A public relations (PR) crisis can cause irreparable damage to the reputation of a business. There are many scenarios that can occur, whether you’re a large corporation, individual or multi-national organisation. We specialise in mitigating risk for you and your business and providing an on-demand crisis and reputation support solution that’s discrete, effective and professional. Our insurance policy means that you and your business are prepared for any eventuality and can continue business as usual.
How can we assist you?
Not sure a public relations insurance policy is for you? Here are just some examples where our team of experts can support you.
Poorly planned marketing
Marketing and PR are essential requirements to help grow your business. Sometimes your marketing efforts can backfire – even if you had the best intentions and never anticipated it becoming an issue. Whether it is a mis-use of terminology, a Freudian slip over social media or simply an image that has been taken out of context.
For example, high-street fashion store H&M came under fire in January, when the company released an advert featuring a young black boy wearing a hoodie that featured the phrase, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” The media covered the issue extensively and quickly found that this wasn’t H&M’s first incident. The PR and media backlash were extensive and detrimental to the brand’s reputation.
In many cases their business reputation did bounce back after an initial plunge in sales and reputation. However, it can take expensive compensation packages and extensive resource to resolve the situation.
Our top tips during a product recall are simple.
Product recalls can be a large drain of resource for your in-house communications teams. Ensuring your crisis and reputation policy and plan is being executed in conjunction with the situation can be a concern as well. Working with a specialist team who can act immediately and action that process for you is imperative to reduce reputational impact, avoid injuries or accidents with customers and ensure you have reached your core demographic and their network instantaneously.
Fashion store Primark had to recall three types of their men’s flip-flops containing dangerous levels of a cancer-causing chemical last year. Primark came across really prepared and were quick to make their announcement. The interesting thing about the incident is that neither the information on the corporate website or the media statement says what the issue was. A better approach would have been to be open and clear about what the chemical is and what the risks are to customers. Being transparent and demonstrating action is a key part of responding to a product recall and shows that an organisation is taking the situation seriously.
Does your brand operate in high-risk territories? When a brand or business must travel to various parts of the world there is always an extensive risk assessment put in place to ensure the safety of employees and guests and what to do if there were an incident. But in those plans have you thought about your media relationships? How would you communicate your side of the story, and how can you showcase to the public and those affected what you are doing to rectify the situation? That’s where a clear crisis communications strategy comes into its own and experts on hand to deal with your situation 24/7.
Injuries and accidents
One possible issue that could develop and become a major PR crisis is if your products cause injury or illness to your customers or an employee, or if a contractor has a detrimental accident on your watch.
For example, in these types of scenarios reactions to issues can range from customers complaining to friends and family about your business, taking to social media and forums to raise their concerns to severe reactions, such as seeking legal action to reimburse medical costs or to receive compensation for their discomfort.
In these cases, it is imperative to demonstrate steps are being taken to resolve the situation, prevent any future problems, and of course negate some reputation damage.
The introduction of the GDPR legislation in May 2018 has made some businesses across the UK nervous of the impact on their business if there were a breach. Not just monetary issues can occur, but the risk and damage a data breach can cause to the reputation of a business.
That was the case for BT who were fined £77,000 by the ICO. Between December 2015 and November 2016 BT sent 4.9 million emails about its fundraising platform My Donate, Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer. The ICO said that these communications were marketing, rather than messaging, and BT did not have consent to send them.
Handling customer feedback and inquiries and monitoring the ‘noise’ of the incident on social and in the media can be difficult. Our specialist crisis social team can work alongside your in-house teams to rectify the situation, whilst our PR specialists help you deal with media inquiries and publishing statements to those effected.
All smart businesses plan, and crisis management is no different; prevention is better than cure. We deploy a suite of services to manage and maintain your crisis and reputation. Contact us today to find out how we can work with you and your business.
It’s been about a week since we touched down in London town after the inaugural PHAx5WExchange trip.
It was my first time in New York, and America in general, and my experiences weren’t quite like the movies lead me to believe. I didn’t find myself suddenly 30 years old or fostering three children. I’m certainly not a writer with a penchant for Manolo Blahniks, nor am I her accomplished lawyer friend, despite sharing a name. But I did get a taste of corporate – and social – life in the Big Apple.
