In case you were unaware, Instagram recently re-designed their logo and app aesthetics. And boy, oh boy, did it make waves.
According to Ian Spalter, Instagram’s Head of Design, “…the Instagram icon and design was beginning to feel…not reflective of the community, and we thought we could make it better.” For better or worse, Instagram went for it.
Listeria. Ask most folks what it is and what it does, and they would have a hard time explaining it. But ask them if they want it in their food, and they know full well it’s very bad. Just the mention of the word leads consumers to stop buying, much less consuming certain products. Now the outbreak scare extends to frozen food, some bought as far back as 2014.
Priceline CEO Darren Huston resigned last week after an investigation concluded he had, in fact, had an “improper relationship” with an employee. According to media reports, the findings concluded Huston “acted contrary to (Priceline’s) code of conduct and engaged in activities inconsistent with those expected of executives.
No other information about the nature of the relationships was released, but it’s clear Priceline will have some PR ground to make up in the coming weeks. While this is far from the worst thing that could happen to the company, anytime you mix illicit affairs with a change of leadership you can just about guarantee headlines.
Any time you are a member of a club, and one of the founding members drops a very public hammer on that club, things get rough from a public relations perspective. Accusations fly, and massive counter programming campaigns begin from various factions.
Such is the case with the Rockefeller family’s recent parting of the ways with Big Oil. The patriarch of the family, commonly thought of as one of the first American business tycoons, John D. Rockefeller, founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870.
Somewhere down the line, John’s progeny, who all benefited wildly from the fossil fuel industry, founded the Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity created to support environmental causes, economic justice and other related issues. Now that charity, run by Rockefeller’s direct family line, is pulling its assets out of oil companies, including major holdings in Exxon Mobil.
Fund representatives told CBS News, “While the global community works to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, it makes little sense — financially or ethically — to continue holding investments in these companies. There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons.”
That statement, even more than the funding transfer, rang out like a shot directly aimed at the oil industry. It was a personal statement. After all, Exxon was one of the companies spun off from Standard Oil when President Roosevelt went trust busting at the turn of the 20th Century.
That may have been enough to start a war of words between the representatives of the various parties involved, but the attacks didn’t end there.
“Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change’s march while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change’s destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic’s ice receded,” spokesmen representing the fund said.
This is not the first time the family has confronted the oil industry head-on. Senator Jay Rockefeller once accused Exxon of directly funding climate change deniers.
Now the gloves are off. CBS News reported a response received from Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers: “It’s not surprising that they’re divesting from the company since they’re already funding a conspiracy against us.”
The “he said/she said” tactic was just the beginning of Exxon’s response. They have repeatedly argued the science on climate change is inconclusive, and now they are trying to paint the Rockefellers as climate extremists on a crusade against business.
How the public responds to this exchange depends both on preconceived ideas as well as which side does a better job of counter programming PR. Should be interesting to watch.
It’s a constant controversy in today’s concussion-conscious environment: how young is too young for tackle football?
There are injuries, but even most doctors are fairly tolerant of the injuries kids sustain in what is, undeniably, a violent sport. While anti-football groups continue to challenge public opinion, the American Academy of Pediatrics proposed more adult supervision, not fewer youths playing tackle football.
Detractors argue this is more about public relations than actual medical evidence. Football is an American obsession, they argue. From the NFL on down to pee-wee league, adults invest huge amounts of time and energy in this game. They love it, give it their time and their treasure, so it stands to reason they also give it their children.
Proponents counter, of course, we love it. Football teaches discipline, competition, fair play and how to both win and lose gracefully. More so, football encourages kids to push their boundaries, to excel where they think they cannot. and earn rewards for tasks previously thought impossible.
Football insiders – coaches and veteran players – credit youth football with a better appreciation for and understanding of the game. They argue kids who start to learn the game early are less likely to be injured than those who take it up late, in high school or as adults.
Detractors fire back, pointing out that younger kids are more vulnerable to injuries, particularly of the head and neck, which can have lifetime consequences. They point to startling statistics: 13 percent of all injuries are head or neck injuries, and 11 high school players died playing football last year. Of course, these stats don’t point out HOW the kids died, which is a point tacitly pointed out by youth football proponents. At least some of the kids suffered injuries due to heat stroke, which could happen during any athletic activity.
