Has Kate Moss Finally Overstepped the PR Mark?

23 11 2009

Already on her last legs with publicity faux pars, Kate Moss has this week placed herself back into hot water with a pro-anorexia comment.

Kate claims one of her mottos is “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, resulting in a huge outcry from eating disorder charities.

This latest outcry has created a huge Twitter debate, Newspaper articles galore and yep, a whole lot of blogging!

Modeling agency Storm, who represent Moss, said: “…of course Kate’s words had been misinterpreted.

“This was part of a longer answer Kate gave during a wider-ranging interview, which has unfortunately been taken out of context and completely misrepresented,” the agency said in a statement. “For the record, Kate does not support this as a lifestyle choice.”

Not the first time Kate’s PR team has had to fight her battle, last year the cocaine drugs scandal story initially threatened to break her winning streak before being turned around and coming out on top. Even winning her new contracts with top fashion brands.

But this story seems bigger. High profile celebrities are turning against her – Denise Van Outen fumed: “Kate Moss is talking out of her Size Zero backside”. While ex-Ultimo Katie Green claimed: “There are 1.1million eating disorders in the UK alone. Kate Moss’s comments are likely to cause many more.”

With this years media coverage and heavy campaigning against the use of ultra-thin models, can it be certain Kate will survive yet another PR disaster?

Maybe this time, because public relations techniques are stronger than ever. With the integration of viral and online media to her already commendable campaign – it’s fairly certain she’ll survive in the fashion world purely on credibility. But continuing to act as a role model for youngsters and mothers is not such a secure path.

Could public relations recover the fashion queen through her next mistake?

As they say…three strikes and you’re out! So Miss Moss watch out.


Viral Campaigns Increasing Exposure length

17 08 2009

Since T-mobile danced in Liverpool Street Station and Cadbury drummed with a gorilla, viral campaigns have become increasingly feasible for inclusion in corporate public relations strategies due to there ability to increase the length of, what would usually be, short-term news.

In the past 30 days – 4 out of the top 20 Viral Video Chart are company promotion:

– Number 3. Evian ‘Live Young’

– Number 9 & 14. Nike ‘Today was a Good Day’ and ‘Extended Version’

– Number 11. Kuroshio Sea ‘2nd Largest Aquarium Tank’

Yes we also see featured the standard wedding dance, music video previews and funny animal too, but from where I’m sitting…4 out of 20 is astonishing.

Looking specifically at the joy that are the Evian babies – we se from the below chart that not only are they being emailed and talked about, the watched count has been exploded with additional help from 3632 bloggers (3633 now) and 17551 comments to reach an impressive 24798637 views.

Evian Video Campaign

Evian Video Campaign

It can still be a difficult, technical and not to mention risky marketing tool to use for small businesses but the following case study sent to me this week, may install hope to those. This online green gardening store demonstrates how the video, viral marketing tool can be adapted to suit the niche business and doesn’t need to be shocking, hilarious or celebrity-based to get coverage across the web –a little quirky helps though!

Wiggly Wigglers created Wiggly Podcast and Wiggly Cinema – available on iTunes and their website, to boost traffic to the website and share gardening and general ‘green’ information with the Wiggly Community. Since launching the social media campaign in 2005, they have received over 100 5-star reviews, great coverage and recently won the Global Small Business Excellence Award! Not a bad outcome at all for a £250 start-up marketing budget.

They have also implemented a blog, Facebook and Twitter site – updated regularly with industry news, gardening tips and quirky thoughts. This campaign should be a hugely positive and uplifting starting point for other SMEs out there. No excuses from those readers worrying they’re not ‘techy’ enough either – Wiggly Wigglers owner and online marketing coordinator, Heather Gorringe, is a farmer.

On a final note and referring back to the extension of promotion length – viral campaigns mixed with social media = PR future.

Where did I leave my digital camcorder anyway…?

Happy Monday,


We’re all going on a summer holiday – looking forward to long airport queues!

13 08 2009

An Investigation into the Perceived Management of Terrorism Crisis and Post-crisis Communications in Small Airports

Getting down to some serious research business in these next few posts so get your reading glasses on and probably best to brew a strong Earl Grey too. Building upon my dissertation research from my university days, I’ve decided to re-visit the topic of airport security and crisis communication smack-bang in peak holiday time.

Here’s a brief overview of what you’re letting yourself in for…

In the aftermath of 9/11 the issue of airport security became one of the most important challenges facing the world tourism industry.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the perceived management of crisis and post-crisis communications in the event of a terrorist attack in smaller UK airports, specifically comparing Southampton, a small BAA airport and Bournemouth, a small MAG airport.

The key aims for this research, to be researched through secondary and primary resources, are to identify the current level of crisis planning within the specified airports, assess the communication channels used to publicise the plan and security rationale and to establish the passenger comprehension of the airports communication methods.

