Thank you for having me. I’m a Brighton SEO speaker virgin. Be kind. I’ve brought Lego with me so I can bribe you for positive tweets hashtag #prfails
So this is me. I run Oxford based travel and leisure PR company Seriously PR. We’re a little bit PR, digital, writer, content marketers, we’re a bit SEO, bit creative, hopefully a bit different blah blah blah’. And so I’m going to share that experience in the form of five of my favourite PR fails, what we can learn from the and how to avoid situations like these plus what the brands could have done differently.
So let’s crack on with Lego.
Lego Mixels are awesome. Little pocket money toys, couple of quid, entertains you for 20 minutes as you assemble your new friend.
This chap is called Turg. And what did his bio on the Lego website say about Turg in June 2015?
An experiment that's gone very, very wrong”. The description continued: “Part frog, part chicken, part back-of-the-bus window-licker, this Mixel has the longest tongue of them all.”
So it might be funny. But is it clever? Can you list one or more organisations who are going to be on your back having a go? Yes you can.
So the takeaway here is that negative PR can very quickly fill up search results and its damn near impossible to replace or even disrupt that with positive PR. Why? Because good news doesn’t sell!
And despite what people might say, there is such a thing as negative. Why? Because there is a huge cost attached to recalling millions of little Turgs from every English speaking country in the universe.
Don’t Sanity check x 3 Hope it will go away Housekeeping on and offline
Do 1. Prepare a statement and stick to the message 2. Monitor search results and comments 3. Proactively contact the media and speak to editors about what you’re doing to fix the issue. Invite them to the factory 4. Engage customers – let them help to fix it – invite grown up fans to pick a new name from a shortlist – invite them to the factory. Grown ups who were offended. Invite public bodies/organisations who complained to rename/visit 5. Blame Turg – if all else fails, blame the toy – get Turg to record a video apology and be done with it!
Hilarious. Where to start.
Let’s go back to September 2012
I shop at Waitrose because…..
I don't like being surrounded by poor people
because Clarrisa’s pony just WILL NOT eat ASDA Value straw
Because in the Holloway Rd store I overhead a dad say ‘put the papaya down, Orlando’
A good social campaign with crowd sourced content and engagement can be a fantastic way to create not only awareness and website traffic, but also media exposure for a fun campaign and additional reach.
Understand brand perception first. If you know you’re opening yourself up to a mixed response, decide whether it’s worth it first. What do you stand to gain?
If you want to give people a voice, consider first whether you’re just giving people a platform to moan. Similar things have happened to brands like British Airways and Virgin Media.
Have a plan of action to handle abuse – you can turn a negative onslaught into positive PR – you have to be able to laugh at yourself. You’ve got to be clever.
Social media can’t be moderated. Everyone has a voice and opinion. Be wary of the consequences or you could end up christening a ship Boaty McBoatface.
One of the common themes here, both of these stories the lego mixels and Waitrose I shop at because campaigns - were covered heavily by Mail Online. And they are quite partial to a feel good story if a brand shows great sense of humour. They include hyperlinks back to your site and it’s pretty easy to get well pitched, well targeted content published.
Don’t 1. Monitor the outcomes first, are you actually gaining new traffic and customers out of the fail? 2. 3. 4. 5. Like Protein World were to customers who got in touch on Twitter about their beach body campaign. Basically told them to lump it.
Do. 1. Were these Waitrose customers laughing at themselves or Tesco customers mocking them. You’ve got to know where your social following is coming from to target a campaign properly 2. How can you repurpose content for multiple uses and maximum exposure 3. Go behind the scenes, introduce the floor and take the management team back to the floor, answering social enquires – would lead to great PR in itself. 4. 5
Instead should have shared their own content – funniest ever requests received by the social media team – would have made a great PR story, lots of online content and showed the brands human side.
In my opinion, Waitrose should have joined the fun and come back with ‘I work at Waitrose because…. And double it up as a recruitment campaign. Get staff to post their candid responses….. Or post a picture of a senior staff member wiping their bottom with 24c gold thread toilet paper (as reported by one respondent as the reason they shop at Waitrose) directing people to aisle 9 to find it.
