Posts Tagged ‘teenagers’


Hedley is a popular, mainstream Canadian band whose audience is mostly very young Canadian women. Its lead singer is Jacob Hoggard, whose career took off after he placed third during the second season of Canadian idol.

The four young, male band members have built a persona that’s just “bad boy” enough to appeal to those very young Canadian women. Although the fact that Hedley band members are ambassadors for Free the Children, the world’s largest network of children helping children through education, suggests they aim to be viewed as something over and above bad boys.

These guys are a “big deal” in Canadian pop music. Hedley has three consecutive double-platinum certificates, over a million downloads, and ten straight videos that reached number one on the MuchMusic countdown. In 2010, Pollstar named them one of the hundred top touring artists in the world.

On the surface, it appears that Hoggard understands that Hedley’s success is dependent on the goodwill of its fans. This is what he said in the band’s website bio:

I never want to assume that because someone’s our fan, that they’ll love whatever we’re doing. I understand that no has any obligation to listen . . . When you start going, ‘Our fans will eat this shit up,’ you show down and get less attentive, less hungry  . . . https://www.facebook.com/HedleyOnline

What the Pop Star Did

On Friday, May 25 Hedley played a well-reviewed, sold-out show in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Afterwards, at least three of the band members went to a very popular downtown bar.

Kayla Andrews, a diehard Hedley fan who loves their upbeat, positive message, approached band members Dave Rosin and Tommy Mac at the bar; and they graciously posed for pictures with her.

At 1:30 a.m. she spotted Hoggard. She tapped him several times on the shoulder until she got his attention, while holding her camera at the ready. How did he react? By saying, “Hey, look. It’s a midget!” Then he burst into laughter and turned his back on her.

Andrews, who stands just 4’ 7,” was shocked and humiliated. As a child, she was often bullied because of her short stature. Born prematurely, she suffered renal failure and was forced to endure a kidney transplant at age four.

Now Andrews freely admits to what she did. Not ideal perhaps, but not surprising from a star-struck young woman, who is not, after all, a public figure.

Story Goes Viral

On May 28 Andrews, who was still smarting from the incident, decided to leave a comment on the facebook page of a popular local FM station. That’s where Geoff Meeker, who writes a professional blog for a daily paper, first picked up her story.

Meeker contacted Andrews, who agreed to let him write about it. The next day “Rude Encounter” appeared in Meeker on Media http://www.thetelegram.com/Blog-Article/b/22094/Rude-Encounter.

By May 31, Meeker’s entry had more than fifteen thousand page views and had been shared more than two thousand times on facebook. The comments were mixed, from “what did she expect, it was 1:30 a.m. in the morning, in a bar, he was drunk, he was tired, she was pestering him, he’s a celebrity.  JACOB HOGGARD RULES. HEDLEY RULES.” Through “She’s just an attention seeker.” On to “That never happened.” And finally, “He’s a pig. Doesn’t he know it’s fans like Andrews that put food on his plate.”

Many of those who attacked Andrews are avid fans of Hedley. Many have yet to go through puberty. They could use some lessons in manners and empathy. They, however, are not dependent on the goodwill of fans for their bread and butter.

A Less-Than-Gracious Apology

That same day Hoggard finally responded on Hedley’s facebook page. Here is what he said:

Our fans are our number one priority. The reason we’re where we are today. This is why it saddens me to hear a comment I may have made in St. John’s was hurtful to one of you, and for that I am sorry. Those who know us, know that we always try to go above and beyond for our wonderful fans and it was never my intention to alienate or offend anyone. If someone knows who we can reach Kayla, please let us know. We would like to fly her and a guest to one of our Canadian festival dates this summer, and apologize to her personally. Sincerely, Jacob

On June 1, the day following Hoggard’s apology, Meeker picked up the story in “Apology Accepted” http://www.thetelegram.com/Blog-Article/b/22129/Apology-Accepted. Andrews had accepted the apology but declined the free trip. “If he would like to, I would rather he donate the money to the Kidney Foundation,” said Andrews, adding she had been seeking neither compensation, nor fame.

It was a discussion of this incident with one of my teenagers, who is not a Hedley fan, that prompted me to write this entry. She felt Andrews had acted inappropriately in the bar, got what she deserved, and was only seeking attention (and possibly compensation) when she posted on the radio station’s facebook page. Clearly I have work to do as a parent, but perhaps I can do a better job counselling those who are dependent on public goodwill for their livelihoods—hence this case study.

As of June 2, when this was written, Hoggard’s facebook apology had generated 494 comments, 2273 likes, and 65 shares.

What’s wrong with this picture, from a public relations perspective?

Well, there are still some who feel any publicity is good publicity. And I am sure there are some who would say that, if anything, this has enhanced Hoggard’s bad -boy image with his fans, many of whom are very young and, based on their willingness to rush to his defence online, not in the least put off by this incident.

I personally wonder what the fans’ mothers make of it. Can they envision the day when their daughters are the ones Hoggard calls “piggy” or “beanpole” or “dogface.” Because many, many of those $60 concert tickets are paid for by mommies since their daughters are too young to have incomes or credit cards. Or drive a car. Or go to a concert without a parent (read mommy) to accompany them.

In an ideal world, Hoggard would never have uttered those words. In an ideal world, he would learn from his mistake.

If Hoggard wants a few drinks without being bothered by his fans, he should host a private party instead of going to a popular bar on a Friday night just five minutes’ walk from where a Hedley concert has taken place.

