The Power of PR in Pop Culture

Public Relations surrounds me in my life and, whether I like it or not, influences me.
Pity it only took me three years into a degree to fully understand how much of an impact it has.EO3
The undeniable Queens of publicity stunts- the Kardashians- influence what half the teenage girls in the world are probably buying. We have an image in our heads of who they are and we feel like we personally know them due to the fact that they have spent years creating and building upon it. They have such a strong public image and following that now when they buy a product and show us it on their social media, we believe it’s the best of the best. So why will we so easily believe that Kim K’s new skin brand is all we need to make our life better but still ignore centuries of advice from the more experienced skin specialists. Do people only believe what they want to believe?
There have been some obvious Public Relations horror stories documented over the years in the music industry but the big question is where any of these people or their brand seriously affected or are perceptions of big celebrities and public image something as trivial as gossip and rumors? Here are three major examples of when the person behind the story was too popular to be brought down.

Kanye west

Kanye West has NEVER been one to shy away from speaking his mind and giving his opinion on subjects, even if he is not asked to. The American singer, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer has had his fair share of publicity blunders and bad reactions from fans. Although he is the rap worlds equivalent to Marmite and despised by so many the big questions is,
Does Kanye even care?
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Back in 2009 Kanye west made his first widely controversial debut by interrupting Taylor Swifts speech to accept her MTV award to tell the audience Beyoncé should have won instead…. Ouch. Although this resulted in some huge backlash from the general public and from other celebrities who were at the MTV awards that night it did not affect Kanye’s own sales of his album at the time. So yes, everyone thought what Kanye did was horrible, but they still will listen to and buy his music? For someone with Kanye’s ego, does this really affect him in any way? Probably not due to the fact that it gave him nothing but attention. This started a spiral of PR blunders from Mr. West who has been recorded stating president Bush doesn’t care about black people, that he is in full support of Donald Trump and that he wants to run for President himself. Kanye again came under backlash in the mid 2000’s when he defended Chris Brown for beating his girlfriend. Endless Twitter feuds with celebrities and public figures mean Kanye is never out of the tabloid headlines especially since he is married to Queen Kim K. Dr Phil even went as far as to diagnose him with mental health problems on Television. Despite all of this Kanye will still sell out every tour date he release, lives in a mansion with his multi-millionaire wife and continues to be a successful business man. So is Kanye invincible because no matter what PR disaster comes his way he survives and becomes more successful, or has Kanye created the best image for himself to do whatever he wants and not have to deal with as much back lash because that’s just what people expect of him now. Is he a mad man who doesn’t care or a genius marketing expert who has always known exactly what he is doing?

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was a chart-topping success both as a child with the Jackson five and as a solo artist, so it is easy to see why die-hard fans refuse to see him as anything other than the king of Pop. MJ’s whole life was filled with controversy and publicity blunders but due to the fact he has a following of devoted fans who had watched him grow up he was immune to the bad press. Who else in the world can turn into a different race and carry on as if nothing ever happened? Who else is the world can change their nose, skin and entire face but still receive nothing but love and encouragement from fans who continued to buy all his merchandise and defend him to the death that this was a skin condition and Michael had nothing to do with it.? Nobody else I can think of off the top of my head has got away with such extreme dramatic changes with such ease. Growing up I heard whispered rumors of MJ being involved with young boys but it seemed to be something nobody wanted to speak of until the recent documentary that came out in 2019 called ‘Leaving Neverland.’ This movie on Netflix is the testimony of how two boys were groomed in MJ’s mansion by the man himself. If you heard these types of allegations about your neighbor or relative you would be shocked and appalled and not stop until the truth is uncovered however MJ’s team merely brushed the documentary under the carpet as ‘Fake News’. The movie was met with hostile incredulity from Michaels die hard fans who said the boys were lying for compensation. With such a disputed take on events and many different people’s opinions coming out since his death it still doesn’t change anything and it does not take away his ‘King of Pop’ title. This makes me ask myself, what will?
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R. Kelly
Surviving R. Kelly is a 2019 documentary on Netflix that presents substantial evidence that R. Kelly was having sexual relationships with underage girls. Key witnesses, ex-wives, lawyers, friends and even his brother came forward in the movie to speak about the years and years of horror R. Kelly inflicted on the women in his life. The most shocking part of the documentary was that although the evidence was there this was still seen as a conflicting situation in people’s eyes as they did not want to give up the music and the artist they held so dear in their lives. The evidence against him was so over whelming yet his public image was so strong that R Kelly appeared to be invincible. Every time a story came out or a young girls parents tried to alert the public R Kelly would release another banger that distracted the media and not once during his years of torture and negative headlines did his record sales drop once. That is of course until recently when radio stations across America have refused to play his songs because of the Surviving R Kelly movement. All he had to do was simply re-brand himself and his loyal following would accept everything he said. He changed his image from the Pied-Piper of RnB who sings songs like ‘bump n Grind’ to a spiritual black man singing gospel songs such as I Believe I can Fly.

So, although headlines and stories could be irritating to these celebrities does it actually have any sort of overall effect of their careers or is it just an inconvenience to them?

Emer O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – emeroneill29 ; and Facebook Emer O’Neill

Feuds: Easy Press or PR Nightmare?

We all love a good argument. The drama, the intrigue, taking sides; it’s all fascinating. But, when there is a public feud between celebrities all of these aspects are multiplied. We love to know EVERY SINGLE DETAIL about who said what, who did they say it to, who was actually involved. It’s sometimes even more interesting to see who gets themselves involved. But, do these feuds provide easy press coverage for both parties? Do they prove to be beneficial for both sides? And what happens when your dirty laundry is aired all over the internet for everyone to see?

Now celebrity feuds are nothing new and the Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Feuds have been happening in the celebrity world for as long as anyone can remember, the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford which began in 1935 was so iconic it has since had its own dedicated series documenting the events. Since the likes of Twitter and Instagram were obviously not around in 1935 the two were creative in how they played out their feud in the press. Without their own personal outlets to voice their opinions, the feud centered around statement given by the two in newspapers, something we could not imagine today with the rise of social media. At the peak of their feud when Bette Davis was married to the CEO of Pepsi, Joan had a Coca Cola machine in her dressing room, probably the sassiest thing to happen in 1935. Joan however did not fare as well out of the feud as what Bette Davis did, her action got her branded as petty and cruel. It also destroyed her friendship with Bette as it was assumed that Joan, as Bettes friend knew of her attraction to the man in question.

Over the years, since the scandal of 1935, celebrity feuds have been played out quite differently than the tactics of Bette and Joan. On the whole they are still fuelled by statements given by the opposing parties, but they are mainly focussed on Twitter and Instagram. 

The Kanye West and Taylor Swift feud started on live TV, who could forget that acceptance speech for best album. From then the feud escalated. Kanye did apologise, but took the apology back and added more fuel to the fire by using Taylor’s name in his song famous. Kanye was very vocal across social media, something his PR team must have been absolutely thrilled about. But that didn’t stop the world being fascinated by the argument. With Team Kanyes and Team Taylors firmly established the feud became interactive on twitter with the world voicing their opinions in the matter. With 10 years passed since the feud was ignited, will these two put their differences aside and finally make up? Or will they make for more celeb news in the future? The exposure for both sides could really be considered as invaluable.

Celebrity feuds bring a reality to the saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad press?’. No topic is left untouched when it comes to a feud no matter how personal. Feuds can bring celebs to the forefront of the media even when they are considered to be minor on the celeb scene. 

No feud is more prevalent in this than the emotional feud that erupted between Khloé Kardashian and Jordyn Woods at the beginning of last year. With Jordyn being accused of using her friendship with the entire Kardashian family to boost her own career, she was slated for admitting to kissing Khloés baby daddy Tristan Thomas. Jordyn did not come out of this feud unscathed however. Khloé very publicly accused her of a user, and a liar. She was also cut off from the whole Kardashian family. Jordyn also lost a huge following on her social media accounts as a result of the allegations, despite her attempt to make amends with the Kardashian tribe by doing a media interview. Khloé however, did not receive the same backlash for her actions, which she received some hate for her tweets she did not receive the same amount of hate as what Jordyn did and was relatively praised for how she handled the entire situation. But, are we surprised that this feud started days before Khloé stepped out at a launch event for PrettyLittleThing?

On the other hand to personal feuds which start in the public eye, there are some feuds which could be settled behind closed doors. The now infamous instagram post from Coleen Rooney exposing Rebekah Vardy could easily have been settled in a text message, however Coleen decided to expose the mole in Rebekahs staff to the whole of Instagram and Twitter. Neither Coleen or Rebekah are known for much more than being married to footballers, so this has massively boosted both parties images. Coleen has, of course, come out the better of the two in this case. 

The media coverage of celebrity feuds has become a focal point of our daily entertainment news feeds. It seems nowadays that celebs are not worried if the press they are getting is bad press as long as they are being considered a talking point in the daily trending pages of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. All of this press equates into searches, views and likes for the participants involved.

