Tag Archives: mirror

“People don’t have enough time to eat lunch!” says on-the-go lunch company, via OnePoll

How often do you find you’re so over-worked you skip lunch to make sure you can get things done on time? According to a piece of PR put out recently, it’s more common than you might think:

Most Brits are only taking 16 minute lunch breaks each day

Busy office workers are managing to squeeze in a meagre 16 minutes a day for lunch, a study has found.

Researchers found despite having a full hour to enjoy a much-deserved break, many take a quarter of this period to eat, and nearly half will typically dine ‘al-desko’ at precisely 12.43pm.

Source: Mirror, 19th June 2019

Not only are we tied to our desk, but to cap it all off, our hectic on-the-go lifestyle means we end up having the same thing for lunch over and over again:

One in 10 admitted eating the same meal for lunch EVERY day, with the most popular reoccurring choices being a plain cheese sandwich or a meaty ham sandwich.

Which, admittedly, is a useful message for the company behind this PR to send:

The research was commissioned by Quorn, who are encouraging the UK to change their ways with the launch of nine new products, which can be eaten “on the go” as healthy lunch options that are also healthy for the planet.

Chalk up another piece of obviously commercially-motivated article placement to the folk at 72 Point, who even got the byline for the Mirror’s piece:

“You should go on holiday with your partner!” says holiday company, via OnePoll

Holiday news now, with the shock revelation that couples like to go on holiday together:

Couples are taking ‘make or break’ holidays after just THREE MONTHS together

Modern couples now embark on ‘make or break’ holidays after just THREE MONTHS together, a study revealed.

A survey of 2,000 adults found one in four love-hungry couples take the plunge and head off on a trip together three months or earlier into their relationship.

And around one in five are going on a sunshine break with their other half early in the relationship specifically to test if their partner is worth sticking with for good.

Source: Mirror, 20th June 2019

Which company wants you to question whether it’s time to take your partner away for a romantic getaway?

Karl Thompson, managing director for Sandals Resorts in the UK, which commissioned the study, said: “Whether it’s a couple’s first trip together, a honeymoon to celebrate, or a more traditional break away from everyday life, a getaway with your partner can be the perfect chance to spend quality time together and strengthen those romantic bonds.

“Whilst a week-long holiday may seem lengthy for a first trip away, it can be a good opportunity to see if a new relationship will stand the test of time and whether any romance lasts when you get home.”

This non-news article, published in a national newspaper simply to encourage you to think about booking a holiday, was paid for by a holiday company and placed in the news by PR company 72 Point, whose employee was even given the by-line in the Mirror.

“If you think your job is bad, try being a working animal!” says working animal charity, via OnePoll

Another entry for the bylined-to-a-PR-company files here, with the finding that office workers feel they have it hard now compared to how things used to be in the past:

Brits complain that work ‘used to be easier’ and they ‘miss working 9 to 5’

One-hour lunch breaks, working nine to five and a simple tea round are among the things office workers miss about the past, according to a study.

The research of 2,000 office workers aged 40 and over revealed the extent to which things have changed over the years, with six in 10 saying work was ‘easier’ in previous decades.

Being able to leave work on time without feeling guilty, wearing a suit or set uniform and shutting emails down at the end of the day also feature in the list.

Source: Mirror, 13th June 2019

On this particular occasion, PR firm 72 Point were paid to publish this in the Mirror (with a by-line to their PR account manager, naturally) by… well…

Animal charity SPANA carried out the research ahead of International Working Animal Day (15 June) to raise awareness of working animals worldwide, which face a lifetime of work, with no retirement, in appalling conditions that never change.

You almost have to take your hats off to 72 Point for this one, to get from office workers upset about the loss of the good old days, to a line about the life of working animals. But I’ll let the SPANA spokesperson explain their hook:

Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive of animal charity SPANA, which provides free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries, said: “They say things were ‘better in my day’ and it’s clear that older workers are nostalgic about the past and a time when work felt less stressful.

“But while it can be difficult to get to grips with longer working hours, new technology and higher demands, these problems pale in comparison with the gruelling conditions endured by working animals overseas.”

And in case there was any doubt that this article was written in full by a PR company with zero editing or fact checking from the news organisation that published it, we only have to look to the SWNS news feed to see the full copy.

“Women should be more connected natural things!” says cosmetics company, via OnePoll

With Summer around the corner, it might be time to start questioning how much time you spend immersed in Mother Nature:

Half of women suffering as they ‘don’t have time to enjoy nature’, study finds

Almost half of British women don’t have enough time to enjoy nature, it has emerged.

Researchers who carried out a detailed study found hectic workloads and busy family lives mean many go for long spells without taking time to enjoy Mother Nature’s creations.

Source: Mirror, 10th June 2019

Unless, of course, this story is just an excuse for a company to emphasise the importance of connecting with nature, in order to tie in to a spurious marketing hook:

The study was commissioned by naturally inspired skincare brand Liz Earle, who have partnered with Go Jauntly, an app designed to help city dwellers connect with the nature around them.

