Brand Reputation: Is this the beginning of the demise of One Direction?

Well, they couldn’t stay squeaky clean forever could they?

Let’s remove opinion about their music and have a look at this in a PR context. Britain’s latest x-factor global export has been milking the boy band cash cow for a solid 4 years. Without a doubt they have created an extremely strong brand that transcends language and cultural barriers. Merchandise has gone nuts as every teen worth their salt grapples for a piece of the 1D phenomenon. Their initial stakeholder targeting of the youth pop market was tried and tested and worked to rocket them into the global limelight. But like their child-hood starlet predecessors, Britney, Bieber, Lohan and even Take That, eventually the sugar coating wears off.

Stakeholder salience theory was adhered to but they have fallen in to the classic trap. Salience theory does not consider stakeholder changes over time. Not only do you have a rapidly evolving 1D audience (Yes, boys now like them too!) but the audience and the band itself is growing up. How do the young men evolve from their boyish pop persona? Why of course, like many before them they will play with the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable. The chaps are apparently pictured with a rather large joint. We could discuss the drug debate but that’s opening up another can of worms’ altogether. Let’s not go down that slippery slope on this occasion. There’s a lot of other ethical concepts and consideration to be made here. What this does do though is tarnish their whiter than white image. Will you still love them if they are ‘bad boys’? If their PR team does a good enough job at fixing their reputation you will!

You're going to need more puppies and cable knit boys!

You’re going to need more puppies and cable knit boys!

Not even an exclusive Radio One Big Weekend interview could shy the media away from the content in a leaked video taken in Peru (I can’t verify the video, these opinions are all my own etc!). If you haven’t seen it. Have a peek here.

As a role model to children and teens everywhere, it’s impossible to measure the effect this will have as their reach is so large. Louisot and Rayner state that good reputation is achieved when expectations are consistently met or exceeded. So far for 1D that’s been golden, however this little escapade has planted the seeds of doubt. I’m pretty sure that any parent in any country will not condone drug use (whether the band were smoking drugs or not, the connotation and implications are enough to instigate parent alarm bells). Will this have an impact on their popularity and reputation? Only time will tell.

I can’t even say I’m surprised at this ‘revelation’. They aren’t the first or the last. No doubt someone somewhere is being fired for leaking the footage, unless it was the band member themselves, in which case, smacked wrists from the management team are coming your way! Simon Cowell has a kid of his own now, might this cause him to consider how much pressure he’s putting on the continually touring band? Can we blame the management and unrelenting work schedule? Or perhaps you think ‘lucky so and so’s living the dream’? Whatever your opinion, can you say you are surprised or shocked?

My biggest shock came at the two band members sneering at their fans. Lads, don’t forget who pays the bills, it’s those kids and the parents with the pennies. You could easily be outranked by a cartoon pig in the blink of an eye. Fame is fickle.

I’m sure there are some media moguls who have been working very hard round the clock to create a strategy to deal with this crisis and to repair the damage to the 1D brand. Perhaps I’m wrong and they are revelling in even more coverage. All publicity is good publicity, right?

If they do try and repair any damage that’s been done I wonder what path they will take? Will they acknowledge it in a carefully scripted PR statement or press release? More charitable activities? Or perhaps they will brush it under the carpet as ‘just a cigarette, the boy’s were just mucking about!’? Public relations, reputation management and crisis communications are clearly key to repairing damage but it leads me to think what apsects and skills must be drawn upon as a new PR practitioner. Does the added dimension of ‘celebrity’ change how you would deal with the situation compared to an organisation or service? Crisis communications state that communication is key but we are yet to hear anything from the 1D camp. It’s been a wee while now, time’s a ticking team Syco! It will be interesting to see how they handle this matter and how they recover and rebuild the damage caused to their reputation. Lessons to be learnt by all.

 

(I will add that this is just an opinion on activities that may or may not have happened, before one of 1D and Syco’s legal team beat me financially into oblivion. My main concern is with the PR activity and what actions you should take in a crisis to repair brand reputation when it’s damaged.)

But first, let me take a #Selfie…is this the ultimate in Vanity PR?

At the moment you cannot avoid it. There is even a song about it. From no make up versions to power pouts, it’s a trend you can’t seem to escape and it looks like it’s going to be around for a while.

But first, let me take a… The Chainsmokers and the infamous #selfie song!

But first, let me take a… The Chainsmokers infamous song!

