PR campaigns II: The Battle of the Christmas ads

A few blog posts ago, I talked about the power of social media campaigns fuelled by public relations. In this particular example I discussed my employer John Lewis – and their successful role as a company to create engaging Christmas adverts for the general public.

With this in mind, it costs companies like John Lewis millions of pounds every year to fund such campaigns. Especially with other competitors following in the partnership’s footsteps – it is important to keep up with the demand for more successful media.

The 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert: #BusterTheDog

There have been many mixed reviews of this advert with people wanting more of a ‘tear jerker’ like the previous year, ” Man on the moon” This advert cost the company an astonishing £7 million.

From a marketing perspective it is interesting to note how impressive the John Lewis campaign is. As discussed previously, the 2014 campaign with #MontyThePenguin – was so successful that the Monty The Penguin merchandise completely sold out in John Lewis nationwide. It appears that they have decided to follow this motive and introduce Buster the boxer and other animals that featured in the ad. A great way of making even more money around the Christmas period.

This recurring theme of the dog Buster is a key theme implemented by John Lewis. Both as a marketing perspective and how the hashtag #BusterTheBoxer can thrive in social media. Showing the power of social media for public relations and organisations. Even other companies have used this advert to their own advantage – to gain attention from the public eye.

sportsdirectThe marketing department of Sports Direct have been very clever by using a play on words from the newly released John Lewis advert. ‘price Buster’ in reference to Buster the dog. This adds a sense of humour and also that marketing edge from other companies stocking trampolines and products alike.

It is quite interesting to monitor other competitors such as Aldi with the build up to the festive season. Previous years they opted to ‘take the mick’ out of the infamous John Lewis ad by defining a sheer comparison of price between the two companies. With a key aim to encourage customers to walk away from the partnership’s high price range. However, this year Aldi has decided to up their game by introducing a new advert of their own:

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Social media security and privacy

Since the progression in the digital world and huge advance of web 2.0, social media has been thriving for the last 20 years. As much as this brings about many positives in society, there are many users under grave danger. Privacy and security are two large factors which ultimately have a big impact on social media and the digital world.

With the wide reach that social media has had and the amount of users that have multiplied over the years, consequently everyone is now at risk. There are many dangers such as – being under the influence of identity theft or simply being hacked. All of these things can easily happen if one’s privacy and security are not monitored properly.  An article from CNBC, reiterates this theme of checking your social media security, to ensure you are properly protected. The issue is equally monitoring all of your networks which lets face it, is pretty hard to do with the sheer amount of them all.

For instance the network known as ‘Linked in’ is a platform that was initially introduced as a replacement for the CV – an online version for people to advertise themselves. In other words it encourages the user to give as much content as possible to seek potential employment from various companies in the network. This therefore contradicts the idea of remaining ‘private’ because you must give information on Linked In to give employers more information of your education and other personal background statistics. This means that it totally depends on the context of your application. Settle with your paper based CV if you do not feel comfortable documenting your personal information via applications such as Linked In.

Controlling your security and privacy

When registering for a new account on a social media, it is vital to visit the settings as soon as you can. For example on Facebook, you are able to tick off specific boxes such as ‘who can see my stuff’ here you can select whether your posts are published to the ‘public’ or if you only want your friend to be able to view them. Otherwise everybody can see your content without being friends with you.  So as you go through the various pages you can filter out where you want your content to go and how it will be received.

Accounts such as Twitter and Instagram, give you the control to simply make your account private. This way, users must send you a request in order to view your content, you must confirm or reject the request depending on who it is from.

One crucial step is ensuring you change your passwords for different networks and making sure that it has a variety of: upper case & lower case letters,numbers,symbols and other punctuation. An example of this would be: Public_Relations*21!/?. This helps secure your account and makes it a lot more difficult for hackers to access your account and retrieve personal information that you do not want to be shared.

Privacy invasion in the media

One of the most famous examples of this is from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. He unveiled the mobile phone hacking scandal. This involved the NSA (national security agency) hacking millions of people’s mobile phones without any prior permission. Snowden himself worked within the NSA and decided that the world must have a right to know that the government is accepting such a thing. He therefore broke the news to Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald.

This was not the first time that mobile phones were hacked by big organisations. Rupert Murdoch’s empire once consisted of a newspaper known as ‘News Of The World’ They were eventually shut down by Murdoch as the newspaper had been found guilty of hacking the phone of the missing girl Milly Dowler after she had disappeared. This was of course  illegal because it is against the law to hack some one’s mobile phone even though it may have led to the conviction of Milly’s murderer Levi Bellfield.

A more recent example comes from media giant Yahoo, who hacked thousands of Yahoo mail accounts – also linking to the NSA. This was one of the biggest data breaches in history and had reports of also affecting Broadband customers connected to Yahoo. This has had huge a impact on Yahoo and their future prospects.

This shows the overall importance of privacy and security. As a user of the internet you do not want your information to get into the wrong hands. Make sure you are safe and that you remain to stay safe over the coming years. Having control of your social media should be the user’s priority when setting up a new account.

What effect will Brexit have on the PR industry?

With Theresa May promising to trigger article 50 by March 2017, the entire of the UK now has doubts to the effect it will have on the country. But what effect will Brexit have on the PR industry?

An interesting statistic coming from PR Week, claimed that 79% of the people in the PR industry that voted to remain believe there will be serious issues for organisations, big labels and politics in Britain. With other fears that budgets will be cut on the amount companies can spend on improving their PR and marketing. This is not great news for someone like myself that has interest in going into PR as a future prospect. Of course we don’t know what will really happen until Britain has officially exited the EU. Even months/ years afterwards it will be hard to see the full effects of the Brexit. Considering the pound has fluctuated back and fourth, there may still be hope for the PR industry.

The leave campaign

Looking at PR itself and the leave campaign. It was evident that the vast majority of people that voted to leave the EU were consumed by the advert talking about the NHS and the ‘promise’ that it would bring £350 million a week if we left Europe. This was a PR campaign in itself, proving how successful public relations is in manipulating the consumer. Obviously people that backed the leave campaign were accused of being ‘uneducated’ and not doing enough research, it reinforces the power of the media and how it can easily influence a large population.

However, Matt Watson argues that there is fine line between good PR and lying – using false information. This was the case with the NHS claim, even though the statistic was condemned amongst critics, the people of Britain still felt it was a good enough reason, showing the pivotal role that the National Health Service has in UK.