Blog Comment #4

The following is a screenshot of a comment I left on a classmate’s blog post.

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The close of one chapter and the beginning of a new one…

Here goes my fourth and final blog assignment for my Case Studies and Issues in PR course! And the question is…

“As your studies in PR come to a close, what aspect of Public Relations interested you the most?  How do you think your career will be informed by your new knowledge of Public Relations?”

 The aspect of Public Relations that I find most interesting is just how much power PR professionals hold. I mean from what we’ve learnt over the course of a year, it’s apparent that PR has a footing everywhere. PR professionals are responsible for crafting the messages that are delivered to the public and the media on behalf of businesses and public figures, they are the ones who figure out how best to convey messages to the public using a variety of innovative and creative strategies and they are also the ones who work tirelessly to try and protect an organization’s reputation when crises occur.  PR plays such a critical role in developing and maintaining a successful business, which is why I believe PR to be such a powerful profession. Before taking this program, I really had no idea about how much really goes into PR and how much PR professionals actually do. Even though we’ve learnt that PR can make or break a business and can be very stressful at times, I’ve become more and more interested in this profession as the months have gone on. I feel as though the skills I’ve learnt through this program have prepared me for an exciting and rewarding career in PR.

Photo Cred: rumpuspr.com

Photo Cred: rumpuspr.com

Everything I’ve learnt in this program has informed my knowledge of PR because I didn’t know much about the profession beforehand other than it dealt with communications. I don’t think I can pinpoint just one way in which my knowledge of PR has expanded throughout this program because every single course I’ve taken and instructor I’ve had, has profoundly impacted the way I see PR and marketing.  I’ve not only learnt about the various components that go into PR and marketing but I’ve learnt how to execute and develop them. For instance, in the last year I’ve crafted press releases, marketing plans, PR strategies, pitches, radio ads and so many other communication and marketing based materials. Therefore, I’m confident that everything I’ve learnt in this program, from the PR skills to the marketing skills, will help me in the future and in my career as a PR professional. I feel as though I’m much more prepared now for the working world than I was 12 months ago and I owe that to the amazing instructors who’ve challenged me and to the incredible classmates whose friendship and encouragement have made me a stronger person.

I end this blog, the last one of my post secondary career, with one of my favorite quotes, which just so happens to also be a very important piece of advice for an aspiring PR professional like myself…

“Words are, in my sot-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore

– J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

Zimmer vs. Men’s Wearhouse – Lesson Learnt

For my third blog post, I’ve been asked to reflect on what I’ve learnt so far in my Case Studies & Issues in PR class. Specifically, I’ve been asked to filter back through all the case studies we’ve encountered so far and select the one that I’ve found most interesting and educational from a PR standpoint. So to start, here is the actual question I’ve been asked to answer:

“From the cases we’ve discussed in class so far, which case has most captured your interest, and why? From a PR perspective, what did you learn from this case?”

Perhaps it’s because this was one of the very first case studies we looked at as a class but the Men’s Wearhouse case has left a lasting impression.  I found this case particularly interesting because it shows what not to do as a company as well as what happens when a company and its founder go their separate ways in a less than amicable fashion. For example, I found it really interesting that a company, which has been around for approximately 40 years, could respond and manage their PR so poorly. I feel like if you’re working PR for a company, maintaining a positive brand image and responding in a timely and appropriate manner to the media/public is of the utmost importance. Men’s Wearhouse did a terrible job of responding to Zimmer’s statements and the media’s/public’s inquiries regarding the founder’s dismissal. Men’s Wearhouse went about the whole Zimmer situation wrong and the company suffered for it in terms of its brand image and sales.  Therefore, this specific case is interesting in that it shows everything you shouldn’t do if you’re working in PR for a company caught in a sticky situation, such as when a company decides to fire its beloved founder.

Photo Cred: dailyfinance.com

Photo Cred: dailyfinance.com

From a PR perspective this case study really exemplifies the importance of:

  • Timing
  • Being prepared and reactive
  • Giving quality customer service
  • Communicating with employees/staff

For example, Men’s Wearhouse released a very short and vague statement regarding Zimmer’s dismissal and then the company disappeared for six whole days.  During these six days, the company chose not to respond to anything – not to Zimmer’s statement regarding his dismissal, not to the media’s  inquiries and not to the myriad of comments that were posted on social media. This silence did not bode well for the company and made the company appear unprepared, unorganized and unprofessional. Overall, the company’s failure to respond in a timely manner to Zimmer’s statements and to the public’s inquiries really hindered Men’s Wearhouse’s image. In addition, the company failed to properly communicate their decision to fire Zimmer with their employees. Men’s Wearhouse employees were largely left in the dark alongside the public, which couldn’t have done wonders for employee morale or loyalty. All in all, this case really emphasizes the importance of looking at the big picture and making sure that, as a PR professional, you consider all stakeholders and communicate effectively.

Armstrong, PACE & Teen Pregnancy

This blog post consists of my responses to three questions, which were posed in my Case Studies and Issues in PR course. 

