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BUNHILL: Now it's mad PR disease

A MASTER class in public relations, part one.

This experienced by a colleague researching things beefy. He rang Associated New Zealand Farmers UK, and asked about the effect of such on business. "We're not commenting," a spokeswoman said.

"So your official line is no comment," my colleague replied, thinking he had the thing nailed.

"No, that's not what I said. I don't want to say no comment."

"But you don't want to comment either, do you?"

"No, I don't want to comment and I don't want to not comment."

Give her a place in the Cabinet this instant!

A MASTER class in public relations, part two.

This in a press release from Cincom Systems of Maidenhead, announcing its "first-of-its-kind business system software environment, TOTAL FrameWork". A Mr Poul Spring is quoted as saying: "Delivering value to the customer is key to gaining a competitive edge in today's marketplace. TOTAL FrameWork enables companies to utilise information technology in entirely new ways - putting in place the business processes to maximise customer satisfaction."

This is quite brilliant. Apart from one small lapse, it is made up entirely of business cliches. Is it possible to make up a better one, while keeping a semblance of sense? Only Bunhill's readers know - bottles of fizz for the best.

I NOTE that a Middlesbrough-based company is expanding its empire in Europe. Brambles, run by John and Lynn Pearce, started exporting 1,500 sandwiches on the nightboat from Harwich to Holland. It is now turning over pounds 1.4m, and making 40,000 sandwiches a week. Mr Pearce is about to set up a joint venture to feed Teesside's finest grub to the Spaniards.

The really intriguing thing is that these sandwiches are not yer fancy avocado and koala on ciabatta. They are chicken salad or bacon and egg on white sliced bread. As Marks and Sparks has already discovered in Paris, with its huge sales of sliced bread, other people like the food we are so ashamed of.

I suggest that a counter-intuitive approach to exporting should therefore be encouraged. What about flogging tinned spaghetti hoops to the Italians? Mushy peas to the French? A chain selling sawdust-infested sausages swimming in grease with mugs of stewed tea would surely take the Continent by storm.

The ultimate counter-intuitive venture would of course be to set up The British Beef Company. Maybe that's going a bit too far: we wouldn't want our neighbours to torture themselves with prime Scotch beef, would we?

Civic pride

THE entries continue to come in for the Great Bunhill Business Palindrome Challenge, though it must be said some treat the business brief a little loosely. To which PLC are you referring, Mich Flor Henry of Nottingham, when you suggest "Sex Rex's knob bonks Xerxes"?

The only spot-on, fizz-winning humdinger is Edward Denyer of Crawley, who uses punctuation to deadly effect. "Ena's Hannah saw a Toyota Civic. A Toyota? Was Hannah sane?" (For those who don't know, the Civic is a Honda - clever, eh?)

A POSTSCRIPT to the letters page of my favourite magazine, John Lewis's Gazette. "We acknowledge receipt of letters from Mr Puzzled, Concerned Partner, Still Interested, AR Miles, From The Roof Top, Cinnamon, Unsigned, Very Disappointed And Angry Widow, Old Timer, Gloria Isaacs and Unsigned."

It is cruel to wave such morsels in front of us with no intention of telling us more. Why is the widow Very Angry and Disappointed? What spicy tale does Cinnamon have to tell? And should AR Miles and Gloria Isaacs be allowed to continue as Partners if they cannot think up Suitably Daft Pseudonyms?