Posts Tagged ‘social media’
Waitrose have joined the happy band of consumer brands to have a well-intentioned twitter campaign hijacked, as their #waitrosereasons hashtag found itself the source of various class-based jibes at the expense of this most well-heeled of retailers. I am still trying to work out if this was a calculated attempt to kick off a conversation. Certainly It’s part of a noble tradition, stretching back to Skittles’ 2009 decision to replace their homepage with a live twitter feed (cue a series of posts along the lines of “skittles: ANAL CUNT THAT IS GOOD”). Recently, Mountain Dew has also succumbed.
Many will applaud Waitrose, however, for turning a potential damp squib into some great column inches. Countless outlets ran significant analysis pieces, presumably as the result of a quick nudge from a Waitrose PR pixie, and the Waitrose social media team made it expressly clear- albeit in the ‘forced grin’ fashion of a doddery politician or low-status boss- that they found it all, mostly, really rather funny.
Timing wise, they’ve scored a great coup, cementing themselves firmly into the media consciousness on a Friday and thus ensuring coverage throughout the lucrative affluent shopping hours of Saturday and Sunday. There’s no doubting, too, that this was an admirable display of both flexibility and a sense of fun.
Yet at the same time, the question is begged as to whether anyone sought a long-range, helicopter view before taking this tack. Responsive and attention-grabbing it may have been, but the PR team’s actions sit uneasily with the brand as a whole, and one must wonder whether any c-suite figures would share their sense of humour. Was this a creative bit of conversation wrangling or a last-minute bolt on?
Nonetheless, the gods of evaluation are likely to applaud this as a major success: damned stats are always good for obscuring the backstory. The team should enjoy the coverage, whether it was them chasing it or no.
The past few years have seen huge debate in the PR industry around the radical reshaping of public relations. Why, asked the naysayers, would a Celeb employ a PR in an age where they can use Twitter to break stories, correct rumours, build their brand and offer coveted insights into their lives? DIY was the way forward.
I’ve always believed in checking the bath water for babies. Don’t discard the essentials especially when the proven skillset has a purpose.
This weekend saw two stories which validate my point of view. The first was the Xfactor meltdown of the Pink impersonator Zoe Alexander- auditions cannon fodder who claimed, after being thrown off the stage, she had been persuaded by manipulative producers to choose a song which lead to her ritual humiliation. Then there was Jackie Powell, Ian Brady’s mental health advocate. In the Sunday Times she spoke of being stitched up by a TV production company. After back tracking on an agreement she accused them of deliberately using her for publicity purposes, culminating in her arrest.
I do not know how much truth lies behind each of these claims, but I do know just how ruthless TV production teams can be to produce the ultimate end product. Whether you have reasonable cause to be angry or not, a seasoned PR hand who know their way around the block is essential in this situation- if nothing else, they can offer safe, reasoned counsel.
Social media has its uses- we’ve seen it brilliantly exploited lately by the likes of Tulisa, who used a frank and open YouTube clip to head her money grubbing ex off at the pass. Bear in mind, however, that Tulisa is also backed up by hefty PR muscle, not to mention a shit hot legal team. In a crisis, always look for a few grey hairs.
There was a great post by Kevin Bakhurst on the BBC editors’ blog the other day explaining the changes to the nature of the newsroom in the post-social media age. Bakhurst gives a pretty considered rundown of the challenges posed by social media, not least the fact it almost always has someone else be first with the scoop, as well as its benefits for newsgathering, research, and understanding the zeitgeist. It’s great to see journalists so honestly and humbly engaging with the great communications innovation of our time.
However, I think what really needs to be assessed- not just by journalists, but by all of us in the communications industry- is what exactly the social media landscape means for our role and our image. Journalists no longer find the scoops, PRs no longer control the conversation, Marketing people no longer enjoy hegemony over public information. These are no longer problems to be considered: they are facts, known to public and media alike.
As a consequence, how do the communications industries present themselves and their function? If the newsmakers are, often, not seen as sleuths and explorers, then what are they?
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Back in February, I wrote an entry about the ‘lost art of the long lunch’, which lamented an unfortunate consequence of the modern, social media-dominated environment and its ten minute news cycle. With most conversations now conducted via mouthpiece or screen, and quickly at that, it strikes me that the generations of hacks cutting their teeth from the late 80s onwards lack the highly sensitive interpersonal skills of their forbears.
The Fleet Street era of colossal expense accounts and booze-fuelled revelations couldn’t last, of course, but it had one thing going for it. When devious tactics were employed to extract information, more often than not they were employed face to face. It was open warfare of the kind where the loser probably deserved what was coming to them, if only because they’d had a few too many brandies with dessert. Perhaps if a generation of scribblers were not chained to their desks in the Wapping Gulag, the need for hacking might have taken a back seat. Worshipping the powers of a lunchtime claret, and its ability to make a contact sing, might have suppressed the lust for the dark arts.
