Global Public Relations! How important is it to learn about other cultures? What do we know about the rest of the world?

Are we ready for a career in international public relations? Public relations majors learn a lot of skills in school. They learn how to write, how to think, how to acquire the skills to persuade and how to get their messages across in the best and most effective way. They learn about journalism and how to deal with the media, how to utilize social media to work in their favor and how to communicate effectively. ALL within the scope of our laws, cultures, customs, and traditions.

But are we going to be limited to only where we live when we graduate and get a job? For those who are from Ann Arbor, are you going to find your dream job in Ann Arbor? Most probably, not! At least not if you want to work for a big company, and explore more opportunities for your career advancement.

According to Think Public Relations by Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, and Shin, “hundreds of corporations based in the united states have been engaged in international business operations, including marketing, advertising and public relations.” Most big companies in the US has international offices and various different relations with other countries around the world. So, at any given time during our career, we should expect to deal with some kind of international client or international assignment. What do we know about other cultures? Almost nothing!! The following link is to a very interesting article about global public relations.

What skills do we need to know and are those skills on the national level or can they also work on the international level? Do we know everything we need to know or is there anything else that we need to learn outside of the classroom.

So often, we expect that other countries around the world to be similar to our believes, tradition and customs. What we don’t know is that, every country is completely different than the other and that even within a country people can vary drastically. For example, it does not make any sense if we start marketing a Ford F150 in Manhattan to bank executives, Wall Street managers and CEOs. Which car will make sense to market over there? Probably a mercedes or a BMW.

One of the most successful slogans for BMW in the middle east was “We do not claim perfection but we always try to be as close” This slogan is not just a slogan. BMW did thier HW and knew that in muslim countries, people believe that nothing is perfect, whether a person or a product, nothing what so ever is perfect. Perfection is a word that is only reserved for God. So, here, BMW understood the culture, sent the right message and got the results they wanted to. PR practioners should know a lot of things about everything, it is a hard job to do but I personally like the challenge and I believe that a good PR professional is the one who turn any problem around to the company’s favor.

I think that PR students should learn about cultures and traditions as much as they learn about writing and persuasion. It will be very beneficial if PR curriculums had some kind of cultures of the world class to be taken as a mandatory class. It will be also very good if something similar to that is applied to cultures of the US.



Celebrities and PR: Keeping it Real, Or Keeping it Professional- Which is More Important?

The high streaming trend of social networking sites has taken the world by storm; especially the entertainment world.

Businesses and other professional entities use social networking sites as a means of advertisement and a way to connect to their target markets in ways that appeal to them. The professional world has really gotten the hang of the whole social networking thing, and do well with it… For the most part.

Celebrities have also made their mark in the social networking world; using twitter and Facebook to promote things like music, movies, and athletic events. Fans log on to these sites to find out the latest about their favorite entertainer and what the next move they make will be. Social networking has given Celebs a lot of freedom to be themselves and allow fans to get to know the “real them;” but maybe it’s becoming TOO real.

Some may not be familiar with the all to real, Charlie Sheen rant:

Read more on how Sheen’s rant led too him ultimately being fired from the sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”

Which brings me to my point of celebs and their freedom to promote, or taint their image via social network sites. As if Sheen’s PR agents didn’t have enough of a mess to clean up, he goes to twitter and somewhat confirms the allegations of him being completely out of his mind. This may not have done too much good for his image in the eyes of new job prospects, but it definitely did a lot of good for his popularity ratings. Sheen set a Guinness world record for the fastest user to hit 1 million followers on Twitter.

In this instance, taking the “I’m completely out of my mind” route worked in Sheen’s favor, and it’s hard to tell whether his PR people advised him on what to do via social networking, but efforts were made to clean up Sheen’s mess. His mishap with the “lady of the night,” that ended in a hotel disturbance and allegations of cocaine use by Sheen, may have been one of the biggest image taint-ers, but Sheen’s spokesperson, according to, tried to put a Band-Aid on the situation by claiming that Sheen had an allergic reaction to some medication and that’s what caused him to verbally assault the woman and accuse her of stealing his wallet. This story may have been believable had Sheen not been in and out of rehab with many allegations of drug and alcohol use; the woman’s profession didn’t help any either.

Another attempt at salvaging the professional image of Sheen, was having him speak out after one of his relapses. According to Chapter 16, pg 333 in THINK Public Relations, a wise and safe thing to do in this situation would have been to prepare a statement to explain Sheen’s misconduct. Having him speak out puts him at risk of allowing  the reporters and editors to be able to twist his words to create more of a frenzy.