In many, many social media comments, fans said that Hoggard is known for being “less than diplomatic” when drunk (restraint mine). So perhaps if he wants to go to a bar to be around his fans, he should moderate his drinking when he does so.

What Hoggard (and Hedley) Should Have Done

That said, he did what he did. And he’ll probably do it again. Here are the reputation management “takeaways” he needs to learn. Same goes for all other public figures.

  1. Listen. If someone was listening on Hedley’s behalf, why did it take 48 hours to respond after Meeker’s first blog entry. That’s an awfully long time in the social media universe.
  2. Admit you did something wrong. Not “a statement I may have made in St. John’s was hurtful to one of you” but “I said something hurtful and unforgiveable to a fan in St. John’s, and for that I am truly sorry.”
  3. Apologize to the one you wronged first. Hedley had the resources to track down Kayla Andrews personally.  Andrews deserved to hear the words from Hoggard’s lips (or the social media equivalent).
  4. Ask what you can do to make it right. Hoggard offered a trip for her and a guest to see a Hedley show. He should have asked what he could do to make it right. And he should have promised to try to do better in the future.
  5. Don’t ask for anything in return. This is the one thing that Hoggard did entirely right.

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As a 51 year old who has worked in communications and marketing for 23 years, I am ashamed to admit how little I know about social media. And it is cold comfort to know I am not the only communications professional to find herself in this boat.

I am one of those PR/marketing types who subscribes to the school of “everything is marketing,” from the sign outside your shop to the way you answer the phone to your YellowPages listing (snicker). So for me to lack a command of social media is embarrassing, to say the least. Career limiting, you might say. Clearly, this has to change.

So this is where I am right now.

Websites. The grand-daddy of social media. Websites I get. I developed my first big website in 1996, and my second in 1999. Many more have followed. Websites are about words. They’re about logic. They’re about content and links to other, related content. With a few great pictures tossed in. And by 2001, I had even managed to grasp the [now] obvious benefits of advertising on other organizations’ websites—organizations that were popular with and followed by my audiences/publics/segments, whatever the hell you want to call ‘em. Thanks to my ex-husband, I developed a rudimentary understanding of SEO (aka search engine optimization for my fellow Ludites) early on. Just don’t ask me about Google Panda, ‘cause I got nothing to say. Yet.

E-mail. One of my true loves. Direct mail without all those envelopes, labels, and stamps to lick. Why god created Blackberries. That and texting, which I reserve for communicating with my teenagers [insert eyeroll here]. I am relieved to hear e-mail is alive and well as a marketing and communications tool. What I need to learn is how to tie it together with everything else.

Facebook. That’s where I go to share funny pictures, good jokes (especially jokes about language, pr, and marketing), and to comment on, and share, news stories I find interesting. With my FRIENDS. You know, people with whom I am well acquainted. But use it for work. Not a clue. This . . . must . . . change.

YouTube.  I really enjoy watching videos of animals doing ridiculous things. Yup. I’m one of THOSE people. Obviously, I do realize that businesses and causes exploit YouTube to great effect. Something else I need to get my head around.

LinkedIn. 64 connections and counting. Pretty good profile, if I do say so myself. Nice headshot. I do work in PR after all. Pretty soon I hope to start using it as something more than a place to park my cv.

Twitter. I know Lady Gaga (20+ million followers) and Justin Bieber (18+ million followers) are the people to beat! That’s the competitive, marketing type coming out in me. I’ve signed myself up for a twitter account. I follow a company, and I had (please notice the tense) a follower.  Years ago when I decided to set up a personal e-mail account, I used my somewhat unusual maiden name judy_cheater@yahoo.ca. This is the e-mail address I used for my twitter account. Based on my e-mail address (how do they do that?) I acquired my one-and-only follower @YouGotCheatedOn. Today I will start following people. Tomorrow, perhaps someone will follow me.

Pinterest. Got an account there, too. Figure I’m going to post the memes I like from www.icanhascheezburger.com on Pinterest. Duh. Thanks to my thirteen year old for explaining what a “meme” is. Suspect this will be the last tool I add to my professional kit.

And that leads me to blogs. I don’t blog. Even more embarrassing, I don’t read other people’s blogs with the exception of two great Newfoundland and Labrador blogs, “John Gushue Dot Dot Dot” (www.johngushue.typepad.com) and Ed Hollett’s “The Sir Robert Bond Papers” (www.bondpapers.blogspot.com). How old am I? I’m so old my second version of the CP Stylebook makes no reference to blogs. I read books and magazines (and not, for the most part, the serious variety that improve your mind). I watch and read and listen to news, mostly the real kind. I read all kinds of stuff about marketing and communications. I even read some websites. But  I don’t understand why people blog or why people read blogs. Now it looks like I’m going to have to eat those words – and post them. So here I am. And here you are.

As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic approaches (www.receivingtitanic.com),  I am determined not to go down with the ship. I figure I have at least 15 good years of work left in me, so would somebody please throw me a life buoy.

There’s the rub. Nobody’s going to throw me a life buoy.  Instead, I fear I’m going to have to build myself a nice, cushy social media raft.

So this blog is about that journey, a journey to discover how to master social media as a set of tools and integrate them with all the other marketing and communications tools in my possession. I’m hoping some of the old hands – the masters of these tools—will throw me an occasional lifeline. And I hope I can be of some help to others who relate all too well to my little diatribe, those who want and need to make this trip themselves, the trip to communications in the 21st century.

So from here on in I promise a lot less personal revelation and a lot more simple, concrete suggestions for how those of us with our feet stuck in the 20th century can sink our teeth into the 21st.