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The Greek financial crisis – Twitter’s take

The Greek financial crisis – Twitter’s take

For the past few weeks the news agenda has been dominated by the Greek crisis and what seemed to have become the never-ending discussions by political leaders to end the stalemate. However, at the same time that the political negotiations and debates were taking place, the online world of social media was also heating up.

Social media and Twitter, in particular, are now the key channels where people express views, debate, criticise and argue, but what is even more interesting is how users use humour and creativity to address hot topics on these platforms. Major political topics and personalities are targeted through a different lens, pointing out elements that are often exaggerated and have become almost stereotypical. The aim? To give a new spin to the grim reality and in many ways to challenge ‘authority’ and emphasise its ‘weak’ points.

Interactivity and engagement are among the key perks of social media and coupled with humour and political satire, they make a powerful mixture. Hashtags like #ilovetsipras and #merkelmeme gained in popularity with users tagging caricatures and other content, while hashjacking like in the cases of #greferendum and #agreekment also inspired users to post their own version of political analysis in a humorous way.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Is humour people’s way of dealing with a highly stressful and uncertain situation? Politics and humour have always been different sides of the same coin. Political cartoons made their presence in the UK in newspapers as early as in the 1700s. The internet, however, has enabled the creative potential of humour to unleash and at the same time it has also made it easier for satirists to bypass censorship and stay anonymous.

What was even more interesting was that the parallel online satirical trend that followed the EU talks had no geographical limit with users across the world participating and engaging with one another and exchanging jokes, cartoons and memes. Humour creates a global communication channel and social media have made it possible for this content to enjoy a global reach they never would have had otherwise.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

What the recent example of the EU talks on the Greek crisis shows is that humour is a fantastic way to create virtual community bonds among users that would potentially have never interacted otherwise. It is also a great shock absorber helping people to make sense of reality and look at things in a more positive way. It is clear that the social media frenzy over the Greek crisis will continue in the weeks and months to come.

After all political satire was a Greek invention.

The Greek financial crisis – Twitter's take

For the past few weeks the news agenda has been dominated by the Greek crisis and what seemed to have become the never-ending discussions by political leaders to end the stalemate. However, at the same time that the political negotiations and debates were taking place, the online world of social media was also heating up.

Social media and Twitter, in particular, are now the key channels where people express views, debate, criticise and argue, but what is even more interesting is how users use humour and creativity to address hot topics on these platforms. Major political topics and personalities are targeted through a different lens, pointing out elements that are often exaggerated and have become almost stereotypical. The aim? To give a new spin to the grim reality and in many ways to challenge ‘authority’ and emphasise its ‘weak’ points.

Interactivity and engagement are among the key perks of social media and coupled with humour and political satire, they make a powerful mixture. Hashtags like #ilovetsipras and #merkelmeme gained in popularity with users tagging caricatures and other content, while hashjacking like in the cases of #greferendum and #agreekment also inspired users to post their own version of political analysis in a humorous way.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Is humour people’s way of dealing with a highly stressful and uncertain situation? Politics and humour have always been different sides of the same coin. Political cartoons made their presence in the UK in newspapers as early as in the 1700s. The internet, however, has enabled the creative potential of humour to unleash and at the same time it has also made it easier for satirists to bypass censorship and stay anonymous.

What was even more interesting was that the parallel online satirical trend that followed the EU talks had no geographical limit with users across the world participating and engaging with one another and exchanging jokes, cartoons and memes. Humour creates a global communication channel and social media have made it possible for this content to enjoy a global reach they never would have had otherwise.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

What the recent example of the EU talks on the Greek crisis show is that humour is a fantastic way to create virtual community bonds among users that would potentially have never interacted otherwise. It is also a great shock absorber helping people to make sense of reality and look at things in a more positive way. It is clear that the social media frenzy over the Greek crisis will continue in the weeks and months to come.

After all political satire was a Greek invention.

PR lessons: Ebola and Robbie Williams

In the wake of Robbie Williams making a fool of himself in the name of publicity, I can understand why PR doesn’t always have the most reputable name. For those of you who haven’t seen his videos, the footage captures an animated Williams cavorting round his wife Ayda Field, during the labour of their second child.

I am often confronted with PR cynics, whom typically my breed as ‘spin doctors’ with nothing valuable to actually say. But in a world currently fighting Ebola, we can see how communicating in the face of crisis leaves no choice but to cut through the ‘fluff’ and focus on quality. Although by no means am I disputing the harrowing nature of the disease (and how easy it is to become consumed with dread when discussing the impacts of Ebola) the way in which aid workers have communicated throughout the outbreak provides a prime example of how vital PR can be when it’s done right. Leading the world to quickly realise that although a vaccine will cure the disease, communications will prevent it.

From posters and pamphlets to radio announcements, the communications response to Ebola is unearthing some valuable lesson that PR professionals can learn from across the globe, serving as a valuable reminded that truly effective communications stem from the need, not desire, for the limelight (sorry Robbie, yes that is another dig at you!).

Ebola suits

PR can be a useful tool when raising awareness of crisis issues.

