October 4, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Radio Roundtable: Social46 “Super Mess”, McD’s Tweets, and bias in PR

Radio Roundtable: Social46 “Super Mess”, McD’s Tweets, and bias in PR

This week, I was joined by co-host Doug Haslam of Voce Communications, a Porter Novelli company. We talked about the social media issues brought up by the Social46 program in Indianapolis, McDonald’s sponsored Tweet problem (and how they recovered), and whether neutrality and objectivity are even possible in PR.


This week’s show is 26 minutes long.

  • First, Doug and I discuss Jay Baer’s post about Klout and the bruised egos that surfaced after individuals were selected to participate in a social media program designed to build “buzz” on Indianapolis, site of the Super Bowl. Participants were selected using Klout, then the list was “augmented manually” with local bloggers. As with any other list that is established, feelings were injured. We talk about several points Baer brought up in his post, including using Klout for selecting “influencers” for an effort that is so localized, the disclosure requirements, and calls for transparency in the selection process.
  • Next, we talk about the McDonald’s “sponsored Tweets” effort, which started out using the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers, to draw attention to suppliers, but later in the day used what a post on Business Insider referred to as the “dangerously vague” hashtag #McDStories. Soon, people were using that hashtag in ways the brand certainly hadn’t intended for it to be used. While a number of sites have referred to this as a social media “fail,” Doug points to a more balanced post on the Realtime Report, which noted that McDonald’s actually responded very quickly by reverting to the more specific hashtag when they realized what was happening. So, lesson learned: vague hashtags are probably not the best of an idea. Also, I butcher an Oscar Wilde quote, and Doug sets me straight.
  • Finally, we talk about PR Studies’ post about PR and objectivity. Doug points out that PR doesn’t need to be totally objective, and being truly neutral on any topic is all but impossible. We all bring our biases to the proverbial table, and the best we can do is do our best for our clients while trying hard not to wander too far down the path of overly fluffy speech.

And, a short PSA about our fantastic co-host. Doug will be riding in the Pan-Mass challenge again this year, his fifth. Here’s some info about the ride: bit.ly/pmcdoug

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the Director of Marketing Communications for CARMA. She is also the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for more than 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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