I rented the film festival circuit documentary “Good Ol Freda” expecting, like most folks, to learn new dish on John, Paul, George and Ringo. Instead we got the life story of the world’s first global community manager.
As a young girl in Liverpool during the 60s, Freda Kelly watched the local band she followed become the most famous group in the world. She literally grew up with them, transitioning from fan to secretary to friend during their rise to fame.
As the head of The Beatles’ fan club, Freda was responsible for maintaining the relationship between the band and their millions of fans around the world. In the days before Facebook, Twitter and other new media channels, she still managed to embody the values and traits of a top notch PR pro:
- Responsive – Freda literally worked around the clock to respond to every fan letter that came to The Beatles. She even made sure that George slept on the pillowcase that one fan sent and then sent it back.
- Authentic – When Freda caught an employee trying to pass off a lock of her own hair as that of Paul’s, she fired her on the spot.
- Ethical – During her career, Freda turned down many offers to provide dirt on the group to the tabloids and firmly believed that the members of the band were entitled to their privacy.
- Transparent – When The Beatles finally went their separate ways, Freda was very open with the fans and never tried to spin the story to protect the franchise.
- Passionate – As Freda says throughout the film, she went the extra mile for the fans because she was (and always will be) one of them.
Decades after this period of her life, she was finally motivated to share her story not to make a quick buck, but for her grandson. Even if your client is not The Beatles, your stakeholders are not hysterical teenagers and you have more channels at your disposal than the daily post, we can all learn a thing or two from Good Ol Freda.
Ravi Moorthy is executive vice president, Bay Area Corporate group head.
Image by Roger.