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Something to Eat: Third time is a charm

by Jeremy Noble

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 12.07.12 PM

Public relations is planned with the audience in mind. The skills we develop in the classroom come together working with real clients and gaining professional experiences. Working with Christian Campus House this semester allowed my Innovative PR team the opportunity to plan and budget for an event and gain professional experience.

In partnership with Youthfront, CCH sponsors Something to Eat™ in Warrensburg, giving students and the community an opportunity to help people in need by creating food packages. Through this generous act of feeding others, we are helping to restore justice in the world.

CCH assigned us the task of creating a campaign, promoting the event to the campus and local community. We wanted to create a more engaging atmosphere by reaching out to more of the community than previous years. This is the third year UCM hosts the event on campus and each year the IPR group is given the opportunity to expand the initiative and increase the number of participants in hopes of reaching our goals.

Achieving our goal 

The goals this year are to raise awareness of the event and to package 5,000 units, equivalent to 30,000 meals and package 1,000 meals a day. There have been a few challenges in years past to reaching our goal, for instance, the weather was a major factor last year. This year we believe that third time is a charm. With the help of campus and community organizations, we have the opportunity to reach our goals and help those in need.

Changes in 2014

A UCM student creates one packages, feeding six people.

A UCM student creates one packages, feeding six people.

You may be questioning to how this campaign is different from years past. This year we added the group competition to encourage more organizations to participate. We also added the “I fed __ people” label stickers. Since not every participant receives a t-shirt this could be an alternative to those who do not qualify for the t-shirt. To qualify for a t-shirt, participants must create 6-9 packages and make a social media post using the new mural, which can be seen at the event.

The sticker design is the same as the t-shirt design from last year. Our team liked the idea of showing others how many people each participant feeds. We created t-shirts that had a more appealing design than last year’s. Finally, we wanted to interact face-to-face with churches and businesses to help with community engagement.

Getting Involved

All groups and organizations are encouraged to reserve a time to package meals by filling out the online form available at ucmo.edu/somethingtoeat. You can also sign up to volunteer. Participants also can help spread the word on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #somethingtoeat.

American Airlines manages potential crisis

By Elissa Huck

Public relations professionals wear many hats and must be able to multi-task in order to fulfill several duties; they maintain media relations, internal and external communications and marketing functions. One significant responsibility of today’s PR professionals is crisis communications. A crisis is a major occurrence that could negatively impact a company. Any company in any industry can face a crisis and this week, American Airlines had to deal with an unexpected turn of events on Twitter.


A possible terrorist threat

Sunday, April 13, a 14-year-old girl with the Twitter username @QueenDemetriax and named “Sarah” tweeted at American Airlines, “hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.” American Airlines responded, “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.” Feeling threatened, Sarah posted a frenzy of sporadic tweets expressing it was a prank and pleading for the company not to take legal action.

Her “social media meltdown” portrayed both her fear of getting in trouble along with insincere and questionable updates about her growing number of followers and more. American Airlines removed its response, and Sarah’s Twitter account was suspended, but not before garnering nationwide attention. “We took it down basically because it generated a lot of traffic,” American spokeswoman Dori Alvarez told the New York Daily News. “We took it down so we could better focus on our customers.”

Twitter backlash

The next day, Sarah turned herself in to the police in the Netherlands. She is being interrogated, and the exact intention behind her prank threat is being investigated. Many who witnessed the intense Twitter exchange believe that American Airlines was too harsh on the young girl, and others believe that she rightfully deserves her punishment. The public has taken to Twitter to fervently defend and condemn Sarah’s actions.

Evaluating the threat as a developing crisis

I learned in my strategic crisis communications class that crises have five stages: detection, prevention/preparation, containment, recovery and learning. Examining the situation from a crisis perspective, American Airlines detected the threat as a prodrome, or warning sign, to a potential terrorist attack and worked to prevent the crisis by responding in a firm, deliberate manner.

The company made efforts to contain and recover from the developing crisis by deleting the Twitter responses to stop people from encouraging the behavior so the posts would not get out of control. American Airlines can learn from the situation by evaluating the positive and negative outcomes in order to be prepared for a similar occurrence in the future. Whether or not the terrorist threat was real, the company took immediate necessary action in order to keep its customers out of harm’s way.

As an aspiring PR professional, how would you handle this situation? Give us your feedback, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Photo courtesy of: http://www.PRdaily.com

6 Things that attract me to your brand

by Jonathan Haile

In today’s world, we’re bombarded with so many media messages and advertisements that it has become difficult for brands to stand out. Think about it. When commercials come on, we change the channel. If a commercial comes on Hulu, we open a new tab in our browser.

