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Friday Five: The Apocalypse Edition

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Like many of you, I’ve spent the past week camped out in my steel-reinforced doomsday bunker eating kale and monitoring the coming end of days via short-wave radio and 24-hour news channels. It’s been another strange week in January for manyFriday Five Logo of my fellow public relations professionals. Between the “#Snowpocolypse” that wasn’t, the global Facebook shutdown and even our beloved PRSA website going dark for a short period this week, there’s no doubt that we all better start stocking up on canned corn, fresh water and the ever so precious kale… which I’m sure will be more valuable than gold in the new world economy.

In this week’s Friday Five – PRSA’s analysis of the week’s biggest public relations news and commentary – we look back on five topics that prove that the Apocalypse has come and gone. We review the media’s response to a somewhat overhyped blizzard, look at reactions to the Facebook outage, see what’s new on Twitter, consider GoDaddy’s PR strategy and start taking Snapchat seriously… sorta.

Who Won and Lost the Blizzard That Wasn’t? (PRNewser)

Unless you’ve spent the last week sipping Mai Tai’s in the tropics, you may have caught wind of a little history-making blizzard predicted to hit the Northeast earlier this week. Meteorologists almost unanimously agreed that it would be the most devastating snow storm to strike New York City and the surrounding region in recorded history. News channels planned round-the-clock coverage. Local governments issued state of emergency warnings and driving curfews. Businesses (PRSA National HQ included) closed up shop early on Monday and preemptively closed on Tuesday – the day that the heart of the storm was expected. And those of us in the area went home and watched for the snow to begin… and watched… and watched… and then barely anything happened.

Most New Yorkers woke up Tuesday morning to a few inches of snow and clear roads. The previously closed subways were quickly reopened and many took the fortuitous “snow day” to relax and enjoy a day of sledding. But there were many who also took time to throw a little shade at the forecasters who got it wrong and even more at the news channels that tried to salvage their earlier warning even in the face of an obvious misfire. As usual, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show provided the best recap of the media’s overreaction with Don Lemon of CNN receiving the biggest “burrn”:

Patrick Coffee of PRNewser also provides a great recap of the best social media responses to the blizzard that wasn’t.

Facebook And Instagram Went Down, And Everyone Freaked The Hell Out (BuzzFeed)

For those outside the northeastern United States and unaffected by the snow storm, you may have noticed the second sign of Armageddon on Tuesday when Facebook and Instagram unexpectedly shut down for an hour. Whenever a social media platform as ubiquitous as Facebook goes dark, it usually prompts opportunistic responses that can often be a #PRWin for brands and social users with an appropriate sense of humor.

The Facebook outage didn’t disappoint

BuzzFeed offers up some of the best social reactions to the outage. But on a more serious note, when one of the most popular social media site’s on the net goes dark, many begin to wonder what happened. While Facebook insists that the issue was self-inflicted, hackers also took credit for the problem. We don’t see this turning into a #PRFail for the social network, but wonder if more hackers will begin taking credit for things they didn’t do and how that might affect brand perception in the future.

Twitter Premieres New Mobile Video and Group Messaging Features (Entrepreneur)

With all the doomsday coverage clogging your feed this week, you would be forgiven if you didn’t notice the latest news from Twitter. This week the social platform finally joined the mobile video and group messaging worlds. For most users, the addition of these noticeably missing features may not seem like such a big deal, but like Facebook and other platforms, the longer Twitter is able to keep users engaged, the more they can capitalize on those eyeballs and thumbs.

Kim Lachance Shandrow of Entrepreneur offered her perdition on how one of these features might be used by the public relations community:

“Group Direct Message lets you speak privately with up to 20 followers at a time — even if your followers don’t follow each other. (Hmmm, we smell an onslaught of group PR pitches, don’t you?) Twitter users can also swap emojis and tweets when group direct messaging.”

We’d be interested to hear what PR pros think in the comments.

Snapchat builds hub for news, media from more than just friends (Los Angeles Times)

I’ll be honest, I’m not a Snapchatter – or whatever Snapchat users call themselves. Like any good PR practitioner, I’ve used the app like I’d test out any new or “disruptive” technology that might affect our profession, but unlike other social properties, it’s never become an everyday part of my life. Given the latest news from the company, that may quickly change.

Paresh Dave of the LA Times explains:

“YouTube’s latest competitor is a surprising one: Snapchat. The globally popular app that specializes in self-destructing messages gained a reputation as a tool for friends to exchange scandalous photos. Now, the Los Angeles start-up is pushing for a more refined image, announcing Tuesday a new feature that prominently displays multimedia content from ESPN, CNN and other media organizations.”

Read Dave’s full report on how Snapchat’s latest move will affect how users engage with the app.

GoDaddy: Super Bowl puppy ad ‘was not a PR stunt’ (PRWeek)

GoDaddy has long been known for the development of Super Bowl ads that are as divisive as they are engaging. Love the company’s ads or hate them, they are consistently among the “winning” ads of the big game. This week when GoDaddy pre-released its latest Super Bowl ad, it was a surprising misfire. The backlash against the ad featuring a cute puppy and surprising ending was so swift and severe that it caused the company to pull the ad and issue an apology. Many animal rights activists and dog lovers pointed out that the commercial – which was likely an effort to make fun of the syrupy sweet Budweiser Clydesdale ads from years past – actually reflected the horrors of puppy mill purchasing.

Maybe testament to the effectiveness of GoDaddy’s enveloping-pushing ad approach or more so their public relations response strategy, which was very quick, many were left wondering if the whole thing was a PR stunt.

Variety’s Senior TV Editor, Brian Steinberg, wrote:

“GoDaddy seems to have put one over on an easily-duped populace, telling consumers it has decided to pull a Super Bowl ad it has been touting for weeks because of complaints it has received about the way it portrays a puppy at the center of the effort. But it feels like this was something the company had planned all along.”

But GoDaddy’s Vice President of Public Relations, Elizabeth Driscoll, assured PRWeek that it was not a PR stunt at all. PRWeek’s Diana Bradley offers reactions from several PR industry leaders questioning stunt or no-stunt and how this might reflect on GoDaddy moving forward.

Take a look at the commercial below and let us know what you think in the comments.

About the author

Laurent Lawrence, APR

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