While there are many similarities between PHA and 5W, there were also a few key differences.
Same: At PHA, we’re skilful news hijackers and it turns out that’s a transatlantic trait that 5W shares. The practice is a staple of any corporate or personal PR pro’s playbook, both home and away.
Different: It’s called “trend commentary” stateside.
Same: Both agencies have a big sweet tooth and have been known to bribe colleagues to join brainstorms or keep the energy up with sweet treats.
Different: Brits love a biscuit, while Americans devour donuts. Pete & I were welcomed to day one at 5W with a 12 pack of Dunkin’ Donuts – each!
It’s also worth noting that in my team at PHA, we have our very own pick & mix challenge, competing to see who can pick (and then mix) the best combination of sweets.
Same: Like at PHA, bringing in new business is incentivised at all levels at 5W.
Different: Their approach is very bold and far more direct. It’s not necessarily a tactic that would fly with potential clients in the UK, but it was a great reminder to ensure both parties are clear on objectives, measures of success and ways of working.
Same: Both companies occupy prime real estate in their respective cities.
Different: PHA is based in lively Soho, just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus. Meanwhile, 5W is a around the corner from Times Square – we enjoyed the morning commute far more than when on London’s tube.
Same: The culture at both businesses is genuinely vibrant. They’re friendly, welcoming, supportive of their peers and constantly bouncing brilliant ideas off each other, just like PHA.
Different: Outside of our office, you’ll encounter that stiff upper lip, quintessentially British attitude. But all of New York seemed to be cheerful and outgoing, readily offering directions and the like.
Same: I had the opportunity to attend some client events at 5W, and this is part of my remit at PHA too. Both have taken me to some cool locations, like London’s Houses of Parliament and New York’s Hudson Yards.
Different: I hate to say it, a 3-hour train ride through the British countryside for a meeting has absolutely nothing on traversing the Brooklyn Bridge to get to a client event with 5W – where we saw the first ever Mac computer!
Every night at dinner, I ask whoever I’m eating with three questions; what was the best part of your day, how could you improve your day and what are you most grateful for? So I thought it would be nice to apply this to the trip.
The best part was getting a taste of life at 5W, from brainstorming an idea right through to pitching it to journalists and successfully securing coverage! Thank you to the Corporate teams at 5W for showing us how it’s done.
There’s little room for improvement to what was a fantastic trip, but if anything, it would be not falling asleep early on the first afternoon and thus giving myself proper jet lag!
And finally, I’m most grateful to have been selected for the Exchange and to work at PHA, a company that offers unparalleled opportunities, learning and development, like this trip. Thank you to Pete, Georgia and Amy for being fantastic company – it truly reaffirms the great culture at PHA.
In the very late hours of Sunday evening, we (reluctantly) flew back to the UK, after six truly ‘awesome’ days in New York City.
Our partner agency, 5W PR, threw us deep into the New York media mix right away. Starting with a welcome breakfast at Naples 45 (what seems to be the local PR hot spot), our itineraries quickly led us in all sorts of directions – from agency-wide brainstorms and new business calls, to client meetings, journalist breakfasts and crisis communications workshops.
A few personal highlights involved: taking part in The Tour at NBC Studios, where we had a backstage look at where SNL and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon are filmed (and spotted Paul Rudd!); having a one-on-one tasting session with 5W client Strip House Steakhouse’s talented Head Chef, Andy (his food is delicious); and sipping cocktails on some stunning (and very high) rooftop bars with 5W’s Beauty and Health teams, swapping industry intel and sharing thoughts on British/American celebrities (the Royals were discussed at length of course).
Here’s a few things I picked up along the way:
On top of our time with 5W PR, Amy Humpreys and I also managed to squeeze in a visit to our long-standing charity client, SmileTrain. After four years of faceless weekly conference calls and overseas campaign planning, we were finally able to meet face-to-face and discuss activities for the year in person – which, I have to say, was the cherry on top of an already fantastic week.
Thanks to everyone at 5W PR who looked after us and made our time in New York so worthwhile and special. Needless to say, my first ever visit to the Big Apple was better than expected – and I will definitely be planning a return visit!
If you’re interested in a new career or want to make your next step change in PR check out our careers page for all our latest opportunities.