Onwards. Epic fail.
All the way back in 1992 Hoover launched a promotion whereby you could get two free return flights to America if you purchased a £100 hoover vacuum cleaner or washing machine. No catches. You got the flights when you bought the Hoover.
Not only did people buy a Hoover, they bought two, or three!
Despite thinking they could offset the costs by selling ad ons and extras, the stunt cost Hoover $48m. They simply couldn’t meet the demand. A pressure group was formed – 8000 members strong at it’s peak – small claims court hearings were going on up and down the country, it was even debated in parliament. One unhappy customer even kidnapped a Hoover repair van when they came to fix the washing machine he’d bought in order to get his free flights!
It took 6 years to get to the bottom of every claim and case. It also saw the resignation of the entire management team.
Competitions and incentives are a great way to entice a new audience and capture data. But for a start, the numbers have got to add up, you’ve got to be able to fulfill demand. Otherwise it totally backfires and you end up with a mutiny on your hands. In this case, people boycotted Hoover in their thousands.
You’ve also got to be mindful of whether you are incentivising a warm or interested audience. Many social media campaigns are built around a competition or offer to boost numbers in the first instance.
The people that enter will never buy or share word of mouth. Couponers or compers or apparently ‘prize piggies’ as they’re sometimes called, live, breath and exist only online to enter giveaways and competitions. They are never going to click on your links, visit your website or come back another time to buy your stuff.
If Hoover did this kind of thing today, it would be the equivalent of a Groupon offer gone horribly wrong.
Lesson here – you can’t buy brand loyalty or engagement through a competition even if you can afford the $48m loss.
Don’t Be lured by voucher deals like groupon Have a clear comms strategy so no customer goes unanswered Look at a strategy in terms of how content can be used in multiple ways Be more creative – partner with travel hackers for example, find out the best ways to get cheap/free travel – dispell the myths. Build trust. Remember whenever you’re running competitions, polling opinions or surveying customers, the data is a key benefit.
Make sure the numbers stack up Have a crisis plan in place – who handles what, who writes statements On that note, maintain good media relations so that if something goes wrong you can pick up the phone and get your statement across Think about working with a very small number of really worthy winners – maximum PR, minimum outlay and risk How many hoovers would it take to power a plane?! Hoover vs Dyson
Oh yes – sexism in PR at its finest. Apparently, clever girls need a pink pen to be a success.
THIS YEAR. Yes this year in 2016 Bic sent out their pink biros to the ladies as part of the international women’s day celebrations. Queue much social media outrage.
So in an age when toy stores are abolishing their girls toy aisles and boys toy aisles, why would girls need a pink pen in life?
On Amazon they’re even described as ‘bic for her’!
Despite what you might think, thousands of glowing reviews – 5 gold stars!
Pages and pages of reviews like this:
My husband has never allowed me to write, as he doesn't want me touching mens pens. However when I saw this product, I decided to buy it (using my pocket money) and so far it has been fabulous! Once I had learnt to write, the feminine colour and the grip size (which was more suited to my delicate little hands) has enabled me to vent thoughts about new recipe ideas, sewing and gardening. My husband is less pleased with this product as he believes it will lead to more independence and he hates the feminine tingling sensation (along with the visions of fairies and rainbows) he gets whenever he picks it up.
Reviews on sites like Amazon are a fundamental part of online PR – the same as TripAdvisor reviews.
I’ll leave you to explore these Amazon reviews in full and consider which if any have been penned by the girly hands of Bic staff themselves in a bid to humour their own failure. Because they certainly haven’t taken them off sale.
I have to confess I’m slightly concerned though that they come back in a very manly sized box of 12. The explosion of hormones when you opened that in the post could be quite a risk…..!
Do Use video to apologise – be creative, take people back to the boardroom where the pink pen was born. Show what happened or could have happened and why it was wrong Best and worst pink things in the world – candyfloss, piglets yey, bic pink pens, ney. Turn outrage into a market research opp, ask people what they do want. Amazon What can you do next to turn a negative into a positive
So Asda’s PR agency published a list called ‘50 signs of being a mother’ The brand that puts mum first then went on to disclose that all mothers tend to..
