10 December 2012 - Public Relations
A social media mishap can be harmful for any brand. At HROC, we’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to airlines recently, with more than a few occasions where some of the biggest brands have got social media all wrong. Here are just four that we’ve spotted:
When Qantas Airways decided to do a competition on Twitter where the entrants had to use ‘#Qantasluxury’ and mention what to them typified ‘Qantas Luxury’ to win prizes, Qantas didn’t realise that they were staking a claim for worst timing of the year award!
That’s because at the time of launch, they had thousands of stranded passengers from cancelled flights, checking the feed for updates regarding the service. Within minutes of the hashtag going live there were thousands of responses to the tweet complaining about the services Qantas provide.
The furor was such that the company ended up winning the prestigious Top Gaffe 2011 award from a top social network tracking site and spawned a hilarious parody video of how people behind the scenes may have tried to calm the storm.
Lets hope the company’s next twitter endeavor is a little better thought out and timed!
When musician Dave Carroll’s $3,500 guitar was destroyed in transit he was more than a little annoyed. But following a year fighting with United Airlines to get compensation for his guitar, and continually being ignored by United Airlines, his annoyance became good for only one thing… music!
So, like many musicians he used the experience for inspiration and created a series of videos called “United Breaks Guitars” where he told the story of his treatment using a little humour. The videos went viral and, within days, thousands were tweeting and posting about the airline and its lack of accountability.
Finally, despite the best efforts of United to ignore the situation and not reply to any of the social media mentions (showing a complete lack of social media understanding), United was forced to concede its error and, having little other choice, apologised by donating $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Jazz institute at Carroll’s request.
Whilst Carroll never did get the money back for his guitar, the 12m views on YouTube of just one of the videos, not to mention the subsequent book deal, didn’t do his career much harm – shame the same can’t be said for United’s reputation!
Ryanair is an airline that is not unused to hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. But when they decided to insult one blogger and then the entire blogosphere in 2009, they showed themselves to have poor social media savvy.
It all started with a seemingly innocuous comment on a technical issue that Dublin based web developer Jason Roe published on his blog. Roe stated he had found a problem with Ryanair’s website which meant that when booking a flight the price went to zero (although Roe admitted that he could not actually book said flight). He posted about the glitch on his blog and put it on Twitter also. Cue the comments!
Within hours of the post going live Roe had received a number of offensive responses including one calling him an ‘idiot’ for trying to book the free flight, while another mocked his ‘pathetic life’.
Let’s get one thing clear – negative comments are a risk people take with twitter, blogs and social media in general and are part and parcel of the community. The problem is these weren’t your average anonymous users. When Roe traced the IP addresses they came from Ryanair’s head offices… doh!
Subsequently the company issued the following statement from spokesman Stephen McNamara:
“Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again. Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.”
Not only does this show how out of touch Ryanair is with social media and PR but customer engagement in general. All they had to do in the first instance was issue a response saying ‘thank you for bringing this to our attention and we are looking into the matter’ or a comment of the same ilk.
Instead, their willingness to support employees who abuse customers and then blatantly attempt to rubbish a prominent form of social media, which millions use to influence others, will do their brand reputation no good in the long run.
It probably wasn’t the wisest of ideas when Southwest Airlines decided to throw media personality Kevin Smith off one of their planes for being ‘too wide.’
Kevin Smith reached out to his 1.65 million followers on twitter and tweeted “Wanna tell me I’m too wide for the sky? Totally cool, but fair warning folks: If you look like me, you may be ejected from Southwest Airlines.”
Once this had been announced on twitter, Mr Smith continued to write a blog post and a podcast on the matter. By the time Southwest Airlines made their apology on Twitter and on the blog post, Mr Smith’s substantial followers had already come to their own conclusions on the airline.
From now on we’re sure Southwest will ensure to check how many followers a passenger has before making the decision to eject them from an airplane!
All four of these examples show how a simple social media fail can have a long lasting and detrimental effect on brand reputation. With the airline industry struggling during the recession, surely it’s more important than ever to use social media well and get ahead of the competition.
To talk to us about our social media offering and how we can help you end up on an epic fail highlight reel on YouTube call 0121 454 9707.
