Tide Pod challenge creating brand crisis?

Do you ever just remember something that was popular or trending and just think wow the human race is just insane, like really really stupid? I mean how are we supposed to be the most intelligent mammals when things like this become a thing. Well this is exactly what I thought when I heard about the ‘tide pod’ challenge

.Image result for tide pods challenge"

Basically, it became trendy to eat tide pods- yes as in the ones you put in the washing machine to do your laundry. Which by the way, contain ethanol, citric acid and other dangerous chemicals that are poisonous. The whole thing started when tide pods became known as a ‘forbidden snack’ online due to their colourful appearance making them appear like sweets. Soon after videos emerged of teenagers (yeah not toddlers) eating the laundry detergent. While it was later confirmed most people where only pretending to take a bite, a lot of people actually did. American association of poison control reported 86 cases of teenagers intentionally ingesting laundry detergent in 2017. I’d also like to highlight the point about this being teenagers involved, I mean I would of understand if my 3-year-old godson was fooled by this. The main problem was both social media and the headlines in the mass media. Social media is dangerous in that everyone seems to want to be famous on it these days so will do whatever to keep up. It also made the few serious incidents of actual ingestion look like a worldwide epidemic. Image result for tide pods challenge gronk video"

I also think the mass media look for any reason to blame the younger generation for all the worlds problems. They also in some ways fear the popularity of social media and so want to undermine its positivity. For example, headlines started along the lines of ‘teenagers eating laundry detergent pods and posting the videos online’ to ‘teenagers risking their lives for internet challenge.’

For Tide pods this was a serious PR disaster. Many headlines suggested that it was even time to ban tide pods for good. Whether people where really eating them or just pretending to it brought forward a real danger about the design of the pods. They have been known previously to confuse the elderly people with dementia and of course young kids with their bright colouring. Therefore, this viral trend had others thinking in this way and demanding something be done. The owners of tide pods could not in their right minds predict that teenagers would take up eating their products as a hobby. Due to this they were probably not well prepared for this particular PR crisis, however, their parent company Proctor and Gamble handled the situation quite well considering. They got American footballer Rob Gronkowski nicknamed ‘Gronk’ involved in the recovery. They uploaded a tweet of them asking Gronk should people ever eat tide pods to which he replies ‘no’ several times. He then goes on to say use tide pods for washing not eating. Teenagers today are obsessed with celebrities, so It was smart of Proctor and Gamble to use one promoting safe use of their products

.Image result for tide pods challenge gronk video"

They didn’t really go crazy with their crisis management over social media. There was that video and one other tweet ‘Only things that should be on today’s menu: nachos, wings and plenty of team spirit. Save your tide pods for the stains later.’ This was probably the best thing to do as most parents will agree telling teenagers not to do something seems to make them want to do it a whole lot more. The product itself was already safe as it was properly locked so focusing on the social media craze was all they could really do. They also tried to get the videos removed to stop them from reappearing or becoming another PR crisis in the future. YouTube did eventually start to delete the videos however the jokes and memes will live on forever really

.Image result for tide pods challenge meme"

That being said in a world where there are now apparently over 100 genders is it really that much of a reach that people would eat laundry detergent to gain internet fame. The real problem here is that teenagers need to learn the difference between famous and infamous.

Katie Doyle is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram-@katiedoyle54 LinkedIn-https://www.linkedin.com/in/katie-doyle-9a0551195/ Twitter-https://twitter.com/ktdoyle6

Pizza express? A great place for an alibi.

JA1

Last week in the news was a certain member of the British Royal family, ohh yes, you’ve guessed it. It was Prince Andrew and he has had an absolute PR nightmare this week because of his relationship with convicted Human trafficker and sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein. Once I heard he was voluntarily doing this interview I couldn’t actually get my head around it, Epstein has been dead for months and there was no noise at all from the Windsor’s no communication on the issue at all. What on earth made the Royal family who I would assume have a strict communication policy actually allow this to happen? I’m very sure an inquest into this will be held and someone will be held responsible.

The interview itself was one of the most uncomfortable and awkward things I’ve ever watched. Prince Andrew himself did not seem at all comfortable with the discussion as a whole. Surprisingly most of Prince Andrews Public relations advisers wanted him too to do the interview, however only one advisor Jason Stein was against the idea. Stein had previously been special advisor or “Spin doctor” to Amber Rudd and left the role by mutual consent because he knew how much of a backlash the Prince would face from the interview and he was correct.

The interview took place on BBC Newsnight and was approved by the Queen, every answer Prince Andrew gave seemed like even he doubted them. The reason for the interview was a picture of Prince Andrew with one of Epstein’s sexual slaves Virginia Roberts-Giuffre, she was a young woman who had been trafficked by Epstein and remained a slave. She stated that she danced with a sweaty prince Andrew and that they had sexual relations something he strongly denies. The answer Prince Andrew gave was the strangest response I’ve ever heard to a sexual allegation “I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at and I simply… it was almost impossible for me to sweat.” He did not actually deny the allegation of sexual abuse but said he didn’t sweat instead, he did not have to worry because he had half the nation sweating for him.

