Kim Kardashian‘s latest mission to gain some media attention was a ‘naked selfie’ posted on Instagram on 7 March and within a day it had over 1 million likes. One hell of a powerful (and nothing left to the imagination) selfie.
Sorry to further the Kardashian noise even more, but if you did manage to miss it or couldn’t be bothered to seek it out, it’s below.
Kim Kardashian has built a career out of vanity public relations. She has no traditional tangible skill, talent or trade, she is literally promoting interest in her. Her life, her looks, her family and her loves.
I wrote in a previous blog ‘People taking selfies can become powerful stakeholders if they gain adequate enough attention.’ However, I’d like to add to this theory and say that to sustain power, the person must continue to draw attention to themselves to keep themselves in the public eye or find other mechanisms to support attention being put in their direction.
Kim Kardashian has done exactly that, her fame now sustains itself through several other mediums, her social media accounts, broadcast, print and her family to name but a few.
She brought herself in to the public eye so much that she landed herself a reality TV show, she married one of world’s most famous rappers and perpetuates herself further with vanity PR, such as the naked selfie above. As Kim shows on a daily basis the humble selfie can be a very powerful tool in PR!
Love them or hate them, you have to question what kind of culture they are fostering online? And is it restricted to gender? Tragically a man recently became a selfie recluse and tried to kill himself when he couldn’t obtain what he deemed to be the perfect picture. It’s an extreme example, but an example none the less. This sounds like it has taken the form of addiction but in the case of Eat Pray Love star, James Franco, he know’s exactly what he’s doing. An article in Marie Claire has researched that he is full aware that in the age of hyper-connectivity and online noise, attention is power. Cornelissen, author of Corporate Communciations: a guide to theory and practice, identifies a power, urgency and legitimacy model when it comes to stakeholder salience. People taking selfies can become powerful stakeholders if they gain adequate enough attention. Last night James Franco posted an almost nude and very odd selfie and removed it an hour later (Marie Claire have captured it though, take a look). What did it create? Attention, everyone’s currently talking about…James Franco. Everyone will be paying attention to his twitter account for a little while, so whatever he says is going to have an enhanced focus and a larger reach and therefore when you are trying to be heard amongst the crowd this can be a powerful tool. Large companies are starting to recognise that they could potentially be a profitable trend too. Samsung have identified that selfies are powerful and have decided to capitalise upon it releasing a selfie-specific camera. To be fair, the camera is actually very cool, with some super features, but it does lead to asking the question what or where next for the selfie?
There is also the element of people who are fishing for compliments. Cancer Research UK not only identified this trend but also harnessed it as a PR campaign, which ultimately used vanity PR and converted it into direct donations, the charities main aim. It played upon women empowerment, image and personal identity. By women posting not only were they saying they were confident enough to show the world their face make up free, warts and all but they could also align themselves with being a better person, it just screamed ‘Look everyone, not only am I confident, but I’m generous!’ Through the nominations aspect, other women questioned their peers, willing them to participate, but are they really asking ‘Are you a confident and generous person too?’ No one wants to be seen as insecure or a scrooge! Ultimately it generated a lot of money for charity, which can only be a good thing, I’m just not sure I fully agree with the method, but no one can deny it was a clever PR campaign.
Having not grown up in the age of the selfie I can’t help but think of the impression it may have had on me. Teen Vogue take a psychological stance and address the issue of low self esteem recommending a shift in perspective if all you are looking for are comments. The advice they give is healthy, they don’t say selfies are bad but to make sure they are fun and avoid excessive use. I think it’s important that influencers like Teen Vogue do put out positive messages like this so there is some guidance for people growing up in an ever-image obsessed world. The ‘What I see’ project discusses both sides of the selfie but within a feminist context with a dose of philosophical musings and makes for a very interesting contribution to the debate.
Grace Dent who writes for The Independent also makes the argument that selfies are about self-branding, celebrity-alignment, social climbing and proof of happiness. The more I read the more negative it gets. Are there positive aspects to the selfie? Perhaps I don’t understand the selfie. Do we need to prove to other people that we are happy? What constitutes happiness? Do people want to see others pouting in front of the camera?
What do you think?
Share your comments below, or if you find any good articles or points of view please post them too!
Hitting the headlines this week is the revelation that Barbie is introducing new shapes, sizes and skin tones. Their justification is diversity, they want to be more inclusive.
