Don't believe the hype - how PR must also manage expectations or damage the brand


On a recent trip to London I indulged in my love of all things Mary and took a trip to her new store.

I must admit to having fallen hook, line and sinker for Mary.

And it’s not just her sassy attitude with a touch of vulnerability that appeals.

Her delivery of key messages is a reminder how powerful sticking to the script can be.

As a PR I can only lust after the coverage she has had.  Last weekend she was in Grazia (OK she’s married to the editor), The Sunday Times and the Observer and on the train down to London I read a feature in The Guardian.  She even has her own TV programme for goodness sake.

So as soon as my real work was done, I skipped to Frasers on Oxford Street with my ‘wish list’ close at hand.

I felt like a child at Christmas as I jumped aboard Mary’s lift taking me to Level 2 – it is purple and lime green … sooo Mary!

On the shop floor I recognised a few familiar faces from my TV screen – Mary had indeed employed those enthusiastic shop assistants to replicate her infectious love of fashion and down-to-earth dressing.

All good so far!

But as I pillaged the rails I heard a few rumblings “I am going to complain to Mary” one woman whispered to her friend, “This is simply not flattering” complained another “What £200 for a pair of leggings” gasped a 40-something lady in horror.

I wasn’t being put off so arms laden I headed for the changing rooms – and one after one, I discarded the items – that woman was right – they simply weren’t a good cut.

And the staff were too busy gassing about how they watch themselves on TV from behind a cushion to notice my disappointment as I handed back the garments!

As I left empty handed pondering my visit, I wondered why I felt so let down – then it hit me.  I believed in the hype and Mary let me down! Not great for building trust – one of PR’s key tasks.

Another disappointment was to come. Mary went majorly off script and called 60-somethings ‘old fogies’ and insulted our lady MPs.

Having landed herself a job of retail guru by the Government she’d better get back on message … and fast because of the frock thing doesn’t work out she could become the new PR guru – Max Clifford is so last season!

Retail PR Guru

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