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.

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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.

Twitter Radio for the Sight Impaired


Twitter is making waves again — this time radio waves. Mark McKeague, a 20-year-old student from Queen’s University in Northern Ireland who invented a way for sight-impaired people to tune into Twitter.

Whilst on Christmas holidays, McKeague set to work and took apart a radio “and added an Arduino micro-controller to pick up movement on the tuning dial.” He then “added a connection to the radio’s speaker,” which allowed him “to connect the radio to the computer.”

Tweets can be listened to on Happy Twitter and Sad Twitter, depending on the nature of the message. 

McKeague doesn’t have any plans to market this invention yet, as it is still in its very early stages, but he’s “interested in developing the radio further.”

Any takers?

Source: BBC News

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.

The Twouble with Twitter

This week, I found myself answering a lot of questions about Twitter from the most unlikely characters. If they had approached me a few months back, I would’ve given them a blank stare, shrugged my shoulders and looked at my shoes, thinking to myself, I should know that answer.

Before I committed to Twitter —  and let’s not be coy here, Twitter is a commitment — I couldn’t understand what all the hype was about and I looked sideways at people who planned their whole schedules around Twitter or who purchased gadgets that enabled them 24-hour connection to Twitter.

Now four months later and here we are…I have a job because of Twitter…I volunteer with progressive organizations like TorontoGreen.ca because of Twitter…and I encounter various other opportunities professional or personal, but either way beneficial, because of Twitter.

There’s a lot of buzz these days that Twitter is growing too big too fast for its own good and that changes are imminent. We all dread that day, and hope and pray that the powers-that-be will have the foresight to protect its loyal followers. Until then, I leave you with this tongue-in-cheek look at Twitter from the outside: