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Greggs show the importance of social media during a potential crisis

Greggs show the importance of social media during a potential crisis

Twitter and Facebook are the first places many people take to when angry about something these days. Gone are the days of sending angry letters or emails and people have certainly lost faith in customer services over the phone. With thousands of others able to see your comments instantly and jump on the complaining bandwagon with their own experiences, social media platforms rightly seem the best way to get a message across to a brand quickly and get a quick response.

The channels, which started off as luxuries for brands enabling them to communicate with a whole load of potential customers quickly, easily and for free, are now one of the biggest methods of direct customer conversation and complaints. The individuals behind these channels spend their days responding to tweets and Facebook posts directed at the brand, making sure the consumer leaves happy in the end and no further negativity about the brand is spread.

There are numerous examples that show the true power of these platforms, the most recent being yesterday’s ‘Google Greggs’ campaign. If you currently type Gregg’s into Google, the first thing to appear is numerous news articles regarding a prank played on them via Google. No one knows whether this was a substantial fail on Google’s behalf or an extremely clever viral marketing campaign but contrary to what the ‘prankers’ aimed to achieve when changing the brands logo to read “Greggs – Providing sh*t to scum for over 70 years”, all the coverage is positive and their SEO ratings will have gone through the roof. It may not have been planned, but the way Greggs responded was turned this into great PR for the brand.

So how did this prank backfire and why have Greggs come away as the good guys? Well, instead of trying to speak with Google to get the logo changed asap and trying to brush what had happened under the carpet, their social team very cleverly decided to converse with Google via Twitter only, using a bribe of delicious fresh doughnuts to get them to prioritise this task. They created the hashtag #fixgreggs, with Google quickly responding with, ‘Sorry @GreggstheBakers, we’re on it. Throw in a sausage roll and we’ll get it done ASAP. #fixgreggs’.

Greggs then went on to reply to all concerned customers who had been talking about the logo through Twitter as well, having banter along the way and making light of a bad situation. One tweet they replied with for example was, ‘@joannaroberts_ what? Has something happened? ;-)’.

The problem was soon resolved and all that has been left is positive news coverage in numerous outlets including Sky News, the Telegraph, Evening Standard and Independent.

Another example of social media not only saving the day but greatly enhancing positive awareness of a brand is in the case of O2 whose Twitter account became swamped with negative tweets about poor service by frustrated customers during a large network crash.  Instead of responding to all complaints with the same standard corporate jargon, they too responded to each tweet individually in an honest and light-hearted manner. Customers found this human touch refreshing and emotions quickly changed as a result.

It was the opposite case for HMV however, whose staff took to social media to vent about their frustration of losing their jobs. Instead of the marketing team foreseeing this and planning a good way to disperse the situation, they got worried and started deleting comments as they came in. To the angry staff, this was probably the most annoying thing they could have done and it showed complete lack of control on HMV’s part. This only created more negative press around the company.

These examples show just how powerful a tool social media can be, both in making and breaking the image and trust in a brand. In this day, all companies should have a social media crisis plan, whether deciding how to respond to negative comments in line with the brand’s personality or how they plan to apologise to customers should something go wrong. People naturally like to feel cared about so as long as that comes across through all channels, a bad situation can quickly be resolved.

The 2014 Technology Race

Seven years have passed since the moment Apple changed our relationship with mobile technologies. Since 2007 we have become accustomed to the smartphone, having information fed to us instantaneously through an ever evolving and developing stream of apps. So much so that we feel lost and distanced from the world when there is no 3G connection or Wi-Fi available.

Google glass technology future

Image courtesy of Karlis Damnbrans,


Along with the introduction of the smartphone, tablets have also become a ‘must have’ item, with it being announced that Apple have sold 170 million iPads at the end of 2013, helping the technology giant break a quarterly revenue record after releasing the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air.

But what’s next? It goes without saying that Apple will continue to churn out new models of the iPhone and iPad on a yearly basis, along with their living room appliance, Apple TV.  However, it has been predicted that 2014 will dawn a new age for our relationship with information technology. Wearable video devices have been in development for a number of years now, and it comes as no surprise to hear that they will be readily available for consumers in the coming month. They have already begun to infiltrate our homes in a sense, with 3D glasses, however, they are not yet interactive and only serve a sole purpose. Google have already set the bar in the wearable technology market with Google Glass, however, the market has still not opened up and it is still in its very early stages with only a few lucky ‘explorers; being selected to test the product.

Samsung have already entered the Smartwatch race, with the Samsung Galaxy Gear hitting the market in recent weeks. It is only a matter of time until Apple enters the race with it being predicted that a Smartwatch is their next biggest announcement.