Although Sheen remains out of a job, the “Unemployed Winner” remains at the top of the Twitter popularity list with more that 4 million followers.

So my question is; was this a good PR move on Sheen’s part and the part of his PR agents? Although he lost the leading role on one of the most popular sitcoms, he is still the topic of many blogs and at the end of many hash-tags. Although he may not be making the most money, if any, he is still relevant. One of the PR core values is to act in the best interest of the client or employer.So have his PR agents effectively done their job?

Although this may have worked a little for Sheen, is it safe to say that “keeping it real” via social network sites may not be the best image booster for other celebs; especially when they expect to be employed? I think it’s safe to say that “keeping it real” will get you followers, but will it keep you employed?

-Porsha Poe

Dominos does a dirty job-How they clean up their mess.

Social Media has become huge today, over a million people visit Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube on a daily basis. When something big hits the internet-it spreads like wild-fire, even if it’s not good news. If someone hears or sees something and they want other people to know about it they can now post it, tweet it or upload it. As soon as one person puts it online they make it available to their hundreds of friends who show it to their hundreds of friends. Unfourtantly this didn’t work in Domino’s Pizzas favor when two of their Conover, NC employees did something disgusting to a delivery order and for some reason decided to record their foul act. The video was posted to YouTube and within 48 hours was viewed by millions and the subject of many bloggers posts.

The famous Domino’s Pizza reputation was hurt pretty bad when the video hit the web, luckily the two didn’t get away with their awful prank  the two people were fired and are facing felony charges. The two employees recorded themselves putting cheese up their nose and putting the dough on their buttocks. (This was removed from YouTube shortly after being posted.) This didn’t mean that it was over, there will millions of people who saw the video and were talking about this. (After seeing that I wouldn’t be ordering Domino’s anytime soon, and I am sure many people would agree.) This was not good for the company, so da na na it was PR to the rescue! The public relations staff at Dominos went hard to work to try to clean up the mess made by their employees. The first thing the company did was apologize. They also closed down the Conover location, sanitized it thoroughly and threw out any food that wasn’t closed and sealed properly.

The PR staff at Dominos did a number of things to try to fix the problem so their customers wouldn’t lose faith in their pizza. They used this bad reputation and hard time to completely turn their company around and improve their product. They called it the “Pizza Turnaround.” They took all the bad criticism and used it to improve their product. They changed and made their product better from all the negative feedback. They created a Twitter account to communicate with their customers. Then they made a Facebook, to make “friends” and talk about specials and coupons they offer. Also, “customer care link” about the incident was placed at the bottom of their corporate website to answer any consumer concerns. These are all good strategies to interact with customers because this way they can receive feedback and other people can see what everyone is saying and thinks. Lastly, they now use e-mail to communicate with all their employees.

Social Media still continues to grow today with more and more people becoming users to the website, it is also becoming a huge part of PR. Domino’s PR used social media in a positive way, although a few of their employees used it negativly.They really turned it around thats why I believe Domino’s PR did a great job turning that negative energy around. They are also working hard to make sure they have the trust of their company which is an important part of running a business. You can see the improvement in the company and their product. They really showed us that we matter and that they will do anything to keep us happy.

-Rhonda Farah

Has NetFlix gotten to big for its britches? – Safe enough to lose customers trust and still be on top.

Public relations scholar Lisa Lyon makes the point that reputation, unlike corporate image, is owned by the public. Reputation isn’t formed by packaging or slogans. A good reputation is created and destroyed by everything an organization does, from the way it handles conflicts with outside constituents.

I totally agree with Lisa Lyon statements about how reputation are created and destroyed. My Dad once told me: ” You can’t control what is said about you, but you can control what is said.” To take Lyon thought a little further the King James Version bible states that:

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”

So therefore you would think that would be the motto of all companies or organization. However, that is not always the case some companies  choose to have riches over a good name.

Netflix + paid actors = Epic Failure

In 2010, VP of communications Steve Swasey  hands were caught in the cookie jar when customers learn that hired actors to attend a press event in Toronto. The extras were told to act “very excited,” and especially be cheerful to the media. As you could imagine Swasey spent the day  attempting  putt out this fire the more he tired to put it out the more he just fanned the flames. Making what was already  an embarrassing story into a Epic PR Failure.

Eventually, Swasey waved his white flag in a blog post cleverly titled: “We Blew It.”

He confirmed the story is true:

“The launch included the shooting of a corporate video with some hired extras, who, it turns out, were given improper direction to talk with the news media about their enthusiasm for the Netflix service. This was a mistake and was not intended to be part of our launch plan. Simply put: we blew it. We didn’t intend to mislead the media or the public, and we can understand why some have raised questions. We’re sorry that our misfire has given Canadians any reasons to doubt our authenticity or our sincerity.”

Sooo, NetFlix has money to pay extras to deceive. Not that i would want to be deceived but i would rather to be deceived by famous actors.  Extras Netflixs Really Extras! Then out of the blue Netflixs announced a new pricing structure that will raise some customers monthly bill by 60 percent.

According, to Think Public Relations:“Public relation professionals must develop communication strategies and process to influence the course of conflicts to the benefit of their organizations and, when possible, to the benefit of the organizations’ many constituents. The deliberate influence is called strategic conflict management.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,”Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

From the reputation side of things  i have tip my hat to Netflix for owning up to their mistakes. I felt that Swasey truly lived  the above quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson that day and the days after this pr nightmare. Sometimes it’s the pr job to take one for the team.

However, from Image restoration side of things Think Public Relations also states that:”reputation repair and maintenance is a long- term process, but one of the first steps in the process is the final one in the conflict management life cycle.”

Commentors accused Netflix of being greedy and alleged it was trying to “choke more change” out of its customers. Others suggested refreshing the streaming content to justify the price change. Others said they would be leaving Netflix. From reading some of the customers comments Nerflix has a serious image restoration reputation to repair.

Deceiving reporters and the public in this manner violates several principles of PRSA’s Code of Ethics:

– Failure to disclose information. Netflix was not honest about the identity of the attendees. This decreases trust with the public.

– Failure of free flow of information. Honesty and accuracy are vital in maintaining a good relationship with the media and the public.

– Failure to enhance the profession. I’m sure many PR professionals are shaking their heads in disbelief right now. Many professionals work constantly to strengthen the public’s trust in PR, and blunders like these are a big blow.

For those reason and other reasons I feel  is the main problems that Netflix is losing the public’s trust. I must admit I am a user of Netflix services the price increase has yet become an issue for me. I share the service with my parents and my older sister and we split the cost amongst ourselves. I am  I upset with the price increase?- no i am not because my family and I no longer has cable. Compared to what my sister and I was paying for cable at out apartment and what my parents were paying we are happy with the price of Netflix. I do understand the frustration of customers when you get use to paying for something at one price and all of sudden it changes without any heads up. That is no way to treat loyal customers or new customers. If they were planing on making these changes then they should have made their customers aware of these possible changes a head of time.

I feel Blockbuster is a great example of a company that was too big and too slow to make changes in their business philosophy and strategy soon enough. Instead, the changes they made were re-active, not pro-active and too little too late. Blockbuster CEO’s were content solely on being greedy. This is a PERFECT example of what will happen to a company, if/when it refuses to consider it’s own longevity, in the grand scheme of things. As a result, Blockbuster CEO’s had no choice to have a    intimate business date with Chapter 11.

I strongly suggest that Netflix tighten up those britches the service they offer is a Great one don’t go messing up a good thing. Deceiving and messing the cost is not the route you want to take for increasing success. Netflix should learn from Blockbusters  mistakes and try their hardest to avoid making the same mistakes.  They will get hit where it hurts them the most and that is in their pockets ” company’s shares wise.” I feel that  Netflix is still a new enough  company to bounce back from their mistakes. There maybe be a bitter-sweet relationship with their customers but i am sure “Some” will remain loyal.   As the old saying goes: “if it is broken why fix it?”

– Dee Moore

PR firm plays shady games on the internet – is this a bad thing?

Before starting things off, a disclaimer: I am no expert on public relations or ethics. I have never taken classes or studied extensively the nuances of either subject. I will probably miss a point, and you, my internet superheroes, must aid me in finding it. Or simply point out my sheer dumbness – that usually works, too.

Sultans of Spin (and other catchy, derogatory names for PR practicioners)

Before getting down and dirty with the nitty-gritty of an all-out thinking-things-like-a-grown-up spiel, I’d like to present my personal interpretation of common PR function as I’ve seen it as the outsider to the field I am:

I like to visualize businesswomen in those old-school shoulder pads, but this comic is about the message, not the fashion. Pay attention!

This is basically it. Granted, the first chapter of our text made me realize PR folk do more than sweep up corporate messes, but even so. I still have this pretty solid image of picking at a mass description of a company with a Wite-Out pen and omitting all the nasty words capable of making a consumer crinkle his/her nose. It’s not lying, per se, but it’s certainly not being wholly honest. That’s how I feel.

And recent news on high-stakes internet fights doesn’t exactly give me much to change my mind.

