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PR winners and losers during COVID-19 Crisis



Times of crises tend to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to those who can hold their heads high to tell their grandchildren how they managed during the ‘war on coronavirus.’ Will you admit to panic buying toilet roll or, will you explain how you volunteered at a food bank?

The same can be said of brands as Manchester PR company Republic Relations explains.

Toilet roll hoarders

Mr Weatherspoon, aka Chairman Tim Martin has always tried to model himself as a man of the people and yet his coronavirus record has caused the brand considerable reputational damage. It started when he argued that the government should not be closing pubs and became worse when it emerged he sent a video to staff saying they wouldn’t get paid until he had his furlough money in the bank. He suggested they should go and work at Tesco’s. Ouch. Own goal and in those few moments, all goodwill for the company had gone down the pan (good job he has the toilet roll – eh?)

You would think that Mike Ashley, Sports Direct boss would have learned lessons as his treatment of staff three years ago, was once likened to a Victorian workhouse. But no, he wanted to keep his stores open as he argued he was an essential retailer and he also faced criticism for increasing some online items by 50%

And to compound matters, Mike Ashley who until recently owned Newcastle FC announced he would be putting all non-playing staff on furlough, despite a balance sheet of £178m. Other football clubs swiftly followed suit and the beautiful game has not come out of the crisis well. However, some clubs did respond to the consumer backlash with responsible behaviour. Leeds players agreed to forgo a portion of their salary to protect as many of their behind the scenes colleagues as they could.

Foodbank volunteers

Here in our wonderful city, MUFC also said they would not furlough staff and suggested their staff could volunteer in the local community. MCFC did the same and offered their conference rooms to the NHS for training purposes, while the gorgeous Pep donated £920 to help provide medical equipment in Spain.

While many brands have fallen over themselves to support the NHS, it’s great to see other key workers being helped. For example, Moto motorway food services offered free food to all the HGV drivers who have helped keep the supermarket shelves stocked. Or, how about Lush who simply offered shoppers a chance to pop in and wash their hands – simple but so effective.

And finally, who has not fallen in love with Captain Tom Moore – well done to GWR who named one of its trains after him, a wonderful way to acknowledge his incredible fund raising efforts.

As we know, it takes years to build the reputation of a brand – but it can be destroyed in a matter of days. If you are looking to build your reputation in the North West of England – do get in touch.

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