So here are my top tips that I feel Robbie should learn from…

  1. Say something interesting to the right people

While a regular PR campaign may not have the ‘life or death’ hook that Ebola does, having something actually interesting to say will hugely affect if people listen.  A bit like when your mum used to say- ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all’ – sometimes it’s better to sit quietly and resist  ‘PR fluff’ until you have something valuable and legitimate to share.

Targeting the correct audience is also critical to any PR activity; UNICEF reports that around 10,000 people are infected with Ebola in West Africa with the majority of victims coming from some of the world’s poorest communities. This has led aid workers to target communications in these areas, resulting in successful rectification of misinformed beliefs concerning how the virus is spread and treated in these places.

Robbie’s video, however, appears to be directed at anymore and everyone- making us perhaps question whether the star is out of touch with his fan base (or possibly society entirely)!

  1. Be engaging, not narcissistic

Possibly Robbie’s biggest problem with his video stems from the entirely narcissistic – as without a real point behind the footage, the viewer may be drawn to the conclusion that it’s just Robbie’s attempt to cash in on the birth of his second child.

A global epidemic brings with it the need to communicate across nations; a difficult task especially when a clear cultural divide exists between rural villages accepting the presence of western medicine. Therefore engagement is a clear aim of organisations working with communities to tackling  Ebola- a variety of tools have been used to achieve this. However, the use of a video produced by the infamous Chocolate Moose is a great example of how the interjection of emotion to a cause key messages to resonate within target audiences, as a result encouraging people to accept the presence of hazmat wearing doctors and actively seek their help when needed.

  1. Keep it quick

As with any pandemic, time is of the essence when spreading your message. Quick, clear and concise messaging is a necessary and effective tool. The Ebola pandemic demonstrated this perfectly through concentrating their efforts on promoting simple and effective points, such as urging healthcare professionals to wear protective clothing when working with patients.

However, Robbie’s string of videos mean the novelty of his shenanigans are well and truly lost, leaving his audience wanting anything but more…

Why I’m not doing the Ice Bucket Challenge

If you’ve managed to avoid all social media, and indeed online media, recently then I congratulate you. If not, your Facebook feed and internet trawling has no doubt been saturated with video of friends and celebs dousing themselves with buckets of water for the ‘ice bucket challenge’. The aim of this is to encourage donations to research for ALS (in the US) and Motor Neurone Disease (in the UK) and to raise awareness of this disease.

There is no doubt that the ice bucket challenge has been a tour de force from a PR point of view, raising millions in donations, and engaging people with the disease. It is easy to see where the campaign’s success lies – it’s engaging and funny, giving everyone a laugh whilst watching friends shriek and dance around. However, I myself would not take part if I were nominated.

More: Top ten charity PR campaigns of all time

Pr behind Ice Bucket Challenge

I’m not being boorish or taking a stance for the sake of it, and I’m sure that I will receive criticism, as indeed several people have already, for not taking part. The word ‘spoilsport’ may come to mind, and others would argue that huge amounts are being raised for this underfunded disease and why would I not want to contribute to any of this. I ask, however, whether someone’s donations to another cause or charity are any less worthwhile? They may not be making a song and dance about it but they are no less worthy or valued, perhaps even more so if they are not merely one-off donations. It’s fantastic that so much money has been raised but it is certainly not sustainable, and many other charities will never have nearly as much money raised.

Countless celebs from Victoria Beckham to George Bush have undertaken the ice bucket challenge, and it has become a fantastic opportunity for them to cash in on a bit of free PR. All they have to do it douse themselves in water and they are viewed as charity heroes, delighted to be seen throwing themselves behind a good cause. This is narcissistic, and I am not just talking about celebs. Anyone filming themselves doing the challenge and posting it to their social media is always partly doing so for public approval, an occasion to look charitable whilst essentially posting a video selfie.

The charitable aspect is almost an afterthought, and very few of the videos actually contain any information about the disease or why the money is needed. I dare add that some people taking part in the challenge don’t have any clearer an idea of the disease than they did prior to soaking themselves with a bucket of water.  The US state department has even banned diplomats from taking part in the challenge, as they are not allowed to use their positions for private gain. They are of course welcome to quietly donate to any charity; they are simply not allowed to cash in on it for their reputation.

Aside from everything else, there are severe droughts all over the world and I can only say that throwing a bucket of clear water over yourself is surely a rather tactless thing to do. If you feel strongly for a cause there should be no need to make donating a self-congratulatory, attention–seeking act.

NBC Earn Their Comedy Hotspurs With Digital Viral Video

Our digital hats are off this week to… NBC!

On Sunday, the sports network released the video: ‘An American Coach in London’ – well, actually it’s comedian Jason Sudeikis, but the idea is that he gives a frightening glimpse of what might happen if a football team ever did decide to take in talent from the USA!

The hilarious video shows the coach (Ted Lasso) playing clueless when working with Premier League football club, Tottenham Hotspur.

Footballer Gareth Bale gets a special feature when Lasso asks: “Gareth Bale, where’s he from – England?… Wales… wait that’s another country?”

The video was made to advertise the Premier League coming to NBC and to date it’s had over 3 million views, 17,000 likes on YouTube and 2,400 comments!

We particularly LOL’d at his appointed nickname from the team. If you haven’t watched it already, do so now! It’s Friday after all.