Tag Archives: public relations

London council sends bogus Christmas card to residents

18 Dec

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With a week before Christmas, everyone’s in full swing planning the perfect day. That’s right, it’s the season of giving. But maybe we’ve all missed the point. Maybe we’re not meant to be giving to one another, maybe we’re meant to be giving to the council!

That’s right. Hammersmith and Fulham Council has reminded local residents not to get behind on their rent by sending a ‘bah humbug’ Christmas card which reads: Don’t overindulge this Christmas. Pay your rent!

There’s only two ways you can interpret this card – you can agree or disagree. I’ll give you 10 points for guessing what I think of it. Here’s a clue: I take offence.

If 46 per cent of residents are in arrears then I don’t believe this tactic is going to make much difference. Rather than make the residents feel guilty, it’ll just have a negative impact on the council. It’s bad PR through and through and leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. Essentially, if the council thought they were going to get their money before the big day, then they’ve made a big mistake.

More than causing uproar – many labelling the act ‘disgusting’ – it’s even prompted some to request updates via the Freedom of Information Act to find out how the cards were distributed. According to What Do They Know?, an 81-year old woman, who’s apparently never been late with the rent, was left ‘extremely distressed’ upon receiving it. And who can blame her? It’s hardly subtle.

The council may well think it’s appropriate to thank the BBC on Twitter for helping them to generate coverage with the scheme, but I think they’re underestimating just how much this could backfire.

I’m not saying that being late with the rent is acceptable – when your payment is due you’re obliged to pay up. But, when you compare it to dropping a threatening card through someone’s door seven days before Christmas, you’ve got to question who’s really in the wrong.

What do you think – have you had fake Christmas cards through the door?

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lastminute.com is behind the times with copycat campaign

9 Nov

Competitions are PR gold because they drive engagement with your target market. I’ve launched a few of them in my micro career – from the Best British Roast Dinner to the Best Dressed Pub – and it’s safe to say there’s no campaign that won’t allow you to bring out consumers’ competitive streak.

But the one that the PR industry remembers – which broke all the rules, offered a top prize, won awards and international coverage – was Queensland’s 2009 ‘Best Job in the World‘. So, when I saw the lastminute.com was looking for a ‘spontaneity champion‘, to indulge in luxury mini breaks across the world and share their experiences with the brand, I was a little disappointed.

There’s no shame in being inspired by other campaigns, but if it doesn’t take it to another level then have you really done your job? (#JustSaying)

lastminute.com’s competition has already been talked about by almost every UK national newspaper, but to add some extra sparkle, I’d promote it in the following ways:

Pack a suitcase
Package the competition up as part of a wider feature with top tips for frequent travellers; travel blogger profiles; and ‘how to…’ articles on spending 24hours in the most popular cities. The content can be run as part of an advertorial within a magazine like Time Out or pitched into a range of websites.

Pin it to win it
lastminute.com is on the right track when it comes to social media, by encouraging the eventual champion to share their experiences, but it could take it one step further by utilising Pinterest.

This story is great, but there’s nothing worse than reading about a competition you didn’t win, so why not continue the celebrations by giving people a chance to win a trip to the destination on a picture they ‘re-pin’?

Talk to the experts
If you’re sending someone on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ every weekend for a year, they’re going to become experts in destination hotspots, hidden culture and emerging trends. So leverage their expertise by hosting a press event at the end the year for a campaign round-up. lastminute.com could go it alone, if they have the budget, or partner with a well-known travel conference and secure a speaking opportunity as part of a sponsorship package.

By inviting journalists and bloggers to hear the stories, and also do a ‘big reveal’ for next year’s campaign, they can keep the brand in the news.

So, there it is. Three ideas to better organise the campaign around the spontaneity champion. Are you up to the challenge?

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Extreme Meadowland has a strong message

17 May

I’ve previously said that it’s hard for the hospitality and foodservice industry to run sexy PR campaigns, but it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try.

Earlier this year, Pelican PR celebrated new research that showed that frozen food was on the up by using a wall of ice to attract attention to its client – the British Frozen Food Federation. But, I think Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) – the brand behind the Ambu-lunch – has gone one better.

With a chance to go viral, UFS has created six videos to demonstrate Meadowland’s, a dairy cream alternative, strength. Here’s a taster to whet your appetite:

The quick clips – packed with some smooth ‘slow-mo’ action – bring the metaphor to life that Meadowland is tough and won’t split when cooking, by putting it to the limit with a car, bench saw, angle grinder, chain saw and axe. And boy does it hold up!

Aimed at chefs, working in restaurants, pubs, canteens and hotels, that tend to be big personalities that run on adrenaline, it had to be hard hitting and appeal to their ‘need for speed.’ And Meadowland doesn’t pull any punches by challenging chefs to take it to the extreme.

The YouTube films are strong – just like the message it wants to convey – and chefs would be mad not to want to watch, request a sample and experiment in the kitchen with this kick-ass product.

Want another? Here you go:

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