Friday 25 October 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: SMinterviews

Twitter Q&A sessions… An ingenious tactic used by PRs to make clients appear as open and as forward thinking as possible? Or a potentially hazardous exercise? The answer unsurprisingly is... both.

Queens Park Rangers Football Club yesterday had to abandon an #AskHarry Q&A on Twitter owing to immense trolling and humorous insults. Labelled a PR disaster by the media, one has to ask what ever entered the minds of QPR’s PR team, firstly when you consider manager, Harry Redknapp’s rather colourful career, and the recent British Gas Q&A disaster. These forums have to be taken with trepidation and planning.

When conducting a Twitter Q&A or a Twinterview, it is the responsibility of the PR to carefully consider all eventualities. Think in the long term, not the immediate term. Anticipate potentially tough questions, so responses can be planned and given out immediately, as it is certainly not as easy as one thinks to put everything down in 140 characters. In QPR and Harry Redknapp’s case, it would have been advisable to have anticipated tricky questions and had humorous or even honest answers to them:


The preparation and briefing is as important as the interview. The PR department at QPR were pretty naive for not considering the myriad of potential troll like questions directed at the former Spurs boss. The CEO of a large corporate PLC would never jump onto a BBC screen without having been thoroughly briefed on potential “danger topics” prior to the interview, so neither should Harry Redknapp have been allowed to hop into the Twitter-sphere so unprotected.

Another example of extremely poor planning was, the loathsome CEO of Ryan Air, Michael O’Leary’s Twinterview. He reportedly received no preparation or briefing from his PR team, and subsequently went on to make an early and rather sexist comment in response to a girl’s picture on Twitter. Did O’Leary’s PR team not create a social media policy for the Company, and fling it in Michael’s face, make him read it and learn it in advance of this PR nightmare?

Not all Q&As on Twitter are a disaster, and celebrities such as Jay Z have utilised the idea very well; but then Jay Z is going to have far less trollers and more fans than the CEO of one of the "world’s worst airlines", an increasingly expensive British Gas, and a football manager who has left virtually every football club he’s ever managed in ruins.

Considering the differing receptions that #AskHarry and Jay Z received through their respective SMinterviews, perhaps it is fair to suggest that they should have been broadcast through different platforms. Whilst the flow of adoration stemming from Jay Z’s fans could be contained in responses of 120 characters, #AskHarry would have benefited from the extra space and characters that a tool such as Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) allows… Again, a consideration of the relevance and appropriateness of social media platforms should have been done in preparation to Harry Redknapp’s Twinterview. What is encouraging to see is companies within financial services starting to use social media to create discussion and engagement and can be demonstrated by peer-to-peer lender Zopa’s participation on Reddit.

The Bank of England put chief economist Spencer Dale in the firing line only a day after #BritishGasGate and he fared far better. A great result for financial services which has to do more to appear open and trustworthy, and if done correctly Twitter Q&As might be the way forward to ensure this. The onus will be on PRs to prepare clients and anticipate the tricky questions which could easily get fired at a company or organisation with financial services.

Breakfast time for  Abchaps certainly provided more than just the usual coffee and toast this week! We attended The Royal Society of Chemistry to hear insights from The Royal Scientist magazine experts and a breakfast briefing hosted by AIM where Meryam Omi of L&G Investment gave a particularly strong argument as to why NEDs should be responsible for ensuring business sustainability.

We were also invited to the Jumeirah Carlton Tower by the Arab Bankers Association where a whole host of Arabic financial professionals from all over the world came together to build relationships and share ideas. Mid-week, Smith and Williamson hosted a fantastic evening of Tries, Tikka and Talk with Will Greenwood sharing some amusing tales from his Lions and England days and we welcomed our own guests into the office for two Market Lunches to discuss the latest developments in the worlds of digital technology and the Oil and Gas industry.

Dorsey and Whitney LLP has moved its entire team of staff to its swanky new office building in Broadgate. The law firm has set up camp in the Grade A office building, 199 Bishhopsgate and will now share lifts with employees from the likes of Stephenson Harwood, Pinsent Masons and Reed Smith – keep it friendly chaps!

Another law firm adding talent is Eversheds – recruiting a new partner, Andrew Herring from Greenberg Traurig Maher, to its international transport team.

Smith Square Partners also adds strength through hiring Paul Baines. Baines' previous roles includeCharterhouse Bank and Hawkpoint Parnters.

"SMinterview" - To arrange or conduct an interview, the exchange of questions and answers, via a social media platform

It’s the weekend of creepy goings-on, zombies in the night and spooky encounters as Halloween celebrations hit full steam. So, if you can tear yourself away from scrounging sweet treats and playing tricks, London is hosting a number of spectacular events.

Head over to Portobello Pop-Up for Tee’s and Cee’s ‘Halloween Movie Mash-Up Weekend’. From Friday to Sunday, it will host a horror themed cinematic experience of cult classics: Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm street and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Guests will also be treated to Halloween themed food, drink, games and activities. And don’t forget the fancy dress!

The London Dungeon’s is opening its doors to its first ‘Late’ for a special Freight Night ’Dungeon after Dark’. In addition to the attendance by Guy Fawkes and Sweeney Todd, there will be appearances (or not!) by a number of ‘virtual’ guests such as Henry VIII and Jack the Ripper as well as the typical over-18 shows and ‘surprises’!

Finally, keep the kids entertained this weekend and get them involved in the Halloween celebrations at London Zoo’s ‘Boo at the Zoo’ event and see what creepy creatures are lurking in the shadows!

Alternatively, see what spooky going’s on are occurring at the the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a special Harry Potter ‘Ghostly Goings-on’ tour at Warner Bros Studio.

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