The past week has really highlighted the inherent dangers of building a brand around real people, notably sports stars.
Frist Thierry Henry, now Tiger Woods have shown how brand icons can morph into flawed individuals.
So what’s the damage ? Well it has to come down to how it’s handled. The professionals can make all the difference and I speak as a journalist not a PR guru. After all, with Tiger Woods, it’s not what he did or did not do , it’s the speculation that chips away at the brand. This weekend Twitter was full of wild gossip about what might have gone on. Flash-backs to OJ Simpson don’t make life any easier, although this is clearly no OJ case.
What the media crave and by extension all of us, is information. Anything from the Woods camp would help and today’s statement goes some way to fulfilling that need. Having said that, it is far from the full story and won’t quell the speculation.
Over at Thierry Henry HQ things are equally messy. As a brand icon for Gillette, (Woods is too, strangely enough !) Henry has inspired a Twitter war with PRs from a rival shaving brand. I urge you to visit http://greengathering.blogspot.com/ for the full Twitter exchange, basically it’s what happens when PRs collide !
Sports stars with their blend of skill, money and glamour will always attract advertising cash, whatever behaviour ensues. The challenge is for their handlers and PRs to develop a strategy involving all the platforms where they are being talked about, including Twitter. It seems those strategies are still in their early days.
So, anyway. I’ve started this great new hobby. I sing in a choir !
I know it sounds like I’ve turned into my mother but it is actually really cool. We sing gospel and Motown type stuff and once you stop feeling stupid it is very therapeutic. We ‘ooooohh’ and ‘ahhhhhhh’ as if we were member of the Supremes without the spangly dresses. A girl can dream.
If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this with you it’s because it is also a successful business. It’s a smart idea and the choirs are spreading. I should imagine that the copyright on the songs and arrangements is the biggest cost and once that is sorted, the more choirs you have the more income you can generate.
But even though I love it and admire the business model I have a problem.
As a member I am being asked to attend public events, which can only amount to free publicity for the brand, purchase branded clothing and listen to quite a lot of ‘heavy sell’. When a lot of people are handing over cash for an experience like this it would be better to take a slightly lighter approach and at least give members the illusion that they have a stake in it. If you take your customers for granted then they may vote with their feet.
I am signed up for another term, so I’m prepared to go with the flow for the moment. But never under-estimate the consumer, we need to be treated with respect.
I must tell you this great story ! It will confirm/revive your belief in the importance of top quality PR.
It involves the BBC but I’ll keep names out of it.
Some time ago a senior BBC manager got a scathing complaint from one of his users. In blunt language the gentleman told the manager exactly what he thought of him and his service. Nobody likes to get complaints, they’re boring to deal with and bruising when they’re directed at you.
But this particular manager is a shrewd character and he decided to deal with the guy straight away and in the most generous manner. He would invite the complainer down to London to have a go and see if he could do the job any better.
Brilliant. The guy came down to London and had a marvellous time. Not a word of complaint was ever heard again, in fact he became our manager’s biggest fan. Great PR has turned an enemy into an ally.
And what an ally. Several years later our manager’s salary appeared in almost every national newspaper, listed along with many others together with a good bit of editorial about overinflated salaries and wastes of space.
But who leaps to his defence ? Only the former ‘guest editor’ and reformed Mr Angry. He writes a letter of glowing praise to the BBC in which he claims that our manager is ‘worth the licence fee all on his own’.
Now that is how to win friends and influence people !
I am full of admiration.
At the risk of really annoying those of you looking for the real popstrel Britney I do have to just up-date you on my blog experiment.
If you remember I wanted to know, if by including the world’s most searched term in my post I could get more hits. Guess what ? I did ! This initiative doubled my hits to date.
I am not in the business of winding people up, so this will not be repeated.