21 November 2012 - Digital
The Government Advisory Committee (Gac) which represents around 50 of the world’s governments has raised more than 250 objections to proposed new internet address endings.
The list includes references to locations or groups of people including .zulu, .africa, .islam, .potagonia and .roma.
Concerns covering suffixes such as .search, .insurance, .health, .charity and .casino have also been issued.
The list was tabled by Gac in anticipation of the planned roll out of new web domain suffixes next year.
The publication by Gac of its “early warning” list has been posted on the web in order to give applicants time to address the concerns detailed in the document or withdraw their application and reclaim 80% of their initial $185,000 (£116,300) application fee.
In April next year, Gac will meet in Beijing to decide which suffixes will be subject to formal complaints from the list of remaining applications.
Each warning is listed with a reference to the country that filed their complaint.
All applications that received no objections from members of Gac will be added to the register of internet address endings.
No Search for Google
Organisations and suffixes that received objections included:
- Google for .search, .cloud and .gmbh (which refers to a type of limited German company).
- Amazon for .mail, .game, .movie, .book and .app among others.
- Johnson & Johnson for .baby.
- L’Oreal for .skin, .salon, .beauty, .hair.
- Symantec for .antivirus.
- The Weather Channel for .weather.
Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the internet name regulator that is in charge of the initiative believes that the first suffixes will be released for use by May 2013 despite the large number of objections from Gac.
Icann are not obliged to comply with the governments’ concerns, but must have “well reasoned arguments” if it decides to overrule any rejection requests.
Early Warning Reasons
The early warnings have been issued for a number of different reasons.
Seven organisations that applied for .hotel or .hotels received objections from France who felt that these suffixes should be reserved for hotel businesses.
The objection read: “The guarantee of a clear information of the customer on hotel accommodation services is the best way to promote the tourism industry.
“Behind the term hotel as a generic denomination, any customer in the world must have the guarantee that will be directly connected to a hotel.”
It is understood that applicants for suffixes such as these would be able to adhere to this guarantee, which would allow the ultimate owner of the domain name extension to profit by asking for payment from individual businesses wishing to register their hotel websites with these extensions.
Other issues, on the other hand may be harder to overcome.
As an example, Australia have listed their concerns over Amazon’s application for the Japanese-language extension meaning ‘fashion’ as it feels it gives the internet retailer an unfair advantage.
Their objection explained: “Restricting common generic strings for the exclusive use of a single entity could have unintended consequences, including a negative impact on competition.”
Asia Green IT System’s request for .islam has raised an objection from the United Arab Emirates that may be impossible to solve.
“It is unacceptable for a private entity to have control over religious terms such as Islam without significant support and affiliation with the community it’s targeting,” the objection stated.
“The application lacks any sort of protection to ensure that the use of the domain names registered under the applied for new gTLD (generic top-level domain) are in line with Islam principles, pillars, views, beliefs and law.”
Other concerns were made for purely commercial reasons.
An example of this is .website that has incurred the wrath of Samoa on the grounds that it could be mistaken for .ws which it already owns and generates a lot of revenue for the South Pacific country.
Another bone of contention that surfaced was corporate reputations.
The suffix terms .gripe, .sucks and .wtf were flagged as concerns by Australia on the grounds that they had “overtly negative or critical connotations” that could force businesses to register their brands alongside the domain extension in order to stop anyone else from doing so.
The UK’s only objection was reserved for .rugby.
The concerns regarding the two applicants that registered an interest was that it did “not represent the global community of rugby players, supporters and stakeholders”.
The UK suggested that the proposals should be rejected in favour of a third submission from the International Rugby Board.
7 November 2012 - Digital
English dictionary publishers Macmillan have followed in the footsteps of Encyclopaedia Britannica by revealing that they will go online from next year.
Macmillan Education’s range of dictionaries for English learners will cease to be printed as physical books and will only be available in digital format.
The Macmillan dictionaries, which were launched in 2002 have been described as “ideal” for online medium by editor-in-chief Michael Rundell.
“The traditional book format is very limiting for any kind of reference work,” he told media. “Books are out of date as soon as they’re printed, and the space constraints they impose often compromise our goals of clarity and completeness. There is so much more we can do for our users in digital media.”