In classic Bad PR style, this story in the Mirror is taken word-for-word from the copy provided by news agency SWNS:

SWNS is a news agency which is owned by PR company 72 Point… who also own perennial Bad PR pollsters OnePoll. This story is the clearest possible demonstration of the way in which commercial quasi-advertising copy is laundered into the media unchecked:

  1. Lize Earle skincare hires PR company to incorporate the marketing/advertising hook into some content marketing copy
  2. PR company uses OnePoll to create data that backs up the PR angle they’ve already decided on
  3. PR company creates page-ready copy and publishes it via news agency SWNS, where it is disseminated for pick-up by media organisations (who might not have the time or inclination to check the source or verify any of the findings)
  4. Newspaper looking for something to fill its pages publishes the ad-driven copy as if it were a real story.

That said, there’s one aspect of this story that demonstrates the evolving face of PR content marketing: the by-lined author of the Mirror’s piece, Emma Elsworthy, is not a Mirror journalist. She isn’t a freelance journalist either… she is the “Creative Manager at content and news generation experts 72 Point“.

Gone are the days when newspapers even bothered having their junior desk reporters sift through PR copy to find stories ‘worth’ churning into the news – nowadays, they by-line the PRs who are being paid by their clients to secure space in newspapers.

In my opinion, the only reason this kind of practice doesn’t receive any outcry is because the Mirror don’t signpost which of their stories are written and by-lined entirely by PR companies. They pretend these stories are real journalists, and rely on their readers not to question it.

“People want to see photos of you on holiday!” says holiday company, via OnePoll

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.

“Families are increasingly sharing money and bank accounts!” says bank keen to be seen as a family bank

Financial news now, with the revelation that generational wealth transfer might not be a one-way street:

Bank of Mum and Dad works both ways as ‘half of parents’ get cash from their kids

The Bank of Mum and Dad isn’t just for kids’ withdrawals – almost half of parents receive financial support from their children, research claims.

While the younger generation is well known for having to scrimp and save to climb onto the housing ladder, it is suggested many are also having to help their families at the same time.

Source: Mirror, 18th June 2019

Which company wants to get you thinking about your finances, and your financial relationships?

The M&S Bank research claims 49 per cent of millennials (23-38 year olds) provide financial support to their parents.

That’s M&S Bank, who only recently were heavily criticised for their PR story promoting the notion that dads are better than mums at handling the family finances. This is the latest in their run of stories analysing the way in which families share resources – perhaps because they’re pushing a “family bank” PR campaign.

Paul Stokes, head of products, M&S Bank, said: “Despite common perceptions about the bank of mum and dad, what we are seeing is that the ‘family bank’ works both ways, with people ‘depositing’ and ‘withdrawing’ from the family finances at different times in their lives.

“While millennials or Gen Z-ers may be boomeranging back to live in the family home at some stage in their adult lives, with parents often supporting their children to get a foot on the property ladder, this support is not a one-way street with many younger generations also helping parents, and other family members.

“People should be wearing sunglasses!” says lens manufacturer, via OnePoll

Optical news now, with the report that people have no idea how damaging the sun’s rays can be on the eyes:

Millions of adults turning blind eye to harmful UV rays, study warns

Millions of adults have ‘no idea’ UV rays can damage their eyes, a study found.

Researchers who polled 2,000 people found 28 per cent were unaware they can be affected by UV rays in the winter sun, and three in 10 didn’t know that UV rays can still be damaging on a cloudy day.

More than half agreed you’re more likely to be affected by UV rays in countries with a sunnier climate than the UK, and 55 per cent didn’t know you could suffer damage from UV rays even in the shade.

Source: Mirror, 17th June 2019

The study was put together by a company who sell you eyewear to protect you from UV rays:

The study was commissioned by ZEISS to reveal the state of the nation’s understanding when it comes to protecting their eyes from UV radiation damage.

In fact, the Mirror even handily included the explicit marketing pitch from the company’s press release:

ZEISS lens range with UV Protect technology, offers full UV protection up to 400nm as standard so consumers can take advantage of higher levels of UV protection for the eyes and surrounding skin.

And it’s no surprise by this point that the article was a by-lined reproduction of the original PR copy:

“Retailers who respond to complaints fare better!” says retail operations software, via OnePoll

Grumbling news now, with the revelation that shoppers complain about things when they’re unhappy, in an article written for the Independent by Grant Bailey:

ONE-THIRD OF UK ONLINE SHOPPERS HAVE POSTED A NEGATIVE REVIEW, SURVEY SAYS

Britain is a nation of online complainers, a study has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 adults found almost one-third of shoppers have left a negative review online.

Of these, seven in 10 have complained online within the last year.

And 76 per cent of those surveyed will also share a negative retail experience with someone else they know to warn them off a particular brand.

Source: Independent, 13th June 2019

On the same day, a it’s-fair-to-call-similar article appeared in the Mirror, written by Grant Bailey:

Britain is a nation of complainers with 33% leaving a negative review online

Britain is a nation of online complainers, a study has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 adults found almost a third of shoppers have left a negative review online.

Of these, seven in 10 have had a moan online within the last year.

And 76 per cent of those surveyed will also share a negative retail experience with someone else they know to warn them off a particular brand.

