Category Archives: Brand Image

Basics of Media Relations: The Bread & Butter of PR

By: Abby Cousineau


The role of a PR practitioner has changed so much over the years, but one responsibility that has always remained ours is media relations. Media relations is the “bread and butter” of PR and has been our specialty since the days of Edward Bernays. While our jobs have certainly evolved to include various responsibilities associated with social media, marketing and advertising, we are still the ones responsible for earning space in the media.

Since media relations is so vital, we wanted to learn more, and we brought in an expert to teach us. Last month, Chris Austin, senior account executive at Identity Public Relations, ran a workshop about media relations for us. We learned about what media relations is and the role of the PR practitioner in the process. Here are the key highlights from Chris’ workshop:

The media room is shrinking every day. There is less money and reporters have more work to do than they did in the past. Reporters rely on media relations specialists to provide accurate and interesting information and story ideas.

While social efforts often grab most the attention today, the media is still important. The media provides thee important things to clients:

  1. Visibility/awareness
  2. Credibility
  3. Relationships


Many different types of media coverage exist. Each client is different and may require unique media coverage to tell their story. You can learn more about the different types of coverage here. Some examples include:

  • Bylined column
  • Expert Source
  • Executive or company profile
  • In-studio TV or radio guest
  • On-site TV guest
  • Brief/press release pick-up

Pitching is how we give reporters story ideas. Pitching is usually done through email and is concise, interesting and informative. Chris offered the following tips for what the media looks for in a pitch:

  • Newsworthy content
  • Interesting to the reporter
  • A story their readers will want to read
  • Provides useful information
  • A story that can be written by their deadline
  • A story that applies to a broad spectrum of readers, listeners or viewers

And finally, he summarized what the news actually is:

  • Timely
  • Relevant
  • Useful/impactful
  • Controversial
  • Unusual

Are you interested in media relations? Did you think this summary was helpful? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Abby Cousineau is a senior at EMU majoring in public relations and minoring in graphic design and marketing. She is currently serving as president of EMU PRSSA and is excited to be leading such a creative and dedicated group of individuals. You can usually find Abby outside anytime the weather is nice or otherwise spending her time behind a computer screen, working on one of her design projects. Connect with Abby on Instagram @abcattt.

Hunters Take Over PETA

By Hope Salyer

As public relations practitioners we are all familiar with crisis communication, backlash to campaigns and statements taken out of context. It is our job to plan ahead before launching a campaign. We have to ask ourselves, “What could possibly go wrong with this campaign? Is there anything in this campaign, graphics, promotional materials, planned statements, campaign slogans, etc. that could be considered offensive?”

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, we have to scratch what we were planning and come up with something new that won’t fall under one of those statements. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to know how things from a campaign will play out, and we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis just like PETA has found itself in recently.

PETA launched its “Shoot Selfies, Not Animals” campaign on Facebook, and very quickly hunters began to troll the campaign. The original idea was simple. With hunting season quickly approaching, PETA wanted the public to focus on taking selfies instead of posting photos of the animals they have killed during hunting season.

What they didn’t take into consideration? The massive amounts of hunters against PETA.


Photo Credit: Facebook

Within a day, Facebook began blowing up with hunters posting photos of their most recent hunting kills with PETA’s filter. The words “Shoot Selfies, Not Animals” layered over photos of dead deer, turkeys, etc. filled my Facebook newsfeed, much like the one above, and have continued to show up on my feed ever since.

Even with the massive amounts of hunters taking over the filter, PETA is looking on the bright side of the matter. PETA released a statement from Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman saying, “PETA owes a big thank-you to the would-be trolls who are spreading our message of compassion.”

Sometimes the best way to deal with a crisis is to look at it differently. While many hunters have changed the original idea for the photo filter, the campaign has reached a larger audience than it might have otherwise been able to. According to PETA, the campaign filter has been used over 250,000 times and is currently the most popular filter on Facebook.
While it might not have turned out the way PETA had planned, the campaign was still a success. It’s not always possible to think of every way a campaign can possibly go wrong, but it is our job to be able to learn from it, grow and finish the campaign with success.