Macmillan Dictionary online already provides an English dictionary and thesaurus, as well as a topical blog. A crowdsourced “open dictionary” is also available online. Rundell continued “[that hosting the dictionary online] means we can add new words and phrases on a regular basis, reflecting the ever-changing role of English as the lingua franca of science, business, academia and social media.”
Rundell explained that despite languages developing on an almost daily basis; the dictionaries would only be updated every four or five years. “Think of all the new vocabulary that came with the global financial crisis, for example [when terms such as subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, and quantitative easing were used in mainstream conversations], or the linguistic consequences of the social networking revolution [unfollow, defriend, and Twittersphere have become commonly used terms]. Facebook and Twitter were just starting up when the last [printed] edition of the Macmillan Dictionary appeared in 2007, and had yet to make an impact on the language. Nowadays we can add new words on a regular basis – the latest batch includes outlier, soft power, smirting, and mumpreneur – and this has huge advantages for our users.”
Encyclopaedia Britannica announced earlier this year that it would not be bringing out any more printed editions and Oxford English Dictionary has also hinted that its third edition that is due out in around a decade’s time is also likely to be available in digital format only.
Stephen Bullon from Macmillan Education’s publisher for dictionaries added: “Our research tells us that most people today get their reference information via their computer, tablet, or phone, and the message is clear and unambiguous: the future of the dictionary is digital.”
5 November 2012 - Public Relations
Birmingham based PR agency HROC is celebrating after winning five prestigious Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide awards – more than any other Midlands agency.
The awards, which took place on Friday night at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, is the biggest night in the Midlands PR calendar with more than 300 of the regions leading practitioners in attendance representing over 40 agencies, all vying for the top honours.
HROC scooped Gold in Corporate and Business Communications, Best Campaign £10,000 and under, Consumer Relations and Measurement & Evaluation. The team also won Silver in the Best Event category.
Steve Sherran, Managing Director of HROC PR, commented: “Just to be nominated against the back drop of such strong competition is an honour in itself but to win gold in four awards and a silver is truly something special.
“The awards are a testament to the hard work, dedication and creativity of the entire team but also to our clients without whom we would not have been able to achieve this.”
Over the last few years HROC PR has gone from strength to strength, taking on numerous new clients and growing despite a difficult economic climate. The company has more than 50 communication experts working across its PR, digital, creative services and design divisions, with nine dedicated PR specialists.
For more information on the PR, digital, design and creative services offered by HROC visit the website at www.hroc.co.uk or call 0121 454 9707.
15 October 2012 - Digital
Most computer users are asked to enter a string of numbers and letters when they are accessing a system that requires a password such as an email or website account. In some cases, the user is asked for alternative forms of identification instead of a password such as fingerprints or retina scanning. Being asked to identify ourselves by eye movement in order to access secure websites and services may soon become commonplace.
Following research, it has been found that when we look at a picture each individual’s eyes move in a unique sequence around it. The research revealed that even if two people scan identical paths around an image their eyes behave differently. A computer scientist from the Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas believes that this behaviour can be harnessed and used as a secure way to access computer systems in the future.
The scientist is confident that a secure system can be built that identifies users by the way that their eyes move around when they are looking at a computer screen. The computer scientist, who is named Oleg Komogortsev believes that there is enough differences in eye movement to allow them to be ‘talked about’ as a biometric. Mr Komogortsev has insisted that his work is at an early stage and that years of work will be required before it can be used in a commercial capacity.
He went on to say that eye movements could possibly be used as next-generation iris scans. Researchers have already proven that some iris scanners can be fooled when a high-quality print out of a user’s eye is held up to it. Mr Komogortsev hopes that by adding an eye movement sensor to a password dependent computer system it will prevent the scanners from being so easily fooled in the future.
8 October 2012 - Digital
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg this week announced that his social networking website now has more than one billion regular users worldwide.
Facebook has reached this milestone in little over eight years after being founded in 2004 with users amassing a total of 1.13 trillion ‘likes’, 219 billion photographs and 17 billion location check-ins along the way.
