Viral Campaigns

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

With a slew of effective viral campaigns for films in the last few years (check out Cloverfield’s brilliant original teaser and viral marketing here plus this intriguing site ) I am reminded of the intrigue they provoke in an audience and what amazingly good PR stunts they are.

Although the Cloverfield producers were not the first to promote their film through the use of nameless teaser trailers, found footage shaky- cam and an unknown cast (see the Blair witch Project), they did manage to demonstrate that mystery is one of the more successful ways of getting a public interested in your product. The “click here to find out more” premise is employed frequently in advertising and publicity and works so well purely because it assumes a level of interest on the audience’s behalf.

It doesn’t hit you with the hard sell and if anything the distance it keeps from the aimed audience is what catches their eye. Maybe it’s time for more virals and perhaps the model could be employed in more serious areas? It would be interesting to see what businesses and organisation outside of the entertainment industry could come up with in years to come.

Check this blog out for more viral campaigns that caught the public imagination:


Thank you for smoking: The PR villain

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

If there is any film that manages to make me simultaneously hate the PR industry and love the machinations of image and advertising it is the 2005 political satire Thank You For Smoking.

Depicting the efforts of tobacco spokesperson Nick Naylor to create a positive image of Big Tobacco, it is wonderfully cynical about both the anti- smoking groups and the tobacco industry itself. The wit of Naylor is what got me interested in Public Relations in the first place (see Naylor in amazing form here) but the message contained within the film (namely the harm that effective PR can do when it campaigns on behalf of a dangerous industry) worries me as to the image PR men are giving themselves and the profession at large.

The rise of the term “spin doctors” in the media to describe political public relations officers should indicate some of the disdain with which he media and some of the public have for PR men. Although as a profession they should be abiding by the principles laid out by the CIPR  and by an ethical framework that keeps honesty with the public at the heart of their operations, I wonder if the kind of public relations that Habermas had in mind- one of dual understanding between organisation/ government and the public is really present in this day and age.

The use of online social media (as already mentioned repeatedly in other posts) is bridging that gap and there is a sense that the truth is easier to gauge by comparing sources on the internet- also I suspect that organisations have little choice in the matter when using Twitter and Facebook as promotional tools- but the basic concept of public relations still seems elusive to me. Is there anyone who can suggest otherwise?

Online networking in journalism

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

We should all know by now the unfortunate fact that we are still living in an age where who you know can definitely replace what you know when it comes to gaining a job or even unpaid work experience. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the world of media and journalism.

The current job market sees more media students graduate than there are jobs in the entire industry, according to BBC radio Leeds presenter Andrew Edwards (see here).  With a higher number of degree students all fighting for very limited spots, the well- connected are always going to come out on top.

This is where the use of professional networking sites such as linkedin (get started here) come in handy. Allowing connections to be made to other industry professionals, showing off your CV and experience, and putting your profile in a concentrated place for editors and media professionals to see, these sites have become extremely popular for journalists and those looking to engage in PR and other aspects of the media.

Here is’s list of the top ten linkedin tools .

Obama, Twitter and political campaigning

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

It is rather telling that on February 2008 Senator John McCain raised $11 billion for his presidential campaign while Barrack Obama decided to skip any fundraising events and raised a respectable $55 million from online social networks. This move is indicative of the changing trend among politicians, who are now choosing to circumvent traditional means of running their campaigns. The image cultivated by Obama via strategic use of Twitter took advantage of the net as a place for the public to feel comfortable expressing political views (sometimes anonymously) honestly; a place where word spreads quickly and what “buzz” there is to be had is more palpable and easily measured than anywhere else.  To see the various ways in which Obama and his team employed the social media in depth visit: obamaFundraising

It is free and it requires the basics in household technology (i.e. a computer and Internet access). All of this enables politicians an edge over their less savvy competitors in both publicity and ensuring they are the first out of the blocks to express their views and policy.

This has been taken further in the case of the Iranian election protests where the anonymity, organisation of people and the unlimited political exposure that the internet provides had all but established an underground online Iranian democracy. As a tool for political and social campaigning live social media is second to none and is helping to establish democratic protest into a worldwide unified voice. Cases in point are the current uprisings occurring across North Africa and the Middle East.  Citizen journalism is so widespread now that up to date information from the ground is frequently being used to draw attention to issues and the truth of situations elsewhere in the world by broadcasters such as the BBC and across news sites.  This usage then usually prompts much faster responses from politicians and their PR teams on situation handling and the government’s political standpoint. Responding to the crisis in Libya was arguably made a lot easier by the existence of video evidence and citizen journalism emerging out of the country.

Convergence and the melding of PR and Journalism

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the last 5 years or so Facebook and Twitter have become extremely large and highly immediate public forums for political communication and the free exchange of ideas. Barrack Obama’s use of Twitter during the U.S. election could easily be said to have given him the upper hand due to the ease with which it made him personable and accessible to most of the voting population. Instead of traditional rallying and newspaper exposure, he circumvented these (and in doing so avoided the no man’s land of political conflict that regularly occurs in the press) entirely and engaged the voters at a base level which is almost impossible to do so without using a live social network.

The superiority of realtime social media has caused a massive shift in the way journalism is conducted. The dominance of news sites and the interactivity present (on in particular) has moved Public Relations and Journalism into the same sphere via converging media technology; multimedia phones are the norm now and internet access is at an unprecedented level meaning there is no other way to go for those professions concerned with audience reaction, participation and the managing/ analysis of reputation.

This is where Journalism and PR have converged at a literal level with the two worlds (not really that distinct from each other to start with) merging parallel to the merging of video, audio and text in recent years.

Are online PR tactics making traditional practice obsolete?

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

The exponentially rising use of online social media has ushered in a new era of public relations that can communicate ideas instantly to a tremendously huge audience and most importantly allow two- way communication to truly exist in its optimal form.

Strategic use of twitter, Facebook and forums has enabled users to shape their media and interact fully with businesses and organisations desperate to gauge the wants and needs of their audience.  It has created more fluidity in business practice and seems more in keeping with the fundamental principles of Public Relations:

(As laid out by CIPR:  here)

        I.            Dealing fairly and honestly with clients

      II.            Competence and appropriate skill

    III.            Transparency

    IV.            Confidentiality

Online practice enables this due to the option of anonymity, the ease with which you can create and the speed of service.

Of course online PR does have a number of disadvantages, namely a lack of exposure to certain demographics such as the older, less computer literate generations and suitability with regards to the type of site you use to achieve your objectives ( for example is hardly going to have an impact on anyone who is not involved in the music industry or in their early teens). Poorly implemented blogs can seem pushy or laughably unprofessional and the increase in microblogging (i.e. Twitter) demonstrates that real- time messages leave little room for mistakes- once it’s out on the web it can be a PR disaster trying to keep misinformed or idiotic  comments from making a mockery of a person or organisation.

Despite this, professional and competent PR officers (which they are expected to be in the 21st century) can engage with a wider audience than via traditional means; print media is slowly dying and internet usage allows real- time reactions from the public and cuts out the need for professionals to negotiate their way through the press or advertising agencies.

Hello world!

March 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

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