Love them or hate them, you have to question what kind of culture they are fostering online? And is it restricted to gender? Tragically a man recently became a selfie recluse and tried to kill himself when he couldn’t obtain what he deemed to be the perfect picture. It’s an extreme example, but an example none the less. This sounds like it has taken the form of addiction but in the case of Eat Pray Love star, James Franco, he know’s exactly what he’s doing. An article in Marie Claire has researched that he is full aware that in the age of hyper-connectivity and online noise, attention is power. Cornelissen, author of Corporate Communciations: a guide to theory and practice, identifies a power, urgency and legitimacy model when it comes to stakeholder salience. People taking selfies can become powerful stakeholders if they gain adequate enough attention. Last night James Franco posted an almost nude and very odd selfie and removed it an hour later (Marie Claire have captured it though, take a look). What did it create? Attention, everyone’s currently talking about…James Franco. Everyone will be paying attention to his twitter account for a little while, so whatever he says is going to have an enhanced focus and a larger reach and therefore when you are trying to be heard amongst the crowd this can be a powerful tool. Large companies are starting to recognise that they could potentially be a profitable trend too. Samsung have identified that selfies are powerful and have decided to capitalise upon it releasing a selfie-specific camera. To be fair, the camera is actually very cool, with some super features, but it does lead to asking the question what or where next for the selfie?

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Space selfies already exist – what next?!

There is also the element of people who are fishing for compliments. Cancer Research UK not only identified this trend but also harnessed it as a PR campaign, which ultimately used vanity PR and converted it into direct donations, the charities main aim. It played upon women empowerment, image and personal identity. By women posting not only were they saying they were confident enough to show the world their face make up free, warts and all but they could also align themselves with being a better person, it just screamed ‘Look everyone, not only am I confident, but I’m generous!’ Through the nominations aspect, other women questioned their peers, willing them to participate, but are they really asking ‘Are you a confident and generous person too?’ No one wants to be seen as insecure or a scrooge! Ultimately it generated a lot of money for charity, which can only be a good thing, I’m just not sure I fully agree with the method, but no one can deny it was a clever PR campaign.

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‘THAT’ Oscars selfie!

Do you pout?

Do you pout?

Or do you look longingly?

Or do you look longingly?

Having not grown up in the age of the selfie I can’t help but think of the impression it may have had on me. Teen Vogue take a psychological stance and address the issue of low self esteem recommending a shift in perspective if all you are looking for are comments. The advice they give is healthy, they don’t say selfies are bad but to make sure they are fun and avoid excessive use. I think it’s important that influencers like Teen Vogue do put out positive messages like this so there is some guidance for people growing up in an ever-image obsessed world. The ‘What I see’ project discusses both sides of the selfie but within a feminist context with a dose of philosophical musings and makes for a very interesting contribution to the debate.

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Would Marilyn Monroe have taken a selfie?

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Will selfies become modern art?

Grace Dent who writes for The Independent also makes the argument that selfies are about self-branding, celebrity-alignment, social climbing and proof of happiness. The more I read the more negative it gets. Are there positive aspects to the selfie? Perhaps I don’t understand the selfie. Do we need to prove to other people that we are happy? What constitutes happiness? Do people want to see others pouting in front of the camera?

What do you think?

Share your comments below, or if you find any good articles or points of view please post them too!

#Ebookinaday goes live!

 

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Holy Smokes! #ebookinaday is here, completed and ready to rock your socks off!

I still can’t believe that all the content was created by Southampton Solent University Public Relations Students in ONE manic, epic day.

To download your copy for free…oh yes, FREE, your pennies are not welcome here, head to…

http://solentpr.wordpress.com/ebookinaday/

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The book covers the cutting edge tools for communication in the peer to peer PR world, perfect for practitioners, academics, marketers, business owners or those of you just wanting to find out how to be a better communicator.

It has 9 chapters for you to dive into and explore, and what’s great about it is that it’s still growing and evolving. Whether it is taking a selfie to post, leaving a comment or offering your expertise there is still a chance to be involved. Want to know how? Well then take a peek at the #ebookinaday project blog post and click on one of the chapters to find out more.

