Monday, 28 September 2009

All PR is good PR?

Here's a thing.
A small artisan producer decides to host an informal competition to guess the volume of product they make over a period of time.  They ask entrants to send their entries via a public forum so all entries are visible to all other entrants.  Shortly after closing time of the competition, they announce the result of the competition and the volume of product they produce in the specified time.  Strangely the chosen winner of the competition hasn't picked the correct answer.
In fact 3 other entrants were closer. But they weren't the "chosen" winner.
This series of events really interests me.  Twitter, Facebook etc are all about opening lines of communication.  We use these forms to meet new people, share ideas and promote ourselves, our products or ideas.  Most people are completely transparent about doing this which is great.  As a producer or promoter, it is fine to contact people directly and offer free product in the hope - not a promise - that they may blog or tweet about how great the product is.  It is a great and immediate route to both feedback and to your customer.  But when you manipulate the results to promote your product, it seems to say more about you and your standards than you might initially think.
Why do it?

Did you think that the 3 other entrants might not say positive things about your product?  If so, shouldn't you address the issues that you think they will perceive before you continue to sell the item.
Logically it can't be about protecting your products or concepts, as you are already selling your product on the open market.
If you think that the 'winning' competitor will give you good PR, why not just send him a box too and ask for feedback.  Surely by manipulating the result, you leave yourself open to be judged by others.
And judge they may: are you honest? are you trustworthy? are you open to criticism? are you confident in yourself? are you confident in your product?
This may seem to be over the top, but this was the chain of thoughts that ran through my head after I read the results.  It made me think that a decision made in haste and relayed immediately can cause untold damage to you and your brand, both at the time and in the future.
Much as these new channels of communication are all about immediacy, it is still necessary to think before you tweet. You never know who is listening and how they will translate your actions.

I know this is a bit off topic for me, but I don't hide the fact that I am a producer as well as a consumer.  I am constantly intrigued by the way people promote themselves, and occassionally something I see or experience warrants a mention.


  1. Hi Kate
    Thanks for your recent comment on my blog. Lovely to have you visit.

    As for your question, what an intriguing idea!
    I'm kind of amazed at the PR naivety displayed by the above producer - did they not think anyone would notice? If they wanted control over who won they could easily have created a competition where entries were more subjective - perhaps asking for comments about their product line or asking the entrant to relate a relevant experience or opinion. Or even, if they were determined to run such a guessing game, and ignore the true winner, ask for entries to be emailed directly, so they weren't visible to all--- though I dislike the inherent dishonesty in that approach.
    I'm guessing you won't name the business?