Brands have to be able to stand out; to break through the clutter and reach the people that matter most. These are things that a brand can do to get my attention. While these are my opinions, I’m willing to bet others share these with me.

1. Your brand addresses a problem with a unique solution

The Apollo Dress Shirt

The Apollo Dress Shirt

Take Boston’s fast-growing men’s clothing company, Ministry of Supply, as an example. Men get up every morning, put on their nicest dress clothes, but by the time they arrive to work, they’re drenched in sweat and left uncomfortable for the rest of the day. The guys at Ministry are addressing this age-old problem by manufacturing shirts that absorb the heat that makes you sweat. The company’s signature Apollo Dress shirt is also wrinkle free.

You don’t see bigger clothing companies doing this and I really wonder why they haven’t caught on. Ministry of Supply is a little clothing company that, I imagine, other companies are going to start paying attention to.

2. Your brand is minimal

Minimalism can take many different meanings for many people, but in this case, I’m talking about the aesthetics. Apple is the perfect example. From the iPhone to the Mac Pro, the designs are simple. They look like something from the future and while more and more people buy these products, each one looks like it was crafted with a great deal of care.

The genius behind Apple’s minimal aesthetic is Jony Ive. You can see how after Apple shifted to this style, other brands followed suit. After all, Apple sued Samsung because their designs were similar.

3. You care about the customer

We’ve discussed, in previous, how Twitter is a growing customer service tool. In some cases, social media can get companies into customer service trouble, but in many cases, it’s nice to see brands interacting with the people that keep them afloat.

4. You have fun, and it shows

Workplaces are, first and foremost, places of business, but companies and brands don’t want employees to hate coming to work. Social media allows brands to show how much fun it can be to be included. We see goofy photos of employees, teams celebrating awards after months of hard, company picnics and celebrations of key customers.

5. Your focus goes beyond selling a product

Corporate social responsibility can have large influence on purchase decisions. Take TOMS, for example. You want to buy new shoes. You can buy from Brand X, who rakes in the cash and manufactures more shoes, or you can buy from TOMS, who will, in turn, donate shoes to needy children.


TOMS’ following continues to grow because it makes the statement that it’s going to make the world a better place when it sells a pair of shoes, or glasses or coffee. It isn’t the only example. Brands partner with Product (RED) to raise money for AIDS research and treatment. Seventh Generation, a natural household products, is committed to bringing sustainable options to consumers. Even Walmart is reducing its carbon footprint by continuing to install solar panels on more and more stores.

6. Your brand DOESN’T use social media

What…? Really…? Yep. Seems like a contradiction to what I said before, but brands that don’t use social media become more impressive to me each day. The lack of an social presence could be seen as being out of touch, but I think it’s bold. Apple only uses Youtube, but simply as a tool to share commercials rather than interact with customers. Trader Joe’s doesn’t use social media (or traditional advertising). It relies on a loyal customer base, a clever website, and a good reputation to keep moving forward.

What do brands do to make themselves stand out in your mind? Share your thoughts with us! Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest.

Images via Hypenet and Ministry of Supply

Plunge for Landon

by Katie Johnson

Who would you challenge to jump into a freezing body of water in order to donate money to help a child with a rare form of cancer? Not many people find this a challenging question due to the alarming amount of videos posted on Facebook. The campaign “Plunge for Landon” is spreading like wildfire in the U.S., Spain, South Korea, Ireland and Afghanistan with more than 11,000 videos uploaded to the Facebook page and more than $30,000 raised in one week according to Mail Online.

Landon’s diagnosis

Landon Shaw, from Tarkio, Missouri, was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City in late February where he was eventually diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that has spread from his kidneys to his brain. In the weeks that followed, the 5-month-old had four surgeries, and according to his mother, always had a smile on his face. After residents in the Tarkio area heard about Landon’s condition they began to help raise money any way they could, but it was still not the desired amount. Eventually “Plunge for Landon” was set into action, and it has raised more awareness and participation than imaginable.

Alyssa Shaw, Landon’s mother, initially saw a “Plunge” video on Facebook with one of her friends jumping into a freezing lake in honor of her son. She brushed it off as something silly until she saw many more videos with others challenging friends to take the plunge. This fundraiser encourages people to nominate at least three people to jump into a pond or lake and film themselves doing so, eventually posting the video Facebook using the hashtag #plundgeforLandon. Once the nominees have completed the challenge within 24 hours, the nominator will donate a specified amount to the fund, and the trend continues.



