Companies spend tens of thousands every year on PR teams, employed to keep brands and people alike out of trouble, and apologise for them when they do. PR teams are put in place to promote, make things look good and appeal to the public.
But there are times when the best form of PR is actually done through the public. The likes of you and I, sat at home, on social media. There are times when a single Tweet or Facebook post by a member of the public causes such a stir that it goes viral and creates a buzz around a brand. Sometimes it even launches a worldwide campaign.
A lot of tweets going viral have been results of conversations brands have had with members of the public. Some for the right and some for the wrong reasons. Take Argos for example, who’s customer service team’s response to a complaint on Twitter led to over 1,500 re-tweets.
And then there are some done as a result of a hashtag, someone standing up for what they believe, or coming up with something so witty and hilarious that it ends up with copious amounts of retweets.
Below are examples of when normal folk do PR.
Started by a 17 year old girl surrounding Labour Party Leader Ed Milliband and how she felt he was being wrongly portrayed by the media. She isn’t old enough to vote, yet she has created a whole new craze surrounding the general election, with hundreds of people photoshopping pictures of Ed’s face onto celebrities bodies and portraying him to be something of a sex symbol.
This 17 year old has (intentionally or unintentionally) taken the Labour party’s election campaign to a whole new level and is even responsible for the ‘Cameronettes’, where Conservative voters are showcasing their love for David Cameron as a direct response Milifandom. Could she be in some way responsible for people deciding to vote Labour? Only time will tell! But if they don’t offer this girl a PR internship then maybe we’ll have to.
Started by some rather lovely and caring social media users in a backlash against trolls. A photo appeared online showing an overweight man dancing and enjoying himself, along with another photo showing him looking a little embarrassed and sad after spotting he was being photographed. This was then captioned with some rather mean spirited words.
A Twitter user got hold of the photo, captioned it with the #dancingman and stated how there were some ladies in LA who wanted to do something special for him. This launched a social media manhunt for the guy in the photos with thousands of people stating they wanted to dance with him and even celebrities offering to throw him a party! The man was eventually found and thousands of dollars were raised to throw a party of a lifetime which will aid an anti bullying campaign. Social media isn’t that bad after all right?
3. EDF Energy.
A while back there was a protest held in Woolwich by the English Defence League. It was pretty shocking to say the least and a lot of angry twitter uses decided to vent their anger – only to EDF Energy and not to EDL (suppose it’s easy to get confused a very right wing party and an energy firm). This resulted in a few tweets being sent out with EDF having to explain that, they in fact, had no part to play in the protest. The result? EDF were the talk of the town for days after. This single act of mistaken identity probably caused more brand recognition than their little dancing orange blob.
Again, this was a tweet sent out in response to a tweet directed at Argos customer service team. I think I’ll just let you read the conversation so you can appreciate what happened. It’s fair to say, Argos gained some ‘Respect’ for this. Yeah I’m not that cool…
5. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
In 2014, the Daily Mail reported that the ALS Association had seen a rise in donations from £33,000 to £9.4 million for the same period for the year before. As far as successful charity campaigns go – this is probably one of the biggest to date. What started by a golfer having a bucket of ice chucked over his head and asking people to donate to the ALS Association, resulted in copy cat videos posted all over the world with numerous amounts of charities benefiting from the freezing cold victims.