For a long time now I have been contemplating as to why Disney Channel stars seem to go off of the deep end. At this point in time, I still cannot come up with an answer that explains the turbulence caused by the erratic behavior of the rich and famous. Then I started to think. These kids are rich and famous. They can have anything and everything they want, thanks to their big paychecks. Even though money seems to be the answer to all problems, it’s also irrevocably the cause of the downward spiral.

Famous Disney Channel stars such as Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes and recently, Miley Cyrus, are the constant talk of the media. People are always picking up copies of Us Weekly magazines, and are checking their social media accounts just to see what indescribable act these reckless teenagers have committed this week. But wait a second. These aren’t teenagers.

These former Disney Channel stars are grown adults but pull rebellious acts, as if they are teenagers. And sadly, current teenagers don’t have these people to look up to, as I once did when I was a teenager. I started to do some research about child stars after I discovered all of my favorite, once former Disney Stars went off the deep end. It seems as though every child star who grew up in the spotlight, and received endless amounts of money had missed out on a real childhood. You have to wonder… Waking up early every day, memorizing lines, doing photo shoot after photo shoot, receiving little privacy, and missing out on real relationships can make it difficult to grow up.

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uk.movies.yahoo.com

Lately my attention has been on one particular star, Shia Labeouf. I think everybody who grew up in the early 2000s remembers him. Who could forget such titles as “Transformers”, “Disturbia” and “Lawless.” But I want to go a little further back: Does anyone remember a Disney Channel show called “Even Stevens”? The show was about a goofy brother, played by Labeouf, who torments his older, perfectionist sister Ren, who was played by Christy Carlson Romano. LaBeouf was a happy, energetic young star full of potential, who seeked to advance his career from Disney child star to successful adult actor. At this time and later on, Labeouf became a pretty big household name. And if my memory serves, this star seemed like a pretty successful, well rounded celebrity.

Currently, the 27-year-old star has gone off the deep end, as well. Since 2005, legal troubles, controversy and plagiarism (the biggest sin) lied in wake for this actor. Running his car into a neighbor’s garage and then allegedly brandishing a kitchen knife at the neighbor hours later, refusing to leave a Chicago Walgreens and drunk driving make him sound like the next of a long line of celebrities who have, to be quite blunt, gone berserk with fame.

This blog was to warn readers of the more negative parts of publicity, and the consequences that come along with losing who you are when people look to you in judgment every second. Publicity and fame ain’t all it’s cracked up to be after all.

Learn From the Best: Part 2

I think it is important as aspiring public relations practitioners that we learn our PR history. Unlike circus showman and performer P.T. Barnum, Ivy lee came into the picture with a firmer definition of ethics of public relations in mind.  One of my blog posts has already been about Edward Bernays and his influence on our profession, so now it is time to look at the other “Father of PR”, Ivy Lee.

Ivy Ledbetter Lee was definitely another practitioner that shaped modern public relations. In fact, he is considered the primary contributor to how we handle public relations today. He was also specifically the man who helped shape crisis communication tactics.

Lee was born in Cedartown, Georgia on July 16, 1877. He studied at Emory College and then graduated at Princeton. Like a lot of public relations practitioners, Lee was a stringer and was writing for newspapers like The New York Times at first. The Citizen’s Union as a publicity manager in 1903 was his first public relations-related job. He then took a job with the Democratic National Committee. Lee and his partner George Parker established in 1905 the United States’ third public relations firm, Parker and Lee. He was also the first public relations person at an executive level when he worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1912.

1914 was Lee’s year, as he was asked by John D. Rockefeller to help promote his family’s image and his company, Standard Oil. “The Ludlow Massacre” was a coal mining rebellion in Colorado, when the National Colorado Guard came and attacked around 1,200 coal miners. Lee also had a strong contribution to the making of the Rockefeller Center, continuing to assist Rockefeller and his image from then on.

During World War I, Lee was a publicity director, and later as an Assistant to the Chairman with the American Red Cross.

In 1921, Lee was an inaugural member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. A quote by Lee had spread around then, giving him his infamous saying: “Tell the truth, because sooner or later the public will find out anyway. And if the public doesn’t like what you are doing, change your policies and bring them into line with what people want.”

Lee also established a Declaration of Principles in 1906: “This is not a secret press bureau. All our work is done in the open. We aim to supply news. This is not an advertising agency. If you think any of our matter ought properly to go to your business office, do not use it. Our matter is accurate. Further details on any subject treated will be supplied promptly, and any editor will be assisted most carefully in verifying directly any statement of fact. … In brief, our plan is frankly, and openly, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subjects which it is of value and interest to the public to know about.”

Imagehttps://blairburney.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/ivyledbetterlee.jpg?w=487

Source: Bryanlong.com

The quote is a basic summation of Lee and his stance on his profession. Transparency and honesty is what the audience needs. He established the “two way street” that is necessary in modern times between the public relations practitioner and her or his client and public. In specific, communication and feedback from the public is necessary to establish a meaningful relationship between the two entities.

Ivy Lee did not always practice what he preached, however.

In actual practice, Lee would conduct one-way propagandizing practices to his clients. This was obviously not a pleasant outcome and feedback for the public. Although he said the right things, his actions did not necessarily follow. We’re all human, right?

