Disclaimer: Not Paid to Blog

Social media has once again blurred the lines of the law, as a judge recently ordered Google to reveal the names of reporters, bloggers and other commentators that have received payment. The court claims that Google’s financial relationships with these paid-writers may have crucial effects on uninformed parties’ opinions and analyses, to the point of being deceiving.

In a recent article from BBC, Tim Luchhurts, a journalism professor at the University of Kent, had the following to say on the matter:

“One of the key aspects that this highlights is the crucial difference between bloggers and professional journalists. Journalists are professionals who understand their obligation to their listeners and viewers – not the interested parties about which they are writing. Many bloggers ignore that distinction.”

Writers receiving payment to publish their opinions is not a new concept, but the publishing of their motives may be quite a game-changer. Online testimonials being driven by a salary, even if no dictation of content exists, will surely rule their accounts irrelevant. Imagine conducting some research on a product by turning to a, seemingly, third-party site. When the commenter raving about a product admittedly receives payment to rave about said product, their opinion will lose validity in the eyes of the internet.

Google may just have to develop another means of modern, strategic advertisement.

Chick-fil-A is Anti-Gay? Why more may be eating less chicken.

Chic-fil-A is not chickening out of embracing their new political image. After recently donating millions of dollars in support of anti-gay groups and causes, their CEO and president Dan Kathy made the following statement:

Well guilty as charged…. We are very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.

No matter how you pepper your statement to read as a pro-family stance, society, propelled by the media’s play of devil’s advocate, quickly labeled the chain as “anti-gay.” The surprise came when Chic-fil-A adopted a radical PR tactic: to embrace that image.

I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

The chicken chain’s religious backbone has never been much of a secret. Due to a Baptist background, no Chic-fil-A restaurant opens or operates on Sundays. But this most recent stance has spurred quite a controversial outcome, filled with backlash and boycotts.

 

Twitter immediately heated up as popular users, such as celebrity Ed Helms, typed their own reactions:

Chick-Fil-A doesn’t like gay people? So lame. Hate to think what they do to the gay chickens! Lost a loyal fan.

As any proficient PR team would, a statement was quickly crafted for President Kathy to respond strategically, if not apologetically.

We have a whole spectrum of team members that work with us who are part of the gay and lesbian community. They know as employees of Chick-fil-A that they are welcomed, they are embraced, and they are part of the Chick-fil-A family. So to be identified with some sort of hate group that has a political agenda — that is not Chick-fil-A at all.

Perhaps if more fast food chains make controversial political statements, the younger generation may boycott themselves right into a healthier diet.

DirecTV and Viacom are at each others’ throats once again, in a cat-fight that could rival any pair of teenage girls. While I would usually opt to avoid the drama, I take personal offense when I am prevented from watching The Daily Show, as well as any other program featured on popular channels such as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the New York Times, the two companies continue to blame one another, refusing to budge. The end result? Twenty-six blacked-out channels in over 20 million households.

Discussions regarding the amount of money Viacom should receive for their popular programs are not uncommon, but bringing the debate into the public eye is extremely rare. Considering both sides’ most previous statement, I fear there is currently no end in site.

“We proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber, and we remained willing to negotiate that deal right up to this evening’s deadline. However, DirecTV refused to engage in meaningful conversation. We are hopeful that DirecTV will work with us toward a resolution and stop denying its subscribers access to the networks they watch most.”

No subtle pointing of the fingers there, Viacom.

And in this corner, a rebuttal from DirecTV:

“We have been very willing to get a deal done, but Viacom is pushing DirecTV customers to pay more than a 30 percent increase, which equates to an extra $1 billion, despite the fact that the ratings for many of their main networks have plummeted and much of Viacom’s programming can be seen for free online.”

After rolling my eyes at the whole debacle, I headed online to watch my favorite blacked-out shows online through Viacom, but they went ahead and made that more difficult as well by removing several program from their site.

What an intereseting away to handle the whole affair. Somewhere in a tall office building in a big city, a PR/Conflict Management team are putting their heads together to develop a strategic campaign to keep users from jumping ship. I’ll have to stay tuned to this conflict, which shouldn’t be too difficult  considering there are 26 less tv channels to distract me.

I just wish watching this battle play out was nearly as interesting as spending 30 minutes daily with Jon Stewart.

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.

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.