Tag Archives: mirror

“People need help buying their first home!” says mortgage provider

House buying news now, with the report in the Mirror and the Daily Mail that the younger generation are increasingly taking loans from their grandparents to try to get deposits together as they aim to get on the property ladder:

The bank of gran and grandad helps first-time buyers: One in ten rely on their relatives to help them get onto the property ladder

  • Some eight per cent of first-time buyers rely on cash from their grandparents
  • Compares with 13 per cent of existing home owners asked family to help
  • On average people planning to buy first home expect it will take them five years

Nearly one in 10 aspiring first-time buyers are turning to the ‘bank of gran and grandad’ to help fund their deposit, a survey has found.

Source: Daily Mail, 6th March 2017

Record levels of first time buyers asking grandparents for help – 4 schemes to get you there alone

As well as saving parents thousands on childcare, retirees are also helping today’s generation make it on the ladder by contributing thousands to their first home deposit

Forget mum and dad, one in 10 aspiring first-time buyers are turning to the “bank of gran and grandad” to help raise their deposit, Santander research has found.

Source: Mirror, 6th March 2017

Admittedly, the Mirror’s coverage tips its hand a little, running the name of the company behind the story in the first paragraph after the headlines: Santander bank.

Miguel Sard, managing director of mortgages, Santander UK said: “Despite having to use alternative income streams over and above their salary – such as relying on the bank of gran and grandad – today’s first-time buyers are demonstrating resilience and determination to achieve their home ownership goals.”

While it’s almost certainly the case that millennials are having to borrow money from their elders – whose mortgages were more aligned to their income – it’s also the case that this story is just a way for Santander to advertise their services to first-time buyers.

“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

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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

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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.

“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

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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

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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.

“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

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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 Pissup.com.

“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 Pissup.com are, what they do or why these articles are nothing but adverts for Pissup.com’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

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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

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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:

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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.

“Your boobs change size, so you should buy a new bra!” says bra company

Our cups runneth over! Average bra size rises from 36C to 36DD… with women from Cheshire and Manchester boasting the largest assets

Britain’s average bra size has risen from a 36C to a more voluptuous 36DD, with women in the North West of England boasting the biggest bust.

The Great British Bra Survey, which polled 2,000 women aged between 16 and 75, suggested that size differed depending on where where you lived and even which month your birthday was.

Women in Cheshire, Manchester and Lancashire have the largest assets, an average DD, while ladies from the North East, including Durham and Newcastle, average a B cup.

Source: Daily Mail, 14th September 2015

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As any good PR professional will tell you, people love boobs, and newspapers love stories about boobs… which is why it was no surprise to see this results of the ‘Great British Bra Survey’ splash across the pages of the Daily Mail, the Mirror, the Metro, Cosmopolitan, Warrington Guardian, Derby Telegraph, Liverpool Echo, Manchester Confidential and This is Lancashire – each adorned with pictures of boobs (or pictures of bras, for those not wanting to be too obvious).

According to the ‘research’, breast size is on the rise, with the average cup moving from a 36C to a 36DD. Elsewhere in the story, the data is mined to within an inch of its life: firstly for the geographical breakdown (which results in the extensive local news coverage where breasts are said to be largest, naturally), and then, inexplicably, by month of birth. Primarily, one assumes, to pad out the story. Yes, that was intentional.

Which august research body is behind these findings?

Nicola Rodney-Crook, managing director of Bras and Honey, which sponsored the research, said:

‘An average woman will change bra size six times in her life so while it’s important to ensure that we review the bra market on a regular basis, we also have a responsibility to help educate women at the same time.

‘For example, not many women know that their bra size will fluctuate throughout the month, let alone throughout the year.’

The angle is clear: a lingerie firm wants to encourage women to buy more bras, so they commission a headline-baiting survey to remind women that their breast size may fluctuate, and so it’s time to replenish the lingerie drawer.

“Cosmetic surgery is so quick and so easy!” says cosmetic surgeon

Trainee beautician gets £600 nose job during her lunch hour after being bullied for looking like X Factor’s Stacey Solomon

A trainee beautician had a nose job after bullies taunted her for looking like the celebrity Stacey Solomon.

Olivia Papworth, from Timperley, Greater Manchester, said she was likened to the former X Factor star because of her ‘hooked’ nose and feared she would never find a boyfriend.

But the 20-year-old said she is no longer plagued with insecurities after undergoing a £600 20-minute non-surgical nose job during her lunch hour.

