Monday, February 25, 2013

Seth MacFarlane throws a punch

Seth MacFarlane wasn't afraid to push some boundaries at this year's Oscars.

In an environment where the majority of the audience are used to their closet skeletons being splashed all over the tabloids, MacFarlance decided to call them out anyway. 

Speaking about the multiple-nominated film Django Unchained, MacFarlane described the story as "a man fighting to get back his woman, who's been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie."

I get a guilty kick out of hosts bringing up celebrity dirty laundry at the Oscars, and I was able to receive MacFarlanes comments throughout the night as "roasts with an edge".

However, MacFarlane's Chris Brown/ Rihanna comment was generally not well-received. Perhaps a bad move for MacFarlane, the comment reminded me of an incident related to something PRs spend a lot of focus on, audiences.

In November of last year, I learned Chris Brown cancelled a concert in Guyana after a women's rights group protested his appearance. Guyana is a close distance to Rihanna's home country of Barbados, and Brown apparently backed out because the protest made him feel uncomfortable.

This abuse scandal angered many people - especially women (arguably). Therefore, women are an audience. However, sub audiences within this category include (but are not limited to):

  • women in abusive relationships
  • women in healthy relationships
  • single women
  • women's right groups 

The fact Brown is still praised and welcomed at major events (this year's Grammys, for example) is hard to understand. Brown's publicist had a difficult task to do after Brown's assault on Rihanna, which basically involved cleaning his image. Brown's target audiences would've been addressed at the time, but it's also important to consider other audience-related threats.

Women's rights groups decided to get involved in preparation for Brown's Guyana concert, in addition to women speaking out who are removed from this group. My PR class discussed issues management today and the considerations (i.e. potential threats to clearly communicating your messages) to make note of when writing communications briefing notes.

PRs have a big job to do when it comes to issues management. We have to make sure we've correctly identified the issue, the target audiences and the considerations before we begin to think about the communications strategy that follows.

The women's rights group's protests were a perfect example of briefing note "considerations" coming to life. If done correctly, Brown's PR person would have crafted key messages to ease their dislike of Brown, perhaps persuading how Brown would only be in Guyana to give a musical performance.

Seth MacFarlane's comment was proof Brown's scandal has not lost steam. The ongoing criticism is either an indication that PR efforts to help Brown are poor, or that society still recognizes what he did was wrong despite high-profile appearances like the Grammys.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Be my social media Valentine?

Valentine's Day is just around the corner!

How does this relate to PR/ communications? Simple. We communicate love.

We communicate love in various a kiss, a hug, a love letter, or by saying it out loud. Regardless of how you choose to express it, love is a form of communication.

So how has love communication changed in this digital era? Are love letters still alive; are they dead? Do we get a rush out of a sweet smile, or out of a sweet text?

I read this post on about how lovers communicate in this digital age. I was a little disheartened (but not suprised) at what I found out.

Here's some info I learned:

Although the majority of people still prefer a love exchange over phone call or text, social media is sneaking it's way in to people's minds (and hearts) as an acceptable channel of love communication. Sendmail sent out some questions to find out how lovers connect. One question was "What best ignites the passion?" Here's what was discovered:

Phone call: 25%
Instant Message: 21%
Email: 17%
Facebook: 15%

Really?? It's surprising that people are using Facebook to fuel passion; are we really that immersed and busy in our social media pages that we find it easier to just send someone a cute wall post or message? Sure, little love posts on social media pages here and there can add a pick-me-up to your day, but I think real love communication should occur face-to-face (or Skype-to-Skype? Uh oh, what have I started?).

Although we're free to choose our means of communication, it's also important to be mindful of what we send electronically. In the same survey, 16% of people have accidentally sent an intimate message to the wrong person; 68% have sent to the wrong message over text, and 15% over email. Oops!

We've all heard of Twitter firestorms where social media managers have accidentally sent a tweet off their company's Twitter and gotten fired for it. Sure, digital media allows us to connect with people (such as our lovers) in a quick and timely manner, but it only takes the click of a button to make a big whoopsie.

