“My name is Heather and I’m addicted to following celebrities on Twitter”. What a confession!
My motivation was a conversation with a couple of students on Saturday and seeing Steven Fry on the Jonathan Ross show last Friday talking about his own involvement.
The celebrity use of Twitter is fascinating from a PR perspective because you get a sense of a real person without the “gatekeeper” of their publicist or other intermediary.
Stephen Fry is a real aficionado with over 63,000 followers – Wossy has under 14k by comparison. I’m also following Phillip Schofield (who was Twittering from his itouch at the ice rink on Sunday, the scene of the infamous, and hilarious, Todd Carty “exit” manoeuvre) – Schofe has also introduced Andi Peters to Twitter.
Through these, I’m now following Dragon Den’s Duncan Bannatyne and pucker celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. At a CIPR Wessex committee meeting tonight, someone told me to check out Lance Armstrong, so I’m following him too now. (Do tell me of any other real celebs, I am that sad.)
I know it sounds a bit like stalking, but I honestly have a professional reason for my new celebrity fixation – that is, if the PR gatekeeper is being removed by these celebrities, what is the implication for companies?
So far, I’ve only found one press office on Twitter – the Royal Society of Chemistry. It (no person is identified) has been talking about the Italian Job competition which I also caught on the BBC Breakfast programme.
Of course there are a lot of PR practitioners using Twitter – including to pitch journalists – but I’m less interested in their use of the medium.
It is the celebrity use that has caught my imagination as you get a real sense of their personalities and lives, much more so than with blogging or any other more considered or gate-keepered communications.
When companies, press offices, etc use Twitter, it can never quite have the same personal connection from the “brand” perspective. Does this matter?
The PR person who Twitters is a real person, but are they talking for and on behalf of themselves, or their company/client? Either way, there are dangers and issues.
Of course, celebrities are real people as well as being a “brand” – unlike companies, their PR representatives, employees or senior executives. So the celeb’s enthusiasm and use of Twitter is exactly the same as anyone else. And that, for me, is what makes following them so interesting.