Contribution Under Crisis

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Contribution under Crisis

Often times in the field of public relations, problems occur from an external standpoint.  All professionals are trained in crisis communication, but for the most part, they are internal issues which reflect poorly on company or organization.  However, when a catastrophe takes place in society, public relation firms should recognize them and take the opportunity to assist wherever possible.  When companies join forces to combat an external situation it has several benefits.

A recent example of this is the relief efforts of several entities for the victims of the hurricane in North and South Carolina.  The Sun Trust Bank has donated 100,000 dollars to the American Red Cross.  The contribution will not only benefit several families who have been faced with devastating loss, but it also demonstrates a positive image for the bank.  I’m not implying the banks motive is to better its image, but if the result is such, it is a win for all parties.  “The unprecedented floodwaters have caused severe hardship for thousands of people throughout the region,” said David Fuller, president of the SunTrust Foundation. “As part of our commitment to the communities we serve, the SunTrust Foundation is providing this support to help ensure the needs of our friends and neighbors are being addressed.”  As a consumer, if I’m looking for a new bank, I’m more inclined to do business with this bank over others because of the value they see in helping their community.

Another organization lending a hand in this crisis is the save the children foundation.  The agency plans on reaching out to more than 3,000 people.  They have opened up 50 additional shelters and are in the process of adding more.  These foundations are great examples of using public relations to benefit people’s lives as well as the organizations involved.

Sources

Save the Children Appeals for Help to Assist Families Impacted by Flooding in South Carolina. (n.d.). Retrieved October 9, 2015.

SunTrust Provides Relief in Wake of Historic Carolina Floods. (n.d.). Retrieved October 9, 2015.

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Doritos Supports Dallas Pride

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Doritos Supports Dallas Pride

An article recently published by PR newswire coming from Plano, TX has sparked controversy in North Texas.  Doritos is partnering with the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization called the “It Gets Better Project.”  Anyone who donates at least ten dollars to the organization will receive a bag of Doritos new rainbow colored chips in the mail.  The rainbow color represents pride among the LGBT community.  “”Time and again, our consumers have shown us, there really is nothing bolder than being true to yourself and living life to the fullest,” said Ram Krishnan, chief marketing officer for Frito Lay.  Individuals who donate are also encouraged to share messages of hope through social media using the hashtag #BoldandBetter.

This is an interesting tactic by Doritos in terms of marketing and public relations.  For the nonprofit organization, I would call this partnership a slam dunk.  The Doritos brand, a product of PepsiCo, is one of the most notorious and respected brands in America.  They generated 14 billion dollars in 2014, so kudos to the nonprofit for making this happen.  Analyzing this partnership from the perspective of Doritos is somewhat puzzling.  According to the Williams Institute, 3.3 percent of Texans identify themselves as LGBT.  So, is this campaign meant to gain the market share of those individuals?  I would say no.  Clearly Doritos wants to generate as much revenue as possible, but I don’t assume their incentive here is based on money.

I believe Doritos is attempting to support a larger trend taking place in America.  Equality and tolerance for all citizens is becoming a theme in this country.  As more states legalize same-sex marriage, the overall consensus pertaining to the LGBT community is one of support.  If the Williams Institute is accurate in their research, 96.7 percent of Texans are not part of the LGBT community.  I question what percent of those individuals will stop buying Doritos based on this campaign in a state as conservative as Texas.  I also admire the tactic of Doritos to mail the bags to donors rather than distributing bags to retail stores.  In a way, this strategy allows Doritos to strongly appeal to the LGBT community and those who support their movement, while not offending people who are against it.

Sources

Doritos Brand Partners with the It Gets Better Project to Introduce “Doritos Rainbows,” Celebrating and Supporting the LGBT Community, and Inspiring All Consumers to Be #BoldandBetter. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2015.

Gallup Special Report: New Estimates of the LGBT Population in the United States. (2013, February 15). Retrieved October 2, 2015.

PR Tactics from Proterra USA

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PR Tactics from Proterra USA

As a PR major, learning the tactics of branding and building a quality image have been imbedded into my thought process.  I’ve reviewed numerous case studies, built several campaigns, and learned the steps to crisis communication.  My training in this field has taught me several strategies for maintaining a positive relationship with the public and other businesses.  However, my experience this past week as an intern at Proterra USA has provided insight to the industry that college cannot provide.

While I understand every business has their own culture and strategy in the PR field, I admire the tactics Proterra uses and can see why they are successful.  At Proterra, every week we have a “status” meeting with the other firms in Houston and Austin.  Through a conference call, we are able to converse about our clients and ensure they are in good standing.  We discuss prospects for future clients, and make sure every individual knows their role and everyone is on the same page.  In the PR industry, I’ve seen how one slip up can ruin a company.  I often look at cases of how companies end up in a crisis and wonder how they could have let that happen.  At Proterra, nothing is made public without review from all team members.  Every department whether it’s social media, design, creative team, management etc. works as a cohesive unit to maintain a quality image.

