Sunday 12 December 2010

PR vs the geeks

Lets see if I can explain the new world order to some people who have most definitly missed the point. Vodafone. You have missed the point. Your PR agency has missed the point. Your web devs have deliberately not missed the point but not told you. I suspect if you'd asked them, the entirety of your mobile technical support centre could have handed you the point nicely wrapped in a gift box with bows - but they'd have chosen not to.

It's not Christmas yet and you just dropped a bomb. This isn't surprising to me, because I don't count you as a particularly young and hip brand any more - you got left behind in the mobile provider wars when you didn't secure the iPhone before everyone else and even now you do have it your coverage of my bit of the UK is so appalling that I might as well use my 'phone' as a paperweight.

But all this aside, what you did this morning (Sunday, 12th December 2010) is hilariously appalling. I've only been in front of my PC for 40 minutes. In 40 minutes my perception of you as a company who has the ability to do business in the modern world is now exactly zero. I don't matter. Your stakeholders matter, of course they do, that's why you're dodging a rather large tax bill and continue to do so despite the horrific damage to your reputation this has caused amongst a demoraphic who 2 weeks ago were your main customers. The only people who matter to you are your stakeholders.

Unfortunately, when you decided you were going to use the hashtag #mademesmile to promote your 12 smiles of Xmas you forgot something quite fundamental. You decided, lord alone only knows why, in your infinite wisdom, that not only were you going to try and run a campaign to recover some of your lost reputation after the demonstrations last week, but you were going to do it in the very arena where the people who organised that demonstration gather, speak together, organise and collude.

Your arrogance, because I can only assume it is that, is going to be your downfall. Because, you see, whilst the #ukuncut bunch are not your stakeholders and don't matter and the police will deal with them and ensure you never have to put up with their pesky demonstrations again - you've now got a bigger problem. You're a laughing stock among the demographic who are your main customers. And in among those customers are the sons and daughters of your stakeholders. Who this morning will have woken to the biggest joke of this Xmas season so far - a company who listened to a PR agency who surely must be the stupidist people this side of the Atlantic?

Because who in their right minds would recommend a campaign like this is a good idea? I can only imagine we've come back to the same old problem yet again - they're a PR agency. They do PR. They've always done PR. The words social media will appear somewhere on their hastily redesigned business cards, but don't be fooled.

PR is about managing reputations. Marketing is about selling things to people. Social media? Here be dragons if you don't understand people. People who are not stupid. People who are smarter than you. More organised than you. More agile than you. More responsive than you. Can move quicker, mobilise quicker, think quicker. It's not rocket science, but it's not PR and it's not marketing. The skills required to navigate your way successfully through this new ocean, are not ones your average PR nor marketing bod have.

The simple fact is, Vodafone, you asked the wrong people. I'll give you a clue. If someone is dressed in D & G and Armani, they're not social media bods. If they're smart and smelling of gel, they're not social media people. If they're smart casual and wearing a Star Wars t-shirt - trust them, they know what they're talking about. If they're wearing trainers, pristine ones, which look like somehow they've impossibly come out of a box fresh from the 1980's, listen to them, they know of what they speak. Hell, if they look like their mother dressed them, you'll get better advice on social media than you will from people who've tacked those two words onto their online advert which has so many different colours in it it looks like a Pantone advert.

You are all still listening to advice from the wrong people, because you are all still working to the same stereotypes you always did.

If you don't want to become the next Vodafone, for gods sake go see someone sensible like Technophobia or someone decent. Let the PR bods do what they do best, let the marketing guys do what they do best but this? This is best left to the geeks.

1 comment:

  1. nice one!
    RT @SubtleBlade: RT @rhodri: Typical screengrab from the Vodafone website at the moment: #mademesmile