Tag Archives: ragan.com

Fond memories: PR oopsies of 2011

I love year-end “best of” and “worst of” lists. Here are a few cringe worthy PR situations from 2011. In the spirit of the holidays, this list doesn’t include anything that has to do with lurid sexual allegations, a la Penn State and Anthony Weiner.

Netflix raises fees and changes name (ragan.com, #1): Netflix has certainly seen better days, going from a key focus of Chris Anderson’s 2006 book The Long Tail to the CEO sending an e-mail to all its customers on Sept. 19 of this year that began with “I messed up. I owe you an explanation.” This great article sums up the situation, grading Netflix on a variety of areas (spoiler: 3 Ds and an F). Ouch.

Along the same line of fee increases, Bank of America (ragan.com, #4) came under fire for announcing a $5 monthly debit card fee. Embarrassingly, the other banks they thought would follow suit didn’t. At all.

“Don’t forget Target’s Missoni launch!” says one commenter on the ragan.com article. Good reminder! I was one of the thousands of shoppers to descend on target.com to browse Missoni’s exclusive line of products only to find that the website wasn’t functioning and stuff in-store sold out pretty quickly. And messily. (This salon.com article written by a woman who survived the in-store frenzy is pretty fantastic.)

The Target mishap (or publicity stunt, as it has been called) is an interesting look at traditional advertisement (TV commercials, mostly) creating buzz for something happening online (and in-store) and then the product not living up to the hype. Brings back fond memories of the 2009 KFC and Oprah free chicken coupon debacle. Never underestimate the power of perceived value!

Chrysler dropping the f-bomb in Detroit: a social media rep with an agency handling Chrysler’s Twitter account accidentally tweeted from Chrysler’s account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.” Yikes. When you manage a personal Twitter account plus at least one professional one, mistakes can happen. But why would someone who works on behalf of Chrysler even tweet that from her/his personal account? Not classy at all.

Check out other 2011 PR disaster lists from AdAge, Startupsmart, Inc.com, and Huff Post.

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Why Facebook’s new groups are great

Ragan.com posted a recent article outlining the pros and cons of Facebook’s new group option. A quick lesson for those not keeping up with social media: Facebook has allowed users to create groups that aren’t organizations or individuals and that have the option of being private. Administrators have to admit a user to the group, and if the group is closed, only those in the group are privy to posted and shared information. Posts and status updates appear in the newsfeed of its members, so it’s easy to keep up with group activity. There are other great features, including a group chat function.

This addition to Facebook is a coup for internal communication and collaboration. I’m a member of the social media marketing committee at the college where I work. The group is made up of a dozen or so individuals from different campus offices. We get together once a month, and between meetings we’d group e-mail some and talk when we saw each other out.

But ever since we created a Facebook group for our committee, collaboration and discussion happens almost daily. We share content in our group, we comment on and discuss breaking news pertinent to our goals, and we joke around, too. We even accomplish some pretty basic, small functions that are important at the time. For instance, last week, my Google alerts picked up an online USA Today article that mentioned my college. I wondered if it was also in the print edition. It was a cold day, and the snow was coming down hard; walking across campus to the student center to grab a copy of the paper was the last thing I wanted to do. So I posted the article on our group’s wall, and a colleague, whose office is in the student center, checked the paper for me. Simple? Yeah, definitely. And could the same thing be accomplished by phone? Sure. But when folks (like me) are becomming less fond of their phones and who also are on Facebook all day monitoring their clients’ accounts, this just makes sense.

One source in the above-mentioned Ragan article, on the “con” side of Facebook groups, noted that she wouldn’t use the feature because she was leery of their actual privacy. Privacy can be an issue with any social media outlet, and Facebook’s groups function hasn’t indicated it’s any less private than other social media features.

Facebook has made other changes lately (another day, another blog) that seem to indicate it’s giving extra attention to page administrators and businesses who use Facebook to market their products. This is smart, since it’s not just individuals who use Facebook anymore. In fact, more and more organizations use Facebook as their only online presence. Thanks, Mark!

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