At larger companies like Volkswagen, who is currently in a PR crisis, the challenge of working as one unit may be difficult.  However, if you break down a larger company into smaller groups and manage them similarly to what I’ve experienced at Proterra, you may see positive results.  Ultimately, I admire the system I’ve seen in my first professional PR position.  Proterra has proven the ability to improve the branding and image for startup companies as well as existing ones like AT&T.  Anything a company requires in the field of PR and advertising, Proterra provides it in a systematically efficient manner.

Sources

AT&T. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2015, from http://proterrausa.com/work/

Volkswagen’s PR response made problems worse, experts say. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2015, from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/volkswagens-pr-response-made-problems-worse-experts-say-2015-09-25

Diligence or Racism

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Diligence or Racism

In recent news, a 14-year-old boy named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at his school after he brought a homemade clock which his teachers felt could possibly be a bomb. Mohamed made the clock at his home in an effort to impress his teacher and classmates.  The events that followed have made national headlines, and several public leaders have taken notice including President Barack Obama.  The incident has sparked several debates and individual opinions.

To combat some of the damage done from a PR perspective, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd released a statement saying, “the clock looked suspicious in nature, but there was no evidence the boy meant to cause alarm at school.”  He added the boy’s religion had no impact on the case.  Since being released from police custody, the student has received praise and support, including a job offer from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  According to PR Newswire, other organizations have rallied around the student and released their own statements.  A national advocacy organization for American Muslims issued a statement calling on political, media and religious leaders as well as Americans of all backgrounds to take a more public stand against incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry.

Certainly the school is at fault in this case with their decision to arrest the boy.  However, in today’s society is there such a thing as being too cautious?  ISIS, the most notorious terrorist group has been known to use children as weapons.  It’s a tragedy this child was profiled because of his name and ethnicity, but one could argue the school was doing its due diligence to ensure all the students were safe.  In my opinion, the school could have accomplished this task in a significantly safer manner.  The child didn’t need to be placed in handcuffs and taken into police custody.  I don’t fault the school for looking into a possibly threatening situation, but they could have detained the boy somewhere in the school until the matter was resolved.  Every incident occurring these days is subject to backlash, political correctness, explanation, and accountability.  As a PR student, I’ve concluded the most important tactic is to have a plan in place for all types of situations.  Rather than handling something the wrong way, have a PR plan ready which has been designed cohesively from a team of professionals.

Sources

Ahmed Mohamed Clock Arrest: Suspended boy to switch schools. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2015, from http://abc7chicago.com/news/ahmed-mohamed-clock-arrest-suspended-boy-to-switch-schools/990541/

MPAC Calls on Fellow Americans to Speak Out Against Anti-Muslim Bigotry. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2015, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mpac-calls-on-fellow-americans-to-speak-out-against-anti-muslim-bigotry-300145725.html

Social Responsibility in Advertising

The current revenue in the advertising industry is roughly 103 billion dollars.  In any advertising entity, whether it’s an agency or individual, the primary goal is to achieve the objectives for the client.  Companies are paying for results in the form of revenue and customer acquisition.  This puts advertisers in a tough position.  Often times, ads are forced to compromise the public’s best interest in order to satisfy the client.  Advertisers should consider the goodwill of the public when creating ads.  They should feel obligated to consider how their actions impact others and seek to avoid harm.  Unfortunately, this practice doesn’t always occur.

One of the goals for advertisers is to create demand for the client.  However, at times they create unnecessary demand that is detrimental to society.  For example, the fashion industry has a reputation of appealing to materialism.  Ads feature individuals living outside of their means or body images that are unrealistic.  For society, this creates a false sense of what is expected.  Ads create unnecessary goals for the public which can have severe consequences.  Members of society are at risk for being sucked in to a false reality and buy in to false expectations.

What responsibility do advertisers have to society?  You could argue that advertisers have somewhat of an anything goes policy.  Ads can be too sexual, offensive, stereotypical, portray an unrealistic body image, etc.  Is it the advertiser’s responsibility to police itself for the benefit of society, or are individuals ultimately responsible for what they expose themselves to?  In my opinion it’s a bit of both.  Individuals should be aware of their viewing habits and conscious of their opinions and beliefs despite certain depictions advertisers intend to portray.  On the contrary, advertisers should be mindful of the ads they create and attempt to keep them tasteful.  I believe that advertisers have the ability to achieve their goals and the goals of their clients while keeping consideration for the social impact of their ads.

