Keeping up with Kylie’s PR Blunders

Kylie Jenner has been in the public eye since she was ten years old, but in 2016 when she launched her own cosmetics brand, she finally began to hold her own in the spotlight.

Of course, something that comes with every business venture that any of the Kardiashian/Jenners embark on, is bad publicity, and this was no different for the youngest of the clan.

From the very beginning of the brand, there has been constant backlash of everything that the young entrepreneur has launched. Not long after the first LipKit launch, beauty vloggers began to review the first of the products, and gave very honest, very brutal reviews.

Not only had the products themselves been receiving the awful feedback, the company itself had been getting dogged with complaints of missing products, with customers waiting months and months for their order to arrive, some customers even contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for advice. The BBB website actually displays information about the complaints it’s received of different companies, and of the 136 complaints filed about Kylie Cosmetics, the majority fell under the categories of delivery issues and problems with the products. During this first major PR blunder, the BBB first rated them an F, which then changed to a NR (no rating).

Not exactly great PR for an up and coming business. The company has since had their rating improved to a B, but the negative reviews from customers still overpower the positive, out of 348 reviews, 199 of them are negative, a whopping 57%.

“I placed an order on 12/2/17 for the Koko set for my niece and they have yet to send it out. I have e-mailed them on the 7th but receive a generic response that didn’t answer any of my questions. There is no customer service backing this product . I don’t understand how they are at a B+?”
“I purchased the KoKo Collection lipsticks on 10/24 at around 9:22 p.m. After doing some research on the colors I decided they wouldn’t be a good fit and at around 9:45 p.m. I emailed Kylie’s customer service to cancel my order. I received a response on 10/27 informing me that my order was already placed and I couldn’t cancel my order. I somehow was hopeful that I would be able to use some of the product if not all. Well yesterday (10/30) I received the ripped kit with used lipsticks which was clearly returned by another customer. I emailed customer service right away and provided pictures of the used lipstick tubes and broken package. Customer service got back to me today and notified me that they didn’t accept returns of broken products! will be tossing these in the garbage and will never recommend this cosmetic line to anyone. Buying products online without being able to swatch them is difficult enough and risky on the consumer and therefore buying from a cosmetic line that doesn’t do returns or refunds is ludicrous.”

Other than the ongoing negative customer reviews, the company has had no major PR mishaps in the last couple years. Until now.

With the most recent launch of her brand involving an entire new range of concealers, lipsticks and a brush set, 2 out of 3 of the products have come under fire on the Internet.

Firstly, a lot of the make-up community have criticized the make-up mogul for copying Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand with the new concealers. Before the Fenty Beauty launch a few months ago, not many brands had put out products that was inclusive of all skin tones across the board, and this is why Kylie’s concealers have had backlash. Many believe that Kylie has copied Rihanna’s shade range. So, I suppose you could be criticized for worse things than being racially inclusive, right?

However, another criticism of the same product is that Kylie Cosmetics is developed in the same factory as much cheaper e-commerce brand ColourPop, so many are slating the concealers for being the exact same as the ones ColourPop released not so long ago, just with Kylie’s name on it.

Kylie Cosmetics, for the first time since launching in 2016, also released set of brushes, sold separately and as a collective on the website. The collection includes 16, silver/chrome “real hair” brushes, which according to the reviews made by beauty vloggers in the last week, perform well. Although, the thing on everyone’s mind is not how they perform, or how they look, it’s the whopping $360 price tag.

Controversial make-up artist and owner of cosmetic brand Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Jeffree Star published his very honest and brutal opinion of the brushes as soon as the brushes were available to purchase. In a review posted to his youtube channel, Star first of all, described the ‘silver brush roll’ that the brushes came in as ‘tin foil’. He stated to his fans that for what you’re getting, and paying $360 (plus tax and shipping), you’re really paying for a over-hyped celebrity name.

And many other YouTube famous make-up experts seem to agree with this opinion.