If anything, “The Father of PR’s” actions should only serve as a basis for the founding of our profession. Ethics is always essential for a profession that includes serving information to the public or persuading the public. He is certainly still an inspiration for his work changing public relations.

“Flacking” Up Again

“PR flack touts Amy Adams’ bag at Philip Seymour Hoffman wake.”
“Shameless PR person promotes Amy Adams’ bag at Philip Seymour Hoffman wake.”
“Tacky PR agency announces that Amy Adams carried Valentino to PHS wake.”

Uh-oh. Sounds like another “flack” has crossed the ethics line again.

An apparently unknowing public relations practitioner had promoted actress Amy Adams’ bag who had arrived for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wake. Adams was using the purse of a client on whom the public relations company represented, and thus milked the appearance for all it was worth, without doing that useful thing called fact-checking.
The press release said: “We are pleased to announce Amy Adams carrying the Valentino Garavani Rockstud Duble bag from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection on Feb. 6 in New York.”

Was Upasna Khosla, the PR executive, lacking of a heart that day and decided to promote the Valentino bag despite why Adams was out? Or did she simply make a mistake, completely oblivious to the black clothing and somber expression on the actress’ face in the picture?

Either way, these news outlets and blogs have given the Valentino bag that the PR company was trying to promote even more publicity. Although it is in a bad light, the bag and its company is still getting awareness and acknowledgment from the public.

Eventually on Friday, the company expressed their apologies:

“We sincerely regret releasing a photo to the media this morning of Amy Adams with a Valentino bag. We were not aware the photography was taken while she was attending the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was an innocent mistake, and we apologize to Ms. Adams who was not aware, or a part of, our PR efforts.”

To me, these journalists do not know what objectivity means. Using words like “tacky” and “shameless”, although truthful IF that PR company had prior knowledge of the wake, are not words of indifference. The symbiotic relationship between PR folk and journalists wear thin in this tale, and is a classic example of how the two entities clash.

All right, now I am done with being devil’s advocate.

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Source: New York Daily News

It is pretty negligent and ignorant to just assume this PR company had no idea about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wake. In all honesty, this company probably did know and went ahead with their promotion anyway, just to get more bang for their buck.

Yes, they got some publicity with their dull-looking handbags. But at what cost?
The actress is furious that she was promoted in this way , the public is upset at how tasteless the promotion was and the company is groveling at everyone’s feet stating that they had no idea.

Sometimes, as much as I fight for public relations and how we are not “flacks”, this money-hungry business still happens. It is important to remember though that a whole entity such as the profession of public relations should not be negatively seen just because of one bad rat. These types of companies do no good for our profession.

Time will tell how this story will play out. Oh wait, we already know. People are gonna get fired, and the company is going to have a real hard time trying to get out of this one.

UPDATE: To make things even better (but worse), I stumbled across the New York Daily News’ cover for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death on my fellow classmates’ blog post. Who is being shameless now?

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Good Uses of Social Media

Social media is a huge business innovation that public relations practitioners should consider to further build their brand, client or company. Let’s face it, the two entities are fusing together. With social media, it is easier to create conversational topics to customers, introduce discussions and receive constructive feedback (or nasty feedback). These channels of potential communication between company and public can be used through different sectors of a social media site such as Facebook message, Tweets or blog comments on your company’s website. I decided to create this blog post regarding the ever-evolving world of social media and its practical uses for practitioners, because let’s face it, social media ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Facebook
We all know and love Facebook. It’s a grade up from Myspace and allows users to post their own statuses, post pictures and videos, and message their friends. As social and unprofessional as it may sound, companies can gain a lot of coverage and publicity through this site. Professional companies can even create their own page through a Facebook account. Through this page, you can schedule posts, view your activity log and view analytics of your page.  Posting statuses regarding special offers from your company, a chance to win tickets to your client’s concert or any overall promotions you want people to know about can be posted right to your page with easy access to your consumers. Photos can also be posted (via Instagram if you want that fancy filter) so consumers are also getting a visual aspect that is always visually rewarding… Photographs speak 1,000 words after all.

Twitter
Twitter is basically a condensed form of Facebook’s statuses. Limited to only 140 characters a Tweet, it is important for the company to realize this, and think thoroughly of a condensed message that will be understandable to your public. It is a great site to also post photos, ReTweet your clients or follow relevant people.
Side note: Don’t lose your company’s dignity by messaging every new follower with a generic “Thank you for following! Please go to our website at www.overkill.com to learn more information!”

YouTube
This site is a great place for… you guessed it… videos. If your company wants to create content such as “How-Tos” or “DIY (Do It Yourself)” tutorials, it might be better to create videos in order to make it easier for your consumer to comprehend with visuals instead of reading a long list. It also can present great opportunities for other potential stakeholders that are new to your organization, brand or company to be aware of, and possibly gain more overall publicity.

All in all, it is important to stay engaged with your social media sites. It does no good leaving your sites dead for a week or even a couple days with little to no activity. It is also important to not only be active, but create posts that make conversation. Your messages should be open to questions from your customers, and always facilitate a good environment for both your client and the public you are trying to attract.