Inside the Profession

Friday Five: And the Oscar Goes to…Social Media

During awards season, celebrity media coverage explodes, and with the growing popularity of social media, award shows and movie stars receive non-stop attention. Thanks to technology, celebrities and fans were able to interact through social media during the live broadcast of the Academy Awards. The 2014 Oscars took over social media as participants discussed the winners and losers, the fashion and the antics of Hollywood’s biggest night. While social media posts poured in all show long, it gained unprecedented momentum when host Ellen DeGeneres assembled an all-star selfie and cemented the notion that social media is an incredibly powerful force.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post – an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we look at how the Oscars dominated social media. The famous Ellen DeGeneres selfie, publicity winners and losers of the award show, a breakdown of DeGeneres record-breaking post and the organic nature of the selfie are all covered in this week’s post. We also look at how the Oscars exemplified how live television is becoming “more human” and open to engagement.

Oscars 2014: Ellen DeGeneres’ all-star selfie sets Twitter record for most retweets (New York Daily News)

Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie from the Oscars can be considered the selfie seen ‘round the world. Through a celebrity-filled photo –including stars like Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Brangelina and it-girl Jennifer Lawrence – the award ceremony host actually “broke” Twitter. Soon after DeGeneres posted the star studded selfie to Twitter, the platform was experiencing technical difficulties due to the massive amounts of retweets the photo was receiving. According to the article, it took 34 minutes for the photo to break the “most retweeted” record.

Friday Five LogoWith over 1 million retweets, DeGeneres’ selfie beat out the previous top tweet, which was “President Obama’s victory photo from the night of his re-election, tweeted Nov. 6, 2012.” Between her well-received jokes with the stars, and her social media hit, DeGeneres generated some of the best award show publicity we’ve seen in many years. Visit the article for more on the famous tweet.

PR winners and losers at the Oscars (Ragan)

The comedic approach DeGeneres took and her use of social media to involve audiences at home won her the affection of millions, but there were several other “winners” who have received attention as a result of the Academy Awards. Jared Leto’s heartfelt acceptance speech after winning Best Supporting Actor, Twitter’s “Oscars-focused” trends and newcomers Lupita Nyong’o’s and Barkhad Abdi’s nominations all earned Oscar publicity wins.

According to the author, there were also a handful of “losers” from the Oscars, including Samsung. The brand’s product placement and constant use by DeGeneres throughout the show did allow for adequate publicity, however the host’s constant requests for retweets of her star-filled selfies “made the schtick look just a little forced.” For the full list of losers, and more about the winners, visit the article.

Oscars by the Numbers: How Ellen’s Selfie Tweet Spread Like Wildfire (Mashable)

During the show, DeGeneres broke the Twitter retweet record and helped Oscar-related tweets dominate social media. According to Twitter’s head of media science, Michael Fleischman, “Tweets about the Oscars were viewed over 3.3 billion times worldwide.” The article breaks down the Twitter action: “5.5 million people sent 19.1 million tweets, and 37 million people viewed them on as well as Twitter mobile and desktop.”

Because of the activity on the platform, it is theorized that Twitter activity may have helped drive viewership to the highest levels since 2000. The article also highlights the “anatomy” of DeGeneres’ tweet, including total views, number of people who saw the tweet, number of retweets and number of embeds. More about the tweet and more Oscar Twitter stats can be found via the article.

Samsung Claims Oscars Selfie Was ‘Organic,’ Also Has a Bridge to Sell You (PR Newser)

Samsung’s product placement reached millions of viewers during the Oscars, however many are beginning to question whether the famous DeGeneres selfie was organic. While the brand claims it was a “great surprise” that the host was able to incorporate Samsung’s newest Galaxy product into the record breaking moment, many are questioning if the stunt was planned.

According to the Wall Street Journal , a contract between ABC and Samsung states that the product would be featured during the show, which creates the idea that “Ellen planned a series of selfies ahead of time, and Samsung execs trained her on how to use the Galaxy during rehearsals.” While the selfie is still considered “organic” because the exact timing and celebrities involved in the photo weren’t planned, using the phone to take selfies during the show was. Visit the article for more about Samsung and the selfie.

The Oscars: More Human (Huffington Post)

This article highlights a major theme of the Oscars and many other live broadcasts: social media engagement. Live shows have become “more human” to get viewers involved with the events. Author of the article, Jim Joseph, explains “The quest for viewer engagement and the inclusion of the viewer in the viewing has made these events not only so much more fun, but also more real.” Social media is one of the major tools being used to generate desired engagement. As viewers take to social media to post about live events, brands find opportunities to join the conversation.

Brands like Pantene and DiGiorno Pizza joined in the real time action to discuss brand relevant action. Through hashtags and live commentary, brands were able to engage with users throughout the award show. As the show became “more human” – “the sheer joy on Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts’ faces” in the selfie and when Ellen ordered pizza and handed it out to the A-listers – brands and viewers alike interacted on social media and were able to feel like a part of the show. For more about the viewer-friendly approach, visit the article.

Faith Goumas is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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Faith Goumas


  • Great Post! I never thought a social media platform like Twitter could increase viewership for the Oscars. It’s amazing how much social media can benefit an event or even brands such as Samsung. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for commenting Lindsay! The integration of social media to drive television viewership goes even deeper. Many networks, software and tech developers are looking for the best way to take advantage of the “second screen” golden opportunity to go even further to engage with their key audiences. It’ll be interesting to see how public relations also stays on top of these opportunists in the future.

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