Kylie Jenner took to Twitter to defend the price tag, and compared her brush set to the sets released by legendary make-up brands such as MAC, Artis and Kevyn Aucoin, which actually made things worse for Kylie, as many believe someone who has only been in the make-up industry for a few years, simply cannot compare her products to those luxury brands that have been around for a lifetime.

It would seem that Kylie Cosmetics, and maybe Kylie Jenner in general, need a PR professional, and stat.

Hollie Thomson is a final year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/holliethomson/ or Facebook: Hollie Thomson

The Kardashians and their PR stunts

We all noticed last year that the Kardashians were appearing all over our social media, snapchats and online news sources about the whole pregnancy rumours. Kim was (maybe) pregnant, Khloé was pregnant and Kylie was too? But what the three sisters all have in common is not just the fact that they were ‘pregnant’ but the fact that they drove the media mad by pulling strategic PR stunts in public and on Snapchat to stir up more news stories around their pregnancies.

After Kim went public on her pregnancy, we saw Khloé and Kylie hiding their stomachs in public for the paparazzi with baggy clothes or with their handbags; to posting images on Instagram and Snapchat, carefully leaving out their stomachs. The whole rumour of ‘if’ the Kardashian’s were pregnant and their refusal to answer or respond to this huge media uproar was the core source driving all their publicity at the time.

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Ever since a source told TMZ about the pregnancies in the family, every tabloid magazine and paper in the world went on a frenzy to report on it. From simple snaps that Khloé and Kylie puts up on Snapchat, to the family ignoring comments and questions about even confirming the pregnancy. The fact is that dominated our news feed, and what’s worse is that we became so intrigued by it.

So, why is it so effective?

The Kardashians use the press to send out one way communication to the public; For example ‘sources’ said Khloé is pregnant and Kylie is 3 months pregnant, but are these sources just a press agency  devised to promote the Kardashians and get them in the public eye?

For the Kardashians there is no such thing as bad publicity. Every story out there, they make work in their favour:

“Hiding that baby bump?”: ‘Pregnant’ Kylie Jenner causes a stir on the Kardashians’ Christmas photoshoot (The Mirror)

Pregnant Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian Snap Selfies Together (USMAGAZINE)

When Is Kourtney Kardashian Due? Star Reportedly Pregnant With Younes Bendjima’s Baby (ELITE DAILY)

Kylie Jenner reveals ‘baby bump’ for the FIRST time along with giant cleavage – amid reports she’s ‘pregnant’ with her first child (OK Magazine)

A Legit Clue On Kim Kardashian’s Instagram Ties Together The Pregnancy Rumours (www.refinery29.uk)

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We see with all these tabloid titles taking the media that none of them actually confirmed the pregnancies, they were all rumours. Theories were created based on their social activity and reading into captions ‘ The 3 of us…’ many tabloids and fans looked on the Instagram pic above as a coded message from Kim suggesting that the three of the sisters are pregnant, even before the official news broke.

These sort of headlines are so effective because they manage to attract those that do not even like the family. So in due course, by creating a lifestyle that many people aspire and relate to, the family not only taps in to their target audience engagement, but also reaches out to other market segments that are intrigued by their way of life.

How is this PR?

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (UK) defines public relations: “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

The Kardashians use the media today for free coverage to influence the public to engage with the Kardashian/Jenner brand. They ignored the pregnancy rumours for months; they post images of themselves on social media as normal, like they are not in the media spotlight? All this attention and failure to respond to the media has journalists and fans fascinating over every post or public outing they make. As a result, the public’s desire to know more is working in their best interests, helping them further their presence in the public eye and achieve their main aim to engage more people in their personal lives,

Also, considering this year is the 10th anniversary of the Keeping up with the Kardashian’s show, could this just be a PR stunt to increase viewing? Or maybe to get more people to sign up to the new ‘Hayu’ App which the Kardashians are current brand ambassadors for? All I can say is I hadn’t a clue what ’Hayu’

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was until I seen the Kardashians plastered all over it and thought hey they must have made their own app.  Just to confirm Hayu is new streaming video service that’s all about reality TV on demand which only launched last year.

