Happy 10th Birthday, Facebook

Happy Birthday Facebook

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or, umm… aren’t on Facebook, you’ll probably know that Facebook turned 10 last week. It has changed our lives insurmountably, but also the face of consumer PR. What were once campaigns limited to traditional media and public stunts, are now a myriad of social media strategies, a dash for likes, fans and engagement, and making sure your social apps are tweaked to user-friendly perfection.

As part of the celebrations, Facebook offered users a chance to look back at their social media highlights, and compile this into a video. Tapping into nostalgia, particularly from a consumer angle, is an effective PR strategy, as this mirrors the activity and content users are creating themselves.

Entering its 11th year, Facebook is at an interesting stage. Much discussion is currently taking place about its decline- particularly with the teen market. However, many claim the older generation entering the Facebook world is providing it even greater opportunities for targeted consumer PR campaigns.

However you look at it, over the 10 years Facebook has developed, consumer PR has done so alongside it, bringing about more sophisticated ways of getting a product or company into the public domain. Some companies actually shun the traditional website in favour of a Facebook page, and while this is a bugbear for some, it speaks volumes as to how brands perceive the value of Facebook in attracting their audience.

With that in mind, please join us in raising a glass to Facebook on its 10th birthday. Even if it grows old disgracefully, Facebook will continue to impact the way we interact with brands and one another; inspiring creative campaigns, and some good laughs on the way.

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Food & drink PR takes a walk on the wild side

Food & Drink PR

An effective PR stunt caught my attention this week. Rentokil’s ‘Pop-Up Pestaurant’ was created to celebrate the brand’s 85years in pest control. The Pestaurant served up edible insects including wasabi weaver ants, BBQ grasshoppers and chocolate dipped bugs, as well as sweet chilli pigeon burgers, to thousands of City workers and hungry tourists.  This got me thinking about other PR campaigns which have used unusual food offerings to get us all talking.

With edible insect sales surging at Selfridges and a colleague who drank a cocktail infused with bacon fat because he fancied a change, perhaps we shouldn’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. Perhaps the more traditional food and drink PR approach of waxing lyrical about a product’s delicious taste is on the way out? Who can forget the notorious breast milk ice cream stunt from The Icecreamists, which trended globally on Twitter for two days and sparked over 1,200 pieces of coverage? Or the widespread coverage for the Eat Your Heart Out exhibition, which showcased STD cupcakes and a diseased lung gateau, amongst other anatomical amazements?

Unusual foodstuffs have an unparalleled ability to achieve blanket coverage with their yuck factor. So while not all of us will be keen to sample Rentokil’s pest delicacies, the brand has certainly still achieved its goal and then some. Its name is out there for all to see in national newspapers and the stunt is going down a storm on social media. When it comes to effective PR, it seems there’s a lot to be said for being, quite literally, on the tip of people’s tongues.

 

 

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Using shifts in Social Media usage for Consumer PR

Social Media Icons

 

As Gorkana revealed this week, A Social Media Agency has created a definitive list of the world’s 238 most used social networks. Although we all knew there were a fair amount of networks available, the sheer size and depth of this list suggests that brands could be exploring far more avenues to connect with consumers.

All good Consumer PR plans try to incorporate all or a selection of the big five Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and Pintrest.  However, campaigns could benefit hugely from taking time to determine whether there is a ready-made audience for their product on an overlooked Social Media outlet.  For example:  ever thought about buying a Happy Hour for everyone on Fubar to celebrate a new drink launch?

As well as exploring lesser-known sites, It is also worth thinking about how people use one form of Social Media in a different way to intended, and whether this is something that could benefit a consumer PR campaign. Buzzfeed recently reported that as teenagers are beginning to leave Facebook, they are structuring their use of Instagram as if it were Facebook, uploading primarily text based images in lieu of status updates, and creating conversation through the comments section. As opposed to an artsy image of a product, PRs could be mirroring this strategy, using the upload opportunity to create polls and conversation with a young, visual audience. This rounds out a campaign and gives a brand more personality.

