Barack, Ben and Jerry…’Yes Pecan’!

9 01 2009

Ben and Jerry are no strangers to the world of PR.  They regularly harness the power of word of mouth to promote their products and they actively promote their good works through the media.  The latest Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavour is particulalrly interesting and not just because it piggy backs the news story of the century.

The new ‘Yes Pecan’ flavour is a very obvious nod to the election slogan of the soon to be President Barack Obama.  No one can fail to see the PR power of that idea.  The name of the flavour is interesting because it appears to have come not from the creative hot houses on Madison Avenue or from a laid back group huddle at B&J HQ.  Rather it was the idea of an Obama supporter which might never have come to light had the Senator not embraced the social web as part of his campaign.

According to a posting on MyBarackObama.com the idea appeared on a blog.   “As many of you know, Ben and Jerry have endorsed Barack for President and are urging their fellow Vermonters to vote Barack on March 4th… Upon hearing the news, one of the commenters on our blog suggested an idea for a new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor: “Yes, Pecan!”

Less than a year later Barack’s on his way to the Oval Office and the new ice cream is in the freezer cabinet.





Blogger Engagement #3

9 01 2009

A famous posting by Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired, in his blog the Long Tail, offers advice and a warning to PR people who approach bloggers with the old fashioned blanket press release approach.  The posting ‘Sorry PR People You’re Blocked’ appeared in October 2007.   In it Chris refers to the 300 emails a day he receives from PR people.  

Because they are untargeted and often contain information that is inappropriate he equates them with spam.  Chris named the PR people, listed e-mail addresses and informed them that they were blocked.  This is pretty severe because it then prevents them from making a future targeted e-mail approaches (unless as he suggests they use a different e-mail address).   There were over 300 addresses on the list and they included some names from very eminent PR companies.    

Other journalists and bloggers are doing this too.  Some publicly and some  without our knowledge.   This means that the concept of the press release is in an inevitable decline, because it is possible to block the person and not just the press release.

More than ever our approaches to both bloggers and journalists need to be targeted and relevant.  We need to avoid blanket e-mails and scatter gun tactics.  This was always true but technology now means that a lack of relevance can come with a heavy penalty.





Celebrity Twitters – Real or Fake?

6 01 2009

Stephen Fry, Andy Murray and Jonathan Ross are amongst the growing band of celebrities on Twitter, but how do we know that it is really them and not just a fan of even a member of their celebrity entourage posting, purely for publicity?

There have been a host of examples of fake Twitterers and bloggers. For over a year a blog ran under the moniker “Fake Steve” or FSJ, a fake Steve Jobs blog that in some months attracted almost a million visitors including the real Steve Jobs and apparently the real Bill Gates too.

The business of revealing a celebrity Twitter as a fake in the title is an established phenomenon (at the time of writing the newly reinstated Twitter search facility revealed over 200 of these).  The bigger issue is the ease with which anyone can register a name and become a twit imposter.  

So how do we tell if the celebrity on Twitter is the real deal?  There are some tests that we can apply:

1 The Authentic Voice.   Does it feel real?  This can be an acid test in itself.  Whilst it might be possible to adopt a persona for a few tweets it is very difficult to sustain over time.  We should trust our instincts (but not rely on them solely).  Whilst some tweets feel like celebrity publicists at work (@BritneySpears admits as much) if you follow @Andy_Murray it doesn’t feel like it could be anyone else.

2. The Official Website. Stephen Fry, who is no slouch when it comes to the social web, fed his Twitter stream to his official web-site.  Voila,  instant validation, so it’s worth checking.

3. The Fourth Estate.  Traditional media channels and established journalists remain vital to news and  communications because they set the bar for accuracy and authority (a subject worthy of much further discussion).  When I openly asked on Twitter if @wossy was the real Jonathan Ross two journalists pointed me in the direction of established news source confirming it.  Check them out.

4. Ask. Put the question on Twitter either directly or to the Twittersphere.  It is the social web after all and you might get the confirmation that you need. 

The social web of its nature creates margins for doubt and error but if you apply these tests you should fairly quickly be able to separate the  glam from the sham.








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