This Failed Mission

By now you're are probably well acquinted with the epic PR Fail that Mission PR created while trying to carry out a PR campaign for Nokia. According to blogger: Muireann Carey-Campbell, Mission contacted her to participate in a half marathon, so that she could record her experiences on her blog for their client Nokia. She was to use the Nokia phone to make vlog posts about her experience. Unfortunately things didn't go according to plan. After a navigating a minefield of mistakes, Muireann took to her blog to vent her frustrations. That post is here.

Naturally the Social Media world exploded, I found out about it on Twitter. Lots of people commented on the original post or Tweeted about it.

Mission was heavily criticised for how it handled the situation which, if correctly described in the blog post, was truly atrocious. To their credit they apologised to Muireann privately, and publicly for the situation.

I think many agencies should be aware that their standard operating activities could cause them to make these mistakes too. Throughout the entire process, it was the blogger who kept reaching out to the agency for information. Not the other way around. It really does seem that there was no plan in place for this campaign, or that it wasn't confirmed. It also seems that the blogger's contact at the agency wasn't empowered to make any decisions.

The UK is still going through a recession. PR agencies are still suffering. I could imagine many are overworked and understaffed because they are reluctant to refuse to take on clients. Therefore their resources are stretched to the limit. It's a situation that just begs for a disaster.

Also many agencies claim to understand Social Media but they really don't. Bloggers are a confusing lot to deal with. Anyone can blog. Some are really good, but there are those who see it as a path to their "15 minutes of fame". They are the ones who contact agencies demanding freebies, and threatening to write unflattering posts about their clients if their demands aren't met. Unfortunately, PROs don't understand internet metrics, so they can't make an informed decision about which blogger they should engage with.

Rather than gloat at Mission's public shame, professionals would do well to learn from their mistakes. I'm quite sure many agencies are this close to making these errors themselves. You have to treat bloggers the way you would your clients, freelancers, or a member of the public contracted to work on a campaign. Much like a disgruntled customer would go out of their way to share a bad experience they had with a brand, so would a pissed-off blogger. So treat them with respect, and be clear about all areas of their participation.

If you aren't familiar with social media, you need get involved. Read blogs on a topic you love, Tweet, use Facebook, etc, and think about the ways you can use these sites for your clients. David Meerman Scott and Shel Holtz have written great "how-to" books. If you ignore the specifics about the technology described, the basics about creating content are essential. Truth is, you know this stuff already, and PR has always been about embracing new media (telegraph, radio, TV...) so get familiar!

Also don't gloat, just learn from the experience, even if it isn't your own.

Muireann updated her blog to address the hoopla.

1 comment:

kramtt said...

So, I read and followed the story, and I thought that it was an epic fail on the part of Mission. I did tweet after, wondering why it took them so long to apologise, and to their immense credit, they responded to say that they did call the lady and apologised to her. I thought that it was good that they were at least addressing concerns like mine, but all in all it does not cast them in the best light.

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Trini Girl who use to work in the News Media. Now she's a graduate of the University of Westminster's MA in Public Relations. Currently living and working in London, but dreaming of a PhD You lucky reader, get to read all about her journey.

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