say the stats behind the story become somewhat more questionable when viewed in the light of a PR survey aimed squarely at getting a company name into the newspapers. In fact, here’s the view on the coverage from the PR company involved, 10 Yetis:

MedExpress, our online doctor and pharmacy client, recently undertook a study looking into the sexual behaviours and attitudes of Britons between 18 and 45 years old.

The results of the study brought to lie some absolute shockers (or not, if you’re more the wild kind), such as;

– 76% wouldn’t admit to having an STI
– A further 8% wouldn’t use extra protection if they found out they had an STI
– 32% lie about the number of people they’ve slept with

There were far more shockers in the release that went out, including how many people it’s acceptable to admit to sleeping with to a potential partner (seriously, go check it out)…

In the meantime though, we wanted to show off some of the great coverage we’ve had through off the back of pushing this release out…

Good to see a PR company happy to throw people with STIs under the bus in order to promote their client. And people wonder why I call for more ethical PR practices.

*UPDATE: I spoke to Dr Petra Boynton, a social psychologist specialising in sex and relationships research. She explained to me the potential harm of PR stories like this:

I don’t think calling people ‘nasty’ for not disclosing if they have an STI is okay. Many people don’t know they have infections, or may not realise until after they’ve had sex with others. It’s very rare people really do know and deliberately infect other people (and that’s a whole, complex situation in itself). This kind of shaming is what puts people off going to clinics for help as they fear that’s how healthcare staff will relate to them.

The overall tone also is hugely stigmatising around STIs and maintains the whole idea they’re shameful and embarrassing – so much so that people lie about it and what bastards they are for doing so.

“Come to our town, impregnate an attractive French girl!” says holiday board via viral marketer

Did you hear the story of the pregnant woman who fell pregnant after a one-night stand, and appealed on Youtube to track down the father? It was all over the news at the start of September:

‘I just want to see him again… if he says no then OK’; Young French tourist who posted a video looking for the Australian man she says she fell pregnant to in a one-night stand tearfully defends herself against online skeptics

The young French woman, who appealed for help online to find the man she says got her pregnant on the last night of a three month trip to Australia, has defended herself against online skeptics.

Natalie Amyot, from Paris, has returned to the Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast where she said she spent ‘a beautiful night’ with a ‘really cute’ man she fell instantly in love with.

Source: Daily Mail, 1st September 2015

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Are YOU her one-night stand? French beauty seeks Australian boy to tell him she’s PREGNANT

A STUNNING young french girl has started a viral search for a man whom she spent the night with in Australia – to tell him she’s pregnant.

Natalie Amyot, from Paris, is fast becoming a viral sensation after posting a video on Facebook about her search for a handsome young man with whom she spent the night earlier this year.

Natalie’s last night of a three month trip to Australia was spent frolicking with this mystery man, and then the pair went home together.

Source: Express, 2nd September 2015

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Just who was this girl who had an ‘amazing’ time in an ‘amazing’ place, looking for the guy she lost? Funny story…

‘Natalie Amyot’: Video of French woman appealing to find holiday romance in Australia revealed as hoax

A French woman who released a YouTube video to apparently find her Australian holiday romance after falling pregnant has confirmed it was a hoax.

The video of “Natalie Amyot” making a plea to viewers to help her find the man was met with a combination of support, derision and a hefty dose of scepticism

Source: Independent, 2nd September 2015

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As the Independent, Daily Mail, Mirror and Metro eventually concluded, rather than a true modern tale of a lady seeking out the prince charming who impregnated her on her final night of a fantastic holiday, the story is actually nothing more than a PR stunt designed to advertise holidays in the Mooloolaba area. As the culprit behind the video revealed the next day:

‘This has been a viral video for Holiday Mooloolaba. My name is Andy Sellar and I own a company called Sunny Coast social media,’ he said.

‘We do viral videos for businesses. Now I know there is going to be a lot of you that are upset by this… maybe not too happy.

‘We just wanted to put Mooloolaba on the map because it’s a wonderful place. So thank you for watching and we are going to do many, many more videos like this,’ he explained.

There’s a deeply interesting element to this story for those who follow PR, journalism and viral marketing. First, it exposes the credibility of the major news sources in the digital age, where neatly packaged stories routinely land on journalists’ laps and are passed uncritically into the news, especially where a quirky-and-slightly-sexy angle and a highly photogenic young lady are concerned. It was a perfect story for so many outlets, and as such was too good to really fact check – after all, why put in the legwork that will discover that the story is bogus, and therefore have to kill a perfectly serviceable piece of clickbait?

