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February on Social Media

The weather is a common topic of conversation across the UK at the best of times. The weather captured half of the UK public’s attention in the last week of February, after a cold front from Siberia, dubbed ‘the beast from the east’ collided with #StormEmma above UK skies. This resulted in blizzards, freezing rain and disruption across the country. The chaos was reflected online, with ‘BBC weather, ‘school closures and ‘met office weather appearing in the top most searched for terms on Google that week.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the UK public had to contend with the closure of multiple chicken shops up and down the country, as a result of KFC’s new supply chain panel (DHL) struggling to deliver its contract. This led to the majority of its restaurants being closed – those that were open, were serving a limited menu. Customers took to social media and even dialled 999 to complain. The #KFCCrisis caught the attention of 7% and 5% of the UK public respectively in the last two weeks of February. The food chain’s response to the crisis however, has been a lesson in reputation management. Populus’s Managing Director, Laurence Stellings, writes about how KFC demonstrated all three elements to a good response during a corporate crisis.

It was a challenging month for charities in February. Oxfam’s deputy chief executive resigned and over thousands of regular donators cancelled their regular donations following the scandal. The charity was one of the most noticed business news story in February. It was the most noticed news story in the second week of February, capturing the attention of 18% of the UK public’s attention. Janet Morrison, a chief executive in the sector, has written about the challenge greater public scrutiny poses and the need for charities to do more to live their claimed values. She quotes Populus research that found trust in the sector already declining before the current crisis. Indeed, our research for industry regulator the Charity Commission in 2016 found media stories to be the biggest factor in declining trust and confidence in charities.

There were plenty of events to keep us busy in February. The Winter Olympics was the one of the most noticed news stories in early February, and one of the most searched for terms in Google in the first week. By the middle of the month, #ValentinesDay, #PancakeDay trended on Twitter, while Chinese New Year 2018 was one of the most searched for terms in Google.


Laurence Stellings

Laurence is a corporate reputation expert who is primarily focused on helping clients to develop and implement evidence-based strategies to best communicate their messages, manage their reputations and understand their key audiences.

Many well-established corporate clients such as Asda, Google, Sky, and RBS, as well as public bodies like the BBC and The Charity Commission and several political parties and campaigns have benefited from Laurence’s strategic counsel and expertise in a wide range of research techniques including stakeholder audits, key driver and segmentation analysis, political polling, and deliberative events.


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Populus Perspective   |   Mar 18

Most noticed business news stories in February

The most noticed business news stories are almost always negative and reputation sapping. However, on rare occasions companies make the headlines for the right reasons. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was one of the most noticed news stories in February because it has returned to profit for the first time in ten years.

Reputation & Strategy   |   Feb 18

The KFC approach to corporate reputation in a crisis

KFC has had a February to forget. The shortage of fresh chicken for its restaurants was one of the most noticed news stories of the week. KFC has demonstrated all three elements to a good response during a corporate crisis.


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