Thanksgiving’s Winners and Losers

 

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Thanksgiving is a special holiday which allows companies and organizations to collaborate for mutual benefit. During this year’s Dallas Cowboy’s game, country music entertainer of the year, Luke Bryan held a performance at halftime. The performance was intended to kick off the Salvation Army’s 125th Red Kettle Campaign. The campaign raised $2 billion this year and will provide Americans in need with food, shelter, and other valuable resources. The event has several advantages in terms of upholding good standards with the public in relation to the organizations involved.

The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of good publicity as they have been experiencing negative press on a weekly basis. They have been known to sign players of questionable character, so events like this are especially important as a public relations strategy. Luke Bryan just received entertainer of they year, so this performance was an honor for him and will only assist in elevating his image. With that said, his performance was not very good. Social media was pouring with comments pertaining to his act, most of which were extremely negative. It have been difficult for him to gain momentum as a performer based on the crowds enthusiasm. The home team Dallas Cowboys went into halftime trailing the panthers by a lengthy margin. The fans weren’t happy, Cowboy’s ownership wasn’t happy, so Bryan was put in a tough situation.

As far as The Salvation Army is concerned, they succeeded in kicking off their new campaign. The holiday season is our most crucial fundraising period, and a time when a lot of families are seeking our assistance,” said Lt. Col. Ron Busroe, national community relations and development secretary for The Salvation Army. “The visibility that Luke Bryan and the Cowboys bring to our organization is invaluable to us.”

This is a good example of organizations using a holiday to reach their intended target, as well as entities collaborating to develop better public relations. The Dallas Cowboys as a football team failed, Luke Bryan’s performance might have been a failure, however from a public relations standpoint, everyone involved was a winner.

Sources

Luke Bryan Kicks Off 125th Annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign During Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day Game. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7612653-salvation-army-cowboys-red-kettle/

Luke Bryan Kicks Off Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign During Thanksgiving Halftime. (2015, November 26). Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/2015/11/26/luke-bryan-kicks-salvation-army-red-kettle-campaign-during-halftime

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Delay and Denial

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Racial tension in America is on the rise. In recent years, the media has covered several instances of race related issues. Most notable are cases like the Ferguson riots and the Josh Brown shooting. A large majority of the racial tension is a product of improper law enforcement practices. However, the issue of race has also affected our public schools, government officials and candidates, as well as major Universities. The regression of civil rights and equality in terms of race has been extremely damaging to our country. Addressing issues of race is a difficult task which often leads to further problems. There isn’t a blueprint for handling issues of race and public relations professionals tread with caution when dealing with them.

In recent news, the President of the University of Missouri was essentially forced to resign from his position. The school had been experiencing a pattern of race related incidences which weren’t being addressed properly, or in some cases, at all. The latest issue stemmed as a result of a swastika being drawn using human feces in one of the campus bathrooms. In an article from U.S. News, Dan Hill, president of public relations firm Ervin/Hill Strategy, said, “most colleges and universities tend to act slowly and conservatively when it comes to issues of race.” He compared the reaction of race to school shootings, pointing out the vast difference in response times. “The response to racial tensions is often denial and delay,” he said. (Fiske, 2015.)

Public relations officials use strategies which are quick and effective. The time it takes to respond to a crisis is, in many cases, just as important as the actual message used to communicate. The officials at the University of Missouri did not handle the looming issues of race at their campus decisively nor effectively. This resulted in the President losing his job and a school in turmoil. This case is a good example of how public relations tactics can dramatically shape a situation, and how the practice of avoidance can be ineffective.

Sources

Retrieved November 14, 2015, from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/11/11/resignation-could-have-been-avoided-at-university-of-missouri

University of Missouri responds to growing racially charged backlash [UPDATED]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/448b0e1e-b535-4db2-aedb-0584d9d9b656.aspx?utm_medium=twitter

“Walking While Black”

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As a journalism student at the University of North Texas, I am troubled by the current controversial incident involving the dean of our department.  The timeliness and proximity of this issue couldn’t be more appropriate for this week’s blog.  On October 24, Dean Dorothy Bland was walking down the street when she was stopped by two Caucasian police officers in her neighborhood of Corinth.  The police informed Bland she was walking down the wrong side of the street and advised her to move to the other side for safety purposes.  Before reading any commentary on the incident, I watched the video in order to form my own perception of the event.  I was intrigued to see how this four minute ordeal has become a Public Relations crisis for the University and its dean.

The stop itself raised no issue with me.  Police officers are public servants trained to protect citizens.  If the officers felt Bland was in danger, then requesting she move to the other side of the street is perfectly acceptable.  I’m not certain of police policy, but shouldn’t the encounter cease at that point.  Why ask for the deans identification? Why even get out of the patrol car?  Wouldn’t simply rolling the window down and asking Bland to move across the street suffice?  I don’t blame Bland for her reaction or for taking pictures of the scene.  As journalists, taking photos is part of our job.  She may have decided during the stop to write an article about it, in which case, she would need a photo.

