The PR week: The good, the bad and the bizarre from the last seven days

Your rapid-fire, no holds-barred run through of the last seven days in PR, as viewed by PRWeek Asia Head of Content Gary Scattergood

Pussy galore

Bowler-hat tip to the UK-based High Pay Centre, which chalked up widespread publicity for its none-too-subtly titled Fat Cat Tuesday report this week.

Fear not, this wasn’t a GIF slideshow of oversized moggies, but a study revealing that by last Tuesday the top FTSE 100 CEOs would have made more money than the average UK worker will earn all year (£27,645).

The story ran on BBC News, Sky News, The Times, The Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and elsewhere, with #FatCatTuesday trending on Twitter.

It’s success boils down to its simplicity – and the fact it cashes in on the general population's January blues as people return to work after the festive break.

However, spare a thought for those CEOs who needed six days to clock up the £27,645.

WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell famously earned £43m in 2014, after bonuses, incentives and pension contributions, equivalent to more than £117,000 a day.

Nevertheless, Sir Martin’s counterparts still fare slightly better than a Singapore PR agency account manager – at WPP or otherwise.

According to a Hudson 2015 salary survey, they can expect to earn around SG$80,000 (£38,100) a year, an amount Sir Martin and his fellow CEOs had likely accrued before most of us had shaken off our New Year hangovers.

Happy New Year!

Gayle-force PR storms

West Indian cricket star Chris Gayle found himself subjected to a barrage of Twitter bouncers and wider media criticism this week following his sleazy antics towards a female reporter.

The Melbourne Renegades batsman said his remarks to Mel McLaughlin calling her "baby" and asking her to drinks on air were a "simple joke" that had been blown "out of proportion".

That didn’t wash with former Australia cricketer Ian Chappell who said Gayle should be suspended for his "arrogant" apology, while James Sutherland, head of Cricket Australia, said the comments "border on harassment".

Meanwhile, the CEO of Melbourne Renegades rightly issued a formal apology and fined Gayle.

McLaughlin’s employers, Channel 10, however, failed to show such decency.

As Red Agency CEO and Havas Austraiia COO James Wright pointed out, Channel 10 originally tweeted the Gayle quote as a bit of fun with the hashtag "#smooth".

The tweet was later deleted, before Channel 10 then apologised and defended its reporter, saying the comments were disrespectful.

Howzat for a swift change of tack?

Another bag day

Speaking of reverse ferrets – the phrase famously coined by Kelvin MacKenzie, the ex-editor of The Sun in the UK, to signify a sudden reversal in policy – Malaysia Airlines pulled off a rapid u-turn this week.

The airline found itself in the midst of another PR storm following an announcement that it would not being taking checked luggage on flights to Europe, only to reverse its position in a matter of hours.

On Tuesday evening a statement appeared on the airline’s website saying flights to London, Amsterdam and Paris would not be taking checked baggage because of "unseasonable strong headwinds" and longer flight paths.

"This longer flight path consumes more jet fuel and for safety reasons, Malaysia Airlines has had to impose temporary limitation on checked-in baggage allowance," the statement said, blaming strong headwinds for the decision.

However, by Wednesday morning the statement had been removed and replaced by a new one saying the luggage ban had been lifted and normal service has resumed on all flights.

As one aviation analyst said: "It's highly unusual and bizarre but that's also what we've got used to from Malaysia Airlines."

After suffering a terrible 2015 due to the disappearance of flight MH370 and shooting down of flight MH17, such self-inflicted damage is also the last thing the beleaguered airline needs, rapid reverse ferret or not.

Movers and Shakers

It’s a new year and a new job for ex- Penn Schoen Berland head of APAC Euan Wilmshurst who has joined Burson-Marsteller as managing director and deputy market leader of the firm’s Singapore office, while boutique Malaysian PR firm Ming, KH & Associates has hired KM Cheong as group account director.

Over in the US, strategic communications consultancy Abernathy MacGregor has named Tom Johnson as CEO; NASCAR has promoted integrated marketing communications VP David Higdon to replace Brett Jewkes as its communications leader; and Gabriella Stern, former deputy managing editor and editor of strategic initiatives at The Wall Street Journal, has joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as director of media and external relations.

In the UK, Following the closure last month of HJPR - the PR agency behind boy band One Direction - co-founder Simon Jones has set up his own firm, Simon Jones PR. Meanwhile, Halpern PR has appointed Lucy Melling from MSL as MD and Surname & Surname has folded back into Blue Rubicon with Lottë Jones made creative director.

In terms of accounts, Singapore Tourism Board has retained Sinclair Communications for its Hong Kong and Macau account; Chipotle split with Edelman after eight years in the US amid the food firm’s E. coli crisis; and in the UK Lewis' consumer division has been appointed to handle the PR for Dutch lifestyle products brand HEMA Retail.

Final thought

It’s the first week back after the holidays. It’s Friday. You’re killing time until the weekend, right? Then have a look at these brain-teasers put together by the good people at social media management firm Kawo. This quiz on digital dynamics in China, features everything from the number of e-commerce vendors on WeChat to apps apparently named after the Chinese slang for male masturbation. Confession time (behave): I got 11 out of 20. As my old school reports used to state; Must try harder.

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