Last week Kate Middleton hit the headlines again. Not with Royal visit news and not with pregnancy rumours but for a haircut. Whilst the Duchess’s re-style was nothing particularly drastic (the addition of a heavy side-swept fringe), her ‘new-do’ covered inches of magazine, newspaper and website space. As a result, her new choice of bangs is the perfect opportunity for beauty PRs to promote their own products and services for the thousands of copy-Kates wanting an easy way to achieve her new look.
It is estimated that Kate Middleton is worth £16bn to the UK fashion industry. Not only does she have a direct impact on the fashion companies whose clothes she wears, (Whistles, Reiss, Alice Temperley and so on…) the ‘Kate Effect’ also impacts those companies who sell items of clothing similar to what she wears.
This is obviously facilitated by online social media and technological developments. Twitter ensures that we know what Kate is wearing as soon as she is wearing it. It is therefore important that Digital PRs for fashion and beauty brands are vigilant of what Kate wears and when. Furthermore, since the announcement of her engagement to Prince William back in November 2010, What Kate Wore has been the source of all of Kate’s public wardrobe choices, with links to buy each of the items. Most of these items sell out in hours, allowing for copy-Kate versions from more affordable retailers to thrive.
Moreover, it is not only the fashion world feeling Kate’s influence, but that of the beauty world as well. Kate’s fuller eyebrows have sparked a trend for £5,000 eyebrow implants and eyebrow thickening gel. One Harley Street clinic spoke out about the rise in patients wanting to undergo implant surgery. Eyebrow cosmetic products are up 600% as women rush to recreate the Duchess’s full bushy brow. It is important that for the world of Beauty PR to react to this consumer trend and anticipate the Kate-trends to maximise exposure for their clients.
PHA responded to the Duchess’s ‘new do’ with a press release promoting a new volumising product, which saw excellent cut through. With the majority of the media focused on Kate, it’s important to react and pre-empt this to ensure that your client’s products/services are associated and promoted in association with the nation’s most treasured icon.
In the digital age we live in, when we are not happy with the service a company has provided us, more often than not we turn to Facebook and Twitter to seek immediate support. But what happens when the right information isn’t readily available to us?
A new report from Birdsong: Social Media Reconnaissance reveals a number of failings by Natwest in actively supporting its customers via Twitter during the IT collapse in late June. Despite the surge in followers and influx of mentions of @natwest_help, extended branch hours and weekend openings, the bank’s Twitter account did not actively extend its social media presence or increase replies until very late on in the crisis, choosing a ‘business as usual approach’.
The new report from Bird Song: Social Media Reconnaissance showed numerous elements which shows that Natwest failed to increase its Twitter support to match the measures taken by branch staff and call centres.
As the problems unfolded, the followers of @Natwest_Help escalated at a rapid rate, growing by over 200% during the crisis, taking the bank from one of the least followed to one of the most followed UK bank accounts. During this time the number of mention @natwest_help grew 8 times more than its original amount.
The report also reveals the slow reaction time from the bank. Despite the influx in followers and mentions, the bank maintained standard tweeting hours of 9-5 at a time when branches were being opened later. It took a week for the bank to start maintaining a later presence on Twitter, until 7p.m.
In addition to this, for the weekend that the bank opened, the Twitter account was left to broadcast automated messages, offering no active support, only a link to direct followers to online help. The tweet alone generated 800 links (Bit.ly) of people seeking support.
This has also been the case for both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways in December 2010 and was the case for O2 last week. Since the start of the national coverage disruption, the @O2 account has grown by 50%.
National crises such as the Natwest fiasco, demonstrate just how dependent we are on the web and computer networks, and the ability to adapt to the consequences of a major systems breakdown. Therefore it is imperative that companies such as Natwest act immediately, enforcing a social media strategy that would see to support those who have been affected. Putting social media on the back burner could have a detrimental effect on the reputation of the brand, resulting in a leap of unwanted negative comments, which ultimately could lead to customers taking their business elsewhere.
Cover image courtesy of lamoix, flickr.com
The social pin-boarding site has only been on the social scene for two years (not even a year yet in the UK), and already it’s taking the digital world by storm – doubling its number of unique visitors to 4 million since January.
In case you’re not familiar with the site, Pinterest is a place to organise and share online images that you may find interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as ‘pins’, which the user can place on customised themed boards.
Some people use the site to share images they find on the web, while others use the site from a more creative perspective. For example, many artists use Pinterest to arrange inspiring images for their work. While bakers may use the social networking site to showcase images of their creative cake collection and interior designers could use it as a platform for different design themes.
Brands, on the other hand, are using it to communicate to their audience through the use of images that best reflect what the brand is currently up to. An example of a brand that is using Pinterest particularly well is Ikea.
The Swedish furniture store has 15 pin boards, including product ideas and ‘pin it to win it’ competitions hosted weekly – a great way to get people engaged and grow their existing community.
The site uses striking images to represent theme ideas for different rooms. Some of the images also include price information for each product, so it essentially acts as an extension of its catalogue.
One of its more eye-catching boards for its ‘True Blue’ product range is inspired by Indian Culture, this however, doesn’t seem to be linked to its homepage which could minimise their efforts.
Since launching in 2006, Twitter has stormed the social networking sphere, rapidly gaining worldwide popularity, with over 140 million active users as of the beginning of 2012. Some have dubbed Twitter, a replacement of Facebook, referring to it as the SMS of the Internet – but what can it do for brands and digital PR?