The dean did in fact write an article, and the aftermath has sparked a PR crisis for the school and the journalism department.  Surely, she knew her article was going to have consequences based on its tone and context.  I’m proud to be a member of the Mayborn School of Journalism, and this article has diminished the school’s reputation.  If Bland wanted to write an objective article of the incident and express a thoughtful concern for our nation’s racial tension, I see no issue.  However, comparing the stop to the Travon Martin case, and conveying an outcry of racial profiling is unnecessary.  Now, the school’s reputation is being questioned and its image diminished.  As a future PR professional I would consider two options.  Do nothing and hope this blows over with no severe damage to the school’s reputation, or ask the dean to release a statement of remorse.

Sources

Bland, D. (n.d.). Dorothy Bland: I was caught ‘walking while black.’ Police chief: No, officers were doing their jobs. Retrieved November 4, 2015.

Dean outraged by police stop gets rebuttal, blowback. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2015.

Dean’s column sparks debate. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2015.

Clinton Restoration Process

Clinton Scandal

For analyzing image restoration, I will use Professor Benoit’s example of the Bill Clinton scandal.  Prior to my research, the only knowledge I had of the incident was from memory.  I can remember the initial public outcry following the accusations.  It was the most prolific event I had experienced up to that point in my life.  The attention from the media and the public was justifiably profound, but at my age it was shocking.

In a deposition for the Paula Jones law suit, Clinton testified he never had sexual relations with his former intern Monica Lewinsky.  Allegations were being made that contradicted the Presidents statements and pressure was escalating.  Clinton followed Professor Benoit’s process of image restoration in this case by denying he had done anything wrong.  He was resilient in his effort to deny the allegations.  In one of the most infamous statements in U.S. history the former president addressed a national audience declaring, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Following Benoit’s model, evidence was released that forced Clinton to admit the accusations were true.  His image was significantly tarnished and the restoration process took several years.  Despite attempting to deny the incident and being impeached, Clinton was removed as president with a 65% approval rating, a promising statistic for the image restoration process.  He apologized to the public, and used the practice of mortification as best he could.

One aspect of contribution to Clinton’s image restoration process was his ability to communicate.  Like most successful politicians, Clinton was an outstanding public speaker.  The impeachment occurred in 1998, and by 2009 Clinton had made $51 million in public speaking fees.  I would assume he addressed his impeachment in the majority of his appearances, giving him the opportunity to express remorse and try to gain back his public reputation.  Another thing to consider which worked in Clinton’s favor was blame being shifted.  In this case, blame was being shifted to Lewinsky, for the most part.  However, a lot of the focus was aimed at the media and its unwavering pursuit to gain more information.  A Harvard professor spoke of this issue stating “The public is frustrated with the inability of the parties to focus on the public questions that matter the most. And after a time, the frustration feeds disillusion. Detachment is driven by an entertainment-driven style of media coverage.”  This served Clinton’s image restoration immensely.  Today, you hardly hear of Clinton pertaining to the scandal or his impeachment.  He has sparked new areas of debate and is still a public figure in the area of politics.

Sources

“Professor William Benoit Summarizes His Image Repair Theory (HD).” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

Staff, TIME. “Where Are They Now: The Clinton Impeachment.” Time. Time Inc., 9 Jan. 2009. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

Washington Post. The Washington Post. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

NFL: Reactive or Proactive

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The NFL has experienced plenty of scrutiny in its recent policies pertaining to player misconduct. Commissioner Roger Goodell has been accused of being inconsistent with penalties and the media is quick to criticize him.  Public opinion of the commissioner has taken a fall as well.  Since the Ray Rice incident is 2014, everything the league does is closely examined, and it seems as though they can’t correct their wrongdoings.  The league has started campaigns against domestic violence, forced players to undergo training, handed out harsher penalties and done just about everything they can to appear as though they are serious about these issues.  However, as a spectator and fan of the game you have to wonder if the league is simply hiding under a guise of fancy commercials, or are they producing results for victims of this issue.

This week is breast cancer awareness month, and players participate by wearing pink during games.  For the most part, anything is fair game.  Players can wear anything pink, but there is still a uniform code that players must follow.  This past week two players were fined over $5,000 for violations.  William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats to honor his mother who was killed in a domestic violence incident, as well as DeAngelo Williams for wearing eye black that read “we will find a cure” to honor his mother who died of breast cancer.  As a future PR professional I find it difficult to justify these punishments coming from an organization in the midst of trying to refine its image.  Are these punishments serving a purpose? Is the money being used to provide shelters for victims of domestic violence? How is this strengthening the organization’s relationship with the public it serves?

I understand rules are enforced for a reason, and I’m a proponent of following them.  If these players violated rules set by the league, they should be punished accordingly.  When I analyze this case from a PR standpoint, I feel certain strategies could have helped the league’s image.  The NFL released a statement explaining how all 32 teams are working in collaboration to raise awareness for breast cancer.  Instead of another cliché statement, maybe a representative could write a release telling me how the fines were used to help victims.  Perhaps this money was used to build a shelter for victims of domestic violence and the impact this will have on the community is immense.  I suppose when your organization is making close to $9 billion dollars in annual revenue and expected to be worth $25 billion by 2027, effort isn’t a concern.