To mark this feat we thought we’d take a look at the significant milestones that Facebook passed on its way to becoming the undisputed social networking champion.
January 2006 – 25 Million Users
Average User Age – 19
Biggest Users – United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany & Australia
Users who joined Facebook at this time now have on average 598 friends
October 2007 – 50 Million Users
Average User Age – 26
Biggest Users – United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey & Australia
Users who joined Facebook at this time now have on average 321 friends
August 2008 – 100 Million Users
Average User Age – 23
Biggest Users – United Kingdom, United States, France, Turkey & Chile
Users who joined Facebook at this time now have on average 334 friends
July 2010 – 500 Million Users
Average User Age – 23
Biggest Users – United States, Brazil, India, Indonesia & Mexico
Users who joined Facebook at this time now have on average 305 friends
Facebook at One Billion Users
Average User Age – 22
Biggest Users – United States, Brazil, India, Indonesia & Mexico
Mobile users – 600 million
With such a huge audience available just a click away, many businesses are exploring ways to get the most out of Facebook. If you would also like to get noticed on the biggest social networking platform in the world, contact us here at HROC; we’d be very happy to help.
21 September 2012 - Digital
The government has revealed how they will divide the money they have promised to ten United Kingdom cities that will be used to provide superfast broadband networks.
The nation’s capital will get the lion’s share of the £114 million budget with £25 million, whilst Leeds and Bradford are second in line dividing £14.4 million between themselves.
The cash injections will be used to establish city-wide broadband networks, which will offer households and businesses internet speeds of up to 100Mbps (megabits per second).
The government’s goal is to establish the UK as Europe’s fastest internet provider by 2015.
An extra £50 million will be divided between ten smaller cities.
Broadband Red Tape to be Cut
The new culture secretary Maria Miller last week promised to cut the red tape that hinders broadband rollouts.
The minister is hopeful that the city-wide networks will be created very soon.
“These 10 cities have produced ambitious and comprehensive plans, which will turn them into digital leaders, and give their local economies a real boost,” she told media.
“The new investment will help put these cities at the centre of the digital stage, competing for jobs and investment with the best in the world,” she continued.
Each city will be expected to invest some of its own money alongside the government funds towards the broadband projects.
It is expected that the ten cities will be able to offer high-speed broadband access with speeds between 80 and 100 megabits per second to around 230,000 residential and 55,000 business properties as well as providing a high-speed wireless service to even more.
The completion date for the networks is 2015.
14 September 2012 - Digital
Less than a week ago, HROC discussed the on-going battle between internet giants Amazon and Google for supreme domination of the search engine market. Now, one of the biggest forces on the internet, Facebook, is threatening to throw its hat into the ring.
Following what can only be described as a dismal period for the leading social networking site after an appalling IPO launch that has seen fb’s share price continue to lose value, remaining at $20 per share (accurate 13/09/12) compared to its initial price of $38, Facebook shareholders have not had much to celebrate of late.
However, in his first interview since fb floated on the stock market, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has intimated a move into the search engine market, which has sparked a record increase in share price and is something that is sure to have Amazon and Google a little nervous.
Why? Facebook already has in excess of 955 million people currently using the social network site and growing, which is a significant dent in the 2,267,233,742 people that use the internet (as reported on the 31st Dec 2011 by internetworldstats.com) What’s more, the fact that Facebook users have grown on average substantially (with 100million having joined by July in 2012 alone) will undoubtedly have search engine providers quaking in their collective boots.
But don’t fret just yet or rush out to buy shares! Zuckerberg’s timely announcement of an interest in the search engine market comes during a period where shareholders are screaming out for good news to help raise the flagging share price.
Maybe it’s the sceptic in us, but perhaps this is a stunt designed to kick start the share price (something that the announcement that Facebook has finally closed a reported $750million deal to buy Instagram failed to do) and get it back to somewhere near its initial offering.
Whatever your view, it’s likely that the Facebook search engine is some way off but in the immediate, the announcement has raised the share price by 7% (again something that only a sceptic would dwell on).
Only time will tell if the move to search engines is genuine or if this was just a brilliantly orchestrated PR move to rebuild confidence in a company in distress.