PETA’s original tactics for spreading awareness of PETA’s message might not have worked out the way they planned, but the overall outcome was achieved. More people are aware of PETA’s message than they were before the photo filter was launched.

Do you agree that this campaign ended up being a success? If you were PETA would you have reacted differently to the backlash? Let me know in the comments below.

Hope Salyer is a senior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Vice President of Professional Development and Special Events and Programming of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s second year serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency or local nonprofit in Michigan. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email


The power of the Tube

By: Jordan Ross


Source: Deli Agency

At this point in time, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of YouTube. It has become one of the go-to places to find videos on the internet. Whatever it is you are looking for, from educational lectures to something that will make you laugh until you cry, YouTube has it. In terms of public relations, it can also be a great tool to help your organization get a message across to a large amount of people.

According to YouTube Press statistics, as of 2016, YouTube has over a billion users, which is almost one-third of all people on the internet. People watch hundreds of millions of hours on the site and generate billions of views every day. While YouTube does offer a paid version of the site in YouTube Red that eliminates advertisements, YouTube is free for anyone with internet access.


Source: Lisa Jahred

As a free site, YouTube has made it really easy for anyone to view what is on their site. The site has also made it easy for anyone to upload their own videos so that billions of others are able to view them. YouTube has allowed for people to get creative with the platform and there are a variety of different production methods for videos.

From companies that upload big-budget commercials that air on TV to their YouTube page, to people who upload shaky cam footage from their phone, there are great gems that can be found no matter how they are created. This can be a great platform for any organization to use, because no matter what your budget is, it allows you to create content that reaches a vast audience and use creativity to have the message resonate with the audience.


Source: Furkids

The Furkids Animal Rescue shelter headquartered in Atlanta, GA is a prime example of this. Furkids “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that operates the largest cage-free, no-kill shelter in the Southeast for rescued cats.” Their mission “is to rescue homeless animals, provide them with the best medical care and a nurturing environment, while working to find them a forever home.”


Source: Furkids

Furkids has been a member of YouTube since July 2012. The videos they typically upload to their page are of the animals that they have in their shelter. Looking over the videos that they have uploaded in the past, the organization has used YouTube as a platform to connect with people and to provide a new loving home to the animals. The average number of views that a Furkids video uploads on YouTube receives is typically around 1,000. On a site with over a billion users, that’s not the most, but Furkids has remained consistent with uploading videos to the page.

The videos Furkids usually uploads are just filmed off of a regular phone camera, and as a nonprofit, the organization doesn’t have the most money to spend on its video production. As mentioned before, YouTube allows creativity to shine through regardless of budget, and in December 2016, Furkids was able to use that creativity to create a video that gained a lot more attention on YouTube than they ever have before.


Source: boredpanda

On December 23, 2016, Furkids released a 3-minute commercial on its YouTube page highlighting the shelter’s efforts, although it wasn’t your average commercial. The video was shot in about 30 minutes and edited in about an hour, and definitely was not your typical high-budget affair. In fact, it was very low budget. What the video lacked in production value was made up for in authenticity, and you could tell that this was a genuine message that was aimed at helping the organization accomplish its mission of helping those rescued animals (some of which made cameo appearances in the commercial).


Source: WDEF

As of January 12, the video has gained over 4.5 million views on YouTube. That doesn’t even count the millions of views that it has received on Facebook and Twitter. What was originally a low-budget video, turned out to be a large success for Furkids. They didn’t have to spend a lot of money. They just used creativity, and genuine love and care for what they were doing was seen in their efforts. As a result, Furkids was able to reach millions of people and increase awareness for their cause dramatically.


Source: WKRN

For an organization, this should be a lesson that it’s not just about the amount of money that you spend. There are more important things than that. It also goes to show how effectively YouTube can be as a tool to reach an audience of potentially over a billion people for a very low price if you’re creative enough. If you’re able to create a message that resonates with people and aren’t afraid to think outside the box, then you could really have a winning combination on your hands. Furkids certainly does, and 4.5 million people and counting may also agree with that.

Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the President of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss.

Will Chipotle’s new marketing strategy help declining sales?