In the film Codes of Gender, Irving Goffman explains how ads have a subtle yet powerful way of establishing gender roles in society.  Ads have a way of subconsciously depicting how men and women are expected to look or behave.  For example, something as simple as the touch of a man or woman in an ad convey a stereotype.  Women are consistently shown having a light or soft touch, while a man’s touch is powerful and assertive.  Ads are not only telling us what to buy but also how to act in terms of gender roles.  It’s vital for individuals to understand the purpose of an advertisement and control the impact it might have.

Sources

Academic Research. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2015, from http://www.palgrave-journals.com/crr/journal/v11/n2/abs/crr200815a.html

Jhally, S. (Director). (2009). The codes of gender [Motion picture]. Media Education Foundation.

Topic: Advertising industry in the U.S. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2015, from http://www.statista.com/topics/979/advertising-in-the-us/

Turning Tragedy into Unity

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Turning Tragedy into Unity

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. For millennials, the attacks were likely the first world tragedy to occur in their lifetime. A large majority of the generation still remembers where they were when the attacks took place. For several years now, the anniversary has served as an opportunity for America to unite as a nation of freedom. The events that take place on this day annually, and the reoccurring themes, bring people together and remind us of the connection we share. America is a nation that turns tragedy into unity and uses this day as a celebration of freedom.

Several companies and organizations use the anniversary of Sept. 11 to reach its publics. Some companies even collaborate in an effort to support the theme of unity. For example, this year Wells Fargo, inMarket and Zac Brown Band have teamed up to support a nonprofit organization known as Warriors to Summits. The organization empowers veterans, transitioning service members with disabilities and their families (PR Newswire). “We’ve seen the power of beacons in the retail setting, and now Zac Brown Band is showcasing how the technology can be used in the music industry to improve the fan experience while driving awareness for a great cause,” said inMarket CEO Todd Dipaola.

As a future PR professional, it’s important to recognize tactics like this one. Every company and organization will benefit from this event. This example demonstrates the ability to utilize technology, social media, collaboration and current events to maintain a positive relationship with the public. It shows how a tragedy like Sept. 11, doesn’t have to be a day of sadness but rather a celebration of freedom. As a PR professional it’s important to work well with other organizations to achieve a common goal. I believe this event serves as an excellent example of how PR professionals think in terms of maintaining a positive image for the entity they represent.

Sources

7 Skills That Prove PR Is The Right Career For You. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://prsay.prsa.org/index.php/2015/08/20/7-skills-that-prove-pr-is-the-right-career-for-you/

Zac Brown Band, Wells Fargo and inMarket ask Chicago to Honor Veterans via Beacons at Wrigley Field Show. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/zac-brown-band-wells-fargo-and-inmarket-ask-chicago-to-honor-veterans-via-beacons-at-wrigley-field-show-300141112.html

A League under a Microscope

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A League under a Microscope

By: Chance Hutcheson

The National Football League is comprised of 32 teams generating annual revenue of 9.1 billion dollars.  Over a hundred million viewers watch the games each week, and it has become the most predominant organization in the world.  Despite the financial success of the league, the NFL as a brand has experienced recent criticism.  Recent news has been littered with scandals involving players and certain teams.  Everything from domestic violence, child abuse, and even deflated footballs are some of the ways the NFL has been put in a PR crisis.  Each time a new incident occurs, the NFL is expected to respond in an attempt to fix the damage.

A few months ago, a video surfaced featuring a member of the Baltimore Ravens striking his girlfriend in an elevator.  Since then, the NFL’s front office and Commissioner Roger Goodell have been under constant scrutiny, forcing them to address numerous issues.  The penalty given to the player involved was perceived as too light by the public and the NFL took heavy criticism.   According to cbssports writer Jason La Canfora, public relations chief Paul Hicks was recently replaced, and the league is planning to surround the commissioner with a stronger inner core.  The league’s brand can’t afford to lose credibility going forward.

As a future PR professional, I question the tactics used by the league in terms of improving its image.  The Public Relations department has released several campaigns against domestic violence and child abuse, the commissioner of the league has handed out stricter penalties, and front office personnel have been replaced.  However, the NFL has failed to adapt to the shifting opinions of the fans and adjust its policies to appease them.

The fans have made the NFL and its front office the villain rather than the players involved in these incidents.  As a result of the league failing to generate popularity for its front office, the adoration for the players has increased substantially.  The NFL has successfully shifted focus away from the wrongdoings of the players and onto themselves.  Now, instead of fan support decreasing, they are rallying behind the players they cheer for and coming together against the league.  Revenue will continue as long as the fans favor the players and currently they are doing just that.