PR experts say Mumsnet's royal wedding webchat with fake Kate misses the mark

PR professionals have criticised popular parenting website Mumsnet after the site admitted a webchat with royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton was a fake.

Royal wedding stunt: Mumsnet's Justine Roberts
Royal wedding stunt: Mumsnet's Justine Roberts
The influential parenting forum, known for its webchats with senior politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron, tweeted out its upcoming chat with Kate on Tuesday morning and was greeted with excitement from its loyal community.

But it transpired the webchat was a wind-up, with users instead posing questions to a fake Kate Middleton.

Comments from users included: ‘Trust has now been lost and it is hard to know what that will mean for the site/site user relationship moving forward’, ‘Shame on you MN’ and ‘Ill-advised, and poorly executed’.

Mark Pinsent, head of digital at Shine Communications, warned that the site now risked losing trust with users who felt ‘duped’ by the stunt. He said: ‘For those that were fooled into thinking it was real there would only have been disappointment.’

James Herring, co-founder of Taylor Herring, added: ‘Normally they are an impeccably smart and savvy bunch. It would appear that royal wedding fever fuelled by a bonus splash of bank holiday Pimms has tipped the scales on this occasion.’

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet co-founder & CEO, admitted the site had not made it clear enough that the webchat was a spoof. She said: ‘We didn't mean for anyone to take it seriously, it was just meant to be a laugh for our users, as webchats are our trademark, it seemed a good way for us to mark the big event.’

She added: ‘It was not our intention to mislead folks and we are very sorry for any disappointment caused.’

Stephen Waddington, MD of Speed, said: ‘The stunt backfired as Mumsnet does not have a reputation for irreverence, but the site could easily rebuild its reputation with a campaign "that returns to the values of the community".'

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