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01 May 2001

Blaming out-sourced PR

According to The Independent, Dominion Breweries has placed the blame for two PR debacles in a month on its decision to outsource its public relations services.

Seems a bit rich, really. WHAM has no knowledge of DB's PR arrangements, but we can't see the link between the quality of the company's PR advice and whether it was sourced internally or externally.

In our experience, consultancy advice is sometimes taken more seriously by corporate management than the same advice provided internally, especially in firms where public relations is a subset of the marketing department.

In DB's case, the decision to relocate the brewing of Monteiths out of Greymouth speaks volumes about the company's lack of understanding of the values underpinning its brands. Even if the company didn't have market research telling it why Monteiths was such a success (and that's hard to believe), gut instinct should have alerted management to the risk they were taking - regardless of what their PR advisers did or didn't tell them.

The Tui billboards with the slogan, "Kiwi Bank - I'd trust the government with my money - Yeah Right," also spoke volumes about DB's lack of understanding of their operating environment. With public cynicism about corporates at an all-time high, a response was inevitable.

Deputy prime minister Jim Anderton waited a day or two to get the words right, but they'll be remembered longer than the original billboard: "I'd trust the Singapore-owned DB Breweries to keep brewing Tui at Mangatainoka - Yeah Right."

- Trevor Walton

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