Corporate response in good taste

Being prepared for the unexpected is an asset within every marketing team, but being prepared to have your brand (or your client’s brand) used to express a political position is not something you would expect.

Last week however, that is precisely the challenge presented to Wrigley’s America when Donald Trump Jr. chose to use Skittles to visually demonstrate an analogy about the Syrian refugee crisis.

picture2The tweet and its associated image (which has since been removed) stated bluntly: “If I offered you a bowl of Skittles and told you three were poisoned, would you take a handful?”, garnered nearly 30’000 mentions by that evening. The majority of responses, however, were (thankfully) disgusted by the comparison and poked fun at Trump’s campaign.

In contrast, Denise Young‘s response as Wrigley America’s VP of Corporate Affairs showed the company took the matter seriously, issuing the following statement.

“Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.”

– Denise Young, VP of Corporate Affairs, Wrigley’s America.

Not only was this thoughtful statement quickly shared by Wrigley’s team, but its humble avoidance of getting caught up in any kind of political drama is a credit to how occasions like these should be handled, and likely increased the public’s trust and respect of the brand.

Props to you Wrigleys. Excuse me whilst I go buy some Skittles.

EDIT:

To reflect the fact that ‘The Donald’ still hasn’t quite learnt his lesson regarding including brand references in his comments, we’ve been graced with this gem from TicTacUSA.

picture1 For all those who haven’t seen the latest video release showing Trump claiming in 2005 that he’s “got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case [I] start kissing her,” (referencing Days of Our Lives actress, Arienne Zucker), continuing to say, “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet.”

Gross.

 

 

Tweeting the referendum. Who shouts loudest?

As #Brexit and #Bremain gather momentum ahead of next week’s vote, it goes without saying that the EU referendum is the hottest topic in UK politics right now; one which – unless you’ve been living in a cave in the Outer Hebrides – has been impossible to ignore.

Whether it’s opening a newspaper, switching on your TV or listening to the radio, it seems like everyone has jumped on board to share their viewpoint(s), whether they are a politician, business leader, a famous musician or even (apparently) a fictional character.

The conversation online is no different and is (in many respects) even more intense. As covered in my Masters thesis (where I analysed the Conservative’s use of Twitter in the 2015 election), the rise of the digital world is keenly changing how people participate in political discourse and activism.

What could all this data teach us about how politics works?

Well the area  I’m personally super psyched about, is that it teaches us about the tactics political parties and politicians use to fight elections online, both in terms of their individual objectives and the way in which they approach each platform (not to mention how effective they are compared to their peers/rivals), but also how they perceive the platform itself (as just another soapbox or an opportunity to open a dialogue with their audiences).

ANYWAY, every hour of the referendum campaign, thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of messages flood Twitter, either as short statements arguing one side or the other, or sharing the latest campaign image or publicity stunt. Although this shows that social media is drawing people closer to politics (allowing new opportunities for politicians, journalists to engage with their publics), its simultaneously increasing the number of distinct influence/ego networks around key media outlets, campaign groups/members, or commentators such as those referenced by leading cross-party think-tank, Demos.

Alongside ITV’s Peston on Sunday program, Demos has also conducted a fair bit of research over the last few months at how UK politics is being discussed on Twitter, analysing approximately 100,000 tweets sent to or from UK MPs containing EU referendum hashtags.

They not only found 10,000 more tweets sent between the 4th and 10th of June compared those sent the previous week but that the result is largely down to the shocking rate of tweets sent by those supporting #Brexit (three times the number compared to those in favour of #Bremain).

By excluding all ‘Other’ chatter (approximately 50% of tweets), their research also showed the different focuses of each movement, with Remainers emphasising the economic benefits of staying in the EU compared to our position outside it, and Brexiteers more keenly stressing the issues of immigration and sovereignty – which, when you think about it, isn’t all that surprising.

Still though… I have a fascinating new resource to follow and wanted to share it all with you because let’s face it, nerding out needs to be shared 🙂

 

Hot off the press!

To PR people, the concept of not keeping up with the news is unthinkable.

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Source: KellyB. (Flickr)

Whether its via broadsheets, tabloids, online or offline, keeping on top of the latest news is a key part of our day. How else would we be able to follow all the developments in current trends, let alone see the opportunities or face the challenges that might influence our clients’/employer’s brand(s).

I even know of one girl studying for her masters in PR whose primary source of news was Instagram – something that deeply shocked me until I realised that (given her passion for celebrity fashion and beauty trends) it was actually a pretty understandable outlet for what she wanted.

That being said, when I read this article over at Clareville Communication‘s blog, I was stunned to find that a whopping 10 per cent of Brits don’t keep up with the news and that this number DOUBLED in the last year alone.

*ENDLESS FACEPALM*

What is going on Britain? There is more to life than Celebrity Big Brother and what little ‘news’ that works its way onto Facebook to be scrolled over for want of yet another prank/cat/baby video.

