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Scary PR: Don't frighten your audiences this Halloween!

2020 was a difficult year for everyone. It was a year of adjustment, growth, and social media. During the year, there have been a number of public relations mishaps that are guaranteed to scare anyone in the communications field. So, just in time for Halloween, check out this overview of shocking examples of what not to do & tips to avoid horrifying your audiences.

Firstly, let's talk about these spooky campaigns:

  • THE PLAN: At the beginning of the year, Burger King had created a new vegan burger and was planning to advertise it with a campaign called “Veganuary.” The idea was to highlight the new burger and encourage its promotion throughout January 2020.

  • THE SCARE: The new vegan burger was being served with mayonnaise, which contains egg, therefore making the vegan burger, NOT vegan. Secondly, the “vegan” burger was being cooked on the same grills as meat burgers.

  • THE PLAN: Black Friday is a regular holiday for the most experienced shoppers who are trying to get the best deals before the holiday season. Most retailers take advantage of this holiday to markdown items. In November, the popular online retailer Pretty Little Thing (PLT) created a 99% off sale, marking some items as low as eight cents.

  • THE SCARE: Although this sale included incredible deals, it also showed that PLT encouraged fast fashion, or cheap clothing being massively produced for growing trends. The sale created a negative view of PLT and how it handled sustainability and ethics.

  • THE PLAN: Tropicana released an ad suggesting parents kept all the necessary ingredients for making a mimosa in their fridges, using the hashtag #TakeAMimoment. The ad was aimed at parents that had been at home with their children throughout quarantine.

  • THE SCARE: Because of the rising amount of alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic, this ad and hashtag were viewed as insensitive by several sobriety groups as the ad seemed to encourage drinking in secret to cope with children and the pandemic.

And lastly, some tips to avoid startling your audience:

Remember your purpose behind your message.

  • Whether it be a tweet, post, article, story, etc., each message is written with a purpose. It is important to call to mind the reason you are writing a message before you even start writing.

  • Are you writing to influence? Are you writing to inform? Are you writing to persuade?

  • Think of what kind of impact you want your message to have on a corporation’s audience and public.

Keep your audience and public(s) in mind.

  • Before writing, clearly outline your audience and public(s) you are writing for. This will help in choosing the correct platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and the timing of your message.

  • You want to choose the appropriate platform and timing to maximize the reach of your message and impact on your public(s).

Get your facts right !

  • One of the most important things in public relations is getting your information correct. The worst mistake a practitioner can make is reporting inaccurate information and misleading their public(s).

  • Make sure to have authentic sources and check the information before creating work and messages based on it.

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