July 17, 2015

by Ashley Tinstman

Everyone was talking about it.  There were ads on TV.  The buzz on social media was building.  Amazon Prime Day was coming, and it was going to be bigger than Black Friday—the sale to end all sales.  Consumers excitedly waited for July 15 to arrive, filling up their virtual shopping carts with all the items they expected to go on sale at midnight.  And then …

The deals never came.  Shoppers searched through Amazon’s website looking for the sales they had anticipated.  But as they were looking for tablets, phones and fashion accessories, what they found was much different.  Instead, they came across “exclusive” deals for duct tape, a VHS rewinder, a shoehorn and a bunion regulator.  (Seriously?  I don’t even know what a bunion regulator is.)

And as you can imagine, the social media world exploded.  People likened Prime Day to a giant, mediocre yard sale, and then, the #PrimeDayFail hashtag was born.  The ensuing tweets were as snarky as you might expect:

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

I was laughing so hard reading the #PrimeDayFail tweets that people probably thought I was crying.  But through my laughter, Prime Day also made me pause and think about the value of honest communication. Regardless of the tactic you’re implementing—whether it’s a social media campaign or a massive sale—effective marketing requires upfront and honest communication.

This doesn’t mean that Amazon intentionally tried to dupe people, but as a whole, that’s what consumers perceived.  They felt frustrated, as if Amazon had lured them in to sign up for its $99 per year Prime service, only to turn around and try to sell them dishwasher detergent for 20 percent off.  It felt dishonest for a company that is known for its excellent customer service and loyal customer base.

But for Amazon’s part, they were extremely pleased with their “subpar yard sale,” saying Prime Day was a success with sales surpassing Black Friday 2014.  But if Amazon is evaluating success from multiple angles (as it should be), it might want to take into account the sentiments of its shoppers.

Tweet 3

Amazon Prime Day may be coming back, but I have to wonder, will its customers come back too?




The Power of the Right Advocate

June 22, 2015

by Vianka McConville

For years, music artists have cried out against piracy without much change in music streaming services.  Sure, lawsuits with a hefty price tag may have yielded results, but they lacked in sweeping reform.

Then came Taylor Swift.

Swift has singlehandedly pressured music streaming services to change policies that leave the artist out of luck when payday rolls around.  Most recently, Apple bends the knee and will pay royalties to artists during a free trial of Apple Music.  The company took one day to reverse its policy.  No lawsuits needed.

Taylor Swift Twitter

With such power to enact change, Swift has become an effective advocate for artists.  So much so, Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman sends a playful tweet to recruit her for another cause.

Seth Fiegerman

This is a lesson for all of us.  When a passionate person is armed with a well-crafted and heartfelt message, people listen.

It’s Not Delivery. It’s Anonymous. And Wrong.

September 12, 2014

by Dan Ward

Like many PR people, I’ve been monitoring reaction to the @DiGiorno Twitter debacle, in which the person behind the company’s Twitter account made a joke using the #WhyIStayed hashtag without realizing that tag was being used to discuss stories of domestic violence.

Beyond providing a lesson on the need to think before you tweet, as well as the benefits of a sincere apology, the story has shown once again how anonymous message boards are, as Roger Pynn has pointed out, the sewer of the Internet.

Check this comment from “guest” to a PR Daily story:  “PR people have to clean up after clueless and ignorant social media staffers who don’t read and think before they comment … if this guy worked for me, he’d be gone.  No second chances.”

So not only does the anonymous “guest” make the assumption that the poster was some ignorant staffer with no PR background, he advocates the always successful “no failure” business policy.  So, unlike the MythBusters team, those who work for him know that failure is never an option.  I’m sure that leadership style makes his team eager to take risks and try new things.

Then there’s this comment from “Anonymous:”  “The premise that apologies are required is a fallacy of the young and inexperienced and naïve.  What is required is corrective action … firing the person responsible and announcing that.”

I’m neither young, nor inexperienced, nor (I hope) naïve, but I happen to believe quite strongly that apologies ARE required when you screw up.  When you make a mistake, say so, apologize for it and then take corrective action.

But is dismissal really the appropriate corrective action in this case? The poster realized his mistake almost immediately, apologized profusely to all followers, then apologized over and over again to everyone who rightfully called his post stupid, idiotic, moronic and every other word that means just plain dumb.

We’re not in the habit of firing people for making mistakes.  If so, I’d have fired myself a thousand times over the last 20+ years.  This was by all means a whopper of a mistake, one that was easily avoidable. But it wasn’t willful.  It should be an experience from which the poster hopefully will learn, rather than a mistake from which his career will never recover.

Few Words, Big Meaning

April 11, 2014

by Dan Ward

Tim Siedell, one of the funniest people on Twitter (@BadBanana), today offered proof that 140 characters is more than enough to send a powerful message.

“Pretty cool how the Internet allows everyone to have a voice on who should be silenced next.”

Those of us who communicate for a living should strive to put so much meaning into so few words.

Can’t a Whale Ever Catch a Break?

December 6, 2013

ktaylorby Kim Taylor

As a kid, there was no better treat than Carvel—especially a Fudgie the Whale cake.  If you grew up in Carvel country, you know what I’m talking about.  Sadly, the Carvel in town eventually closed and there were no more ice cream cakes.

Today, I came upon an even sadder whale tale.  Twitter’s iconic Fail Whale is no longer.  If you were around in the first few years of Twitter, the Fail Whale often made daily appearances.  The whale would appear when the site’s servers reached capacity.  It was almost a badge of honor when you got the whale … like you knew you were part of something big, something that everyone was talking—er, Tweeting about.

fail whale

From a brand perspective, I can see why Twitter, with all of its mega-success, would want to distance itself from something called a Fail Whale, but next thing you know, the Twitter bird is going to be replaced with a dollar sign.

Suddenly, my Save the Whales tag has taken on a totally different meaning.


Silence Wins

September 12, 2013

by Kim Taylor

Since the advent of social media, brands have been destroying their online reputations quicker than you can say “tweet.”  If you need an example, just read the latest gaffe from a certain fashion designer whose brand won’t be promoted with any extra Web traffic in this post.

The events of September 11, 2001, gave brands a whole new challenge online.  There are some shameful examples of marketing missteps from companies big and small over the years—and, some of the big guys still haven’t figured it out.

Happily, one has.  Tuesday night, I caught this tweet from Whole Foods Market:

Notice:  it makes absolutely no mention to 9/11, yet I think it says everything it needs to about honoring an historical event.

Thank you, Whole Foods.  This post, too, can wait.

Sorry, AFLAC, the Duck Stops Here

March 16, 2011

by Kim Taylor

By now, you’ve heard that comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired as the voice of the AFLAC duck for his insensitive tweets following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

After reading the tweets, I thought “of course they fired him” and “how could he?” but then I remembered … he’s Gilbert Gottfried.  He’s not exactly known for his family-friendly shtick.

Now, two days after they muted the duck, I’m wondering what AFLAC was thinking when they employed Gottfried as the voice in the first place.

When you hire someone to be the face or voice of your company, hiring criteria should extend far beyond the ability to quack.


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