Fall 2016 2

My students’ first weekly blog posts came in the past few days, which is always one of my favorite parts of the term. When I read their posts for the first few times I get to see who they are, how they think and how they write. I sense their relief at getting these projects off and running, at realizing writing about your passions is fun.

Typewriters, Baker City, Oregon -Kathryn Thier

Typewriters, Baker City, Oregon
-Kathryn Thier


At the same time, reading their posts reminded me how hard it is to blog. Finding your voice takes time. Crystallizing the PR angle (the goal of these blogs) is challenging. Learning how long is too long – and how that changes with each post – takes a long time. But that’s why we blog so much and so often in this class. By the end of the term their writing will be transformed. Their ability to see how PR underlies so many issues in the news will skyrocket. Their voices will mature. And so the end of the term is also another one of my favorite parts. So here’s to seven more weeks!

(And yes, I do read more than Mashable, although it doesn’t seem like it based on this week’s insPiRation.)

Should You Trust The American Red Cross With Your Donation For Haiti? (The Huffington Post)
How might the American Red Cross try to repair its image in Haiti through its response to Hurricane Matthew’s destruction? Do you think the negative press the American Red Cross received was fair or not? How can nonprofits protect their reputations when they’re held to a different standard than corporations? How damaging to the Red Cross is Edwidge Danticat’s suggestion that people support Haitian organizations instead? What publics will Danticat resonate with?

Pro Sports…
In a Pioneering Moment for the W.N.B.A., Players United in Protests Over Injustices (The New York Times)
What are the PR risks and opportunities for African American athletes who take on police brutality and racial injustice? Is it different for female athletes than male athletes – and why? Does the PR calculus change when it’s across a league versus just one (like Kaepernick) or a few?

Kaiser Channels Kendrick Lamar To Talk About Depression (Mashable)
Do some research and figure out if Lamar authorized this. If he did, what opportunities and risks might there be for his reputation? If he didn’t, how should he respond to maintain his image and his brand?

Ad & PR…
Advertisers Look To Commiserate With Disenchanted Voters – And Mock Donald Trump (Mashable)
So much to discuss here: Should brands connect deeply with some customers rather than weakly with many? What are the PR pitfalls of discussing the election (Bisquick, anyone)? Do brands have a responsibility to not feed political apathy or disgust? Is this all about reaching millennials who want brands to take social action? Is this what’s necessary to cut through the noise in today’s fractured media landscape?

Driverless Cars, Electric Vehicles and Mass Transit Could Transform Cities (Mashable)
How are car companies adapting – and what are the PR risks if they don’t and PR opportunities if they do? For car companies that aren’t particularly progressive or innovative currently, what PR challenges do they face as many people care more about global warming and/or living an urban lifestyle?

Tax Soda To Fight Obesity, WHO Urges Nations Around The Globe (NPR)
How can NGOs like WHO make not drinking soda cool? Will this fact – “the Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo, spent millions of dollars between 2011 and 2015 lobbying against 29 different public health bills that aimed to either improve nutrition or reduce soda consumption” – have any effect on those companies’ public image? (Will anyone even know?) How would you feel doing PR for a company that is contributing to the obesity epidemic?

Cosmetics and Skin Care…
CoverGirl ‘s First CoverBoy: 17-year-old YouTube Sensation James Charles (The Washington Post)
What are the PR risks and opportunities here for CoverGirl? What social and demographic trends work in CoverGirl’s favor with this move? How has social media changed the business of who becomes a spokesperson?

Foreign Policy…
Wonder Woman To Become UN Women’s Champion (The Guardian)
U.N. Picks Powerful Feminist (Wonder Woman) For Visible Job (Mascot) (The New York Times)
Sorry (not sorry)to stick with the U.N. two weeks in a row, but this is an epic PR situation. Do you think women will appreciate this or find it jarring, given that a many women were based over for the top job so recently? Does timing make a difference in the PR implications?


This Is How Much Instagram Fashion Bloggers Get Paid Per Post (Mashable)
How are “influencer marketing” and social media changing the fashion PR world for fashion brands, fashion bloggers and fashion consumers? What do you think of the changes? Do you think there’s an ethical issue with Instagram fashion bloggers being paid to promote brands? As a follower of fashion, how does it feel to learn that Kim Kardashian (etc.) may not actually like the items she shares on Instagram?

Reese Witherspoon To Pen Lifestyle Memoir (Mashable)
Why do female actors today feel the need to have “lifestyle brands” like Witherspoon’s Draper James? Is it about money, PR or both? Will her “memoir” be taken seriously and how will it affect her brand?

The Latest Celebrity Diet? Cyberbullying (The New York Times)
Why is this – “celebrity feuds have taken on the contours of cyberbullying, with famous rivals integrating the tactics of online harassers into their P.R. offensives” – the case? What about modern PR is causing it? (Hint: The answer is in the article.) Do you think any of these stars will face a backlash to their image for this egregious behavior? Do celebrities create better relationships with their publics by sticking up for anti-cyberbullying causes? If you were one of their PR advisers, would you feel ethically comfortable advising these strategies and tactics?

‘Black Is Not A Weapon’: Celebrities Star in Stunning PSA Against Police Brutality (Mashable)
When celebrities take on social issues, there are PR implications for their brand that are sometimes positive and sometimes negative. Which do you think will be the case here and why? Do African American celebrities face additional PR pressures because they may be judged differently by different publics?



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