The Walt Disney Company (WDC) recently released a new set of rainbow Mickey Mouse ears in anticipation of Gay Pride Month in June. While Disney has received plenty of positive feedback for the new merchandise, the company has been criticized for their lack of LGBTQ inclusion in other areas. Activists argue that Disney is profiting off Pride Month while still lacking LGBTQ representation in their media.
Disney has a large, long-standing LGBTQ fan base with many unofficial clubs and events. For decades the community has held “Gay Days” at the Walt Disney World (WDW) and Disneyland theme parks. This year, Gay Days will be held May 29 to June 3 at WDW. Similar to many other Disney clubs or family gatherings, participants of Gay Day events wear matching shirts and enjoy the park together. While the company has dissociated itself with the event in the past, it has slowly embraced its popularity. Although WDC does not sponsor the event, subsidiaries of the company such as the Aulani Disney Resort and Spa and Adventures by Disney do along with others such as Delta and Smirnoff.
The WDC has always been a leader in innovation and corporate social responsibility practices. However, the company still has a long way to go to show full support of the LGBTQ community. A company of this size has the financial ability and influence to be a leader to normalize, take action and speak on behalf of the controversial issue. For this reason, the public has higher expectations for the company’s actions, policies and overall inclusive behavior. Supporting the LGBTQ community through action is the right thing to do morally and is also a good PR move for Disney. Here are some examples of what WDC has done to support the LGBTQ community:
The WDC has not faced harsh criticism for its business practices or philanthropy for the LGBTQ community. However, the company has received polarized criticism for either having any wisp of an openly gay character or not having enough openly gay characters. Disney has such a large audience that it’s impossible to please everyone. This is why it is important that they reflect on their company values and make sure their merchandise and media are sending out a consistent message.
Disney may benefit by outwardly supporting the LGBTQ community by making the Gay Day events official — Considering Disney’s subsidiaries are already event sponsors, they already released Gay Pride merchandise and the event has been a part of the parks for decades. Selling the rainbow Mickey ears can be perceived as disingenuous, perhaps monetarily driven, without outwardly acknowledging their LGBTQ fans. Because the company has consistently received praise for its support, it would be a safe bet to follow through with its messaging and values throughout ALL areas of the company. If Disney starts to push the boundaries with success, other entities could follow in its steps.
By Kate Templeton
When opportunity knocks, I usually go for it. During the recent campus election, I served as the communications director for United UO, a student government political party platform. While I had no prior experience in public affairs, I decided to give it a try. In this role, I was responsible for creating, implementing and managing the campaign’s social media messaging and communication strategy. I also played a key role in communicating with student journalists and effectively developing strategies for a variety of crisis communication situations. Through this position I was able to gain experience and insight into the world of public relations for a political campaign.
Crisis Communication is Real
In our PR classes, we learn about different crisis communication situations by analyzing case studies. However, managing an actual crisis is very different when the situation is real. When a crisis came up during our campaign, I had to make quick decisions and use my best judgment to handle it. I learned how to stay calm in difficult situations and how to evaluate and execute new communication strategies during a crisis.
Politics can be a controversial, stressful and fast-paced. With the ever-changing public opinions and media reports, it is important for PR professionals working in public affairs to scan for potential issues and think quickly on their feet. During this experience, it became clear how necessary it was to pay attention. I felt myself constantly checking on the status of both my campaign and my opponents, while also paying close attention to what was being said by the public and the press.
Be Prepared for Change
It is crucial to accept you may need to change your PR strategy and plan. I drafted and designed very detailed social media posts that did not end up being used. On several occasions, I had to delay a scheduled post to counter a statement made against my platform. While it was disappointing not to use the work I created, our strategy changed so my posts needed to shift as well.
It’s Challenging but Rewarding
There’s no manual how to successfully run a social media communications campaign for a student government political platform (at least I don’t think there is). I was constantly challenged but had the opportunity to put strategic communication decisions into practice. It was also exciting to see people interact with my posts and receive high numbers of engagement. It was a joy to support a project that could make a difference in the community.
