Tag Archives: Mike Taylor

“People who shop in supermarkets have affairs!” says extramarital dating website

Back in August, our shopping habits were under scrutiny:

How to spot a cheating spouse? Check their shopping basket

Bored spouses looking for an extra-marital affair are more likely to shun the bargain bin in favour of more upmarket supermarket brands, according to a new survey.

Although the poultry and vegetable displays may not be the most romantic setting, researchers have found that the weekly food shop is for some a prime opportunity to catch someone’s eye while checking out the “deal of the week” at the same time.

Source: Telegraph, 16 August 2013

Infidelity in aisle three: Is shopping at Waitrose a sign a chap is cheating?

Ladies, has your other half taken to shopping solo at Waitrose? Gents, is the woman in your life popping to Sainsbury’s a lot?

Then it seems you may have cause to worry about your relationship.

A survey has examined the shopping habits of those who are considering an extra-marital affair.

It found that the number one supermarket for such men is Waitrose, while for women it is Sainsbury’s. Tesco, Asda and the Co-op also featured prominently.

Source: Daily Mail, 16 August 2013

Who conducted the survey?

Dating website IllicitEncounters.com quizzed their 800,000 members to find out more about their shopping and cheating habits.

IllicitEncounters – an ‘extramarital dating’ website. It’s fair to say their users perhaps don’t reflect the habits of your average Waitrose shopper. What we’ve found, if we actually trust the results (and I wouldn’t, personally), is that users of an affairs website also shop at Waitrose.

What we haven’t found is that people who shop at Waitrose have affairs – and we especially haven’t found that shopping at Waitrose is a sign your spouse is having an affair. Which, universally, was the headline of the coverage.

View the original press release.

View the Churnalism.com rating.

“The new iPhone will lead to more affairs!” says extramarital dating website

“The new iPhone will lead to more affairs!” says extramarital dating website

“People who have jobs have affairs!” says extramarital dating website

“People who have jobs have affairs!” says extramarital dating website

Who paid to put this story into the Daily Mail?

A new study, by website Notatwork.co.uk and married dating site IllicitEncounters.com, found those doing the most hours also reported a higher than average number of work-based affairs.

Both websites are related to a string of ‘extramarital dating’ businesses.

View the original press release.

View the Churnalism.com rating.

“Giving your boyfriend’s clothes to a charity shop is better than sex!” says charity shop

Ladies, don’t you hate it when your boyfriend refuses to part with that old jumper you hate, even after you ask him to? Never fear: all the other girls out there are taking matters into their own hands! Just ask the Daily Mail:

One in seven women admits binning their man’s old clothes without telling him (even though they have 16 items in the wardrobe they never wear)

Women typically harbour 16 items of clothing they never wear – yet throw out their partner’s clothes without telling them, according to research.

One in seven women (14 per cent) admits going behind her man’s back to clear out clothes she thinks do not suit him.

Source: Daily Mail, 4 March 2013

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So, you see, it’s perfectly fine for you to find those clothes your boyfriend wants to keep and then to give them to a charity shop – we know it’s OK because all the other girlfriends out there are doing it, and we know all the other girlfriends out there are doing it because a charity shop (who wants more donations) says so:

The survey by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which is encouraging people to take unwanted items into its shops, found that a third of Britons feel ‘relieved’ following a clear-out, while 11 per cent of women say it is ‘better than sex’.

You hear that, ladies? Getting rid of your unwanted clothes – or those of your loved ones – is BETTER THAN SEX, says the charity shop wanting your unwanted clothes. If that’s not enough to convince you… well, the BHF will just have to commission another bullshit poll, really.

How many Daily Mail editors does it take to correctly attribute an article?

A few days ago I highlighted a story, based on a press release from an ‘extra-marital dating website’, which took two Daily Mail journalists to write – even though 71% of the story was copied exactly from the original press release. You can catch up on the details here if you missed it.

Well, it appears there may be more to this than I first thought – after I tweeted the two journalists involved directly, I had the following exchange with Andrea Childs:

It’s the first time I’ve seen this press release or article. No idea why my name is on it… I do interviews for YOU mag so maybe name left on a template from old feature put online? I am going to check.

This, then, asks an interesting question: did the Daily Mail really attribute a story to a journalist who had seen neither the press release nor the finished article? Simply by neglecting to delete her name from a submission template?

