Wednesday, March 12, 2014

FIR Presents Inside PR 365: MasterCard ties one on, Facebook going mobile and the New Klout

FIR Presents Inside PRGini Dietrich and I do a two-hander in this episode as Martin is on a train with only spotty online access.

This week we talk about MasterCard’s aggressive PR tactics around the Brit Awards, more evidence that we’re all going mobile and the New Klout.

MasterCard ties one on

Gini pointed to MasterCard’s efforts to tie coverage of MasterCard to access to the Brit Awards. Dominic Ponsford detailed exactly what happened, from the PR company’s suggestion that access would be tied to agreement to mention MasterCard through the reactions to the Twitter backlash.

Ponsford published the text of an email to a reporter in which MasterCard’s PR company asked reporters to agree to tweet MasterCard messages in their feeds. The PR company went so far as to suggest content for tweets before, during and after the event:

Pre event – e.g. Really excited to be heading down to @BRITAwards tonight with @MasterCardUK #PricelessSurprises

Event night – live tweeting from the event including @MasterCardUK handle and #PricelessSurprises and to retweet @MasterCardUK tweets throughout the night where appropriate

Post event – tweet directing followers to @MasterCardUK BRITs YouTube videos

Needless to say, this prompted a backlash, with Twitter comments like this:

Good press coverage is hard to bribe. For everything else there’s Mastercard. #PricelessSurprises

— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) February 19, 2014

The managing director of the PR agency didn’t back down, arguing that:

“The role of the PR agency is to pursue all coverage opportunities on behalf of its clients. This includes providing accurate brand references from the outset, for use across all platforms. It is a two-way conversation between the journalist and the PR in order to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. Editorial control always remains with the journalist.”

Gini and I discuss our views about this type of tactic. Gini sees this as an illustration of the fine line between legitimately promoting an event and the questionable offering of a benefit for coverage.

I see it as a clear example of tied coverage. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. You give me reference to my client and I will give you access to the awards.”  Yes we have seen this before. Think of auto journalists flown to exotic locations to review new cars. But in recent years, the trend has been against these kinds of junkets, with many news organizations telling their staff to refuse the benefits. “You can’t blame a guy for trying. But you can blame the other guy for playing along.”

What do you think of MasterCard’s media relations approach? Too cheeky? Or taking fair advantage of the an opportunity. Or somewhere in between.

Canadians go mobile with Facebook

The world truly is going mobile. New stats out of Facebook Canada indicate that Facebook Canada is making more money on mobile devices than on PCs and stationary devices. Of Facebook’s nineteen million Canadian users, ten million check their Facebook account once a day via mobile versus only four million who check it daily from non-mobile devices like desktops.

To me, this just underscores the importance of think mobile first. If you are thinking about communicating with people primarily in front of PCs or laptops, you’re failing to follow the audience where they’ve actually gone. They are looking at the mobile devices in their hand.

Gini cautions against following an overall trend without looking at your specific circumstance. In her experience, many sectors are lagging behind in the move to mobile, with many of her clients’ sites continuing to receive the majority of their traffic from desktop applications. It’s important that you know where your traffic is coming from. So check your analytics.

A New (Improved?) Klout

And finally, we discuss the new Klout. Gini finds it useful, because it surfaces content from people with whom she already engages. Gini also finds the measurement tab to be useful in that it’s suggests which individual pieces of content have generated the greatest engagement. For my part, I find the metrics to be even more dumbed down than they used to be and of the dubious value. It appears to me that Klout is positioning itself as a tool to assist content creators in competition with established players like HootSuite or Buffer.

What do you think? Is the new Klout a step forward or moved to irrelevance?

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FIR presents Inside PR is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information: http://www.ragan.com.

Posted by shel on 03/12 at 01:40 PM
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