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Andy Williams

The Case of Katie Hopkins and Other Deliberate Hate Figures

29th Aug 2013 Brand, Reputation Management | 3 Comments


Love HateBefore the 4th July 2013 most people (who could remember) knew Katie Hopkins as a former candidate on the BBC show The Apprentice in 2006. Of those of us who watched the show we remember her as the one we all enjoyed hating. She was the show’s villain for that series. Her outrageous claims on her CV that she would do anything to get what she wanted – including her husband whom she stole from his ex-wife, did little to warm the hearts of Sir Alan Sugar or the TV audience.

By 6:00pm on the 4th July 2013 and one controversial TV appearance later, almost everyone in the UK knew who Katie Hopkins was. Within a few days she was actually pretty well known in most countries.

Why? Hopkins took part in a live debate on UK morning TV about children’s names. During her 15 minutes of extended fame she decided to voice her opinions on the subject. What was supposed to be a throw away feature on morning TV turned into internet outrage when Hopkins declared that she judges children based on their name and name alone.

Complete with examples of what she felt certain names meant and indicating an element of snobbery, this rubbed everyone in the country up the wrong way. Hopkins went about making herself seriously infamous in 10 short minutes of live TV.

Twitter went mad with everyone jumping online to have their say. The YouTube clip (at the time of writing) has had over 11 million views. Various anti Katie Hopkins pages are now also live on Facebook.

Katie Hopkins

Even her site was hacked and has only just gone live again (albeit with a seriously cheap looking holding page which really doesn’t enhance her reputation).

The result – everyone now knows who Katie Hopkins is.

Real-Time Lives

Life now moves at a hundred miles an hour and the Internet now allows us to see and comment on everything in real-time.

We can view images and updates of a major news story long before the News channels have even entered the scene. We can read eye witness accounts of anything and everything that is happening on the planet without any need to watch a TV. We can find out what our connections had for breakfast, what the weather is like in their exact location and even how smelly the bloke was who sat next to them on the train that morning. We even go on holiday with our connections thanks to regular updates on their current view from the beach, what they are eating and how the weather is much nicer than it is at home.

It’s all in real-time and a critical part of how we live now. Spend just a few hours without being able to access Facebook, the news or the latest sports updates and we feel like we are totally out of the loop – even though nothing at all has happened.

With so much information flying our way 24hrs a day – how on earth do you stand out in what has become the most crowded market place ever invented?

How do you get people talking about you?

It’s a tricky one and a very interesting one.

Anyone who is able to become the “talk of the town” will of course manage to grab the attention of an audience they wouldn’t have otherwise reached. Do it right and you may even find a hashtag related to your name.

This isn’t easy by any stretch but Social Media now allows it to be possible. Never before have individuals had so many platforms to promote themselves on. If you can get everyone talking about you then you will be outreaching to more people than you can possibly imagine.

Superstar

With this has to come a level of responsibility. Creating a stir that goes viral can dictate what you will be associated with. Hopkins for example is now associated with her extreme comments. If you are purposely going for a reaction, you need to think about the long term consequences. You may not be able to undo what you start.

So what should you do?

Well you could be brilliant at what you do.

Or

You could take the latest step which is to become a deliberate hate figure.

It is these latter figures that have interested me of late and have been great examples of how an individual can create a wildfire effect and get everyone talking about them.

Katie Hopkins is a prime example of something we are now starting to see more and more. People who aren’t particularly public figures suddenly hitting the news headlines for saying something intentionally provoking.

Her TV appearance propelled her into the public eye.

Was it planned? Unfortunately I don’t think it was.

Her previous statements shows that these were more than likely the thoughts of a person who firmly believed what they were saying – making it all the more controversial of course.

However what I do believe is that it must have occurred to her that if she was to carry on making these types of comments she would continue to be talked about.

Oscar Wilde said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

I believe she certainly set out knowing her opinion was going to be controversial but didn’t by any stretch of the imagination understand how Social Media works and the chain reaction it can create.

A new deliberate hate figure was born.

Hopkins is certainly hooked.

In the last month alone she has spurted out the following deliberately provoking comments:

  • Mothers are b****es because their lives are so boring
  • Maternity leave should be cut to six weeks
  • (reaction to the name of the new Royal baby’s name) George is the name of my dog
  • We are all cheats at heart
  • I don’t apologise for stealing my husband from his wife
  • Ginger babies, like “normal” babies only harder to love
  • Revolting overweight Mums with Primark shoes make me ashamed of Brits abroad

She is now enjoying playing the part of the villain while she claims she is simply “telling it how it is”. The reactions suggest she isn’t and this is deliberate.

Is she being advised?

I don’t think she is. I believe this is her own doing however after that first outburst I doubt she has had to work very hard for it. TV channels, radio stations and the press have all been falling over themselves to interview her and have her on their shows while feeding her deliberately provoking questions.

So, is this the only way to get noticed these days? Do you need to offend or be outrageous to get yourself heard?

No, but it’s certainly the trend of the moment.

Samantha Brick

Samantha Brick is another classic example.

