Tag Archives: Bad PR

Are you doing social media right?

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Many people think that I just get paid to sit on Facebook all day and don’t do anything productive, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media has to be done correctly to save yourself from the consequences of bad PR for yourself AND your client. There are certain steps in which you should take in order to ensure that you are getting the most out of the tool that has the potential to connect you to so many more people than tradition PR and Marketing allows you to.

A lot of companies who don’t specialise in a communication vocation think that they have to do social media just to ensure that they are keeping up with competitors. What needs to be understood is that it is a free tool and just takes man-hours to make it right. I’ve been to many interviews for PR and Social Media job roles and when I’ve done research in to the company in question I’ve more often than not been left a little let down by the social media already in place.

If you find yourself with fewer followers than everybody else, you need to look at what YOU are putting out on the social media platform, not wonder why people aren’t falling for your spiel. You need to ensure that you are updating regularly, with relevant information to your business (or just what you want to put out there) so that your followers know when to check back with what you’re saying. If you post on a Monday, and then don’t post for two weeks and post on a Friday, followers won’t know when to check back and gradually fall out of the routine of checking back with what you are saying.

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When you think of Facebook and Twitter, chances are you think of your friends or an organisation just broadcasting what they want you to read and there isn’t much room for engagement. In order to gain followers and boost your reputation, you should post content that will generate conversation, don’t forget that this is SOCIAL media and is very much a two way communication channel, use it to your advantage and don’t let it hinder you.

What most companies need to understand is that their Facebook and Twitter feeds are not meant to be glorified ad streams, and need to have good quality content that generates conversation to ensure that followers don’t lose interest. I often find that the easiest way to make people aware of your brand is to not really advertise it at all on social media (within reason, obviously) and a great example of a brand that has got it right is believe it or not, Tesco Mobile. The fact that their Twitter account is more often than not, dedicated to tweeting everybody who tweets the brand with funny, on the line, witty replies is pure genius in my eyes.

Another sin that many people commit on social media, is just auto-post updates across all of their social media platforms. Facebook is incredibly different to Twitter, which is different to Pinterest, which is different again to Linkedin. Look at it this way, you wouldn’t have the same conversation you have with your best friend with your grandma would you? So don’t do it on social media either. Make sure that you connect effectively with each audience to maximise the success of your social media efforts.

It is important to set a social media plan to ensure that there is structure to your posts. Even though many people think that social media is spur of the moment and shouldn’t be thought about to much, there needs to be some sort of similarity in posts so you don’t veer of the mark too much. In order to make sure that there are guidelines, you should figure out the following:

  • Who is responsible for updating your social profiles

Try not to have too many people writing on social media profiles, if your company has a social media team, leave it to them, as silly as it sounds, tone of voice is very important. Consistency is important for keeping your readers interested.

  • How frequently your social profiles will be updated

Figure out a schedule and keep to it, your readers will appreciate the effort of consistent updating and enjoy the content even more.

  • What type of content you will post

It won’t make sense for your readers if you post something extremely serious or sales related to your brand and then post a picture of a puppy with no accompanying copy.

  • How you will use imagery in your posts

Will you include and image in every post? Will your content be mostly images? Imagery plays a big part in how engaging your post is. If a huge lump of copy is teamed with images to break it up, the more likely your readers will finish reading.

  • What tone of voice you will use when posting

This, to me, is the most important of all. If you are writing on a blog and using the tone of voice you would use when talking to your clients, you’re doing it wrong. Figure out whom you are speaking to and adjust accordingly.

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The worst thing a company can do, and I’ve been subject to it, is to delete negative social mentions. It WILL happen, you cannot please all of the people all of the time. I had a dragged out argument with Boohoo over the terrible customer service I had received regarding a problem on their end, and when I commented on their Facebook wall asking for some help because I didn’t know who else to speak to anymore, they messaged me privately and deleted my comment off their wall in order to save their reputation from taking a knock. I personally think that if you publically handle a negative situation, the better you appear to your consumers.

I am no professional when it comes to social media, and I don’t confess to be. I don’t think anyone should say that they are and if you find a method that works for you and your business, stick to it. There are no ‘rules’ that you should follow, and this post isn’t to say that you are doing your social media wrong, but simple hints and ‘guidelines’ to help improve your social media presence. I’ve done extensive research in to social media for the past year and a half, and always kept up to date since starting university in 2010. I did my dissertation on how to be influential on Twitter so I feel I do have some insight in to making it work!

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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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#fail

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Back in May of this year, a fantastic example of a really bad PR decision came from a company called Ferraro, better known as the creator of a very popular chocolate spread named Nutella. Any company who wants to move forward and use social media as a tool rather than fear the advances it brings, knows that you have to utilise any social media hype.

Nutella is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, and back in 2007, an American fan, Sarah Rosso, who lives in Italy decided to create World Nutella Day in order to show her dedication to the brand and maybe talk to some like minded people and just have a bit of fun with the Facebook page.

Fast forward to May 2013, and after 7 years of World Nutella Day, Ferraro decided that they were just not happy with the concept whatsoever and delivered a cease and desist letter to their #1 fan ordering her to shut down the fan page as there was a misuse of the brand.

The social media backlash to this was huge, after Rosso published the letter she received to the fan page she created, users took it upon themselves to comment on the official Facebook page for Nutella to express their disappointment in the way in which they went about this situation.

As I am someone who has grasped the concept of social media, and understand what it can do for a company, Ferrero completely missed a trick, not only were they receiving the benefits from a brilliant social media campaign, they were doing so for free with no work to do on their behalf! Stuff social media executives dreams are made of! Considering Nutella doesn’t even have an official Twitter feed, they should really have taken this in their stride and sent a letter of appreciation and a free jar of Nutella to Rosso at the very least!

After the huge social media backlash Ferrero went on to drop the cease and desist action which in turn saved World Nutella Day, head over to the website to see what it is all about, and prepare for the 8th World Nutella Day!

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Asking for trouble!

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Recently, British Gas decided that it would be a worthwhile task to hold a Q&A on their Twitter account with the hash tag #AskBG. Due to the recent news that they are raising their gas prices again, right before the cold winter months, leaving many people with the fear of being unable to afford bills, let alone hindering the elderly who struggle with the cold months as it is!

I don’t think that British Gas thought that they would receive as many replies as they did, a staggering 16,000 people took to Twitter to vent their anger using #AskBG.

This is one of the biggest PR fails I have seen in my time, with what should have been a great way for a major company to personally speak to their consumers, it suddenly turned sour and detracted from the main point of the exercise. It is these coming days/weeks that British Gas should be doing everything in its power to stop the buzz of ‘fail’ being associated with their company.

What crisis management would you suggest for British Gas?

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