Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Spring Has Sprung

The weather is warming up and we are finally waking up from our long winter hibernation. Here Friday Five Logoat PRSA we believe it is time for a little spring cleaning, and first up is this weekly PRSAY blog series, the PRSA Friday Five. We’ve been bringing you the PRSA Friday Five for more than three years and felt that it was time for a little facelift. In the coming weeks, you may notice some more format changes. Please bear with us as we tweak it to make it more relevant to our readers and also provide greater direction for the PR community.

In this week’s Friday Five – PRSA’s analysis of the week’s biggest public relations news and commentary – we will share our observations on news stories and offer our take on what we’ve learned as a result. We hope you enjoy this new take on an old favorite.

Here’s what we learned this week:

1. The Camera is Always Rolling

It is a tale we’ve become accustomed to lately. A person, who otherwise has a good reputation, gets caught on camera doing something terrible. As a result the person’s career, character and sometimes his or her entire life, is changed forever. This week’s subject is ESPN reporter Britt McHenry.

McHenry has been suspended by the sports network after unleashing a hate-filled tirade against a tow yard employee while paying to get her car back. The employee told McHenry she was being filmed shortly after she began her verbal attack, but that didn’t seem to deter her. During the minute-long video, McHenry told the employee she worked in the news and threatened to sue the establishment all while insulting the employee’s appearance and education.

McHenry did eventually apologize via Twitter for her actions, but never truly apologized to the employee she berated. ESPN has suspended McHenry for one week as a result of her actions, but because the internet is forever, her reputation will likely be tarnished for a much longer period of time. Watch her (NSFW) rant below.

2. Everyone Needs A Little Public Relations

It can be argued that every company, public figure and organization can benefit from public relations representation. With that being said, we can’t imagine that any member of PRSA who adheres to the PRSA Code of Ethics would ever truly consider the following job: Press Officer for ISIS.

PRNewser’s Tonya Garcia reported this week that ISIS is looking for a press officer to work in its “media centre” and that this is just one of ten jobs that have opened up. In case you were thinking of dusting off your resume, we agree with this statement by Garcia:

“We’re guessing once you accept a job with ISIS, it’s rather difficult to quit.”

3. Flying is a Miserable Experience

If you’re anything like me, every time you get off a plane, you pledge to never get back on another. After reading Monday’s story from Phil LeBeau of NBC News, I am confident I’m not alone.

LeBeau shared Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s annual Airline Quality Rating. While complaints about delayed arrivals, lost baggage and passengers being bumped increased, there was also a spike in complaints about airline customer service.   Will communication executives at the airlines help foster change or will bad service become the status quo? Only time will tell.

4. We Must be Prepared for Product Recalls 

It seems like every day this week, while watching the morning news, I learned about a new nationwide product recall. Yesterday’s voluntary recall of Beech-Nut baby food occurred after fears that the food might contain small pieces of glass. Beech-Nut joined other companies recalling products this week, including Sabra hummus and Blue Bell ice cream, both because of listeria. In Blue Bell’s case, eight people in Texas and Kansas had listeria infections related to this outbreak. In Kansas, three people at a hospital died after coming in for unrelated reasons and developing listeriosis after consuming the ice cream.

This recall is Blue Bell’s first in 103 years of business. It serves as a reminder that no matter how stable your company is, you always need to be prepared for a crisis.

5. PR (Still) has a Responsibility to the Public

“The time has come to take the ‘public’ in public relations seriously.” Shel Holtz, in a brilliantly-written blog post shared this week on PR Daily, reminds us that while newsrooms are shrinking and PR is growing, “practitioners will need to be at least as accountable to the public as they are to their clients.”

Holtz says that we must be partners with the media, helping to inform the public about matters that are important to them. While Holtz rightly acknowledges that in an unregulated industry, it will be impossible to have every practitioner on board with this sentiment, we still must take action into our own hands.

To conclude his article, Holtz asks, “Am I just dreaming, or can PR truly become an advocate for the public in addition to the clients whose messages they consume? Can we give new meaning to the ‘public’ in public relations?” While nobody can truly predict the future, I believe we can. We have the tools and the talent to make Shel’s dream a reality.

What do you think about the new Friday Five? Sound off in the comments section below.

Rosanne Mottola is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America.

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