Why there really is such a thing as bad PR (yes, even for the Kardashians)

Unless you were scrolling through Twitter with a blindfold on for the last couple of weeks, you’ll have seen Kim K on your timeline. Probably more than once.

The recent Kim K scandal I’m referring to, and what inspired this post, is the infamous ‘appetite suppressing lollipop’ palava we’ve seen unfold. Basically, she was endorsing a company that sells lollies that supposedly suppress your appetite.

Image result for kim k weightloss lollipop

There’s around 110 things wrong with this whole thing, but what I want to talk about is the PR side of scandals like this – that we see more or less every week – and how they’re dealt with.

The thought process behind the phrase ‘all publicity is good publicity’ is that as long as people are talking about you and floating your name around the internet, it’s a good thing – even if what they’re talking about is you doing something bad/stupid/illegal. At least people are still thinking and talking about you, right? Wrong.

When I was first starting out in the PR industry, Miley Cyrus did that performance at the 2013 VMAs and I decided that yes, there really is such a thing as bad publicity. And it’s usually people who have got publicity for something they’re embarrassed about who say it.

Why is there such a thing as bad publicity?

No work of a PR team can erase people’s memories. Sorry, but it just can’t. Yes, you can make up for it – take Kim K’s attempt of taking herself off to the President’s house a week after the lollipop drama (like really?!??!) for example – by partnering with a charity, laying low or issuing an apology. But people simply won’t forget what you did – that’s just not how our seriously unforgiving society works anymore.

The reality is that more and more brands are starting to go viral for negative reasons rather than positive ones. Unlike the Kardash/Jenner-clan, who are seemingly able to bounce back from every negative piece of publicity they receive, let’s take a look at some of the brands that are finding the attention more difficult to shake – proving that all publicity is not good publicity, almost all of the time…

Facebook

Earlier this year it was revealed that 87 million people’s private data was shared with a brand called Cambridge Analytica, who worked on Trump’s presidential campaign. Not only has this been detrimental for Zuckerberg’s personal brand (an open letter starting with ‘Dear Mark, F*ck you’ being a pretty clear sign of people’s thoughts about him now) 9% of Facebook users have shut their Facebook accounts due to privacy concerns.

Not the kind of publicity the 5th most valuable brand in the world wants really, is it?

Uber

I feel like Uber’s not necessarily had one big PR flop that has led to negative consequences on the brand, but rather a series of flops. The sad truth is that once a brand messes up once, the public and the media are at the ready to jump on everything that could possibly make them look worse.

From hiding a data breach to a series of sexual harassment claims, Uber are still somehow – and I’m not quite sure how – holding on to their business purely by how useful and easy their service is to use.

Fyre Festival

Was this or was this not the most bizarre situation ever? I still remember avidly keeping up with every news update/tweet/Snapchat that went round from the festival goers last year. They had some top celebs promoting the ‘luxury music festival’ (oh hello, yet another Kardashian/Jenner at the centre of a media storm) but ticketholders were literally faced with what photos reminded of the abandoned desert land in Lion King.

The biggest problem of the whole thing? Festival creators’ ‘apology’ statement – which was literally an essay about them feeling sorry for themselves.

What’s the best examples of brands coming around from bad publicity that you’ve seen recently? Do you think all publicity is good publicity? Let me know!

What will AI really mean for the PR industry? (TL;DR – it won’t take your job)

If you asked me what Artificial Intelligence was two and a bit years ago, I would have looked at you with a slightly blank expression on my face. Similar to this emoji, in fact:¬†ūü§®.

Earlier this week, I read this piece by Stephen Waddington on the topic of how AI will impact PR skills and it got me thinking –¬†what will AI really mean for my job and my industry?

At Aira, we work with a number of businesses in the tech industry and brands who lend themselves well to technology related content. This has, almost by accident, given me a fairly broad understanding* of the world of AI and what it will mean for a number of industries.

*Not an expert Рsoz. 