Sources

“Chris Pratt Brings Joy to Children’s Hospital – See the Sweet Photos.” TODAY.com. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.

Cohn, Jonathan. “The NFL Owes Domestic Violence Victims a Big, Fat Check.” Web. 30 Oct. 2015.

“The NFL Fined Two Players Who Violated the League’s Uniform Policy to Honor Their Late Mothers.” For The Win. 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.

Genuineness of PR Ethics

Are PR practitioners adopting the current code of ethics or are they simply trying to appear ethical while engaging in unethical practices?  This is a tough question to answer.  In some instances, PR professionals might have intentions of following ethical codes and just slip up in some way.  For agencies to follow ethical codes consistently there must be an internal system of checks and balances.  Otherwise, one individual might be doing something unethical without the firm’s knowledge.  History shows us that using a lawful form of ethical codes doesn’t work.  The lawful code of ethics established by the PRSA reviewed 232 cases, of which 10 resulted in sanctions.  Enforcement proved too difficult and the PRSA had no legal authority.

Today PR professionals operate on more of a good faith policy.  Consumers and audience members are expected to trust PR practices and hope they are governing themselves.  Baker and Martinson’s TARES test of ethicality is one of the best measurements for PR tactics.  Messages should be truthful and persuasion should remain authentic.  The PR professional or agency should maintain respect for the audience being persuaded.  The revised code of ethics for PR is based on integrity and transparency.  It’s in the best interest of the PR firm to follow the current code of ethics.  If a PR agency loses the trust of its audience there’s a good chance it will fail.  I believe it’s in the best interest of a company or organization to follow ethical codes if it intends on having good standing with the public.  Attempting to simply appear ethical is risky and can have severe consequences.

An example of an organization adopting the guise of acting ethical and facing the consequences can be found in the NFL.  For years, the league had a policy of dealing with player misconduct and managed to disguise their unethical practices.  Since 2006, law enforcement perused 50 cases of domestic violence involving NFL players.  If the player was talented the commissioner would hand down a small punishment.  However, if the player was of lesser value, he would be released and essentially thrown out of the league.  This practice made it seem like the league had a strong ethical code in these matters, when in reality, they were just maintaining a facade.  The PR team for the NFL consistently endorsed the severe punishments while concealing the others.  Now the league is experiencing severe backlash and scrutiny from the audience it serves.  For an organization as profitable as the NFL, vast consequences in terms of revenue may not occur, but this may not be the case for smaller entities.  PR professionals and agencies are held to a high public standard and should feel obligated to abide by ethical codes.

Sources

Powerpoint slides

Cohn, Jonathan. “The NFL Owes Domestic Violence Victims a Big, Fat Check.” Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

“The NFL Tackles Domestic Violence.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

 

Skill or Gambling

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In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This resulted in several online gambling sites having to be shut down.  This included many poker and online casino sites.  One area of strong popularity in the United States is fantasy football.  Millions of Americans participate in fantasy football, and some websites force you to pay a fee for joining a fantasy league.  The 2006 gambling enforcement act included a section that stated games of skill were exempt from this rule, mainly so fantasy football would not be affected.

New sites have emerged following this rule such as DraftKings and FanDuel. The sites allow you to play weekly fantasy football games and include multiple formats and prices for gaming.  The websites collect a small fee for every entry into their games and they have become very successful.  Their business model is walking a fine line between what is considered a game of skill, which is legal, and a gambling site, which is not.  According to the Washington Post, DraftKings and FanDuel will pay out over $1 billion in prize money this year and thir earning in 2014 were about $57 million.  The sites have used a large portion of their earning on advertising and aren’t trying to hide their business model.

However, a recent scandal involving one of the sites employees involves insider information being used on a rival site to win a large prize payout. The controversy has forced the FBI to look into the matter, as well as the legitimacy and legality of the sites.  This decision has resulted in the state of Nevada banning the use of these sites on the basis of requiring them to possess a gambling license.  So, in other words, the state is taking the FBI investigation very serious.  The public relations departments for the websites have jumped into action defending their clients. A PR representative for FanDuel released this statement, “This decision stymies innovation and ignores the fact that fantasy sports is a skill-based entertainment product loved and played by millions of sports fans.  Many former consumers have filed lawsuits against the sites and scrutiny is rising for the popular entities.  This shows just how vital it is to follow the rules of the industry.  A slip up by a single employee can lead to devastating consequences for businesses and their PR divisions.

Sources

Jacobs, H. (2015, October 14). The FBI and US Justice Department are looking into DraftKings and FanDuel. Retrieved October 17, 2015.

Sports, B. (2015, October 16). DraftKings, FanDuel among daily fantasy sites ruled gambling by Nevada. Retrieved October 17, 2015.