Tag Archives: retailer

HMV calls for help as Twilight ends

12 Mar

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I can’t read about failed music retailer HMV without feeling sorry for the brand and picturing Poppy Rose Cleere – the woman who gave the world live updates as the big bods culled staff in a mass firing.

So, when I saw this well-received PR stunt my instant reaction was: ‘it’s great that they’re still making a go of things’. That’s right – pity praise.

This is the story of what HMV did:

To celebrate (or commiserate – whatever you’re into) the release of the final Twilight film on DVD, HMV has installed a telephone box in its Westfield store that has the film’s national helpline on speed dial to support troubled fans.

Featuring 30-second pre-recorded messages from the main cast, all people need to do is pick up the phone to be transferred to the comforting sound of the actors’ voices, including: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. The helpline, as a whole, has been so successful it received more than 2,000 calls on the first day.

HMV has done well to capitalise on Twilight’s multi-million dollar industry by adding to the experience of the final chapter, while giving people an extra reason to buy in-store.

I hope we see another fresh PR trick by HMV in the coming weeks – it sends out a strong message during troubled times.

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Earned media gone bad

9 Jan

After reading an interesting blog this week by Deborah Bates from Red Rocket Media on The Wall about earned media I was grateful for the clear definition as to what it is. I was even more grateful that it fits in tightly to my job description. Earned media is just a new buzz word for PR – third party endorsements. For a moment I thought my client knew more about the industry than I did!

But, what this explanation of earned media doesn’t do is identify that it can go wrong (and often does) for brands – through negative comments.

No one has time to read the full list of online brand blunders to date, but I’ve had to blog about the stupidity of Odeon, American Apparel and Helen Flanagan just in the last few months. So how are we meant to prevent earned media gone bad?

1) Respond to all enquiries
This will help stop challenges before they get off the ground. Even if you can’t help, try and signpost the user to the right direction. You can’t fault someone for being polite can you?

2) Don’t delay
If you take too long to respond to an enquiry and it blows up into a social media storm, people will be pull you up on the time it takes you to respond. Too long and you’re perceived as not caring / understanding that there’s a problem.

At the beginning of campaigns, why not troubleshoot some potential issues with mock responses and solutions and file away just in case you need them?

3) See it from their POV
A customer has just had a negative experience. Have some empathy – we’ve all been there. Acknowledge the issue by giving them a shoulder to cry on, offer a solution and ask others to come forward that might be feeling the same. Brands often sort out issues one-on-one but they could earn brownie points by helping a few others at the same time.

4) Be consistent
A colleague at William Murray raised a brilliant point today: a key message posted online today might not be relevant or in line with your strategy tomorrow. Make sure you don’t stray too far from your company’s core values to demonstrate consistency to fans and followers. Any curve balls will be thrown back, hard.

5) Be honest
If you’re being measured against earned media be honest with your client. Great – you’ve secured 10 examples of positive comments. But, if you don’t flag the 100 neutral-negative ones, then the client will be saying something to you and it won’t be pretty.

It doesn’t mean a bad job has been done – it just reiterates that nobody has a grip on cyber space. Put the figures in perspective.

What are your views on earned media? How is it working for you and your clients?

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M&S challenges customers to DIY

20 Aug

High street retailer M&S’ latest idea to give iPads to staff in its wine and clothing departments to boost business is, quite frankly, a waste of money.

The idea is that employees can use the devices to assist customers with finding out more on full product ranges and ordering items instantly to save time in long queues. But, how many consumers can’t do this themselves? Research by Ofcom shows that 39% own a smartphone and 11% own a tablet. If they don’t have access to this then surely the customer services desk is the solution?

M&S is also installing information screens in-store to support customers with checking availability of products. Although in this current climate it wouldn’t be my priority to replicate troubled store Argos’ USP (the company was forced to admit that poor sales meant profits nosedived last quarter.) Consumers are so savvy now it’s clear that they know what they want and where to find it.

I’m all up for technology making our lives easier but in M&S’ case it just seems unnecessary. Surely a big corporation can’t kid itself into thinking a portable computer can empower employees so much that the relationships with their customers will be strengthened? So, what’s it hiding?

Let’s hope this isn’t a cover up for M&S testing if customers can do employees’ work for them. My tip for the iPad staff – download a job search app just in case.

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