The communications director position was a completely new experience for me. It enabled me to step out of my comfort zone and test my skills. As I worked on this campaign, I became invested in the process and developed a newfound interest for the field of public affairs. I learned a lot about myself and was exposed to something I may pursue after graduation. I am grateful for the friend who recommended me for this job and the opportunity to delve into the world of public affairs.
By Sierra Goodman
Starbucks is known for taking a stand on political issues such as gay rights, gun control, immigration, race and environmental concerns. When the coffee company was confronted with a racial profiling crisis earlier this month, the company leaned on their corporate values to address the issue quickly and implement steps toward a solution.
On April 12, two African-American men by the name of Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson went to a Starbucks in Philadelphia for a business meeting. While waiting for another person, Nelson asked the manager if he could use the restroom but was declined because he did not buy anything. After Nelson returned to his table, the manager asked them if they wanted to order drinks. When they declined the manager proceeded to call police for suspicion of trespassing. This all occurred in the span of two minutes. Shortly after the call, police arrived and asked the men to leave. When Robinson and Nelson refused, police arrested them with double lock handcuffs without their rights read or an explanation. Starbucks did not press charges.
The incident has received an enormous amount of media attention. Starbucks customers took videos and posted on social media to document and share. Starbucks is now facing a crisis due to the fierce criticism from protests at the Philadelphia location and social media with the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks. On April 14, two days after the incident, executive chairman and past CEO, Howard Schultz; current CEO, Kevin Johnson; and Starbucks corporate released separate statements apologizing for the situation.
Johnson appeared on Good Morning America for a one-on-one interview with Robin Roberts. He made a personal apology to Nelson and Robinson, addressed how Starbucks plans to prevent something like that from ever happening again, and created a dialogue about how the company will address racial profiling. Since then, a spokeswoman followed up on the statements made in the interview citing that Johnson did indeed meet with the two men but declined any comment on details. After further investigation, the manager who called the police on Nelson and Robinson has been terminated.
Johnson’s response has received positive feedback from the media for the way he took full responsibility. Starbucks executives have been applauded for their responses on other media platforms and full cooperation with Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney, and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.’
Johnson noted that the company does not have a company-wide policy about asking people to leave the store. The company leaves safety and customer service protocol up to store managers. However, they acknowledged that the incident is at odds with the common practices at Starbucks. The stores are used as “community” hubs, where people may come to use the WiFi and hang out without buying anything.
Starbucks has always made its mission to connect with people one way or another through its coffee “to inspire and nurture the human spirit.” Schultz has taken that mission seriously by implementing widely recognized CSR practices including the use of ethically and sustainably sourced products, environmentally friendly operations and socially conscious programs. Many Starbucks campaigns have reflected its mission and practices to make an impact on the world and the customers the company serves.
For instance, in 2015 Starbucks implemented a ‘Race Together’ campaign giving baristas the option to write the words ‘race together’ on a customer’s cup. The idea was to encourage people to talk about race. The campaign faced backlash for multiple reasons but the company moved forward feeling it was “well worth the discomfort.”
On April 17, Starbucks announced that all U.S. company-owned stores will close on May 29, to conduct a racial-bias training. The curriculum will be designed by nationally recognized experts to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone at Starbucks feels safe and welcome. They hope to make a change for the company and help other organizations to learn from example as well.
There has been question to whether the training session will actually work and make an impact in their stores nationwide. Only time will tell. For now, here are four takeaways from Starbucks’ response to the crisis:
Other organizations should take note of the steps Starbucks took to ensure a timely and well-communicated response to a situation that could have otherwise blown out of proportion.
By Sierra Goodman
SPOILER ALERT: Be aware, this post spoils details about season 2, episode 13 and 14 of “This Is Us.”
UPDATE: Milo Ventimiglia from “This Is Us” posted a video on Twitter telling people to “come together” for the Super Bowl as he scoops some chili from a Crock-Pot. The video then uses #CrockPotisInnocent. Will this calm angry fans/Crock-Pot owners?
Milo reminds us to come together for the Big Game. Watch This Is Us on NBC, Sunday, February 4. pic.twitter.com/Iawc1llCWj
— This Is Us (@NBCThisisUs) February 3, 2018
The latest episode of the popular NBC television series “This Is Us” has “sparked” (pun intended) some controversy. In the episode titled “After the Super Bowl,” a beloved character presumably dies in a fire caused by a faulty Crock-Pot. As a result, fans of the show and their Crock-Pots went to Twitter to state their fear of the cooking appliance and declaration to throw it out with posts, pictures and videos.
Crock-Pot has long-running social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. However, they missed Twitter, a key member of their social media presence. The lack of this social platform hindered their ability to address the issue in a timely manner. The company eventually made a Twitter account called @CrockPotCares. They demonstrated a strategic personable tone by addressing tweets about Crock-Pot safety standards and providing a place for consumers to reach out with questions. Showing empathy and using facts to correct misinformation has helped them swerve from the PR crisis. This does not mean they are in the clear — even with a large brand like Crock-Pot it takes time to gain followers.
A small number of followers equals a small amount of exposure for people to see their posts. They have gained 2,000 followers in the last week, but compared to KitchenAid’s 90K Twitter followers it is minuscule. Even with a lack of followers, they have considerably high engagement, receiving everything from 2-302 likes per post.
The episode of “This Is Us” created problems for Crock-Pot and NBC as well. Crock-Pot can potentially sue NBC for trade libel, slander of goods, commercial disparagement, injurious falsehood, and disparagement of property. Crock-Pot released a statement that commented on the action they hope to see from NBC:
The network itself has failed to respond; however, the show’s creator, Dan Fogelman, immediately responded to the Twitter outcry. Hopefully, the tweet from the creator, with a Twitter following of more than 40,000, can alleviate misunderstandings to help both Crock-Pot and NBC.
Although Crock-Pot has been responsive on Twitter, they have not been particularly responsive on their other well-established social media platforms. This is a bit confusing because their other social platforms have the most followers that will be able to view their potential response to the incident. Crock-Pot has also failed to make their official statement known to the general public.
Considering these variables I suggest Crock-Pot address the issue on all social media platforms and post a news release to the press section of their website.
By Kate Templeton
Winter break was great, but now we need to refocus as we begin the new term. Below are a few tips to get back into the swing of things and have a successful 10 weeks!
Organize Your Planner
You will be shocked how much better your life is with a planner. It has been proven that writing words down actually helps people retain information better than just reading it. By having a visual list of the work you need to complete, you will be able to actually visualize and better organize the tasks at hand. Plus, I have to admit, I find it very satisfying to cross a completed task off my list!
Winter term is not only a new term, but also a new year! Whether you made New Year resolutions or not, setting some goals for yourself will help start your term off right. It doesn’t matter if your goals are small or large — they will help you keep your focus on what you want to achieve.
Start a Routine
Be proactive and create a routine for yourself. I know that it’s syllabus week and we all want to lie around and finish the TV shows that we binge-watched all winter break. However, implementing a solid and effective routine at the beginning of the term will help you be more successful as the term progresses.
Start Healthy Habits
My next tip is simpler said than done! Starting a consistent workout routine and eating healthier food choices is easier now than when the term gets busy later on. It is crucial to be in both a healthy and a happy mindset. Winter term can bring on seasonal sadness due to the lack of sun and shorter daylight hours. Being mentally and emotionally positive is extremely important to keep your spirits up these next 10 weeks!
I hope these tips help and everyone has a happy and successful 2018!
By Talia Smith, UO PRSSA Communications Director and former Veracity intern
For our last meeting of Fall term, Amy Rosenberg of Veracity Marketing in Portland was kind enough to drive down to Eugene to talk to our chapter about traditional versus digital PR. As we found out, there is no difference.
Amy’s presentation was unique to our guest speaker lineup as we had yet to learn about digital PR and how it can be the “secret weapon to SEO.” Many of us have heard of SEO and know it’s important, but we don’t really know what role we will play in SEO as PR students and aspiring professionals. Amy did a great job explaining what we can do to start thinking digitally to make media coverage go further while helping clients maximize their online presence.
First, if your client doesn’t have a website, encourage them to create one or outsource someone to make a “SEO-friendly” site. Amy compared a company’s website to a flyer, except this flyer doesn’t end up at the bottom of your purse. A website provides your brand’s stakeholders with a platform to learn more about them and follow up. “If you don’t have a presence online, you don’t exist,” Amy said. The call to action of most of your PR efforts are going to lead back to this website which is why it is essential your client has one.
Once your client has a website, you need to help people find it which is where SEO comes in. In a nutshell, websites can get lost in a sea of search results on Google and Bing and SEO helps a site rank higher to garner more clicks. Let’s be real, no one is going to click to the second page of Google. In order for a website to be useful it must appear in the top results when using keywords associated with your brand. Blogging provides a website more keywords for people to search.
Once a website and blog are up and running, PR and social media can be used to drive viewers to the site through links. When it comes to securing media coverage, Amy suggests keeping your pitch to five sentences or less and linking out to a press release as reporters appreciate brevity. Also, don’t spam anyone. Instead, take the time to personalize a pitch and offer the same respect to all positions in the newsroom. Amy says bloggers and writers are the most important people in the newsroom to PR professionals because they could be editors five years down the road.
Once you secure media coverage, it is imperative to get the link so it can be sent to your client and shared on social media, an important step to amplifying viewers. It is also wise to have an “In the News” tab on a website and have an ongoing list of links to recent media coverage. If you can’t find a link to coverage you know you secured, Amy recommends asking the digital editor who is responsible for placing stories on a traditional news media outlet’s website. You might feel like you are bothering someone just for a link but Amy assures that these digital editors understand you are asking for SEO purposes and will respect you.
At the end of the presentation, Amy was asked what students can do to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to digital and traditional PR. She suggests “showing up” to professional development organizations such as PRSSA and PRSA for PR and SEMpdx for digital. Fortunately, Amy will be speaking at SEMpdx’s Engage conference in March 2018.
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your insight about traditional and digital PR. Please come back soon!
By Sierra Goodman
Local reporters, Tiffany Eckert, Justina Roberts and Amber Wilmarth, were on our media relations panel at our Nov. 1 chapter meeting. The three answered questions and informed members about relationships with public relations professionals and reporters.
Public relations professionals and reporters have a symbiotic relationship. Public relations professionals provide reporters with newsworthy stories and reporters provide PR professionals a platform to tell those stories. The key is to maintain the relationship on both a professional and personal level. Similar to any other relationship it requires mutual respect, communication and trust. Here are nine ways PR professionals can foster positive relationship with journalists:
1. Use the 5 W format
Journalists live on fast-paced schedule which means they need to know the who, what, when, where and why in a concise manner. Introduce yourself in a short and simple sentence. The pitch should be about a paragraph long to give enough detail about what you are pitching and why it’s important to the reporter and public as well. The ability to write concisely is a skill learned with practice so don’t beat yourself up if it takes an hour or more to write a paragraph.
In the past, it would be deemed inappropriate and unprofessional to resort to texting a reporter instead of calling or emailing. Texting is becoming a more efficient means of communication as reporters don’t have time to go through emails all the time and they are always on the go. Just make sure you have met or talked with the reporter at least once.
“I think that the most important part of PR is communication; communicate well, communicate distinctly, communicate visually.”
3. Initiate and maintain
Yes, we are in the year 2017 where apparently texting between professionals is now acceptable. However, it is still necessary to communicate in-person as well and introduce yourself. It is important to do so whenever the chance is given and to make an effort to make those chances possible. As Gossip Girl would say, “Remember public relations rule number one: your value is your social network.” Building these unique relationships develops overtime, there’s a number of angles to go about maintaining them. This can be anything from complementing them on a recent article they published to going out for a cup of coffee to discuss an impending exclusive. It all depends on where you’re at in the relationship.