Source: Daily Mail, 16th September 2015

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It’s so easy and so quick to get cosmetic surgery done now – you can even have it done during your lunch break. And the benefits, promoted by this article, are endless – after all:

Olivia said she though her nose would stop her making friends or from finding a boyfriend who truly loved her for who she was.

What’s the best way to find someone who truly loves you for who you are? Plastic surgery, of course. That’s clearly the message of this article, which is unsurprising given that the story is just a placed advert for a cosmetic surgeon:

Doctor Tim Pearce, who carried-out Olivia’s procedure, said: ‘Olivia is a young, beautiful girl so it was such a shame that her nose affected her confidence.

‘As the nose is the centre of the face, it is very common for people of all ages to become very self-conscious if they are not happy with the size or shape of it.

‘Having surgery comes with risks. It’s also very expensive and can have a long recovery period. At SkinViva it is great that we have the ability to change the shape and size of someone’s nose by using a long-lasting reversible filler in just 20 minutes.’

How can we tell for certain that this is nothing more than PR for SkinViva? First off, a search for “SkinViva PR Agency” reveals that the cosmetic surgery appointed Ignite PR as their agency back in May:

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From there, a quick search for “Ignite PR nose job” shows the initial appeal for people to be the face behind this story:

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And then we have the post-coverage celebration from the PR agency:

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In fact, it doesn’t take much of a trawl back through Ignite PR’s twitter feed to see plenty of other appeals for cosmetic surgery stories, and those looking for nose jobs:

Most shockingly of all, the PR company also offers free nose jobs to those willing to take on the surgery and tell their tale afterwards:

It’s fair to say that enticing people to have unnecessary surgery in order to get your client to appear in the newspapers is ethically dicey, at best – but this is the world of cosmetic surgery PR, where the potential impact of the hookline on the self esteem of readers and the perception of beauty matters far, far less than securing those quick-fix column inches.

“Students love beer!” says price comparison website, with one eye on the University calendar

Universities with the cheapest and most expensive pints of beer revealed in MoneySupermarket research

Accommodation: check. Car insurance: check. Home insurance: check. Cost of the average pint of beer: let’s have a look.

New research from the UK’s leading price comparison website, MoneySupermarket, has revealed the best and worst value universities in the UK for students, coming just at the time while hundreds of thousands are preparing to head to their chosen institution.

Source: Independent, 14th September 2015

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Durham crowned best value UK university thanks to cheap pints and low rent

These universities may reek of tweed and Hunter wellies, but they are better value than some of their more down-to-earth rivals and this is why

Hard-up students heading to Durham University will find their cash goes further as it has been named the best value for money uni in Britain.

Source: Mirror, 8th September 2015

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Who’d have thought that a price comparison website would compare the price of beer? Well, anyone who realises that the MoneySupermarket PR team will be trying to use the start of the university term to convince students to use their price comparison tool to buy contents insurance for their new university residences… and students love beer, right?

“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.

“Kids today carry expensive gadgets!” says insurance comparison site

Go go gadget children: Our technology-mad kids reliant on expensive gismos for education at school

By the time the school gates open in just over a week’s time, half of parents will have bought their under-16s new smartphones, tablets or laptops

Technology-mad children will be returning to school with £3.2 billion worth of gadgets in their backpacks.

While the average value of hi-tech gear has doubled in a year to £270, one in five kids will be carrying big brands like Apple and Samsung totalling £400.

Source: Mirror, 26th August 2015

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Back to school 2.0: A fifth of pupils will be carrying gadgets worth more than £400 in their bags when they return to classes

The start of the school year used to see children kitted out with a larger uniform and if they were lucky a new pencil case.

But this year pupils returning to school will be carrying an average of £270 worth of technology in their bags, while over a fifth will have more than £400 of gadgets.

It suggests most pupils under the age of 16 are now carrying smartphones, tablets, iPods and laptops.

Source: Daily Mail, 26th August 2015

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The state of kids today, eh? It’s all take take take – not one of them can survive without the latest tech. At least, that’s according to the company who paid for this piece of PR:

A survey by uSwitch.com, the price comparison site, found that the amount of technology expected in pupil’s bags when schools go back in September has more than doubled compared to last year.

That would be uSwitch.com, the insurance comparison website, naturally:

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What would uSwitch have to gain by talking about how gadget-laden our kids are? Well…

The spread of expensive smartphones tablets like the iPad among school pupils has also raised concerns over safety as teenagers are commonly targeted by muggers looking to steal smartphones.

Alarming almost one in ten parents said their children have been bullied over technology while 13 per cent said they had lost gadgets or had them stolen at school.

Presumably parents worried about their teens being mugged ought to take out extra insurance, just in case…