Now I don’t doubt that this is a part of the reason. Mattel have come under some heavy global media fire criticising Barbie’s disproportionate measurements and the negative effects on the children that play with them.
However, let’s not beat around the bush. Barbie’s had a hard time over the past few years. The invention of Bratz and other rival toys, not to mention iPads and other technological supplements, have opened up the field of fun for children around the world. This has meant that the humble Barbie Doll has had to adapt to survive or face its resignation to ‘Retro Toys of the 90’s’ segments on Buzzfeed and lame Christmas television shows.
Now diverse Barbie’s are nothing new. My most prized possession as a child was a beautiful Benetton Barbie, one of the first modern designer Barbies that my Mum bought me back from a trip to Amsterdam.
She was stunning, her clothes were different to any of my regular Barbie dolls. Her skin tone was different, her make up was different, her eyes were more oval and she had long flowing dark hair. She looked chic and Italian. I loved her.
But, I digress, what I mean to say here is, this is nothing new!
What people are failing to ask is what is really going on here?
This is not about diversity, this is about survival. Brand survival. How does a toy stay iconic? It moves with the times and meets the expectations of it’s audience.
Barbie are cleverly using diversity to drive sales and create a strong identity that their new modern market can identify and connect with. In the past any Barbie that didn’t fit the conventional mould was labelled limited edition, like my Benetton Barbie.
They are creating this strong image for their audience to identify with by creating more shapes, sizes and skin tones and making them part of their standard range then using this to address the damaging ‘stick thin’ model mentality that’s so popular in modern media. Ah, a form of feminism for capital gains.
They are even aligning their brand by creating bespoke look-a-like dolls for influential women which are then being promoted through the UN Women’s Twitter account.
Mattel are broadcasting their acceptance of diversity and positive body imagery with a highly public and prominent PR awareness campaign. Would Mum’s around the world want to buy their child a more diverse doll to promote a healthy or different body image? Of course they will.
But don’t be fooled, this really is nothing more than clever public relations to ensure a brands survival with the additional benefit of reputation enhancement. It’s pretty impressive and powerful PR.
Thank god we made it through all that ‘New Year, New Me’ bollocks that was rammed down our throats across January. Sorry, but dry January, along with the temporary wave of new gym goers and people making resolutions that are not kept can do one.
It’s time for a quick January 2016 catch up!
January was so much fun, it has gone by in a flash, probably through the haze of Birthday celebrations. One notable Birthday highlight was a rather decadent and frivolous afternoon tea at The Savoy. This then got extended to gin and tonic’s at the Beaufort Bar in all it’s 1920’s black and gold glamour. We then went around Kings Cross Station to the Alan Rickman tributes that have been left at Platform nine and three quarters. He was one of my favourite actors.
I hope you had a cracking January too, I mean it wasn’t that bad, was it?
It has been a great month apart from a couple of major exceptions, the wonderfully talented icons we have lost.
Bowie. Rickman. Wogan. Cultural icons who will be sorely missed. The world will be a slightly darker place without them all.
I was lucky enough to meet Sir Terry Wogan once (I know what a name drop!) on the strangest college trip ever to the Terry and Gaby Show. He sat down on the step next to me, before he was introduced on stage, and engaged me in a brief chat which ended with him elbowing my arm, throwing me a wink and saying ‘There are worse jobs to have!’. He was warm, engaging and a true professional.
Each in their own way helped to shape modern media, music and film. Influencers in their field.
PR is always talking about influencers. In fact it’s such a hot topic that the CIPR has sent a new magazine out at the end of January to its members called Influence.
The tag line is ‘For switched-on Public Relations Professionals’. It’s a great tag line, if not a little obvious. I mean everyone wants to be considered as ‘switched-on’ in the PR industry?!
Emblazened on the cover is the word ‘LISTEN’ followed by ’19 essentials to engage a message-swamped world’. Why 19?! Odd!
It’s targeting three key issues that are some of the biggest PR insecurities. Being able to influence, to listen and to effectively communicated.
I haven’t read it yet but I can’t wait to settle down with a coffee, welcome in February properly and get my PR geek on! Let’s hope it lives up to the hype!
Almost exactly a year ago, in 2014, I was a student and I graduated from the PR Masters degree at Southampton Solent University.
One year later and the situation had reversed, rather than sitting in the lecture theatre ready to take notes, I was the one giving the talk. Talk about a one eighty!
