Category Archives: General

Clutching at straws?

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There are a fair few social media apps that I feel are just around because they’re different to the norm, such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine etc but that doesn’t mean they’re any good.

The latest one to come to fruition is an app called Whisper, it is a free iOS and Android mobile app with an associated paid online service which allows users to send messages anonymously and receive replies, basically Facebook/Twitter without the username. It was first launched in March 2012 under the original name ‘WhisperText’. Users post a message which are then published displayed as text superimposed over an image which are similar to greeting cards like the image below:

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It is doing incredibly well for an app that doesn’t get as much mention as big game players, getting on average 3.5 billion page views each month which has got venture capitalists interested, and no wonder!

In May 2013 the owners of the app added a service cost of $5.99 (around £3.59) meaning receiving messages was free but sending messages required payment. In my opinion that was the beginning of the downfall of the app, and the fact that in February 2014 the service charge was made free for ‘most users’ but paid messaging was something that was required for certain users for certain reasons.

I struggle to see the point in this app, I understand that it serves its purpose of a social media app that allows more anonymity than most others but I just don’t understand. Maybe thats naive of me but I’m sure most people would agree that it is some what unnecessary, then again, a lot of people would say that about social media as a whole.

Even though I am a Social Media Executive Intern, I think social media on a personal basis is somewhat pointless, meaning I don’t think many people actually need to read about what you had for dinner or the fact you’re bored, but social media for a business is priceless.

I suppose we will all find out how popular this app is if Facebook tries to buy it in a few months!

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No such thing as bad publicity?

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Like the title suggests, is there anything such as bad PR? I personally think there is, from both a consumer and a PR point of view. If a brand you like is being publicised in a negative way, you are less likely to want to continue to use the brand, and from a PR point of view, if your client is receiving a considerable amount of negative press, well your job just got a whole lot harder!

An example of this came to light a couple of days ago. As I was on Facebook, I came across a link that was doing the rounds on the social media website that revealed two very popular high street shops, H&M and Topshop, that have stores all over the world. Topshop are all to a custom to a disaster or two in the past, such as the tax evasion and sweat shop allegations but this time after secret filming came to light of workers of a sub-supplier for both stores in China were found to be plucking fur from rabbits who were sadly still alive and go through this every three months once the fur grows back again. The footage was released by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showing the awful, despicable act.

H&M were the first high street shop to acknowledge the fact that some of their items were being produced in this way and quickly ceased and recalled all items of clothing and took them off their website and off the shelves in stores. I personally think that this is a great show of respect and concern for ethical trading by H&M, and from a PR point of view it is extremely clever, taking a very serious situation and turning in to something that benefits them reputation wise. What H&M didn’t bank on was the way in which Topshop are handling this situation, once again, I find that Topshop have half heartedly halted the sourcing of Angora wool purely because they know they have to, rather than because they genuinely believe in ethical trading like H&M have shown themselves to do.

I say this because they have continued to sell the rest of the stock of the 42 items of clothing that are made of Angora wool, clearly on a money making scheme which is definitely what the point of business is, but sometimes I fear companies do more damage to their reputation in the long haul in what could be a short term money loss situation, and I’m sure Topshop aren’t doing that bad!

There is currently a petition to stop the sales of the remaining stock of the Angora wool garments in Topshop and at present there are just short of 101,000 signatures on the petition and the total needed before action is taken is 120,000. H&M have said that they are going to step up their inspections of its sub-suppliers in order to stop anything like this happening again in the future and has released a statement saying customers who have previously bought Angora products in the past from the store can take them back for full refunds, which is a fantastic approach to take and definitely keeps the respect and loyalty of regular customers but also attracts new customers who wouldn’t normally shop in the affordable clothing store. Topshop is doing the complete opposite and is showing a very poor attitude in such a serious matter that is becoming increasingly apparent to todays society, especially when there are more humane ways to treat animals rather than what was looked over in the past.

Topshop’s PR department need to tread carefully in the following days as it is easy to let this situation turn in to a huge disaster, I personally think that they should just swallow their pride and pull the items now to show that they do actually care about the issue and not all the money that their over priced garments are going to make them in this holiday season!

Much like Tesco’s horse meat scandal earlier this year, the way in which they handled it was somewhat questionable considering the apology they released didn’t sound like they were sorry about the situation, but rather that they were sorry for being caught before trying to pass the blame on to everybody else rather than themselves.

I think that companies who are major players in their sectors should genuinely concern themselves with issues such as the ones spoken about in this blog, purely because it puts a sour taste in peoples mouths, and tarnish’s the brand, a quote that jumps to mind is ‘forgive but never forget’, even though their customers will remain loyal, they will forever be brought up in questionable times.

Crisis management at the ready!

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Beating the bullies

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Over the past month or so, I have been watching a very unnerving story unfold over in America. Shea Shawhan an 18 years old girl from Plano in Texas has been subject to horrendous bullying by some extremely nasty people at her school.

Shea has a frontal lobe brain injury. Her frontal lobes were damaged during birth from seconds of not having oxygen, which in turn caused severe swelling and overstimulated her brain. Due to this she endured multiple seizures for the first 14 days of her life and has suffered these seizures ever since. This is not epilepsy, like some people may assume, but a life threatening malfunction of the brain. Shea looks like any other 18 year old girl, but has an IQ under 70 and zero reasoning skills. It could happen to any one of us, if you were in a car crash and damaged your frontal lobes, you would still look like you, but would have what Shea has.

Keri Shawhan, Shea’s mum, set up a Facebook page to raise awareness of the situation, in the hope things would change. Shea was receiving awful text messages and it obviously needed to end. This brilliant example of how social media can be used to help a situation such as this, normally all you hear about on the news is about another case of cyber bullying!

This story went global and a huge amount of people around the world got behind Shea and helped her and her true friends succeed in finding out who was behind the horrible act and see something serious happen. It was a pleasure to read in the news the other day that somebody had been arrested in connection with the harassment of Shea, what a great result!

Head over to the Facebook page to read up on the progression of the campaign to stop bullying like this case, and buy a T-Shirt to raise money for some great causes!

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