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Facebook Looking into Removing “Likes” from Newsfeeds

Both Twitter and Instagram have been toying with the idea of removing “likes” from posts on their main newsfeed, and it seems that Facebook may be following suit.

Facebook is looking into taking “likes” out of the equation, making them only visible to the user on their own profile. This would obviously mark a major shift in the way the platform operates, but also potentially make it a much friendlier (and healthier) place to be. Likes have turned into a dopamine fix of sorts for many users—even becoming the impetus to even post status updates or pictures in the first place.

When that photo or status update doesn’t achieve the desired number of likes, well, it kind of hurts. Suddenly the reaction (and number of reactions) has eclipsed the value of the original content itself, and become a primary driver to sharing on Facebook.

Facebook is seeking a return to when original content was posted for its own sake—not just to gauge the online echo chamber’s reactions. It also wants to remove the scenario where internal worth is received through one’s internet prowess.

Personally, I believe this move away from “likes” is a good one for social media platforms. With so many younger people practically living in the social media stratosphere, their self-esteem can be tethered to their popularity online. That’s obviously not a very healthy way to operate, and can mold one’s personality to constantly seek out validation from others.

By looking into removing the visibility of reactions, Facebook is on the cusp of radically changing its platform. But it might just be a move in the right direction: one that puts value and emphasis on simply sharing content, as opposed to a competition for engagement.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: The Annual Apple Event

Summer is nearly over and fall is a couple of weeks away, so that means one thing: it’s Apple announcement time! The tech giant’s biggest event of the year kicks off today at 1:00 pm EST, and Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 11 for the first time.

Gadgetheads: Get ready.

Apple traditionally rolls out a new slate of tech gear right in time for the holiday season, leading to massive lines at malls and electronics stores of those who want to be one of the first to own the latest technology. It’s a model that’s worked extremely effectively for the company; roll out their shiny new products at a massive event, let the hype build, and watch the profits inevitably stream in.

Today should be no different.

The newest versions of the iPhone should be the marquee announcement, but Apple will also likely reveal other products and services, such as an upgrade to its OS. The iPhone 11 is rumored to not be much of a departure from last year’s iPhone X, leading to some speculation in the tech arena that it won’t lead to the typical fervor that accompanies new iPhone announcements. We’ve heard those familiar rumblings before—remember the initial questions about the iPad’s viability?—and so far the company seems to consistently hit their mark.

So if you, like myself, find excitement in new Apple rollouts, you’ll likely be tuning in today at 1. We’ll see what Tim Cook & Co. have in store.

Holiday Season Myths, and prayers for The Bahamas

Below is the blog post I wrote last week to post today.  Since then, thousands of lives have been changed forever and millions more are awaiting the (hopeful) news that their lives won’t change.  I’m talking about, of course, Hurricane Dorian that stalled over The Bahamas this weekend as the largest storm in recorded history.  We at PR/PR pray for those who lost their lives and their loved ones remaining to rebuild.


Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog:

As we enter into the holiday season there are many myths which persist in our culture.  None of them particularly harmful, but they should be brought into the light so your actions for the next couple of months can be determined by the truth not just what ‘they’ think or ‘everyone’ believes.

  1. Candy Corn was originally not a Halloween candy

Invented by George Renninger, a candy maker at the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia in the 1880s, Candy Corn was originally called “butter cream candies” and “chicken feed” since back then, corn was commonly used as food for livestock (they even had a rooster on the candy boxes).

It had no association with Halloween or fall, and was sold seasonally from March to November. After World War II, advertisers began marketing it as a special Halloween treat due to its colors and ties to the fall harvest.

  1. Holiday season is a slow time for publicity

Many people think that publicity during the holiday season, particularly November and December, is as less effective as other times of the year.  Yet, trade, industry, and association publications still produce issues in November and December, looking to fill those column inches with valuable content for their readers.

The most common ‘skipped’ months of publications is July or August.  However, this is not due to a lack of readership, but more due to the increased workload of the association’s annual convention making the issue for the event often the highest read of the year. 

  1. The Pilgrims Landed on Plymouth Rock

According to historian George Willison the story about the rock is all malarkey, a public relations stunt pulled off by townsfolk to attract attention. The Pilgrims first made landfall at Provincetown. 

The Plymouth Rock legend rests entirely on dubious testimony told more than a century after the Mayflower landed. So, we’ve all just gone merrily along repeating the same old story as if it’s true when it’s not. Of course, the people of Plymouth stick by hoary tradition. Tour guides insist that Plymouth Rock is THE rock.

  1. Santa Claus Originally Wore a Green Suit

Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop in the fourth century AD. St. Nicholas had inherited a great deal of wealth and was known for giving it away to help the needy. St. Nick’s name became Sint-Nicolaas in Dutch, or Sinter Klaas for short. Which is only a hop, skip, and jump to Santa Claus.

