Tiger Tiger Woods Ya’ll

June 2, 2011 at 3:22 am (Public Relations, Sports) (, , )

Over the past week Tiger Woods received some much needed positive media coverage after he donated $1 million dollars to The Tiger Woods Foundation, his own non-profit helping underserved youth gain access to college. Positive media coverage has been rare since the infamous November 2009 car crash that opened the scandal floodgates and left many of his biggest sponsors running. So after a year and a half has Tiger’s reputation finally recovered? What does it take for a damaged personal brand to bounce back? Is there a point where one can’t be resuscitated?

First and foremost, Tiger’s case couldn’t have been handled poorer. His delayed responses the crash and allegations regarding his overwhelming infidelity allowed the rumors to escalate and take on a life of their own. While the actual circumstances were pretty outrageous, it’s likely that if the case had been handled differently it might not have resulted in a scandal of as much magnitude as it did.

After the scandal was full blown Nike, one of the sponsors that stuck with Tiger throughout everything, released an emotional commercial featuring commentary from Tiger’s deceased father.

However, this video received numerous parodies and spoofs and didn’t necessarily receive the initial reaction that was hoped for.

So as we are approaching the two year anniversary of the November car crash I wonder if Tiger’s reputation will, or can, ever completely recover? Why does Tiger’s situation differ from other celebrities’? Nevertheless, Tiger Woods is still the highest paid athlete today. However, his image, as well as his golf game, still has a ways to go before it’s back on top.



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The End Of An Era

May 26, 2011 at 5:24 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Well it’s finally happened. The final Oprah show has finished. It’s the end of an era. However, it’s likely the final month or so of shows will remain on my TiVo until I’m officially ready to let go and admit that one of my favorite television shows has wrapped. Oprah is one of the most influential women in the United States and for 25 years she’s had an enormous impact. While creating her multibillion-dollar empire she’s also developed what has been called the Oprah effect.

For years this Oprah effect has caused countless public relations people to have to tactfully tell their clients that appearing on the Oprah show or getting Oprah to endorse a product was probably not a realistic goal. However, while those individuals might be relieved that Oprah has gone off air, I personally think that TV has lost an iconic star that will never be replaced.

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Ethics: The Gray Line

May 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm (Ethics) (, , )

Don’t lie. That is what the Public Relations Society of America’s code of ethics boils down to. But what about the many other occasions where it’s not that simple? What happens when the decision is more complicated than whether or not to lie?

Don’t lie. That is what the Public Relations Society of America’s code of ethics boils down to. But what about the many other occasions where it’s not that simple? What happens when the decision is more complicated than whether or not to lie?

There are obvious slip-ups that even a PR practitioner in training like me can tell should have been an easy call to avoid. Exhibit A is Facebook’s and PR Giant Burson-Marsteller’s recent anti-Google campaign. Their plan was to secretly plant anti-google stories in the media by attempting to persuade journalists and bloggers to write negative stories about Google’s privacy practices. This smear campaign, like most, came to light earlier this week and when one of the bloggers contacted by Burson-Marsteller published a string of emails exchanged between the two.

This is what one Burson-Marsteller spokesperson said in an email in response to the smear campaign, “The client requested that its name be withheld on the grounds that it was merely asking to bring publicly available information to light. Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle.”

If it was against company policies then why was this assignment even considered? Why are policies treated more like guidelines than rules?

If it was against company policies then why was this assignment even considered? Why are policies treated more like guidelines than rules?

Unfortunately, not all situations are as black and white as the one at Burson-Marsteller. Sometimes there is no easy answer and most situations have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The best advice I’ve received about how to deal with sticky ethical situations is to always try and keep a rainy day fund, or some extra savings so that walking away from a job that requires you to violate your ethics is always an option. So, for me, the rainy day fund is the only clear answer when trying to answer the complicated questions dealing with ethics.

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Placing Products

May 20, 2011 at 1:15 am (Advertising)

While watching one of my many television guilty pleasures, MTV’s Real World, I decide to count every time I saw a Subway or SunDrop logo. I stopped counting after about 30. The cast ate at Subway several times and drank SunDrop soda constantly as well as wore SunDrop sweatshirts, bags, sweatbands, and attended parties hosted by the soda brand. While I would never abandon my favorite sandwich place because of their annoying advertising strategy, SunDrop is a brand I will not be trying any time soon.

