Thank You For Smoking

December 13, 2009

I love movies. Love love LOVE them. I will stay up all night just watching them. Some of my favorites? “The Departed,” “The Patriot,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Wedding Crashers,” “Titanic,” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I think movies are a great way to visualize things in real life. Now, I realize they ARE movies, and they ARE fabricated, but nether the less, they can still be useful to understanding concepts. And that’s what the movie “Thank You For Smoking” does for understanding public relations.

I was reading an article about PR where it explained that PR practitioners can also be refereed to as “spin doctors.” This makes sense to me, seeing as often times the goal of the PR practitioner is to spin the material or case in a positive light. Because, as learned in the Crisis Communication chapter, good things can happen to bad people. At some point or another, every client will be in need of some spin.

However, one client that is ALWAYS in need of good spin, is cigarettes.

The product kills 1200 people daily, and contains some of the same ingredients as rat poison, hair removal cream, batteries, and lighter fluid. It’s addictive, cancer-causing, and quite frankly, gross. So how does one market cigarettes?

That burning question is the plot of “Thank You For Smoking.” Aaron Eckhart stars as Nick Naylor, chief spokesperson for Big Tobacco. The entire film he is seen putting a positive spin on cigarettes- to TV show hosts, senators, and even children.  He is so good at it- it’s hard not to be on his side, even though he is selling cigarettes. Talk about good PR…

“Thank You For Smoking” is a hilarious satire that eventually has a good message. And for those of you thinking about starting a career in the PR field, I would definitely suggest taking a few pointers from Nick Naylor.

What I Learned from Rush: Company Recruitment

December 13, 2009

One of the most important things a PR practitioner can do in regards to employee relations is help with the company recruitment process. As soon as I read this, I felt comforted. People have often told me that what I learn in my sorority will help me later in life, and this is a great example.

Once a member of the sorority, recruitment is much different. Instead of being the prospective employees, we are the employers. And most importantly: we are the PR for our sisterhood. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true.  When part of an organization such as a sorority, you not only always represent yourself, but also 150 other girls. It is up to us to present the community, and prospective members, with the best PR we can.

For starters, during rush week, we always wear our letters. This sets us apart from competing sororities (which would be competing businesses or employers in the real world). And when talking to prospective new members, we put the best spin on everything we can. Take weekly chapter for example: sometimes these meetings can run a little long and be a bit tedious. However, what is mentioned to the girls are the highlights of chapter: seeing all your friends, learning what’s going on, etc.

Being a part of sorority rush is a lot like being a PR practitioner. It is important to present our best selves at all time, so that we have a good reputation amongst the community. This way, when it comes to recruitment, we can have our choice of new employees: because they all want to “work” for a respectable company.

PR’s Role in Employee Communications: Diversity

December 13, 2009

Diversity. To some, upon hearing this word it means the integration of different races into one melting pot. To others, it has a negative connotation (usually these people are somewhat racist). But to me, it reminds me of one thing: Diversity Day in high school. During this day, we signed up for various work shops on hot topics- such as abortion, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Then, led by a faculty facilitator, we talked about the issues at hand and had the opportunity to learn from one another. Then after the workshops, we all reunited in the auditorium to hear a speaker.

Now, I realize not everyone came from such an open background as I. And this is why it is important that PR practicioners encourage and employ diversity in the workplace. Diversity does not happen at once- it takes time. But things such as workshops and meetings with one another would be incredibly effective in the workplace. Also, allow people to express their views, as long as they are not offensive to anyone. And, allow people to take time off for holidays, etc. even if they aren’t traditional.

PR works hard to make sure the company has a good appearance in the community. And, no one can fake an appearance that good without actually living it. So, make sure all the employee’s feel comfortable in the workplace. So much more will be accomplished for the whole company if that is made true.

The Fourth Fanta Has Been Found! (Is this PR?)

December 12, 2009

Well thank goodness! I had been worried Coca Cola would never find a girl to be the pineapple fantana!

Ok, please excuse my sarcasm. But this press release by Coca Cola may be the greatest example of public relations that I have blogged about.

Everybody knows what Fanta is. It is a delicious fruity soda that is produced by the Coca Cola company. And, as proof to a successful marketing campaign, almost everyone can sing the Fanta song. Wanna Fanta, don’t you wanna?

But for their re-release of this strategy, they tried something else: involving the public on a whole new level. They held a contest to see who would be the fourth Fantana! This not only markets the product to the consumers, but allows them the chance to BE in them! Not only will people be intrigued in the product and the spokesmodels, but Coca Cola is offering some girl the chance to follow her dreams and become a Fantana!

Public relations aim to appeal to the consumers. Its goal is to be seen well in the eyes of the public, and that the company at hand has a good reputation in the community. The Coca Cola Fantana contest achieves all of these goals flawlessly. Hats off.

No, it looks good. Promise.

December 12, 2009

As I was researching for my previous post about “The Princess and the Frog,” I came across an interesting press release. The headline: “Disney Theme Park Merchandise Expands Online Offerings to 500 Favorites.” Hmmm, intriguing. Does this mean I can order my princess dress that I didn’t want to carry around the park, online? Yes, it does. Does this mean I can order another set of Mickey-themed scrapbook pages, because I ran out? Yes, it does. But surely, with all of the ridiculous collectables sold at Disney World, it would be unnecessary to sell Mickey ears and Goofy hats online, right? Wrong.

Oh no.

Now, while it has been stated that I LOVE Disney, I am proud to admit I’ve never worn one of those hats.  Let’s face it- Disney is overpriced. And while I may buy a Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream bar for $7, I will NEVER ever, pay $30 for a hat with Mickey ears on it.

I will admit, when I was younger, I remember wanting the Minnie Mouse one SO bad. And my mom said no. Thank goodness. Have you ever seen someone wearing one of those hats? It is impossible to look cool with one on, even in Disney world.

Not a good look for anyone. So, while Disney World is the only place where this would be someone acceptable, why would you need to order one online to wear elsewhere?

While I appreciate Disney for listening to their consumers who have been asking to buy the products online, were they really talking about the hats? Where are you going to wear that? It boggles the mind.

What does this have to do with PR? Disney listened to their customers when they asked for online shopping. Is this good PR? Besides the hats, yes.

Is This PR? Disney’s Newest Princess

December 12, 2009

At 21 years old, I am still and possibly even more obsessed with Disney. The movies, the parks, the music: I love it all.  My favorite movie is Beauty and the Beast, and to celebrate my recent 21st birthday, my entire family is going to Disney World to “drink around the world” in Epcot. Yes, that’s what I wanted. My roommate got a new car for hers, and I’m going to Disney World for mine. She got the short end of the stick if you ask me.

But as such a Disney fanatic, it is no surprise that I am thrilled to see their newest full length, animated feature: “The Princess and the Frog.” It’s Disney’s return to their roots- where the story is told, accompanied by song. It also features Disney’s first African American princess: Tiana.

To engage hype about the movie, as well as include the public, Disney World is currently hosting Meet and Greets with Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, and other characters from the film. Also, there is a special performance occurring three times daily called “Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee!” This is a special parade featuring the music from the movie, 30 randomly picked park guests, a jazz band, and beads!

Disney is amazing at everything they do, so it’s no surprise that their PR events are magical as well.  Instead of solely having people meet and greet with the characters, they have created an entire musical event to accompany the cast. To me this is an incredibly smart PR tactic. Only in Disney…

http://www.wdwnews.com/ViewPressRelease.aspx?PressReleaseID=114014

Starbucks’ CSR

December 12, 2009

Everyone knows what Starbucks coffee is.  It is ubiquitous. And I’m not really sure why, but people (including me) are willing to go wait in line for a $6 cup of coffee.  It’s just so good.

One thing people might not know about Starbucks is that they are an incredibly environmentally conscious company: “Starbucks is committed to a role of environmental leadership in all facets of our business.” – their environmental mission statement.  Starbucks uses recycled paper to make their cups and their sleeves. They make sure that their coffee beans are raised in the agricultural conditions that promote environmental keys such as clean ground water.

Besides having a very strong environmental strategy, Starbucks also cares a great deal about their investors, partners, and the public in general.  They claim that, “we’ve always been committed to doing business responsibly and conducting ourselves in ways that earn the trust and respect of our customers, partners (employees) and neighbors.” To me, this is a perfect example of social responsibility.  No one can deny that Starbucks is a giant. But they know the pressures and responsibilities of the job and they are carrying through with the job at hand.  By caring strongly about their environment and the public, Starbucks is clearly doing a great job being socially responsible.

