Thursday, March 28, 2013

Major brands join in on marriage equality debate

This week's Supreme Court hearings regarding marriage equality sparked a lot of debate. While you were scrolling on your news feeds, many of you may have noticed that, in a way, Facebook had turned "red". This was because many users were posting on their pages or changing their profile pictures in support of marriage equality. The Human Rights Campaign's red and pink equality logo was everywhere you looked, and that was a beautiful thing.

In response, many brands put their own spins on the logo and began posting it on the web. Although I do believe that brands look to put their name out there in any way that they can, I feel that this was different due to the fact that brands undoubtedly were going to experience some backlash due to their position on the matter.

Therefore, any company that posted their own equality logos were publicly stating that they believe in marriage equality and the ability for them to do that is something that is still relevantly new. It is social media which has made it possible for brands to support things of this nature and I feel that it will only have a positive impact in the future. It is remarkable that brands are now able to publicly express their feelings in real time, and when it comes to something like marriage equality, hopefully make a difference in the world.

Here are a few of the variations: 

To read the full Mashable article, click here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

ABC's "Scandal" is too good

Picture via Itsrobinlori

I can not get enough of ABC's show, Scandal, and I know that a lot of the Marist PRSSA members feel the same way by the looks of my Twitter feed each week. The show has so many different elements that captivate my interest each and every episode. The combination of Pope's confidence, gladiators' devotion to her, flawless style and intense connection with the President of the United States most definitely makes for great TV. 

Perhaps what intrigues me more over anything, however, is the fact that that could potentially be me in the future. Crisis communications has always been an interest of mine and Olivia Pope's profession as a "professional fixer" mirrors the job description for crisis PR rather accurately in my eyes.

Obviously the drama is intensified for television, but many times what Olivia deals with does in fact occur each and every day. Thursday's episode dealt with a successful female CEO whose past affair with an old professor in law school came to the surface. Of course, this professor was now on the Supreme Court (added drama), but nonetheless, crisis PR people deal with these types of scandals all the time.

The show is based on real experiences undergone by crisis communications expert, Judy Smith:

Picture via Blackenterprise

Smith has represented many high profile clients, including Monica Lewinsky. She has a background in PR and has ran her own company, Smith & Co, for 25 years now. Shonda Rhimes, an executive producer at ABC, was introduced to Judy Smith who began telling her about her various cases. The rest is history.

Olivia Pope is not the only captivating character on Scandal. My personal favorites include Cyrus, Abby, Harrison and Fitz. Every character brings something different and I feel like the show is so mesmerizing because there is something relatable in all of them. It is also so inspiring to see the devotion Olivia's staff has to her and to see all of the various actions it takes to adequately execute a crisis communications situation.

Additionally, I love the way that the cast and show has been so up to date with social media. Every week, the cast live tweets the entire episode, responding to viewers' questions and comments, as well as retweeting their favorite tweets. Also, there is a Twitter, @ScandalWriters, that often tweets things of this nature: 

Like I have said in an earlier post, TV and social media go hand in hand. Shows that do not take advantage of this will not be able to compete against those that do. Ultimately, Scandal is an entertaining, well-written show that should serve as an inspiration to all aspiring PR professionals. Like Olivia Pope, we may not get much rest and our personal lives may be in shambles, but if we have passion and love what we do, anything is possible.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fox's shocking blunder

March is National Women's History Month. What better way for Fox to showcase all of the powerful women set to be at the State Capitol to celebrate than to air this segment on their show?

Shocked? So was I... I knew that it was National Women's month but I had no idea that this had occurred on one of the nation's leading news channels. How could they have let this happen? Even the broadcaster seems absolutely shocked and stumbles on her lines while discussing the story. Did someone switch out the video that was supposed to be shown? 

Whatever the case, this was obviously detrimental to the news outlet's reputation. The video emerged on various blogs and eventually ended up on other media outlets' shows. This quickly became a crisis and required Fox's PR team to step in and handle the situation. Fox immediately posted an apology on their Facebook page. The apology stated: 

“FOX CT apologizes for mistakenly airing inappropriate file footage in conjunction with this morning’s report on Women’s Day at the Connecticut State Capitol. The video should never have aired. FOX CT will publicly apologize on today’s newscasts, as well as through our social media platforms. We are also implementing procedures to keep this from happening in the future.”

Okay, so they apologized. However, my initial reaction to this was why is that video even in existence? Additionally, Fox never explained why this blunder had occurred. It is good that they apologized, however, in my opinion, this was something that required an explanation. 