Check it out anyway and let me know what you think and why you can (or can’t) be bothered.

 

Check out this CIPR event!

CIPRevent1

CIPR Midlands is giving you the opportunity to hear from a range of video content experts who can advise on getting the most from video content.

Not only will you get to hear from Vermillion Films MD, Lee Kemp, and Rob Glass from Flotilla Video Training, but you’ll also get the chance to see a campaign showcase of inhouse and PR agency work incorporating heavy use of video content, as well as take part in an expert Q&A where you can quiz the experts themselves.

What’s more, if you’re a CIPR member, you’ll not only get a cheeky discount (lowering the price to a mere £19.75) but attending will also earn you 5 CPD points!

WHEN: Tuesday, 2 February 2016 from 18:30 to 20:30 (GMT)

WHERE: Vermillion Films – 20 Victoria Works. Vittoria Street. Birmingham B1 3PE

Book at Eventbrite

 

The top three WORST things you can do as a PR graduate

People can be their own worst enemies sometimes, and new grads are no exception. In fact, I believe new graduates can be very hard on themselves. After finally getting over the stress of your final year at university, you’ve now ticked that academic box of (hopefully!) success and have been firmly thrust into a dauntingly big pond. *Hint: You are the little fish.

There’s an awful lot of competition out there and everyone is vying for attention; so, rather than adding to the swathes of articles/blogs/columns touting what you *should* be doing, I have made a list of the top three worst things a grad can do to damage their chances and nailing that sought-after role.
1) Assume you have nothing left to learn

This is key. Don’t be arrogant and assume that now you’ve graduated or attended a prestigious school that you’ve got nothing left to learn. PR degrees have become increasingly popular over the last few years and although some of them are very good (I like to think my MSc was), you don’t need one to start a career in PR.  In fact, you don’t need a degree at all.

Yes, you’ve earned that certificate saying you know about your subject but knowing the theory for why something works doesn’t always translate into being able to do absolutely everything entailed in a role.That often only comes with hard graft and experience.

Employment is a learning curve but common areas for personal growth once in a PR role include:

  • Phone skills and ‘selling in’ to journalists.
  • Email Etiquette for different stakeholders depending on your/your agency/client’s relationship with the recipient.
  • Technological capabilities – There is a HUGE number of programs and tools out there that you won’t have had access to whilst as a student.
  • Client management
  • Confidence in your abilities – This is something that comes with time but being a new hire and a new entrant to the industry understandably comes with a bit of insecurity and if you’re like me that means you might overthink things on occasion. Trust in yourself and and don’t be afraid to ask for help/support/a second pair of eyes.

2) Sell yourself short

That being said, don’t let yourself feel that you need a degree from a prestigious college to be successful, or that you need to live up to your peers’ achievements or that you need to have all these skills going in. Without sounding trite, everyone has their own journey and although yes it might feel frustrating to feel like you’re struggling, good employers will make a point to support new hires in building these skills. After all, it’s a win-win.

It’s a balancing act of acknowledging your areas for improvement and demonstrating the confidence, initiative and passion for the industry you want to succeed in. A lot of the time it’ll really come down to being willing to learn so have confidence in yourself and go in to interviews with a positive mindset.

 

3) Disengage from your personal brand 

This is something I will openly admit that I personally struggled with once I started working. Managing all of my personal branding and research on top of a jam-packed professional day was difficult to adjust to, particularly given that I was also battling long commutes and a landlord with a vendetta against modern technology…

Seriously… no wifi?! How is a girl supposed to connect with the world?!

It should come as no surprise that my mobile data plan was wiped out within days…

The first tip for countering this is to try taking some time out of your weekend to write. Depending on what you can juggle around, you can either write a post a week just giving updates or you can write a few posts and then schedule them to be published during the week whilst you’re at work – the latter being more successful in practice for us PR folks I think.

As for my second tip, it isn’t really what I’d call a tip but more of a tool.

*Disclaimer: If you haven’t come across ‘If this, Then that‘, prepare to have your mind blown!

IFTTT (as it’s more commonly known) is an online and mobile app that connects your platforms to each other and basically does what it says on the tin with very little in terms of faffing.

Once you’ve set up your preferences the way you like, the app will automatically respond to you doing ‘this’- ‘this’ being anything from uploading a picture to Instagram or posting a Tweet – by doing ‘that’ whether its sharing that photo on your blog (*See below) or sharing a blog post to Facebook.

It’s a great way to make sure you integrate all your online platforms so that your online profile is consistent and up to date.

Getting your proverbial ‘ducks’ in a row is really very simple with a little bit of planning and once you’ve managed it, it’s even easier to fire off those CVs, wow the recruiters, and nail that all important interview.

If you’d like to look at a more comprehensive list that relates to both senior and junior professionals, I highly recommed Edelman’s latest post.