If you want to comment on this post tweet us @hroc_pr or @hroc_digital
11 September 2012 - Digital
For over a decade Google has been the number one power broker on the World Wide Web and the first port of call for the majority of internet users around the globe. However, Google’s dominance is coming under intense pressure for the very first time from another internet heavyweight – Amazon.
Having seen a significant rise in searches and sales, Amazon has enjoyed a recent spurt in direct traffic that bypasses Google completely. A report from ComScore revealed that search queries have increased by 73% over the last twelve months and net sales have grown by 29% in the second quarter of 2012 to $12.83 billion (£8.1 billion).
Although people use Google for many different things, the search engine giant’s primary source of income is the commercial searches where users are looking to make a purchase. This equates to 20% of its overall traffic and is where advertising is concentrated.
Amazon’s web pages are populated with money making adverts and, aided by its substantial and diverse stock, has become the first website visited by a growing army of online shoppers.
Supremacy for the internet has traditionally been fought out by big hitters such as Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and Google. But the way people use the internet is constantly evolving as shown by a report by the Boston Consultant Group in partnership with Google, that predicts 3 billion people will be surfing the internet by 2016, with 80% of those accessing the web with a mobile device.
Amazon has out-stepped Google with its mobile app and the growing popularity of its Kindle devices has made Amazon much more appetising as the one-stop online shop.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire accounts for over 50% of the United States Android tablet market and with a second-generation model being released later this month coupled with rumours of a smartphone in the pipeline – Amazons is seemingly strengthening its grip.
Many observers have noted that Google has failed to make any real impact in the mobile market, despite its Nexus tablet devices and Android operating system.
Google has been considering ways to guarantee a sizeable portion of mobile searches for some time and TechRadar’s Gareth Beavis has warned against writing off the internet giants just yet. ‘Google has wrestled with the subject of mobile traffic for years, which is partly why it has invested so much in Android,’ he said.
Beavis continues: ‘Apps are already overshadowing web traffic on mobiles but while Google may be seeing a decline in revenues from shopping online, the increasing monetisation of its Play store from apps, movies, games and books will facilitate strong mobile revenue for years to come.
If the internet has shown us anything about business it is that companies must adapt or fall by the wayside. Google have a history already of changing its offering to ensure its survival and we’re sure it can weather this storm and come back stronger than ever.
30 August 2012 - Digital
Some of the committee members might grumble that ‘it’s just not cricket’ and W.G.Grace may be spinning in his grave, but Lord’s, the home of English cricket, is embracing modern-day technology as they roll out a free WiFi service throughout the historic and world famous sporting venue.
The owners of Lord’s (the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)) has signed a five-year agreement with Sky’s The Cloud to install the wireless network.
Cricket enthusiasts at the venue will be able to access a fast, user-friendly connection to the internet that will allow them to surf the web free of charge on their smartphones, laptops, tablets and other digital devices.
The WiFi service was initially showcased during England’s recent Test match against South Africa, but was only available around the Media Centre, Food Village, hospitality and public bar areas.
Following the success of the initial trial period, the MCC is set to provide the free WiFi to all areas of the ground allowing a total of 28,500 spectators to gain access to the internet.
Derek Brewer, the MCC Chief Executive & Secretary commented on how the availability of fast WiFi to all areas will enhance the experience that cricket enthusiasts gain from their visit to Lord’s: “Spectators spend a whole day with us, so having secure access to the internet means that they can post photos and videos of their experience, as well as keeping up to speed with commentary and analysis of the match online.
“The service is also ideal for email access, general web surfing, social networking and media streaming. The introduction of The Cloud represents another step to ensure that Lord’s continues to set the highest standards for spectator experience in the game” continued Brewer.
Managing director of The Cloud, Vince Russell, discussed the increased traffic the network receives which has amassed to over 100 million minutes per day: “Whether they are an avid fan wanting to discuss the game on Twitter or a businessperson who needs to send a couple of quick emails in between overs, there is a huge need for free WiFi to be available,” he added.
As well as providing the free WiFi within the sporting arena, the MCC in conjunction with The Cloud will provide a personalised landing page that will highlight attractions and facilities at the ground, as well as exclusive ticket offers for forthcoming events.