The Paedophile Hunter

You may have caught a story on 60 Minutes last week surrounding Stinson Hunter, a British man who in the last two years has helped convict 18 men of paedophilia.

The story made gripping television. It outlined how Stinson lures paedophile’s online and then films them coming to the real world meeting. All video footage is then passed on to the police and posted on the internet.

When asked why he does it, Stinson replies, “I want to know why he (the paedophile) is doing it and I want to put it on the internet.”

In my previous posts on this blog I have explored how PR has been changed by the advent of social media and this story got me thinking about the Police and how social media has been a complete game changer for them.

On the program Stinson makes contact with a suspect posing as an underage girl and after the suspect realises he’s been caught, he agrees to meet Stinson and defend himself. It’s extremely real and thankfully as close of many of us will ever get to meeting a paedophile.

The producers of 60 Minutes have painted him as a vigilante style super hero, someone who has overcome a rough past to protect our kids.

Seeking justice outside of the courts has many dangers, the most obvious being the falsely accusing someone and the irreparable damage that is done to their lives. At the end of the program you are left wondering if the end justifies the means.

The story is wrapped up with the mention of laws being changed in Britain to stop people like Stinson creating his own form of justice. Facebook lit up after the program aired with comments like “Why don’t the police hire him?!” and “Good on him, exposing the vermin of society”.

This post is not about Social Media and how paedophiles are manipulating it but instead I wanted to look at it from a different perspective and see how people’s perceptions of the police are rocked by their inability to accept help from social media do-gooders.

So, what has social media changed for the police? It allows popular opinion to be spread easily, it allows conversations to happen and agenda’s to be set without their input.

My previous post about Local Government adapting to the use of social media has some commonalities with this one. Organisations are now more accountable than ever for their productivity, the police are no different. Their future direction will be driven by social media, by creating good news stories that tell the story of how successful they as an organisation are and keeping public opinion in their favour.

Like it or lump it the PR machine at Police HQ will need to kick into a higher gear or they will face the tide turning on popular opinion.



Pepsi’s Iconic Campaign Resurrected 35 Years Later


From a PR perspective interactivity is the pride and glory of using social media. It allows large, often inaccessible corporations to have a one on one connection with their consumers.  Have you ever stumbled across Woolworth’s Facebook page? If not then may I suggest you get onto that. With a mixture of customer comments and questions, to Woolworth’s witty responses and hilarious posts, it’s no surprise that Woolworths Facebook followers have skyrocketed. Continue reading

#thatdress…. again

We all remember the gold and white dress, or should I say black and blue, that caused a stir across social media earlier this month. Well thanks to the savvy PR skills of The Salvation Army South Africa “#thedress” social media couldn’t get enough of has taken on a new interpretation. The Salvation Army tweeted out these photos just a head of International Woman’s Day earlier this month.

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The smart juxtaposition of a meaningless social media meme against a real and powerful message creates a lasting impression. This image embodies the “shock tactic” that is often used by charities in order to gain attention and donations. Whilst this can be a controversial method it has obviously worked for The Salvation Army.Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 11.12.50 am

Social media has allowed the opportunity of free marketing and publicity which is particularly useful for non-profit organisations such as the Salvation Army, who have limited monetary funds available. A recent survey of non-profit organisations found that 404 out of the 409 organisations surveyed utilised social media as a PR tactic. And it isn’t hard to see why. This campaign demonstrates just one successful approach to tackling the social media world from a PR perspective. This powerful campaign captures international attention with its clever twist on a viral phenomenon.Jumping on the social media bandwagon is definitely the next move hesitant organisations should make.


Curtis, Lindley et al. ‘Adoption Of Social Media For Public Relations By Nonprofit Organizations’. Public Relations Review 36.1 (2010): 90-92. Web. 14 Feb. 2015

Images found on:

The New Face of Public Relations: In Practice

In my last posts we looked at the revolution in Public Relations and how the new rules of Public Relations have created new avenues for Public Relations practitioners. Today we will examine real life examples of how social media has changed the face of Public Relations and how brands now communicate with their audiences.


