Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tainted Food Affects Several Species and Brands

Years ago consumers worried about tainted beef in their hamburgers or undercooked chicken. In the past year concerned mothers have expanded their attentions to peanut butter and prewashed, prepackaged spinach. In the past few days, however, many consumers have realized that their beloved animal companions are also at risk for contaminated food.

NestlĂ© Purina PetCare Company announced yesterday it is voluntarily recalling all sizes and varieties of its ALPO® Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food with specific date codes. A Canadian company, Menu Foods, and Hill's Pet Nutrition, a division of Colgate-Palmolive Co., was also affected by the same tainted wheat gluten which was imported from China. Testing of the gluten revealed the culprit to be melamine, a contaminant and byproduct of several pesticides.

With so many stories about contaminated foods every year, consumers everywhere, including myself, are paying more attention to labels. The word 'organic', 'kosher' and 'hormone-free' mean more than just higher prices, they mean peace of mind about what is being put on the table (or in my cat's food bowl). More companies are attempting to set themselves apart in a positive, healthy way, but what about the companies whose reputation has suffered because of a fault with their supplier? Some joke that Americans have no long-term memory, but after an incident with tainted lettuce, Taco Bell parent Yum! Brands lost $20 million in its fourth quarter and spinach sales in general have wilted.

Will Yum!, Purina, Hill and other brands be able to counteract the negative publicity and recover in the long term with an issue that hits so close to the dinner table? How should companies handle negative publicity brought on by external entities, such as their suppliers and distributors? Is negative publicity as detrimental to dog food brands as it is to human food brands? Does the product affect how the company handles negative publicity?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Teamwork is essential in the world of PR. It's especially important before a major event. For Toyota and driver Micheal Waltrip, the event is Toyota's debut in the Nextel Cup. Toyota was the first Japanese carmaker to compete regularly in NASCAR's top circuit. Participating in the Daytona 500, the kick-off race of the NASCAR Nextel Cup series and the “Great American Race,” was supposed to be their moment of glory. Instead they were scandalized on Wednesday when NASCAR announced that a performance-enhancing substance was found in their car, placed there by one of their own teammates.

Toyota had hopes of making major progress in the American car market by competing in the top American car race, but instead, the actions of one person ruined the respect for the team and cast aspersions on Toyota. In a sport where corporate sponsorship is essential, this major black mark on Waltrip's team's record creates an uncertain future. They have made strides over the past few days to recover lost trust by having all three remaining Micheal Waltrip Racing cars in the race. Waltrip also made sure to accept full responsibility when the news broke. "You can't be skeptical of Toyota," Waltrip said. "You just have to look straight at me."

NASCAR, on the other hand, is using the publicity to its advantage . In a sport where minor cheating is rampant, they are making an example of Waltrip's team and their major infraction. David Hyder, Waltrip's crew chief, and Bobby Kennedy, Waltrip's Director of Competition for Michael Waltrip Racing, were ejected from Daytona International Speedway and suspended indefinitely. Hyder was also fined $100,000 and fired. Michael Waltrip was docked 100 driver points and 100 owner points.

What does this all boil down to? NASCAR and the Nextel cup are reaching a wider audience than usual due to the coverage of the scandal. The grandstand seats were sold out at the Daytona 500, but TV viewership was down 10% from 2006. Waltrip finished in 30th place out of 43. Was all the stress and heartache worth it for the publicity? Is there really no such thing as bad publicity?,1,6808207.story?coll=sns-ap-racing-headlines

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Super Bowl Sees Changing Media

The evolution of media is inevitable. Jukebox-sized radios have turned into flat-panel televisions and extinct cassette tapes have been replaced by compact discs and now MP3s. In an age of high-tech ‘this’ and wireless ‘thats’, it’s no wonder why advertisers are reorganizing their budgets to include interactive media, like the Internet.

A study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP found that the 2006 third-quarter Internet advertising revenues reached an all-time high – a record-setting $4.2 billion and 33 percent higher than last year during the same period. The study’s results reflect the continual growth of Internet advertising budgets and advertisers’ craze over the versatile medium.

