Public Relations Nightmares

A lot of things can go wrong in a business. Barbara Findlay Schenck wrote an article entitled Surviving a PR Nightmare discussing the top reasons why businesses go under. They are

1. A lapse in social responsibility stemming from policies that result in worker mistreatment, environmental damage or other harmful effects.

2.  A breach of corporate standards or law, including accounting discrepancies, violation of regulations, and abuse of consumer, investor, stockholder and public trust.

3.  Inappropriate personal behavior by a top executive, spokesperson or brand representative.

4. Sudden death or departure of a high-profile business leader

5.Product failures, malfunctions or dangers

6. Natural or manmade disasters or accidents, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and terrorist attacks, to name a few.

All of these are major “no-no’s” in the business world and can do quite a bit of damage to a corporation if they occur. The larger the corporation, the more area it covers, and the more likely it is to have one of these PR crises. Schenck recommends determining the vulnerability of your company to a PR crisis before it happens, so you’re prepared once it does. If you can foresee an area that might have some trouble, you can do her second step and figure out what the worst possible outcome would be. For example, if you have a product coming out and you’re not 100% sure if it could cause an allergic reaction, you are aware that it might be re-called, and that your chemists may need to take a second look at the formula. Next, she suggests taking pre-emptive measures, by changing policies that need to be changed. (This would work in accounting discrepancies. Make it harder for someone to steal or be shady!).

Finally, move fast if something negative does happen. The previous steps will help you be ready for action. Learn all you can about the problem so you’re more informed than the public, and so you can address it honestly the first time. Be consistent, be clear, and take full responsibility.

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Burn the Floor

What makes a dancer great? Skill, passion, practice, and heat. All of this can be found in “Burn the Floor”, a talented entourage of ballroom dancers. It’s appeal can be found not only in the dancing, but in the brightly colored costumes, themes, background displays, and experience of the night itself. Each dancer burns the floor with the finesse they bring to the stage. This is their life. Sit back and watch as these dancers “burn the floor.” You can’t miss out on this!

The event is planned for April 24th-29, 2012 at 7:30 pm: not so early that you’re not in the mood to be entertained, but not late enough to where you can’t grab a bite to eat afterward. Balcony tickets start at $68.00 per person, gallery at $95.00, and orchestra is at $150.00/$165.00. While this may seem a little expensive, what you’re getting is a culture and an art form that has disappeared for some time. The venue, Straz Center, is an elegantly set up room ready for you to envelop the entire experience and be treated as an honored guest.

To promote it: I would get flyers all over the Tampa area and have a literal burning floor plastered over the pages. Twitter, facebook, and the dancer’s website would have tons of video uploaded from previous years to let potential guests know what they would be experiencing. Then, two weeks before the show dates, I would have three or more of the dancers appear on a busy night on the club strips to do a “teaser”, performing one song to promote the event. Finally, I would love to have each dancer wear one of their costumes wherever they want at all times: this would generate suspense and hopefully questions about why they are wearing it.

Buy tickets today at their website:

Burn the Floor

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Message Exposure

I really liked this week. The powerpoint discussed basic questions to ask yourself in evaluating your business plan and its success/future improvement.

Was it….

•Adequately planned?
•Message(s) understood?
•How could strategy have been more effective?
•Audiences reached?
•Objectives achieved?
•What was unforeseen?
•Budget met?
•Future improvements?

All of these are great questions to squeeze every bit of profit and knowledge out of your event! What could have been done better? How was the venue? What was the overall feel of the audience post message? What could we do to cut some costs? All of these questions are encompassed in that list which is great to have compiled for a future event in planning, production, and post-production.

You have to plan for the unexpected. Learning to roll with the punches and doing a serious evaluation of yourself will help you be objective and critical of your event to make it even better next time. You can’t be scared to improve or change the way things are in order to boost your event.

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Presentation Day!


Wow. Some of these presentations were absolutely amazing! I could definitely tell that people who came in here (me) with no clue what PR entailed have a different perspective leaving this class. Trey touched on sports PR and how it would be difficult to manage some public figures’ images. It’s a struggle when you’re working with a group of people who are by nature competitive and self-reliant. They are solely focused on what they do: play the game, while their practitioner has to remind them to guard their image and watch what they say. That’s the last thing they want to hear. Tiger Woods is a perfect example of a PR disaster in which he has never recovered.

Laurita touched on events that you plan for, discussing the prices of booths and equipment one would need in order to make an event successful.

Danny’s presentation was very interesting and it delved into marketing and advertising. Adrian, I definitely learned a lot from him. I could tell that he uses PR every day and his “drip-drip-drip” technique explanation opened my eyes to how important PR is, how it works with other departments, and how it is necessary to present a different side to clients in this age where simple product isn’t good enough.

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What if That Were Your Sign?

What does his face look like behind that paper? Does it matter, or is he just another person blocking the sidewalk…

Homelessness has always deeply touched me, especially as a child. I can remember the complete bewilderment I experienced when I first asked my mom why that man was sitting in raggedy clothes against that building. Her reply that he was homeless made me shudder.

After years pass, I think we begin to desensitize to the pain of those around us as simply a fact: that man is homeless. It’s almost the same as saying she has black hair. It becomes a characteristic trait of who they are, rather than something that needs to be changed. We, as a society, should not be simply accepting this. It is a big job, and I don’t have all the answers. However, a group calling themselves “Preventing Homelessness in America” has taken this cause upon themselves.

“Between five and six hundred thousand people are considered “homeless” at any given time – without a “permanent, safe, decent, affordable place to live.” This is outrageous, period–let alone in a country where there is more than enough to go around.