Within the first week this was all over the nation and had spread to other countries, helping offset the cost to cover Landon’s extensive medical care. If you would like to donate, or after completing the plunge yourself, you can mail checks to the Flower Mill, 606 main St., Tarkio, MO 64491.

Take the plunge!

It is time for others to participate in the “Plunge For Landon.” He can use all the help possible. With this being said, Jonathan Haile, Jessica Smith, and Elissa Huck, I challenge you, my IPR team, to take the “Plunge for Landon.” Who will you challenge next?

After you take the plunge, be sure to “like” IPR on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Taco Bell challenges McDonald’s in a fast food breakfast war

by Jaclyn Meade

I’m not sure if many other people were as excited as I was when I heard that Taco Bell was going to start selling breakfast at their fast food locations. While Taco Bell can be one of our waistlines’ worst enemies at times, there is nothing like biting into a Cheesy Gordita Crunch after a late night out. Making the decision to open even earlier, or in some cases never close, so that we can now get our Taco Bell fix even earlier is, in my opinion, pure genius. Taco Bell started serving breakfast March 27 from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

This is the brand’s largest menu expansion since it opened 50 years ago. Taco Bell takes the breakfast foods we are used to such as eggs, hash browns, bacon, and sausage and gives them a twist more akin to the items we are used to ordering from Taco Bell. Some of their new breakfast menu items consist of: breakfast burritos, A.M. Crunchwraps, Cinnabon Delights, A.M. Grilled Tacos and my personal favorite, the Waffle Taco.

Ronald McDonald

With rolling out this new breakfast menu, Taco Bell released a series of commercials featuring real patrons named Ronald McDonald advocating for the expansion. They are shown eating and enjoying the new breakfast items in the various cities they reside in across the U.S. The tagline, “Guess Who Loves It?,” sets the viewer up for a funny surprise towards the end of the commercial when they reveal that all of these men are, in fact, named Ronald McDonald and have no shame devouring a Taco Bell menu item. These ads have gained Taco Bell a lot of media attention as some regard this as a personal attack against one of its largest fast food competitors, McDonald’s Corp.

McDonald’s Response

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

McDonald’s fired back at Taco Bell last week on social media, posting a picture of its infamous character Ronald McDonald (seen above) petting a Chihuahua with the caption, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” then announced Friday, March 28 that its restaurant would offer free small coffees during breakfast hours for a two week period from March 31 to April 13. This will be the first time the golden arches chain has held an event like this nationwide, so it seems the popular fast food giant may be feeling the heat more than they are letting on.

Should McDonald’s be afraid of the seemingly positive response Taco Bell has received regarding its breakfast offerings? Probably not. McDonald’s breakfast is a staple in many consumer’s diets and is the only reason you will typically find me up before 10 a.m. on any given weekend. Maybe this battle will, however, finally encourage McDonald’s to serve their breakfast items all day–something many of us have been wishing for many years.

For more from Innovative PR, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest. 

Image via: USA Today

Bad customer service can lead to a social media nightmare

By Jeremy Noble

We’ve all had those customer service experiences that really provoked us, whether it was because of horrible service at a restaurant, a faulty product or poor customer treatment. When customers feel their complaints are not heard, they don’t give up. People take to social media to voice their complaints.

In his article on Mashable, author Harry Rollason stated that at the end of the 2012, 80 percent of American companies planned to use social media as a customer service tool. Social media allows companies to manage complaints and taking control of the situations, seemingly as they happen. Yet in some cases, companies choose to ignore complaints, which can encourage more frustration from customers.

 Today, customers call the shots

If a company chooses to ignore customer complaints, those who were ignored might tell their friends about the bad experience. They could also voice their concerns on social media, and in some cases, those concerns spin out of control for companies.

Dave Carroll, mourning his guitar.

Dave Carroll, mourning his guitar.

In the most bizarre case, poor customer service led to the infamous “United Breaks Guitars.” In 2009, Musician Dave Carroll saw United Airlines baggage handlers tossing around his guitar case and soon realized it had been damaged. He told United that the baggage handlers had broken his Taylor Guitar. When United wouldn’t respond to Carroll’s complaint, he wrote his famous song that, to this day, has over 13 million views on Youtube. After Carroll’s song went viral, it caused United to take action before it brought even more harm to their reputation. Though Carroll’s song succeeded because of his talent and unique spin on bad customer service, a situation like this is always something companies always want to avoid.

