PR put Groupola in a hole, PR tries to dig Groupola back out
Not too long ago, Groupola fired up their PR machine and fed it a deal that nobody could refuse. News of Groupola's £99 iPhone 4 offer appeared everywhere - but it didn't go according to plan. When their generous offer went live, the site crashed. Thousands of new users had to sign up to Groupola to access the offer, but found they couldn't.
The masses rebelled on Groupola's Facebook site, and Groupola deleted most of their criticisms. Bitterwallet discovered staff from Markco Media, owners of Groupola, were posting on Facebook but claiming to be customers and supporting Groupola. The PR company put forward "a number of people happy to talk to the media" to reinforce the point that 200 iPhone 4 handsets were sold. Only one has so far been interviewed, and the PR company wouldn't let Bitterwallet interview any of the others.
We asked anyone to come forward who had been successful; only one person did - the person already interviewed by the media. We found just three other people claiming to have bought the handset for £99, but there were unanswered questions about their conduct on Facebook.
The study was released on Tuesday last week, but the media didn't bite - a quick search of Google News suggests it wasn't picked up by any of the papers.
So what do you do when one PR campaign fails? Yes, that's right!
This time the press release, released just two days after the previous one, reinforced the national stereotype of Essex girls as cheap sluts - the sort of stuff the tabloids love. It was picked up by The Sun, The Star and The Express.
Groupola are seemingly in a perpetual state of commissioning or conducting surveys - it's a wonder they've got time to run a business. If one falls flat, another one pops up for the PR agency to fling at the media. Discount sites can only be good news for consumers, but they need to be powered to a degree by word-of-mouth to provide not only awareness, but credibility. Judging by their efforts at social media and machine-gun approach to PR, Groupola don't seem keen to wait for that to occur naturally. That, or they're desperately over-compensating for the bad press created by the iPhone 4 deal.