To sum up, the Kardashian-Jenner clan use life events to gain publicity and ultimately engage with their brand, not just the ‘Keeping up with the Kardashian’s’ TV Show but also each of the ladies (Kim, Kylie, Kendal, Khloé and Kourtney’s) individual brands. Their strategy of creating rumours in the media and pulling PR stunts across all social media platforms gains them more credibility and interest by their refusal to address the current dramas in their life.  An excellent example of effective public relations in today’s competitive media environment.

Shannon Doyle is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @shannond_761 / Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-doyle-28b827109 

The Ghost of Snapchat Past?

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Kylie Jenner – is there anything she can’t do?  She boasts the title of being the boss of a multi-milion dollar cosmetics company, a yummy twenty-something mummy, and even an expert in predicting stock market trends.  Amazing!

If you’re a little lost here, let me fill you in.  After Kylie sent out a tweet explaining that she was feeling a little less than impressed with recent changes to the Snapchat app, their stocks plummeted $1.3 billion in value.

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By the tone of the tweet, I feel like Kylie probably wasn’t even thinking very much about it at the time of writing.  It was probably just a normal Wednesday for her, chilling out in her mansion, sipping an iced tea, smashing billions in value off the stock market with a single comment.  Average midweek stuff.

While some have marvelled in horror at these events and pondered what kind of world we live in when the Kardashians have sole control over who lives or dies on Wall Street, others have pointed to Snapchat having experienced a general downward trend over the past year – with Kylie’s comment simply kicking them while they’re down.

Last March, Snapchat went public, and despite warning investors that the app may never turn a profit, share prices spiked immediately after hitting the market.  However, the year since has been turbulent.  The company saw a disappointing 17% drop in their shares in mid 2017, with not a Kardashian in sight – the culprit behind this dip was social media giant, Facebook – owners of Instagram.

Snapstagram?

I can actually remember my first reaction when Instagram began rolling out their suspiciously Snapchat-like updates.

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Funnily enough, Instagram’s market value went completely unaffected by my tweet.

But despite Instagram blatantly plagiarising the most popular aspects of a rival app and integrating them into it’s own features, Instagram Stories flourished.  They introduced new and different features that Snapchat lacked, such as different fonts, filters and gifs, and of course, the endlessly popular boomerang feature, which allows us to watch other people clink glasses not just once, but several times in a loop!

Their tactics worked, though, and Instagram Stories alone now boasts more users than Snapchat.  And in keeping with the latest trends, Kylie Jenner gave fans the first peak at her new baby Stormi earlier this year, not via Snapchat, but on Instagram, in a post that became the app’s new most liked picture ever.  It seems that everything Kylie touches turns to gold, and so this gesture probably indicates that we should all invest all of our money in Instagram as quickly as we possibly can.

Redesign – or Re-disaster?

Never mind the threat from Instagram, though – Snapchat may have actually shot themselves in the foot with new updates that nobody asked for.  The company began rolling out a redesign of the app in late 2017, and their shares actually picked up by 25% in response as investors anticipated the effects of these new changes with optimism.  That fell a bit flat however when the changes rolled out…and just about everybody Hated them.  With a capital H.

As the full extent of the redesign was rolled out to user’s phones, the reaction was not good.  In fact, it was sort of dire.  Kylie was not the only one not feeling the apps new layout, with users complaining that the app was now ugly, confusing and difficult to use.  Some users despised the changes so much that a change.org petition aimed at Snapchat asking them to revert the app back to it’s old look gained over a million signatures.

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Personally, while I wouldn’t say I despise the changes, having to scroll for what feels like years to find someone I messaged yesterday while the names of random people I barely know and would never wish to speak to personally in a million years appear at the top of my feed is just a tiny bit annoying.  Or, you know, massively infuriating, depending on what mood I’m in.