1.) The American news cycle is ten hours. That means that if you’re no good at newsjacking, you’re in trouble. Communications professionals have to be plugged into the news agenda and dynamic enough to react. Happily, it seems to me that nobody does it better than our friends at 5W.
2.) American portion sizes are humongous. Honestly, if Jamie Oliver has ever been there his eyes must have fallen out of his head and had to be surgically reinserted before he came back to the UK.
3.) Journalist relationships with PRs are different than in the UK, and maybe slightly more formal. But shrinking newsrooms are a universal problem and are causing the media landscape to change all over the world. This is making the role of PRs more important than ever for clients who want cut through to relevant audiences.
4.) That when it came to smoked salmon bagels, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Spent an hour after eating it walking around thinking cream cheese was going to burst out of my chest like in Alien.
(The bagel calm before the bagel storm. Carnage.)
5.) Americans are just as slick as in the movies. I can’t overstate how impressed I was with the presentation skills of the people I met, whether with clients, at internal meetings, or speaking with journalists.
6.) That cricket is absolutely, undoubtedly and definitely, definitely, definitely better than baseball. I was early for a meeting with a contact one day and just happened to be near a park, so decided I would sit and watch a children’s baseball game while I waited. Will never make that mistake again. No runs for a late cut behind square, bent arm bowling actions, it was emotional self-masochism and I never want to see it again.
7.) Just how large the American media is! We obviously work on a regional basis as well as national with our clients, but when you take into account that each state has its own leading title that is probably as large as our London-centric outlets, you begin to understand what a behemoth the American media landscape really is. More options to pitch to, more competition, more people. Supersize me!
8.) That the NBC studios are, frankly, ridiculous. We saw Lester Holt’s studio, the SNL studio and Jimmy Fallon’s studio for his show. Again, I think it is the sheer scale of some of these operations that really blew me away.
9.) Community and ethos are incredibly important in a successful communications agency. Spending time with three people I wouldn’t normally work with or see much of reminded me of what I love best about PHA – the people, even those I don’t know too well. 5W have a very similar atmosphere: lots of young people who are ambitious and want to deliver, but who also get on with each other. I’m hoping I have made lasting friendships on both sides of the pond.
10.) How much I am looking forward to welcoming the next group of 5Wers to London! Nobody really knew what to expect from the trip, but I think after how much fun and what an experience it was everybody will be rushing to sign up for the next one. The first thing I will be suggesting is a workshop on how to make tea, as this is an unreported US-wide crisis – they make it without milk.
If you’re interested in a new career or want to make your next step change in PR check out our careers page for all our latest opportunities.
Tomorrow marks the start of The Business Show’s 41st exhibition, taking place at ExCeL London. Here’s everything you need to know, from who should attend to exhibitors not to miss, and how you can make the most of the day.
Europe’s largest and fastest growing business event. The Business Show is the most comprehensive exhibition, conference and networking hub designed specifically for the growth of start-ups, SMEs and even large corporations.
The Business Show is now in its 17th year, and is expecting its biggest turnout to date, with over 25,000 visitors and an impressive line-up of keynote speakers, including VP EMEA of Twitter Bruce Daisley, Aron Gelbard from Bloom & Wild, and 2018’s Apprentice winner Sian Gabbidon. Every visitor at The Business Show will get access to two dedicated networking areas, designed to facilitate conversation and engagement between delegates, exhibitors and sponsors.
As if that wasn’t enough, there will also be a series of masterclasses, including ‘Intellectual Property Explained’ from the Intellectual Property Office, ‘Boost Your Memory in One Hour’ by Genius in 21 Days, and ‘Better Business Accounts Masterclass’ from challenger bank Revolut. There will also be a unique speed networking session sponsored by Dell, providing the perfect opportunity to make valuable connections.
This year there will be a staggering 134 speakers at The Business Show and hundreds of exhibitors. Since it’s impossible to see everyone, here are the five who we think are particularly inspiring and innovative in the work they do, and who shouldn’t be missed.
With an impressive 45 years’ experience in the bailiff and enforcement industry, Constant & Co takes great pride in their professionalism to deliver ethical effective enforcement on a wide range of services. The company started as a small family run business, founded by the late Bryan Constant, and from these humble beginnings has ensured that despite its growth, its ethos and core values still remain today.