Creating content around what the future of AI will mean for jobs, whether it will have a positive or negative impact on our society and the new jobs it will help create has, inadvertently, opened my eyes to something that is undoubtedly going to affect pretty much all of us. There’s a whole multitude of figures, predictions and reports out there that tell us when we should expect to see AI barging in on us and nicking our desks at work – such as this stat that tells us that¬†one in five existing jobs in British cities is likely to be displaced by 2030.

Maybe it’s naivety or maybe it’s my stubbornness to ignore anything that tries to scaremonger me, but I feel like we’re only exposed to news stories and articles that look at the ‘shocking’ impact of AI rather than a realistic idea of what it could truly do.

So, what will AI really mean for the PR industry?

The human advantage 

Something I’ve always been interested in is human behaviours, the way we interact with one another and the importance of recognising and reacting to different emotions.

Emotion plays a central role in PR. Campaigns that incorporate storytelling to draw out particular emotions from a consumer stand out the most – and, at the moment, this is something that AI and machines aren’t able to do to the same level as humans. However, it’s been argued that emotionally intelligent AI¬†is on the rise – in the next few years, could we be brainstorming campaigns with robots?

We can also assume that journalists are, on the whole, going to be more accepting of listening to your pitch and coming to you for stories than they are a robot. We’ve all seen the backlash that can come about when PRs address bloggers and journalists with the wrong name in an email – imagine the mistakes that could happen if we had robots in charge of media relations! Not to mention how unpersonalised and generalised pitches and outreach emails would be, too. As PRs, we’ve learned the skills needed to communicate with journalists, editors and reporters and I think this is something we’ll always have in our favour compared to AI.

Day to day tasks

This one is all to do with delegating. Just as a line manager would delegate to a junior member of staff, over the next few years I think we’ll be seeing ourselves delegate to robots. Yup.

Recruiting for a new role? Chatbots could be there to filter out the unsuitable candidates from the top talent before you get involved at the interview stage.

Organising your calendar, replying to mundane emails and answering sales calls for things you will literally never, ever want? These tasks could all become automated, to stop small businesses from spending on average 120 hours a year on admin tasks, as we’re currently seeing happen in the UK.

Content creation

I know – the highlight of many of us PR people’s jobs. AI better think twice before trying to take content creation away from me, right?

Well, not necessarily.

Algorithms are not only helping content creators, marketers and PRs to collect data on specific audiences but they can also help make sense of it too, meaning the time spent on creating news-worthy and targeted content is sped up significantly. And we all wish we had more time to create more content, don’t we?

In fact, this is something Coca-Cola has already done. Last year, Coca-Cola decided to choose AI over agency creatives (ouch…) to see whether they could create narratives, schedule social media posts and choose music for adverts more efficiently than humans. Anyone spotted a super dodgy Coca-Cola advert recently?

Ultimately, I do think AI will come to play a big role in the PR industry – for both digital and traditional – but do I think we’ll be fighting to keep our jobs in the future? Not really, no. Unless all our clients decide to follow in Coca-Cola’s footsteps, of course…

For me, the PR industry is very much a human focussed industry. It’s success relies on being able to communicate effectively with consumers and businesses and, truthfully, I can’t see a time where the public are able to resonate with a robot more than they are another human.

 

New Year, New Me…(10 out of 10 for clich√© blog post title?)

I feel like it was about 3 weeks ago I was writing my goals for 2016. Now, we’re nearing the end of the year and have I lived out some of my goals? Yup, and more! Have my goals changed massively? Even bigger YUP, AND MORE. This blog post is all about learning curves and what I’ve got lined up for 2017…

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Continue reading “New Year, New Me…(10 out of 10 for clich√© blog post title?)”

The best PR campaigns of summer 2017

As autumn begins and summer officially draws to a close, I thought the first day of October would be the perfect time to take a look at some of the best PR stunts and campaigns we saw over the summer months.

Here’s some of my faves, what were some of yours?

1. ‘Choose Me or Lose Me’

The campaign: If us Brits stand united on anything, it’s our love of the classic crisp flavours. Walkers started up a competition (which closes on the 22nd of this month FYI) which pits 3 of their most popular flavours of crisps against a brand new flavour – consumers vote for their fave and the loser gets taken off the shelves. Pretty brutal, huh? Personally I’m more of a Doritos fan, but even I can still understand the horror we’re facing with the possibility of Prawn Cocktail crisps being replaced by Paprika. Paprika Walkers??? Really???