High-five’s and thanks go out to:
  • All my wonderful peers who gave a lot of blood, sweat, tears and ideas
  • Tom Fowler, the Solent Creative developer and technical genius
  • Stephen Waddington for giving us valuable advice and well-timed pep talks
  • But the ultimate, golden high-five, goes to Catherine Sweet for accepting Stephen Waddington’s challenge, all her hard work and for getting me involved in such an awesome project! Who else can say they are an author when they haven’t even finished their Masters yet? Not many!
Read it, download it, print it, share it or get involved…it’s yours, for free, forever! 
What a wonderful thought 🙂

Blast from the past…

Blast from the past...

Found this picture of my time working at MAC cosmetics, part of Estee Lauder Companies. IMATS is one of the biggest UK make up events and it was a privilege to represent the PR team and MAC PRO professional make up artist scheme at the event in 2011.

Oh it’s all About.Me…

No this really isn’t all about me, promise!

Your own personal branding can have a massive effect when applying for jobs as savvy employers head straight to Google to find out about their applicants. I’ve been doing a tidy up of my digital footprint, so I know exactly what people see when they search for me.

Recently at University we have been encouraged to think about our personal brand and expand our online presence. Most of the reccomended methods such as Facebook, WordPress and Wix I already knew about, but then on the list I saw Aboutme.com. I hadn’t heard of it before, so I decided to check it out and do some research.

Aboutme.com is a like a snazzy interactive online business card, in the form of a one-page-wonder mini website. It takes all of your contact details, social media and anything else you are involved in and plonks it all neatly and concisely in one place providing a professional gateway to your life online.

I’ve just launched mine…

 

or have a look here…http://about.me/rebecca.henderson

The beauty of it is that it’s quick. It took me about 20 minutes in total to set it up and you don’t have to be a techie, it guides you through step by step. They even offer some free business cards (as long as you cover the minimal postage and packaging! Bargain!). It has a rigid template, offering a recognisable site structure, but the pictures, colours, font and all the other aesthetically pleasing things are yours to define. Plus you only have to remember one short address and all your details are there for the person you would like to stay in contact with.

It’s quick, profesional and easy to use, just what you need in the PR business!

Pinch, Punch first of the month!

… and no returns!

Happy April everyone, thankfully Spring is on its way!

PR is a developing field and it’s so important to stay on top of developments in current affairs, practitioners and academia.

The biggest change to PR in the past ten years has been social media. It’s constantly adapting and evolving. So being aware of what’s going on is tres important. Learning never stops and personally I am always looking for opportunities to develop my skills or learn something new. So I think I have seen a little gem for all you social media bunnies out there…

April brings:

Outreach Marketing Virtual Summit

Outreach Marketing Virtual Summit
Influencers, Advocates, Social Outreach, and Online Marketing
10am, 8th April 2014

Join thousands of marketing, pr, and social professionals to watch today’s brightest minds in influencer and advocate marketing share how they build trust, generate buzz, and increase brand awareness using outreach marketing.

Featured speakers include:

  • David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of PR & Marketing
  • Lee Odden, CEO @TopRank Online Marketing, Author of Optimize
  • Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist, HubSpot
  • Stephanie Scott, Social Media Specialist, American Airlines
  • Marcy Massura, Digital Strategist, MSLGROUP
  • Katie Paine, Author of Measure What Matters
  • Robin Carey, CEO Social Media Today

The agenda looks pretty interesting but I disagree that most of this is marketing. This is actually heavily involved with, influenced and driven by PR. To be honest I think they could have come up with a better title that combined both PR and marketing.

What’s great about this event is it is free. Yes, FREE! I was going to feature another event, a social media summit, hosted this April by a large PR machine, until I clicked on tickets. £600?! I could have a Mulberry bag or a holiday for that price. Now that’s great if you work in an agency or company willing to foot the bill, but for us newbies starting out trying to forge their way this price tag is inaccessible. However there are always interesting opportunities for any budget out there and I reckon this is one of them!

If I wasn’t at work that day, I’d be logging in! Thankfully Outreach have realise that some of us hard working folk won’t be able to  tune in. If you register for the event and don’t attend online (and that’s highly likely given that it’s also in America, hello drastic time difference!) they will send you the recorded content after direct to your mail box to peruse at your leisure…awesome!

Knock ’em dead CV’s

Dreaming of ‘that’ job? Want to catch a companies attention?

