Tag Archives: cry

Assuming You Have a Compass…

"But you know what they say..."

We all have a moral compass…it’s just that some work better than others. Unfortunately ethics, morals, and integrity are not something that can be taught in the classroom or even from a book as good as “Adventures in Public Relations.” It takes years of life experiences and wrong turns to get the damned thing working properly. It’s assumed that we will figure it out by the time we reach the professional world. But as they say, “if you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”

An ethical dilemma in the communications field is both on the individual practitioner and the business as a whole. Sure, your communications person may have a defective moral compass, but it’s up to the entire organization to make sure everyone produces work they can stand behind. Conversely, it is the individual’s responsibility to step down if she feels a campaign is unethical.

Photoshopped diversity is a new classic in my opinion. It’s that thing where a company edits marketing material to include a minority in an attempt to appear diverse. You know?  The Society Pages wrote an interesting post about an incident  of “Photoshopped Diversity” at the University of Wisconsin. Apparently there was only one black student in the whole school. The University decided to take the

one picture they had of him and superimpose it into different school events. They just assumed (there’s that word again) he wouldn’t notice or care. Well, he did notice and he sued them for their actions.

So who is at fault here? The administration for sucking at including minorities, the marketing director who said “more diversity,” or the graphic designer who did the Photoshopping? They all had a hand in the situation, so do you fire them all? I don’t know man, but my motto is you shouldn’t do it if you don’t want your name on it. While you are trying to answer my hard hitting questions, check out these photos of Photoshopped diversity (it’s a real term I swear…kinda).

The Huffington Post was involved in an ethical controversy of a different nature back in August. The internet newspaper held a design competition inviting readers to submit a new logo for them. AKA “Hey you design professionals should create work for free!” The Post assumed (ahem) everyone would be okay with it. They were wrong. There was major backlash from the design community who accused the paper of unfairly treating designers.

This dilemma is a little less black and white than the University of Wisconsin ethics crisis. If the designers willingly submit work–even without compensation–then what’s the problem? There are plenty of jingle writing or logo designing contests out there. Do they all offer some form of compensation or is the recognition and publication of your work enough? Regardless, it would have helped smooth things over if the Post gave the winner some kind of prize.

Some ethical dilemmas are more obvious then others. I can’t speak for entire organizations, but as an individual, it’s important to go with your gut. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach? Yeah, that’s your moral compass trying to steer you in the right direction. If something doesn’t feel right to you, there is a good chance someone else will feel the same way. And for Pete’s sake, don’t assume!

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Who pulls the strings?

"Public relations is the string that connects the puppets (businesses) to the masters (consumers)..."

All too often I read how businesses dictate what consumers want, but in my opinion, it’s the other way around. If the consumer doesn’t like something it goes kaput. Public relations is the string that connects the puppets (businesses) to the masters (consumers) and ensures there is no miscommunication.

Some businesses overestimate their power and act on their own accord, but the consumer is always there to put them back in their rightful place. Even corporate giants like the Coca-Cola Company are subject to such scrutiny. This past winter, they learned their lesson when they introduced a special “arctic home” can to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund.

You’re probably wondering what kind of heartless fiends don’t care for polar bears. It wasn’t the cause that bummed customers out–it was the cans that were the problem.

Consumers felt the specialty cans were too similar to Diet Coke can’s in their appearance. They took to social media to voice their confusion and frustration. Some people even complained that the new packaging affected the flavor of the coke.

ABC’s Consumer Report covered the debacle and even listed a few other instances where brands had to backtrack after consumer criticism. The Coca-Cola company finally conceded to consumer outrage and agreed to put red cans back on the shelves once the white cans were out of stock. If I recall from my toddler days back in ’93, Pepsi made a similar mistake with “Crystal Pepsi,” a colorless Pepsi product. Now I think the Coke critics were bring a bit nit-picky, but colorless Pepsi? That’s just unnatural!

What do you think, are the consumers or the businesses in control? And how does public relations fit into this whole mix?

I can only speculate how Coca Cola could have handled things differently… Perhaps a few more focus groups would have given them the insight to axe the polar cans from the start.

Sorry Coke, but you might want to get a hanky–this one’s a real tear-jerker.

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Shoulder to Cry on, or a Pat on the Back?

 PR Tissue Issues is a way to look back at past Public Relations blunders and either sigh or cry.

In some cases, PR pros rose to the occasion and used crisis communications as an opportunity to improve their image. Others, however, sank with the ship. I will offer my thoughts on these sad events in the PR industry and decide if they deserve a shoulder to cry on or a pat on the back.

Of course, there is no use looking at the past without considering the present. PR Tissue Issues links the mistakes of the past to crisis communications in the current PR world.

I have this unique theory that history tends to repeat itself–but that’s just me.

Happy Readings,

Ms. Pal

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