I was invited back to speak about the way PR, advertising and marketing are starting to merge together to form a hybrid and to explain the necessity of having a wide skills set that cover these fields.
This blog is what I took from the conference, my perspective and what I found valuable. Livi Wilkes, from Solent PR, has already shared all the golden nuggets of information about employability in the following two blogs, which are definitely worth a read:
My journey has been a long one, with many experiences which has contributed to where I am today. it sounds cliched but it’s true. That experience wasn’t invalid, I just wasn’t aware of that until recently. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!
I think, for me, it was also important to show other people who are about to enter a creative industry that the path isn’t always smooth and straight. It’s not easy to open up about struggling. I had tried so hard to get in to PR through various means and although at times I felt I was never going to get there or that I was on the wrong path, I never gave up. So coming back to my university and being able to relay my journey and where I am now was really exciting.
When I was there I met one of the 2015 graduates from the PR Masters and she shared her feelings with me via Twitter, and it was a reminder of how powerful face to face interaction and social media can be. Remember that you aren’t alone, it’s ok to be ‘lost’ sometimes and to take the road less travelled. Not everyone is living that glossy life they so readily portray to the world on social media. Not everything comes easily. Most of the best things don’t come easily. Trust your intuition.
Catherine Sweet, my wonderful lecturer and mentor, opened the conference by explaining the changes in the industry and why they were important. Her career in PR/Marketing/Advertising/Marketing/Politics is incredible and she has topped it off with lecturing at Southampton Solent University passing on her knowledge.
Steve Woodgate, Solent University MA Graduate and Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, who was the first guest speaker advised the attendees at the conference to ‘be a squirrel, gather nuts of knowledge’. This struck me like a lightening bolt. I had been a squirrel, foraging, learning and gathering nuts of knowledge along my journey.
A varied set of skills will make you more robust and ready for any future roles.
He also identified four sub-sets of characters within the creative industry:
Steven said you would predominantly be one of these characters and that it would be helpful to identify which one you were so you are able to identify your strengths. I completely agree with him, identifying your strengths is very helpful but I think that some people may cross these sub-sets.
The last major thing I took from Steven’s talk was that he said:
“Digital is more significant than the industrial revolution. We just don’t know it yet.”
I was up next and I had to rapidly overcome my public speaking fears (and the monster cold I had!).
I used my journey, examples of other people journeys and current client work to show just how important a varied skill set is and what I had learnt along the way. The time flew by and soon I was back in my seat not knowing what just happened, hoping it went ok.
Thankfully I had some positive feedback after the talk and some really lovely tweets!
Following my talk was Dr Emma Wray, the new head of PR and Communications for Southampton Solent University. She was engaging and told us about her incredible experience (just ask her about working at the BBC during the Olympics!) and the changes she is seeing to the PR and communications industry and how we can adapt to survive them. Emma also had some top tips for those about to enter the creative industries…
Caroline Barfoot, from Solent Creatives, concluded the talks with a focus on getting work experience and freelancing. She drew attention to this years John Lewis Christmas campaign and it’s multi-faceted nature. She also made the point that ‘at the heart of everything is the consumers. Products only work if the consumer wants to use it.’ This phrase is great to take with you throughout your career, remind yourself of it to keep you focused and critical when working on projects.
After the talks the conference was divided in to two to debate current PR topics. I helped panel the debate which questioned the valued of earned and shared media. It was really interesting to see what a cross section of the current university students studying creative topics and a number of business people thought. It was concluded that there is value in a combination of the both earned and shared media. A lot of emphasis and importance was placed on being critical of the source.
It was a great day and I was honoured to be invited to take part, honoured to be able to give something back and honoured to represent the company I now work for. I am lucky to work for a company who can see the value in giving back and leading the field. I am extremely thankful to Catherine Sweet for believing in me and guiding me through my Masters and to Lee Peck Media for giving me the opportunity to work in PR and to experience a converging career!
Many moons ago, I wrote about the PR reason behind the no make up selfie. But, I completely bypassed the PR value behind it and the long-term objectives. The debate raised by PR Week is very interesting, but on this one I think they have missed the point. These campaigns aren’t about long-term engagement, it’s about awareness and bringing the charity to the global stage.
ALS has been shot straight in to the lime-light and become a house hold name by being beamed through our computers, tablets and mobiles by our friends, family, celebrities and role models.
