Daily Archives: January 7, 2013

A mother’s love

We could learn a lot from Ozala the Gorilla at Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire.   Her latest baby was born on 2nd January as a result of a successful primate breeding programme but so far keepers have been unable to determine the sex of the newborn since the 16-stone Mum won’t let anyone near her precious infant.

This is the 4th baby for 18-year old Ozala, and it may well be that she is over-protective since her 1st offspring, Matadi, born in 2003, was taken away from her and is now being cared for at Paignton Zoo in Devon.  Her 2nd, a female called Ndoki  sadly died aged 3 months in 2007  and her 3rd, a male called Okanda was born in April last year.   Okanda survived after some initial health problems and is now being cared for in Stuttgart Zoo in Germany.

I do hope she is allowed to keep this new addition.  It seems extremely cruel to me that she should be parted from her babies when she so clearly has extremely strong maternal instincts.   I accept that Gorillas are a critically endangered species, but come on!  How could you separate these two?

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Hashtag #hashtag

NewsweekSo it’s official!  Hashtag has been voted ‘word of the year’ by the American Dialect Society.

While the word has been around for decades, hashtags initially became popular on Twitter, where users would put them within tweets to make a larger comment or joke.   From there, it spread onto Facebook and everyday speech and a tipping point came when the only three words used on the cover of Newsweek magazine’s final print issue were preceded by a hashtag, making the cross over from web to print complete.

Twitter hashtags are a great way to organize tweets for common subjects or events, but people also use them as a way to connect to others over a good laugh. Once the twitterverse starts putting in their two cents, you get crowd-sourced, viral comedy. I’ve put together what I think are five of the funniest hashtag PR disasters that I’m sure will make you laugh:

  1. #Susanalbumparty:  Susan Boyle’s PR people are probably wishing they had re-read their promotional hashtag after missing its alternative message to Twitter users.  Causing great mirth on the social network, the unfortunate hashtag spawned a deluge of mock invites to the party until it was hastily renamed #SusanBoylesAlbumParty.
  2. #McDStories: Back in January, McDonald’s #McDStories hashtag backfired when instead of offering “good news stories” about the fast-food chain, users began flooding the tag with claims of fingernails in burgers and other nasties.
  3.  #WaitroseReasons: When the supermarket asked shoppers to complete the sentence: “I shop at Waitrose because …” using the hashtag #WaitroseReasons in September, it perhaps should have expected the subsequent tirade of jokes about the brand’s posh image – though many have said the way Waitrose responded turned the campaign from disaster to success.
  4. #MadeMeSmile: Vodafone was left bemused when Twitter users redeployed the PR #mademesmile tag to publish tax avoidance allegations directly to the company’s website.
  5. #QantasLuxury: Airline Qantas won the accolade of PR disaster of the year at the end of 2011 after opening up their promotional hashtag #QantasLuxury at a time when thousands of passengers were stranded overseas.hashtag

Purists will of course say that hashtag isn’t in fact a word but a symbol (like exclamation mark or question mark) and that the real name for this symbol is octothorpe – not quite as catchy though is it?

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