By: Anissa Gabbara



There are plenty of popular companies that have been in hot water at one point, but are all of them lucky enough to redeem themselves? Many people have been wondering what it’s going to take for Chipotle to gain back the trust of its customers after last year’s E. coli outbreak that scared many loyal customers away from the popular restaurant. The company has finally developed a strategy that will hopefully win back the trust of its customers, and no, it doesn’t involve free burritos.

The restaurant chain is trying out a temporary loyalty program. The company has yet to provide details on what the program will include, but according to the chief development officer, Mark Crumpacker, there’s the “possibility of a permanent program” (source).

The company will also be investing a great deal in traditional advertising designed to improve their image and to promote the quality of its products (source). In addition, Chipotle will be extending its menu by adding chorizo, a mixture of chicken and pork sausage (source). It’s questionable whether a new food item will actually help Chipotle win their customers back, but it’s worth a try.

Chipotle is not giving up easily. In the past, they were willing to put their business in jeopardy by offering its customers free products, hurting them tremendously in sales. From a public relations standpoint, the brand has made the effort to win back its customers by ensuring the public that they would be taking necessary precautions when handling food in the future. Now is the time for the company to start implementing the right marketing strategies, but it’s still unknown whether the popular brand will earn its glory back.

Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the Vice President of Public Relations in EMU’s PRSSA Chapter. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.  


What businesses can learn from Beyoncé

By: Anissa Gabbara

Anissa's Blog Pic


Is all publicity good publicity? While many people believe this to be true, there are some who believe that this statement is nothing more than a public relations myth. In the world of entertainment, it’s often believed that any degree of publicity is better than none at all, but not everyone knows how to bounce back from negative criticism. We often see celebrities break as a result of public backlash. Well, if you’re as clever as Beyoncé aka Queen Bey, you probably have a way of turning any negative situation into something positive, but it takes a well-established brand to know how to pull it off.

The mega star sparked controversy that began with the spontaneous release of her music video “Formation” in February, followed by her memorable performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. The songstress received heavy backlash from those who were offended by what they perceived as an attack against police officers, when the intended message was designed to shed light on the Black Lives Matter movement. The backlash was so strong that police unions called for a Beyoncé boycott. So, what did the queen do in response to the harsh criticism?

Like the savvy business woman she is, Beyoncé decided to make light of the situation by selling “Boycott Beyoncé” T-shirts at her Formation World Tour that recently kicked off in Miami. The fans have been fully supportive of what seems to be Beyoncé’s boldest move yet, and the merchandise has already sparked conversation on social media, with numerous Instagram posts of people sporting the T-shirt.

The star is famous for her clever comebacks.  In 2013, Beyoncé was accused of lip-syncing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony. She responded with an Instagram post of her wearing a sweatshirt while rehearsing for her first Super Bowl performance that read: “Can I Live?” She also addressed the issue during a press conference days leading up to her Super Bowl performance, beginning with a live rendition of the national anthem, followed with the question, “Any questions?”

Beyoncé is an artist who is in full control of her career and public image. The larger-than-life brand that she has established over the years is unbreakable, and she seems to have a great PR team behind her. Regardless of the way the public perceives her work, it’s evident that everything Beyoncé does is strategically planned and well-thought-out. When it comes to handling publicity, good or bad, any company or individual can take a few notes from Queen Bey.

  1. Have a strong message: If you want to generate buzz about a particular topic, you should have a strong message that you believe in. Even if the public criticizes you for it, you’ll know that you did it for the right reasons, not solely for the publicity.
  2. Focus on your target audience: Every message you put out there should be centered on your target audience because those are the people who will probably be the most affected by it.
  3. Be prepared for criticism: Once the message is sent, prepare yourself for criticism, because it’s inevitable. The more you’re prepared, the more effectively you can respond to the critics.
  4. Your response is everything: Of course, any backlash is going to call for different responses, but if you can take a negative and turn it into a positive, it may work in your favor and the public will never forget it.
  5. Reputation matters: Whatever message you are sending to the public, keep your reputation in mind. How do you want to be remembered? Will the message make or break your reputation? Whether the public’s response is good or bad, will you be OK with your decision in the end? These are all good questions to think about.

Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the Vice President of Public Relations in EMU’s PRSSA Chapter. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.  