The PR impact: People are sharing their votes all over Twitter. Even fans of other crisp brands (like moi) are voting simply because they can understand the outrage that no longer having Salt and Vinegar crisps for sale would cause, and no one is ready for that.

2. The Marmite Gene Project 

The campaign:¬†I was all over the campaign, just as Marmite is – quite literally – all over my toast. I’m a big fan. Marmite took full use of their ‘you love it or you hate it’ slogan and made a test to find out whether there actually is something in our genes that affects whether we like it or not. Basically, consumers film themselves eating Marmite on toast and the test picks up on elements of your facial expression to determine your score. The video doesn’t seem like the most scientific test (surely you could force yourself to smile throughout even if you hate the stuff?!) so the brand have also made a real DNA test kit which is a bit more scientific – for those who reallly want to know their results. Either way,¬†it’s fun.

The PR impact:¬†As the test needs users to have Marmite in their cupboards, which clearly haters of the product won’t have, the brand provide a free sample to those without – a nice touch.¬†¬†The scientists behind the campaign also help it go beyond just a fun, gimmicky campaign to one with actual concrete scientific backing.

3. #PuberMe

Scrolling through Instagram this week, I kept seeing throwback photos of celebrities as teenagers with the hashtag Puerto Rico Relief. This campaign came about when Nick Kroll appeared on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert in the US, with them asking celebrities to upload photos of them as teens – Stephen would donate to Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief in return, and Nick would double it. I don’t know about you, but I love campaigns with a charitable twist. Plus, we get to see the likes or Reese Witherspoon looking like this.

The PR impact:¬†They’re raising money, we’re seeing throwback of our fave celebs and they’re making a big difference. Fab PR all round.

I wonder what campaigns and stunts we can expect to see over the Autumn? I’m mostly excited for the Christmas campaigns to launch…

Liv x

 

PR on the big screen: what lessons can we learn?

I might be almost 10 years late to the party, but this weekend I watched Hancock for the first time. The description on Netflix mentioned a ‘boozy superhero’ so I was expecting a Will Smith comedy classic…imagine my surprise when a PR guy turns up?

This wasn’t the first time this has happened; a few months back, ¬†I came across some of the Sex and the City boxsets in a charity shop. I’d heard of the infamous Samantha Jones, having been a fan of the films and also the more recent Carrie Diaries, so I knew she worked in PR but I really got to know her (in more ways than one (!)) and her career whilst making my way through the boxsets.

Samantha and Ray’s characters may be stark contrasts and have very different tactics when it comes to ‘good PR’ but there’s still plenty of lessons we can learn from both.

Lesson 1: PR tactics can be polar opposites, but they can both work

Samantha does kind of sell a totally false image of what PR is (which has most likely contributed to us having the reputation of selling club tickets…shoot me now) but you’ve gotta give it to her – she’s good at what she does.

Samantha’s job revolves around raising awareness of her clients through¬†celebrity endorsements, planning parties, and drinking cocktails. But in Hancock, we see Ray pitching a new All-Heart logo for businesses who are extremely charitable. Couldn’t be more different, could they?

For some brands, the party/schmoozy PR tactics is what will work for them and for some a more serious and corporate PR approach is vital. There isn’t a universally right or wrong answer to what ‘good PR’ is; understand your client and their PR needs and you’ll be able to nail your tactics.

Lesson 2: Reputation is at the core of PR

In Hancock we see Ray send him off to prison as a PR tactic, which is probably a rather unlikely scenario for most of us but there’s still something we can learn from it. For your client’s reputation to be tip-top, you need to have the public on your side – it just so happens that in Hancock’s circumstances, he had to go to prison to achieve this.

It also goes to show that a reputation fail doesn’t mean it’s the end for a business. As a good quality PR person, you need to have the strategy and tactics in place to rebuild your client’s reputation if they’ve had a minor (or major) slip-up. What does your client need to do to win the forgiveness of their audience? What can they do to change their image in the media? PR has the power to turn a bad image around!

