It is the much anticipated Brit Awards this evening, and while the event has certainly caused some controversy in the past – for example, with Adele’s outburst when her acceptance speech was cut short in 2012 – this year has proved to be no different, and it hasn’t even started yet.
My Twitter feed was bombarded this morning by angry and frustrated journalists who had received an email from the PR company for MasterCard – the Brit Award’s official sponsor – which asked them to agree to a number of conditions in return for tickets to the event. The email, which has been published in full on the Press Gazette’s website, asked journalists to tweet from both their personal and publishers’ Twitter accounts throughout the duration of the event. It had even gone to the effort of drafting the tweets that the journalists could post (how kind):
“Pre event – e.g. Really excited to be heading down to @BRITAwards tonight with @MasterCardUK #PricelessSurprises”
Journalists were understandably annoyed by this latest PR blunder, not least because it shows absolutely no understanding of the ethics behind social media campaigns, which not only need to be timely and reactive to what’s going on in the world, but also need to be authentic. Used in the right way, social media campaigns can create excitement around an issue or event, but used in the wrong way, the buzz they create might not be positive at all. For MasterCard it was certainly a PR #fail and, indeed, a #PricelessSurprise for the organisers of the Brit Awards.
We can only hope that the event goes according to plan tonight, sparing itself from any further controversy, although I don’t have my hopes up given its history. Let’s all sit back, relax and not tweet about it.