Flack on Friday: school's out for Southern, happy Days at Burson, Engage rings a Bell, Southampton FC's Taylor-d comms

In Flack this week: Southern studies school timetables, banter for Burson's boyish boss, Grayling's Engage rings a Bell, Southampton FC PRs have fun and Qantas PRs do not.

#AskEddie: when are the school holidays?

The UK was gripped by Eddie-mania this week as a chirpy work experience took over the Twitter account of beleaguered rail franchise Southern. His easy charm won over many on the social network - although one PR man has written in this very outlet that he thinks this "exploitation" of a kid is incredibly poor comms judgment.

Flack probed the Southern press team about what was behind all this, and whether the approach was justified or cynical, especially in a week where the operator announced that it had been forced to shell out £13.4m in lieu of bad service.

First came a swerving statement from Southern, saying the media interest was unexpected and "testament to his [Eddie's] great personality and expert coaching by our very good Twitter team", followed by another emailing saying: "I would like to add, the timing of work experience programmes is dictated by school timetables, not us."

One might say it is rather fortunate that school and work experience timetables aren't dictated by Southern.

He wasn't born yester-Day

From one charming young man to another, now: congratulations to Stephen Day, yesterday promoted to CEO of Burson-Marsteller's UK operation.

The fresh-faced public affairs man is known for his youthful looks - so much so, in fact, that his colleagues make a point each year when PRWeek 30 Under 30 nominations come out, of jokily checking whether he ought to be entered.

Flack hopes that this teasing does not abate in deference to his new, loftier status - and that the pressures of leadership do not take their toll on his complexion.

Full profiles of this year's 30 Under 30 feature in next week's print edition.

Grayling rebrand rings a Bell

Flack was moved to a wry smile this week to find Grayling had announced a new division called Grayling Engage.

Remind you of anything? At the start of the year, Bell Pottinger announced the launch of its new division 'Engage by Bell Pottinger' (also marketed simply as 'Engage' when they want to avoid associations with their parent company), as part of an attempt to leave behind the legacy of a business that has often been mired in controversy.

In a week where Bell Pottinger has again been in the mire, why not take a leaf out of their rebranding book, eh Grayling?

Southampton FC signs off (on) in style

Football fans have been irked and amused in (presumably) roughly equal measure in recent weeks by their teams' social media operators finding extra elaborate or interesting ways to announce new signings.

Flack, of course, knows that when a social media trend comes parading down the street, there's inevitably a parody just around the corner.

Step forward the social squad at Southampton FC - and take a bow.

Qantas checks out of the fun

Finally, we come to the silly season story par excellence that was an Australian checking in nothing but a single can of beer as luggage on a domestic flight with Qantas. It came out at the other end intact, and the story spawned social media frolics aplenty.

But not so with the airline itself, whose press team rather obviously thought it a bit of a tinpot scheme.

"This guy's done it and he's won the internet for the day, so we're happy to move on," a spokesman said in a statement to the BBC, while rolling his eyes and yawning, Flack imagines.

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