If so, we’re in the quite amusing position whereby the Daily Mail are so used to copy/pasting entire articles, they’ll even copy whatever name is on the submission form – and their fact-checking skills are so atrophied as to entirely miss the error.

This from the most-read news website in the world, too. Interesting.

How many Daily Mail journalists does it take to copy 71% of a press release?

There was bad news for footballers the world over recently, as a fourteen-paragraph news article written by two Daily Mail journalists ranked the sportsmen lowest in the ‘sexy profession’ charts:

Sorry Becks, women have rated the sexiest professions … and ‘vain and over-confident’ footballers come last

Previously it has been assumed that most women would jump at the opportunity to date David Beckham, but not if the latest research is anything to go by.

A new survey asked women what they thought the sexiest profession was for a partner and the top result has been revealed as a musician or artist, while footballers come last with just 1 per cent of voters finding the athletic profession sexy.

Source: Daily Mail, 29 January 2013

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There was no appearance in the list, of course, for journalists, but I’m sure the pair at the Daily Mail – Andrea Childs and bad-pr regular Bianca London – fare perfectly well for themselves.

Quite why it took two professional journalists to pen fourteen paragraphs of copy isn’t clear – especially when the copy came from a press release by extramarital ‘dating’ website IllicitEncounters:

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How much of the fourteen-paragraph news article came from the press release, and how much from the two professional journalists credited with writing it? Churnalism.com has the answers…

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That’s just 29% of the news story coming from the professionals at the Daily Mail – or just less than 15% each. The rest was penned by IllicitEncounters’ PR guy Mike Taylor, who defended his work to me over Twitter:

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“It’s not for me to decide what is actual news but as for the research I can assure you of it’s (sic) legitimacy”

This, I think, is where the world of Bad PR gets interesting. Let’s for a moment leave aside the belief that the research is legitimate (Mike may well believe it is, but very valid issues exist around cherry-picking, leading question wording, self-selected sample groups, poor polling methodology and – in the case of surveys via companies such as OnePoll – the incentivisation of participants to take part in surveys not designed for them, and to spend as little time as possible on their participation). 

Instead, let’s take a look at where the responsibility lies here. Who is the bad guy? Is it Mike Taylor, creating opportunistic pseudo-articles (‘Isn’t it time we had a more progressive Pope?‘ asks find-and-fuck dating website) in order to get his client into the press? Isn’t that just Mike’s job, and as he rightly says there ought to be someone out there filtering out the nonsense created by people like him?

How about Bianca London and Andrea Childs – isn’t it their responsibility to write better stories, to ignore useless PR puff-pieces such as this nonsense from IllicitEncounters, to use their platform to find real stories and report what’s really important? Or is it that, as a primarily fashion journalist, Bianca is instead repeatedly tasked with producing inordinate levels of content for the largest and least discerning online publication in the world, including 13 articles between February 14-15 alone, and in August last year as many as 101 articles in a single month? How would even the best of journalists keep up standards under such conditions?

Perhaps it’s the fault of the newspaper – shouldn’t the Mail Online put a stop to the damaging ‘publish anything’ mentality which pressurises journalists into the open arms of PR types from seedy websites and lowers the standards of journalism across the board? Or is it that in a world of free online news and falling revenues, the anything-goes publishing mentality keeps the advertising revenue stream profitable and facilitates the little genuine journalism that remains, as the newspaper survives as a profit-making enterprise?

The real blame, unfortunately, has to lie a little with each of these, and yet ultimately with none of them. The news system is broken, and even as each cog in the machine quietly turns correctly in its own direction, the entire news machine drives further over the cliff. 

Valentine’s Day retailers say it with flawed surveys

It’s February 14th, and in accordance with tradition the nation will be heaving tonight with the sounds of relationships the country over being consumated. Specifically, the relationships between PR agencies and their satisfied clients, as retailers and businesses cash in on the Valentine’s Day media free-for-all.

While the exploitation of the most commercial of the Hallmark Holidays is nothing new, 2013 certainly hasn’t let the side down – the first rains of the Valentine’s PR monsoon falling as early as January, with pioneering research into the evolution of the pet name (Daily Mail, January 28th) published in the Daily Mail:

Move over darling! Old-fashioned favourite beaten into third place as babe and baby become Britain’s top terms of endearment

The research found that terms of affection such as ‘darling’ and ‘sweetheart’ have been superseded by more modern and streamline pet-names like ‘baby’ and ‘love’ (both of which were actually only invented in the year 2000 as part of Britain’s preparations for the Millennium Bug). These findings have far-reaching implications, according to the researchers – who coincidentally are a sex toy retailer named after two common pet names:

Lovehoney co-founder Neal Slateford said: ‘The ways pet names have changed over the years show we are getting even more affectionate towards each other and a little less formal.