In the digital world, a trend means much more than a piece of coverage. A trend on Twitter means that potentially 140 million active users are talking and sharing their thoughts about you. When ‘Greggs’ began to trend, the brand were quick to act, seizing the bull by the horns and using it to their full advantage.
The Twitter frenzy began after Labour Leader Ed Miliband was photographed outside a Gregg’s store as the row about ‘pie tax’ began to heat up. Greggs cleverly took advantage of the news story and began to send out updates with the hashtag #pieshakespeare, encouraging Twitter users to come up with a line of poetry about pies. This takeover resulted in a huge increase in followers for the bakery.
A pie! A pie! My kingdom for a pie! #pieshakespeare
— Greggs the Bakers (@GreggstheBakers) March 28, 2012
There is a serious note behind the pie puns. The story began when George Osborne closed a tax loophole that meant hot food would be subject to VAT, wiping 30m off of Gregg’s value share. The move has since been dubbed the ‘pie tax’, and has given Greggs a much-needed boost both on and offline.
This is a fine example of a brand acting on impulse and being in a position to take advantage of a good news story on Twitter when the opportunity arises.
The team behind the @GreggstheBakers Twitter feed were quick to act and quick to respond to incoming tweets, which is just what a brand should be doing. Through their fast actions and pie puns, they managed to maintain their rare trend and even had a little fun with it, generating positive sentiment for themselves. A great example of digital PR!
— Greggs the Bakers (@GreggstheBakers) March 28, 2012
They even managed to catch the eye of former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott!
Last week Stephen Quinn, publisher of fashion Bible Vogue, revealed the results of study that asked 2,500 Vogue readers whether they preferred their traditional magazine format, or digital content via Vogue.com or the Vogue iPad app.
An overwhelming 87 percent of readers said that they preferred the traditional format, and I can see why. There’s something unbelievably indulgent about the tangible quality of a print magazine, and flicking through the beautifully crafted pages of Vogue is a monthly highlight. Whether you rip out your favourite looks for fashion inspiration or pile up your entire year’s subscription because they’re just too beautiful to recycle, the aspirational nature of a high-end glossy magazine can’t be denied.
That being said, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the media is undergoing a digital revolution. Every magazine worth its salt has a well-run website, full of both exclusive content and online versions of print articles, and with tablet devices and smartphones becoming the norm it’s now possible to read your daily paper or favourite magazine in a purely digital format.
And of course it doesn’t stop there; as this article demonstrates, with the ever-increasing number of blogs, everyone can become a writer and upload their own editorial content directly onto the web.
Quinn comments, “You go into media buying companies now and they say ‘Print’s Dead, you’re a dinosaur Stephen’”.
So are they right? Is print already dead, or is it dying? With Vogue making £25m a year in advertising revenues they certainly don’t think so. Yet, in a world where news breaks via Twitter before it’s even reached the newsdesks, where fast fashion is available in abundance and where technology and the internet rule our daily lives, traditional print media is certainly facing a struggle to keep up.
The key is not to pretend that this revolution isn’t happening, but to embrace it and accept that we live in a world where Kindles could replace books, iPad apps could replace magazines and the internet could replace the daily newspaper.
This doesn’t mean however that we won’t have access to the latest best-selling novel, reports on the latest trends or the daily news. The media will always be around, just perhaps not in the traditional way we are currently accustomed to. Publications, therefore, need to roll with the times and keep up with what their readers want, as Vogue demonstrates, or risk falling by the wayside. After all, there’s something nostalgic about an old record player, but would you really swap it for your iPod?!
Cover image courtesy of: flickr.com/photos/oh_darling/5605031889
Social media has become an everyday tool for many people. We use it to both manage and record our lives. Consider that worldwide we send 200,000 tweets a day and upload 48 hours of video every minute – it soon becomes clear just how detailed an online archive we are building.
Never before has the minutiae of ordinary peoples’ lives been recorded in such vivid detail. A whole generation are active online, sharing information from our physical characteristics to our personalities regularly. With developments in technology such as smartphones and tablets, our social media activity is only increasing, adding more detail to our online profile in the process.
This anthropological archive is also, as far as we know, permanent. For example, what happens if you deactivate your Facebook account? By deactivating you are choosing not to post any more content but what about your past content? True, your deactivated profile is not visible to any other users but Facebook does keep all this data on file, in case you want to return to the service in the future. Once again this draws attention to the topical issue of data ownership – surely as users, we own our own content – in which case why are we unable to permanently delete it?
Another key question is how much our digital persona actually reflects our offline persona. It is impossible to speculate on this, without considering the lack of anonymity in social media, which is bound to determine the ‘public’ persona we project. I would guess that – to a greater or lesser extent – most users ‘cherry pick’ the parts of their real lives they wish to publicise on social media. So their online persona is a decidedly blinkered view of their real life.
Nevertheless, the really crucial question is; what will become of the data we do choose to share? Undoubtedly the amount of personal information we upload is only ever increasing and the archive becoming more detailed.
Will there come a time when historians are recreating the lives of our generation – perhaps programming robots to mimic us for example – using the information we have shared online?
Now that is some serious food for thought… Don’t forget to tweet this or share it on Facebook! 😉
With Google+ preparing to launch a business version of the new social network at the end of the year, we’ve taken an inside look at some of the features it will include.
Together, they promise to provide a much more sensible experience for businesses than Facebook has been able to offer.
Despite moves in the right direction, Facebook is still frustrating to use as a brand – you have to create a personal profile to have a fan page and it’s often difficult for users to work out which business pages are legitimate.
These are issues Google+ aims to put right, making it a serious contender for Facebook’s crown. Here are just some of the features brands can look forward to seeing: