Month: August 2014

Best Job In The World – A PR perspective

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I am graduating in ONE WEEK from the Public Relations and Marketing Program. During this program I came across many PR campaigns and learnt about their target audiences and ways of communicating with the public. Basically how they actually became so successful that people still talk about them.

One such campaign that captured my interest is the “Best Job In The World”. The story of how I learned about this campaign is quite amusing. I wanted to know about the best jobs in Winnipeg and when I typed “best” on Google, an option so intriguing popped up, titled “best job in the world”. A lot of professions were running in my head at that time. But to my surprise, the best job in the world turned out to be the one of the “best PR campaign” that generated more than $200 million in global publicity value.

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What was…

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Case Studies Blog #4 – What aspects interest you most?

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As your studies in PR come to a close, what aspect of Public Relations interested you the most? How do you think your career will be informed by your new knowledge of Public Relations?

The aspect that interests me most are the differences and similarities between public relations in business and government.

Business Public Relations

We learned that in business, an organization’s relationship with the public is the most important factor to an organization’s survival, even more so than profit.  We learned that if an business does not have the support of the public, it will have the most difficult time operating and doing the necessary work that needs to be done.    Businesses invest in public relations to improve their reputation with their publics or to avert a crisis.

In the realm of public relations, we learned of hundreds of unethical organizations that have lied and cheated in an attempt to cover the truth, only to take even greater and unrecoverable hits to their reputation.

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Government Public Relations

On the other hand, I learned that government public relations in some ways are similar, but in other ways are completely different than business public relations.  Government public relations is similar because in democratic societies, political parties need support of the public in terms of votes to get elected into office.  However, once in office, governments have the capacity to enact public policy, even if that policy is against the will of the people.

In response to unpopular government decisions, public outcry may result in letters to government officials, unfavourable newspaper articles, or in some instances, violence.  Since government survival depends on votes, it is assumed that a governing party will not get re-elected after a series of unpopular public policy.  One can see that clearly when the Liberal Party of Canada lost three elections in a row to the Conservative party in 2006, 2008, and 2011.

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Two different worlds of Public Relations

My career will be informed by my new knowledge because I have a better understanding of the differences between the two worlds of public relations. On the one hand, I know that businesses need to think of their publics by thinking about the ways their actions will affect their bottom line.  Businesses have to ask themselves if their actions will play well in the realm of public opinion.  Business must be ethical and socially responsible, while maintaining profit.

Governments on the other hand have a greater responsibility by protecting the society from those who do harm to others.  In many cases, government officials have a greater responsibility than businesses, because those hard decisions will be unpopular.

Final thoughts

In what way do you think that governments are like businesses in terms of public relations?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Case Studies Blog #3 – What case study interested you most?

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From the cases we’ve discussed in class so far, which case has most captured your interest, and why? From a PR perspective, what did you learn from this case?

The Apple iPhone 4 launch case study captured my interest.  In 2010, Apple was set to launch their newest phone, the iPhone 4.  During the pre-launch build-up, Apple remained secretive of the specifications and details of their new phone.  Nothing new here.

No help from Apple

Approximately three months prior to the launch, Gray Powell, an Apple employee testing the prototype phone lost it at a local pub.  An unknown individual soon after finds the phone and contacts Apple customer service three times to return it.  No one at Apple believes him or his story because according to customer service, that phone does not exist.

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After receiving no help from Apple customer service, the unknown individual agrees to sell the prototype phone to Gizmodo, a major tech blog for $5000.  The tech blog reverse engineers the phone to reveal the details and specs on their website to the public prior to launch.

Prototype iPhone 4G sold for $5000

After the specs gets released, Apple sends a formal request to Gizmodo asking for their phone back.  On April 18, 2010, the Gizmodo editor agrees and offers an address where it can be retrieved.   Good story so far, however, Apple didn’t let the situation go.  On April 26, the Police department breaks into the editor’s home to seize all of his computers.  Bam!  Public relations disaster!

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Lessons learned

In class, I learned of several ways to appropriately respond to a PR crisis.  These options include attacking the accuser, denial, excuse, justification, ingratiation, corrective action, or a full apology.  Each of these possible options requires detailed planning and forecasting to predict an outcome to the best possible solution to a bad situation.  In addition to the possible options are general principles to follow, which include the following: catch and identify the before it becomes a crises, match the response to the issue, begin early and initiate a dialogue, actively solicit and identify concerns, recognize the public is a legitimate partner, address issues of concern, even if they don’t directly relate, anticipate and prepare for hostility, understand the needs of the of the news media, and always be honest, even when it hurts.

Honesty is the best policy

From a PR perspective, I learned that being honest about one’s actions is critical in a crisis situation.  Covering up an issue and the truth only prolongs the inevitable.  At the end of the day, if a corporation’s reputation is important to them, they should work with the public to resolve their problem.  Deceiving the public only makes the organization appear unethical, which is far more damaging than admitting the truth.

In the Apple case, had executives owned up to a lost phone, their reputation, one could argue, would not have been severely damaged.  Apple employees now have legitmate reason to distrust their executives for being kept in the dark about the lost phone.  To employees, the executives can’t trust us, so why should we trust them?  The fragile relationship between management and front-line staff become even more fragmented when the lack of trust permeates through the organization.

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In addition, Apple as an organization took an even greater hit to their reputation by having police seize computers from the Gizmodo editor after initially refusing to take back the phone after letting customer service know that it was in their possession.  Time, money, and reputation could have been saved had honesty been the best policy.

Final Thoughts

If it were you and your job and reputation were on the line, would you have acted any differently than Apple executives? Did Apple do the right thing by not informing their employees of a lost phone?  Did Apple do the right thing by asking the police to break into the home of the Gizmodo editor to seize his computers?  Let me know in the comments below.

The Future of the Forks

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I can’t really wrap my head around it, but not so very long ago, this was the Forks. Winnipeg only started redeveloping it in 1989(!)

Hard to imagine, right? It’s such an iconic piece of our city now, that when I think of it, all I see is this:

With one exception – the massive gravel parking lots, aka Parcel 4 and the Railside area. I know that they get filled up sometimes, when Canada Day and New Year’s Eve rolls around. But realistically, most of the time they’re a big fat eyesore next door to the best public space in the whole country. Kind of a shame. And finally, that looks like it might change! After the waterpark got a thumbs-down, The Forks has been leading a planning process to figure out what should go there, and a few days ago they revealed their preliminary concepts. Here’s what this…

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Case Studies Blog #2 – What changes your opinion?

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In my case studies in PR Class, our instructor, Signy Gerrard asked me and my classmates to answer three questions in relation to public opinion.

What has made you change your opinion of a public figure, organization, or brand?  Please give one example.

A change of behaviour influences my opinion of a public figure, organization, or brand.  A behaviour change could be either acts of generosity or injustice that can sway my opinion about a public figure, organization, or brand.  Some organizations may over and beyond the call of duty to craft messages that create a positive memorable experience for their target audience or public.  At the same time, some organizations may do quite the opposite to intentionally deceive the public from their unscrupulous behaviour.

The organization that changed my mind is the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), primarily the community involvement of figurehead and professional wrestler John Cena with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Cena, the WWE, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation have worked together to arrange memorable experiences for children with life-threatening medical conditions.  Regardless of one’s view of the WWE, one can truly respect the community work and involvment of the organization and brand.

What factors have influenced your decision to do or not do something?  Please give one example.

The most important factor that influenced me to do something is when that issue or concept personally affects me.  Signy Gerrard admitted that in general, people are inherently selfish.  When people feel that they are personally affected by an issue or idea, they will increasingly take action to change it.  People take action when an issue or topic will have a direct positive or negative impact on one’s personal life.

The example I chose was being an active participant of the social committee in the Public Relations and Marketing Program at the University of Winnipeg.  I decided to become part of the program’s social committee to contribute to the ways myself and fellow classmates engaged with each other.  By becoming an active member of the social committee, I felt that my views contributed to the decision-making process that had a direct impact on the event-planning process this academic year.  At the end of the day, I felt that my contribution would enhance my experience in the program.

What has made you think differently about an issue?  Please give one example.

I will think differently about an issue if it directly affects me or a large number of people.  The greatest example in my lifetime has been the lasting effects of September 11, 2001, when two planes slammed into the Twin Towers in New York City.  The world stood still.  This was the first time in my lifetime that a truly global issue of terrorism affected us at home.

People travel by plane on a daily basis with the underlying expectation that they will arrive at their destination in one piece.  Planes crashing into buildings is unnatural.    Never before had I thought that two commercial airliners would crash into skyscrapers.  When the buildings came down, it made me think differently of the world and our role within it.

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Blog comment #1 for week #2
Pink slime  a meat crime    PR Case Studies

Case Studies Blog Post #1 – Pink Slime

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In my case studies in PR Class, our instructor, Signy Gerrard asked me and my classmates to answer two questions in relation to a product called ‘pink slime.’   Below are my responses to her questions.

1. Why is it important that a company have the ability to defend its views while at the same time respecting concerns?

In my view, there are three reasons it is important that a company have the ability to defend its view while at the same time respecting the concerns of the public.

A company must be given an opportunity to defend itself from criticism

We live in a world where emotions drive action.  Emotions are guided by, but not limited to jealously, lack of knowledge, or misinformation.  A company must be given a chance to defend its views from those who do not always know the facts of a situation, those who hate for the sake of hating, and those who simply have the wrong information.

A company must understand that consumers have the right to choose

At the same time, public opinion is important.  If a company decides to implement policy that goes against the grain of public opinion, they must accept their fate, whatever it the end result may be.  If it results in minimal impact on their bottom line, then no harm done.

Companies are servants to the consumer

At the end of the day, companies exist to serve the public or publics.  Without consumer demand for product and services, organizations will not survive. Historically, if organizations do not serve the will of the people, they will crumble.

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2. In the ‘pink slime’ case, in your opinion, is the industry focus on education the correct one? Or should they be taking action to change their product in response to customer concerns?

In the pink slime case, the industry focus on education is part of the answer.  Education has the capacity to separate fiction from facts.  A company has the right to do what it wants with their products because they invest its development.  Beef Products Inc., the company that manufactured the product, faced a PR crisis when ABC news reported a story on the alleged details, composition, and distribution of pink slime to retailers, restaurants, and schools.

In response to the second half of the question, Meat Products Inc. should do whatever they want to do in regards to their products.  If they want to ignore public opinion, that is their choice.  In general, companies are free to agree or disagree with public opinion, as they either report to the owners and/or their shareholders.

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Companies are not obligated to change corporate policy because the public thinks differently of their views.  Companies may have designed a service or product to cater to a particular target market.   If laws haven’t been broken, then companies are free to do what they want regardless of public opinion.  However, a company should know that going against the grain of public opinion is a slippery slope that will have a negative effect on their reputation that may affect their bottom line and balance sheet.

It is my opinion that companies should be extremely mindful of their reputation by building meaningful relationships with their publics and trust with the organizations and clients they serve.

What do you think?  Please leave your comments in the section below.