The principal findings of this study were that airport crisis management is reactive in its communication methods and security procedures. When researching the current airport communications it was discovered that airports do not always use the most appropriate communication channel for their audience.

It was also found that passengers understanding of increased security measures after a terrorist attack were high but that it fades shortly after. The results showed that passenger awareness of current security levels was fairly poor. Therefore, it was concluded that security communication needs to justify the reasons behind increased security in more simple terms.

My main aims were:

  1. To identify and critically evaluate the current level of crisis planning, relating to terrorism, within smaller UK airports.
  2. To establish and assess the communication channels used by these airports to publicise the crisis plan and improved security rationale to its passengers.
  3. To synthesise the overall confidence and comprehension of the airport‘s communication methods in regards to its customers.
  4. To establish the perceived source of blame for extensive airport delays.

I’ll be sharing in more detail my findings based around each aim over the next few weeks and would welcome your feedback to expand upon my study. Especially if you work within the airport environment, have experienced poor communications or are a PR professional with an opinion on the topic.

I’ve heard the weather’s meant to be lovely this weekend, I’m planning a picnic in Hamstead Heath. Enjoy the sunshine!


*Please note – there will be no talk of ‘poor security’ measures or similar – it is purely discussing the communication within airports.  Not to mention the fact I am off on a 9-hour flight to Antigua in 3 weeks time and do not want to be informed of any security mishaps thanks!

Pessimistic Publicity – how social media can create and combat customer complaints

5 08 2009

It’s ultimately what everyone from the one-man band to the household brand is dreading – a negative review, comment or news story. Careful planning and an honest mind are essentially the basic steps to avoiding this, but not everyone can get it right. We can however learn from their mistakes and follow basic steps to leave your worries behind…

When Habitat UK decided to jump on the Twitter bandwagon in June they spotted what they thought would be a great way of appearing in popular search – by adding #hashtags at the beginning of their Tweets…that had absolutely nothing to do with them! Even inserting keywords linked to the current state of unrest in Iran which, lets be honest, should be against any corporate policy.

What was @HabitatUKs response when they were found out? (Set your face to shock) They deleted the offending Tweets and released a statement blaming an intern a few days later. Ouch.

“The hashtags were uploaded without Habitat’s authorisation by an overenthusiastic intern who did not fully understand the ramifications of his actions,” a spokesman said.

In contrast, Dell has seen nothing but positive coverage about their customer service response team working on Twitter. They employ two people full-time to scan and monitor the social networking scene for any complaints or reported issues and deal with them quickly. Hey presto!

So what could HabitatUK have learnt from Dell and how you should act in a crisis…

  • Firstly, immediately apologise by releasing a statement
  • Admit to the mistake – don’t pass the blame on an intern
  • @replied everyone who made a comment to them about using #hashtags
  • Internally build an action plan to ensure this never happens again
  • Run a campaign on Twitter to improve communications and build brand within the community

As you can see, it’s not rocket science! Yes social networking is a great, instant promotional tool to integrate but while it’s in the early stages, mistakes are easily made because companies expect instant results. Just like traditional PR, advertising and any other type of marketing…reputation is developed over a long period of time but can be ruined in minutes. Take care, check and double-check please.


Social Networking Staying Power

28 07 2009

Twitter is just over two years old and already ranked in the top 50 visited websites (http://alexa.com).

Although there are around 5000 new accounts each day – a recent Nielson Online report shows that just 40 percent of users return month-on-month. So at this immature stage it’s already having issues retaining Tweeters.

How long will it last and what does the Twitter team need to do? I think specify the aims…

In the office we’ve had many conversations about Twitter and how effective it can be, but most importantly, what it will evolve to and how. Currently it is used as a push tool and it hasn’t got to the stage where businesses can easily find just who they’re looking for and block who they’re not! For it to succeed in the corporate world and for your business, ask yourself:

  1. Who would want to follow me?
  2. What am I giving them?
  3. What am I gaining from them and am I using this information?
  4. Is my account balanced or am I just sell, sell, selling?
  5. My favourite – why have I decided to use an automated follower option when the ones I receive infuriate me?

Webformula recommend using a combination of promotional tools, comments on industry news and only tweeting between two – eight times each day, with at least an hour in between. Apparently the Government agrees after reading their White Paper on Twitter today!

The next stages are the most difficult, but typically produce the real results. How many of us are really utilising the tool by engaging and using good-old two-way communication? Be honest! I’m guilty of it myself – having the time to monitor conversations about your industry and get involved is easier than it sounds.

With the thousands of follower applications being thrown around, this ‘social’ networking site is becoming unsociable and very impersonal. Yes, businesses need to improve their follower list…but whatever happened to quality verses quantity? This applies to your following list too! It is so obvious when businesses are just adding here, there and everywhere.

Relevant following/followers = credible Tweeter.

