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 firstname.lastname@example.org.