He also stated that he had an alibi for the date that Virginia Roberts-Giuffre stated that they had sexual relations “I was with the children and I’d taken [daughter Princess] Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon.”.When asked by the BBC why he would remember a meal at Pizza Express 18 years later, he said: “Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do.” I think remembering taking your daughter for a party 18 years ago is most unusual thing, how could anyone physically remember this event, but I suppose Pizza express is as good as place for an alibi as any.

Once he had denied all of this there’s still the question of the picture of himself and Virginia Roberts-Giuffre together smiling while he has his arm around her waist, and it looks like a perfectly normal photo until you release the context. Of course, this was the response by Prince Andrew “Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored but I don’t recollect that photograph ever being taken” from this I don’t think he can prove it’s a doctored photograph and not remembering something does not mean it didn’t happen. Who ever is advising on the wording of his script definitely did not read over it again. When asked about his hand around the young woman’s waist he stated “I am not one to, as it were, hug, and public displays of affection are not something that I do… I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested. “He also added: “That’s me but whether that’s my hand or whether that’s the position I… but I don’t… I have simply no recollection of the photograph ever being taken”. At this point he seemed nervous by the questions and he actually stammered as you can see in the quotes, he wasn’t even convinced by the story himself. If you’re going to lie at least be confident about it, the entire episode reminds me of the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky case and unlike Bill who just simply point blank lied. Andrew has confused himself and his story during the interview and has not cleared a thing up in my opinion.

He did not even express regret or apologies to the victims of his billionaire friend Epstein instead he said, “The people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.” If this interviews purpose was to create a more positive public image of Prince Andrew and to repair the damage that his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein caused, it has done the complete opposite of this desired effect and quiet simply been a PR meltdown that the Prince may never recover from.

 

Jordan Arthur is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/jordan-arthur-864694173 and Facebook – facebook.com/jordanarthur.71 

#PRStudentScribbles: Crisis Communications

social-media-488886_1280


Welcome! 

I am a full time MSc Student in Public Relations and Communications at Ulster University since the end of September. I am a law graduate from Trinity College Dublin (1997) and practised as a solicitor for the last 18 years.

Why do I listen to Podcasts? 

As I am a newcomer to the study of Public Relations and Communications, it is important that I identify reliable educational information online  and take notes old style!

One exciting development from a mature student point of view is the rise of Podcast Shows as a rich source of information. As someone who enjoys auditory learning, Podcasts are perfect as I can vary the speed, volume and pause the show regularly to scribble down key points! Podcasts help me to connect the dots between the theory, research and practice of PR and Communications. 

NO1

#ThisWeekinPR 

In #ThisWeekinPR published by the PR Academy on 4 October,  I noted the recommendation of The Digital Download hosted by Paul Sutton with Kate Hartley: How to handle misinformation in a crisis [podcast] (1 October).

Crisis and reputation 

In Episode 2, Season 5, crisis expert Kate Hartley and Paul Sutton, Digital Communications Consultant and founder of The Digital Download Podcast and Conference discussed the rise of misinformation and how to handle all things ‘fake’ in a crisis situation. The podcast is of particular interest as Kate Hartley looks at psychology  rather than conventional crisis management. 

Fake news and propaganda have existed for decades, if not centuries. But with social media algorithms reinforcing confirmation bias and with the advent of deep fake technology, misinformation has reached unprecedented levels. As a result, trust has plummeted and corporate crises are becoming ever-more common.

In this episode of the Digital Download Podcast, I talk to Kate Hartley from crisis simulation platform Polpeo. Kate has recently written a book called Communicate in a Crisis that takes a detailed look at why people behave the way they do on social media, how misinformation spreads as a result and how companies can best handle this.  -Paul Sutton 

The Podcast 

My Podcast Scribbles  

  • Outrage has become currency for some people on social media. Accordingly, fake news can be circulated in crisis situations. 
  • Crisis planning is now essential for every organisation. 
  • Brands should react to information online by being the source of truth in a crisis.  
  • Be the individual, company, brand that people come to when something goes wrong.
  • Be the trusted voice of authority so that people believe you. 
  • Look at psychology rather than conventional crisis management. You cannot respond effectively in a crisis if you don’t understand how people are behaving in that crisis. You have to understand how they are behaving and how that is changing because some of the old crisis responses just don’t work any more. 
  • You cannot wait for the next news cycle to come out. Think about people’s need for immediate information as people can spread fake news about your brand in the crisis and deliberately share misinformation.  
  • Some industry bodies are trying to move away from the term “fake news” to the term “misinformation.” 
  • Some people accidentally spread misinformation because they believe it to be true. Other people deliberately spread misinformation as they have some sort of malicious intent.
  • The pressure that consumers are putting on brands means they have to be more honest and transparent than they ever have been before. 
  • Be the source of truth.  Be the source of truth. Be the source of truth! NO2

     

    Recommended Books

    • Communicate in a Crisis by Kate Hartley
    • Crisis Communications Management (PRCA Practice Guides) by Adrian Wheeler
    • Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins by Mark W. Schaefer.

    Nóirín O’Neill is an MSc Student in Communication & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @Noirin0Neill and on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/n%C3%B3ir%C3%ADn-o-neill-426b91110/

     

  •