Anti-football crusaders aren’t buying that argument. They want pro-football factions to acknowledge the risk and take steps to restrict youth football activities. It’s an unpopular position at the moment, partly because of the universal regard for football and due to the unsuccessful PR campaigns pushed by the opposition.
One popular pro-football initiative, the Heads Up program, encouraged coaches and youth leagues to require “heads up” football camps, clinics and training for all players. This step mollified parental fears and put another layer of protection between youth leagues and disgruntled critics. So far, the detractors have found no way to crack that wall of public sentiment.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has never been shy about expressing his socio-political perspectives on social media. Recently, the FB CEO chose to sound off while taking his new daughter in for her first round of vaccinations.
While the post may have been meant to simply be the sort of Day In the Life picture just about everyone uploads to Facebook, the photo and caption: “Doctor’s visit – time for vaccines!” ignited a firestorm.
To date, nearly 100,000 comments piled up on the picture, most from anti-vaccine apologists hoping to show others (and science) the error of their ways.
One particularly harsh anti-vax crusader put it this way: “Injecting newborns and infants with disease and neurotoxins is disgusting… Shame on you…”
Of course, while it’s clear this poster neither understands vaccines nor the science supporting them, there’s no use trying to tell her that. Though many did try. Ad nauseum.
One man posted in support of Zuckerberg, thanking him for supporting vaccine science. “As someone with autism, as someone who is constantly watching good people put their own children at serious risk because of old, fraudulent fears of vaccines … thank you for being sensible.”
As for Zuckerberg, people who follow his page already knew his stance. “Vaccination is an important and timely topic. The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community,” Zuckerberg has previously written.
So, the world is clear on where he stands and free to agree or disagree with that stance. But what if you haven’t waded into that debate? How can you be sure your innocently intended social media post will not ignite a PR nightmare?
The answer is indicative of the new reality we all face in today’s digital age. Much of our lives are played out online, for better or worse. A quick missive meant for a select group of friends can be shared with others, drawing many more voices into the net. Suddenly, a simple comment meant for a specific audience becomes a billboard for anyone with a bone to pick.
The solution? Be cautious of what you post online. Always. Understand that, on the net, privacy is nonexistent. Don’t let your next interaction with the internet turn into an unexpected PR crisis.
Rapid response is one of the true boons for entrepreneurs and the businesses they represent. The ability to respond quickly on social media with a response to questions, comments, or news worthy developments is one of the greatest gifts that the age of instant communication has brought us.
Used judiciously, this ability can be an excellent public relations tool that places an individual or company directly at the center of breaking news and events. However, this is one media technique that must be used with restraint, caution, and a well developed sense of timing if it is to be fully effective.
Does Every Single Question Or Event Require A Response?
Perhaps the first question that will occur to the reader of this post is, “Does every single question or comment from a viewer require a response?” This might be quickly followed by another question, namely, “Does every single breaking event require a response?”
The answer to both questions is an unequivocal no. You don’t need to be on top of every single question that pops up on your Twitter feed, nor do you have to register an automatic response to every late breaking news event, particularly if the event in question has absolutely no relevance to your company or your brand.
Never Try To Turn A Tragedy Into A Marketing Opportunity
For example, if a tragedy occurs that gains immediate media coverage, do not try to turn your recognition of this event into a marketing opportunity. You are not required to post anything in response to a school shooting or disastrous fire or flood. If you feel the need to register a response, keep it brief, general, and purely personal, with no mention of the products or services you may have on sale at your physical location for that week.
What Are Your Qualifications To Make An Official Response?
Another important question to consider when debating whether to make an official response on your company’s official social media account is whether or not you are truly qualified to make any statement at all. For example, if a client posts questions concerning your company’s official cloud computing account, and you yourself don’t know anything about the process of cloud computing, it’s an excellent idea to let another, more experienced and knowledgeable, individual post a response.
Failing that, you might simply refer the client to your company’s FAQ page concerning cloud computing. In the end, it’s far better to post no response at all than to post a misleading or ill informed answer that proves you have no idea what you are talking about.