Cadbury has in the past used social media to introduce new products and create awareness about existing products, but they realised that 16% of their followers never saw the content on their page. To engage with their audience, they decided to build a chocolate thumbs up ( Facebook like) to celebrate 1 million followers on their Facebook page. They created a number of trailers and teasers as a build up to the event

Cadbury gained 40,000 Facebook fans and more than 350,000 people were actively involved in the campaign.

The reasons this campaign was successful:

  • They used a two way symmetrical model of communication
  • They realise that the content of their page was going unseen by 16%, they took steps to engage their fans.
  • They responded back to fans at the bottom of their video and welcomed fan involvement in the campaign.

Heinz “My grown up beanz”

Heinz used Facebook to launch its 5 beans, by launching a Facebook quiz app which told people which of the 5 beans they had grown up to become.

To encourage their fans on Facebook to participate in and share the quiz app, Heinz motivated their fans by:

1)      Picking 5 winners every hour and sending them a personalised bean with their name on it.

2)      Every fan that invited 10 people to take the quiz was sent a free goody bag

3)      Fans were given a coupon to try a free sample of the 5 beans product.

The two-week campaign resulted in the following; Heinz gained 30,000 extra Beaniez, and the quiz was shared over Facebook, twitter and blogs by over 10,000 users.

Reasons this campaign was successful:

  • They targeted their established consumer base, but aimed it to “grown-ups” stating that Heinz will cater to the tastes of both adults and children.
  • A reward system is the best motivation. Motivating the fans with personalized beans and goody bags plus a chance to try the product for free.
  • They used interactive features like the quiz to make the experience of trying a new product interesting and then giving it out for free.

In both these campaigns we can see that the brand is well managed by a Public Relations Practitioner who is not afraid to create open channels of communication. Cadbury initiated by sharing their plans to build the chocolate thumbs up, and followed through once they saw that that was what their fans wanted.

Heinz on the other hand, brought out the inner child in adults, showing them that the brand will adapt to cater to the taste of a grown up, by using interactive quizzes and free goodies.

This shows that the key to every campaign comes down to research, target audience and creativity.

The New Face of Public Relations: Social Media

Now that we have examined the rise of social media in our daily lives and we have established that Public relations professionals are jumping on the bandwagon, we now need to establish how social media can help Public Relations Professionals “do their thing”.

The New Rules of Public Relations

One things for sure, the Press Release is not what it used to be, it’s not as easy to convince people while shoving information at them and expecting them to be impressed and satisfied.

The New Rules of Press Release

The New Rules of Press Release

Press Releases are now an interactive feature (with videos and hyperlinks) where one is never enough, and because they are targeted at buyers not the media, Public Relations professionals are now required to research their audiences and know how to write for them.

New Press Release

New Press Release

So how does social media play into all this?

Well for one, most of us “the publics” are on social media nowadays!! And this gives Public Relations professionals a huge playground to play in with not one or two, but a number of slides and swings as options.

Social media creates new avenues for Public Relations practitioners to:

1)      Broadcast to a wider and interactive audience and build relationships over time:

In the past it was vital to build contacts with the media and this was very daunting, especially for new Public Relations Practitioners. Now with twitter and LinkedIn, you can start building a relationship with the media and your audience via a retweet, favourite and/or a message.

2)      Display their skills and expertise:

This doesn’t mean constantly bragging about how fast you can retweet or stream through your twitter feed. It means the skills to write succinctly, using key words and messages to appeal to your audiences.

3)      Showcase their organisations:

This is usually one of the elements that scare Public Relations Practitioners as it can be both positive and negative. For instance a Facebook or Twitter page can act as a positive platform to reach out to perspective audiences or act as a feedback channel for unhappy customers. In saying that, it is vital for Public relations practitioners to know how to deal with the negative feedback and use it to showcase how their organisation deals with criticism and their willingness to be proactive.

4)      Use various channels within web 2.0 to get their message out:

Public relations professionals can now use video, audio, and text to send out the same message. For instance a Public relations practitioner can now use twitter or Facebook to send out a key message and attach a video to add a visual element.

5)      Narrow down target audiences:

It is important for Public relations practitioners to know what sites their target audiences use. This can help them target their specific audience and appeal to them on a personal level.