By: Shayna Polly
The United States Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, the fifth woman in history to serve on the Supreme Court, on Oct. 26, 2020. The Girl Scouts, front runner in the business of girl power, tweeted to congratulate Barrett, accompanied by a photograph of all five women who have served.
The Girl Scouts make a habit of making congratulatory social media posts anytime a woman does something of note or an accomplishment celebrating girl power. They mourned Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, they congratulated Zendaya on winning an Emmy for Euphoria (the second black woman to win in 72 years) and post regularly about women in STEM fields.
As the Girl Scouts’ mission statement notes, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
My question is: Is the post really political or is it part of their patterned and honed “girl power” branding?
The media seem to believe it was a political statement, and so did those on social media. No time was wasted slandering the Girl Scouts for “supporting” Barrett, so much so, that the Girl Scouts account ended up deleting the tweet and apologizing for even posting it. Of course, the apology suffered backlash from Barrett supporters as well (you really can’t win).
One exmple came from actor Amber Tamblyn, who tweeted “really disappointing and won’t age well when access to safe abortion and the healthcare needs of millions of women and girls is gutted in this country because of Barrett’s addition to the court.”
Some even think the Girl Scouts “caving” to the mass is more of a political statement than their original post. TV personality Megyn Kelly tweeted, “This is pathetic. It’s not ‘partisan’ to generically congratulate the fifth woman ever to join the High Court. It’s patriotic. Taking your tweet down *is* partisan, however, and a real disappointment.”
Looking at this issue from the lens of an unbiased, apolitical observer, it appears that this tweet was not intended to be political. In today’s highly charged and highly divided political climate, however, all organizations should be careful of what they choose to post,realizing how they can be seen through different lenses. In a perfect world, people would be able to see that this tweet was in support of women in general, not to speak to this particular woman’s policy or beliefs. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect.
One must be careful given said climate, especially considering the cancel culture that has come about in the past couple years. We have seen many examples of individuals and organizations being canceled such as stars like James Charles, Johnny Depp, and now Amber Heard while some organizations include Papa Johns, KFC, and GAP. Not to say that these individuals or organizations were right or wrong, just to acknowledge that the media is cancel happy and will take any opportunity to find a big story and cancel someone/something. In this case, the Girl Scouts handled it the best way they could.
I could write about how the media, and people in general, should chill out and maybe attempt to look at things from more than just one perspective, but many (with bigger voices than I) have tried and failed. Until that can happen, my final note is: be careful out there PR pros, it’s rough.
By: Rebeka Dickerson
Public relations is often confused by the general public with many other industries, but specifically marketing and advertising. The three are so similar that they are even commonly integrated these days. And then there is journalism which is frequently mentioned in the PR world as well. So, to help provide a better understanding of these four important communication mediums, I am providing some information below about what makes each unique.
Public relations is all about awareness and reputation. Awareness and reputation can in turn help a company sell products or become successful. PR deals with the long game; keeping customers coming back and obtaining new loyal customers.
An example of PR is the #IceBucketChallenge. The 2014 viral campaign raised awareness for ALS by inspiring people to post videos of themselves being drenched by a bucket of ice water and/or donating for ALS research. Many celebrities participated and over $115 million dollars was raised for the ALS Association.
Marketing is a technique for stimulating a demand for a specific product or service. The main goals are to make a product or service widely known and to increase sales. The transaction of something in the moment matters more than what will happen with the company in two or three years. Professionals in this industry often refer to product, price, place, and promotion as the four Ps of marketing needed to sell goods or services.
An example of marketing is Spotify and how it is is marketed differently than other music applications. Spotify assists users in finding music they have never heard before. Users can click any category of music and explore a multitude of artists. Spotify also sorts music options by music someone may want to workout to, sleep to, or even play video games to.
Advertising is a paid message. It is a part of marketing (promotion). It can also be part of a public relations campaign. An advertisement could be a television commercial, but it could also be a print ad, digital ad, radio ad, billboard, and so on.
Examples of companies that are known to continuously use ads to their advantage are Geico, Ford, and Nike.
While public relations has a target audience, journalism does (or should) not. Journalism’s purpose is to simply inform the general public in an objective way. A PR professional’s job is to advocate for a specific company or individual, while a journalist is traditionally meant to remain unbiased.
Examples of Journalism can vary. The many types include broadcast, investigative, opinion, entertainment, political, and sports.
A Couple Examples of Integration
As part of its brand awareness strategy, Coca-Cola has combined PR and journalism by utilizing storytelling on its website (https://www.coca-colacompany.com/). This is also known as brand journalism. Stories on the website detail how the company supports the community, how they promote diversity and inclusion, and how they help the environment.
The brand Always has an ongoing PR campaign #LikeAGirl, which encourages people to change the meaning of the phrase and how society views girls and women. A popular Super Bowl advertisement was created to promote the campaign in 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Ep0O5fWN4).
So although similar, all four of these industries definitely have their own place. They each have their own distinct objectives. Yet they all work with the public in mind, and any of them can be combined strategically to create even greater success.
By: Rebeka Dickerson
Public relations is a fairly new profession compared to other jobs, first being established in the 1920s. However, it is more important now than ever. Why is that? The issues of this world are on full display and people are paying attention to every step organizations and individuals make. Additionally, cancel culture is especially prevalent.
A term we are hearing more frequently in the PR world, cancel culture, is “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”
With social media, it is much easier for anything someone does “wrong” to be scrutinized on a worldwide scale. This is why organizations must understand their audiences and the topics/issues they care about. Organizations must find a way to incorporate those topics in a way that will not backfire, which can be easier said than done.
There are countless examples of attempts that were made to resonate with an audience that ended up backfiring. One of the most well-known ones, though, was when Pepsi and Kendall Jenner teamed up to create a commercial meant to promote peace and unity, but that came off completely tone deaf (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/pepsi-ad-kendall-jenner-echoes-black-lives-matter-sparks-anger-n742811) . More recently, Nike sold out of Kobe Bryant merchandise, frustrating people who thought they did not honor him, but instead attempted to profit off of his death (https://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2020/8/24/21399059/nike-kobe-bryant-shoes-limited-snkrs-drop-lakers-resellers-jerseys-mamba-day/comment/530751649).
Clearly, citing these examples, it is crucial for plans to be made and extreme care to be put into everything that is placed online and offline. Even something that is meant to come across as a positive statement or message can be completely misconstrued, and your organization could be put in a position no organization wants to be in.
So, to have a trained professional involved in every part of the public relations process certainly cannot hurt. Organizations need someone with a keen eye who will speak up when even the smallest of details seems off. Any concerns the public has should be responded to as soon as possible, and in an empathetic manner. Lying or attempting to hide a mistake will not be accepted.
Although public relations may not be one of the most effortless jobs in our current times, it is a job that is needed in today’s environment. Once one person is distressed about something your company did or put out, you should be prepared for many more to follow. People are smart and they have high expectations. It is now the company/individual and PR professional’s job to meet those expectations.