‘As a nation, we are learning to lighten up when it comes to love and sex. That has to be a good thing.’

If I were an online sex toy retailer, I’m sure I’d find ample reason to agree. Still, that the survey produced media-friendly results of potential benefit to the company carrying out the research should in no way undermine the credibility of this online, self-reported and entirely-subjective poll, even as further findings from this PR exercise are explained:

And while the British might have a reputation for being unromantic, the poll found that the opposite is true, with 72 per cent saying that Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to show a partner how much they appreciate them.

If anybody is still unsure how to show a partner how much they’re appreciated, a Mr Slateford at Lovehoney.co.uk has a number of expensive suggestions for you. Or perhaps you could always turn to vibrator vendors ‘Desire and Pleasure’, whose own online self-promotional pseudo-research was featured in The Sun (The Sun, February 7th):

CASH-strapped Brits are shunning expensive romantic nights out this Valentine’s Day — and stocking up on SEX TOYS instead, a survey claims.

The unromantic reputation of Britons was similarly noted by British tourist board ‘Visit Britain’, who pointed out (Daily Mail, February 10th):

Britain ‘too stuffy’ to host romantic visit as Italy and France is preferred by tourists

While we may be too stuffy to be romantic, we’re not too stupid to recognise reverse psychology. The lack of romance in modern-day Britain is clearly an area fraught with controversy, with a study published by Interflora insisting that Britons are a nation of romantics who fall in love at first sight (Daily Mail, February 6th), with one in five Brits positive the best way to declare new-found love is with a nice bunch of flowers. If only they could find a suitable florist.

While there’s clearly some rigorous academic dispute over the romance levels of the average Brit, at least one thing is certain – somewhere in Britain can be arbitrarily declared as more romantic than everywhere else. After all, in any closed set with random variance, there has to be an upper and lower limit – and what better way to highlight normal statistical distribution than by letting people know you sell perfume (Daily Mail, February 1st)?

When it comes to Valentine’s gifts, we’ve an abundance of research – each piece diligently compiled by online survey companies using questions written very carefully by PR companies on behalf of businesses aiming to use Valentine’s Day to secure column inches. Voucher website Groupon, for example, revealed flowers and chocolates just don’t cut it (The Sun, February 12th), and instead a gifts need to be memorable – rather like one of the experiences you can buy inexpensively on voucher websites like Groupon. And heaven help you if you get last-minute flowers from a petrol station – voucher website NetVoucherCodes.co.uk have research proving such an idea is a no-no (Daily Mail, February 11th).

On the other hand, as retailer Debenham’s helpfully researched, it’d be a good idea to buy the lady in your life some ‘posh knickers’ (Daily Mail, February 6th). Or perhaps you should take part in the British Heart Foundation’s charity initiative to write your partner a love note – after all, the BHF’s own research proves women prefer a simple, thoughtful gesture to an expensive gift anyway (Daily Mail, February 12th). But remember to buy your mistress something nice, too (Daily Mail, February 12th) – an extramarital dating website has research which says this is wise.

For those in long-term relationships, Valentine’s Day isn’t necessarily all department-store knickers and online vouchers – there are innumerable pitfalls into which the unsuspecting lover could fall. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of PR-led research with commercially-valuable conclusions to guide an impressionable couple – with advice from MSN to avoid relationship-killing public display of affection (Daily Mail, February 12th) and data produced by internet security experts McAfee (Daily Mail, February 5th) proving that not only are your exes cyber-stalking you, but that those explicit photos on your smartphone are vulnerable to being hacked unless you can find an expert willing to sell you internet security. Even married couples aren’t safe from the relationship curse, with research proving that excitement, romance, sex and affection are dead in the water after three and a half years of marriage (The Telegraph, February 9th) – that the data was gathered by Co-op Foods probably has nothing at all to do with their Valentine’s Meal Deal and associated ad campaign.

Of course, if all else fails, you could always opt for the free Valentine’s Day Divorce (Daily Mail, February 12th). After all, there’s only 365 days left until Valentine’s Day – and there’s a hell of a lot of spurious, commercially-driven and scientifically-worthless online surveys to fill in before then.

Originally published in The Guardian, 14 February 2013