But it does verify what people say about search terms and key words. Although, by also highlighting the words search terms and key words I did attract some spam from people trying to sell me Search Engine Optimisation advice. So that poses the question ‘was it Britters or was it the use of search-type buzzwords that got me the hits ?’
I’ll leave you with that.
If you read my blog you will get to meet Britney Spears, earn millions without spending a penny, find the secret to eternal happiness…
Are you with me yet ? I’m trying to work out how you get people to look at a blog and these things seem to be what vast numbers of people are interested in.
I’m not thinking about how you generate long-term followers, by the way, but simply how you persuade the casual browser to look at it for the first time. Whether you are using blogging as advertising for your personal brand, professionally for a company or just for fun, you need to know that someone looks at it, otherwise you are just talking to yourself !
So I reckoned that if I sprinkled a few key words or search terms around then I might get some hits ? It is purely experimental and I apologise now to anyone who has come here looking for Britney. I am more of a Lady Gaga girl myself. I will let you know how I get on and then we can talk about using search terms that are more relevant to our blogs but could also help us to generate that first peek.
Since I last posted I got caught up in a Twitter event, not quite the full storm, but exciting enough amd definitely worth sharing.
I have read a few articles in the press recently about Twitterstorms where the sheer weight of Twitter traffic around a single subject results in an outcome in the ‘real’ world. Secret injunctions around a case involving the dumping of toxic waste were forced out into the open after comments on Twitter. http://www.politics.co.uk/…/guardian-gagging-order-sparks-twitter-frenzy-$1333687.htm
and complaints about Jan Moir’s Steven Gately article reached record levels afer the Twitterati got on the case. http://www.editorsweblog.org/…/web_outrage_over_moirs_gately_article_se.php
So imagine my excitement when I started seeing comments building up around the subject #Sunfail. ( The hash-tag at the start collects all the posts on this subject together. ) It appears the Sun newspaper, which had spent the week savaging the Prime Minister for mis-spelling a hand written letter of condolence, had in fact been guitly of the same mis-spelling and there was a Twitterpic to prove it. People were re-twittering the story in large numbers which is the best way to get a topic ‘trending’, that is, in the top rank of talked about subjects on Twitter. What the international Twitter brigade made of it I don’t know, not much I suspect, it is a thoroughly domestic story. But it was being driven by comedians and as we know comedians viz Stephen Fry, are the very glitteriest stars in the Twitterati.
As an ex BBCer, I alerted my contacts to the story. They hadn’t heard it and promised to look into it. Wow ! I felt as though I had been directly involved in what Twitter is all about. Spreading news by word of mouth and getting stuff out there that isn’t necessarily being driven by the mainstream media.
However, there needs to be a little post script to this. Later that night the story showed up on Have I Got News for You http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mkw3
It would seem that the story was being Tweeted AFTER the show had been recorded. So in fact, the story came via the BBC in the first place, although not from it’s news room. I suspect the source was one of the show’s script writers.
Still, this has given me a working insight into how these events occur. If the right people are looking then campaigns can be rolled out, news can be pushed onto agendas, influence can be brought to bear. Twitter is certainly a player despite what the sceptics may say.
New media. Jungle. Finding your way.
That’s what we are all doing right ? So I am not alone.
I wanted to take this trip because I felt that somehow I was missing out. Twitter is never out of the news and if you don’t blog it seems you don’t exist. I was also interested in seeing how the new and especially social media could be used by business for PR and branding purposes. Is this just the latest fad or are we witnessing a totally new way of doing things ?
I think this is a question that organisations are still asking themselves. Many highly successful and established businesses just don’t see the point. One guy said to me ‘I don’t see how it will win us any new business.’
Well I want to find out. I used to be a journalsit for the BBC so I will apply my skills to sniff out the truth. I don’t actually have anything to sell except myself in the new media world, but since self-branding is one of the hot topics that interest me then that will be my start.
So I have my blog and my twitter account and I plan to get out there and see what I can make happen.
Follow me on my journey !