I encourage everyone to take a break from social media to connect with their lover this Valentine's Day. Show them the love of human interaction, and you'll likely have the most romantic Valentine's Day ever!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Football frantics - power goes out at Super Bowl

The Ravens had so much energy, the power went out.

The Baltimore Ravens had a 28-6 lead over the San Francisco 49ers early in the third quarter of yesterday's Super Bowl, when the stadium went completely black. Spectators and viewers were left staring into darkness and anxiously awaiting an explanation. The press box was affected by the outage, taking away the only medium for viewers at home to get any info.

Talk about a crisis.

The outage occurred shortly after Beyonce's half-time show of extreme lighting and video effects. Entergy New Orleans provides power to the New Orleans Superdome. The company said the outage occurred after a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load didn't work. The FBI quickly ruled out terrorism, and the New Orleans Fire Department dismissed the possibility of a fire.

It's unfortunate for the PR person of the Superdome that the power outage occurred during the biggest NFL game of the year. The timing of events is interesting considering my PR class had a huge discussion on crisis communications and issues management today.

As I watched the power at the stadium go out - and stay out - my PR instincts kicked in. I immediately turned to my boyfriend and said: "You can bet that PR person is freaking out right now."

Thinking about it more, perhaps the PR person was freaking out, but maybe the freakout was a relatively controlled freakout. It's obvious to assume the PR person of the Superdome had a crisis communications plan in place (i.e. a document that states what to do in a particular crisis, such as the stadium power going out). It's also safe to assume they had an issues management plan (i.e. a document made to address concerns before something turns into a crisis).

Crisis communications plans and issues management plans can fall on the backburner when PRs are already overloaded with other work during the day. But, if a PR person takes the time to prepare such documents, you can bet they'll be glad they did when a crisis like the Super Bowl power outage happens.

After the power outage was fixed, however, the crisis is not necessarily over. Here are a couple other things to consider:

- Will companies who paid for 30-second advertising spots be reimbursed for the duration of the outage? (this year, commercials cost advertisers a record $4 million for a 30-second block of time)

- Ravens had such momentum before the power outage; can you imagine the controversy that would have followed had the Ravens ended up losing? 

Crises happen. They can come out of nowhere, but as a PR person, you have to be ready when they do. It can be difficult for a PR person to come out on top on a crisis, simply because they're not in total control. Key messages and other information can become skewed when panic sets in. In any case, the Super Bowl outage demonstrates the importance of having crisis communication and issues management plans ready to go.

P.S. Go Ravens!

Friday, February 01, 2013


Everyone's experienced the annoying social media user...the new posts every five seconds, the inside jokes you don't understand, and the @mentions in their posts that make your eyes glaze over. Sound familiar? 

Sure, you might be able to think of a few people who do this off the top of your head...but are you sure you're not one of them?

Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, tweeted this post today and it showed up on my Twitter feed. Since the title "10 annoying social media behaviors" struck a cord, I decided to read it.

I agree with most, if not all, of the points made in the post. People abuse social meda because they're too lazy to figure it out, or they just have no clude there's a specific way they should be using it. 

My three favorite points were the following (as quoted from the post):

Follow just to be followed:

Follow me if you want to, but don't follow me just so I follow you. Think I can't tell you're doing it? When I receive repeated notifications that you're following me, I get the message—you're using one of those tools that auto-follows users until they follow back. Well, I've got news for you: Now I'm never following you! A wiser move would have been to look for ways to genuinely engage the people you want to notice you—retweet them, respond to them, comment on their content.

Talk, talk, talk—but never listen:

I don't have to follow you long to realize you're only interested in yourself. Your updates are about only your products, you ignore those who @reply you, and you ask for retweets but never retweet anyone else. This doesn't build connections; it ostracizes you from your followers.

Show no personality:

Social media is about connection. Don't use a bland logo or ugly gravatar to identify your brand online. Don't write about the same topic in a detached, impersonal way. Instead, inject some life into your online image—let us see some personality!

This post on gives 10 annoying social media behaviours I think most would agree with. It’s important to know that bad social media use can alienate your audiences, and that quality posts can serve your business well.

I’ve attached the post above, but you can also read it here.