Experts are predicting that 10 million ‘wearable technology’ devices will be sold in 2014, with sales predicted to rise 10 times by the end of 2016. The mystery surrounding what’s to come only fuels the excitement, with technology enthusiasts imagination going wild at the thought of the endless possibilities that these new devices will be able to provide.

The 2014 technology race is well and truly on.


The Google Zeitgeist report shows the importance of PR for businesses

The highly anticipated Zeitgeist report showing the top Google searches over the past year was published last Tuesday. With access to the internet being worldwide, the report quite literally tells us what the entire world is researching and is consequently interested in. This is a PR’s dream!

In addition to the report being broken down into countries, there are a number of different categories such as the top searched people, ‘How to’ questions and TV shows so we can really get a feel for the news stories and events that have occupied the nation’s minds over the past year.

Some results are a little more unexpected than others but it comes as no surprise that ‘What is twerking?’ is the number one most searched for ‘What is…?’ question of the year, weather forecast is a hot search in the UK and ‘Paul Walker’, ‘iPhone 5s’ and ‘royal baby’ are the top searched terms overall.

Image Courtesy of NTEZIRYAYO ALPHONSE, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of NTEZIRYAYO ALPHONSE, flickr. com

Looking through the top charts it quickly becomes apparent that all the top searches are things that are current and memorable for some reason, whether it be good or bad. For example, four out of the top five most searched for people have passed away this year and the top five searched songs are controversial for some reason whether it be the clothing, or lack of it, the dancers are wearing, the outrageous dance moves or shocking lyrics.

As human beings, we remember and are intrigued by tragic news, shocking stories and things that make us laugh. This is because they play on our emotions and we want to know more. PR’s work with this in mind every day when trying to think up that perfect campaign or a write a press release that will grab a journalist’s attention.

Not only is the Zeitgeist report entertaining and a great talking point but it shows the importance of PR for businesses and brands by proving just how vital it is to keep them in the forefront of the media and constantly on people’s minds.

By keeping businesses and brands no matter what size in the media regularly, whether it be an article in a magazine, an interview in a newspaper or online as a thought leader, they will remain in consumers’ minds, even subconsciously, making them more likely to want to find out more. This, in theory, should lead them to the company’s website where that interest may be converted into a sale.

The Future of Social Media in Sport

Last week, Saracens Rugby Club launched Wi-Fi throughout the entirety of Allianz Park. Reportedly the first sports club in Europe to attempt to encourage real-time user-generated content (UGC) that could add value to the match-day experience.

The clubs goal was to communicate that they now have a permanent home in London, whilst also creating a fan-based social media buzz around the game. Saracens promoted a selection of hashtags throughout the match-day programme, across their own social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) and featured them on 2 display screens.

They had recognised that one of the biggest requirements to improve the match day experience was information, such as; player statistics, team statistics, etc. To try and combat this, the live game commentary was fed through Twitter along with all major incidences and occasional sports stats. The real-time trial received tremendously positive feedback, the clubs twitter reach increased by 45%, in-game messaging increased by 20%, and picture-based content soared to a staggering 67%.

Times are changing. As sport becomes more tightly integrated with technologies more pressure is put on clubs to find more innovative ways to engage fans and enhance live sporting experiences. Edward Griffiths, CEO of Saracens commented on the new initiative, “not every rugby supporter will appreciate ‘second screen’ activity, but we are pushing the boundaries… and our fans are having fun.” For Saracens this is only the beginning, they will be further looking to drive additional revenue to the bars and restaurants through effective community management.

With the future of social media in sport in mind, here are 5 trends to watch out for:

BRAND MARKETING – Currently most clubs use social media for brand marketing, for example; tickets, merchandise and adverts. Similar to Saracens, most clubs will start focusing on the match-day experience – the statistics, the atmosphere, the music, the pre-match rituals, etc. Instead of telling the fans what they should aspire to want, marketers will start absorbing the emotions and stories fans experience throughout the game.

SOCIAL MEDIA HUBS – European clubs will start taking note of this brilliant invention on the other side of the pond. Social media hubs are allocated areas within the stadium on match-day where pre-selected fans (social media savvy and influential in the digital space) can take control of the clubs social media presence. Simple yet effective, as who knows what the fans want better than the fans themselves?

TWITTER PARTIES – American clubs recognise how powerful and influential their socially active fans can be and one way of rewarding them is a “Fan Night” in which fans are invited to go to the stadium to meet their fellow tweeters and put faces to twitter handles. An excellent way to bring clubs most influential tweeters, Instagrammers and followers closer.

FAN-BASED CONTENT – Some Clubs have already started to include fans in their official content but we predict this to rise. Whether it is getting a fan to write a match report that features in the programme or create a YouTube interview with a player. Fan-based content is a whole lot more engaging.

