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.
Curated by Rita Herbstman and Liza Horn
To commemorate the last week of our month-long celebration of Betsy Plank, we contacted three female PR leaders who are leaving a legacy like Betsy through their contributions to the industry.
Betsy Plank was a PR pioneer and an exemplary leader and mentor. She paved the way for female PR professionals. Learn about Betsy’s career by watching this video:
Here’s how three female agency owners, Anne Marie Levis, Amy Rosenberg and Ann Smith, are leaving a legacy like Besty Plank:
“I see helping students start their career as an important part of being a PR professional. It’s not enough to just be an example. I believe in actively connecting with students, offering internships and being a resource for them as they navigate their careers.”
About Anne Marie Levis:
Anne Marie Levis is a branding and communications professional with 20+ years of experience in brand development, public relations, advertising and marketing. Levis earned a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from California State University, Chico and an MBA in marketing from the University of Oregon. She is currently the president & creative director at Funk/Levis & Associates, a brand design agency in Eugene, Oregon. Recently, she received her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America, the highest level of certification for public relations professionals.
“I hope that my podcast for PR professionals, called PR talk, aspires to inspire others in the industry. By interviewing members of the media—like OregonLive.com, KINK fm, and USA Today—I aim to make PR more approachable and easy. Cold-calling a reporter can sometimes seem like a very daunting task! But after listening to the PR Talk interviews hopefully, it is a little easier to reach out. Beyond getting tips for the “right way” to do PR, listeners can get to know the media by overhearing casual free-flowing conversations covering everything from personal lives and hobbies to how our media friends got their big professional breaks. I also hope that this podcast serves the media by enticing PR people to clean up their professional act.”
“I’m extremely proud to own and run A.wordsmith, an all-women public relations firm in Portland. I founded the firm in spring of 2009 and since that time it has grown into a 10-person team with many of the region’s most respected companies as clients. As PR counselors we don’t settle for “good enough.” We’re always pushing the boundaries and looking for new and different ways to achieve the kind of results that knock our clients’ socks off. At the same time, we care about each other, our culture and ensuring that A.wordsmith is a great place to come to work every day. A.wordsmith was named one of Portland’s Top PR Firms for the past three consecutive years by the Portland Business Journal; was recognized as a Top Marketing Firm in 2011 and 2012; and named a Top Women-Owned Business from 2013-2017. In 2017 and 2018, we joined the ranks of Portland’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies, and we have been recognized by Expertise and Everything-PR as one of Portland’s top agencies.”
By Kate Templeton
Social media is an important tool to build engagement online. When using social media to advance a brand or company, digital strategists are encouraged to create a content calendar and post variations of the same themed posts each week. Routine is necessary in social media planning; however, it is important to switch up content to gain traction and keep audiences coming back. Here are a few ideas to elevate your social media content:
An infographic is a tool used to display information in a digestible, visual manner. They answer the following questions: What is the problem? What is the solution? What do you want your audience to do? A successful infographic is unique, simple and creative, yet provides a targeted message. They help enhance social media content by allowing viewers to engage in information that may be too complex in traditional writing.
Instagram and Snapchat are the front-runners of mobile social media. Both platforms have developed story features where users can post a series of photos or videos for 24-hours. Organizations can use stories to expand their digital content and audiences, as story user demographics skew younger. Brands can post behind-the-scenes footage from an event, incorporate geofilters on Snapchat, and run polls on Instagram to increase user interactions.
Contests and Giveaways
Holding contests, giveaways and sweepstakes is a strategic way to engage users and advance a brand’s digital following. Before holding a contest or giveaway, it’s important to read up on rules and parameters to ensure it goes smoothly. This Adweek article has some helpful tips to help you learn more about creating a successful social media contest that will increase followers and brand awareness.
Live video has become a valuable tool for creating interactive social media content. They create a sense immediacy and allow viewers to interact with comments and reactions in real time. Live videos are also favored algorithmically on social media platforms and notify followers when you go live. Since there’s no going back once you hit go on live video, planning is essential to make sure everything goes off without a hitch but it’s also important to remain spontaneous and genuine. As this Convince and Convert article puts it, “plan but don’t produce.”
Now go out and create genius social media content that will greatly benefit your client and enhance your PR work!
By Sierra Goodman
Portland, Oregon has become a “foodie” paradise with craft microbreweries, a flourishing wine scene, food carts galore, and intriguing restaurants and shops such as Salt & Straw with their quirky ice cream flavors.
Portland’s thriving food culture has increased demand for food and beverage public relations services. If you’re looking for a career in food and bev PR in the City of Roses, you’re in luck! There are a few employment routes to take such as specialty, big agency and in-house options. Here’s what you can expect from each route:
Speciality Food and Bev PR Agencies
Portland is unique in that there are a multitude of specialty food and bev PR agencies, most of which specialize in Portland and Oregon-based clients.
