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Domino’s Disaster

We recently discussed the video on YouTube posted by a Domino’s employee who videotaped her co-worker doing some disgusting things to the food they were preparing to deliver to customers.  I won’t give the dirty details, but this was definitely a PR disaster for Domino’s.  The president of Domino’s, Patrick Doyle, offered a formal apology in a YouTube video.

I think the formal apology on YouTubewas a very good move.  Hopefully, the same people who have visited YouTube and saw the offending video will see the apology as well.  Unfortunately, the initial shock and disgust felt by Domino’s customers can not be fully retracted.

With current technology, viral videos are putting power in the hands of anyone with the know-how to upload a video. Obviously, when that power is abused, the reputations of multi-million dollar companies can be put on the line. If  these businesses are not up to date on PR outlets such as social media, they may suffer great loss. Hopefully this teaches a lesson to all companies, one which we have been reminded of multiple times in my PR 2330 class: track what is being said about your company!! With the incredibly fast pace of social media, responses need to be as fast as possible – someone is commenting on what is being said/watched. You would rather those comments be made by your company than other sources.

Social Media Booms

In my Intro. to Public Relations class, we have talked a lot about social media. I’ve written several blogs about it, including two on Twitter: Twitter…..  &  Twitter: the Second Time Around.  I have tried for the first time two social media outlets: Twitter & blogging here on WordPress.  I have learned to be open-minded about different social media outlets, and may even branch out from YouTube to Hulu every once in awhile.  Who knows what’s in store next.

I remember having a Tagged account a few years ago, then MySpace, and now Facebook (did I really have to hyperlink that one?).  Though I can’t imagine deserting Facebook for another source of distraction from schoolwork, similar mediums have a way of blowing up and then fizzing out when the next best thing arrives.  Facebook has definitely gotten huge, and in a relatively short amount of time.  According to Stan Schroder in his article “The Web in Numbers: The Rise of Social Media,” numbers of social media users are rising dramatically.  Facebook grew by 100 million users in just 8 months.  According to a study done by Nielsen Online, included in the article, more people now have used social media networks than e-mail.

There is no doubt that this phenomenon has had a lasting affect on the field of Public Relations.  A prime example of this is the fiasco that challenged Domino’s reputation recently, which I discussed in a blog post.  If organizations are going to stay ahead, they must remain abreast of the new mediums for conversation about their label.  Many are, as companies are starting Twitter accounts and tracking what people are saying about their business.  I think that being a PR professional now definitely includes knowing how to navigate these relatively new avenues.  Maybe that could be a source of comfort for PR college graduates looking to find jobs in this delightfully friendly market: they are probably more familiar with new technologies than anyone else in the business.

Source: Schroeder, Stan. “The Web in Numbers: The Rise of Social Media.” Apr. 17, 2009. Mashable: The Social Media Guide. 2009 <http://mashable.com/2009/04/17/web-in-numbers-social-media/&gt;.

Chapter 5: Research

There are numerous reasons that research is a critical part of any effective PR campaign (Cameron 129-30):

  • To achieve credibility with management
  • To define audiences and segment publics
  • To formulate strategy
  • To test messages
  • To help management keep in touch
  • To prevent crisis
  • To monitor the competition
  • To sway public opinion
  • To generate publicity
  • To measure success

The section of how to contact people to research their opinions was particularly interesting.  Some of the methods included questionnairs by ‘snail mail’, phone surveys (not personally a fan), personal interviews, omnibus surveys, and web/e-mail surveys.  The last one is probably the most popular now.

*Cameron, Glen T. & Wilcox, Dennis L. Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics. United States: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006. 47.

So, basically, public relations functions for a company can be carried out by a PR department within the company or an outside public relations firm. There has been a recent move toward outsourcing, with studies showing that “Fortune 500 companies now spend 25% of their public relations budgets on outside firms. Almost 90% of the companies use outside public relations counsel to varying degrees.” (Cameron 109).

Public relations firms provide numerous services:

  • Marketing communications
  • Executive speech training
  • Research & evaluation
  • Crisis communication
  • Media analysis
  • Community relations
  • Events management
  • Public affairs
  • Branding & corporate reputation
  • Financial relations

I can understand the benefits of hiring an outside firm to handle many PR responsibilities.  However, with current technologies and trends, such as social media, it seems that some of those responsibilities would be best handled by someone within a company who has a closer connection to the company and is able to share that connection with people on a more personal level. Of course, even if a company is employing an outside PR firm, the company itself could still directly maintain many PR responsibilities, so they could still work together quite well.

*Cameron, Glen T. & Wilcox, Dennis L. Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics. United States: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006. 47.

This chapter* dealt with the ethics that public relations professionals should maintain in their interactions with their organizations and the publics they serve.  Most PR organizations have a code of conduct to which their members are expected to adhere.  The International Association of Business Communicators is one of these, and its Code of Ethics includes the following guidelines:

  1. Professional communication is legal
  2. Professional communication is ethical
  3. Professional communication is in good taste

I certainly think that all Public Relations professionals should adhere to these guidelines, regardless of their affiliations with companies that require it. Interestingly, there may be some situations in which these guidelines are purposefully violated. For example, in the movie Wag the Dog, the PR pros are consulted for this express purpose. See more at my blog post on this film.

*Cameron, Glen T. & Wilcox, Dennis L. Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics. United States: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006. 47.

Beginnings

At the beginning of this semester in my Intro. to PR class, we were asked to write down what we thought a PR professional does.  My ideas:

  • Help with advertising
  • Make sure the best image of client is portrayed
  • Downplay negative aspects of client/cover up bad
  • Monitor how the public views client & decide how best to change that
  • Come up with numbers/presentation to prove success
  • Hold meetings

My definition of a PR professional has definitely fleshed out since the beginning of the semester. Before, I thought that the bulk of a PR pro’swork centered around minimizing the bad and maximizing the good that the public sees in an organization. However, though a PR pro always wants to show who they are representing in the best light possible, it’s not just about damage control. PR pros fulfill a variety of roles. Some of those include simply presenting a company’s product in a manner that will produce the best results. There are many different ways that PR pros use their skills. Although these may sometimes be put to use to address an incident of bad press, often they are for more positive purposes.

dome

I will be attending my older brother’s graduation from GA Tech the day after tomorrow in the GA Dome in Atlanta!  He has worked really hard and I am soooo proud of him!  He’s been taking Tech classes on Armstrong’s campus in Savannah, majoring in Civic Engineering.  Also, he already has a job lined up where he has been interning, so he’ll be makin’ that dough right out of college!!  Maybe he’ll be so kind as to share some with me 🙂 

We will be leaving tomorrow to go to Atlanta.  Previous plans were to stay in the Econo Lodge, but Providence was kind to us and we will be staying with friends of my younger brother who live in Atlanta.  Thank goodness for that.  The Econo Lodge sounded a little sketchy…………I may not have made it back for finals.

Also meeting a friend who transferred to Tech this semester for a late birthday dinner.  Really looking forward to it all, but not looking forward to all the studying I have to do when I get back.  Oh, well.  It will all be over soon.