With a wealth of experience both in the field and in administrational support, the combination of these factors critically guarantees that they will provide a specialised personal, but professional service to their clients. Constant & Co now work with some of the largest managing agents, commercial landlords, large retailers, solicitors and local authorities in the country.
As well as being Chair of LGBTQ charity Mind Out, Dominic Arnall is Head of Programme Management for the mental health charity Mind, working specifically on the Time to Change campaign. Time to Change is the largest mental health campaign in the UK, which focuses on encouraging people to talk about mental health and reduce the stigma and discrimination felt by people with mental health problems.
Dominic previously worked as Head of Projects and Programmes for LGBT charity Stonewall, leading international and domestic programmes to advance equality for LGBT people in the UK, including collaborating with the Church of England on their first ever guidance for transgender people. At The Business Show, Dominic will be talking about the work Time to Change engage in with over 1,000 employers in the UK and how the campaign supports them in tackling mental health stigma in the workplace.
Paul Uppal is the UK’s first Small Business Commissioner. The government post set up in 2017 is dedicated to tackling the issue of late payment to businesses, particularly small companies of 15 employees or less, who often suffer significant financial consequences as a result. Since starting the venture around 15 months ago, Paul and his team have already recovered a remarkable £3.7 million for SMEs.
Paul has run his own successful small business in the construction and real estate sector for over 20 years and realised early on that even a sound business would soon go under if a culture of late payment was allowed to take hold. In his seminar at The Business Show, he will highlight the issues of late payments, the scale of the problem in the UK, and the best practice for SMEs for invoicing and managing payment terms in decreasing the likelihood of late payment.
Starling Bank knew business banking needed to change, so built a new kind of business account from scratch; one designed to help small business owners spend less time banking, and more time running their company. Enter Starling for Business – a mobile business bank account with zero monthly fees, helpful spending tools and instant alerts when you pay a corporate bill or someone pays an invoice.
Helen Bierton, Head of Retail at Starling, is one of The Business Show’s keynote speakers and will deliver a seminar on how mobile banking can save your business time and money. She will show how Starling have pioneered a new approach to business current account banking, meeting the needs of today’s entrepreneurs and freeing up their time.
Animo Associates was established in 2004 to provide innovative corporate and advisory services worldwide. They have over 140 staff including qualified accountants, corporate secretaries, lawyers, HR and compliance professionals. Most of the company’s directors have over 20 years’ industry experience, and the business has a strong ethos of building relationships with clients based on trust and discretion. In addition, its affiliate accountancy practice based in Rochdale offers a wide range of UK & International tax and accountancy services.
At The PHA Group, we have an established track record of creating and managing a strong, positive reputation for companies as well as raising the profile of CEOs, industry innovators and their pioneering work. If you’d like to raise your profile in a positive way get in touch with our award-winning team today.
Growing up in a sleepy coastal town an hour from Sydney, Australia, I voraciously consumed a diet of coming of age, romantic comedies set in New York. From New York Minute and 13 Going on 30 to Uptown Girls and Sex and The City – there’s no debate these films are iconic, timeless classics, obviously.
These cinematic masterpieces (okay, that’s a stretch) also shaped my desire to move to a big city and “make it on my own” with a glamorous career.
When I discovered I was eligible for a five-year British Ancestry Visa, London became my first choice. Dreams of exploring New York, the Statue of Liberty and hailing a yellow cab (to escape from truant officer Eugene Levy or otherwise) were superseded by London’s red phone booths, Big Ben and yes, ultimately, the proximity to Europe.
I’ve now lived in London for three years and have worked at The PHA Group for one. I can honestly say it’s been the best career move I’ve ever made. I’ve learnt an incredible amount about every facet of corporate life in a PR agency, from British office politics and client handling right through to the UK’s media landscape and political climate (Brexit has been a joyous time to live here…).
Last year, a re-run of one of my favourite childhood films, Raising Helen, reignited my long-distance love affair with New York, further fuelled by the announcement of the PHA x 5W Exchange Scheme.