Where is the line drawn?

By: Jordan Ross

As many people are now aware of, on April 21, 2016, the world lost arguably one of the greatest musicians to ever live, with the death of Prince Rogers Nelson—otherwise known as just Prince. The music that Prince created over his illustrious career touched millions of people around the entire world. So many people were affected by the news of this great loss. After Prince’s death, there were many companies that wanted to pay tribute to the fallen musician, but some were received more positively than others.

Jordan's Blog Pic

Source: Advertising Age

The well-known cereal brand Cheerios ran a tribute on its Twitter page that read, “Rest in Peace,” where the “i” was dotted with a single Cheerio in front of a purple background. The tweet was posted only a few hours after the news broke that Prince died. While the company’s social media team may have thought it would be a clever way to honor the untimely death of Prince, the majority of the public did not view the tribute in that way.

Many people viewed the tweet as Cheerios capitalizing on the tragic news and using the tribute as an advertisement for its own product. When someone dies, especially only hours after the news is out, most people are still in the grieving process. The time when people are grieving over someone they loved who just died is not the time to promote your own product, at least in the public’s viewpoint. It comes off as being in poor taste and can harm the reputation the company holds in the public eye.

As a result of the backlash, the company deleted the tweet only several hours after it was posted. Although the tweet was deleted, once something is on the Internet it never goes away. Since that is the case, the backlash that Cheerios faced may last for quite a while.

Cheerios was not the only company that posted a tribute to Prince on their social media pages. As a matter of fact, some of the tributes were well-received by the public. One of those was a Chevrolet tribute. The company tweeted out the quote, “Baby, that was much too fast,” with a picture of a vintage red Corvette, in reference to Prince’s 1983 hit “Little Red Corvette.”

Jordan's Blog Pic 2

Source: Chevrolet’s Twitter Page

The public viewed Chevrolet’s tribute much more positively since it actually alluded to one of Prince’s songs, and the fact that it wasn’t a blatant advertisement for its product. Instead of featuring a brand new model of the Corvette in the picture, they decided to use an older model. If the company tried to showcase one of its newest products, the public’s reaction might’ve been similar to that of Cheerios.

As seen in both examples, there is a fine line between what is viewed in good taste and what is not. While speed is important, with every company wanting to be the first one to cover a story, it’s also important to think things through before you take action. Since Cheerios was one of the first companies to post their tribute, they will have to deal with the backlash of that decision for the foreseeable future. Chevrolet, on the other hand, waited a little longer to post their tribute. As a result, they created good publicity for their brand due to taking the time to think through what they were going to do. Sometimes, the early bird catches the worm, but also remember that the second mouse gets the cheese.

Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the President of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @__JordanRoss.

Cleaning up your online reputation

A lot of care is put into our real world reputation.

Hours can be spent making sure we buy just the right style of shoes or suit to make an unspoken representation about us. For many, that pride in ourselves and care of our image seems to go away once we are online.

Source: Meme Burn

Source: Meme Burn

Our online image is just as important, and perhaps becoming even more important, in today’s digital world.

Laura Simonds says in Time Magazine, “today, the Internet acts like a lens that magnifies every blemish, perceived insult and mistake – and then broadcasts it with a bullhorn.”

Sadly, mistakes have been made. Photos of you power drinking at 2 a.m. have a home on Facebook for the entire world to see.

Monster makes some recommendations on how to make an attempt at undoing the damage.

Scope out the damage and determine what damaging information exists. Putting your name into search engines and researching the results is a good way to start. After you find out what is out there already, use a Google alert to find out when more comes along.

Bury the damage. Try making a new blog or other type of website about you. Fill it with positive promotional information in an attempt to make the good outweigh the bad.

Request removal of undesirable material. Contact site owners and explain reasons for wanting material. If the information is inaccurate, defamatory or libelous, point that out.

Just keep in mind that having things removed is not the same as making it go away as if it never existed. Much of what appears online is archived at the Internet Archive, a nonprofit designed to be a resource for historians and researchers.

Take an honest look at your online reputation today and ask yourself if you would hire yourself based on what you see.

Ben Knauss
Guest Blogger
EMU Student