The Rise and Fall of the Reusable Grocery Bag

I witnessed PR in the making today by sheer coincidence. It was so exciting, it gave me goosebumps and at that precise moment, the needle on my nerd monitor spiked.

There I was on search.twitter.com, up to my neck in research and popular opinion on reusuable grocery bags, when in the matter of minutes it changed. Breaking news shot out over the Twitter waves from CNW, declaring reusable grocery bags a health hazard.

Reusable washable grocery bag

As this message spread out over the Twitter waves, I found myself up to my neck in dissenting opinion about reusable grocery bags. The National Post was quick to get the message out, and then, a couple of hours later came the damage control and this article in the Toronto Sun stating “the plastics industry is fighting back against the growing popularity of reusable grocery bags with a study that warns of health risks.”

As a sigh of relief filtered out over the Twittersphere, public opinion turned to common sense — of course it makes sense, the obvious solution is to wash your reusable bags and don’t use them for anything else like transporting your sweaty gym clothes. I can’t imagine the kind of skanky-assed bags they must have conducted their tests on. You think something like “the presence of fecal matter” would have a certain odor.

Nevertheless, to see this whole situation play out in real time, as I sat there recording every detail of it, is something I don’t think happens too often. It was quite the thrill. Yes, I’m a nerd, but at least I don’t poop in my grocery bags.

Lock in and Follow my Tweets

Here’s another episode of SuperNews! making fun of Twitter and the many celebrities who are now part of the wave.

One of the celebrities featured is Ashton Kutcher and his PR stunt on Twitter between CNN. I wonder about short-lived PR campaigns such as these and whether abusing the system in this way will backfire somewhere down the line. Kutcher was very vocal during his race to 1 million followers, tweeting every ten minutes, but have we heard from him since? Not a peep. I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel so used.

How Community Brings out the R in PR

Here’s a campaign that has all the right ingredients for success – music, community, and feeling good. Take a simple song everybody knows, one that has a lot of na-na-nahs, give them a mic and let the magic happen. 

So what? I hear the cynics out there say – it’s a phone company. What has that got to do with music, community and feeling good? Where’s the message in that? Cell phones connect people together – much like this event – and when we come together and celebrate, we feel good and when we feel good, we sing. Now every time these people hear the word T-Mobile, or hear the song Hey Jude,  they’ll think of that moment and feel good all over again – kind of like Pavlov’s dogs. If you don’t believe me, watch this video:

Celebrity Twitter Fight

If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably heard the cautions about managing your public profile and nurturing your own personal branding. Whether you’re a celebrity or not, you have to watch what you say. I don’t know how many times I have erased tweets that I realized were inappropriate. I try to be respectful of the Twitter community and my followers, but there are times when you just want to say something silly or something that will get a rise out of people — and sometimes, sometimes, that’s ok.

For some people the temptation is very strong and utterly irresistible. Witness the following argument between Lily Allen and Perez Hilton — orchestrated PR stunt or happy accident?

@lilyroseallen Is casting the music video for her next single, which she’s shooting in LA. Tell her U think she should have Perez in it! Ha! …

perezhilton @lilyroseallen I can still read what you write, twat!

lyroseallen @perezhilton oh , I’m sorry , we’ve already cast the jealous and bitter lonely old queen role. Next time eh ?

perezhilton @lilyroseallen Jealous of who? David Beckham, maybe. And if I wanted to be a fucked up Brit, I’d rather be Amy Winehouse – whose got talent.

lilyroseallen @perezhilton god, you’re like so obsessed with me its embarassing.

perezhilton @lilyroseallen Congrats on your album doing well in America, though. It’s REALLY HARD to sell copies when u discount it to $3.99. Desperate!

lilyroseallen @perezhilton its also number one everywhere else in the world douchebag. Go away you little parasite.

perezhilton @lilyroseallen Aw, u can see I’ve lost weight! I am a littler Perez. But I’m still a big fat cunt – just like U! That’s why I lova ya. xoxo

perezhilton @lilyroseallen P.S. Thanks for advertising on my website. I’ll take your money (or the label’s) anytime!

lilyroseallen @perezhilton hes blocked, just had to get to a compute

When you’re in PR, reputation is always top of mind and negative publicity has its pros and cons. Such PR tactics are not strangers in the eternal quest for the tabloid cover, but the question is — how effective would this be as a PR tactic? If this is a scripted, curtains-up performance that received a lot of attention, would it help to increase Lily Allen’s sales? These are the kinds of questions that plague the mind of a PR practitioner (there’s got to be a better word).

On the other hand, if it was that irresistible pull that Twitter has on some people — the lure of temptation — that caused this spat to erupt and display itself in front of millions and millions of people, then how will it play out? You tell me — good or bad?

I think I censor myself sometimes too much, especially when some big names start following me. When I’m in doubt, I think of my tweet printed on a humungous billboard on the side of a very, very busy highway, and I think twice.

Women’s Rights — Whose Rights are they Really?

There’s been a lot of talk in the news this week about the new laws in Afghanistan, including conjugal laws that condone marital rape. When you hear these kinds of things, you wonder what good has come of the peace efforts in Afghanistan and are we just wasting our time?

I heard one expert on the CBC pose the question: Should we expect a country seeped in tradition and tribal laws to change over night? We’re talking marital rape here. If you have the choice to condone this or stop it, wouldn’t you, as a human being of the free world stand up and say NO! Rape is rape and it is NOT okay, I don’t care where you live.

In this CTV clip, Human Rights Activist Sally Armstrong praises the $5M-dollar peace efforts in Afghanistan and says it’s just an electioneering stunt on the part of Karzai and his government. Sounds like a bad omen to me: