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Positive PR disaster?

Quicker than Mrs Patmore can rustle up a soufflé, the PR machine behind Downton Abbey responded swiftly when a plastic water bottle featured in a publicity photo for the new series of the period drama. 

The next instalment sees the arrival of the roaring 20s, 36 years before plastic bottles were widely used in the UK. The photography gaffe not only shows the importance of checking every image before its release, but also a clever way to turn a negative story into a positive one. 


Spotted by eagle-eyed fans on Instagram, the bottle became headline news and was swiftly followed up with a picture of the cast, all with water bottles, for the charity WaterAid. 

The tongue-in-cheek picture reveals the cast and crew don’t take themselves too seriously and acknowledges the mistake, turning it into a positive for a charity.   


Mistakes happen, and whilst a member of the production team is probably losing sleep over the mishap, tackling the issue head on and using it to highlight an issue is a genius response.

Here are five top tips to ensure you never have to ‘do a Downton’:
  1. Always check your images before you issue them – get someone who isn’t involved to have a look as well!
  2. Listen - monitor social media channels to see if anything is breaking 
  3. Respond quickly –get ahead of the debate rather than simply react to it
  4. Get your creative juices flowing – when the lights went out at the Superbowl last year, biscuit bods at Oreo posting a picture claiming ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ – quick and creative, it got most people talking and in terms of reach, out-performed the multi-million dollar adverts
  5. Be prepared – whilst you can’t be ready for every eventuality, make sure you have a series of strong images or photography and someone who has the authority to respond to be ready and waiting – just in case

Tagged with: , charity, Downton Abbey, Instagram, water bottle, WaterAid