Tag Archives: victim

More brands suffer at the hands of social media

11 Sep

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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?

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Do you Beliebe in brand PR?

5 Mar

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It’s been a difficult week for certain celebrities. They’ve made mistakes that have dented their image and some poor PR will have to pick up the pieces. There’s two famous faces I’ve got in mind: Justin Bieber and Lord Sugar.

Beauty and a Beat singer Bieber turned up late to his own concert at the O2 arena on Monday – causing the event to overrun and distraught teenagers fleeing half way through to get the last train home. Needless to say, Bieber was the victim of a social media backlash.

But instead of apologising, he simply told fans that the times were incorrect and he was, in actual fact, only 40 minutes late. And for this he had no excuse.

He needs to understand that the modern fan has changed. We download individual tracks rather than buying whole albums so band loyalty is decreasing. He made the mistake of focusing his statement on him, instead of his fans, which did little to repair the brand damage.

Perhaps he thought actions are louder than words because he made a statement by arriving on stage two minutes early yesterday. Doesn’t exactly help the previous audience though does it?

In other news, Lord Sugar is in the middle of an employment tribunal case with The Apprentice winner Stella English who claims her prize-winning role was that of an ‘overpaid lackey’. When she challenged him, he told her he ‘didn’t give a [insert expletive].’

The trial continues but in terms of his personal PR, Lord Sugar has shown himself to be a difficult person to work for. Although I knew that all along.

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Hurricanes are no joke

31 Oct

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Whilst New York is suffering from death and destruction caused by mega storm Hurricane Sandy, which has killed tens of people, retailer Gap has been encouraging Americans to stay safe inside and shop online. A PR nightmare.

At the first hint of trouble, Obama cancelled his campaign trail dates and diverted to Washington to deal with the crisis (something which may stand him in good stead in a week’s time.) So, why was Gap making light of the situation?

On Monday, it tweeted: “All impacted by #Sandy stay safe. We’ll be doing lots of shopping on Gap.com. How about you?”

They’ve since learnt the error of their ways and deleted it. But, what on earth convinced them that this was a PR opportunity in the first place? In a national ‘mother nature’ crisis, brands are judged on their actions. And, the best action is charity – brands putting their money where their mouth is.

For a few minutes it looked as though American Apparel was going to do the right thing by organising a clothes sale to raise funds for victims. Instead it cocked this opportunity too with its strapline with ‘Incase you’re bored of the storm – 20% off everything’. This, naturally, led to another Twitter revolt. There’s simply no humanity or empathy with these companies.

These examples are laughable to you and I, but the scary thought is that someone’s being paid to lead these social media strategies. How they deal with this PR storm will, hopefully, test their sense.

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