It seems that every time I watch a television show I find myself pointing out every blatant product placement. It’s been happening forever but now every time I turn on the television I can’t watch a show without a product being shoved front and center with the logo conveniently facing the camera. I personally think this practice is annoying and incredibly distracting. But I guess the real question should be, how effective is it? Why does it work?

One theory suggests that consumers are bored of traditional ads. On an average day we see thousands of advertisements without always noticing them. Product placement shakes up the idea of traditional commercials and perhaps this innovation contributes to its success.

According to a study done by Mediaedge consumers are 30 percent more likely to try a new brand after seeing it featured in a movie or television show. That number increases to 40 percent when only taking individuals between the ages of 15 to 24 into account.

So it works. It wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t. But not only am I not a big fan of this distracting practice, I also worry that as the line between entertainment and advertising blurs the quality of entertainment will decrease. What will come next in world of advertising?

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The Wonder of StumbleUpon

May 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

As my final college term as a junior comes to an end and final projects from all my classes begin to build I find myself perfecting my procrastination skills. But it’s not Facebook or Twitter that is helping me put off my studies for hours at a time, it’s StumbleUpon. This web 2.0 site is full of never-ending entertainment that I just can’t seem to get enough of. It literally has it all and gives you the opportunity to find fascinating websites you might never know existed otherwise.

For those of you who haven’t experienced the wonder of StumbleUpon yet, and I realize I’m extremely behind the curb in this case; I highly recommend you explore this site. Make an account, choose your preferences and be prepared to sit in front of your computer for days.

Here are just a few little gems I’ve found so far…

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Exploring The Podcasting World

May 17, 2011 at 5:37 am (Public Relations) (, , )

Of all the ways to reach people in this world the most effective way is to do it fast. As a PR student who has class everyday for a few hours the last thing I want to do at the end of a day is watch an educational webcast, even if the topic is interesting.

Podcasts are everywhere it seems but I have yet to become a loyal fan of the practice. While this could be blamed on my short attention span or the fact that I am usually guilty of wanting to indulge in some mind-numbing activity such as watching a TV show, I rarely take the time to explore podcasts available to me even if the material is engaging and probably important for me to know as I continue my education in hopes of becoming a successful PR practitioner one day.

I am curious about when the best scenarios are to utilize podcasts in order to spread a message and who the usual targeted audiences are. I am aware that the benefits of podcasting included being able to target very specific audiences and those audiences are generally smarter consumers, but how effective is this method of engaging certain publics? Podcast’s are cheap so the only thing wasted on an unsuccessful podcasting project is time. However, which cases could have been handled just as well with a press release?

I’m not going to jump on the podcasting bandwagon just yet but I am extremely interested in the idea. The question seems to be not, whether of not to podcast? But rather when to use a podcast?

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Twitter: The Rep Killer

May 12, 2011 at 3:24 am (Sports) (, , , , )

Twitter has become a touchy subject and a PR nightmare since high profile celebrities have embraced the platform and don’t always think before they tweet. This past week we’ve seen this issue come up a few times involving NFL players and all could have drastic repercussions for those players who tweeted first and then tried to explain later.

First up we have the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall’s controversial tweets regarding the death of Osama Bin Ladin. While the starting tailback’s tweets were not necessarily offensive, they still led to the termination of his endorsement deal with Champion which he had just been agreed upon days earlier. Fellow Steeler, Ryan Clark weighed on his teammate’s ill-advised tweet, “A lot of times you’re sitting at home or sitting in a restaurant when you do these things, and you’re not paying as much attention that it’s going to go out to all the people that it does and be scrutinized in that same way,” Clark explained. “But every time you step in front of a mike or step in front of a camera, you know tons of people are going to have access to this. Tons of people are going to see it.”

Saints’ running back Reggie Bush didn’t take note of Mr. Mendenhall’s misfortune and sent out another poorly thought out tweet days later. In the middle of a lockout that that has everyone invested in the 2011 football season on edge.