For me personally, I think it is too complicated, un-regulated and should certainly be sectioned into countries because I’m forever looking for UK businesses and coming across worldwide results that are no use to me. I hope there will be an application launched soon that helps the corporate B2B and B2C markets search that are no use to me in a more advanced manner and we can see Twitter develop into a long-term integrated marketing tool.

I would love to hear any success stories for new business relationships developed through Twitter so do get in touch.

This will most probably be my last blog of July so I’ll catch you all in August!



Reputation management: monitoring, tracking and communicating through Social Media

17 07 2009

In simple terms, reputation management is the process of observing the marketplace’s perception of your brand. Since the boom in social media this process has evolved to become a whole lot more complicated…

So where to start?

Firstly, regular monitoring of hotspots such as industry-focused forums, expert blogs, social networking sites and Twitter is a number one priority. Are relevant topics being mentioned in depth? Scan previous posts and use RSS feeds to persist with the analysis. Yes, I’m not going to deceive you it does take time and there is much scrolling through, reading and listening – which is the key term in this method.

Once you’ve collated a list of relevant mediums, don’t just jump in with the hard sell. Be a person. This does not mean in any shape or form – lie about who you are, read these corporate blunders if you’re even considering it: http://webformula.amplify.com/page/4/#. Believe me, it will come back and bite you where it really hurts. Approach the conversation with care and build up friendships within the groups. It isn’t bad practice to just ask if they are open to talking about your business.

If you’re thinking of starting your own online community, there are steps to help you succeed; stroke a few egos, ask questions, acknowledge good work and accept and respond to criticism (for full article http://webformula.amplify.com/page/3/#).

If you are planning to use social media as a push tool and wish to distribute content – developing relationships with online editors and bloggers is the next step. This can be of huge importance when addressing opinions. One thing to note here is the importance of understanding the formality changes when dealing with online communication – sending a blogger a standard press release will not work. Read their blog, know their style and adapt!

Finally and most significantly, being pro-active around comments and feedback made about your business is the key to successful online reputation management. Responding quickly and efficiently can prevent a situation exploding.

Tools to be used for monitoring:

RSS subscribers, BlogPulse, Twitter mentions, links and ranking in Technorati, unique visitors to your site per month and comments on forums.

I know there are many sceptics out there who still are yet to put their faith into social media because it currently still presents challenges (or as I see it stumbling blocks) – in audience segmentation, fragmentation and the crucial keyword, Return-on-Investment. To me, it all boils down to the ‘change’ factor. We don’t like it! But the point I’m making in this post is that no, social media hasn’t been defined yet and no, there aren’t experts in the field and still no, the influence of a blog mention cannot compare to an article in a national newspaper but it can reach out virally to an like-minded audience if you do the research

Ultimately, at this stage of the lifecycle, social media campaigns can’t completely replace traditional media. It can however, enhance it.

The Online Marketing Show 2009

17 07 2009

There were a lot of Buzzwords being ‘pinged’ about at the OMS last Tuesday: customer involvement, optimised content, social media marketing, Twitter, SEO, iPhone applications and the usual ‘Ws’ to name a few. What I found most interesting however was ‘test and learn’. After a week at Glastonbury this seminar was enough to keep me entertained (which as you can imagine is a hard act to follow).

The mantra of LastMinute.com’s communication team, ‘test and learn’ seems like the sensible, straightforward and rather common sense approach to a strategy. So why are so many organisations still struggling to get it right?

Firstly, the company aim is simple – thinking of better ways to make your free time go even further. Last Minute.com then trim their communication objectives down to four and ensure each action meets all or a combination of them:

  1. Time-related
  2. Personalised
  3. Relevant
  4. Location-based

From my perspective, this case study demonstrates how easy it is to bring traditional communications online – a concern for many businesses looking to embrace new techniques.

Most significantly for Last minute.com, developing iPhone applications such as nearu and fonefood (both are downloads to search the local area for activities) have enabled them to address all objectives together – a task which is traditionally difficult to achieve. Incorporating Twitter into the marketing mix has also enhanced newer initiatives of the business like the Reviews section and increased traffic remarkably. When Tweeting, they research 1-on-1 conversations about Last Minute.com and what’s being Re-tweeted as well.

It wasn’t just their clear strategy that impressed me either. Their dedication to customer and market-related research is phenomenal, as are the monitoring and evaluation sectors of the business – something I will be discussing in my next blog posts. Knowing what’s working and what’s not on demand is one of the best elements of online marketing and I’ll continue to bang-on about it!

Overall, it was a great event and I hope everyone else found it useful.

Look out for me and the rest of the Webformula team at next years event.

* Test and learn – attract and retain consumers in this ever-changing market with Simon Thompson, European Managing Director

Have a great weekend! I’m off to Bristol to check out the Banksy exhibition.