Friday, 4 December 2009

Social Media - a necessity or an accessory?

Surely everyone will agree that social media can give a PR campaign an extra push. But as part of an integrated campaign which is largely offline, is that all it can do?

Watershed PR targeted online news sites with their smelly cheese campaign for the Royal Bath & West Show. They managed to secure a considerable amount of published online content, so there is plenty of access to the campaign available online for those interested in the client, which will be archived for the long term and appear in search engines.

However, in terms of updating their client website, using sites such as Twitter and Facebook, blogging, youtube, etc, they did nothing. For a campaign that managed to secure more than 12 stories in national newspapers, feature on BBC and ITV News and get a feature in a national magazine, is it possible that they could have utilised the online space available to further promote a campaign that is evidently interesting and newsworthy?

An important point to keep in mind is that the target audience for this campaign is national. The Royal Bath & West Show is one of the largest agricultural events in the UK and attracts visitors from even further afield.

In terms of time, they only had 3 months. In terms of budget, they only had 5k. Social networking is free and instant. Do you think it would have been worthwhile for Watershed to use social media or would it have just been like an accessory to the campaign that wouldn’t have added any real value?


  1. But aren't most of the facebook users and twitter bombarded with campaigns... and the "join this support group".

    I don't deny the big use of New Media and it's success to attracting people, but I believe articles and content online is more long term than updating on facebook, I have the believe that the tendency of Facebook groups is to be short-term tool rather than a long lasting option.
    I have myself joined groups that at the beginning are interesting but after a while I get to realize I haven't used them at all after the 1st or second month and after that I just remove them from my list of groups.
    So I think for the purpose of this campaign the use of New Media would not have been such a difference, the campaign met its objectives and even exceed and I doubt with Twitter or Facebook there would have been much difference.

  2. I belive that social media could have made this campaign even better. With being present and targeting their target audience through social media outlets like facebook and twitter they could have gotten an even bigger turn out and created more media buzz. Seeing this campaign did not have a defined target audience, the targeting might have been a little difficult. However, to attract the younger generation, social media is an absoloute necessity!
    I really think that utilizing social media is a great oppertunity to further the campaign and they might consider better use of social media for future events.

  3. Yeah I think that it would have been very short lived campaign on facebook, most people I know, including myself, join groups because they like the title and then once they are part of the group take little action within it.

    It seems that they managed to achieve all that they needed without it, so its hard to say if it would have been beneficial. Although it would to be fair with these networking sites reaching millions it may have boosted their numbers.

  4. I think the use of Social Media is dependent on what the campaign is. If it's mostly targeting a younger audience, then Social Media websites can be a very powerful promotional tool.

    I don't think it's worth just utilising it for the sake of it, or because other organisations in your field are using it for their own campaigns.

    There are so many different pages and groups on networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, often you just join them and forget about them. If you choose to use the Social Media tool it's important to make it stand out from the competition.

    For Watershed it would've been worthwhile to use social media, as they had some budget constraints, and in 3 months they could reach out to a lot of new audiences. It also would open a lot of opportunities for them that they may have not had while promoting offline, or through other traditional methods.

  5. Social media I think often targets particular ages ranges, at least I used to think that. But more and more I'm seeing the older generation on sites like Facebook. I think that at least attempting to utilise this ever growing media outlet, is always a good idea. It, at least, shows an awareness to this type of event and puts it on the map, if it were.

    Considering the time scale and other obstacles that were set in place for Watershed, Social media definitely could have upped the impact of the show and allowed a wider range of people to be aware of the occasion.

  6. It would be interesting to establish whether Watershed have any skills in social media. It sounds like a strange comment, but the PR agency my major client works with (and they are big) were unaware of twitter and didnt understand facebook. I have to say i've never really got to grips with it for marketing purposes either.