The Internet is serious ethical business

Look, here: Facebook hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller to get negative press published against Google’s new Social Circle feature. Worse (but most likely not the firm’s fault) was the fact FB kept their name out of it, claiming the goal was public awareness rather than sticking it to one of their greatest rivals:

“No ‘smear’ campaign was authorized or intended. Instead, we wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles, just as Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose,” a spokesman said. “The issues are serious and we should have presented them in a serious and transparent way.”

Is it true? Is it a lie? Who even knows! I don’t! I highly doubt everyone hearing about this takes time out to check up on this firm’s reputation. Judging from its website, Burson-Martseller’s more into bringing us Swedish goods and making Transitions lenses look way more exciting than they actually are.

So was this Facebook’s fault for getting the ball rolling, or the folks at Burson-Martseller for rolling with it? Was it ethical?

Well, the Public Relations Society of America’s famed Code of Ethics gives me a mixed message. On the one hand, the very first point presses the need to “protect and advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information.” It says nothing of positive or negative; telling folks about the privacy aspects of Social Circle is a-OK. It’d be ethical to do so, I think! At least…It’d be ethical for Google to have said so in the first place.

On the other, I scroll and see another set of points – “code guidelines.” And this, as point number two:

Reveal sponsors for represented causes and interests.

Granted, whenever I hear “guidelines,” I hear that guy in “Pirates of the Caribbean” when he’s called out on breaking the pirate code: “The code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules…”

Also, who’s to say Burson-Marsteller even signs onto this code? All I see on its site is an adherence to the WPP Code of Business Conduct, which does indeed protect the privacy of a client…but doesn’t that clash with PR ethics?

Lofty ideals or low blows?

Facebook was never named as this little whisper campaign was making its way through top-tier publications. Actually, it was only revealed when one of the bloggers approached refused and posted the email pitches!

Like I said at the start – I’m no expert on this. I do understand, however, that codes and guidelines are not rules – rather, good advice to follow in the field if you’d like to be not considered a jerk. Our text touches on this troubling balancing act, complete with handy visual aid on page 182. There are situations where one has to consider their own ethics, their employer’s and their client’s simultaneously.

There’s also talk of a “contingency theory,” wherein practitioners sometimes have to back their client 100 percent (p. 183) out of moral obligation. Was pointing out Social Circle’s new features something falling into this vein?

I’ll tell you what I think. I think if Facebook truly holds the belief in their claimed cause – that this was a case in the cause of social awareness about a hot-button topic – their name should have been public from the get-go. Burson-Martseller shouldn’t have been involved – at least, not in the whole hey-USA-Today-I-got-some-dirt-for-you-nudge-nudge-wink-wink way it seems to be reported as.

Then again, historically, perhaps this isn’t that bad? I mean, back in the day, there was a whole progression of thought in PR pertaining to the public’s right-to-know. Dr. Shannon A. Bowen points this out in her history of ethics in public relations.

But that’s back in the day. Bowen covers well beyond Ivy Lee’s principles of public knowledge of long ago, presses on about how vital ethics has become as the profession expanded and changed. She notes a dire lack of ethics training in younger PR practitioners, which could, perhaps, account for this shady little misstep.

And to be honest, I haven’t heard any buzz about this little drama. I had to dig to find it. It leads me to believe this isn’t too new or unusual – only the scale and prominence of the two web lords makes it the story it is. Who’s to say this kind of thing isn’t practiced regularly, perhaps under the assumption of public interest. And money.

Like Aladdin said: You’re only in trouble if you get caught.

But, hey. Nobody’s perfect! Thank goodness for butt pats like this one from the Wakeman Agency, right? If anything, Burson-Marsteller can at least rest assured their staff is potentially more ethical than a veterinary student.

So, did I learn anything?

I don’t think the PR firm lied about anything. I think what they did was shady in a childish sense – catty, even. Like kids at recess elbowing each other and passing around rumors. Don’t say where you heard this, but Jimmy eats glue! Except someone got paid a lot of money to tell everyone about Jimmy eating glue.

I’d like to think this firm is better than taking money from such a digital behemoth like Facebook, but I have to be honest. Dollar signs are very important. I don’t doubt dollar signs swayed the decision to go with this plan – what company decisions aren’t about money in some form, anyway?

But it still leaves me with a sour feeling. My feelings on PR remain closer to the cynical side in light of this case, though I am aware there is much more to the profession than playing telephone with rival companies.

I can only wonder, though…had that blogger not posted his emails as proof, what kind of story would this wind up being? Would Burson-Martseller have kept quiet? I hope not.

-Laura Laurain

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