On the road again…


Photo by Kathryn Thier

I’m back.

That means my students are too. In J452 at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication they blog and I blog. It’s always exciting to watch students take tentative steps toward developing a personal, professional social media presence and then at term’s end see how much their confidence increased and writing improved.

At the same time, this is really just the beginning of finding out who they are professionally. I was reminded of this recently by a blog post shared on Twitter by SOJC alum Mandy Shold. I never taught Mandy, but I did sit on her senior portfolio review presentation panel. Unsurprisingly, she rocked it. As she writes in her blog post, she graduated top of her class and beat out hundreds for her dream internship at a prestigious PR firm. But as she also writes in her blog post, her career took a turn when she wasn’t kept on full-time post internship. To find out what happened read her post. But it’s not spoiling it to say over time she confronted her preconceptions about who she is and what her career was meant to be.

I’m really proud of Mandy (and not just because she’s still blogging long after the assignment ended). College is just the first step toward not just a career, but work fulfillment. My own career has taken many twists and turns, including believing I would quit my job rather than blog. But nobody told me up front that was okay.

So I’m telling you now, J452 students: Don’t expect to ever stop redefining yourself professionally. Read widely. Read to write. For me, that’s not just a strategic message on my Facebook feed; it’s a defining trait. Keep asking yourself, “Who am I, and what do I want? What can I contribute?”

And with that, here’s your first batch of insPiRation to get you started:

Aviation… Travel… Hospitality…
The 9 Healthiest Airports Around The World (well+good)
Do you think Millenials alone are driving the wellness at the airport trend? What other audiences – or business factors – might be driving it? Do any of the amenities seem ridiculous? How can small airports keep up and impress their audiences?

KLM Gave VR Headsets to Budget Airline Passengers So They’d Feel Like They’re On KLM (AdWeek)
Is this smart way to appease a slice of KLM’s audience or not? How might it backfire on KLM? Am I the only person who finds this offensive?

Health Care…
The Painful Side of Positive Health Care Marketing (NPR)
This one is hard to read. But it’s fascinating with lot of insight about how hospital marketing has changed. How might hospitals, whose ads are not regulated by the FDA, ultimately damage their relationship with their potential patient audience? What kind of messages might they construct that are more sensitive, yet still hopeful? Do you think hospital ads adhere to the PRSA Code of Ethics?

Hospitals Push For Ongoing Coverage in Disaster-Stricken Puerto Rico (Ragan.com)
“The takeaway for communicators? After the first few stories, journalists seek a new angle, or else they can’t continue their coverage.” Very true. And there are only so many human interest stories to be done on one event. So how might hospital-based communicators in Puerto Rico try to earn additional coverage? What would angles or ideas would you pitch if you were in their position?

Food & Restaurants…
“Rick and Morty’ Fans Wanted Their Sauce. McDonald’s Underestimated Just How Much. (The New York Times)
Once the PR crisis unfolded, how do you think McDonald’s handled it? What are the challenges for restaurants in the social media age? How might McDonald’s have better prepared for a cross-marketing event?

Food… Corporate Social Responsibility…
Ben & Jerry’s Strikes Deal to Improve Migrant Workers’ Dairy Conditions (The New York Times)
Ben & Jerry’s has long focused on social responsibility. But as the lede implies, there are three prongs to corporate social responsibility – people, planet and profits – and the ice cream maker hadn’t worked enough on the people piece. But do you think this new move will change things with Ben & Jerry’s consumers? Does a company already known for CSR need to keep it up? What new audiences is the company trying to reach? What do foodies care about?

Corporate Social Responsibility…
Dove Expresses ‘Regret’ For Racially Insensitive Ad (NPR)
There’s a lot that could be said about this incident from a PR standpoint. But focusing on the issue of corporate social responsibility, how does this incident effect Dove’s previous CSR efforts, especially considering its successful Campaign for Real Beauty history? How can Dove restore trust?

Corporate Social Responsibility… Basketball… Sports… 
Michael Jordan Donates $7 Million to Fund Health Clinics in Charlotte’s At-Risk Areas (The Washington Post)
Michael Jordan Gives $7 Million to Open Medical Clinics in Poor Areas of Charlotte (The Charlotte Observer)
Athletes donating to charity is nothing new. But the WP article suggest that Jordan’s donation is a sign of his changing willingness to take a stand on social and political issues. Do you agree that this donation is part of that?  How does Jordan’s donation tie into the Hornets’ stated corporate social responsibility efforts? What unique PR power does Jordan have as the only former player with a majority ownership? Why do you think Jordan has changed over time? Who are his audiences now? How have societal and technological changes since he was a player changed how athletes interact with their audiences?

NFL… Sports…
ESPN Just Suspended Jemele Hill Over Her Use of Social Media (BuzzFeed News)
Put aside your personal opinions about players kneeling during the anthem before NFL games. From a public relations standpoint, what do you think of ESPN’s decision? Why do you think it made this decision and which audiences did it have in mind? As an emerging PR professional, how does this situation tie into what you thought about and put in your personal social media plan? What has this situation done for Jemele Hill’s brand?

Red Cross Under Fire Again – This Time for Texas Response (Nonprofit Quarterly)
If you were in charge of PR for the Red Cross, how would you go about repairing the organization’s reputation? What do you make of the “anti-transparency stance” discussed by the author and how is it hindering the group’s PR efforts? How can nonprofits, such as the Red Cross, manage repetitional challenges from journalists?

Out-of-State ‘O’ffensive (The Register-Guard)
If you were running UO’s campaign what messages would you use to attract out-of-state students? How would you guard against backlash from resident students and Oregon residents generally?

Theatre and the Performing Arts…
Lincoln Center Scraps a $500 Million Geffen Hall Renovation (The New York Times)
What do you make of how Lincoln Center officials handled the PR fallout? What were the PR challenges that led up to this turnaround?

Theatre and the Performing Arts… Music…
Q-Tip Says His New Kennedy Center Role Helps ‘Institutionalize Hip-Hop’ (NPR)
Why is the Kennedy Center creating a new position called artistic director for hip-hop culture? Why did they choose Q-Tip? What audiences is the Kennedy Center trying to reach? What are the PR challenges and opportunities of “institutionalizing” hip-hop?

Chance The Rapper Gets Pulled Over By Police And Livestreams The Whole Thing On Instagram (Mashable)
We all know social media is allowing musicians (and other celebrities) to reach their audiences directly and help them build their brands in new ways. How is this incident different than how musicians typically interact with fans on social media? Will Chance The Rapper’s followers be supportive of his choice to livestream or turned off? Beyond his personal and family’s safety, what may have motivated Chance The Rapper to livestream that situation?

Jimmy Kimmel’s Empathy Touches A Chord With Late Night Viewers (The Christian Science Monitor)
Whether you agree with Kimmel’s approach or not analyze it from a PR perspective. How does his approach compare to other late night hosts, and who is he trying to reach? What are the PR opportunities and challenges of his approach?



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