Category Archives: Current Events

United Airlines: How Not to Act in a Crisis

By: Hope Salyer

It’s easy to think about public relations as always being happy. With TV shows constantly depicting PR practitioners as publicists working in Hollywood, or always helping to plan a successful campaign, it’s easy to forget something practitioners have to face more than they would like: crisis communication.

We see companies going to a crisis constantly. Crises can range from something like the BP Oil Spill to the tween President Trump sent out about Boeing. In a more recent case, United Airlines was caught (and continues to be experiencing) a major crisis.

https://youtu.be/VrDWY6C1178 (Embed in blog post. The embed link can be found when you click on this link)

The above video showing a passenger on a United flight from Chicago to Kentucky being forcibly dragged out of his seat off the overbooked flight. Passengers were quick to share the video on social media, and from there it spread like wildfire.

While PR practitioners have to constantly be prepared for something like this for their own companies with the rise in social media, it’s more important for us a practitioners to look at United’s response. Responses from company CEO’s and spokespersons can be analyzed to show what a practitioner should do and should not do during a crisis.

The response from United’s CEO is a prime example in what not to do. In an article from PR Daily, Hinda Mitchell breaks down the issues with United’s CEO Oscar Munoz initial statement.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 9.13.59 AM

Source: twitter.com

According to Mitchell, the problem with Muno’z statement started with the first sentence. By saying “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” Munoz ultimately gave off the impression he was feeling sorry for himself and United by writing this. Mitchell argues, and I would agree, that the incident was probably far more upsetting to the victim and passengers onboard than it was to anyone at United.

Munoz also says in his statement “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” and “Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.” There are two issues with these sentences. First, there appeared to have been no accommodation for this passenger from the video or statements released by United. Mitchell argues that the overbooked flight is a secondary issue. Because overbooking happens regularly, yet very rarely results in a situation like this, the issue is instead with United’s handling of the situation. The second issue, is with Munoz’s statement of “working with urgency.” Considering it took United 24-hours to respond to the situation, it is hard to fathom that United is working with urgency in response to anything in this situation.

Munoz’s statement is a prime example of what not to do in a crisis situation. Do you agree with Mitchell’s argument? What would you have done differently if you were United in this situation? Let me know if 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 hsalyer@emich.edu.

Pass to share: Site only allows those who pass a quiz to comment or share their articles

By: Nicole Raymond

There has recently been a lot of talk about “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and the rants many people have taken to social media to discuss a variety of topics. One online news source is trying to curb the rants of those on social media by making sure they know their stuff before they share or comment on an article.

Much of journalism has moved to an online platform where ease of reading and sharing is prevalent for the millions of readers on the web. With the power for anyone to comment on or share an article, and more and more people joining the world of social media, it has become inevitable that people will share and comment on articles they haven’t fully read or don’t  understand.

According to Joseph Lichterman, one Norwegian news site, NRKbeta, is trying to prevent people from blindly sharing articles by having them pass a test about the article before they are able to share it. The test has readers answer three questions about the article correctly before they are able to share or comment on the piece. Executives from the website say this feature allows them to make sure readers understand what they are reading before they rant about it.

Fake news 1

Photo Credit: NRKbeta

Having people spend 15 seconds thinking about the article and taking the time to answer the questions and understand the article better may even allow the reader to cool off and see that the rant isn’t needed in the first place.

Fake news 2

Photo Credit: NRKbeta

While NRKbeta is still in the introductory phase of their quiz screenings and only a handful of articles have the quiz feature available, if all goes well, they may use the quiz for all of their published articles.

Some may see this as obstructing free speech or distasteful for the news organization, but a journalist from NRKbeta Ståle Grut said, “We thought we should do our part to try and make sure that people are on the same page before they comment. If everyone can agree that this is what the article says, then they have a much better basis for commenting on it.”

I think quizzes are a great idea because it ensures that readers have taken the time to read and understand the information before sharing and creating conversations about the material. However, I think it hinders some of the potential an article has for a large reach. If readers are required to take a quiz on the article before they publish it, some people may not want to take the time. This means less people see the article and less traffic is driven to a website. This hurts advertising costs and the number of views for the website.

What do you think of having to pass a quiz before a person is able to comment or share an article?

Nicole Raymond is senior majoring in public relations and double minoring in marketing and communications. This is her first year serving on EMU PRSSA’s E-Board as VP of External Relations. Nicole is a wife, aunt, daughter, sister and friend. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @nicoleraymond74.

