Hope you all enjoyed this short week after the Fourth of July holiday. But there’s no rest for the news weary.
Threads by Meta launched Wednesday, blowing up the social media universe and threatening Twitter’s niche. GQ also pulled a scandalous story about the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav after claiming the piece hadn’t been thoroughly edited before going live, and Barbie seems to be everywhere these days, stirring up the anticipation for the upcoming live-action Barbie movie.
PRNEWS took a closer look at these happenings and what PR knowledge nuggets can be unearthed from them.
Meta Rolls Out Threads
What happened: Instagram, owned by Meta, unveiled its proposed competitor app to Twitter, Threads, on July 5. Because of its easy integration with Instagram, users can merely sign up and sign in through their Instagram account, instantly drawing in a user base of billions.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, claims the app registered 10 million users in just seven hours.
Many brands, including media such as MTV, The Washington Post and Complex Sports, destinations like Disney Parks and politicians such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took early leaps into the app.
Other brands secured accounts but (as of publishing time) stayed silent including the NFL, AMC Network and Diet Coke for example.
However, many platforms including Bluesky, Spill, Post and Mastadon have also emerged to fill the voids a changing Twitter has left for conversation platforms and breaking news and information.
Of course, according to Engadget, Twitter is already threatening to sue Threads, claiming “misappropriation of trade secrets and intellectual property."
However, this causes quite a fluster for brands—especially social media managers. Brands, organizations and public figures need to decide if they should jump in and allocate resources toward building and engaging with a new community, or if they should sit back and watch what happens in the long run.
Gabriel Gomez, Account Supervisor, Social Influencer and Community at Edelman works with brands like Unilever and T.J.Maxx, and feels the platform is secure enough to explore.
“It’s not everyday Meta launches a new platform that carries over verified status and a chunk of your existing followers,” Gomez says. “This new, but familiar, platform has brand-safety built in, allowing brands the opportunity to ditch their usual playbooks and test and learn new, exciting ways to engage with their community.”
Gomez recommends that, because the platform is so green, to go in and have fun with it, especially because audiences seem to love early, creative adopters.
However, new platforms can update and change quickly. Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, has been spotted replying to users who ask for certain features. So far the app has no hashtags or search functions, but a 'Following' feed could happen soon.
Gomez says if you do decide to try Threads, or any new platform, you cannot just post and walk away. It’s going to take some time and attention.
“Be sure to keep updated on the latest changes the app makes and take this time to revisit and re-energize the brass tax of your strategy,” he says. “Keep a flexible approach to match the speed of change.”
GQ Pulls Article
What happened: This week GQ magazine pulled an article criticizing Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav, shortly after it was published on July 3.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “the article, entitled “How Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav Became Public Enemy Number One in Hollywood,” listed a series of recent moves by Zaslav that attracted bad publicity, including his decisions to give a commencement speech in the middle of a writers’ strike and to lay off the leadership team of Turner Classic Movies.”
A Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson claims the reporter never contacted the company for a fact check before publishing. And a GQ spokesperson says the article was not thoroughly edited before going live.
“After a revision was published, the writer of the piece asked to have their byline removed, at which point GQ decided to unpublish the piece in question. GQ regrets the editorial error that led to a story being published before it was ready.”
Another ethical dilemma that attaches itself to this situation is the fact that GQ is connected to Warner Bros. Discovery through financing. According to The Washington Post, Condé Nast, GQ’s parent company is owned by Advance Publications, a shareholder in Warner Bros. Discovery.
Communication lessons: It is extremely rare to see a publication completely pull an entire article. Corrections may be issued, but nixing an entire piece is not something most media organizations are looking to do.
Hinda Mitchell, President, Inspire PR Group, says the actions of GQ puts reader and media relations at risk for the publication.
“The editorial process that led to this situation appears to have been bungled,” Mitchell says. “Some basic journalism tenets—like fact checking and at least attempting to get comment from the subject of the story—seemed to fail.”
Mitchell notes that numerous studies and surveys have found that the public currently does not trust the media and actions like this do not help that confidence. However, she believes it was something the organization needed to do because of the errors in the editing and reporting process.
“Getting the facts right still matters,” she says. “With the initial missteps leading up to the revisions, and the writer ultimately pulling his byline from the piece, I believe removing the piece altogether was the right thing to do. It was never going to be a story that readers could believe in, and GQ (and their parent company) needed to stop the negative publicity about it in its tracks.”
It will be interesting to see if we hear more about this situation in the near future, whether it comes from the writer, organizational leaks or other sources.
What happened: You may be living under a rock if you haven’t seen a Barbie meme on social media over the past month. The pink publicity train is everywhere for the upcoming Barbie live-action movie starring actors Margot Robie and Ryan Gosling.
And it's not just premieres and fashions. It’s big bucks. According to The Guardian, Mattel, owner of the iconic doll, has secured partnerships with over 100 brands to promote the "Barbie" movie and brand. Everything from pink Xbox consoles to an Airbnb stay in a themed Malibu oceanside dream house is catching the attention of not only Barbie enthusiasts, but also those eager for fun and nostalgia.
Communication lessons: Priscila Martinez, Founder and CEO, The Brand Agency, says from a PR standpoint, these types of limited brand “stunts” will work when they are executed with a long-term strategy in mind.
“The Barbie brand has been preserved with care for decades, and it seems like a complete departure to blanket consumers with this type of ubiquitous spread, but that’s why it works,” Martinez says. “Keeping the brand guarded and then opening the floodgates is what makes this be-everywhere-at-once strategy work.”
Martinez also notes that because Instagram and Twitter feeds are peppered with mentions, as well as your local retailer, as a consumer, “you can’t help but want to partake in the festivities.” That should be good news for the “Barbie” movie producers.
“At face value, a Barbie movie wouldn’t be interesting for many demographics,” she says. “An all-encompassing campaign keeps the movie top of mind for consumers and shows that the IP can be interesting for many demos. Barbie ticket sales would’ve been limited to the toy’s typical demographic without this ubiquitous campaign.”
We are only hoping the anticipated feature is as fun and original as the pre-release marketing. But will the popcorn be pink, too?
Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal