Flack on Friday: PR in trouble over client claim, Cambridge Analytica in spotlight, snow fun

In Flack this week: new PR agency hit by ASA censure over testimonials, getting to the truth (or not) about Cambridge Analytica, Calcutta cops, lessons from KFC, and more.

ASA scolds PR start-up for client claim

Among this week's Advertising Standards Authority rulings is one that should serve as a cautionary tale for PR agencies and their in-house business development and marketing functions in particular.

The case concerns the website of Michael Davis’ start-up Break Point PR. The site featured a number of quotes from supposed clients, incurring the apparent wrath of Fuel PR, which complained that the testimonials related to work done while Davis was at Fuel.

The ASA upheld the complaint, and said words that might strike fear into the heart of many an early-stage agency’s owner: "We considered businesses would not expect the logos and testimonials to refer to work undertaken by an employee of Break Point PR when they were with a previous employer."

Davis confirmed to PRWeek that he had freelanced at Fuel, apologised for the confusion, and reverted his website to display an "under construction" holding page as soon as the complaint was raised.

A degree of truth from Cambridge Analytica?

The data and messaging firm Cambridge Analytica’s CEO spent Tuesday morning denying to MPs that his firm had worked on the Leave.EU pro-Brexit campaign. PRWeek was the first outlet to cover the fact that the two organisations were planning to work together ahead of the 2016 referendum, in a story in November 2015.

Leave.EU has referred to working with Cambridge Analytica in multiple formats, including several press releases - one in February 2016 referred to the firm as "our key social media advisors" - and the company was present at the campaign’s November 2015 launch.

But the firm’s boss Alexander Nix told the Westminster committee that no such work was ever carried out. He put blame for the misconception on an article that he himself wrote in PRWeek sister title Campaign in February 2016, which he refers to as having been "drafted by a slightly overzealous PR consultant" and was "released in error" - although he didn’t elaborate when asked how such a thing might be signed off in the first place.

Arron Banks, who bankrolled Leave.EU, has since referred to the company and its CEO as "liars". Who knows what the truth is - other than the universal truth that, as per Nix, it’s often the PR people who end up getting it in the neck.

Burson Cohn & Wolfe: the alternative response

In addition to PRWeek’s full reaction and analysis to the news of the impending merging of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe, Flack has spotted a few more concise reactions on Twitter. So concise that they are actually shorter than the name of the new agency.

Now don’t KFC it up

KFC’s handling of its chicken supply problems has been roundly praised as a great example of crisis comms. However, one PR chief told Flack this week that there could be a downside: predicting others may adopt the lighter, comedic approach with less skill than the fast food chain to resolve crises of greater seriousness. Let’s hope the right lessons have been learned.

PR: not for snowflakes

Ah, snow. For PR as much as any industry, we know it can cause much disruption (and not in the good, Uber or BrewDog way), with employees facing difficulties trudging through the white stuff to reach the office. This viral video shows the extent of the problem facing hardworking comms pros; the protagonist is right outside the London office of W.

Won’t be Beatt-en

Staying with the snow chaos, and Flack was impressed with the determination of one agency chief for handling the conditions and dealing with the consequences; hats off to Beattie’s Laurna Woods. (On a more serious note - take care out there, folks).

Altered perceptions

Flack received an unusual gift in the post this week: a t-shirt featuring the slogan "Alter the norm". After some head-scratching, turns out it is part of a campaign in Sweden to make young people feel better about themselves amid the torrent of ‘perfect’ images on social media. It’s from Swedish pop duo Icona Pop and fashion designer Ida Klamborn. Nice idea. (Flack's grasp of Swedish is rather basic, but assumes the sentiment in the post below is favourable).

Misslyckad.se en sak jag självklart är med & stöttar samt visar delaktivitet i. Själv mobbad som ung, uppvuxen i en värld där man som tjej inte får ta plats, visa självförtroende eller ta för sig. Avundsjuka, missunnsamhet poppis eller utanför, hur man än är & gör känns det fel. En undersökning Länsförsäkringar gjort bland ungdomar visar att hälften mår dåligt av pressen att visa upp "perfekta liv" i sina flöden. Dem vill ändra på det med initiativet #MissLyckad. Att uppmuntra fler att trivas med sig själva och våga stå för det. En förhoppning är att detta bidrar till att bredda idealen i sociala medier. #MissLyckad är en del av vårt förebyggande sociala hållbarhetsarbete för unga. Ett arbete som syftar till att få barn och ungdomar att växa, tro på sig själv och framtiden. - Alla ungdomar skall vara redo att ta över världen!! Läs mer om projektet på misslyckad.se mer om projektet kommer att dyka upp på Gotland snart. #misslyckad

A post shared by Josefine Esperansa (@josefineesperansa) on

Calcutta cops

We finish with a snippet supplied by Flack's Celtic cousin McFlack, who wanted to highlight a tweet posted after the Calcutta Cup rugby clash between the 'auld enemy' last weekend (final score: Scotland 25-13 England).

Well played Scotland and well played Police Scotland:

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