Why they ignore complaints

As I see it, businesses want to ignore complaints on social media because they don’t want the conflict to go any further. But doing this could still lead to more bad reviews and even harsher comments. Like the case with United Airlines, responding to a customer’s complaint  in person could have saved them time and energy dealing with social media. In the end, businesses have set social media plans in place to deal with customer service complaints.

For more from Innovative PR, be sure to follow Innovative PR on  Twitter“like” us on Facebook and Pin with us.


Walmart: Work is a Beautiful Thing

by Jessica Smith

Walmart is not the most beloved company in the U.S. I bet as soon as you read “Walmart” that bad thoughts flooded your mind. Well, be prepared to be shocked. I guess Walmart is fed up with its less-than-positive reputation because the company’s new “Work is a Beautiful Thing” campaign is filled with reasons for customers to change their bad attitudes.

Play the video and pass the tissue

New Walmart Logo

Walmart has posted numerous videos on Youtube discussing its campaign. There are four commercials that feature working-class adults telling their inspirational stories that only exist due to Walmart’s help. “Work is a Beautiful Thing: Meet Patrick” is the most viewed commercial; after just two weeks, the video has more than 4 million views. Finally, Walmart is getting some positive feedback. Many consumers are applauding the new campaign.

So go ahead, meet Patrick, but keep a tissue close by:

Giving America a reason to celebrate

Walmart will invest $250 billion over a ten-year span in American-made products. The investment will create at least 1 million manufacturing and service job opportunities. Walmart will increase what they already buy of U.S. manufactured goods, source “new to Walmart” U.S. manufactured goods, and re-shore the manufacturing of goods currently purchased by facilitating and accelerating the efforts of the suppliers. Walmart hopes to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing industry. The support of the middle class and creation of jobs are steps in the right direction for the U.S. economy. I think it’s great that Walmart is stepping up and taking lead in rebuilding America – somebody has to do it.

Call me easily influenced, but I now see Walmart in a different light. Has Walmart’s new campaign changed your opinions about the company? Share your thoughts with IPR on Facebook and Twitter. Follow us on Pinterest too!

A Shocking Twist – The Bachelor finale leads to social media frenzy

By Katie Johnson

It’s spring break! We’ve reached the half-way point and can evaluate our progress, but when I think back on the semester, the thing that really comes to mind is The Bachelor, Juan Pablo. It was sure to be an unforgettable eighteenth season. When it started, the media was referring to January as “Juanuary.” All 1.4 million viewers who tuned in for the season finale they can attest to this.

Juan Pablo and Nikki

Even though Juan Pablo’s season may have ended, commotion in the tabloids has just begun. Since ABC has been airing The Bachelor, there has not been an ending quite like this one. At the Final Rose Ceremony Juan Pablo chose Nikki Ferrell and sent Clare Crawley packing. Not only did he not chose the woman who was predicted to receive the final rose, the season didn’t end in a proposal which has only happened once.

I’m in “like” with you.

Does the idea of proposing to someone you have only known for two months sound crazy? If you answered “yes” you are probably among many who agree. However, when it comes to The Bachelor, this is expected. Therefore, when Juan Pablo did not propose or say “I love you” it was a shocking turn of events. Rather, he said, “I’m not 100 percent sure I want to propose to you. But at the same time I’m 100 percent sure that I don’t want to let you go. I like you a lot. A lot.”

This ending stirred up quite a bit (okay… a lot) of negative feedback from viewers. Not only was the audience upset with the way the show ended, but the derogatory comments about Juan Pablo’s character began to flood social media. During the finale #Bachelor and #JuanPablo were the top trending hash tags on twitter.  Unfortunately, the comments may surprise some who have not kept up with the season because of his “fan favorite” reputation while a contestant on ABC’s The Bachelorette. He did not speak often when he was on Desiree’s season, and left the show very early, so many did not get to know him very well.

Twitter backlash and viral videos

Some may say that his true colors have shown through this season. It has been reported that three of the final six women now hate him because of his behavior. With making degrading remarks and rude comments to the women off camera, but keeping a good face while filming (for the most part) it is obvious many viewers will not refer to him as the “fan favorite” again. Due to the backlash that Juan Pablo has received on social media he made a “lovey dovey” video to show his “Like” for her. This video has been leaked and stirred up even more reactions.

This video was released three days ago and has already received over 890,000 views. Only time will tell to see if this video can restore Juan Pablo’s trashed reputation. It hurts that Chris Harrison, host of The Bachelor, said that he was even uneasy about the choice from the beginning. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, Twitter erupted with negativity toward Juan Pablo. One user tweeted at Nikki, the winner, and said, “It’s ok to be embarrassed, you’re ‘dating’ and idiot, and it has nothing to do with a language barrier,” (20 retweets and 59 favorites).