Each year, the Super Bowl attracts millions of viewers – some for the gridiron football, others for the 30 second, $2.5 million commercials. For companies that choose to participate in the three-hour extravaganza, the advertising possibilities are endless. Some companies opt for half-time show sponsorships, promotional events or digitally-imposed banners that appear on viewers’ screens. Still, some continue with the traditional commercial, which takes on a Cinderella-type transformation from an annoying program interruption to water cooler and blogger hot topics.

Increased focus on the Super Bowl’s highly anticipated commercials appeal to more than just pig-skin lovers and lead advertisers to do the same. Anheuser-Busch, who usually purchases most of the Super Bowl’s ad spots, launched “BUD.TV” ( The web-based entertainment network featured the company’s Super Bowl beer ads alongside sporting events, user-generated content, and other consumer-customized entertainment. This year, Anheuser-Busch allocated 10 percent of its $600 million annual advertising budget to online advertising. Other online video streamers, like “” (, made Super Bowl commercials available at the click of a mouse shortly after their premier.

Even some of the biggest advertising spenders used the Internet to aid their advertising efforts. PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division held a contest asking people to submit their amateur Super Bowl commercials online, the best of which was aired during the game. In addition, there is a growing trend of companies using commercial ads as springboards to direct viewers online. VH-1’s “V-spot” ( and Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken” ( and the “Whopperettes” ( offer entertainment long after the program or commercial is over.

So, as you log onto “BUD.TV”, here’s some food for thought…….
Was there a noticeable transition from television to Internet in the 2007 Super Bowl? How do companies use the Internet to their advantage/disadvantage?
How do you think the exorbitant costs of airtime and increased interest in interactive media will affect advertising meccas like the Super Bowl?
Will online advertising take over, or is the commercial still king of Super Bowls to come?

See Frito-Lay YouTube Commercial -

Reference Articles -
Internet Advertising Revenues Surpass $4 Billion for Q3 -
Anheuser-Busch to launch Bud.TV -

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bateman, Aging and Public Relations

For the last 23 years, the Bateman Case Study Competition has given members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) the opportunity to demonstrate their public relations and problem-solving skills. In the coming months, students from around the country will research, develop, implement and evaluate a public relations campaign for the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC).

This year’s campaign, entitled “Family Caregiving…It’s not all up to you,” is a national public awareness campaign to promote family caregivers to acknowledge their role and seek available assistance. Family caregivers are failing to self-identify their roles, which could adversely affect their health. More than 50 million people fall under the "unpaid family caregiver" status, and as the baby boomer population ages, that number could skyrocket.

Family caregiving is just one of countless issues emerging in our aging society that may affect public relations and integrated marketing communications. Will generational marketing, aging and Baby Boomer specific campaigns become a dominant trend in the public relations world? Fleishman-Hillard must think so. It recently launched FH Boom, a marketing and public relations practice exclusively focused on the Boomer generation.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Google's Corporate Culture

It only takes one trip to the bathroom to understand why Google, Inc. encourages innovation through its corporate culture. This Saturday article in the Washington Post describes how Google promotes unconventional thinking and keeps employees happy with numerous perks, including heated commodes, free meals, an outdoor wave pool, and child care facility. Stacy Sullivan, chief culture officer, said that experience and grade-point averages are considered during its rigorous hiring process, but also factored in is “whether someone is Googley.” This intentionally vague term encompasses the company’s culture and non-traditional orientation.

Undoubtedly Google's unique corporate culture is at least partially responsible for its recent successes. In the past three years, Google’s workforce has tripled in size, (now more than 9,000 employees) and expanded to offices to numerous cities including Beijing, Zurich and Bangalore. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, also said business was “very, very good” as third-quarter revenue rose 70 percent from last year. Google’s stock on the NASDAQ also hit a trading all-time high of $484.64 on Monday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Welcome to PR Connection - For Future PRofessionals

Welcome to PR Connection - For Future PRofessionals. Our Blog aims to discuss issues that relate to public relations students and student-run public relations firms. This open forum for conversation strives to benchmark work, discuss trends and give insight to help advance the profession and the future professional.

PR Connection is hosted by Alpha PRoductions at the University of Florida. Alpha PRoductions is the largest student-run public relations firm in Florida and is sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), UF Alpha Chapter.

Alpha PRoductions strives to provide members with real-world public relations experience. Our mission is to serve our members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and providing access to professional development opportunities, and to serve the public relations profession by helping develop highly qualified, well-prepared professionals. For more information, please visit our Web site at