I learn from some of the best here, whether they’re PR pros or former Fleet Street journalists. The experiences, development and training are second-to-none. But I’m curious to see how they do it in the Big Apple. So when I was selected for the exchange, I was nothing short of ecstatic. It’s certainly my career highlight to date – and the realisation of my childhood dreams!
I’m keen to understand how an agency runs across the pond. I’ll be taking in everything from account management and client relationships to internal staff development and campaign brainstorms. I’m curious to see their sell-in strategies and how Americans build relationships with journalists. As one of the States’ top ten independent PR agencies, 5W is well placed to offer valuable insight.
Prior to joining PHA, I worked in social media and digital marketing for a number of years. The integration of social media into the PR remit is an emerging area of the field, so I’m particularly keen to understand how our trans-Atlantic colleagues tackle this challenge, while also sharing insight into our strategies here in London.
It will be interesting to get a glimpse of corporate life in America. Is it everything Jennifer Garner’s character made it out to be when she was Suddenly 30? But it won’t be all work and no play. I’ll be immersing myself in all aspects of American culture.
After work, you’ll find me shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, walking the High Line, hanging out with the Statue of Liberty, admiring the skyline from Top of the Rock. I’ll be eating my body weight in pizza, donuts and of course, sidewalk hot dogs. And finally, browsing American “candy” to bring back to London for my team’s #PickNMixChallenge.
Siri, play Empire State of Mind by Jay Z and Alicia Keys.
It goes without saying that the opportunity to go and spend a week working in one of the top PR agencies in the US, is something I am incredibly grateful for, and something which still hasn’t properly sunk in that I’ve been selected for.
I’ve worked at The PHA Group for over eight years now and am fortunate to have been exposed to many different clients, types of campaigns, and areas of the industry during this time – with all of these experiences enabling me to constantly grow and evolve as a PR professional, and build a sense of confidence and familiarity within my role.
However, the chance to step outside the norm for a week and throw myself into a different agency environment, within an international territory, is something completely new to me.
How often, in professional life, do you get the chance to take a sneak peek into the world of a parallel business and soak up everything they have to offer, whilst also sharing all the knowledge you’ve amassed over your career to date? In my experience… not very often!
As an Account Director, my job is to constantly challenge my teams’ ways of thinking and push us all to deliver the best possible results for our clients. I’m hoping that spending time in the 5W offices will prove invaluable to me with regards to this – and open my eyes to completely new ways of working, fresh ideas, and different campaign tactics.
In turn, I’m hopeful that I can add some valuable insight for current/upcoming 5W projects and offer the team a British perspective…. perhaps with a light sprinkling of British humour, and some classically British words and phrases many of them may never have encountered previously.
Potential language barriers aside, there is so much for me and the rest of Team PHA to look forward to, and I know I speak on behalf of all four of us when I say that we absolutely cannot wait to get ‘over the pond’ and get acquainted with our 5W counterparts.
On a personal note, New York is a city that I’ve visited a couple of times previously but am so excited to return to. I’ve never been in springtime, so am looking forward to revisiting some of the key sights and exploring new places without being layered up to the max!
Finally, I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with the three other selected PHA-ers. There is such a supportive and friendly culture across the agency, so whilst in some businesses, the idea of spending nearly an entire week in the close company of colleagues might seem like a challenge, for us its not even a consideration! We’re all similarly minded and just want to get the most out of the trip as we possibly can… with plenty of NYC pizza thrown in along the way!
Did you know, the term ‘Public Relations’ was originally conceived in New York? First used by publicist Edward Bernays in 1920, he came up with the title in an attempt to make his occupation sound more respectable.
Since then, New York has been home to some of the greatest PR campaigns in headline history.
From stunts that will stand the test of time (like Bernays’ ‘Torches of Freedom’ march for women’s emancipation and Marilyn Monroe’s billowing white skirt shot to promote The Seven Year Itch – tactfully staged by her movie publicists) to more modern day media takeovers (remember McCann’s ‘Fearless Girl’ statue in Downtown Manhattan and TVC’s ‘Red Bull Stratos’ jump? – still blows my mind) I think it’s fair to say that the ‘Big Apple’ has continued to remain ahead of the ‘spin’.
Given the city’s history and reputation for PR greatness, I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when it was recently announced (by our CEO wearing a particularly outlandish Uncle Sam stars and stripes hat!) that little old me would be taking part in The PHA Group’s first ever New York exchange scheme.
