Tag Archives: Interest

Costco begs for forgiveness after being caught out on Twitter

25 Nov

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I’m normally an advocate for social media silence, but national retailer Costco was quick to repent for its sins with a statement – after the brand was caught out last week.

To put it into context, a Californian pastor noticed that a stack of Bibles were labelled as fiction in one of its stores. Now, you might not believe that this book contains the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but there’s no need for the brand to potentially offend the 246m Christians in the US.

So how did Costco respond after the pastor blasted the company on Twitter? With a watertight crisis management statement that followed the classic ‘get out of jail’ formula:

The formula
Shift blame + Take blame + Olive branch solution = Peace is restored

What Costco said
Costco’s distributor mislabelled a small percentage of the Bibles. However, we take responsibility and should have caught the mistake. We are correcting this with them for future distribution. In addition, we are immediately relabelling all mislabelled Bibles. We greatly apologise for this error.

By the time this was issued it was too little too late. Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach’s tweet had already shocked his congregation, who questioned if Costco was guilty of religious discrimination. And 1,466 followers, 253 retweets, 88 favourites and a flurry of national news stories later, it got so out of hand the pastor had to calm his flock down by claiming he wasn’t angry, just interested.

The one thing Costco didn’t do was use its social media channels to defend itself. Perhaps it was trying to bury bad news or take the approach that what its customers don’t know won’t hurt them (or the business). But failing to maximise its 1m reach on Facebook seems strange, especially when its Twitter pages are such a mess.

Well, at least Caleb has a pinch of inspiration for his next sermon and has successfully engaged with his audience. But the moral of this story is that if you’re truly sorry for your actions, God will forgive your mistakes.

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This PR stunt is a little abstract

29 Jan

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Do you ever wonder how often the art world crosses over into PR? Let me explain:

An artist from Milton Keynes, Tomas Georgeson, has hidden the majority of his life savings in his local gallery. Why? It’s an artistic statement to boost numbers and interest.

Through an advert placed in his local paper, local residents are being encouraged to visit their local hotspot to see if they can find it. Whoever does will be able to bank it. No terms and conditions just a potential ‘life- changing’ sum.

There’s no doubt about it – this is a great story. But is it genuine or do I smell a PR rat? One thing’s for sure, if Georgeson ever wanted to jump careers, PR could be for him. But, he’d have to learn a few lessons first to ensure his campaigns don’t fall flat in the long-run:

Think long-term
For someone who’s evidently passionate about bringing artistic culture back to Milton Keynes and reinstating the integrity of the gallery, who is Georgeson doing this for?

I’m not sure how many people are going to return after the ‘New Year egg hunt’ is over. Yes, the visitor numbers are likely to increase over the coming weeks, but what next? Arguably, advertising could have done the same.

Although Georgeson’s gone one better and created a buzz through a ‘PR stunt’, how is he going to fund the ongoing campaign and keep giving people reasons to come back?

You don’t get many surprises at my age
It would have been risky, but Georgeson could have kept his cool and played the game a little longer – and not gone to the press before the stunt had even launched. Call me cynical, but does a rare Robin Hood in the 21st century really make such a public announcement about their endeavours?

An element of mystery would have given the ‘campaign’ a better grounding and positioned Georgeson as more of a hero if he’d waited. Think Banksy.

I’ll give him this though – the timing is spot on. Every day, we’re being told how households are still feeling the pinch and money is a language everybody speaks.

Be realistic
Georgeson says: “It almost doesn’t really matter what happens, it’s the fact that it’s there.”

Serious? We live in a ‘give to get’ society. PRs especially. If you’re not hungry for the PR value or questioning the return of investment, you’re not going to excel. Georgeson should have thought more about his messaging – didn’t he want to bring the gallery to the centre of the community?

Keep your clients informed
According to the gallery’s press office, who have not been told of the cheque’s location, the team have carefully searched for it but cannot find any trace.

A careful ploy to encourage more visitors who believe they still have everything to play for I wonder?

This part of the story just makes us wonder how hard they were looking.

This will be a campaign to watch – especially when it comes to how much the artist and gallery benefit.

What are your thoughts?

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PRs: How to host the perfect journalist meeting

24 Jan

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There’s no doubt about it. When you’ve been in the PR game for a while, you get lazy. There’s no one turning point as to when this happens, but it’s not too long after you’ve found the gem of a journalist that will put something online moments after you’ve sent it – and they’re nice enough to send you the link. When you have relationships like this, why try?

The answer’s simple: to produce results that go beyond simple coverage cuttings.

With many clients cutting back on PR and marketing budgets, it’s vital that teams show they’re adding the type of value to clients that shows up on their bottom line. That, my friends, is platinum PR (nothing fluffy about it).

Today, I met with a trade journalist to better understand how I can improve my clients’ share of voice within the magazine and connect with its readers.

Don’t take these meetings for granted.
Here’s some tips on how PRs can host the perfect journalist meeting:

1. Make them feel special
It’s not always effective to take time out of the office to meet with just one journalist, but the editor of this B2B title felt flattered that I’d gone out of my way to find out how I can meet her editorial needs. She was so charmed, she bought the coffee for me!

2. Go to their neck of the woods
It’s obvious, but meet in the place that’s most convenient for them. They tend to be more relaxed knowing they’re close to HQ.

3. Come prepared
However well you think they know your client, bring a press pack full of details about the business, along with information on projects and case studies they’ll be interested in. If it’s not relevant to them now, it will be later.

The editor was also touched that the information was personalised for her. Again, a small gesture that goes a long way in showing that you’re genuinely interested in developing a longstanding relationship with the title.

Also have a latest copy of the magazine with you. Think of it as a shield. You wouldn’t go into battle without one, would you?

4. Share the floor
The best PR/journalist meeting is where both parties have something to gain. Talk a bit, listen a lot and talk again to ensure you’re sharing the conversation.

5. Don’t think you know it all
Bounce ideas off each other and discuss the sorts of things the editor and the client would be interested in pursuing. I’d never have thought from my meeting, she’d be offering my client space on a table at an influential industry event. Or, willing to do an industry profile on the business I’m representing (a spot that’s normally reserved for advertisers.)

A little bit of thought goes a long way – and pays plenty in PR value.

What are your tips for when dealing with journalists?

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