Is This PR? Tiger Woods’ Statement

December 12, 2009

It is nearly impossible to turn on a television or read a magazine cover without hearing about Tiger Woods’ little affair debacle.  The mega golf star had a three year affair with a cocktail waitress/reality tv “star”- and like all celebrity gossip- the truth finally came out. The thing is though, what is Tiger going to do about it?

While Nike is still sticking by Woods, Gatorade and Tag Heuer have already dropped their sponsorship.  And the last time Woods wasn’t play golf (due to a knee injury) the ratings of the PGA programs fell drastically. So what to do?

This example of public relations would be the statement he released to the public.  LIke all good PR tactics, the message was used as a link between the company (Tiger) and the public.  The statement was placed on his website, and says that he will be taking an indefinite break from the game of golf.  He says he needs to focus on his wife and kids right now, and that he is incredibly for his actions.

This is an effective PR strategy in my opinion.  Of course there are hundreds of rumors circulating about the affair- who it was, how many it was, how long it was.  When a crisis like this happens, it is very smart for the celebrity to make a statement. This way, the truth is set clear, and people know the celeb’s point of view.  It is important that celebrities make their statements in a timely matter, as to stop the rumor mill.

Tigers Statement:

Tiger Woods taking hiatus from golf

By Tiger Woods

I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try.

I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.

After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.

Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period.

What is the role of a public relations practitioner in corporate social responsibility?

December 10, 2009

To answer the posed question, I must first define corporate social responsibility.  According to a 2007 Blog post by Fabian on sustainabilityblog.com, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is “a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment in all aspects of their operations.”  In my own words, I would describe CSR as how a company is in keeping with the values of a particular society, and making sure these are implemented throughout everything they do.

The first examples of CSR that I can think of, are things such as animal-safe products and “going green.”  Our society opposes the idea of testing products on animals to make sure they are human safe.  That being said, companies such as Revlon were protested in the 1980’s and 1990’s until they stopped testing on animals.  It was up to Revlon to adapt their CSR, because it was in keeping with our society’s values and interests.  More recently, with the threats of global warming and losing our non-renewable resources, “going green” has become a cultural identity.  To keep up with their CSR, Hewlett-Packard, Wal Mart, and McDonald’s are just a few among the many  corporation giants to incorporate more organic, environmentally friendly techniques.

A PR practitioner’s role in regards to CSR is to make sure that the client is responding to the wants and needs of the society.  Because the number one goal of PR is to represent the company in the best light possible, it is important that the client be reflecting the values and beliefs of the society.  For example, when a society makes a shift towards wanting to be green, it is up to the PR practitioner to make that shift within the company’s CSR. Those in PR want to make sure that their client has a good relationship with the society they are involved in, and managing its CSR is a key way to do that.

Post-its and Mentos: The Ethical Debate

December 10, 2009

Here’s the thing about the internet: it has brought us some of the most incredible technological advances that our species has ever seen.  For the first time in history, anyone can access an astronomical amount of information. We can send pictures to our friends and family faster than you can say “cheese.” And you can connect with people from all over the world.  But with all these incredible technological and cultural advances, there were bound to come some things that were not quite on the same intellectual level.  Things such as “youtube,” the FW: email, and “Elf Yourself.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy “Charlie Bit My Finger” as much as the next guy.  And maybe a slight smile hits my lips when my mom forwards me yet another cat dressed as a human.  And yes, I have elfed myself.  Maybe I’m a victim of social media, or maybe it really is funny. Nether the less, with the internet such a vast source of knowledge (and funny videos), it’s no wonder that there are some ethical issues concerning public relations.

Take the Mentos/Diet coke youtube video. IT IS AWESOME. And, it’s free publicity for both Mentos and Diet coke. So when that video was released, why wouldn’t Mentos slap it on their website?

And remember that prank, where a few buddies covered their friend’s car entirely with Post-it notes, the posted the pictures on Flickr? Again, why wouldn’t 3M be thrilled by the free publicity, and use that as a campaign for their product?

The answer to both of these questionable situations is ETHICS. While there is no stopping the free publicity both products would have received from the videos/pictures, it is unethical to put the media on their websites without giving credit or buying the rights off of the creators.

The new wave of social media is incredibly useful, advanced, and universal.  However, it needs to be remember that with this new technology comes new challenges in the PR field.  Even though free publicity (both bad and good) is going to exist on the internet, it is unethical to use them as conscious advertisements without consent.

http://www.marcomprofessional.com/posts/david.meerman.scott/learning-from-the-3m-post-it-note-debacle-social-media-ethics-defined