Samuel L. Jackson Uses Reddit as an Effective Public Relations Tool

The legend himself, Samuel L. Jackson, made a visit to Reddit this week in an effort to raise money and awareness for the non-profit Alzheimer’s Association. Jackson encouraged redditors to submit 300-word scripts on his r/movies subreddit post. At the end of the contest, Jackson promised to read the highest upvoted script as a monologue, which can be viewed above.

From a public relations perspective this idea is gold. It’s fun, engaging and gives anyone who wants to participate a chance to hear Samuel L’s iconic voice read their written, stolen or borrowed script. Mashable explained that Jackson also teamed up with Prizeo, an organization that works with celebrities and charities to award donors with the chance to win big prizes. Those who donate as little as $3 to his Prizeo page have a chance to sit down with SLJ in the UK for muthaphukkin’ lunch! (all expenses paid)

He could’ve just went on Reddit to do the typical promotional run like every other celebrity, but he branched out in an effort to connect with the movie nerds at r/movies and the reddit community as a whole. It’s a case study we can all appreciate as public relations practitioners. He identified his target audience, engaged them actively with a flawlessly executed contest and made a call to action asking interested users to donate.

I’ve respected this man as an actor for many years, but this effective display of wit and humor have turned me into a fan for life.

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Publicists and Unethical PR Pros Abuse Reddit’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ Feature

FailIf you’re unfamiliar with the popular social news site Reddit, chances are you have no idea what my headline  suggests. For nonusers, Reddit’s functionality is relatively simple. Users post content, whether it be pictures, news articles, memes or gifs, then registered Reddit users have the option of upvoting or downvoting content based on how funny, interesting, creative or relevant each submission may be. The best content on the site will normally acquire a lot of upvotes, which in time will push the best content to the front pages of Reddit. Each post is divided into subreddits, which essentially are categories where similar content is posted. If your post is meant to be funny, (most aren’t) then you would post it to the r/funny subreddit.

Now that we have the nonusers up to speed, I want to bring up an issue within the confines of Reddit that is smearing the reputation of publicists, press agents and the public relations industry as a whole. The subreddit, IAmA, or Ask me Anything, gives Redditors the opportunity to interact with celebrities, thought leaders, musicians and anyone with a great story to tell by asking them questions on a live feed within the subreddit.

A great example that comes to mind is comedian Louie C.K’s recent IAmA, which can be found here. His genuine responses went over well with the Reddit community, and his honesty and integrity with each reply shows how much he values his fans. If used correctly, the platform is a great way to gain exposure by nontraditional means.

But if you ask Morgan Freeman or Woody Harrelson how their appearances on Reddit went, they may have different stories to tell. These men are two excellent actors, but the way they handled their AMAs resulted in a PR shit storm when it was all said and done. Each of their lazy, thoughtless responses to fan’s questions made it seem like a publicist was on the other end churning out bullshit response after bullshit response with genuineness nowhere to be found.

The worst part about it is we will never know if a publicist is acting unethically by doing these AMAs on behalf of the actual celebrity or musician involved. Either way, it’s hurting both parties involved. The actor catches flack for dishonesty and an overall lack of transparency, and the public relations industry suffers because there are publicists out there with terrible morals who ruin it for those of use who work with a sense of integrity.

If we ever want to be respected and trusted as an industry, these practices need to stop. We have a code of ethics for a reason, and it needs to be followed and enforced for the long-term stability of our profession.