Cleaning Up Negative PR

September 27, 2009 at 6:15 pm (Uncategorized)

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So I am sure that everyone has heard to some extent about the huge mess that campus was left in after the last home game. Trash cans were overflowing, piles of trash were strewn everywhere. I even heard rumors about people not wanting to wait in line to use port-a-potties, so they did their business out in the grass like a household pet. The aftermath was gross and just plain rude. I felt the strong urge for everyone to revert back to their childhood days of watching Barney and singing the “Clean Up” song.

70 tons of trash and $40,000 of university money later, campus was finally recognizable again. But the press that followed slammed the 15,000-20,000 tailgaters who helped in trashing campus for the first home game.

That’s when Alpha Kappa Psi, one of UGA’s co-ed professional business fraternities stepped in. I have been a member of AKPsi for over a year now, and I have to say this is one of the projects we have been most dedicated to. We developed a program called “More Classy, Less Trashy” to promote tailgaters to be more conscious of clean-up efforts. A PR team was developed to promote the program around campus to donate a roll of trash bags to the house to be distributed to tailgaters the next home game. We received a lot of positive press from this effort, and many trash bags were donated over the two week leading up to last night’s game.

This was good press for the university as well as AKPsi. Not only did the university receive good press for having strong motivation to correct their problems, but we as a fraternity received a lot of public attention because of it. The following is a quote from an alumni e-mail sent to our chapter a few days before the game:

“Congratulations on the attention your garbage bag collection project is earning leading up to this week’s football game.  I’ve seen mention on several of the Georgia football blogs which garner a lot of attention from the fan base.  Thank you for volunteering AKPsi resources to help combat the game-day trash issue on North Campus.  I’m impressed with the response of the fraternity, the ownership of the campus and the issues that threaten campus life (i.e. tailgating!!), as well as the wonderful job you’ve done of promoting the efforts your undertaking for the good of the University.”

To me, this was a perfect opportunity for AKPsi to garner a lot of positive attention for little to no cost at all. Most of the bags were donated, and the press coverage that ensued was all free as well. A win-win situation for them and the university.

I’m interested to see what press coverage the trash situation gets this week. It’s a toss-up between the rain driving away tailgaters and the increased number of trash bags, but to me it seemed like campus looked a lot neater after the game last night.

AKPsi is continuing their program this week as well, and all donations, monetary or plastic, are welcomed in preparation for the LSU game.

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Social Media and Their Effect on PR

September 14, 2009 at 5:21 pm (Uncategorized)

MTV Video Music Awards ShowLast night I settled down on the couch with my boyfriend to watch the VMAs thinking it would be a laid-back, relaxing night. Little did we all know it would turn into an example of just how fast we as PR pracitioners must be in reacting to negative events that can possibly implicate our clients.

I’m sure you’ve all already heard about what happened when Taylor Swift was awarded her Moon Man for Best Female Video. Kanye, for some stupid reason, felt the need to jump up on stage and voice his opinion to millions of viewers that Beyonce deserved the award more than her.

I, like many people at home, was immediately outraged by Kanye’s actions. So like any social media junkie, I logged on to Twitter to make a strongly worded statement about the whole situation. Turns out I wasn’t alone. After posting my comment, I was curious how many other Twitter nerds like myself were venting to the world. Results mentioning “Taylor Swift” or “Kanye” exploded just minutes after the event. Even as I looked at the page, a bar at the top kept updating: “2059 new results,” “3025 new results.” As many times as I clicked refresh, it seemed like there were at least 500 new results in the time it took me to read one Tweet. While some people defended Beyonce’s video, there was an obvious majority of people who were just as angry as I was at Kanye. Within 10 minutes of the event, my roommate tweeted, “I think I’m the only person who isn’t watching the VMA’s. I am already sick of reading everyone’s pointless tweets about Kanye.” Even people who weren’t watching MTV knew exactly what had happened only minutes afterwards.

This morning as I was getting ready for class, I logged onto perezhilton.com to catch up on all the celebrity gossip that ensued. Posted on the Web site was an apology that Kanye posted to his blog sometime between the end of the show and 6:00 am. In the span of time it would have taken people to find out about the VMA drama only a few years ago, people heard about the event, slammed Kanye with comments online, and he issued a somewhat acceptable apology. It’s amazing how quickly the SMR cycle can move these days!

This event is a perfect example of how quickly one can receive feedback and react to it (not that the entire audience booing Kanye off the stage wasn’t big enough of a hint already).

Moral of the story? With new media constantly being developed, our job is becoming easier and easier. Our purpose is to measure publics’ reactions to certain events or materials. By using media Web sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, blogs, etc. we are able to measure a public’s reaction immediately, and post information aimed at that particular public within minutes.

But this event also shows that a client’s reputation can be ruined beyond repair in a split second. I’m interested to see what Kanye’s PR folks do in the coming days.

P.S. Kudos to Beyonce for knowing how to separate herself from Kanye and his actions by allowing Taylor to use her VMA Video of the Year speech time.

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