Though Santa Claus has worn blue and white and green in the past, his traditional red suit came from a 1930s ad by Coca Cola.   

  1. After New Year’s is the best time to start a publicity campaign

Getting publicity for your speaking and/or consulting business is one resolution that should not wait until after New Year’s!  Most trade, industry, and association publications work 60-90 days out.  This means an article pitched out in January won’t be in-print until March or April.  Why not get the jump on the competition, start your campaign in October or November and be first in front of your target market in the first issue of the year?

Of course, online placements can come much sooner than in-print one, but even when getting online placements there is always a ramp-up time at the beginning of a campaign where themes are chosen, articles drafted, call to actions honed, etc.  Starting your campaign in December will ensure online placements in early January, weeks before the competition who waiting until after the ball dropped.

We hope you enjoyed these myths and facts about the holiday season.  May the next couple of months bring you happiness and all the holidays entail.

Happy Holidays!

Russell Trahan,

President, PR/PR Public Relations


Author, Sell Yourself Without Saying A Word


Twitter Devolved into a Brand Battle Over Chicken Sandwiches

Where were you during The Great Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019? If you’re still a bit shaken and apprehensive about logging on to Twitter, I don’t blame you—it got pretty rough out there. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s okay, too; this intrepid blogger is here to fill you in on all of the details.

Last week, Popeye’s unveiled its brand new chicken sandwich, and then immediately pivoted to the new method of marketing online: dragging other competing brands on social media. The Louisiana Fast fried chicken purveyor set its sights directly on another beloved company, Chick-fil-A. Thus the first shots were fired in the battle for chicken sandwich supremacy.

Not content simply staying out of the fray, infamous online instigator Wendy’s joined the vanguard, throwing a rainforest’s worth of shade at both Popeyes and Chick-fil-A for “arguing over who has the second best chicken sandwich.”


Other food companies began chiming in as well, using the amplified springboard of the chicken sandwich war underway on line. Shake Shack and Zaxby’s deployed less direct attacks, but they tossed their respective chicken sandwiches into the mix for consideration for top tier. It turned into a weird, wild week on fast food Twitter.

So the result from The Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019? Jam-packed Popeye’s locations, drive-thru’s packed to the gills with eager patrons, and most disturbingly, restaurants completely sold out of the new sandwich. The victor has yet to be determined, but it’s clear that the war has worked.

Unique marketing these days involves embracing an edgy brand voice on the internet, and Popeye’s executed it perfectly with their chicken sandwich rollout. When you drive an engaging conversation you enhance your reach, create brand loyalty, and in the case of Popeye’s, sell a ton of chicken sandwiches. Added bonus: it’s entirely free advertising.

So the war for the top chicken sandwich rages on, but Popeye’s has already won the advertising and marketing angle. Be careful out there should you decide to brave the elements and venture out for one.


The Weaponization of Social Media in Hong Kong Protests

The upheaval in Hong Kong has captured the world’s attention, as it should. In response to Hong Kong’s consideration of a new extradition bill from Beijing, thousands from the semi-autonomous region of China have taken to the streets in response to what they see as an authoritative move from the Beijing government. There’s been weeks of marches, a two-day shutdown of the Hong Kong Airport, and at times violent clashes with police and security personnel.

Today we’re learning that Facebook and Twitter have intervened, flagging and subsequently taking down a network of accounts tied to the Chinese government. The accounts were promoting and amplifying an anti-protest message, one designed to create political division online.

It was a coordinated propaganda campaign, essentially.

Social media is obviously no stranger to platforms being utilized to manipulative political narratives and opinions. Its weaponization was the biggest takeaway from the Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Mitigating the spread of falsehoods has been one of the primary focuses for Facebook and Twitter, and now they have successfully rooted out a state-sponsored social media campaign to sow disharmony among the populace.

Their swift action should be commended, but it of course begs the question: What took so long?

Peek around any corner of the social space and you’re bound to come across a conversation that devolves into acrimony. We’ve of course discovered that there are legions of bots employed to push specific messages, and many times their work is successful—reaching intended viral status. While Twitter and Facebook have made progress in the case of the strife in Hong Kong, both will need to hasten their efforts to cut these campaigns off at the pass before they have a chance to influence public opinion.

We’re a few months away from an election year, and there’s no doubt that these forces will be at work to shape—and disrupt—the conversation. Social media outlets are slowly learning the ways and means to defend against misinformation, but the next step will be to sniff it out before it spreads. Shutting down the Chinese government’s propaganda campaign is a decent start, but this will certainly continue as we head into 2020.