Lesson 3: Network online and offline to get to know the right people 

It’s no secret that Samantha is very much an extravert, in both her work and personal life. In Sex and the City, we see Samantha with a constant list of contacts and whilst some of these may be on more of a ‘little black book list’, we can be sure her list of professional contacts is sky high.

The contacts you have with journalists and editors can give you the edge when getting coverage; as soon as you have a new story or press release for a client, you know who to pitch it to to get the ball rolling.

Back in the days of Sex and the City circa the nineties, digital PR wasn’t yet a thing and traditional PR tactics were Samantha’s forte. Now, PR pros need to have both online and offline contacts in order to get the best coverage and links for clients in all types of media.

What type of PR person do you see yourself as? Are you more of a Samantha or a Ray? If you’re interested to see what other films have underlying PR themes that you may not have noticed, check out this post!

L x 

 

 

 

“A lot can happen in a year…”

One year ago today I was just about to embark on an end of uni trip to Paris, celebrating getting 83% in my dissertation and finding out I’d landed my first post-grad job (thanks Timehop – my memory would be nothing without you). And it’s true. A lot¬†can happen in a year.

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I was quite happy, can you tell?

I was inspired to write this post this evening after finding out the prize for the CIPR Wessex Student of the Year 2017 had been awarded to this year’s winner and I was no longer the title-holder, after finding out I won the 2016 ¬†prize around this time last year (man, June was a busy time for me last year?!). No hard feelings though, I couldn’t be happier to hand my title over to the fabulous Laura Bradley! Congratulations girl!

Speaking to Laura earlier today really got me thinking about just how much has happened this last year – in terms of both my transition from PR student to PR graduate and now to girl-who-works-in-digital-PR-and-kind-of-has-her-life-together; I’ve been on five holidays, worked in two jobs, moved out, been to my first funeral for a member of my own family, written off one car (eye roll – but we don’t really have to talk about that), been invited to speak to¬†PR students in Belfast¬†and persevered¬†with my long haul¬†journey to lose weight and get fit and healthy (which involved also going down two shoe sizes. TWO!) to name just a few.

It’s been a good year. And a successful one. This time a year ago I 100% didn’t know that the job I’d just landed – what I thought would be my dream job – would turn out to 100% not be my dream job, but I know I would have been so glad to be¬†five months deep into a job that I see as the just the start of my career in digital PR.

Also, a big thank you to¬†Wessex CIPR – it’s been a good year being Wessex’ PR Student of the Year and it’s provided me with opportunities that I’ll be ever grateful for (and I’m still going to keep it in my Twitter bio for a little while longer).

L x

‚ÄėPR personality‚Äô: do you have to be an extrovert to work in PR?

The increase in use of personality tests, such as Myer-Briggs, have brought more attention to the personality labels ‚Äėintrovert‚Äô and ‚Äėextrovert‚Äô, but what personality type is needed to work in PR?

Even though PR centres around relationship building, communicating and networking with different types of people, which undoubtedly requires a certain level of confidence, does this mean extroverts are the only personality type that will excel in PR?

Read my¬†blog post in full over on Aira’s blog, here.

Startup Stock Photos

 

Life as a Digital PR Executive

It’s¬†been a good month and a big bit since I last updated my lovely blog, but here I am!

Since finishing my last PR job for a charity just before Christmas, I ate my weight in pigs in blankets, celebrated New Years in Venice (it was AMAZING, honestly one of the best trips of my life) and started my new job as a Digital PR Executive at Aira, a digital marketing agency.

Continue reading “Life as a Digital PR Executive”

Yes, I may have disappeared off the blogger-sphere temporarily. But I did graduate with a First and get a PR job in the meantime…

Helllo there!!

Yes, it’s been forever. I do apologise. Ever a girl with an excuse or 10 on her hands, here is mine:

I was doing this…

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Continue reading “Yes, I may have disappeared off the blogger-sphere temporarily. But I did graduate with a First and get a PR job in the meantime…”