Maxwell represents Pacific Foods, Dave’s Killer Bread and Kettle Chips among many specialty food products and brands. Little Green Pickle represents some of the top Portland restaurants such as Pok Pok, Irving Street Kitchen and Mother’s along with tourism, events and artisan products. Harvest PR is an agency that specializes in farming and agriculture and works with several wineries, natural and organic food companies, and dairy and produce brands.
If you want to promote food and drink all day every day, then a specialty agency may be the best fit for you.
Agencies with Food and Bev Accounts
If you need variety in your life, agencies such as Edelman and LANE work with an array of clients including those in the food and bev sectors. Edelman and LANE (Finn Partners) are global agencies, however, their Portland locations work with local clients along with national brands.
Edelman has a food and bev branch called Edible, and they represent brands such as Starbucks, Olive Garden and Florida Citrus among many others. LANE represents Oregon brands such as 10 Barrel Brewing and Dutch Brothers and nationally recognized brands such as Tree Top Apple Sauce and Steaz Green Tea.
These larger agencies with food and bev accounts mimic smaller agencies allowing employees to have an intimate feel and the opportunity to work on food and bev accounts while gaining experience in other sectors as well.
In-House Food and Bev
It is common for PR professionals to move from agency to in-house after working with one company for a long period of time. In Portland, in-house food and bev PR can involve working for the Tillamook Cheese Co. Working in-house may seem more static compared to agency life which is why and creative PR team is important to keep the company’s product or service fresh.
In-house PR work involves knowing the ins and outs of a company in order to incorporate storytelling and maintain consistency. Depending on the company, you’re more likely to be involved with the company’s CSR initiatives and crisis communication prep and execution which is why it is important to know and reflect the company’s core values.
Portland provides numerous opportunities to explore food and bev PR whether it is specialty, big agency or in-house. The city’s unique foodie culture allows for collaboration with both local businesses and national companies. The food and bev scene is a reflection of those who inhabit Portland and the surrounding area and as a result, there is a diverse food and beverage PR field to go with it.
By Kate Templeton
It’s that time of the year! The academic calendar ends in just three months, so it’s time to find a summer internship. Finding the “perfect” internship can be stressful for many students. I personally have spent weeks perfecting my resume, writing cover letters and filling out applications. It can be discouraging at times, but once you secure an internship the stress will all be worth it. Here are some tips and tricks to help make the internship finding process a little smoother.
Securing a summer internship can sometimes be very competitive. Companies have already begun posting their internships online, so start looking right away! Especially with spring break right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start applying. In order to stay organized try creating a spreadsheet to list the internships you want to apply for with their due dates and what’s required for each application. This way you will be on top of all things internship and have the motivation to continue applying.
When figuring out what to apply for, try to think of a few fields or areas of focus you want to pursue after graduation. This will help you narrow down internships. I recommend putting extra effort into applications in the fields you are particularly interested in. However, due to internships being so competitive, you should still apply to a variety. Make sure to not immediately discredit ones you do not necessarily see yourself in. Any experience is good experience, and you might learn to love an area of focus you didn’t even know existed. Try to gauge between internships that are “reach” one’s versus ones that are more “safe.” Pay closer attention to internships that match your career interests, but still apply for others so that you are setting yourself up for the most success.
Use Your Network
Many students are able to secure internships through their own personal network. Always reach out to family, friends and professionals that you are in contact with and see if they know of any internship opportunities or anyone working in communications. Even if you don’t get an internship right away, making these professional connections is a huge benefit. Use these connections to set up informational interviews, job shadows or just for some professional advice. Networking is a smart way to get your foot in the door at a company and possibly access to internships that aren’t publicly advertised.
PRSSA’s Internships and Jobs Section
If you are a dues-paying member of PRSSA, you have an entire internship database at your fingertips. The PRSSA Internship Center lets you browse their wide selection of internships that are available for students. You are able to filter through internships by employer, location, start date or keywords. It’s a great resource for all PR students! Here is the link to search for different internships: http://prssa.prsa.org/internships-jobs/
Securing an internship in a brand new big city seems like an impressive feat and the ultimate goal. But remember to pay attention to the details and what it actually entails. Many internships are unpaid, or pay very little which is why it is crucial to be sensible. Finding a place to stay that is affordable for the summer and being able to support yourself should be the most important factor. Definitely still apply to your dream internship, but also remain realistic when it comes to figuring out logistics.
Remember to be proactive when searching for an internship. You’re going to focus a lot of time and effort to research positions, properly network and personalize cover letters and resumes for particular jobs. This is time consuming and sometimes extremely frustrating, and you’ll most likely face rejection along the way. Nonetheless, it is essential to stay positive and keep trying! With persistence you will hopefully be able to secure a valuable internship and gain real world experience this summer.