For Brick it all kicked off when her article in The Daily Mail went live: “Why Women Hate Me for Being Beautiful”.

Living a normal life when you are so beautiful was a real downer for Brick. The unwanted attention, the constant advances from men and the sheer jealousy from other women made day to day life difficult.

Cue the online reaction.

The article was shared everywhere. The original article has well over 5,000 comments. Outpourings of emotion were shared on Twitter, most more than happy to give their opinions on her looks.

Samantha Brick

Brick was suddenly hate figure number one.

However, this had a different feel to the Katie Hopkins case. This felt more constructed. Samantha Brick was (to most at best) alright looking, this article was meant to provoke and get her into the public eye.

The Daily Mail (as anyone in the UK will testify) are experts at linkbait style content that goes viral. This wasn’t any different. The Mail got their links and Brick got the exposure.

Cue a few more articles in follow up, interviews on TV and other newspapers and Brick maintained her overnight success.

She got TV exposure and continued column space.

But there really was a feel that this was constructed and since the original article in April 2012 the story has continued with enough articles here and there to keep her in the public domain (a predictable appearance on Celebrity Big Brother to boot). All of this leading to the current day and a book launch.

Suddenly all of it makes sense; has this all been one very clever publicity stunt to the lead up to this book?

Had she released her book back in March 2012 it would have flopped. No one would have brought it; no one knew who she was.

Brick’s TV Company collapsed a few years ago and ever since then she has been working to get back to a level she once was. Was all of this part of the plan?

If so it worked and is an awesome case study.

And just for good measure we have a new sound bite from Brick in the form of a TV interview on the 26th August with a call to ban all mothers with prams from being allowed to go anywhere.

The take away from this is that there was a level of strategy behind everything that was going on. The deliberate press was scathing enough to be able to come back from it. It was aimed at her rather than Brick bad-mouthing others. A level of judgement was taken into account and the outcome has been highly beneficial in the long run.

Katie Hopkins on the other hand has played the whole saga quite badly. Her book contribution is a cheap follow up on her original comments: The Class Book of Baby Names.

Katie Hopkins Book

The book gives Katie’s judgmental opinion on what names mean (in her own unique way).

Samantha Brick is based in France where she is back in a position where life is comfy and she is happy.

Katie Hopkins on the other hand is a “personality” who has tried to play people without understanding the power of the social media platforms these same people would then turn to voice their opinions and how lasting this could all end up being.

She has either been badly advised or (more sadly) she has honestly been airing opinions better left for private conversations.

She is destined to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Of course if you were to ask her, she may well argue that she has got exactly what she aimed to get out this. But has she truly thought it all through? You see, the internet isn’t going away and nor are the pages that are created.

This legacy will last. Google her name and the first three odd pages are dominated with negative press and scathing articles and opinions about her. Is this really what she wanted? It is one thing to be the villain but to create actual hate is another thing altogether.

She may not care but if we want to get really deep about this: have the comments she has come out with helped her own children’s cause? In years to come are they going to thank her for all of this?

You see, there is always more to bad press than bringing down your own name. Your brand is always bigger than just you.

In years to come will Katie turn to her children and say “look what Mummy is best known for”.

“Is this why we didn’t have any friends Mum?”

We hope not of course but the lesson has to be that there is a difference between a well structured campaign and just feeding your thirst for publicity.

Just one look at her official domain and you can see that at no point has online reputation been in her mind and yet this is exactly the place she should have been focusing on. What was the strategy here? To be remembered for making insulting and controversial comments? To gain a few 10 minute slots on daytime TV? I am sure at one stage she was supposed to be a business woman yet no one will ever talk about her in that light again.

There is no sign of an online defence. Her holding page indicates she is not in the hands of experts.

Your Takeaways

The internet is a crowded place. Standing out IS the name of the game. However so is providing something people want and a service that is exceptional.

Standing out at the expense of your reputation is suicide. Yes people will remember you but are they remembering you for the right reasons?

If you are looking to build yourself into a well-known brand or even personality within your sector, think about what your end goal is and how you can get there. There isn’t anything wrong in being outspoken or even opinionated but think about what you are saying.

You don’t need to compromise who you are and you should always be true to yourself but be clever with what you say.

In the two cases above, we have two very different outcomes and two very different ways of conducting yourself.

If these two case studies show us anything at all it is that you need to understand exactly what you are doing. Understand every single step of your action plan. Don’t get caught up on the wave of exposure in an area you do not understand.

Think about the possible long term consequences; does the end game provide a bigger value than the short term hits?

(To use our case studies):

  • Do you release a book that is the result of a well-structured campaign that ends up bringing everyone round to liking you?
  • Do you release a book based on an opinion that has already alienated you from 99% of the nation?

Think about everything.

Plan everything.

What is the worst thing that could happen. Could you come back from that?

Stand out – do stand out but don’t alienate yourself.

The deliberate hate figure is becoming more and more popular but it really isn’t the only way you get yourself heard and seen.

Image Source

Love & Hate Via BigStock
Superstar posing and lots of photographers around her taking pictures Via BigStock

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About the author

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, our DADI award winning Digital Marketing Manager will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 9 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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