While Mendenhall simply damaged his own personal reputation, Bush may very well have damaged hurt the NFL’s negotiating angle which argues that many players are struggling during this lockout.

It takes seconds to tweet any thought that pops into your head but if you’re a high-profile athlete in the public eye it takes just as much time for an unfortunate tweet to go viral and potentially ruin their reputation and their incredibly valuable personal brand.

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Stay In Touch

May 9, 2011 at 5:06 am (Public Relations) (, , )

Most people don’t go anywhere without their cell phone and I find myself asking, “how do you function?” when I learn people do not own one. I struggle to think of one person I know, besides my 106-year-old great grandma, who doesn’t use cell phone. It’s important to point out that I am only 21 and grew up not knowing any differently, but I cannot imagine how inconvenient everything would be without my cell phone. And that’s not even with a smart phone!

There are about 153 million cell phone users in the United States, according to planetomni.com. In theory, this mean 153 people in the U.S. are constantly connected and contactable and that number is continuously rising.

While smart phones only make up 21 percent that enormous number they are expected to catch up to in the near future and that’s not surprising considering their capabilities.

As an owner of a non-smart phone I am blown away by the possibilities that are opened up with ownership of intelligent phones. People can use their phones to surf the Internet, make purchases and pay bills, locate their friends and actually pay for things without the use of a card or cash. Those capabilities are hardly the tip of the iceberg. Smart phones have eliminated the need for so many things all ready and left many industries struggling to adapt their services or products for this mobile revolution.

So whether you own a smart phone or just want a smart phone most Americans constantly have a direct line to them. The world moves too fast for people to not have access to virtually unlimited information at the touch of a button and I find myself wondering what will out phones be able to do next?

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Bound For The Big Easy

May 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

            On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina led to the levee failures that caused the flooding of the areas of The Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans East, Gentilly, Lakeview, St. Bernard parish, and Plaquemines parish under water. But that was almost six years ago and the City of New Orleans must be fixed by now, right? Since the levees broke, Brad Pitt built some houses, the Saints won a super bowl, and the city has celebrated six famous Mardi Gras celebrations. Everything sounds all right.


However, the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused is still evident across the worst effected areas of the city. Particularly, the most damaged neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward has seen the least amount of rebuilding efforts. A neighborhood that used to be filled with houses sometimes appears to be a ghost town. Although approximately 25% of the population has returned and rebuilt their homes there is still fields where their neighbors used to live, destroyed houses untouched since the storm, and giant red crosses on the houses that serve as a constant reminder of friends and families that didn’t survive the floods.

There is still a lot of work to be done. But New Orleans’ plight is so far removed from the national media spotlight the problem goes almost completely unnoticed. Is our national attention span really that short or did the news value simply diminish?

My only concrete plans this summer following my junior year involve traveling to the great city of New Orleans to volunteer for three weeks in the Lower Ninth Ward and working primarily with the Lower Ninth Ward Village, the only community center in the area. Mack McLendon is the founder and director of the Village and has a dream to repair his neighborhood and bring displaced his neighbors back home.

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Who’s In Your Social Network?

May 2, 2011 at 2:48 am (Public Relations) (, , , )

A piece of career advice that seems to never get old is the importance of networking. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. However, networking couldn’t be easier with the multitude of resources available online. There are places on the web for literally everyone and more places than I could imagine. The question is, how a person is supposed to parley a social networking contact into a tangible resource that can aid in their career success.

Everybody is on the internet whether is Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, PROpenMic, and so many more that even the most internet savvy individual can’t know them all. On top of that there, are Nings and blogging communities where participants can find others who have similar interests possibly creating a more tight-knit and in-depth community. With so many people out there and the majority of them having multiple online presences, it’s difficult to distinguish between what’s credible and what’s not?

Finding a niche network is a key factor to making connections that might extend past the computer screen. Focused communities made up of individuals with similar interests provide for discussions and contacts that you could meet are the best way to develop an effective social network. Fill your social networks with resources. Surround yourself, both in the real world and online, with passionate people who inspire you and will help you become the person you want to be.

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