Inside the Profession

Friday Five: Bad Marketing Creates PR Headaches

In my first interview for a public relations internship many years ago, my would-be employer asked me if I stayed up-to-date on the news. When I answered yes, she then wanted to know what specific publications and news shows I consumed on a daily basis.

Friday Five LogoAt the time it seemed like a strange line of questioning. After years of experience in the public relations industry, however, it’s crystal clear why it is so important.

Awareness.  You must be aware of what’s happening around you. In order to relate to your target audiences, you must understand their current environment.

In this week’s Friday Five — PRSA’s take on the week’s biggest news stories — we will discuss a beer company who undoubtedly wasn’t aware of the wave of recent news stories about rape and consent. We’ll also take a look at missteps from business giants Walmart and Twitter, learn about Internet Explorer’s replacement and share some tips for jobseekers.


Here’s what we learned this week:

1) Bad Marketing Can Create a Predictable PR Backlash.

Even if you tried to, it would have been nearly impossible to avoid news stories about the date rape epidemic on college campuses this past year. That’s why the decision by Bud Light’s marketing team to print “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night” on beer labels is mind-blowing.

Alexander Lambrecht, vice president for the Bud Light brand at Anheuser-Busch, said “It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.”

Was the message intentional? Probably not. But there is no excuse for not predicting this foreseeable backlash. Read some of the Twitter responses to this campaign via The New York Times.

2) Terrible Memos Always End Up on Social Media.

According to Gawker, Walmart recently closed five stores in four different states, laying off 2,200 workers. On their way out the door, Walmart made matters worse by handing said employees a memo entitled “coping with transition” which offered ridiculous stress management tips.

Here are a couple of the helpful tips Walmart served these laid off employees:

  • “Seek help if reactions are interring with job responsibilities.”
  • “Avoid stimulates such as caffeine, chocolate and nicotine and depressants such as alcohol.”

Internal communications matter, especially when your “internal” employees become  an “external” audience.

3) Twitter’s Stock Tumbles Because of a Tweet.

That’s right; a tweet which shared Twitter’s less than stellar earnings hurt Twitter stock.  According to Wired, a company named Selerity predicts and searches for the online addresses of earnings releases based on past URLs, and easily found Twitter’s earnings release before it was shared via Twitter’s own Investor Relations website.

Investor relations is complicated in the age of social media, and companies like Selerity will likely change this important communication specialty for better or for worse.

4) Microsoft is Replacing Internet Explorer.

We have known for a while that Microsoft will be shutting down Explorer, its internet browser since 1996. What we didn’t know is what they would be replacing it with. Meet “Microsoft Edge” which will allow modern technology such as “extensions”, features which have been available on Chrome and Firefox for years.

Will you give Microsoft Edge a chance? Let us know in the comments section below.

5) Job Seekers: Your Resume Font May Be Costing You Your Dream Job.

Job hunting can be an arduous process, and getting your resume to the top of the pile can be a challenging task. But what if the reason you aren’t getting a call back for an interview is the font on your resume? While that may seem ridiculous, BloombergBusiness says “using Times New Roman is the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview.” Yikes!

While we may know what fonts not to use, what font should we use? All of the people BloombergBusiness interviewed recommended Helvetica, so be sure to update your resume tonight before you pour a glass of wine and slip into your PJs.

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

About the author

Rosanne Mottola, APR

Rosanne Mottola, APR, is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America. She is an adjunct professor of public relations at St. John’s University, Staten Island. Mottola obtained a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from New York University in 2010. You can connect with her on Twitter @RoeMoPR or on LinkedIn.

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