The homeless also face persistent deprivation and constant threat of harm. They spend more time in the hospital and in jail than their poor counterparts. The majority are victims of violent crimes, and one fourth lack needed medical care and it is proven that homeless children perform worse in school, so the cycle continues.

The “National Coalition for the Homeless” supports fund-raising, volunteer efforts, and many practical work efforts to end homelessness and to offer them a way to go.

In addition to donating, smiling, helping, and meeting basic, “right-now” needs, this organization encourages advocacy for the homeless.

“Advocacy is critical to creating the systemic changes needed to end homelessness. Advocacy means working with people experiencing homelessness to bring about positive changes in policies and programs on the local, state, and federal levels. It means working with various sectors of the community (e.g. city/county officials, members of Congress, direct service providers, and the business community) to develop workable strategies for responding to homelessness.  It also means changing your language and behaviors in small ways that may contribute to larger changes in the way people experiencing homelessness are seen and treated in our society.”

Obama recently brought back the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance “HEARTH” Act of 1987 which encourages rapid housing as the first priority for the homeless, as well as their education, and increase in prevention of homelessness, and overall produces a desire to minimize homelessness.

All of these efforts, lobbyists, and legislations are not bringing about undue influence in shaping legislation, because that is what they are there for! If legislation does not care that thousands of citizens spend the night on the street with a growling stomach, and no hope to find a job as they have no residence or shower or suit in which to interview, then I must have a wrong idea about what legislation was designed for. No, we should not baby people, we should not give free hand-outs always and expect that nothing change. I believe that the government is there to make us better people as a whole. Giving someone who is experiencing homelessness a break could be the difference between them having the will to get back on their feet or curling up and accepting their future. We should care about people, and our government should spend more time developing plans which encompass a potential for steady incline and equal opportunity rather than just hand-outs. With the need growing so large, though, it can be easy to throw up your hands and not know what to do.

These groups seem to be very much about change in the community, rather than expecting the government to magically fix everything. This is very true. And, while, the government is incredibly important and should be involved in supporting homeless shelters and dire emergency answers, it’s important that we not rely on the government to fix everything because they aren’t on the street corner like we are. They don’t pass people everyday like we do. It is our job because we see it, and can physically do something in that situation. The government has only broad eyes, while we have a micro perspective on our community. It starts with us, and the government can hopefully support us through better employment, better housing, better taxing, and better messages being sent out by our leaders. But, when it comes down to it, it is our responsibility to care for one another. What if that were your sign–and people assumed you were lazy, untalented, and a bum?

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Introducing Corporate PR

The entire chapter outlined corporate PR beginning with the public’s perception of them through big offices, through employee relations, consumer relations, as well as how the media helps portray a company. Mostly, corporate offices are looked upon in a negative way; they have a bad reputation for making self-benefiting decisions. Big offices generally tend to run away from the media because they have had bad experience with them in the past. While journalists can paint corporations in a bad light, cooperating with them is only going to increase your chances of getting a positive story, while still having some control of what’s being put out there. This chapter, in summary, was attempting to show the job of corporate, the truth and false myths about large companies, and ways to improve in the future. The PR practitioner has a tough job when representing a company because it is an entirely different element. Most CEOs and businesspersons with high positions are very focused on the bottom line of the company, and not strong on creative ways to connect with the public. It is the practitioner’s job to be the mediator between the media and large businesses. This, then trickles down into the workplace and makes it a well-run corporation with everyone being used to their fullest capacity. PR is certainly needed in corporate because they house a different skill set and reach a different need for businesses.

Corporate PR Presentation

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“Spin control”: a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure.

It’s the way you present the information–the context. If there is an obvious exaggeration or hyperbole in a message (generally used for humor or dramatic effect), then there is no harm done. The Ford commercials, which framed their message in a “staged” press release commercial interviewing real Ford owners about their cars, may have crossed the line into spinning the message. To the average viewer, it wasn’t completely obvious that these releases were fake, and since news releases are meant to be taken as legitimate news, the “advertising” signals that normally tip us off to take what we see with a grain of salt, were hidden. The marketing crossed over into a fact-based medium, and therefore, could be perceived as using “spin control”.

Ford Pulls Ad After White House Objects: Report

However, the White House got upset with a particular line in the commercial. One Ford owner  made a reference about Ford standing on their own two feet, while other car companies relied on the government bail-out. Ford most certainly knew who they were appealing to with this tagline: old-fashioned hard workers who liked things the way they were: when success was built by the entrepreneur, rather than from a hand-out from the governor.

In my opinion, the White House did not have a right to ask that the ad be pulled. Freedom of speech should extend to every area, even in advertisement, and that’s one of the great things about our country. Advertisers shouldn’t feel that commenting on the government’s activities is off-limits. What makes them above being constructively criticized? Also, the fact that the White House has time to be concerned with truck advertisements on TV make me concerned for our government. Ford was making a real statement about the government.

The White House simply confirmed the governments’ over-involvement in social issues by requesting they take down the ad. Since when has that been a part of government or a role they were supposed to fill? Media is for the people. The people want to be represented and heard, and if the government doesn’t look peachy all the time, that’s reality. Nobody is perfect and that includes the government, so eliminating all advertisements that don’t spin them at the best angle is violation of freedom of speech.

I think that Ford was very smart in targeting this audience.  however, their manner in doing it (disguising the advertisement in a mock press release) was confusing and crossing the line into informative media. In that way alone, I think they were guilty.

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