Campaigns like the ice bucket challenge are short, sharp and facilitate engagement. However, they are not sustainable. It’s all about brand awareness and once this has been gained organisations then have the power, legitimacy and opportunity to run campaigns to form long-term engagement.
Brands are built by creating strong emotional ties and Denise Lee Yohn, a PR academic, suggests four ways to do this, which can be seen in the image below.
From a PR perspective ALS should now create and implement a PR strategy capitalising on their prominence within global media. Organisation’s when using this kind of social media stunt must ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ to build the brands identity, audience perception and ultimately reputation.
What strategies do you think can be used to create long-term engagement and sustainability for organisations such as ALS?
Well, they couldn’t stay squeaky clean forever could they?
Let’s remove opinion about their music and have a look at this in a PR context. Britain’s latest x-factor global export has been milking the boy band cash cow for a solid 4 years. Without a doubt they have created an extremely strong brand that transcends language and cultural barriers. Merchandise has gone nuts as every teen worth their salt grapples for a piece of the 1D phenomenon. Their initial stakeholder targeting of the youth pop market was tried and tested and worked to rocket them into the global limelight. But like their child-hood starlet predecessors, Britney, Bieber, Lohan and even Take That, eventually the sugar coating wears off.
Stakeholder salience theory was adhered to but they have fallen in to the classic trap. Salience theory does not consider stakeholder changes over time. Not only do you have a rapidly evolving 1D audience (Yes, boys now like them too!) but the audience and the band itself is growing up. How do the young men evolve from their boyish pop persona? Why of course, like many before them they will play with the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable. The chaps are apparently pictured with a rather large joint. We could discuss the drug debate but that’s opening up another can of worms’ altogether. Let’s not go down that slippery slope on this occasion. There’s a lot of other ethical concepts and consideration to be made here. What this does do though is tarnish their whiter than white image. Will you still love them if they are ‘bad boys’? If their PR team does a good enough job at fixing their reputation you will!
As a role model to children and teens everywhere, it’s impossible to measure the effect this will have as their reach is so large. Louisot and Rayner state that good reputation is achieved when expectations are consistently met or exceeded. So far for 1D that’s been golden, however this little escapade has planted the seeds of doubt. I’m pretty sure that any parent in any country will not condone drug use (whether the band were smoking drugs or not, the connotation and implications are enough to instigate parent alarm bells). Will this have an impact on their popularity and reputation? Only time will tell.
I can’t even say I’m surprised at this ‘revelation’. They aren’t the first or the last. No doubt someone somewhere is being fired for leaking the footage, unless it was the band member themselves, in which case, smacked wrists from the management team are coming your way! Simon Cowell has a kid of his own now, might this cause him to consider how much pressure he’s putting on the continually touring band? Can we blame the management and unrelenting work schedule? Or perhaps you think ‘lucky so and so’s living the dream’? Whatever your opinion, can you say you are surprised or shocked?
My biggest shock came at the two band members sneering at their fans. Lads, don’t forget who pays the bills, it’s those kids and the parents with the pennies. You could easily be outranked by a cartoon pig in the blink of an eye. Fame is fickle.
I’m sure there are some media moguls who have been working very hard round the clock to create a strategy to deal with this crisis and to repair the damage to the 1D brand. Perhaps I’m wrong and they are revelling in even more coverage. All publicity is good publicity, right?
If they do try and repair any damage that’s been done I wonder what path they will take? Will they acknowledge it in a carefully scripted PR statement or press release? More charitable activities? Or perhaps they will brush it under the carpet as ‘just a cigarette, the boy’s were just mucking about!’? Public relations, reputation management and crisis communications are clearly key to repairing damage but it leads me to think what apsects and skills must be drawn upon as a new PR practitioner. Does the added dimension of ‘celebrity’ change how you would deal with the situation compared to an organisation or service? Crisis communications state that communication is key but we are yet to hear anything from the 1D camp. It’s been a wee while now, time’s a ticking team Syco! It will be interesting to see how they handle this matter and how they recover and rebuild the damage caused to their reputation. Lessons to be learnt by all.
(I will add that this is just an opinion on activities that may or may not have happened, before one of 1D and Syco’s legal team beat me financially into oblivion. My main concern is with the PR activity and what actions you should take in a crisis to repair brand reputation when it’s damaged.)