4. Keep an exclusive, exclusive
One day in your PR career, you may be given the opportunity to give an exclusive news story to your favorite reporter. If you tell them it is exclusive, stick to your word and only share this information with them. Trust is lost if you tell multiple reporters you have an exclusive story.
5. Be crystal clear about an embargo
Following up on the last statement, be sure to make it clear when a story is an embargo. In this case, the term embargo is described as an agreement between a PR professional and reporter that information given will not be released until the time stated. It’s easy to misunderstand unless it is explicitly said the story is not to be released until the given date.
“What is the most important 15 seconds I could tell this reporter?”
6. Be available
There is nothing more annoying to a reporter than getting an interesting press release only to find out the contact is unavailable for further details. This forces them to move on to the next story making the day harder for both of you. If they are not able to rely on you for a quick response it can severe sever the relationship. Most reporters understand that PR professionals have a busy life too and may not be able to respond immediately. In this scenario, it is important to at least acknowledge that you have received the reporter’s message and let them know when you will be able to get back to them.
7. Get your story in before 8-10 a.m.
Before the day officially starts, reporters meet with the news team between 8-10 a.m. During this time, they are preparing stories for the rest of the day. If you want a reporter to pitch your timely story at the morning meeting, be sure to contact them BEFORE 8 a.m. If you contact a reporter after their morning meeting, the news agenda is set, your story will not be able to be fit in and it is old news by tomorrow.
8. Give plenty of lead time
Although reporters learn to live in a fast-paced environment, letting them know information a few days to a week in advance allows them to take a breather, even if only for a second. This step is important in maintaining a good relationship with the select journalist. No one wants to be working against the clock if they don’t have to.
9. Don’t pitch an advertisement
This part will take some time to master but it’s an important one. In order to not sound like an advertisement, a pitch requires some humanity. Remember to mention how what you are pitching effects the audience who watches the news. At the end of the day it’s one human speaking to another.
By Kate Templeton
Do you stress out before an interview? Don’t worry- you’re not alone! For me, interviews are the most nerve-racking part of the job process. Demonstrating to prospective employers that you are the most qualified person for the job while being asked questions on the spot can be very stressful. However, with preparation and practice anyone can become a pro interviewee! Here are five tips that will help you nail your next PR interview and alleviate some of that stress:
First impressions matter! When going into an interview, it is always a good move to dress professionally. Have you ever heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” Dressing up for an interview can show prospective employers that you care about the job and are taking the interview seriously. You want them to be able to picture you doing the job you are applying for. Plus, when you dress well it can help you feel more confident!
When conducting an interview, people are looking for specific responses. They are seeing if you possess the skills needed to work well with their organization. Why not show up extra prepared? As PR students and PR professionals we should be able to think on our feet and effectively promote ourselves. There are certain questions that are consistently asked at interviews (ex: strengths, weaknesses, why do you want to work here, etc.). Practice answers to questions you think you may be asked so that you feel more prepared and confident for the actual interview!
It’s easy to tell people that you have a full public relations portfolio with a variety of creative work pieces through multiple clients. However, actually being able to show off your skills during an interview is even better. Make sure to show your PR portfolio and sample work to an interviewer, whether it be a hard copy or online. This will help differentiate you from other candidates.
Few things are as impressive in an interview as showing how prepared and knowledgeable you really are about what you are applying for. Especially if it’s a job related to PR, you want to know all of the ins and outs of the organization and role. Being able to demonstrate that you have done your research tells employers that you spent time learning about the company and position, and that you genuinely want the job.
After the interview is over and you begin the process of waiting for a response, it is important to follow-up with the person/people who interviewed you. Sending a thank-you note or e-mail is always a great idea. This is an additional way to reiterate how much you want this position and help them specifically remember you when they are picking from a large pool of applicants.