1. What has made you change your opinion of a public figure, organization or brand?

When I first read this question, I immediately thought of Lance Armstrong. Now I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Tour de France nut and I can’t say that I’ve exactly followed Armstrong’s rise to fame but I can tell you that whenever I’d hear his name or see his picture flash across the television screen, one word always came to mind – inspirational. I mean the guy beat cancer, he founded the LIVESTRONG foundation, he was a competitive athlete, he won countless Tour de France titles and his best friend was/is Matthew McConaughey –  clearly the man was an inspiration. All joking aside though, Armstrong really has persevered through some very difficult obstacles in his life. He certainly was a role model to many people. However, in early 2013 it was revealed that Armstrong’s athletic success had largely been a sham.

Photo Cred: Josh Galt - facelevel.com

Photo Cred: Josh Galt – facelevel.com

Now Armstrong had been accused of taking performance enhancing drugs for years but vehemently denied it. However, he revealed to Oprah Winfrey in 2013 that he was in fact guilty of taking various types of performance enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career. Following this big reveal and the conclusion of an investigation,  Armstrong’s Tour de France titles were taken away from him. There are many  speculations and stories that exist around Armstrong’s avid use of performance enhancing drugs; however, there are two things in particular that have really tainted the way I see Armstrong now.

#1. He lied – Armstrong had so many opportunities to come clean but he chose to continue to use drugs to enhance his athletic performance. He won titles and accepted exorbitant amounts of money all under false pretenses.

#2. He robbed other athletes – Armstrong overshadowed other cyclists who worked hard and fought fair.

These two reasons are largely why my perception of Armstrong has changed. It is not to say that he has not done some really fantastic work for those battling cancer but now his scandal is what he is most known for. Sadly, now when I see the name Lance Armstrong, the one word that comes to mind is fraud.

2. What factors have influenced your decision to do or not do something?

For this question, I have listed the primary factors that influenced my decision to enroll in PACE’s Public Relations Marketing Management Diploma Program.

#1. Persuasion of a friend

My friend, Amy, and I heard about PACE and its PR program from a guy in one of our university courses. After getting some basic information from him about the program and PACE, Amy decided to look into the program further and, using her powers of persuasion, convinced me to do the same. When we learnt about the PR program, we were both enrolled at the University of Winnipeg majoring in Rhetoric, Writing and Communications and we didn’t exactly feel prepared for the working world just yet. I was actually looking at a Corporate Communications program out east when Amy started telling me more about PACE and this PR program. I finally started to look into the program myself and I arranged a meeting with PACE’s program coordinator to find out a bit more about what the program offered.

#2. The benefits of the program

After doing a bit of research on my own and meeting with PACE’s program coordinator, I quickly discovered that this program offered much more than just a couple of diplomas and a certificate. The program offered courses that were taught by industry professionals who had real life PR and marketing experience. These instructors would be focusing more on the hands on, practical skills related to PR and marketing as opposed to just teaching us the theoretical stuff. Therefore, the prospect of gaining valuable, hands on PR and marketing skills was really an influential factor for me in enrolling in the PACE’s PR program. Some additional factors that influenced my decision to enroll into the program were that the program was only 12 months and there was an internship component at the end of it.  Another benefit of taking PACE’s PR program was that it allowed me to receive the remaining 6 credit hours of electives I needed to graduate with my BA.

#3. Close to home

As I mentioned earlier, I was looking into a Corporate Communications program out east when I learnt about PACE. After looking at both the programs, I decided that if I went with PACE I wouldn’t have to uproot and move away from my family. Also, the tuition cost of PACE was far less in comparison to the cost I would incur moving out east and enrolling in a program out there. Therefore, the fact that PACE was in Manitoba and was right across the street from where I’d been going to university for the past 4 years was definitely an influential factor in my decision to enroll in PACE’s PR program.

3. What has made you think differently about an issue?

In my market research class, we had to pick a topic/issue that we were interested in and could conduct a survey on. The stepping stone to completing our final assignment was to launch an online survey consisting of  a variety of questions that would unveil the opinions and thoughts of others on the topic/issue we had chosen. The issue I chose to investigate was the influence that MTV’s 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom had on teen pregnancy. My hypothesis was that these two programs educated teens to an extent about the hardships and pitfalls of being a teen parent but, for the most part, I felt like these shows glamorized teen pregnancy by making celebrities out of the teen parents. Before launching my survey, I did research and found many articles that both praised 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom for its educational merits and dismissed the two shows as simply encouraging teens to have unprotected sex with the hope of becoming famous one day.  From my research, I created my online survey and asked women, between the ages of  15-30, to respond.  I was pretty surprised that the opposite of my hypothesis seemed to be proven based on the responses I collected. For example, based on the survey responses, it appeared as though the vast majority of people associated 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom with positively influencing teens to refrain from becoming teen parents. My results did indicate that the two programs are seen as somewhat glamorizing teen parenthood; however, the educational merits of the programs seemed to stand out more for my respondents. Also, in my research, I found a study that was conducted in the United States that actually found a correlation between 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom and the decline of teen pregnancy in the states.  Therefore, based on my market research as well as various  articles and studies, I now think differently about the issue regarding whether or not 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom are glamorizing teen pregnancy or if these two programs are actually sending an educational message to teens. Now, I think that these programs are doing largely what they intended to do and some of the proof lies in the decline of teen pregnancy in the United States since the programs first aired.

Photo Cred: jackdolgen.com

Photo Cred: jackdolgen.com