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.
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