By Sierra Goodman
It’s no secret that the landscape of crisis communications has changed significantly due to the prevalence of social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of U.S. adults received news from social media this year and of those users, 74 percent get their information from Twitter. Increasingly, we have seen social media used as a tool for social change. Crises involving public figures and brands have the added input of social media which can act as fuel to a burning fire. Here are some examples of how social media has brought social issues to the forefront of conversation:
Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo
It was recently brought to light that Harvey Weinstein has a reputation for sexual assault within the Hollywood community. This has been going on for decades but was unknown to the general public until now. After The New York Times published an article about Weinstein paying off his sexual assault accusers, social media made his actions finally surface. The stories have started a conversation on social media with the trending #MeToo, creating a platform for sexual assault survivors and supporters to speak up. This has brought up many other cases of sexual assault, both inside and outside of the film industry. As a result, Weinstein was terminated by The Weinstein Company and kicked out of the Film Academy. Without social media, the New York Times article uncovering this story would not have reached as many audiences as it did.
Starbucks and #borderfreecoffee
In August 2017, the hashtag #borderfreecoffee was trending on Twitter and suggested that undocumented immigrants would receive 40 percent off Starbucks coffee for “Dreamer Day.” At first, Twitter buzzed with praise for Starbucks until it was revealed that this information originated from an online message board in hopes of luring undocumented immigrants to Starbucks and reporting them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Starbucks took to Twitter to confirm the information was a hoax. While social media has the ability to spread information widely for social change, it can also be used to spread false information.
Racist Dove Ad
The soap brand, Dove, recently came out with an advertisement that featured an African American woman taking off her shirt to reveal a white woman. Social media pointed out the ad as racist because it implied that darker skin is “dirty” and lighter skin is “clean.” Social media did not fail to remind both the brand and public why the ad was wrong and that it was not the first time Dove was racially insensitive. Dove released a statement to apologize for the offensive message. Social media has allowed for consumers to have a voice and as a result, companies are expected to take action and apologize when they miss the mark.
Social media can be both a gift and a curse for PR professionals and it is crucial for brands to know how to use it and how it is used by the public. If you’re interested in learning more about crisis communication, check out the links below.
By Kate Miller
Congrats! You landed a summer internship. I don’t know about you, but my eyes were so firmly set on landing an internship that I felt like I hadn’t slept in months. When I finally landed the perfect internship, I was excited but nervous. What do I do now? What do I do when I get there? How do I plan?
With five weeks to go before I leave for Washington D.C., I need to figure out my clothing situation, housing, food and transportation while I am simultaneously studying for finals, scheduling fall classes and balancing extracurricular activities. I want to be the best intern, but how do I do that?
I decided to look into what other interns have done to navigate a cross-country internship experience. Here are five tips to plan for a summer internship adventure:
Make sure you calculate the amount of money you are going to be making and how much housing costs. In D.C. housing takes a large chunk out of my paycheck. Make sure to account for taxes and budget for food, coffee and transportation as well. Wally is an excellent app to help plan and track your expenses and set savings goals. Budgeting is crucial so you can have some leftover money to explore a new city.
2. Work Hard
Now that you have landed the internship, show them why they chose you. You have learned various skills in school that will help you, but a lot of what you will be doing you will be learn on the job. Make sure to come in early and stay late, show them how much you want this internship and how great of an employee you would be. You never know who they know and how it will help you find a job when you graduate.
3. Soak it up
Your supervisors will have a wealth of knowledge to learn from, so take the opportunity to soak it up. You are in the “real world” and have the chance to test out your chosen field, see what you like and see what you don’t like. I am taking a journal with me to write down some of the fun things that happen so that when I am looking for a job next year I have something to reference to help me decide what type of place I want to work.
4. Be positive
Employers notice. Make sure you always take the tasks you are given with a smile on your face. Do every task with a positive attitude and always go the extra mile. This will make your experience a lot more fun, and it will make your relationship with your supervisors better.
You have a full staff of people doing the job you want to do one day. Take the opportunity to network. Spend time getting to know the other interns because one day they could be working somewhere where you want to work or vice versa. Make a goal to take one person out to coffee per week and get to know them. Learn about their track and how they got to the company. Ask for feedback and learn from the advice they give you.
Remember, you are an intern and you are not expected to know everything. Be excited! This is going to be an amazing summer of learning and experiencing new things. They chose you for a reason. Congratulations, and good luck at your internship.