McDonald’s is not clowning around!

By: Nicole Raymond

Clown mascot Ronald McDonald is on leave after clown incidents across the country

America has seen many fads over the years, including poodle skirts, parachute pants, pet rocks and silly bands, but this year, Americans are experiencing what they can only hope is a strange new fad.  Creepy clowns have been sighted across the country hanging around schools, playgrounds and wooded areas giving many people the heebie-jeebies. The clowns have caused schools to close due to threats—creating somewhat of an epidemic, and McDonald’s took notice.

McDonald’s released a statement that they would be removing their clown mascot Ronald McDonald from community activities and promotions until further notice.  They made the decision to cut Ronald McDonald because they wanted to show they were aware of the rising concerns over clowns and were taking measures to ease some of the community’s worries.

Part of the formal statement read, “McDonald’s and franchisees in the local markets are mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities and as such are being thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events for the time being.”  I both applaud and question their statement.

I think this was a good move on McDonald’s part, but it seems a bit extreme considering that clown sightings have been of scary clowns, and Ronald McDonald is a happy clown. However, it shows that McDonald’s cares about the communities they are in and don’t want to upset them. I also think making a public statement was a wise choice because it allowed the public to understand the decision, and the media to cover the story as it relates to popular culture.

I question this decision because McDonald’s hasn’t used Ronald McDonald in any marketing tools in quite some time. According to a Chicago Tribune article, Ronald McDonald hasn’t been in the news since 2014 when he underwent a makeover for the first time in a decade. The article also noted that Ronald McDonald has been laying low long before the clown scare, which is evident by his Twitter page with no tweets or activity.

What do you think about McDonald’s decision?

Nicole Raymond is senior majoring in public relations and double minoring in marketing and communications. This is her first year serving on EMU PRSSA’s E-board as VP of External Relations. Nicole is a wife, aunt, daughter, sister and friend. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @nicoleraymond74.

Target getting backlash over LGBT stance

By: Hope Salyer

Hope's Blog Pic 1

Source: target.com

The state of North Carolina has regarded its House Bill 2, which banned cities from allowing transgender individuals from using public restrooms for the sex they identify as. Target is now receiving backlash over its transgender bathroom policy.

Target’s policy says that individuals may use the bathroom that aligns with his or her gender identity. According to Target, it is important to the company that everyone is treated equally and protected from discrimination.

According to PR Daily, the American Family Association is one of the policy’s biggest critics. The organization formed a petition encouraging people to boycott the chain, and it has gained over 700,000 signatures in five days.

The petition states, “Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?”

Target issued a statement in response to the petition. In the statement, Target continually reiterates that inclusivity is one of the company’s core beliefs.

“We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally,” the statement says. “Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination.”

The statement ends, “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”

According to PR Daily, in an interview with the Star Tribune, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the post was just an overt restatement of a policy.

Target and PR

In an age where brands are constantly facing crisis situations, it’s refreshing to see a company standing behind its policies. It has become the norm that when an organization faces backlash, the first thing they do is apologize. The fact that companies like Target and Apple are beginning to stand behind their policies in order to help protect their customers should be cause for praise, not outrage.

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

Current Events: American Airlines scrutinized after woman is kicked off plane

By: Natalie Burns

If you haven’t heard already, American Airlines is getting heat for an incident that occurred Sunday, Oct. 11. An American Airlines flight attendant kicked off a passenger when there was a miscommunication before the plane even took off. Bill Byrne, a passenger sitting behind the woman, recorded the entire dispute. Tainan Fough claims that this is a case of a flight attendant on a power trip (source).

According to New York Post, Fough claims she was boarding the plane with the other passengers and there were about three people in front of her.

“I was chatting with the lady in front of me,” said Fough. She says the flight attendant yelled at her when she didn’t hear his instructions to move to the side. “Do you want to take the next flight?” the flight attendant said. “I can kick you off this plane right now.”

Humiliated and defeated, Fough exited the plane. However, the assembled crowd booed the flight attendants as they escorted the woman off the plane.

“At that point I just got off. I got into the tunnel where you walk through to get to the plane… he pops his head out and he comes out of the plane looks down the hallway snickering at me… taunting me. I was already the lowest I could be,” Fough said (source).

Fox Business News says other passengers from the flight are filing complaints with American Airlines for the mistreatment of a passenger who clearly did nothing wrong.