Secondly, of particular note is the extent of the second wave of coverage, based on the big reveal: highlighting that the story was a hoax had an even greater impact in the press, as newspapers who failed to publish the original got to gloat over their taken-in rivals, and those who did publish it get to add a coda to an quirky story and get to run the same photogenic young lady again. Newspapers like the Mail, who ran the first story with notes about skeptics who doubted the veracity – yet the paper still ran the story – added notes into the follow up to suggest they’d been the ones to break the big reveal:

A former friend of the fictional Ms Amyot confirmed to Daily Mail Australia she was in fact Alizee Michel who is believed to have studied marketing and tourism.

Jordan Foster said Ms Michel had attended the University of the Sunshine Coast – north of Brisbane – for ‘a few years’.

Which would have been a great angle, had the story not also included the video produced by Andy Sellars coming clean – something the Mail certainly did not dig up.

Finally, there’s the note from Andy about his future plans:

So thank you for watching and we are going to do many, many more videos like this,’ he explained.

Given that we can show that fooling the papers is easy when they are very willing to be fooled, and that revealing your hoax gains you a second and even greater wave of publicity, I can certainly see why Andy might be looking to score the next viral hit.

It would be easy to mistake the analysis by this blog as humourless, po-faced parade-pissing around issues that are often just a harmless bit of fun, and to an extent there are elements of the criticism that ring true. However, it’s undeniable that the newspapers are not so hard to fool, and that’s an incentive to other PR agencies to produce more falsehood-laden PR fodder, to create more spurious studies and nonsensical formulae, and to continue using the mainstream news as their own private advertising channel, at the extent of the newspaper’s reputation and the trust of its readership. It’s hard to celebrate that as a particularly good thing.

“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.

“Kids need to know more about natural foods!” says natural food company

We’ve seen before, the ignorance of children is always a reliable hook for a Bad PR story, and last week was no difference, with one particular tale getting coverage in the Metro, the Express and twice in the Mirror:

Shocking figures reveal one in ten children don’t know APPLES grow on trees

WOULD you believe one in ten children don’t know apples grow on trees? It’s a scary reality.

New research released today has revealed far too many children aren’t aware of the origin of fruit and vegetables grown in England.

Source: Express, 19th August 2015

Fears for children’s food knowledge with one in 10 thinking bananas are made in factories

Kids also told the survey honey came from cows and chocolate bars grew on trees – and worryingly, some of the grown-ups were just as bad

Almost half of children who took part in a food poll failed to identify how 10 types of fruit were grown, with some believing bananas were made in factories.

One in 10 of the youngsters, who were aged six to 10, had no idea that apples grow on trees.

Source: Mirror, 19th August 2015

As with many Bad PR stories, these findings would be shocking if true – but as ever, that’s quite a significant ‘if’. Can it really be true that 10% of kids genuinely don’t know that apples come from trees? Can it be the case that ‘some’ kids really do think that strawberries “just popped up in the fridge”, as the Mirror’s version of the story points out? Call me highly skeptical, not least given the source of the claims:

Research conducted this week by The Fabulous Bakers, UK’s only mainstream bakery using all natural ingredients, showed some surprising results…

The Fabulous Bakers conducted its research to mark the launch of its new online film, which aims to educate and entertain children about just how fascinating and fabulous the natural world and its natural ingredients are.

Somewhat convenient, then, that ‘research’ commissioned by a company which markets itself on natural ingredients ‘proves’ that kids know nothing about natural ingredients. Of course, given that the ‘research’ consisted of an online opinion poll, it’s not hard to start to postulate as to how it might not be fully rigorous. How do you ensure the kids are answering about what they really think, rather than what they think would be fun to say? Do the kids even care about their answers? Probably not.

More importantly, can you be absolutely sure the questions were answered only by children? Here, for me, is the crux of it: parents have to sign their kids up for online surveys, and are paid a very tiny amount for each one that’s completed. If your kid isn’t there, you either ignore the survey and miss out on the micropayment… or you pretend your kid is there and bank the cash, clicking your way through the multiple-choice questions at will. Suddenly that ‘some’ people say strawberries simply appear in the fridge doesn’t seem quite so hard to explain now…

Still, at least the Fabulous Bakers got their time in the sun – or, at least, twice in the Mirror:

Victoria Willis of The Fabulous Bakers said: “It is really important that people know exactly where the food we put into our bodies comes from.

“When you look closely at how natural ingredients grow, you really do appreciate just how fabulous the natural world is.”

And it’s only when you look closely at how unnatural PR stories come about, you really do appreciate how fabulously shitty the effect of commercial PR on journalism is.