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#WeAreTheThey: What we can learn from Jamelia ’s sizable mistakes

#WeAreTheThey: What we can learn from Jamelia ’s sizable mistakes

Anyone who enjoys flicking through the Mail Online during their lunch break will no doubt be up to date with the latest celebrity scandal involving Jamelia.

The ‘Superstar’ singer has faced public backlash after airing her controversial views on ITV’s Loose Women in a discussion about overweight teenagers, by saying high street stores should not be stocking plus size clothes for them.

“I don’t believe stores should stock clothes below or above a certain weight. They should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go in and can’t find a size.”

Jamelia’s statements quickly sparked a stir on Twitter, with angry viewers attacking the celebrity for her ‘hurtful’ words:

 

Many woman (and men) have also taken to Twitter using the hashtag #WeAreTheThey to show off their curvy photographs and talk about what it’s like to have a body size that Jamelia deems as unhealthy:

 

Putting aside my personal views and looking at this purely from a PR perspective, there are several lessons that we can learn from Jamelia’s mistakes:

  1. Pick the right media platform. Loose Women – though a programme which encourages debate – was certainly not the right programme for Jamelia to share controversial opinions about people who are ‘overweight’. The show is targeted to women over the age of 30, many who will fall into this plus-size category or will have strong opinions about the topic, so there was bound to be a backlash no matter how Jamelia packaged what she said. Knowing your media and their target audience is paramount!
  2. Timing. Recently there has been a stream of stories in the press about teenagers who have sadly died after taking slimming pills. Regrettably for Jamelia, the public associated her comments on Loose Women with these unfortunate events, allowing the media to paint her as an even bigger villain. By keeping up to date with what’s going on in the media, situations like this can be avoided.
  3. Respond quickly. One thing Jamelia does seem to have done right is address the situation head-on, and quickly. The singer appeared on Good Morning Britain the same week to respond to the criticism that she had received, and to say that she was sorry for upsetting people. One of the most important things you can do in a crisis is acknowledge the issue quickly. With the advance of social media and online press, speed is paramount so that you don’t let a crisis fester.

HOWEVER, Jamelia’s apology on Good Morning Britain was only to be met with further backlash after the star defended her comments, saying ‘I didn’t make it clear on the show that I was talking about extremes, I was talking about above size 20 and below size six, those sizes being available in masse’ and ‘’I do stand by what I said. I’m a real woman with real opinions. I get paid to voice my opinions.’ Which leads me nicely to my next point…

  1. Think before you speak. Once you’ve said it, there’s no going back. Which is why media training and crisis management is so critical for out-spoken celebrities like Jamelia, who are constantly in the spotlight.

Mail Online crosses the Atlantic

The Mail Online has announced its switch from a .co.uk homepage address to a .com domain, in recognition of its increased international readership and to boost its global traffic.

It is reported that negotiations between US paper the Charlestone Daily Mail, occupiers of the dailymail.com address for 18 years, and Daily Mail & General Trust have resulted in the latter paying in excess of £1m to secure the valuable domain name.

It seems that Mail Online has reached a point of saturation amongst its UK audience, and recognises that the one factor preventing a further increase in the already huge portion (70%) of monthly traffic from outside the UK, has been the .co.uk domain.

The site recently announced a switch from a .co.uk to .com domain.

The site recently announced a switch from a .co.uk to .com domain.

It is thought that DMGT missed their revenue target of £45m last year, but have set themselves a target of achieving £60m-worth of revenue in 2014, they clearly recognise the growing importance of international markets to Mail Online, especially growth in the US, if ad sales and resulting revenue are to increase.

There wasn’t a huge reaction in the UK – I can’t say I noticed – when theguardian.co.uk made the switch to .com mid-way through last year, but having seen their left-wing cousins reap the financial benefits of the lucrative US market, Mail Online has seized its opportunity to add to its 161 million monthly unique users and boost its global PR appeal in the process.

Rarely has a news outlet been able to spark public debate by doing its job properly. It baffles me how well Mail Online appeases our appetite for easy reading, yet people feel the need to pick holes in every story in the comments beneath and accuse them of lazy journalism. I certainly look forward to hearing the reaction of Mail Online regulars to this particular story in the coming weeks, not that any criticism is justifiable.

Is the Mail Online’s infamous layout and homepage one of the reasons for British readership waning slightly over the last year? Even if we are losing interest in the website in this country, Mail Online has already been extremely successful in the US by segmenting the placement of stories relevant to that particular audience, and this looks only set to continue.

I should think that, as was the case with the Guardian, the switch will have a temporarily negative impact on traffic to Mail Online, but not for long. After the initial short-lived backlash from the UK-centrists, normal service will be resumed and the site will flourish once more.

The real question is whether the Mail Online’s political focus will change, in parallel with the new domain. Will the MO continue to be politically UK-focused and celebrity-focused internationally? I shouldn’t think much will change, and looking too much into it defeats the purpose of the switch in the first place. Simply, global traffic to the site will increase, it’s just how the internet works.

Despite the 70 percent of website traffic coming from overseas already, Mail Online will have to be wary of ensuring that their content caters to an increasingly diverse international audience. Maintaining a balance between news for traditional readers and celebrity updates for more casual visitors will continue to be necessary, but at the same time, the .com domain may even give the MO scope to, as the site continues to grow, incorporate auto-generated home pages based on the user’s location.

Most importantly, however, wherever it goes, the Mail Online will always be there for us at lunchtime.