Sulu and Social Media: 3 Key Lessons George Takei Can Teach You About Effective Public Relations

Takei's Facebook page
Takei’s Facebook page

With his signature #Ohmyy, funny memes and e-cards, and constant witty pot shots at fellow Star Trekker William Shatner, 75 year old George Takei has become a social media tour de force. Even though he’s been on both social media accounts for one year, the actor famous for his portrayal of Sulu has accumulated over 1.9 million Facebook fans and 370,000 followers on Twitter.

Numbers don’t lie. Takei has proven that he can teach viable lessons to current social media, advertising, and public relations professionals who count themselves as industry heavyweights.

What can we learn from Sulu?

Lesson #1 People Pay Attention To Creativity and Humor

Takei’s Facebook page has daily updates of funny e-cards and memes that Takei, with his long time partner Brad, discovers from the Internet. Use humor strategically to catch the public’s attention with a catchy headline or picture that would make someone smile or even better, elicit one of those LOL moments that happen at the most inopportune, but welcome, times.

Wouldn’t you smile at seeing this? (from Takei’s Facebook page: 5-24- 2012)

Lesson #2: Do The Research To Be Strategic In Your Messaging

The memes and funny e-cards that are on Takei’s Facebook and Twitter page don’t come from a magic lamp. Along with Brad, Takei builds a backlog using social media tool Hootsuite of the pictures that appear on both social media sites.

“It all depends because I have a very irregular schedule. What we do is we build up a backlog and Brad [Takei’s husband] doles them out in dribs and drabs. And other times, I’ll spend a couple of hours and add to the stockpile. Other days, I might be on it eight, nine, 10 hours!” (George Takei in Hyphen Magazine:Issue 25-Generation,” It’s More Than Ok To Be Takei”)

Spend the time to find something worth grabbing the attention of the audience you want to reach- whether you’re trying to reach a demographic of twenty something Instagram users or their parents. Your audience is worth the effort.

Lesson #3: Be Clear And Consistent

Fans know what to expect from George Takei. He posts regularly on his social media channels multiple times a day. His open support for LGBT rights and advocacy for Asian Americans is apparent in his  #It’s OK To Be Takei slogan and in his upcoming musical Allegiance, based on the internment of Japanese Americans.

What do you want your audience to know about your brand, client, and campaign? Be clear and obvious! If you want to project that your client is a hip, trendy yet delicious restaurant-hit the foodie blogs of Los Angeles up for press, not newspapers with low circulation. If you succeed in combining all three key factors in your messaging, your brand might “live long and prosper!”

-By Courtney Lee, Account Coordinator




Will Skechers’ Sketchy Advertising Change Practices?

Major leading shoe brand, Skechers, was just slapped with a $50m settlement by the FTC for false advertising related to its Shape-ups products. Before we blame the whole fiasco on Kim Kardashian (because if there’s one thing America can agree on, it’s that Kim Kardashian ruins everything. See: marriages, basketball players, Reggie Bush, Kanye West), the FTC’s ire appears to be Skecher’s emphasis on weight loss and misrepresenting clinical studies within the scope of its campaign.

Running ads featuring high-level celebrities (Kardashian, Joe Montana) during the most visible advertising forum (the Super Bowl) hurt Skechers more than it helped. Though the $50m settlement is a small chunk of change for the traditionally billion-dollar company, it’s twice the amount Reebok previously paid for similar charges. Skechers was fined for its claims that the Shape-ups would help purchasers lose weight. Skechers also used a clinical study run by a chiropractor, who just happened to be married to a Skechers executive, in its campaigns, ruining the impartiality of any such study.

So what exactly did Skechers do that hundreds of equally visible, big brands also do on a daily basis?

The health claims that Skechers made appears to have been the nail in its coffin. It’s dangerous, and tricky, territory when products make significant health claims, especially when you’re doing so on a national level like a Super Bowl ad. The Jenny Craig’s of the world have experience enough to be cautious on their wording, and in fact have some statistics that show they’re not complete bald-faced liars. However, taking a shoe and proclaiming it to help a user lose weight better live up to that claim, or consumers will start walking all over your brand.

Does this mean that the FTC, and consumers who clearly raised the flags for the FTC, want more honest advertising? And will they get it?

Chances are, no. Advertising will continue to use any means necessary to lure money out of wallets, regardless of the veracity of what they’re claiming. Perhaps when making genuinely serious claims such as weight loss by a pair of shoes, the mad men of Madison Avenue will be more thoughtful in what they emphasize and not make outrageous claims that prey upon the vulnerabilities of Americans who are willing to try just about anything to lose weight. And just maybe, brands will avoid Kim Kardashian in their campaigns.