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November 28, 2012

Susan Boyle’s Party – PR genius or a PR fail?

For a number of years I have heard people say “no news is bad news” so is any news good news? It has been a phrase I wasn’t sure I agreed with up until quite recently when I read about the ill-fated Susan Boyle’s Tweeting mishap on Twitter.

Twitter has quickly become a channel used by individuals to source information on companies and individuals and sometimes becomes the centre of unwanted news and fun poking. Susan Boyle recently made national headlines over a #hashtagging failure resulting in an innocent tweet about her latest album party turning into a rather different online Twitter party. The ‘Susanalbumparty’ or ‘Sus anal bum party’ unintentionally sent out the wrong message to fans on Twitter. This generated a lot of controversy and quickly ‘trended’ worldwide with people talking about it mainly for the wrong reasons and their own amusement, but has it affected her reputation or has it been a great ‘accidental’ PR stunt?

The media is always quick to judge claiming it is a PR stunt or just unprofessionalism. However, whatever the reason it’s obvious to see it works. We can be pretty sure that particular tweet would not have created quite as much attention if it wasn’t for this witty and amusing mistake.

In my opinion I would describe something as a crisis if a business’s reputation was actually at stake. I don’t believe Susan’s reputation has been affected by it so why call it bad PR? Surely a company’s success is monitored by the media coverage it receives and the sales that generates. And so, when people engage creating more awareness and publicity it helps promote the brand, or in this case an album even further. On the other hand, when some brands have already experienced negativity and criticism it can have terrible consequences on their reputation. For example, McDonalds and its infamous Twitter campaign received far too much bad press and raised issues that the company was dearly trying to avoid. A campaign originally designed to get people to talk online about their favourite burgers, ended quite badly when activists took the opportunity to raise their thoughts and issues on the poor quality of food and hygiene in McDonalds.

It is important to stress that each organisation may receive different reactions from the public and the media, so each case has to be reviewed individually. As long as there isn’t any permanent reputation damage all in all I think it can help grasp the public’s attention and in turn (accidental or not) make it a successful PR campaign and yes increase sales.

I guess the answer to my question is; it depends on how a company measures success. For example, let’s take Susan, yes she probably will be laughed at for a while and be the topic of conversation in offices, and social gatherings. However, she still has an impressive singing career and will probably sell more albums now than ever before. And so, with all that in mind on this occasion I think it’s hard to call it a PR failure.

If you like a nice social media fail, feel free to have a look at the top 12 Social media disasters of 2012, and let me know who would come first on your list?

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Rokhi Mohamedi

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