Source: Mirror, 13th June 2019

Eagle-eyed readers will spot that these two articles are word-for-word the same, and that the by-lined ‘journalist’ in both cases is Grant Bailey – Senior Creative Account Manager for PR company 72 Point. Here’s the original release on the 72 Point website:

This research was brought to you by, as ever, a company with a financial horse in the race:

Derek O’Carroll, CEO of retail operations platform Brightpearl, which commissioned the study, said: “Brits are famously awkward and averse to confrontation and complaining, but, with the rise of so many avenues for customer feedback, from online forms to social media, those habits appear to be changing.

“Consumers have started exercising their right to have a moan when they receive sub-par service – and brands need to start paying closer attention.”

Brightpearl are a retail operations and management software, who advertise their ability to help retailers respond to customers complaints quickly and improve customer relations – which makes sense, given what the spokesperson goes on to say:

The survey found that just 19 per cent of retailers have invested in technology or solutions to help them address the issues that most commonly cause poor feedback and ratings, such as problems with receiving items on time or overly complicated returns.

Derek O’Carroll added: “To help get the most out of online reviews, businesses need to consider solutions which allow them to fulfil the modern expectations of customers – from same-next day delivery options to real-time shipping, hassle-free returns and incredible response times.”

“With a great strategy – and the right technology – in place, firms can focus on generating the positive reviews and ratings which are more likely to capture the attention of today’s online shopper and lead to increased spend and better business.”

Not content with publishing a company’s advert, word for word as it was written by the PR company that company paid, the Mirror even go as far as to include an explicit ad call to action at the bottom of their article:

Those curious to find out more about the impact of the ‘Rise of the Review Culture’ should visit brightpearl.com/rise-of-the-review-culture.

“People take photos of important events!” says bread company asking for people’s photos, via OnePoll

Tenuous PR news now, starting with ‘research’ that suggest big moments in our lives tend to happen at specific ages:

Average ages for life’s biggest milestones – how many have you ticked off?

The average age to tie the knot is 26, while buying your first home happens a year later, according to research.

A detailed study of 2,000 adults found the ages at which life’s special moments are most likely to happen, with your first kiss at 15 and getting your first real boyfriend or girlfriend at 17.

Sadly, this is followed by a first heartbreak at the age of 18.

Music fans will attend their first gig at the age of 16, while thrill-seekers will experience their first rollercoaster ride when they are just 12.

Source: Mirror, 17th June 2019

We have to go on a little bit of a journey to spot the PR angle on this one, as this research was paid for and the copy commissioned by a bread manufacturer, who first spin the story from “things happen at certain ages” to “we can remember big events that happen in our lives”:

Melissa Bentley, marketing manager for French bakery brand, Brioche Pasquier, which commissioned the research, said: “Many of us can still remember big life events, even if they happened decades ago.

“But even though memory is a great way of capturing these times, having them in photos and videos is really great to relive some of the key moments of our lives.”

The quote from the marketing spokesperson nudges the angle from “we can remember things” to “we all take photos of big events in order to remember them”, which brings us to the real purpose of this story:

Melissa Bentley added: “Whatever the special moment and whenever a person experiences it, it seems that a lot of us choose to honour the occasion in the form of a photograph.

“And it’s now even easier with most of us people able to reach into our pockets and capture it on our smartphones.

“This summer, that is exactly what we’re asking members of the public to do.

”Share your images of your special moment with us and our favourites will have the chance of winning amazing prizes”.

So from our starting point of “milestone events happen in our lives at certain ages”, we’ve now got to “a bread company wants to see your family snaps”. Convoluted stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree… and not, by any stretch of the imagination, journalism.

Unsurprisingly, this story was written in full by a PR company, and the copy published by the Mirror without any editing:

If it wasn’t poor enough of the Mirror to print the advertising copy verbatim, they once again even end with a hyperlinked call to action, to really please the marketing team:

To enter the Brioche Pasquier #shareaspecialmoment competition and be in with a chance of winning a family holiday worth £2000, visit here and upload a photograph of your family special moment.

“Workers spend way too long on boring, menial tasks!” says expense-tracking software, via OnePoll

Office news now, with the revelation that much of our time in the office is wasted on small admin tasks:

Average employee wastes three months carrying out ‘pointless’ tasks

The average employee reckons they waste almost 15 weeks a year – carrying out “pointless” tasks at work, according to research.

The study of 2,000 workers found typically 142 minutes a day – more than two hours – are spent doing admin, paperwork and attending meetings when they could be getting on with more important jobs. 

That equates to a staggering 76 working days across a 48 week year, assuming workers take four weeks annual leave. 

Source: Mirror, 12th June 2019

Who has a commercial incentive to send the message that having office workers spend their time on admin tasks is inefficient?

Adam Reynolds, CEO and spokesman for expense management company Webexpenses, which carried out the study, said: “Activities such as claiming expenses, processing invoices and auditing shouldn’t take much time at all, and yet for many businesses stuck in the dark ages, they are.

Here’s the original copy on the SWNS website, which is owned by the PR company 72 Point, who the by-lined ‘journalist’ works for: