Monday, April 28, 2008

CSR or Smart PR

Bottled water has become an accessory to our outfit. It is a necessity rather than a luxury. FIGI Water, one of the hippest brands of bottled water in the US market, prides itself on the presentation and packaging of their product. The hibiscus bloom and square bottle have allowed the company to distinguish themselves from there many competitors.

Consumers spend over $16 million on bottled water a year, a shocking statistic when we can drink water for FREE. The success of the industry is astonishing mainly because it is a product we don’t need. Past generations survived just fine on tap water so why do we think we are different? We buy FIJI Water because it’s a status symbol. A status symbol that is slowly ruining our environment.

FIJI Water was forced to reinvent there CSR programs after receiving a lot of negative “green” press stemming from a Fastcompany.comarticle. Not only has the company become the first privately owned U.S company to join the Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration but they are vowing to reduce carbon emissions in the bottling and shipping process, minimize wasteful packaging and protect Fiji’s largest lowland rainforest from logging.

We must ask ourselves if FIJI Water truly cares about our environment or if they just have a smart PR person behind their new image?

FIJI Water took negative press and immediately implemented a CSR program to impress the world. However, one must think does the company really want to be eco-friendly or do they just have a brilliant PR team who are using CSR to gain even more of an edge over competitors. While I would like to believe they truly care about our environment I would be kidding myself to think there main focus is centered on something else besides the bottom-line.

FIJI Water has been applauded on their environmental efforts by many publications including Elle Magazine and The positive attention the company is receiving will not only make them more profitable but will allow them to connect to a larger more environmentally conscious audience. FIJI Water will continue to grow and consumers will continue to feed the environmentally absurd industry.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Internet Overload!

An animated tribute to all of the internet people of the world. The web has taken over our lives!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ethics in Communication

The establishment of a strong code of ethics is extremely important in the field of public relations as well as all other fields that deal with the public on a daily basis. As we approach the 2008 presidential election it is interesting to look at how politicians uphold ethical values when dealing with the public. The article below was posted on PRSSA.

Is Ethics in Politics and Oxymoron?

I really believe that ethics is politics is an oxymoron. Political leaders in our country are faced with making ethical decisions everyday, and I think most of the time the make decisions on a pre-conventional level. Although I am sure there are many politicians who value ethics and do not consider self-interest when making a decision, there are enough leaser who think like this to make the entire profession look unethical in my eyes.

Politicians are forced to make so many decisions behind closed doors. They have many different advisors who seem to do a lot of the decision making for them. Each decision is ultimately based on how favorably the public will react to it. Rather then looking to see if the decision is ethical, they go back to the basic pre-conventional and conventional level of thinking and look at what their reputation will be after they announce their decision.

I think politicians should have a code of ethics that they abide by. Although I am sure it would still be broken on occasion, just like all codes of ethics are, I think it would make some politicians really think about the ethics involved with the decisions they make. I think it is hard for a profession as a whole to enforce ethics within their field when they have no foundation (code of ethics) to guide them. If a code of ethics was created and politicians had to sign it I feel as though they would be held responsible for ethical considerations.

Case Study: KDFW Suspends Rebecca Aguilar

Blogs have the power to ruin a person’s reputation as seen in the KDFW case involving reporter Rebecca Aguilar. The following story was written by the Dallas Morning News.
KDFW Suspends Rebecca Aguilar

Immediately after the story aired outraged viewers went directly to blogs to post there feelings on the story. The stations response to the complaints was to suspend Aguilar indefinitely. Personally I feel this was a quick fix for the station in order to silence the disapproval of bloggers and keep the stations reputation in tact.

Legally Aguilar did anything wrong. She and Walton communicated before the on-air interview every happened. Walton also told her where he would be so technically she did not ambush him. The station did not see a problem with the story before it was aired. The problem only arose after they saw the negative reaction from the public. Furthermore, it is completely unacceptable to only punish Aguilar for this story because there were so many layers of people, within the station, who approved it before it was aired. Her suspension seems to be driven by higher ups in the station who are trying to uphold their reputations by placing all the blame on the reporter.

When you Google Rebecca Aguilar it no longer shows the many accomplishments throughout her career it now shows her bad reporting skills and how she ambushed a pitiful old man. Blogs have given people the ability to write how they truly feel about a subject. People believe a lot of what they read and do not do any further investigation. How do readers know if the facts are all presented?

It is scary to think that your career could be ruined because of bloggers who don’t have all of the facts and the necessary educational background to make an informed statement on an issue. I am not de-validating bloggers only pointing out that they may not have qualifications to judge the laws and methods of a certain profession.

UPDATE ON CASE: Aguilar was fired from the KDFW at the beginning of March and hopes that she can one day restore her reputation within the field of journalism.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A New Generation of Reporters

Tragedy struck the Northern Illinois University campus on Valentine’s Day. The school shooting ended the lives of five students (six including the gunman) and injured many others. As I browsed the internet looking for up to date information on the unfolding events I began to think about how technology has changed the way we receive breaking news. People at the scene are now becoming reporters by documenting events through cell phone pictures and videos.

The Virginia Tech massacre last year was one of the first times our nation had the opportunity to be on campus in the midst of a school shooting. A student made a cell phone video outside of one of the buildings where the shooting was taking place. The news aired this video giving viewers the unique and chilling experience of being on Virginia Tech’s campus as the events unfolded. You could feel the terror and hear the shock in people’s voices. Experiencing news like this makes events feel more real. The Virginia Tech massacre was not just something that happened at a school far away it was an event that the entire nation experienced together.

The major news organizations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc.) have added applications on their websites which allow people to upload videos from the scene. News organizations can then search through these videos, pick the most relevant and air them during their broadcast. These videos allow our nation to see what actually happened during a crisis. We do not have to wait for reporters to arrive on the scene, interview people in shock and put together their own skewed versions of the story. We are now able to get a taste of what it is like to be at the scene which makes the news hit more closely to home then was ever possible in the past.

Just think next time you walk out of your house your cell phone video could be the eyes that our nation watches an event unfold though. We are all the new reporters of this generation.

The New Breed of Blogs

This weekend a friend brought to my attention a new website that is taking over college campuses, This website is the latest to join the breed of college gossip websites online. It is an interactive blog which allows students to make anonymous posts about other students, on-campus organizations or any other issue that revolves around campus life. As Jessica Bennett writes in Newsweek: is a rapidly growing gossip site that solicits content with the promise of anonymity. But what began as fun and games—and now has spinoffs on seven college campuses, including Duke University, where it began—has turned ugly and, in many cases, flatly defamatory. The posts have devolved from innocuous tales of secret crushes to racist tirades and lurid finger-pointing about drug use and sex, often with the alleged culprit identified by first and last name.

Some sample recent post titles include-
-List of People with Fake Tans and Fake Purses
-SMU Girls to Avoid (Golddiggers)
-Sorority Girl's Best?
-Biggest Drug Users on Campus
-Boys Most Likely to Send you Home with an STD

The post titles above are followed by discussion threads and comments from other students on the particular issue. There are comments about specific individuals with remarks that would make any human being cringe. I was disgusted when I read comments about people and organizations that are completely useless and just plain cruel. I cannot even begin to imagine what I would feel like if I were the target to some of these emotionally hurtful postings. It is hard to understand how a person could feel such hatred toward another individual that they justify it by writing crude, defamatory and vicious comments in a public forum for anyone to see. The saddest part of it all is that these comments are being written by the people who sit in our classrooms and co-exist with us on a daily basis. We are torturing people emotionally through our words and then we wonder why shootings at schools and college campuses are happening all the time?

Blogs have given each and every person in this nation a unique outlet to take full advantage of their freedom of expression and speech. The fact that we are using this expression to hurt others and participate in catty immature gossip makes me want to exit the world of blogging all together. In no way do I want to be a part of a system that allows and accepts sites that hurt other people.

CNN JuicyCampus Video

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Emerging Communication Technology

I would consider myself to be an original facebook user. Let me clarify what I mean by “original”. I created my account on facebook when it was only available to students at registered colleges. Back in the day when you could not tag pictures and bumper stickers were still just things you put on your car.

I remember when the facebook buzz began to generate through my dorm room freshman year. I was bored one night and created a profile, within an hour I was a full-fledged facebook addict! By December of my freshman year almost every college kid in America knew what the facebook was. It was a fun way to stay in touch with people but I would have never guessed that facebook would be one of the defining elements of our generation.

It is scary to think that in three short years the term facebook is known by every single person both old and young. Today, anyone can create a facebook account and PR practitioners have taken full advantage of that. The social networking site has given PR practitioners yet another outlet to connect to their target audience. They can also use the service to identify trends and gather research about a specific audience.

As a facebook member I can honestly say I am a bit annoyed by the constant overload of new information that appears on facebook daily. Our society is never satisfied and we are always left wanting more. We view technology in the same way, we can never have enough. I have personally watched the rapid growth of the facebook. It only took three years for it to explode into what it is today and I can only imagine what facebook will look like three years from now.