Fox was asked what consequences would be faced by whoever was responsible and the network refused to comment. Despite the sheer absurdity of the video, this is a prime example of a crisis communications gone wrong. I do applaud Fox for immediately apologizing. 

However, it is necessary to give an explanation for something like this no matter how dumb it makes the organization look. Also, someone should be held responsible because it was simply disrespectful and the culprit deserves to endure consequences. By not giving the source of the blunder, Fox is making it seem like they perhaps thought this was completely acceptable, allowing for them to be put in an even more negative light.

To read the full Ragan article, click here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Get creative

Picture via Catherine Lane PR

Creativity is a word I have been hearing a lot of lately surrounding the PR field. Just last week, our PRSSA's chapter hosted a brainstorming and creativity workshop with Michael O'Brien from Ketchum. I was captivated by the power of brainstorming and the emphasis of its importance was stressed by O'Brien throughout the workshop. Together as a group, we came up with ideas for a real life client, which was both engaging and enjoyable.

In my PR case studies class, creativity is highly stressed and we are encouraged to think outside the box regarding various campaigns. Through my participation in Ketchum's Mindfire program, I am seeing that it really is quite often the most outrageous idea which catches the client's eye and ends up winning. 

This all got me thinking, is creativity really as valuable as my professors and advisors have made it seem? I stumbled upon a Time article that suggested that, yes, creative intelligence is indeed an indispensable skill. The article featured an interview with the author of "Creative Intelligence", Bruce Nussbaum. This is what I felt to be key points from the article:
  • Creative intelligence is "taking original ideas and scaling them into the creation of new products and services"
  • Everyone is born with the ability to be creative, but schooling beats it out of many of us
  • Creativity is making connections and seeing patterns
  • Creativity is social
  • Creativity is most successful in small teams
  • Nussbaum suggests conducting brainstorming through "magic circles" or small groups of people who are comfortable with each other
  • Ultimately, creativity is essential for work and life
Another article, published by Mashable, discusses how Google sponsors fun activities for their employees during the day. They believe that this "play time" fosters creativity and ultimately makes their workers more productive. Judging by the success Google has seen, I would have to admit that they may be on to something.

Recently, Thrillist, the company I did my summer internship with, was featured in Buzzfeed's "10 Awesome Startup Offices in NYC". The list contains ten successful, new companies who have brought creativity into not only their products and services, but their office atmosphere as well:

To see the full list, click here.

Although some people may not take creative or fun work environments seriously, happy employees foster success and I think there is a lot of logic behind these types of offices or "play time" practices. I enjoyed coming to my internship every day and I know that the other employees felt the same way. Sure, they worked long, tedious hours like the rest of the workforce, but got to have fun when all was said and done. Ultimately, working should be enjoyable and creativity must be present in every aspect. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Yahoo CEO bans employees from telecommuting

Picture via Gigaom

By now, I am sure many of you have heard about the controversial ban on telecommuting that Yahoo's CEO, Marissa Mayer, put in place this past week. Although it is causing quite a stir, the justification behind her reasoning does make a lot of sense. Mayer feels that the struggling company needs a big boost and that having employees work together and spread creativity will be the answer to their problems.

Mayer wants the telecommuting ban to go into place in June. This way, the 500 employees being affected by this have ample time to adjust to the transition and get their personal lives in check. Mayer has stood firm in her decision, despite animosity, and released a memo stating, "to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side".

I understand why people are upset about this. Working from home is super convenient and makes sense for those who work nights and weekends. Many companies have been increasing the number of telecommuters because it ultimately does save the company money in the end. However, Mayer comprehends that Yahoo needs a change and has concluded that this is right one. She is one of the few female CEOs in the US, so I would have to say that she probably knows what she is talking about. It will be interesting to see whether or not this transition ultimately hurts or helps Yahoo. To read the full ComputerWorld article, click here.

Picture via Brandthropsophy

How does this affect us PR majors you ask? According to the PR Daily Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey, most PR people do not work from home. The survey concluded that a mere 22% of PR professionals telecommute and almost half of those people only do it once a week. The survey also found that most people who do telecommute in the industry are experienced PR professionals with big paychecks (aka not us). Additionally, the employees most likely to telecommute work in non-profit PR and government agencies. To read the full PR Daily article, click here.

Personally, I would not want to telecommute at this point in my life. It could, however, be beneficial for me when I am more experienced or have a family. Right now though, I thrive off working with others and get excited about aspects like interactive brainstorming and socializing with co-workers. I agree with Mayer that some of the best ideas occur "around the water cooler" and that a company's culture has a lot to do with its success. What do you guys think? Leave comments!