Go to bed at 9pm every night and panic about a late night?! So if you see me running away from the bar at 8,55pm it’s because I turn into a gibbering wreck at 9pm because I had kids.
Own lots of comfy shoes. Choose comfort over style when choosing what to wear. OMG. Now don’t get me wrong, I think trainers rock, but come on.
Swear under their breath. FUCK. What?! Apparently as a mum I say sugar or fudge instead. I do fudging not.
How about doing something useful Asda and stocking your baby change with nappies and maybe a KitKat chunky for these ‘knackered mums’ you keep telling us about. That would be better PR.
Of course there was a great backlash from bloggers who published their own lists.
So, this was crowd sourced content apparently. Crowd sourced from the most pessamistic, glass half empty parents in the known land. The lesson here is that you’ve got to make your customers feel good about themselves. Not herd them all into one depressing flat shoe wearing, fudging category.
You are far, far more likely to encourage people to share content, write about it in a positive way if you a) tell them something great about themselves and massage the ego a little and b) tell them something useful that makes their lives better. Like a free kitkat chunky dispensing machine in all Asda baby change facilities. KitKat chunky is not a euphemism for what the baby has done in it’s nappy by the way, it’s a hearty snack for the busy parent.
Don’t 1. Test the survey results with a small audience first 2. Plan which publications you want to target around who your customer is – working mums, stay at home mums, dads, grandparents, singles – get it right 3. We’re not always right 4. If it’s not right start again. 5. How does the survey fit with the website, newsletter, social channels, video, offline, influencers – eg spin off for every mum that likes to be tucked up by 9, there’s one working till midnight.
Do 50 best bits of being a mum Spot the theme! Always about content. Take it in store, speak to mums, give them badges #amazingmum, make it social, create video Meet them talk to them, make them part of the brand, incentivise them to be your eyes and ears From that, get the angles right – what’s entertaining and informative to parents A brand like Asda needs to say it understands that every mum is different – nail that and maximise your PR efforts
Catherine Warrilow – BrightonSEO April 2016: Epic PR Fails and what we can learn from them
EPIC PR FAILS*
* And what we can learn from them.
Disclaimer: This talk may contain Lego and the occasional swear word.
1. Expect to replace bad
PR with good
2. Forget to sanity check
3. Ignore the situation
4. Leave historical
5. Let it stop creativity
1. Prepare a statement
2. Contact the media
3. Monitor search results
4. Engage customers
5. Blame Turg
Social engagement can’t be moderated
1. Understand the audience
2. Have a planned content
calendar & objectives
3. Maximise exposure
4. Showcase your social team
5. Join them if you can’t
1. Remove a campaign
2. Skip a work through of
3. Underestimate the size
of resource team needed
4. Be a corporate brand
5. Be rude to customers
You can’t buy brand loyalty
Do’s & Don’ts
1. Be lured by voucher deals
2. Leave people unanswered
3. Dismiss transparency
4. Forget about data capture
5. Ignore wider content
1. Reduce prize numbers
increase value of winners
2. Have a crisis plan
3. Maintain media relations
4. Be creative
5. Work through numbers
Don’t segment the market by gender
Do’s & Don’ts
1. Be an idiot
2. Be an idiot
3. Be an idiot
4. Be an idiot
5. Be an idiot
1. Use video
2. Use reviews as PR
3. Embrace the fail
4. Conduct market research
5. Plan out next steps
Tell your audience something good
Do’s & Don’ts
1. Forget to test it
2. Forgot target media
3. Assume the agency is
4. Use content anyway
5. Overlook where it fits
1. Start with positives
2. Go in store
3. Create more content
4. Get influencers on
Mum is always
1. Understand the customer journey
2. Have a targeted, methodical plan
3. Keep it simple
4. Have measured objectives
5. Fess up if you f*ck up
Get the deck: seriouslypr.co.uk/prfails
Disclaimer: Extra Lego Mixels for all positive comments
shared on Twitter #justsaying