The news agenda moves so quickly these days that we barely have a chance to digest one story before we are already moving on to the next.
But sometimes it’s valuable to look back and remind ourselves of everything that’s happened, to ensure we take the big lessons on board for the future. So in that spirit, we wanted to remind you about some of the biggest PR and marketing moments of 2017. It has been quite a year!
The ad industry has had a rocky 12 months, with various brands getting into hot water for their creative efforts. It started with Pepsi in April, which caused a huge backlash for its trivialisation of the Black Lives Matter protests, in its ad with Kendell Jenner. This was followed by a similar storm in May, when McDonalds was criticised for exploiting child bereavement. Then the bad run continued with Dove branded as racist for showing a black woman turn white in one of its recent advertisements.
The rise and fall of the Maybot
It has certainly been Theresa May’s annus horribilis, with various PR disasters to confront over the course of 2017. However, few would argue that the car crash all began in April, with that fateful decision to call a snap General Election, followed by the disastrous campaign, which failed to win her a Commons majority. Many blamed the failure on the leader’s poor performance in media interviews, which saw her continuously repeating meaningless slogans such as “Brexit means Brexit” and “no deal is better than a bad deal.” Certainly, not a good role model for any media spokespeople out there!
How not to be a Communications Director
A lesson to aspiring communications leaders came from Anthony Scaramucci in July, who managed to be fired from the role of White House Comms Director after just 10 days in the job. Turns out publicly insulting your predecessor and current colleagues isn’t the best way to make a good first impression!
A sorry end for Bell Pottinger
One of the UK’s largest and most successful PR agencies found itself on the wrong end of the camera lens this year, engulfed by a reputational scandal that even it couldn’t fix. Bell Pottinger started 2017 already defending allegations that it was involved in a campaign to stir up racial tension in South Africa, with the situation finally coming to a head in September when it was expelled from the PRCA for its actions. The situation then went from bad to worse as hopes of finding a buyer faded, the 20-year-old agency finally went into administration in September, with the loss of 250 jobs.
The line between true and false has been well and truly obliterated in 2017, with reports of fake news becoming a constant feature of the media landscape. Barely heard of 18 months ago, usage of the term has apparently increased 365% since 2016, leading to it being named the official word of the year by Collins Dictionary. Spearheaded by Donald Trump, often as a way to sidestep negative stories about himself, the term has taken a more sinister turn in 2017, with reports that Russia used fake news to interfere with the American Election. Twitter, Facebook and Google have since announced measures to crack down on the problem.
More room to tweet
Anyone who has wasted precious minutes editing their posts or squeezing in their hashtags on Twitter would have been relieved by this recent announcement. Yes, the long-standing 140-character limit has been officially doubled by the social network, allowing for more freedom of expression from those with lots to get off their chests. But despite the extra space, the signs are that most people will continue to keep it brief, with tests showing that only 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% more than 190. However, those who did use the longer tweets got more followers, more engagement and spent more time on the site.
@realdonaldtrump was temporarily silenced!
And the Twittersphere was a happier place for all of 11 minutes at the start of November, when the US President’s account was mysteriously deleted. The deed turned out to be the work of a rogue employee as his final act of defiance before leaving the company. Needless to say, he was quickly hailed a hero by many on the web, even though he later claimed it was a simple error (a likely story!)
2017 was also the year of brand safety, with scores of brands being caught out for allowing their adverts to appear alongside objectionable content, and even in some cases funding terrorist and hate organisations. The news quite rightly caused outrage and numerous brands were forced to take a serious look at how this had been allowed to happen. YouTube was at the centre of the allegations, for allowing ads to appear alongside unacceptable videos – and for allowing such abhorrent content on the site in the first place. Numerous large brands have since boycotted the video sharing platform, which recently announced it has deleted over 150,000 videos in an effort to tackle the problem.
So, lots of ‘could do betters’ for brands, many of whom would be wise to bolster their corporate responsibility and try a more ethical approach in the year ahead. One great example is the Co-op bank, which celebrated 25 years of ethical policy in 2017, setting a standard for other businesses. They’ve also just launched their Christmas advert, which is sure to warm your cockles if you’re looking for a pick me up. Let’s hope we see more of this sentiment in 2018!
And if this has got you thinking about expert support to guide you through 2018 safely and successfully, a specialist freelancer could be the answer. Find out how it works by dropping getting in contact here or give us a call on 0203 828 8440.