Well this is one of the ways to do it…
Recently Leah Bowman applied for a vacancy with this…

MTmxS0g

WOW. I mean WOW! I wish I had thought of this. There is a new trend evolving for creative applicants to stretch their wings out of the old times new roman, monochrome trappings of the traditional CV and to play in to their strengths…the design world. This is just one in a long line of incredible CV’s that are starting to come to the attention of the media and spreading like wildfire through social media. It’s about time, isn’t it? Too long have we had to fill out endless forms and adhere to strict formatting. Who came up with such a rigid CV format anyway?

hIsUPxq

Leah Lego, an interactive application!

What’s even more incredible about this is Leah put all this effort in for an internship. Not even a full time, salaried, benefit giving vacancy. Unfortunately we do not get to see where she sent this application to but I think they would have been mad to not offer her a proper job.

If this is a sign of the future of applications…Viva the CV revolution!

EBook in a Day – A project brought to you by Southampton Solent University’s PR Students

I’ve owned this blog for 3 years and never posted anything. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. The other day I was reminded of this fact by a Word Press email wishing me a happy anniversary. Oh dear. How could I not have written anything in 3 whole years? No posts. No writing confidence. No engagement. And I want to be a PR practitioner? Gee Whizz.

What changed?

On the 26th March 2014, I helped to create an ebook in a day. There are 8 chapters and all the PR Masters students had to pitch to win their chapter from the client and then pitch to gain undergraduates on to their team. This was tough. I had never pitched before. I created something silly; thinking that even if it didn’t work at least the person reading and watching the pitches would have a giggle. But, much to my disbelief, it did work and it engaged. I got the chapter I wanted to work on: Co-creation and attracted 7 students in to the team. Phew!

team co-creation

Team Co-creation

45 people squished in to Solent Creatives to start what we thought was an ebook but turned out to be a PR movement. It taught me so much and sharing is caring after all, so here are the things I learnt from the ebook in a day…

  1. Be Organised

Sounds simple, but without having organised my chapter it would have been a disaster. There was so much to think about. It was about half way through the day that I was thankful my lecturer had insisted on a Gantt chart as it had got the old grey matter in to gear in advance of the event. I was prepared and it took the stress out of an overwhelming workload.

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The invite for the chapter demonstration

  1. Start Early

Being mean is not my style, but I insisted my team came a whole hour early as our demonstration I had arranged depended on invitations and engagement. We needed a good solid start. Thankfully the team showed up and it made a world of difference, especially when other barriers came in to play.

  1. Don’t Trust Technology

This is one of those pesky barriers I’ve been talking about. 45 students in a small space tested the University WIFI to destruction. It failed four times over the course of the day and this seriously would have hampered our progress had my fantastic team not turned up early.

  1. Imagination and Innovation is Powerful

The other students, staff, lecturers and industry practitioners were incredibly inspiring and creative. The ideas and advice they offered on the day blew me away. Working in an environment like that made me better. In sport they always say that if you train with people who are better then you raise your game to their level and in this case it was most definitely true.

  1. Social Media, is Social, so Get Involved!

I had never seen a multi-platform event from the ‘other side’ before and it was amazing to see every team obtaining high levels of engagement from only one days worth of effort. Sometimes I get fed up with the endless streams of content being chucked my way from social media, but when it’s focused with a proper stakeholder salience strategy applied it can be highly effective and engaging. It can start a conversation, a project or even a movement!

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  1. Be adaptable: from MA to Manager!

Personal challenges can come in any form. I have managed teams before, but it had been a while. So off came my student hat and on went my manager hat. How do you engage a student team who are not being assessed on a project? Food. It’s always a winner. The key here, know your audience! I even had some really lovely thank you’s…

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Twitter Thank You’s!

However despite all of these lessons it was the final parting comments of Stephen Waddington, president of the CIPR, that inspired me to finally break my silence and post this, my very first blog post.

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Stephen Waddington addressing #ebookinaday

He offered 3 tips for ‘making it’ in PR:

  1. Get on Twitter and build relationships
  2. Network and build your profile on LinkedIn
  3. Blog, this is important, it showcases your skills

Stephen made it sound so simple and through the experience of the PR masters I think I finally have the confidence to write. So here I am.

 

Here’s my pick of other blogs about #ebookinaday:

  • Stephen Waddington – Early lessons from the #ebookinaday project at Southampton Solent University
  • Lisa Duygu – Ebook in a day, a project, an event, a challenge, a success!
  • Livi Wilkes – Ebook in a day, the day so far
  • Bethany Ansell – The best of the week 28 March
  • Nikita Gagnon – Putting the public back into public relations
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