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Making a splash

Posted by putsimply on 7th October 2009

One of the first things we learn as embryonic PRs is to check our facts and then check them again. If I client comes to us and says “we are the first / best / biggest / smallest / fastest” we always ask “are you sure and can you categorically quantify that statement?”  Web research is carefully undertaken and only if we can be 99.99% certain will we go for it.

The Register asks how The Times and its agency got it so wrong in its latest ad campaign on the London Underground in which it aimed to show its green credentials and ended up with rotten egg on its face.  Its statement that “Climate change has allowed the Northeast Passage to be used as a commercial shipping route for the first time” has been proved wrong. In fact, The Register says this is so blatantly incorrect it wonders how it ever got approved for such prominent use.

However, dig in a bit and you will see that it is not only The Times that got it wrong. Virtually all the UK newspapers carried the story in mid-September. Google News had The Times, BBC News, Bloomberg and the Daily Mail plus 268 related articles covering the story on 12th September. The Register originally commented on this on the 14th September and traced the inaccuracy back to a press release from a German Shipping group. Very effective PR then!

I don’t know who is the ‘wrongest’ in this saga but it does reinforce the old mantra – check your facts once, twice and then check ’em again. I just found all this information by putting Northeast Passage into Google – why didn’t The Times Agency?  It shouldn’t believe everything it reads in the newspapers.