Similarly, using one form of Social Media to gain popularity on another up and coming one is always a smart move. When Techcrunch pointed out early last month that Taco Bell had been driving its Twitter followers to follow them on Snapchat, they showed they had the tenacity to be flexible with Social Media opportunities.  Now they are sending mouth watering food pictures and fun doodled images to an idea consumer audience, engaging with them through a Social Media form currently enjoying a meteoric rise.

So the questions to consider are:

Which Social Media tools target your desired consumers?

How do your consumers use them?

What route can you take to build an audience on a new social media platform?

Making sure these three key questions are addressed at the beginning of any Consumer PR Campaign will help to create a good starting point for any Social Media strategy to develop.

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iTunes celebrates 10 years of effective consumer technology PR

This week, Apple celebrated the 10th birthday of iTunes, marking a decade since the tech giant changed the face of the music industry forever. As comfortably the largest music retailer in the world, iTunes has more than 435million users, who’ve downloaded over 25billion songs. It is easy to point the finger in Apple’s direction for destroying the UK’s high street music retailer. However, consumers made their own decision in the masses to buy music on iTunes, as opposed to spending their money on the ailing high street. Was it all down to clever consumer technology PR?

Entering the new millennium, Limewire, Napster and other illegal downloading sites were emerging as a major threat to the music industry, allowing consumers to download to their hearts’ content without paying a penny. Then iTunes entered the frame with a concept so simple, it would have been easy not to realise it didn’t exist already. Allowing people to buy music online, for 99p per song, to be put straight onto their already compatible iPod? Genius. Apple played what has become its signature game, hitting its consumer with a concept they had no idea was a crucial element to their lives until that very moment.

Following the birth of iTunes, Apple quickly learnt how to keep its simplistic PR ship afloat. The company kept attention-grabbing PR activity to a minimum, choosing to go all out for their very special milestones, rather than little and often. For example, to celebrate the online store receiving its one billionth download, Apple engaged with their loyal customer base by rewarding the lucky downloader with a 20” iMac, 10 60GB iPods and a $10,000 iTunes Music Card; a trick they continued to use for subsequent landmark downloads. The company recognised the strength of the world’s everlasting love affair with The Beatles, and leveraged it heavily after finally managing to secure the rights to sell their entire catalogue on iTunes. So much so, that did anyone even notice it had taken seven years to get there?

The key elements of iTunes’ success can be applied to any consumer technology PR campaign. Firstly, convince the consumer you have something they now cannot live without. Secondly, deliver that experience.  Thirdly, reward faithful customers and keep communications simple. Bring on the next ten years.

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How Food and Drink PR Can Inspire

I’m pretty lucky as a PR professional when it comes to food and drink PR experience and I’ve worked with some huge household brands which inspired me. Food and drink PR is so versatile it can be used to tap into all kinds of audiences, whether for educational purposes, events, adults, sustainability and more. In fact, I don’t think there are many areas that food and drink PR can’t reach. We all eat, we all drink, and there is a huge variety of ways in which it can affect our lives.

Some of the drinks brands I’ve worked with encouraged kids to improve their physical skills, like keepy-uppy, and sponsored UK wide pantomimes featuring celebrities and local children who auditioned for a part. I’ve also had the great fortune to work with a cereal brand with a famous face (not human) on the box. It fit perfectly with wrestling and, in fact, sponsored a very well known touring global wrestling event which inspired kids and adults alike. That’s not to say I haven’t had my fair share of more adult-focussed food and drink PR projects which are also tremendous fun.

My blog this week is all about how food and drinks brands can inspire, so I thought I would share a fantastic example from a global drinks brand which touched me (not in the literal sense). Boiled down, it’s a cash machine that tells people they can get 100 Euros with no card and asks them to share it with others, giving several options such as hiring a storyteller for local kids, buying nappies for women etc. under no obligation. It’s had almost half a million views and, though no one actually had to share the money, there’s been a lot of lovely feedback videos of people actually sharing their find. Thanks to PR Examples for pointing out this inspirational idea.

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