For my senior project I worked with a student-founded organization called MOB. They do events designed for their sponsors and occasional parties for the college town.
I worked as social media manager and event manager so not only did I run the MOB social media platforms and marketing, I put together the events, themes, entertainment, and sponsors for the events the MOB hosted that semester.
The biggest event I managed with them was called the Thrift Shop Bash and was a charity event (party) for a local non-profit organization. We rented out an old school’s gymnasium and got Global Sound Production to come and DJ for the event. Admission taken was any donations for the charity. We had about 600 attend throughout the night.
This first big event that I was part of the event management group in was the NorthPoint Halloween Rooftop Bash. It was a college-aged carnival/costume contest themed event. We had quite a few local sponsors and vendors, prizes/giveaways, music performers, and about 1,2000 attended.
As a student, part of my work with public relations includes creating campaigns. One of the things I created was a campaign and a few events for BYU-Idaho’s Center Stage performing organization. My plan was to help increase attendance at performances/shows and spread the word about Center Stage’s entertainment throughout the community.
Earlier in the week, one KFC restaurant made a huge mistake and one bad PR move, in my opinion. Now, this is one of those stories that I just had to write about because not only does it grind my gears, but it’s just one of those cases where the company just did not think about how their move would affect someone at all. But let me give you the facts first.
One KFC in Jackson, Mississippi turned away a three year old girl because of her facial scars. The little girl, Victoria Wilcher, and her mother had come into the restaurant to order some food and shortly after they were approached and asked to leave the restaurant because Victoria’s facial scars were upsetting and disturbing the customers. Victoria had just recently gotten attacked and mauled by dogs. The attack resulted in many injuries to Victoria’s face including the scars, the right side of her face paralyzed, and the loss of an eye to which she now wears an eye patch over. The three year old had just gotten done with a doctors appointment, checking up after her surgeries, when the incident happened. Victoria’s mother said she cried the whole way home and is now even more embarrassed of her appearance and won’t even look in the mirror.
I can’t even start to describe the many things that are wrong with this and it’s probably pretty obvious. But let me just say that not only was that incredibly rude to a three year old girl who had just gone through an attack and many surgeries, but it was discriminating and in return, very bad customer service on their part. After the incident, Victoria’s mother decided to take the issue to social media to gain support and state that she would never step foot again in a KFC. She posted a picture on Facebook of Victoria smiling with the caption, “Does this face look scary to you?” The post went viral and gain more support than they would have thought. Along with that came horrible PR for KFC. I think that now-a-days everyone should be well aware that when something very offensive happens, it gets taken to social media and therefore, blown up so the whole nation gets wind of it. With this in mind, any company should know, or at least think of the consequences they could receive from an act like this one. Yes some customers may have no heart and may be a little stuck up (excuse my lack of profession) but that’s when the manager should take a look at the situation and determine what’s more important: the comfort of those few heartless customers, or the feelings of an innocent little girl and the possible loss of a few (hundred) customers forever? This is where integrity and compassion should come into play and I believe that KFC should take a look at the bigger picture and think of the possible consequences before they kick someone out of their restaurant.
At a Waffle House in Raleigh, North Carolina over Mother’s Day weekend, a very generous man gave his waitress a $1,000 tip, with another extra $500 dollars intended to go to the customer who sat in the booth next to him. Maybe the man felt sympathy for the waitress working an overnight shift at a stressful job and wanted to thank her in a way. Maybe he made a connection with the customer in the booth next him and was inspired to help these people out. I’m not quite sure what his reasoning was but nonetheless, it was an outstandingly charitable gesture. However, neither the waitress nor the customer were able to take the money. They were denied the extra tip when the Waffle House decided to give the money back to the big tipper instead of letting the gift be received.
Now, it’s understandable that the business might not allow that tip to go through to the waitress considering circumstances where servers have wrongfully taken a larger tip out of the tab than the customer intended. And according to the Raleigh News and Observer reports, large tips are generally refunded as a regular procedure at the restaurant in case the customer decides to dispute the tip later or ask for a refund. However, the public doesn’t feel to generous about the situation. The waitress who received the tip feels that the Waffle House has stolen from her. This issue has also blown up over social media recently with large amounts of criticism against the restaurant. Many are outraged that the restaurant would take her tip away from her and have vowed never to dine there again.
Waffle House eventually came out with a statement on the issue on its Facebook page saying that they were following procedure and intended on the waitress getting her money all along. I don’t know about you but I’m getting the vibe that that might be more backpedaling now then a genuine statement since the restaurant has begun to receive so many protests. Waffle House denies the girl her tip and gives it back to the man and then weeks later when some much criticism arises against the business, they want her to “get her money all along”? That can definitely come off as a statement made to please the public and insure they keep their customers. A bit of a shady move in my opinion, Waffle House.
there’s no need to worry, the man intends to write the waitress a check for the money anyway.
Sometimes when things get bad, you might just want to turn and run away from the problem, hoping it will eventually fix itself somehow. That’s what Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki thought anyway after he resigned during a scandal about care for suffering vets. The problem that arose was found at numerous VA facilities where workers were manipulating wait times of veterans to make their internal figures look good. There were also findings that VA staff were pressured to use improper practices. Shinseki said the “lack of integrity” is something he has “rarely encountered.” He brought up some steps to address the situation, like directing that patient wait times no longer be used as a measure of success in employee evaluations. But this wasn’t enough to solve the problem though so under the pressure of the issue, Shinseki asked to President to accept his resignation on Friday morning.
Shinseki probably doesn’t deserve the blame for the scandal and his departure could possibly let the issue die down in the media after he’s gone (since he is the man who is associated with this problem now unfortunately). However, they should know that him cracking under the pressure and leaving won’t do anything to fix the problem. And now they are going to have an added struggle to throw into the mess. Who is going to be brave enough to take over that spot permanently and try to clean up the mess with everyone’s eyes beating down on them? Does anyone anyone have enough confidence to follow that? And not only that, but will other advisers use this as an example for when they find themselves under pressure?
Michael Long said that “as long as these horror stories keep coming out, this hardly makes a dent in the bigger problem. The PR danger here is that the president’s advisers might decide that this [resignation] is all they have to do to make the PR problem go away, and they would be so wrong.”
In order to inform people about Obamacare and encourage them to sign up for it, many different ads were released to the general public. Some of those ads were designed to attract the younger generation in a way that might appeal to them alone, in order to get them to purchase the health care. Now I’m not sure who approved the ads but they turned out to be very inappropriate and led to numerous complaints in areas throughout the country over their influence. They were trying to make the ads appeal to young adults by making them humorous or relating to things that that generation is familiar with. However, that turned out to be a bad move.
Paul Argenti expressed that, “trying to draw young people to a non-working website with online ads that are, at best, in bad taste ranks up there with the dumbest communications acts of the year.” Depending upon which state you were in, you were able to be exposed to these not-so-classy sexually suggestive ads that were degrading to women or that encouraged reckless behavior with young men standing on top of kegs. This was the wrong message to send and wrong way to try to get the young adult generation to purchase the health care. Not only did these ads cause a lot of offense to the public, they also inspired even worse fake ads that were created by people who were opposed to Obamacare. And after that, it created more focus on an issue that was already going badly. After this case, I think that it’s safe to say that even if you want to appeal to young adults, make sure you don’t do it in a tacky or offensive way. If you keep your communications classy, you won’t have to worry about people being offended or about being attacked by fakers.
Dole Food Co had a recall experience in April of 2012, that probably left them with some principles they will be sure to learn from. 750 cases of bagged salad from Dole were recalled because they posed a salmonella threat. Now, Dole is the world’s largest producer and marketer of fruit and fresh vegetables and does business in more than 90 countries, so they should be on top of the situation, right? You would think that someone would be able to accept the responsibility to inform the public of this, right? Well, that’s not exactly what happened.
Dole took on the thought that maybe if they acted like nothing happened, it would all just disappear and this problem would be over with sure enough. They decided to stand silently on the sidelines and not put in their two cents about the issue. Many people began criticizing Dole and wondering if they were going to do anything about the recall. Using their social media channels might have been the best and fastest way for them to alert the public. However, the recall news did not appear from Dole until two full days after its press release was issued, which was also hidden and wasn’t released until after the weekend that the company found out about the salad bags.
I think the biggest lesson Dole might have learned from this is that if you find yourself in a crisis, being the first one to respond is the wisest choice to make, no matter the issue. That’s pretty much PR 101 right there. You should always be one of the first to post about the news, informing the public quickly like on social media sites, and always respond. Taking responsibility and action shows that you don’t have anything to hide, you are prepared, and that you actually care about your company and your customers.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned from the NBA on April 30 over racist statements he made in a phone call to his girlfriend, had an interview Monday night with Anderson Cooper on CNN. Apparently the interview resulted in a melt down. And Business Insider even called it a train wreck. The Wire simply said it was “a poor showing, public relations-wise.” The interview started with an apology, asking for forgiveness. “I’m wrong. I caused the problem. I don’t know how to correct it,” he said.He claimed that it was his girlfriend who “baited” him into making the statements. He went on to bring up former L.A. Lakers star Magic Johnson, and even began to rag on him saying he should “be ashamed of himself” for having HIV and isn’t “a good example for the children of Los Angeles.” When asked about Johnson’s business ventures, Sterling said: “What does he do for the black people? He doesn’t do anything.”
With regard to the previous controversy about the racial statements that he made, I completely agree with Sterling getting banned. And it’s expected that he would later be interviewed. But if I were a PR representative for Sterling, I would have made sure anything but that “train-wreck” happened. I would have given him some reasonable statements to say and made sure that he did no more to offend people. The statements that he made caused more drama and even more controversy than Sterling was already facing. In a post to PR Daily’s Facebook page, commenter Suze Carragher offered Sterling some well-worn advice from Will Rogers: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
In 2013, Lululemon Athletica faced a whole new issue with upset buyers. They won a dismissal of claims that shareholders lost $2 billion because apparently the athletic-wear company had misled them about problems with its products, including bleeding colors and see-through yoga pants. The investors claimed that Lululemon had bad quality control. They had failed to test the clothes on models, which led to a recall of the yoga pants in response to many complaints that the material was too sheer and was actually see-through when the wearers bent over. Lululemon founder and chairman Chip Wilson was asked about the quality control problems with the sheerness on its yoga pants. His response is where they dug themselves into a deeper hole.
He simply suggested that it was due to heavy women rubbing their thighs together because the pants were too tight for them. Now at the time, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about the after effects that would come from his statement. But how much more insensitive can a person be when faced with a relatively simple issue? His problem could have easily been solved and forgotten about had he been prepared with a better statement apologizing for the bad quality and recall, and fixing the problem by putting out a line of pants that were definitely not see-through. Instead however, he blamed the customers for his mistakes and managed to offend many women by putting his foot in his mouth. Lesson learned Chip.