Tag Archives: Intern

More brands suffer at the hands of social media

11 Sep


First there were hurricanes, and shootings. Then there was horsemeat and a Royal baby. What have these events got in common? They’ve all prompted (foolish) companies to jump on the bandwagon to promote their brands. But, more often than not, the PR and marketing team’s rushed efforts lead to a grovelling apology after a consumer backlash.

Let me explain.

Today, the world remembers the innocent victims from the tragic 9/11 event in New York. And, like clockwork, brands have used the 12-year anniversary for self gain. Unfortunately, it’s all too transparent and US site Fast Company has created a round-up of the worst social media stunts. Take a look – it’s really interesting.

Telecommunications company AT&T shamelessly featured the new Blackberry in its commemorative corporate tweet – which went down like a lead balloon despite the brand realising its rookie mistake and deleting from its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

That’s not all.

Marriott Hotels – which has a unique connection with 9/11 in the sense that one of its branches sat at the foot of the Twin Towers and collapsed with it on the day – tweeted an image of a plate of pastries and a sign reading that it was giving them away between 8.45am and 9.15am. People lost their lives. So, needless to say that pastries aren’t really a consolation prize to shout about.

First of all, social media managers / interns / robots that are running the game must sense check with the wider marketing teams and get key messages signed off. That way if the update blows – you’re all idiots.

Secondly, an event like this shouldn’t even be viewed as a commercial opportunity. Yes, if done in the right way, it can curry favour with consumers. But, brands shouldn’t make light of 9/11 in anyway. Ok, a #neverforget hash tag can put your tweet in the centre of the online community, but images? Risky. What picture can possibly connect with thousands of people directly associated with the event, and the millions more who were touched by it. As we’ve seen, brands can be on top of the world one minute and at the bottom the next. And clicking delete doesn’t mean a thing once it’s been seen.

Brands must keep it simple. Nappy company Huggies is a good example of this by remembering the victims and the brave people who risked their lives to save others. But, even then, you’re left thinking ‘why are you getting involved?’

So, lastly, unless your brand has a direct association with the event in question and you have something that will add value to ‘the’ online conversation, say nothing at all.

Silence is golden in situations like this. Agree?


A right royal balls-up!

24 Aug

How I’d love to be a fly on the wall inside Clarence House press office dealing with Prince Harry’s headache which the tabloids have had their fun with this week. (Personally, I’ve discovered that the ‘crown jewels’ plastered across a double page spread is enough to put me off my breakfast.)

It was all going so well for our ‘Prince next door’. Taking ownership of representing the Queen in Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas, as part of the Commonwealth Jubilee celebrations; taking us through the A-Z of Olympic sports from opening to closing ceremony; and stripping and getting close to / protecting the modesty of Las Vegas girls. What on earth happened? Did his security get sloppy or did he drunkenly trust that his new friends were innocently taking some album snaps to remember him by?

The answers to this we’ll probably never know. We do know that 43% of PRs believe that the pictures have negatively impacted upon Prince Harry’s reputation (PRCA.) But, what I’m more interested in is if anyone is even surprised we’re reading about this.

Two recent positive public appearances don’t right his foolish wrongs of the past: cannabis, comic race rows and dressing up as a Nazi to name a few. The two-thirds of respondents who said that this debacle won’t harm the wider Royal Family’s reputation are right. This situation just reinforces the idea that the Prince is someone who can’t, or won’t, take his privileged position seriously. Ok – no one asks to be born a royal. Nobody asks to be put into any situation; it’s a card you’re dealt with and you simply have to embrace it.

There’s just two ways the public are viewing these photos now:

Those who find naked jokes funny – “That Prince Harry’s all right isn’t he?”


Those who don’t find naked jokes funny – “Can’t he grow up? That’s not how you attract a respectable lady like Kate Middleton.”

Surely this is what it’s all about? Since the wedding to end all Royal weddings last April, surely he’s under pressure to settle down and keep up appearances like his brother. But, instead of playing ball he’s doing something else with them!

There’s only two ways for his PR aides to play this gaff out: say nothing or say everything. An American chat show (insert Oprah, Ellen, David Letterman or other favourite host here) where he comes clean by playing on the audiences’ emotions could work. But, I’ve got a feeling they won’t take my advice.

The Sun bares all

In other new this week, News International is on the brink of another law suit after asking a 21-year-old intern Sophie Henderson to pose with Picture Editor Harry Miller to replicate those ‘naked’ pictures on its front yesterday.

The newspaper has had to issue a statement that the pair were happy to strip, highlighting that it’s just a bit of ‘harmless fun’.

Whatever you label it, the least the Sun can do now is offer poor old Sophie a permanent job!


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