Jetting off from Heathrow Airport during the early hours of Tuesday morning, myself and three other lucky PHA-ers will be heading to ‘the city that never sleeps’ – to join (as Business Insider describes it) ‘New York’s Most Aggressive PR Spin Machine’, 5WPR, and catch a glimpse of what #PRlife is really like on the other side of the pond.
Having worked in London for my whole PR career, seeing how New Yorkers tackle the media in comparison to us Brits is (for me) the most exciting prospect of this trip.
Is The New York Times the ‘holy grail’ for client coverage? How difficult is it to get into traditional printed media these days? Do they read the Mail Online? Are consumer magazines in decline like they are in the UK? Are New York journalists friendly? Do they prefer to be hassled over email or over telephone – or over lunch? How much should I tip at lunch? Are there a million and one awareness days in the PR calendar? Do American journalists loath these days as much as UK journalists do? So many questions – six days to find out!
Having never been to NYC before, I will also be ticking off a very long list of tourist attractions during my visit. Shopping on 5th Avenue, cycling through Central Park, walking over Brooklyn bridge, enjoying views from the Rockefeller Plaza, seeing a production on Broadway, riding the subway, singing ‘Jenny from the Block’ in The Bronx – no park or landmark is too cliché. I want to see and do it all.
We’ve all heard the popular New York saying, ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’ Well, it’s time for this London PR ‘gal’ to put that claim to the test.
Who will come out top – bangers or bagels? I can’t wait to find out!
Today is International Stop Food Waste Day, which is all about educating and igniting change in consumers and businesses, in order to tackle the global food waste epidemic that we’re currently facing. According to WRAP, the government’s waste reduction body, 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry every year in the UK, a massive 1.1 million of which is avoidable. Furthermore, 250,000 tonnes of the food that goes to waste each year is still edible.
The need to stop food waste is clearly dire, and thanks to a WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, large food businesses including many major retailers are pledging to halve the UK’s food waste bill by 2030. Additionally, more and more brands are popping up that aim to address the issue in innovative ways. Here we list our five favourite companies that are doing just that.
On a mission to make sure good food doesn’t go to waste, FareShare take tens of thousands of tonnes of surplus food from the food industry and redistribute it across 1,500 towns and cities across the UK. In 2013 ASDA teamed up with FareShare to introduce an operational process to divert surplus products at depot level to people in need, and last year alone the charity redistributed enough food for 36.7 million meals.
When a group of tech-savvy entrepreneurs around Europe were confronted with the shocking reality of how much food gets wasted every day, they decided to join forces and created Too Good To Go in June 2016. It’s an app that allows everyone to do their bit to reduce food waste – vendors and restaurants who have perfectly good leftover food at the end of the day can sell it to other users, who pay by the app and collect it. So far, the business has created an impressive community of 576,000 ‘Waste Warriors’, who together have saved over 523,000 meals from being sent to landfill.
Innovative condiments brand Rubies in the Rubble make all their products from ingredients that would otherwise go to waste, not because they are unfit for consumption, but simply because they are the wrong shape, size or colour. Founder Jenny Costa found it unacceptable that so many people are starving in developing countries, while in wealthy countries we throw away delicious, in-date food just because it doesn’t meet retailers’ aesthetic requirements. Out of this came an idea: create chutneys, jams, and preserves from all the excess produce. The business is now an award-winning brand, stocked in supermarkets and delis across the UK.
Food Cycle is a community-focused charity that supports people who are hungry and lonely by serving tasty lunches and dinners every single day in towns and cities across the country. It targets vulnerable communities by reducing food waste, reducing food poverty and training volunteers. Everything the volunteers collect is surplus food that would otherwise have gone to waste. So far, they have saved 270 tonnes of surplus food, which they have used to serve over 250,000 meals to people in need.
Social enterprise FoodCloud is a retailer app that currently helps over 7,500 charitable groups get surplus food in the UK and Ireland. Supermarkets and food stores with leftovers scan descriptions of their excess food into the app, letting local charities who are registered on the app know it’s available for collection. The company has so far helped to ensure 45 million meals have gone to people and not to waste, which equates to over 20,000 tonnes of food and over 65,000 tonnes of CO² in carbon savings.
