Harvey and Hugo

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Phone: 01325 486 666
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Grin and bear it – When PR campaigns go wrong

Anyone with mini-dictators in their household will be well aware of Build-a-Bear. A haven for making a best friend that will be by your child’s side through the hardships of growing up. You might also know it from its recent ‘Pay Your Age’ campaign offering products that can normally cost up to £50 for the price of your child’s age.

A great idea! Until it wasn’t.

The promotion was so popular that the unprecedented demand led to it being pulled on the day of launch, and even the police being called to control the queuing (yes – it caused Brits to have issues queuing!).

But where did it all go so wrong? If you’re planning to pull a similar stunt, here are a few things to bear in mind (sorry).

Be realistic

Don’t just think about what would get more people through your door or seeing your brand. Yes, that’s important but if it causes chaos, that exposure isn’t going to be positive. Be realistic in what can be achieved by your teams on the ground.

Ask them and any other key parties such as town centre teams and even the police, for valuable feedback on what is achievable on the scale you’re considering, and where you should think about scaling back.

Timing is everything

Anything that has to be assembled is never going to make for a quick process – so bear this in mind. How long will it take you to complete the activity per person? How many can you fit in one hour? How many people is that per day?

Now you see how queues can get tetchy.

Add an element of exclusivity by offering VIP time slots. Or manage expectations by releasing tickets for certain times of the day in advance. This won’t stop people turning up on the day – especially if you leave time for ‘walk-ins’ – but they won’t mind queuing if they know they should, and could, have thought ahead.

Avoid the dreaded crying child photo

Although your campaign might not involve children, the last thing you want is to be responsible for the sad photograph on the front of the next day’s newspaper. Or worse, for the latest meme.

Have a think about what you can do to make the experience even better for those taking part. If it’s a hot day, hand out ice lollies. Can you provide any (branded) free gifts? How about discount codes to guarantee a future visit? People don’t mind waiting, as long as they think you care about them.

You have GOT to listen!

Yes, social media is not a nice place to be in a crisis. Particularly if you created that crisis. But get over it – you made the mess, tidy it.

 Remember that people came to see you because they like your brand, product and/or service, they will only start to revolt if they are let down by one – or all – of these things. So listen to them, respond, acknowledge errors and take control.

Acting fast can make a difference between a customer losing out on a promotion and a promotion losing a customer.

Although the phrase ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is often thrown around, this must be managed properly.

If you’re considering an activity to boost your brand or launching a promotion that could need some management, we can help! Throw us a bone on 01325 486666 or info@harveyandhugo.com to find out what we can do.



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