PR: GC style

Gemma Collins. “The GC”. Whatever you want to call her, she’s like Marmite. You either love her or hate her. And I love her. Here’s why.

How many of you have scrolled through pages upon pages on Facebook called ‘Gemma Collins memes’, ‘Gemma Collins reactions’ or ‘Gemma Collins appreciation page’?
How many of you have then proceeded to tag friends in the comments of said memes? And have you watched YouTube compilations of her best bits, be it on TOWIE, I’m a Celebrity or Celebrity Big Brother?
Yeah, I know you’re guilty.
I am too.
We’ve all done it, and we’ve all laughed.
A lot.

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* This quote is actually my friend’s Instagram bio. Literally just this quote. On it’s own.

The question is, are we laughing at Gemma, or with her?

Lines like “It’s GEMMA, you silly  c***” and “I’m claustrophobic Darren!” have become instantly recognisable from her stint in Celebrity Big Brother, and nobody can forget that helicopter ride on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Gemma’s popularity on reality television has made her an internet sensation, and in a way the memes and videos circulating our newsfeeds have become free PR and marketing tools for Gemma and her various projects.

How? Well, you are constantly seeing her face everywhere you scroll. And it makes her hard to forget. Even organisations such as the BBC have got involved by posting this on their official BBC One Facebook page to brighten up everyone’s Monday:

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And, let’s not forget that infamous fall at Radio 1’s Teen Awards. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Gemma fell down a hole in the stage while presenting an award. And it was hilarious. Since then, the footage has gained millions of views online and it has contributed to Gemma’s persona as the butt of the joke. With all things considered, some may argue that the fall could have been a publicity stunt on Gemma’s part. She’s a clever woman, after all. Whether or not it was an accident, though, we have to ask ourselves:

Would it have been as funny if it were someone else?

No, definitely not.

A bit like Beyonce’s “Sasha Fierce”, or Christina Aguilera’s “Xtina”, “The GC” is a kind of alter-ego-like persona that Gemma has created in order to establish her personal brand. At the end of the day, Gemma Collins wasn’t always “The GC”. Before TOWIE, she sold used cars for a living. “The GC” is a social construct which has emerged out of Gemma’s realisation that we love it when she acts like a diva, and that we are endorsing it every time we press play on a video or ‘like’ a meme. For example, Gemma’s book is entitled ‘The GC – How To Be A Diva’, and she’s using her diva attitude and its proven popularity to sell copies of it. 

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When interviewed on Loose Women, Gemma was asked about the memes and how she felt about them. She said,

“Honestly, I find them so funny. It’s gone all around the world. I’ve got people retweeting from Florida. It’s crazy. It’s scary how something like that can just take off.”

In another Instagram post, Gemma reposted a fan-created meme in order to promote a new project she was filming, even tagging the fan-created Instagram page @gemmareacts in her post. A lot of us probably clicked on this post because we saw it was a Gemma Collins meme, not realising it was actually an advertisement. And by clicking on it, and even liking it, we gave her more internet traffic. And probably put more money in her pocket. Gemma hasn’t played any part in creating this meme culture, all she’s done is act like a bit of a diva. But now, she is reaping the benefits of a little bit of free PR.

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So, the question is, is Gemma Collins merely the butt of our jokes, or is she in on them? The publicity Gemma has gained from viral memes created by fans and endorsed by our love to laugh at her has made her a lot of money (yeah, you’re probably now thinking of her famous line in CBB: “AVVV GOT MONEY!”). As of August 2018 Gemma was estimated to be worth around £2.7 million. As well as this fortune, she also has her own clothing line; as well as lines with fashion retailers Boohoo, SimplyBe and Evans, and her own boutique in London. And yeah, she was on TOWIE to begin with – all this fame hasn’t come solely from her popularity on the internet. But it is definitely a huge factor. So, who’s laughing now? Definitely not me, although I’ll come back to you when the compilation of my funniest moments goes live on YouTube.

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PS: you didn’t really think I was going to end this blog without attaching some classic Gemma Collins content for your entertainment, did you? Because, we’re all just here to enjoy ourselves. GC style. D’ya know whatta mean? Now, get that fire exit door, I’m off!

 

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Anna Stewart is an MSc Communication and Public Relations with Advertising student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @astewart95 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-stewart-b3127a139/

Strictly Curse or PR Blessing?

Strictly Curse or PR Blessing?

It started with a kiss. Last weekend, Seann Walsh and his Strictly Come Dancing dance partner Katya Jones were photographed kissing after, what they later described as, ‘a few too many’.

A standard work-place faux pas, that a lot of the nation can unfortunately relate to, made all that more severe by the fact that Katya is married to Neil, another professional dancer on the same show and comedian Seann has (or be that now had*) a girlfriend, Rebecca, of 6 years.

The photographs, taken on 8th October made the front page of The Sun on Sunday which was subsequently followed by various other front-page appearances throughout the week in The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Mirror.

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Both guilty parties immediately posted short and standard apologies on each of their Twitter accounts in an obvious attempt at some damage control. However, it was the statement from Seann’s scorned lover, Rebecca Humphries, that really got people talking.

In a statement co-written by Public Eye, a PR agency who boasts big names such as Jamie Dornan and Suki Waterhouse as their clients, Humphries addressed the incident (which took place on her birthday- I mean, come on Seann?!) and reinforced that she ‘wasn’t a victim’ despite revealing that Walsh had been controlling, verbally abusive and called her a psycho for voicing her concerns over his fidelity.

Rebecca’s brilliantly written statement was retweeted over 12,800 times and saw her Twitter followers increase by over 16,500. Her statement also prompted support from celebrities including Myleene Class, Stacey Solomon, Carol Vorderman and Marian Keyes, many of whom gushed about an all too familiar situation and how she handled herself with such dignity and grace. The Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, Katie Ghose, even praised Rebecca for speaking out publicly about her experience and helping other women in similar situations.

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This perfect example of crisis communications catapulted Rebecca into the spotlight, not as a woman scorned but instead as a voice for a new generation of strong, resilient and capable women.

However, a source from Strictly Come Dancing has said that, “It was written to bring him down, plain and simple, to chime in with the whole #MeToo moment and make it seem far, far worse than it was.” They then went on to say that “He’s a total a***hole but that doesn’t make him a monster.” – A view that surprisingly was shared by a lot of viewers.

Unfortunately for Seann and Katya, their joint appearance on midweek show “It Takes Two” didn’t do them any favours though. Through watching their appearance on the aptly named show, I can only imagine that the severity of what Seann had sacrificed (other than his relationship) was only starting to sink in. His uncomfortable, uptight presence throughout the interview portrayed a mind that was now counting his potential post-show opportunities slipping away alongside his inevitable sell-out comedy tour.

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Whilst addressing his version of events, he made no reference to his (ex) girlfriend and came across as arrogant and overly defensive. Katya showed even less remorse than Seann by selfishly stating that her relationship was ‘absolutely fine and that’s what matters the most’.

But I couldn’t help but wonder, why hadn’t Neil weighed in on these terrible attempts to handle the situation? Was he indeed absolutely fine with his wife’s indiscretions? Was he going to drag Seann across the dancefloor by the throat whilst the band plays Copacabana? Neil’s response was something I’d never read before in any crisis communications text book- he completely ignored his wife’s indiscretions and instead posted this photo below on his Instagram page.

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Whilst Rebecca addressed her public humiliation head on and inspired a nation of women, Neil simply taught us that if all goes wrong, you can always post a poorly photoshopped photo of your butt on Instagram that will be sure to distract from anything else going on in your life…

But Neil’s Kardashian strategy wasn’t enough to distract me.

Having never watched Strictly before in my life, I settled down on Saturday evening waiting to watch the shamed partners take to the floor to perform the Charleston (which I have to believe was picked deliberately by the Strictly producers as it is perhaps the most un-sexy dance they could have been assigned).

After sitting through the first 10 acts (another obvious ploy by the BBC to keep viewers watching the whole way through) they were on. Much to my disappointment, the ghost of Bruce Forsythe didn’t appear to cast shame on them both, but clearly I wasn’t alone in my anticipation to see these two face the music and dance. Twitter was on fire with both of their names trending the entire way through the show and viewing ratings even increased by 1.4 million compared to the previous week.

So were there any real losers at the end of this scandal?

Rebecca, although going through obvious personal trauma has had her profile heightened and gained the respect of a nation of women – all beneficial factors for an actress who, let’s face it, wasn’t a household name before. As for the pair in question, despite their horrendous handling of the situation, they have come out of this pretty well. According to Katya, her relationship is ‘absolutely fine’ and this is seconded by the silent support (and seaside selfies) of her husband. Seann even managed survived the first week of evictions post-scandal and the show is, as a result, boasting huge ratings figures.

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Thanks to the ‘Strictly Curse’, which has claimed victims including Rachel Riley, Natasha Kaplinsky and Kristina Rihanoff, the nation is watching, talking  and tweeting about Strictly Come Dancing 2018. A blessing in disguise.

 

*I personally think the most traumatic thing about this whole scenario has to have been the over-use of the word ‘snog’ in the press.

 

Lucy Sempey is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @LucySempey ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-sempey-482ab9130/