By Kate Templeton
Social media has become a prominent and critical tool in the world of public relations. The online presence of a company can either make or break its reputation. When working in PR, it’s important to understand this powerful tool and how to find the most success while using strategic social media tactics. Here are a few tips for using social media to positively support a brand’s digital presence.
Use Hashtags Professionally.
Hashtags are a great tool to grow an online following and engage with users. There are specific social media tactics that are important when using hashtags. For some brands, using the same hashtag on every post creates consistency. This eventually can be seen as a slogan for the company, and all posts that accompany the hashtag are easy to find. Hashtags can also be used to gain traction and reach more users. Because they are easily searched, using relevant hashtags that appeal to the audience will help the brand expand.
Pay Attention to Your Audience.
Discovering what the audience cares about is a crucial step in creating an online brand. Public relations professionals have the opportunity to listen to the conversations their audiences are having on social media platforms. Responding to comments, questions and listening to critiques will help a brand find more success.
Consistency is Key.
When developing a strong social media presence, it is essential to pay attention to the full image the brand portrays online. Developing a consistent look and voice will help establish a solidified image throughout. The design and graphic elements should be similar to increase audience engagement and differentiate the brand from others.
Create a Strategy.
Not every social media platform is going to be beneficial for every brand. Organizations should only focus on social platforms that add value to their company. Create and implement a social media strategy that will meet the brands’ unique goals and objectives.
Analytics, Analytics, Analytics!
It’s one thing to post consistently on social media accounts, but it is another to actually grasp how the audience is responding. The use of analytics is necessary when evaluating the effectiveness of social media strategies. This can help companies reach the correct audiences that positively impact the brand. (Check out Sierra’s blog post last week for more insights on social media analytics)!
You will now be one step ahead when using social media to professionally maintain a client’s brand!
By Sierra Goodman
Social media analytics is a measuring tool that helps professionals monitor their digital audience and performance. Analytics allows them to see what strategies work and what strategies don’t in order to use the platforms as efficiently as possible. Reading and understanding these numbers can be a bit daunting and difficult to interpret. As rising PR professionals, social media analytics can bolster a resume and portfolio with quantifiable results. Here is what you need to know about social media analytics:
Reading SM Analytics
Filtering through all of the noise is the first step to categorize the information and understand what is and isn’t important. Facebook and Twitter provide free built-in analytics through the platform. If you are looking for deeper insights, you may want to consider “freemium” social media management applications such as Google Analytics, Meltwater, Hootsuite, and Buffer. Many employers use these programs to help clients run their social media accounts and set goals.
While these programs will do some of the legwork, running a social media audit by categorizing past post into themes (videos, links, photos, etc.) will help you determine which themes produce the best results. This, in turn, will help you figure out which content to invest more time and energy. For example, you discover that over the past three months, posts about new products receive significantly more likes and shares than events. This could help you and your organization pivot to create more content that your viewers like to see.
Reach VS. Engagement
Reach and engagement are often confused to mean the same thing. Reach refers to the number of people that have viewed your post while engagement is all the likes, shares and comments your post has received. Engagement may be oddly high at times — when this happens some investigation may be needed. Perhaps a post went viral or became popular for a reason. The high engagement will affect your data for about a month until it gets back to normal. This occurs because of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms that send posts with high engagement to the top of people’s feeds.
Boost Your Portfolio and Resume
It’s a competitive world out there and social media analytics can help boost your resume and portfolio with tangible results. Running the social media account for a club, organization, nonprofit, or even your own professional accounts will show employers your social media knowledge extends beyond personal use.
When you first start tracking analytics, be sure to record the number of followers and the average post engagement and reach. That way you can determine how you have increased followers, engagement and reach over time. It is one thing to say you “increased social media presence” but you offer more credibility if you can say that you increased followers by 25 percent and the average engagement by 30 percent over a six-month period. Plus, you can turn your results into an infographic to make your portfolio aesthetically pleasing.
If you want to learn more about social media analytics, sign up for Kelli Matthew’s strategic social media class at the SOJC.
By Kate Templeton
Do you need to practice networking? Or perhaps want to meet the students and teachers involved in the PR program? University of Oregon PRSSA is hosting a Speed Networking Event next Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6:00 p.m. in Allen 141 for a night of low-stake networking and refreshments. Local professionals, SOJC professors and students are all welcome to come. Below are a few tips to prepare you for this night of networking!
It’s All About Relationship Building
Ask Thoughtful Questions
If you are interested in attending our Speed Networking Event, please RSVP with the link below. Hope to see you there! RSVP: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdE6CMDLpwaUYRJvfbMBOupt3nO1xo0RDzTK0bj-TkR2pR_bw/viewform