The Bachelor is about falling happily in love with a perfect stranger in a short amount of time which is a concept not many can digest. However, finding your life-partner is a concept most understand. As time progresses there will many more Bachelor’s with many more breakup and marriages, but Season 18 is one that will go down in the books, and social media will always help us remember.

Like this post? You can get more if you follow Innovative PR on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credit: people

#GirlsCan: CoverGirl’s new approach to empowering women

By Amanda Moore

CoverGirl is a cosmetic line sold across the United States. You have probably seen countless commercials about their different types of make-up, trying to persuade you to use their newest lipstick or their age-defying foundation. CoverGirl is well known for their many celebrity endorsements including Ellen DeGeneres, Sofia Vergara and Pink. Celebrity endorsements aren’t anything new, but CoverGirl has now taken a new spin on it. Check it out:


CoverGirl’s new commercial “#GirlsCan” goes beyond the products they sell. It features eight different women celebrities speaking out about the stereotype that girls can’t do certain things. “Girls can’t rock. Girls can’t be strong. Girls can’t check. Girls can’t be funny. Girls can’t rap. Girls can’t run the show. Girls can’t dance crazy. Girls can’t!” One celebrity, Queen Latifiah, talks about how she was told she couldn’t rap or own her own business, and now she has done both. The message is that women can do anything they want when they don’t limit themselves to other’s expectations, and why should they?

Going against the grain


Covergirl’s idea to promote they empowerment of women is amazing. It’s not often that companies address stereotypes head-on. This commercial was a risk for CoverGirl because women are subjected to many other commercials, magazine ads, etc., filled with beautiful women with flawless skin and perfect bodies. This CoverGirl commercial shows that women can use their products and be themselves; they don’t need to look like the perfect women in the other advertisements. In the commercial “BE YOU” flashes, and that is important. Being yourself is what makes you beautiful, and to embrace that is a powerful thing. Self-love creates confidence that can’t be torn down, and to have a company advocate for that is extremely refreshing.

Thank you, CoverGirl for going against the grain to help encourage girls to follow their dreams. Women need to forget these stereotypes and do what they are passionate about, regardless of what others think we can and can’t do.  Even if someone says “Girls can’t,” you can prove them wrong by showing them #GirlsCan.

For more from Innovative PR, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter!

Image via: CoverGirl Youtube

Coca-Cola debuts ‘social media guard’ through viral video

By Elissa Huck

The problem: Social media addiction

In our technology-driven world, we are connected through Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and more on a daily basis. Sharing photos and updates with people at the touch of a button seems convenient, but what happens when we’re more engaged with our cyber connections than our real relationships? Have you ever been caught trying to subtly Snapchat a selfie in public? Are you a chronic “subtweeter?” Do you find yourself obsessing over the best filter for your Instagram post? All evidence considered, you are more than likely addicted to social media.

The solution: The “social media guard”

Fortunately, Coca-Cola has the solution to breaking our social media addiction. It’s a Coke-themed cone that fits around your head and intervenes your 24-hour connection with all social media. The company unveiled its spoof product (ironically) through a YouTube video that went viral. An E Online article summarizes how the short video “mocks people who Instagram photos of their meals instead of talking to their friends over dinner, dads who ignore their kids because they’re on their phone and children who are too busy looking at cat videos to notice their actual pet cat.” The social media guard is applied in each scenario, and the people can miraculously enjoy spending quality time with their friends and family. The faux product promises, “It takes the social out of media and puts it back into your life.”

coke social media guard

Enjoy a real moment…and a Coke

In the past week, the video has reached nearly 4 million views. Coca-Cola commented, “We have just started a conversation on a light-hearted look at how social media can dominate our daily lives and how it has changed the way that we ‘share’ moments with each other. This is not to downplay the value that technology brings to our lives, rather an invitation to enjoy every day’s uplifting moments as they happen.” Coke’s witty video encourages us to put down our phones, tablets and laptops in order to fully acknowledge the world around us. Instead of “liking” a post, compliment people for their achievements. Rather than “sharing” a video, get together and have a conversation with friends. It’s important to get back to basics and foster real, meaningful relationships because sometimes being social doesn’t require any media at all.

What do you think of Coke’s video? We’ll let you remove your social media guard for a bit in order to share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Photo courtesy of: adweek