So, is involving yourself in a feud with someone more famous than you really worth the hassle for a little bit of press?

Niamh Magee is a second year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at Twitter: niamhmagee_ and Instagram: neevmagee

The ‘Rise and Shine’ of Kylie Jenner

It is without a doubt that everyone under the age of 30 knows the infamous Kylie Jenner who has made her mark on the beauty industry. She was recently proclaimed as the youngest ‘self-made’ billionaire at just 20 years old but given her family background this term is debatable and sparked major controversy in the online community.

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As the youngest member of the Kardashian/Jenner dynasty, it is clear that she had a lucky start to wealth and fame that many cosmetic brands and people can only dream of. Before Kylie Cosmetics there was the hit reality show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, 12 years and 17 seasons later we have seen her life and personal growth projected on our screens. But Kylie became her own person aside from her family and built an enviable social media platform, with 151 Million followers on Instagram she is the 7thmost followed person in the world, alongside sister Kim placing 6th. So, on the marketing aspect of things she had already created her own brand and status even before Kylie Cosmetics, but the financial aid from her family and amazing looks made it easy for her to create her own business and become the woman she is today.

 Ultimate Influencer

There is no question that she is the ‘ultimate influencer’ and unlike a lot of beauty companies she only needs to rely on herself to promote and model her products due to her porcelain features and infamous lips, therefore saving money and creating demand as consumers will see every product on her and influence their decision.  This was unsurprisingly the starting point for kylie cosmetics as the ‘Kylie Jenner lip’ trend peaked in 2015 and is still the standard look for many wanting to get lip filler. Whether it is a new holiday/birthday collection, skincare or Collab with her family, Kylie Cosmetics has come a long way from the ‘OG’ lip kit trio, Candy K, Dolce K and True Brown K.

Although there is a major comparison between Kylies’ personal account (151M) and Kylie’s Cosmetics (22.4M), she is still ahead of her game with beauty giants such as Anastasia Beverly Hills (20M), Jeffree Star Cosmetics (6.9M) and ColourPop (8.6M). All of which specialise in their own products, but have expanded due to the pace of the beauty community, and its demand for new and out of the box products.

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Kylie Cosmetics is able to survive because of successful marketing tactics, and with her being such a relatable and influential figure to a demographic of 18-24-year olds they have developed FOMO. The ‘fear of missing out’ happens to so many of the beauty communities’ consumers as products are marketed on a ‘need to have’ and ‘limited quantity’ bases. An example of this is the very first sale of the original Kylie Lip Kits, the lipstick and liner set came in 3 shades and due to the hype it caused ripples on social media, and those ripples caused waves. The kits were sold out in 30 seconds and crashed the website due to extreme online traffic. With every purchase of a lip kit, girls were being sucked into this fantasy of getting the perfect ‘Kylie lip’. This set the bar for the company and over the years they have expanded into eyeshadows, highlighters, blushes, brows and skincare and became more versatile in such a competitive industry.

In terms of driving demand her brand was based in the US and created urgency from those in other countries to buy her products, meaning people were waiting in different time zones at launches and willing to pay more for shipping. She also used the tactic of pop up shops for the first 2 years of running Kylie Cosmetics. Since her products were only sold online it created a want in customers as it was a one-time opportunity to get her products and potentially meet Kylie, so they were inclined to go. Although she was known for her amazing swatching videos, the pop-up shops gave customers a real-life experience to try the products and not be stuck into the commitment of making a purchase solely based on images and reviews. This is an appealing aspect for her target audience of young women who most likely do not have the income and need to ‘try before you buy’ as her brand was not portrayed as being cheap or drug store.

Whether you gravitate to Kylie or her family, it is undeniable that her marketing strategies are simple but effective, and regardless of her pretty face she is able to connect with her fans and create such a strong brand image that drives demand. But on top of being a makeup mogul she has recently become a ‘meme queen’ with her hilarious line ‘rise and shine’ as she woke up her daughter in one of her YouTube segments, to which she trade-marked and merchandise was on her website within a few days. Further showing she is business savvy by capitalising on viral trends. It will be interesting to see how her empire develops as she recently sold 51% of the company to COTY, who deal with the likes of Rimmel and Covergirl, as well as other major self-care brands. They see potential in expanding Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin into more in-store retailers around the US and internationally.

Chloe Light is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-light-358421172/ and Instagram @Chloe_lightbulb

 

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