A spokesperson for American Airlines told KATU the airline is aware of the video and is now investigating the events leading up to the flight attendant’s decision to kick the woman off the plane.

Another report issued by Fox Business said that American Airlines reached out with an apology and explained management would handle the situation internally (source).

You can watch the footage here.

Relating it to PR

While it is important as a public relations professional to keep up with the news, it is also good for us as students to contemplate situations like this. What would you do if you were the spokesperson for American Airlines? This could be an essential case study as we utilize our tools and ethics as practitioners to gain important knowledge and in-depth public relations practice.

Sources:

New York Post: http://nypost.com/2015/10/13/passengers-boo-as-woman-is-kicked-off-american-airlines-flight/

Fox Business: http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2015/10/15/american-airlines-passenger-speaks-out-after-flight-attendant-blowup/

Natalie Burns is a public relations major and marketing minor. Her writing, communication, and multitasking skills have allowed her to do especially well in her field. She has an outgoing, bubbly personality. Natalie is currently a public relations intern at SOS Community Services in downtown Ypsilanti. She is also Chief Financial Officer of PRSSA. Connect with her via Twitter @burns_natalie and Instagram @natattack03. Follow her blog at natalierb.wordpress.com.

PR blogs are a great resource

By: Danita Tatum

Source: Created using imgflip.com.

Source: Created using imgflip.com.

During my time as a PR student, I have found that being “in the know” is really important. Since I’m really not one of those people who watches the news, I always make sure I check online for current events. As important as it is for us to know what’s going on in the world, it is also important for us to be knowledgeable about what’s going on in the PR world and how current events effect our profession. I have found that the best way to stay informed is by reading PR blogs. Here are a few of my favorite PR blogs.

1. prdaily.com

PRDaily is an extremely diverse blog. They post articles about social media issues, marketing, traditional media relations, and so much more. Their blog provides career advice and it’s a great way to stay up-to-date on PR happenings.

2. prinyourpajamas.com

This blog is a great resource when you’re in a rut or just don’t know how to do something. PR In Your Pajamas always has great tips and tricks for whatever project you’re working on. There are posts about graphic design, marketing, social media relevance, creating content and so many other important topics. The blog has advice and lots of infographics.

3. bulldogreporter.com

Bulldog Reporter is another great source for current events and PR issues. They also have an interesting section called the “PR PROfile,” which features a PR professional in the area. I think reading about the featured professional always gives me an idea of what I could be doing and what I should be doing to get there.

4. Flack Me

The blog has a mixture of posts that range from current events to discussion topics. Their discussion posts are always really interesting and if you join the discussion, you may learn a few things. Flack Me is actually the blog for a job search engine that specializes in advertising and marketing jobs, so there are always job postings on their blog.

5. millenialmarketing.com

Millennial Marketing focuses on how companies and PR professionals are adapting to this new group of consumers. As a Millennial, it is always interesting to read about what companies are doing to appeal to me. Their posts are always worth a read.

Danita Tatum is the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU PRSSA.

The importance of following current events

By: Leah Rodriguez

When it comes to the term “current events,” some may begin to have flashbacks of seventh grade history class. We’ve all dreaded being forced to read the newspaper and summarizing an article relevant to the week’s lesson plan. As we become older and more advanced in our careers and academics I feel it’s important to “stay relevant” with the news. I never understood this importance until I was in an interview for an internship and my potential employer asked my opinions on recent political news with Gov. Snyder; embarrassed, I asked myself “what news?” I knew it was time for a change and I made it a point to begin following the news more often.

One way I didn’t consider following up on current events is by utilizing social media. Twitter is arguably the quickest and most reliable source of news.. It harbors as much information that you allow it to when you follow relevant news outlets to your geographic location and demographics. Twitter allows you the opportunity to get news from the source the moment it goes online, without having to wait for it to print.

Another way I began to follow current events is by watching TV. If you’re good at multitasking try leaving the news on in the background while you do homework, clean your house, fold laundry, cook dinner, etc. Watching the news at prime times in the morning and evening can help you visualize what is happening around the world or in your city.

However you feel comfortable gaining your information is up to each individual; the importance of maintaining knowledge on current events is the main point. I believe my new efforts will help me during interviews, in social settings, and during lectures.

Leah Rodriguez is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. This is her second year on EMU PRSSA’s executive board, having served as VP of PR and VP of Special Events and Programs in 2014-2015. She is the social media intern for EMU’s College of Arts & Sciences, where she manages their Facebook and Twitter accounts.