When bad news is big news

Global headlines shout that Ford made its biggest ever loss – $12.7 BILLION in 2006 – the detail shows a few rays of sunlight, particularly with profit in Europe, although British brands, LandRover and Jaguar, don’t fare too well.

Financial results need to be presented accurately – but big bad news can affect morale and confidence all round.  Thousands of online news reports, hundreds of blog posts and the attention of mainstream media across the world presents a huge challenge to the PR team managing this announcement.

What is vital is to create positive momentum from bad news – Marks & Spencer is now generating great headlines and good news stories.  It is hard when bad news is big news, but brands like M&S and Ford have goodwill behind them – let’s hope the mighty blue oval can equally turn things around.

Published by

Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

4 thoughts on “When bad news is big news”

  1. I’m not surprised about gas guzzlers like LandRover and Jaguar. M & S is flying the eco-friendly flag, is Ford doing the same, like Honda and Toyota?

  2. Ellee, M&S is only now promoting an eco-strategy, that wasn’t what turned around the economics for them. With LandRover and Jaguar, the situation is also more complex than the image they have of being “gas guzzlers”. Ford has a mixed position on environment – they have some very good initiatives and have invested in eco-technologies. But in the US they also relied on the mega-4x4s which were impacted by the price of fuel there in the past year. A lot of the financial problems for both Ford and GM are tied up with the costs of downsizing as competition has increased in the past decades. The pension and other implications from being big companies in the 1950s-1980s are still being paid for today when income and costs aren’t the same.

    I think as with McDonalds and obesity, a high profile issue can be a trigger – so the car companies do now have to realise that there is increased expectations, which Honda and Toyota have responded to better. All the major car companies have invested in alternative technologies – but now is the time to deliver and use that momentum rather than looking at the traditional short-term gains of cutting prices and focusing on the higher margin vehicles which have been the big 4x4s in the US.

    I would really like to see opinions change on LandRover – in the past few years, it has been seen only as Chelsea Tractors and so caught the backlash – but most of their vehicles aren’t any bigger or more fuel consuming than any others, such as estate cars or vans. Also globally, vehicles like LandRovers are respected workhorses where off-road really means something.

    Jaguar also should be a stronger brand, but many different ownerships – including the British government – hasn’t helped. The car industry is a tough world, with lots of political and other issues. We’ve very few original car companies left in the UK (although a good manufacturing base) and just like M&S, we should be supporting the likes of LandRover and Jaguar, not as charity cases but as part of a heritage of Britishness that you’ve been championing.

  3. Public sympathy doesn’t pay the bills – and I’m not sure that when people are uninformed when using terms like “gas guzzlers”, they remember the number of jobs that LandRover for example supports in the country.

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