What's New in Public Relations

October 6, 2011

Burberry and the Tweetwalk

Filed under: Public Relations Posts — Carlie @ 3:14 pm

Since the dawn of social media, a huge number of changes have taken place in the world of public relations. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and other websites have made it easier for people working in communications to get in touch with their audience and to reach a great number of people at once. Twitter makes it especially effortless to get in touch with followers and fans as anyone can become a fan of products, companies and people. And British fashion house Burberry recently used their Twitter account to do something incredibly new and innovative for its followers.

Burberry was founded in 1856 and, according to its Twitter profile, is a “global brand with a distinctly British attitude”. With well over five hundred thousand followers on Twitter and close to nine millions “Likes” on facebook, they reach a huge number of fans with their social media platforms. They are favourites of the British Royal Family, who have granted them Royal Warrants, and they are, according to Business Weekly, in the top one hundred most valuable brands.

Before the London Fashion Week in September 2011, Burberry announced that it had partnered with Twitter to create a “Tweetwalk” for its London show on September 19th. Their tweet that day explained it all in, of course, 140 characters or less: “Excited to announce the first ever #Tweetwalk Show. SS12 (Spring Summer 2012) looks will be on Twitter before the runway. Follow @Burberry today at 4pm #LFW – CB”. Their plan was to snap a twitpic of each model as they prepared to head out onto the runway and post the photos online so that their Twitter followers could catch a glimpse of the clothes before anyone else.

This stunt received huge coverage. As we learned in our public relations case studies class, it’s always the first person (or organization in this case) to do something that gets the most press, and the Tweetwalk was mentioned in publications that focus on fashion as well as technology and business . The Tweetwalk even helped to spread Burberry’s brand message in areas that they would not normally receive coverage: this site focuses on a combination of social media, technology and business, and the Tweetwalk fits perfectly with the interests of their readers regardless of their interest in luxury fashion. In fact, when I googled “Burberry Twitter Fashion Week” days after the event, only half of the hits on the first page of results were on fashion websites.

But what did the average person think of the stunt? Was it a hit or a flop? According to one reviewer, the early view of designs and clothes made Twitter followers feel that have become Burberry’s new VIPs. It connects the brand to the people and shows that the company appreciates them and their business. As social media users are often “early adopters and opinion leaders”, the Tweetwalk used public relations, and a cheap form of it at that, to show that they are ahead of other luxury brands.

The news wasn’t all positive, though. Some people complained that the Tweetwalk dominated their Twitter feeds during the show. Those who weren’t interested in seeing each design were flooded with the twitpics regardless. However, as it was something new and exciting, it received a huge amount of media despite the occasional negative point of view in some articles.

Overall, the articles and reviews that I read were positive and highlighted the innovation, the creativity and the excitement of the Tweetwalk. Burberry is ahead of the curve in terms of public relations and social media, and they’ve started something that could be the beginning of a new multi-industry trend.

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