Cindy Brugge

A Public Relations Student

Month: April, 2014

NYPD Uses Twitter: Good Intentions, Poor Results

In an attempt to garner public support, the New York Police Department encouraged New Yorkers to tweet about police officers serving the city; however, the public relations strategy unsurprisingly backfired, with thousand of posts bashing the NYPD and many other police departments across the country.

The NYPD announced Tuesday that they wanted people to tweet their experiences with cops using the hashtag, #MyNYPD. It was a nice idea and in an ideal world the NYPD would awake on Wednesday to thousands of photos showing smiling cops helping little old ladies cross the street.

However, the unfortunate thing about the Internet is that it’s a fairly safe place for people to be unapologetically critical. Furthermore, people generally cannot stand cops. They just don’t like them and take every opportunity to give cops a hard time for their mistakes.

That’s what happened here.

Within 24 hours, 110,000 Twitter users posted comments/pictures using the hashtag. And you guessed right, the majority of the posts were negative, showing photos of officers pulling hair and engaging in police violence.

Quickly, similar hashtags, such as #MyLAPD and #MyCPD, littered Twitter with police brutality in other cities.

Although many of the negative pictures are just old incidents reposted with the new hashtag, these negative images are just as effective in creating a disturbing image of police work today.

Police commissioner Bill Bratton isn’t worried about the negative attention and has bought into the old standby that any press is good press.

Another police spokesperson stands by the decision as well. Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster defended the open forum Twitter allows to the public. She said that the “open dialogue [is] good for our city.”

However, other professionals are not as convinced.  The general consensus is that the NYPD should have avoided the negative social media attention by not instating a strategy bound to implode.

 

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Television Turns to Public Relations: Old Advertising Methods May Not Work for Some TV Shows Today

In today’s media market, it seems a mystery what makes a successful show. For years, many networks relied upon commercial promos to alert the audience of a new upcoming show. However, that isn’t the case anymore. Some of TV’s most successful shows aren’t on major networks and aren’t best promoted during the commercial break. Many shows are having to turn to the creativity of public relations to broadcast their message.

For example, during my weekly dose of Grey’s Anatomy, I’ve been catching glimpses of the new show Black Box coming to ABC next Thursday. They’re lucky that I’ve caught those shots though. With the option to fast-forward through commercials, it’s not likely that I’m going to see much in between the Seattle Grace Hospital’s drama.

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However, networks have gotten creative and put their series previews as the first or last commercial of the break with especially catching images at the beginning and end. Let me tell you, the first time I saw the last few seconds of the Black Box promo, I had to rewind and watch the whole thing. And I watch the commercial every time it comes on now. So, as you might have predicted, I will be starting the new show next week. However, this tactic doesn’t work with every show on every station. Plus, not everyone is a television addict like I am. (I really should be on some sort of 12-step program.)

Furthermore, commercial breaks don’t budget enough time to repeatedly promote TV shows, during new series peaks. Many networks release 8-10 new shows in the fall. In fact, next fall we are looking at 75 new shows coming out. It’s difficult to sufficiently promote all of these shows whenever few great shows hold the audiences attention during the summer months. With no one, sitting down to catch the latest Grey’s, ABC is strapped for time and without a steady audience. They’re left simply shit out of luck.

Most networks recognize this problem, which is likely why they are premiering Black Box now. My best guess is that the show will run through August before the fall shows pick back up. This could be smart. But, let’s face it: summer shows are uncommon because they usually don’t do as well, especially for major networks.

While AMC and HBO have been known to ruin our hopes and dreams with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones summer seasons, Pretty Little Liars and other ABC Family shows step up to steal our hearts and discard our minds for a little trashy stupid teenage drama. It’s these smaller networks turn out quality shows for their intended audiences. Their following is devoted to these summer dramas, while for some reason the major networks turn to competitive reality shows for the summer. These hot months have traditionally been home to So You Think You Can Dance and Master Chef. When viewership is scattered and inconsistent during summer months, stations have to turn to other methods to promote new and returning shows.

One show that scares me every year is Parenthood. A highly rated show by critics and viewers alike, this show is always on the chopping block for cancellation. Most people that have seen the show agree that it’s fabulous. The acting is incredible. The storyline is believable and relatable. Plus, the family lives the life that you have/want to have. Personally, I feel that watching this show is like coming home to my other family.

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However, despite its dedicated fan base is, Parenthood’s storyline simply doesn’t acquire enough traction with people unfamiliar with the show. It’s hard to convince people that everyday problems, such as your child receiving a bad grade, is going to make good TV. However, it’s hard to argue whether it does, once you’ve watched an episode. For this reason, the show is rarely promoted during commercial breaks and the network has turned to other methods of promotion. Parenthood draws off of a social media base by reaching out to viewers through Facebook and Twitter.

Pretty Little Liars has found success with this tactic, as well. The teen drama is known for dropping spoilers on social media as soon as it happens, which usually sucks but also draws in new viewers.

Networks have also used other interactive methods. In Lifetime’s new show last fall, the Lottery, viewers entered a contest online before the premiere and found out if they won by seeing their number on a ball in the bottom of the screen during the premiere. Other shows have tried a more physical attempt at interaction. For example, Fox premiered an early showing of the new show Sleep Hollow at L.A.’s Hollywood Forever Cemetery. 

These creative attempts to gain viewership remind me that public relations is an ever-growing industry. As the traditional media landscape shifts, it’s important to stay creative an utilize new methods to get your message out. It’s this creative thinking that highlights successful public relations professionals.

Chick-fil-A Tries to Move Forward and Expand Outward after Gay Marriage Crisis

After last week’s post about a Christian organization making a PR mistake regarding homosexuality, another Christian company is trying to regain ground from their previous failings.

Chick-fil-A announced this week that it would begin an effort to bring the chicken franchise to the Big Apple.

As a born and raised Texan, I am quite familiar with the fast food chain and it’s ideology. It’s hard not to be. The store is closed on Sundays and includes its Christian-based ideals on the walls of its dining rooms.

These ideals clashed with popular opinion in July 2012, when Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy tweeted his conservative views about gay marriage. His tweet led to outrage by the American LGBT community. Many LGBT supporters arranged boycotts and “kiss-ins” to openly fight the statement.

Kim Harrell, Paula Tyer

The company worked to reverse this negative opinion about the brand, but unfortunately, Cathy tweeted a similarly controversial statement a year later, after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and granted more rights to gay couples.

New York City has traditionally been a gay-friendly city. It has been home to the Stonewall Riots, which was one of the first major events of the American gay rights movement.

Therefore, it’s expected that the NYC LGBT community may not be so quick to forgive and forget. There has been speculation that the chain may not find success in New York City, as it has in the traditionally more conservative South.

“We don’t need bigots coming to New York City,” said openly gay councilman, Daniel Dromm (Huffington Post). “They are not welcome here unless they can embrace all of New York’s diverse community, including the LGBT community.”

Obviously, this is the answer of one extreme opinion. However, it might be the general consensus, unless Chick-fil-A calms down on its social issue commentary.

Likely guided by Chick-fil-A’s public relations counsel, Cathy has made a commitment not to speak out about his personal opinions publicly.

This is absolutely necessary, unless the chain would like to limit itself to the Bible Belt. With a growing percentage of the American population in favor of same-sex marriage, Chick-fil-A is going to face more and more scrutiny for its decision.

While support of same-sex marriage may not sway many customers away from eating at Chick-fil-A (as it certainly has not for me), it also shouldn’t be an issue that Chick-fil-A should focus on.

World Vision’s Decision Flip Leads to Public Relations Flop

An international Christian charity made a controversial public statement this week and, after receiving public outrage, made an unfortunate public relations mistake.

World Vision is a Christian organization that raises $1 billion per year to support international missions and economic relief to third world countries. One of the most popular Christian ministries in the US, the organization is commonly seen with booths at major Christian conferences, concerts and gatherings. They are most well known for their “Sponsor a Child” program, in which you can pay a monthly sponsorship fee to provide food, water, healthcare, education and other necessities for a child in need. World Vision is commonly associated with a positive mission.

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However, the organization ran into some public relations difficulties this week, when World Vision announced that it would be changing its hiring standards. The statement said that the company would not discriminate against hiring individuals in same-sex marriages, as long as the individual claimed to be a Christian.

World Vision received a much-expected outcry from the Christian community, who tends to stand against “sinful” gay marriages. Within a two-day period, World Vision reversed its previous statement and said:

“The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman… We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.”

Huge mistake.

First of all, World Vision’s first announcement was a public statement. The executives thought through their decision to instate this new policy and thought to themselves, “Hmm. I guess it’s time to take this to the public.” But did they consider how the public might receive the news?

I guess not because, obviously, if they had, they might have recognized that they would undoubtedly receive negative backlash. It was going to happen. Their primary stakeholders and supporters are Christian. Their target audience is Christian. Where do Christian beliefs tend to align? Not usually in favor of same-sex marriage.

What I must interject here is that I have no prejudice at all here. I am a Christian female that fully supports same-sex marriage. I am somewhat of an anomaly in certain circles, but I understand their intention to reach out to both groups simultaneously. Unfortunately, most of the Christian community is not on that same page. Most of the community honors the biblical stance of homosexuality as sin and has aligned their social views against gay marriage.

For this reason, I am very surprised that World Vision made the decision to change their policy in the first place. However, once they did, I am mostly astounded that they didn’t foresee this backlash and plan to stand firm in the face of public outcry. By wavering in this decision, no party is happy.

Same-sex marriage supporters will shy away from an organization that has shunned the issue and individuals who do not support same-sex marriage will be relieved to know that World Vision has changed its decision. However, they may feel reluctant to donate to an organization that faltered on this stronghold.

No faith-filled supporter wants give to an organization that seems unstable in its beliefs. World Vision should have been more prepared for the reaction it received and not flipped so quickly.