Never Post A Response In A Hurry Or Under Duress
The absolute worst time to post a response to a question or comment is when you feel you are being pressured by that client, or by other circumstances, to give a quick answer. In such cases, your response is guaranteed to be rushed, piecemeal, and probably very badly worded. In addition, the tone of your post could come off as abrupt or rude, thus creating a very bad impression of your company and its media skills.
It’s always better to carefully plan each response you make to a client, as well as each fresh new post that you make on your various social media accounts. What you lose in sheer spontaneity you will more than make up for in coherency and accuracy of expression. Remember always that every post you make to social media represents your company and its brand, whether in a positive or negative light.
It’s therefore to your advantage to always weigh your words carefully when speaking before an audience of millions.
Recently, the war for wireless supremacy took a strange turn. While the bottom tier of the Big Four are desperately trying to win customers by all but giving them cash, and, in some cases, actually giving them cash, at least one major player is actually charging more for its most popular plan.
AT&T has been trying to get customers to abandon their unlimited data plans, but some have resisted. The carrier has decided that’s fine if you are willing to pay more. Last week the wireless provider said it would be raising its unlimited data plan rates from $30 to $35. Not much of a bump, but a curious move in a marketplace where they are not the top in quality and not the choice of price-conscious consumers either.
There are twin risks here, two sides of a dangerous coin. On one side are the quality conscious consumers who picked AT&T over Verizon for reasons of customer service or just on general principle. But if their current carrier starts treating them with the same assumptive disdain Verizon is infamous for, how many will stick around for the abuse when they can get the same treatment with a better signal?
On the other side of the coin are the mid-tier price-conscious folks. Those who have enough money not to go with a lesser carrier, but for whom money’s tight enough for them to think about it. Now, they may just decide the difference in quality just isn’t that much. T-Mobile or Sprint here we come!
Then again, maybe AT&T isn’t so crazy. Sure they raised their rates five bucks, but, earlier this year, Verizon raised there’s by $20. Sprint and T-Mobile also raised their unlimited data plan rates.
The culprit? All four carriers are blaming the rising costs of delivering that data to consumers. People are simply streaming too much for the carriers to keep up … at least, that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.
Instead, carriers are offering tiered plans, which look and work like the U.S. tax code. Buy a certain plan, use up to that amount at certain speeds, use more and the speed slows down. Most folks won’t recognize it, but some will.
While it may sound like a PR time bomb, it’s really just a stopgap measure. In the not too distant future, WiFi will be nearly prevalent enough to not need data services at all. Even before then, American consumers will learn what sort of plans are available across the ocean…and American carriers may have to abandon their tiered shell game altogether.
There’s no doubt about it, cyber bullying is a real problem. More and more often we read stories of some poor kid who took drastic action to stop his or her peers from attacking him or her online. Kids have always been mean, but, in these days of pervasive 24-7 media, there really is no escape from the barrage of hurtful and threatening messages.
So, yes, it’s a problem. But cyber bullying insurance? Really? Could there really be such a thing? Well, now there is. Global insurance giant Chubb recently announced a new line of “cyberbullying insurance” for well-off customers in Britain and Ireland.
According to a company release, Chubb will shell out up to $74,600 to help customers and their families recover from “online trolls.” That “recovery” could include hiring PR pros to help clients repair their reputations online, and hiring cyber-security contractors to build a strong legal case against perpetrators if necessary. Of course, if a client has to miss school or work because of the bullying, the plan benefits will recompense those losses as well. There’s even an optional temporary relocation rider if a client has to move due to excessive trolling.
There’s one catch: customers can’t buy this insurance as a one-off. It only comes as an add-on to the most high-end property insurance products offered by the company, plans costing upwards of $3,730 per year.
The kicker here, of course, is the same as it is with any insurance product. The insured has to prove a loss. That’s easy with a car, for example. Car’s busted, here’s what it costs to fix it. Same with a covered hazard relating to a home loss. But bullying? How bad, exactly, does it have to get before mom and dad can skip work to stay home with junior and bill the company?
According to company spokesmen, a client can seek redress or compensation after three specific acts of cyber bullying result in financial losses. No word yet on what, exactly, constitutes justifiable loss.