If you’re a charity or organisation who wants to spread the word about the work you do, take a look at our third sector PR services. With extensive experience in creating stand-out campaigns that drive awareness and boost donations, we know how to take your cause to the next level. Get in touch today.
From lawsuits and ‘forced hugging’ allegations to problems with the new boss, the last few months have seen several founders departing from their brands, and not always out of choice. Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest company break-ups that have shaken the boardroom of late.
Superdry vs Julian Dunkerton
In what is proving to be the bout of 2019 in the British business world, the founder of British retail chain Superdry, Julian Dunkerton, has gone head-to-head with those who replaced him, fighting it out to get back his seat at the top management table. Superdry’s public relations machine has gone into overdrive to paint Dunkerton as responsible for their underperforming clothing ranges, with the high street brand’s share price nosediving over the past year as they fight it out in the column inches. The board are due to vote in April for changes and it will remain to be seen if Dunkerton’s return will be heroic or instead, a failed coup.
Ted Baker vs Ray Kelvin
Allegations surfaced towards the end of 2018 that the Chief Executive and founder of fashion brand Ted Baker, Ray Kelvin, had enforced a culture of “forced hugging” and inappropriate behaviour with staff at his head office. Kelvin, who famously does not like to be interviewed or have his photograph taken, was given an enforced leave of absence by the company as an independent investigation was conducted by external law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.
To have such a scandal on your own doorstep especially in this tough retail climate is not ideal and Ted Baker have tried to act swiftly. Acting Chief Executive Lindsay Page has agreed to take the reins at the company as the probe continues to focus on Ted Baker’s policies, procedures and handling of complaints. Of course, the brand damage the entire affair has caused is hard to mend, but without Kelvin at the helm after three decades, it’s all change at the top of Ted.
Jo Malone vs Jo Malone
“I lost my best friend” is how the founder of her namesake cosmetics brand now describes walking away from the company she founded, when it was sold to behemoth Estee Lauder in 2006. When discussing her decision to leave the brand she’d created from the kitchen of her Chelsea flat aged 15, she spoke about employment anxiety after a contract installed on her departure stated she could not speak about the brand or raise her head about the parapet for five years.
Many founders who are the creative force behind the brands they establish often speak about the difficulties they encounter on leaving the company. Much like any break-up, the idea that they will be cast-off and expected to ride off into the distance with their bags of money irk many. Equally, the notion of getting their teeth into a new venture that could well fail and separate themselves from their previous company often proves difficult. Jo Malone’s newest venture Jo Loves is now thriving in Belgravia and has become her “new best friend”.
Instagram & Facebook vs. Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger
The co-founders of photo-sharing giant Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, both left the firm at the end of September 2018. The duo had been at Instagram since the beginning and there had been reports of tension between the pair and Facebook after the social media giant purchased the company. Recently at SXSW in Austin, TX, Systrom said that losing independence over the app they had created was ultimately a sign of its success. He added that the more investment you put into recruitment and bringing more and more skilled workers into the company, the less autonomy you have. The pair have now left to “explore our curiosity and creativity again”.
Papa John’s vs John Schnatter
Papa John’s has struck a deal with its founder John Schnatter, in a move that should help draw a line under the acrimonious battle for control of America’s third-largest pizza delivery chain. Under the terms of the agreement, Mr Schnatter has agreed to give up his seat on the board and drop lawsuits against the company in return for getting a say in identifying a replacement director. The man who set up Papa John’s in 1984 has been back and forth in legal action with the company over the course of the past year. This emerged after he was refused access to the company’s records due to an issue over the language he used on a teleconference call with an external agency. Now that Schantter will get his voice heard by the board, he is happy to drop all existing lawsuits and he still retains his 31% stake in the pizza giant.
Saying goodbye to a company you’ve created from nothing is never easy, and only time can tell whether making that decision will prove fruitful for both the business and your personal reputation.
Having a solid PR strategy when moving on from a brand you’ve built is crucial and can be the difference between an amicable departure and a bruised reputation. If you think you could benefit from an enhanced public standing, or have a need to manage your online profile, The PHA Group can help. Take a look at some of our credentials here.