Journalists have always done whatever it takes to get information. Nobody in the media industry has any illusions about that. Look at how readily Kelvin Mackenzie implicitly defended many of those involved in the phone hacking scandal in his 2010 spat with Chris Bryant, for instance. The point is, though he can sympathise with those who did, Mackenzie didn’t resort to the kind of invasive tactics employed at NI publications in the late 90s and early 00s when he edited the Sun. Sure, he didn’t have some of the technology, but he also didn’t have to. Read the rest of this entry »
In the wake of Cheryl Cole’s turbulent relationship with the media since her sacking from the American X Factor, here are some tips, inspired by Andy Green, that might help her through any other media difficulties that may come her way in future.
Cheryl’s recent sacking is an opportunity to re-evaluate her identity and learn valuable lessons in creativity. We all have to learn to deal with rejection and the word ‘No’.
1. Focus on who you are and why you’ve been successful.
A strong identity and deep roots in what made you successful in the first place will help you weather the worst storm. Was the American ‘X Factor’ actually the right strategic move for you? What is your real mission in life? Is your brand in accordance with this? Remember, being a sleb is not the most important thing in life.
2. Do you have a relevant narrative?
When you move on to a new challenge is your ’story’ appropriate for the new context you are moving in to? Consider this: is an American TV focus group going to be moved or confused by “British television celebrity/Geordie singer/overcame the odds/deprived back story”? Always bet on the latter. Read the rest of this entry »
Britain’s Got Talent has rolled around again and again the nation is gripped. Out with the old and in with the new. It’s been this way for a while. Remember, it’s not five minutes since the X Factor was all anyone could talk about, but that’s seeped away into the mists of time as BGT conquers the attention spans of the nation.
Like a Chinese meal, it is all you can taste and think about, but when it’s finished it’s forgotten and all you want is the next fix of foodstuff. There’s news, there’s excitement, there’s hyperbole scattered all over the place like MSG – and then it’s gone.
Of course, we are at the point that everyone is most interested in – the freak parade. Never mind the machinations behind the scenes or the commercial value of the brand; this is what the people most care about; the narrative, the crazies.
Given that it’s all about BGT right now, will we ever know the truth of what caused Cheryl Cole’s American X Factor exit and non-admittance to the UK judging panel? I doubt it, as the people have spoken and what they want is the tears, the heartache, the visceral stories, whether good or bad. What use is a nation’s sweetheart without some pain? We’ve used up the divorce tears – here’s the next weepie Cole adventure. Read the rest of this entry »
A wry smile crossed my lips when I heard the news that lawyers have applied for a court order to force Twitter to hand over the person behind the whistleblower account. It’s taken one anonymous tweeter to spectacularly out the famous footballer hiding behind his privacy injunction and, in a heartbeat, neuter the legal profession. Now blood lusting lawyers crave a sacrifice: a public crucifixion to warn others not to engage in mass collaboration with total strangers on the web.
I have always believed there has been a calculus of public vs. private interest, but this week has proved that the law is broken. The wider world is not interested in the deliberations of a dusty-wigged UK high court judge. The legal framework must try and understand the new age of free, libertarian speech especially when they are considering a celebrity’s position on his or her commercial value. There appears to be a very obvious point: the law is useless! It’s broken and unenforceable. Read the rest of this entry »
This is the modern age, the age of the super-injunction, the age when celebrities want to keep their dirty laundry in bomb- and journalist-proof cages so that not even the slightest whiff of scandal can escape.
Of course, it’s just not as easy as that, as the furore over someone posting information on Twitter about people who have allegedly taken out super-injunctions proves. My instinct suggests that the poster is simply a nobody seeking a rather risky path to fame; but this does not alter the fact that technology changes at an exponentially faster rate than humanity’s baser instincts, as this outbreak of injunction-exposure, and the reaction to it, shows all too clearly.
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I’ve been in and out of the papers this month, commenting on a number of subjects, from the perils of PR spin on behalf of dictators to Sarah Ferguson’s latest misadventures by way of the redemption of Chris Brown and, since I’ve been in Poland, as mentioned in my previous blog, I hope you’ll pardon this blog being a brief monthly round up, just a collection of links. It’s still all interesting stuff, of course!
Here’s my comment in the Independent on the risks of spinning for dictators. This is an article in Marketing Week on the rise of social media. Here’s a piece from the Guardian on the redemption of Chris Brown. And finally a comment in the Vancouver Sun on Sarah Ferguson.
It was fascinating, on Wednesday, to watch the streets of London step back 20 years in time to the sort of violent protests that marked the anti Poll Tax movement. I admire the energy and the zeal of the students but, in an age where everything is being re-drafted, reinvented, challenged and overturned, I wonder why they would choose to default to the divisive clichés of protests past.
The power of social media is at their fingertips, so isn’t it time to reinvent the act of protest and direct action for the digital age, where the image is ever more important? Images of violence, window smashing and scarf-faced ‘anarchists’ are something the establishment can deal with in the aftermath all too easily – it allows them the breathing room to default to a huffy ‘look at them, they don’t care about anything’ stance. Read the rest of this entry »