PR Roundup: Nikki Haley’s Stunt, Adult TikTok Use, and Misinformation Lessons from the Nutrition Industry

Tik Tok application icon on iPhone screen. Tiktok Social media network.

This week's PR Roundup looks at a Pew Research Study that reveals how adults are utilizing the TikTok platform, Republican presidential candidate, Nikki Haley's "big announcement" trick, and how the nutrition industry is dealing with misinformation on social media.

How Adults Use Tiktok

What happened: While most brands and organizations may consider the TikTok platform a way to address Gen Z, new research shows this may be the wrong approach. 

And if they are looking for engagement ala other social media platforms, they may do better elsewhere. While the eyes are on TikTok, the creative interaction can be lacking.

This week Pew Research released a study on adult TikTok usage, which finds that 52% of adults (see age definition of adult below) on the platform have posted a video. Also a minority of adult users (25%) are actually responsible for producing the vast majority of content (98%) on TikTok. 

Other notable findings:

  • While 18- to 34-year-olds are much more likely to use TikTok than their older counterparts, around half of users in this age group have ever posted on the site—similar to the share among users ages 35 to 49.
  • Users who have posted videos on TikTok are more active and customize more of their content. Posters typically follow more users, have more followers themselves and are more likely to have filled out their account bio. They are somewhat more likely to find the content of their algorithmically curated “For You” page extremely interesting.

Communications takeaways: Adam Ritchie, Principal, Adam Ritchie Brand Direction, says TikTok should not be looked at as a casual participant, low-pressure platform. It takes time and effort to really make a splash—whether you are a content creator or brand. 

“It's a highly competitive platform that requires original thinking and hours from a creator's day in order to make a mark,” Ritchie says. “No wonder most of its users are spectators who just want to be informed, educated or entertained while they're probably doing something else. TikTok can be a very enjoyable way to pass the time without the burden of participation!”

Ritchie also labels TikTok as “performative media,” which can be daunting to the average user. 

“This is lights, camera, action,” he says. “If PR pros are thinking about a call-to-action that requires consumers to post or tag something on TikTok, maybe they shouldn't. If they're thinking about TikTok as a campaign platform, they'd get better mileage courting the creator minority instead of the spectator majority.”

Misinformation on Nutrition-Tok

What happened: And speaking of more TikTok news—organizations may want to pay extra attention to their niche when it comes to misinformation.

One group really dealing with a battle between good and evil on the platform is the nutrition industry. On one hand, it’s an accessible tool providing certified experts like registered dietitians and nutritionists with a platform to disseminate useful information to interested users and raise the profiles of their personal brand. 

On the other hand, anyone can go onto social media and claim themselves as a “dietitian” or “nutrition expert,” to share information, without viewers really diving in deeper to fact check their advice or backgrounds. 

Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian released their 12th annual “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey, featuring responses from 564 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), and offering valuable insights into key trends shaping the food and nutrition landscape for 2024. This of course includes marketing and communication—influential factors guiding consumer’s food and beverage preferences.

A major finding showed TikTok emerging as the top platform where consumers seek nutrition information, replacing Instagram. Conversely, RDNs have also identified TikTok as the leading source for nutrition misinformation. TikTok comes in with 81.6% of RDNs citing misinformation on the platform, followed by Instagram with 72.9% and Facebook 72.7%.

Communication takeaways:  Misinformation is unfortunately not going away, and with new AI tools emerging like video tool, Sora, emerging on the scene, it’s just going to become prevalent. It’s important for brands, organizations and public figures to include a consistent monitoring of social media platforms through the use of misinformation tools to ward off any potential crisis incidents

Louise Pollock, President, Pollock Communications, says TikTok has become the leader in nutrition misinformation because the platform prioritizes engagement over accuracy. 

“Anyone with an account can post misleading content and gain an audience,” Pollock says. “Food and nutrition brands can combat misinformation by partnering with a credible source to share accurate information, cite resources in their videos and always encourage their followers to seek nutrition advice from qualified professionals, such as registered dietitians.”

Like Pollock says, if your brand is looking to deliver important information—especially in the health and wellness space—be sure to keep a certified expert in front of the camera to avoid any embarrassing and potentially dangerous mishaps.  

Nikki Haley’s Big Announcement...Or Not?

What happened: Just when you thought she was out…the current Republican presidential candidate rounded up the media to deliver not a white flag—but a campaign speech.

While the media clamored to see the former United Nations Ambassador’s “announcement,” which may or may not have signified a possible end to her campaign, she flipped the script in the presser stating: "Some of you — perhaps a few of you in the media — came here today to see if I’m dropping out of the race. Well, I’m not. Far from it."

Even though recent polls in South Carolina show her trailing Trump by 20 points, the speech, labeled, “state of the race,” garnered much media attention at a time where she may need it most.   

According to NBC News Haley spoke at her alma mater, Clemson University, and much of Haley’s speech sought to bruise former president and current Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, calling him a “disaster” and “unstable and unhinged.”

Haley also did not ignore current President Joe Biden, saying, “Like most Americans, I have a handful of serious concerns about the former president,” she said. “But I have countless serious concerns about the current president.” 

Communication takeaways: Much of the presidential campaign news cycles seem predictable. After all, we started with 28 presidential candidates on state and primary ballots, and now we remain with two. So when a trailing candidate, particularly around this time on the primary cycle calls for a “major announcement,” the public, and media, most likely turn to historical experience, thinking it could be withdrawal from the race. 

This could also be applied to any industry or public figure that endures familiar news cycle structures. Refer to the tech industry around CES to unveil new products, or publicly-traded businesses around earnings report times. 

Eric Koch, Founder of Downfield, a global firm specializing in political, strategic and crisis communications, says Haley may have made a slick move to garner attention, but it takes more than that to keep an audience interested. 

"She had no way to sustain the momentum or keep people engaged, so while the stunt got her attention, there was not much penetration to voters beyond a single day,” Koch says. “You can't build a campaign moving from one stunt to another."

The same could be said for any organization or brand looking for publicity. Stunts are ok, but a continued engagement strategy of worthy content and actions must also be created. 

Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal