The All-Powerful Media

Despite any reluctance to repeat what’s heard on the news or read online, we may be more affected by the media than we think. I frequently find myself reading news articles with which I completely disagree. My response? Talk it out. Tell people around just how wrong I might believe the piece to be- whether through blog, tweet or good ole’ verbal communication. The interpersonal channel doesn’t matter. In the end, I’m still talking about the article because the media chose to write about it.

So what am I getting at?

There is a communication theory that postulates the media doesn’t dictate what people think, but what people think about. It’s called the Agenda Setting theory, and I firmly believe it is alive, well and extremely powerful.

I suppose my inspiration for this post was sparked from a recent CNN.com article I was discussing with Adam, titled Liberals want Obama to be a king, not a president.  As one would probably assume, it was an opinion piece. Essentially, the article criticizes the criticizers: why do we focus merely on the doings of the president, often failing to mention completely any participation of Congress? I mean, we’re still doing that whole democracy thing, correct?

In fact, the author suggests we as a people are discussing the wrong political topics all together. As Adam put it:

“Instead, we’re debating whether or not Obama’s a foreigner and legalizing pot.”

While journalists may not be telling us for whom to vote, they sure seem to have a good deal of power for dictating on what basis we make our decisions. Just something to think about before… oh let’s say… November 2012.

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Una Crisis Internacional

Adidas recently took a serious fashion risk when they unveiled their most recent design, a “shackle” sneaker.

The new shoe, created by Beverly Hills resident Jeremy Scott, immediately sparked controversy throughout the country, as many took quick offense to the parallels the design drew to slavery. The internet quickly began to blow up with negative reactions, but offense was not limited to theUnited States. On June 19, 2012 El Mundo, one of the main publications of Spain, published an article regarding the shoe on the front page of their website.

That’s right. Adidas now finds themselves thrust into the spotlight of an international crisis. Spaniards also reacted with outrage:

“Wow obviamente no había nadie de color en la habitación cuando el equipo de marketing autizo esto.”

(Translation: “Wow, obviously no one of color was in the room when the marketing team authorized this.”)

“Nuestros antepasados lucharon sangre, sudor y lágrimas, ¿cómo podemos ser tan tontos y convertir el dolor en un accesorio?”

(Translation: “Our ancestors fought blood, sweat and tears. How can we be so stupid and convert pain into an accessory?”)

According to an article in the Seattle Times regarding the shoe, Adidas had a bit of a defensive reaction as they hastily made the following statement:

“The design of the JR Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery. Since the shoe debuted on our Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, Adidas has received both favorable and critical feedback. We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”

In the end, the athletic corporation realized they had one option: to pull the design, lick their wounds and carry on with a more politically correct line. For now.

Blazing the trail to obesity.

Forbes recently published a rather disheartening article, 10 Jobs That Are Making You Fat. To my extreme dismay, Marketing/Public Relations Professionals happened to make the list at lovely number 9.

Uh oh.

“But I always feel so busy and on-the-go at my internships,” I thought.

Upon further consideration, however, I realized while I definitely keep a hectic schedule as an intern, much less a PR professional, the majority of my work is conducted via computer.

My average day is packed with emailing, writing, pitching, brain storming, strategizing and interviewing- all which take a lot out of me mentally, but not so much physically. In fact, if one is not careful, the entire day could be spent in a stationary position.

I suppose this obesity epidemic can be fought with a proactive plan. An immobile workday is simply going to have to be combated by a planned routine of extra exercise. And those business lunches will have to incorporate more healthy choices.

Thanks for the warning, Forbes. I will just adapt my usual strategic planning from my PR work to my daily life.

Starbucks Stirs Up Some Controversy

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“Show us what makes you proud to be British” sounds like a lovely tweet. Except when being sent from the @StarbucksIE account, which targets Irish followers.

The coffee corporation’s Diamond Jubilee promotional campaign was going swimmingly, until the above social media faux pas caused them to suddenly sink. What many assumed was an embarrassing, temporary slip-up quickly spiraled into what several press outlets (i.e. The New York Times, BBC World and The Huffington Post to name a few) deemed as a “social media crisis.”

Oh, Starbucks, get with the times. It’s not 1921 anymore… Ireland has been removed from the United Kingdom for way too long for you to be making such a silly mistake. Remember that whole civil war thing– killed thousands of people? Many were civilians?

Apparently, the Irish were not too forgiving of the tweeted inaccuracy. Several people fired back angry responses:

@StarbucksIEthe ie stands forIreland, awaiting the apology before I visit your stores again.

@StarbucksIE you are clueless pricks and your coffee tastes like baby formula.

Starbucks promptly responded with an attempt at sincerity:

“We erroneously posted to our Irish Twitter page meaning to post to the UK only. Customers in Ireland: We’re sorry.”

We all know that content on the internet is written in permanent ink, not erasable pencil, so to speak. Will this minor mistake affect Starbucks’s bottom line in the future? I will certainly be staying tuned.

And a word to all those corporate suits learning the “oh-so-modern” technique of social media: proofreading and research will never go out of style.

Jaguar USA: A Strategic Response to a Fictional Crisis

A few months ago I decided to jump on the Mad Men bandwagon to see what all the fuss was about. Two episodes in, I was hooked, and the show became a quick favorite of mine. I would like to attribute this to its obvious parallel to my favorite industry, but I will reluctantly admit that Don Draper may have a teensy bit of responsibility for keeping me around.

While I cannot help my interest in the show’s handsome men of the 1920’s, the actors are not the only aspect of intrigue. I am always interested to watch Mad Men’s incorporation of real-world clients into the not-always-flattering plotline of the story. What is even more interesting is to see how these real-world clients handle the fictional, yet mega, PR they recieve from the show– the good, the bad and the ugly.

Mad Men’s most recent plotline victim was Jaguar USA, a car company the show’s firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Price, wanted as a client. The storyline was going smoothly enough for Jaguar, when all came to a screeting halt in the May 27 episdoe. The car company’s fictional boss demanded and evening with one of SCDP’s employees, Joan Harris, in exchange for their business. This incredible plot turn overshadows the additional negative remakrs in the episode, such as Draper’s referral to Jaguar cars as “unreliable.”

In our world of progressive social media, immediate action is no longer simply an option, but an expected response, so Jaguar quickly sent the following tweet:

“Loved the pitch, didn’t love the process. We applaud Peggy leaving SCDP.”

According to a PR News article, David Pryor, VP of brand development for JaguarUSA, later released the following response to AdAge.com:

“I’m a big fan of the show and it was gratifying to see our brand portrayed. I would say we were fairly surprised at the turn of events. At the end of the day, though, we’re confident that people know it’s a fictional character.”

I must say, way to keep it classy Jaguar. While prompt responses remain necessary, knee-jerk reactions remain a foolish tactic. And hey, all coverage is good coverage, right?

The Commercial Your Commercial Could Publicize Like

“Hello, ladies. Look at your man. Now back to me. Now back at your man. Then back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me.”

Chances are, this quote from a 2010 Old Spice commercial sounds familiar. You may even be one of the 35,000,000 (and counting) that viewed the advertisement on  YouTube. In fact, the thirty-three second video quickly became the most frequently watched commercial of the year.

“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercial was an instant hit when it aired on televisions everywhere in 2010. An impressive feat, considering our modern age of TiVo and DVR devices allowing people everywhere to fast-forward through advertisements. Gaining publicity via televisions is simply not as easy as it once was, making popular, sticky messages more essential than ever.

So what makes this commercial so popular with viewers? Many credit the advertisement’s success to its implementation of random humor and pure absurdity. The deep, dramatic voice of the leading man, Isaiah Mustafa, and ridiculous dialogue quickly captured viewer attention, leaving them wanting more. This desire was easily filled by visiting Old Spice’s YouTube channel, which contains all of their advertisements. Millions of views later, a viral-commercial was born.

Old Spice’s use of comedy is no joke, however, when it comes to the bottom line, as they have only experienced an increase in press/brand recognition since the launch of the campaign. PR and Marketing professionals everywhere can clearly look to “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” when embarking on future campaigns.