Snapchat commented on the whole debacle by arguing that the update aimed to make the app ‘more personal’ and that users simply needed to get used to it, while promising more changes soon to be rolled out which would make the app experience more ‘customisable’.  While I’m not a tech expert by any means, am I crazy for thinking that if your customers don’t like changes, it’s unlikely you’re going to fix their negative attitudes with more changes?  Or maybe I’m just crazy, who knows…

So is this the death of Snapchat?

As a company that isn’t currently all that profitable, Snapchat’s future lies in the value of its shares.  They need investors to believe that Snapchat is growing and that it’s here for the long run, and not just a social media fad that will disappear into irrelevance as easily as one of its 24 hour stories.  This kind of volatility in its market value could spell disaster for a company that’s still only really in its early years.

Overall, I think there are a few lessons to be learned from the Snapchat redesign disaster, one of which being that the customer is always right.  A little more pilot testing and research into what the audience wants could have saved Snapchat a whole lot of stress and headaches over the past few months.  However, it’s yet to be seen whether or not this whole series of unfortunate events will see a decline in Snapchat’s actual user base, as it still attracts 187 million users a day – it hasn’t quite died and joined MySpace and Bebo in social media heaven just yet.

And personally, until the day I lose all of my 200+day long streaks, Snapchat will still be my go to.

 

Una McHugh is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/una-mchugh-a11956106/ and Twitter @unamickq

 

Putting the PR in Pregnancy

What do you do to boost your image and get people to talk about you? Create news. And this is exactly what the Kardashian/Jenner PR machine is talented at.

You don’t have to like them, but on some level, you have to admire what this PR savvy family has done with our obsession with fame – accurately assessing it, exploiting it and profited significantly by it.

Nothing is unplanned when it comes to their publicity – the strategically leaked stories and careful management of the not-so-staged Snapchat or Insta story. When your product is the life you lead, then you have to keep it interesting, even if that means celebrity feuds, divorce and unclarified rumours – which leads us to the spectacular PR strategy behind Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy reveal.

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In late September initial word of the pregnancy broke and sent the world into a wild frenzy. We waited with baited breath for Jenner to give us some sort of sign or drop a hint to validate the news – but nothing. Months went by with Momager Kris Jenner neither confirming or denying the news and the other sisters remained surprisingly tight lipped, with Kylie remaining remarkably coy – or is it koy? Finally, on 4th February, just hours before the Super Bowl and after months of speculation regarding her pregnancy, Kylie finally broke the silence and confirmed the existence of her pregnancy and the birth of her baby girl.

The family are the epitome of an efficient PR machine, with Kylie’s pregnancy demonstrating how less is more to keep the public guessing and follower numbers growing and how a firm grip on the latest and best ways to exploit social media platforms is vital.

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Jenner released a statement on her Instagram, justifying the months of silence which had led to fostered intrigue and sustained attention on the Kardashian/Jenner clan for almost a year. By neither confirming or denying the pregnancy, Kylie smartly let people to build conversations and propose ideas of their own and so we became so invested in the details that we waited for news, which was in this case – a baby.

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A true testament to the power of good PR.

Mallory Blair, the cofounder and CEO of Small Talk PR, stated “announcing hours before Super Bowl stokes vitality,” she writes, pointing to the crowd mentality of such an event and the likeliness that those gathered together will discuss current events. “It also creates brand alignment with a major, national cultural moment.”

Speaking as a PR professional, Mallory expects that Kylie’s next steps will reflect the same careful strategy. “I’d guess that she’ll parse out the remaining assets as exclusives which will continue to get her leverage in how her story is shared and which of those stories receive the most attention,” she said. “For example, offering the first official baby photo or her first Q&A verses a first broadcast interview are all things that can be used to set the terms of what is and is not shared as a condition of the exclusive”.

Time alone will tell.

Amy Greer is a second year BSc CAM student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr