Together again

Together again. My blog and I are together again after two years apart.
It’s not that I didn’t think about my blog since May 2014 or often feel quite guilty for ignoring it. (And a little ashamed. I tell my students how hard it is to blog, how tough it is to keep up with it.) But I also tell students it’s a routine, albeit a pleasurable one. Much like exercise, the more you do it the better you feel and the better you get at it.

Luckily for me, I’m teaching J452: Strategic Public Relations Communications again for the first time since 2014. In this class at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication students create a PR-inspired blog and blog twice a week over the quarter. That means that I’m blogging too because I need to serve them up a weekly dose of insPiRation, prompts about their theme topics I cull each week from the headlines. Reading the news with an eye for whatever topics they’ve chosen – aviation, sports, fashion, nonprofits, race and so on – is one of my favorite things about this assignment. It forces me to read the news with a different, more focused lens – and to see the PR in everything. It also pushes students to quickly “see the PR” in topics they might not have considered, a skill that will serve them well in their careers.

Courtesy of The British Library and Creative Commons

Courtesy of The British Library and Creative Commons

But perhaps my most favorite thing about this assignment is to see students transform from tentative bloggers – (“What? You want me to write with a voice for the first time in my academic work? And I have to come up with two posts a week? And do the other assignments in this class?”) – to thoughtful public relations commentators about a topic that drives them and their career ambitions. Over the quarter, students find their voice, develop discipline about writing and create an online professional persona. It’s exciting.

So Spring 2016 J452, here’s your first round of insPiRation:

Event planning… tech…
That Phone Is Helping Plan Your Super Expensive Wedding (Mashable)
How is technology changing the role of IRL event planners? What can event planners do to adjust and remain relevant?

Sports…college sports….
Saying UConn Hurts Women’s Basketball is Misogyny Disguised as Legitimate Sports Opinion (SB Nation)
The Huskies just won their fourth straight NCAA title prompting more people to suggest they are “destroying” women’s hoops. How have some team members responded to their critics? What opportunities and challenges exist for players who speak out about this, especially as many of them intend to go pro?

Race… sports…
Charles Barkley to NBA: Move All-Star Game After N.C.’s Anti-LGBT Bill (Mashable)
Should Barkley use his celebrity as an athlete and commentator to speak out on discrimination – and what might it mean for his image? Do you think people will respect his linking of racial discrimination with anti-gay discrimination?

Twitter Erupts After ESPN Host Wears Caucasians Shirt To Call Out Cleveland Indians Logo (Raw Story)
Should reporters and sports commentators make political statements about racism in sports? How might it affect their relationship, positively or negatively, with their audiences?

For Some Asian-Americans Calvin Trillin’s Chinese Food Poem is Unappetizing (NPR)
Was this a PR fail for Calvin Trillin and The New Yorker or are some people overreacting? What are the PR dangers for organizations that use satire to communicate?

Harvard Earns Major PR Win, Recognizes Slavery In Its Past (PR Newser)
Do you agree that this is a substantive PR win? What are the PR pros and cons of colleges recognizing racist aspects of their histories?

A New Rhode Island Slogan Encounters Social Media’s Wrath (The New York Times)
How is social media changing PR campaigns? Should PR tourism campaigns be produced only by people from the place to be highlighted? What crisis communications mistakes were made in this case?

Beyonce Sues Fashion Brand That Dared Joke On Her (Mashable)
Will this impact Beyonce’s image or relationship with fans? Will they see her as someone who sticks up for herself or as someone who lacks humor?

Why Saint Laurent Abruptly Deleted Its Entire Instagram History (Mashable)
Can a brand delete one its social media accounts without harming its relationship with its fans?

TV & cinema…
Ruby Rose Shares Poignant Message for Those Facing Depression (The Huffington Post)
What impact do you think Rose’s revelation might have on her image – and will her candor play any role? Why did she share the news on social media and what does that mean for how celebrities interact with their audiences?

US Startup Announces Wi-fi Wine Bottle With Touchscreen (Decanter)
Is this a smart move to attract new audiences – or will it alienate wine drinkers?

A Cocktail Shot Company Looks Beyond Beer Pong (The New York Times)
Are LIQS in the “right space at the right time”? Is the target audience, Millennials, going to like the natural ingredients or shun the chug factor?

How A Health Nut Created The World’s Biggest Fitness Trend (CNBC)
Why is Cross Fit so popular – the workouts or the charisma of the founder? How does Cross Fit connect with its audiences, especially women? Does being anti-Big Soda help or hurt the brand?

Deadly Mining Blast Gets Coal Exec Don Blankenship A Maximum Prison Sentence: One Year (Grist)
Is this a victory or not for environmental groups? How might their publics react? How should environmental groups explain the situation to their publics?

Environment…. cinema…
Film Captures How Climate Change Threatens Whaling, The Lifeblood of Alaska Natives (Grist)
How can film change attitudes about public issues? Many environmentalists are against whaling – what PR risks is this movie taking as it addresses a different environmental issue (global warming)?

4 Reasons Virgin America Flyers Shouldn’t Fear The Alaska Deal (Time)
Do you agree with this article’s premise? Does having two loyal publics make it easier or harder to reach a new combined public effectively?

It’s Not Just Celebrities: Facebook is Paying Media Partners Like Buzzfeed To Livestream (re/code)
What does this mean for the credibility of traditional media? Is Facebook’s relationship with its publics – partners and users – changing for real?

Ad & PR…
A Skin Care Bran Bravely Stood Up For China’s ‘Leftover Women’ Unmarried After 25 (Ad Week)
Why do you think SK-II decided to take this risk? Which audiences might respond positively?

For Some Top Nonprofits Changing the World Begins in Seattle (The New York Times)
For many reasons detailed in this article Seattle is home to many nonprofits and has a culture of nonprofits. How does this effect Seattle’s image? How might Seattle capitalize on this trend further to enhance its image and economy?

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