PINTEREST – Pinterest seems to have been neglected at current but it is an obvious tool for clubs to use to promote their online shops. But boards can also be used as a platform for fans to share their favourite moments, quotes, etc.

Here in the PHA Digital team, we are excited to see the evolution of Social Media in Sport and how effective UK Sports Clubs are at utilizing their own Social Media Marketing Strategies.

The New Face of Product Placement

Arguably one of Google+’s standout features, Hangouts have been used by marketers and brands in a variety of ways. From live-streaming fashion shows to personalized interviews with CEOs, the video-chat feature has become a valuable tool to engage readers and attract new followers. Now after 2 years of experimentation, Google is helping publishers monetize their efforts through a mix of social advertising, content marketing and traditional ad-buy.

On Monday, Glamour magazine launched a month-long series of Hangouts featuring publication staff, online personalities, and products. Between April 10 and May 8 Glamour will roll out nine Hangouts that will include a total of eight advertising partners whose products will be placed in central spots encouraging users to interact with the brands. For example, a L’Oréal sponsored hangout with Glamour stylist Annabel Tollman will teach viewers how to wear ombré using L’Oréal products. Other sponsors include Unilever, L’Oréal, Pantene and SlimFast.

Bill Wackermann, vice president and publishing director at Condé Nast (who manages the sales, brand strategy and marketing for Glamour), told Mashable “[the collaboration is] a way to put advertisers’ products in front of Glamour‘s 1.5 million Google+ followers in a format that’s both compelling (in an editorial sense) and makes those products part of a story”.

The Hangout series includes content that ranges from beauty how-tos and shopping inspiration to live music and insider tips. The Hangouts will be uploaded to Glamour’s YouTube channel, as well as the advertisers’ websites and social media outlets. Some of the Hangouts are live, enabling readers to log on and participate using the hashtag #GLAMOURHangouts, while others will be pre-recorded, allowing readers to watch and comment via Google+.

“A lot of our advertisers were asking for custom content-things they could use across their websites and socially,” says Jenny Bowman, executive creative services director for the publisher. “This is part of their commitment to running in the May issue. We produce the Hangouts, bring in talent and film it-it’s something that we’re doing as added value.”

Here in the PHA Digital Team, we are excited to see the results – for both Glamour and the participating advertiser partners – if successful it could be a great case study that will surely be replicated by others.

The Future Of The Fashion Show

The London Fashion Week, the hottest ticket in town, is normally only experienced by a privileged few. However, it’s 2013 and Topshop has partnered with Google to launch the first interactive live streamed fashion show.

Catwalk fashion show runway london fashion week

Courtesy of Ines Hegedus-Garcia,

A customised YouTube feed will allow live-streamed content from the red carpet and behind the scenes. Google+ will host a digital diary fronted by the models and access to stylists behind the scenes. Google Hang Outs will allow people to speak directly with the design team at Topshop HQ. The “Be the Buyer App” will enable users to get tips from buyers on how to put catwalk looks together. HD micro-cameras, worn by the likes of Cara Delevigne, will allow viewers a models eye of the catwalk. The London Oxford Street store will allow shoppers to take photos and upload images to an interactive window display. There will also be a live ‘tweet off’ where followers of @Topshop will be challenged to review the show in 140 characters or less to win VIP tickets to the next show.

Burberry set the trend in 2011 of offering fashion fans access to aspects of the shows that had not been previously available (putting live clips on YouTube and displaying backstage images via Instagram and Twitter) and it is no coincidence that the man leading the innovative runway experience, Topshop CMO Justin Cooke, is the former vice president of global communications at Burberry.

Could this collaboration change the way designers think about catwalk shows forever?! Let us know what you think.


Google+ for business: An inside look

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:

  • Google Meeting: There will be a ‘business hangout’ for meetings that allows companies to organise, record and archive phone, text and video conferences with up to 10 people. Attendees can be invited via Google Calendar, email and Google Chat.
  • Google Whiteboard: The use of Google Docs makes it easy to present, create and share documents during a meeting. Attendees will be able to make notes on a virtual whiteboard and content can be shared with others via Google Plus or email.
  • Google Screencast: It will be possible to record a computer screen and share it with others so participants can show or demonstrate things on their computer.
  • Google Offers: Companies can use this function to include special offers for their fans and customers
  • Verification: There will be a functionality to verify business ownership so that fans can be sure they are really interacting with the brand.
  • Business structure: In comparison to Facebook Pages, Google+ Pages not only list fans but also employees and management. It will be possible to add more than one location of a business using Google Maps and Places.
  • Google Stats: There will be the facility to integrate Google Analytics and Google Adwords, making it easier to monitor a brand’s entire online presence.