Sunday, April 24, 2011

Baby Gaga ice cream- A media scandal!

The business of Breast milk ice cream started in a store in London’s Covent Garden have caused media furore and many critiques from public around the world.

The owner Matt O’Connor is using as the product’s image a bizarre woman wearing a mask and two nipple cones, dressed in pink lycra resembling the pop star Lady Gaga. The woman is shown filling ice creams with a baby’s bottle in order to attract attention from the public.
Despite this might be seen by many as a comical way of attracting customer, the real problem comes when there are concerns related to health issues and also the credibility of the brand itself as they are not implementing any kind of communications plans showing responsibility to the community, they are just fighting to have a place in the market without thinking in the long term consequences.

Additionally, British officials confiscated the product to evaluate it due to the many health complaints they received but after a couple of days they authorized the product to be returned to the market confirming that it is safe for human consumption. On the top of that, the singer Lady Gaga has taken legal actions arguing that they are using her name to promote a ‘nausea-inducing’ ice cream and that they are attempting against her reputation and god-will. Although the product has been accepted by authorities, the brand is still receiving many criticisms and it is questioned to be a just visual attraction rather than a successful business based on ethical marketing.

In my opinion, this company will have to demonstrate much more than a bizarre and suggestive image if they really want to get the public trust and get rid of the bad comments and legal implications. As the product is related to health issues, more problems will continue to arise and they will have to find a way of positioning themselves as a reliable and responsible brand if they want to success in this business.

The implications of unpaid interns in the PR industry.

I have been following an interesting case about unpaid interns in which employers have been taking advantage of students who are desperate to try anything in order to get some experience and then start to look for a job with something important in their CVs. The problem is mostly seen in the media sector and has been approached by many on the field.

In PR week for example, there is an article- -, explaining how employers in the PR industry have been opting on finding unpaid students as a result of the credit crisis and the low budget they have to cover costs. Therefore, they are tempting to hire people willing to work long hours in order to just get experience.

My question is: Where are the ethics of these people? I think that this is so unfair for students, it is definitely no right and dishonest to use them for their own benefit as students not only in many cases finish their studies with huge debts, and being without a job at all, they struggle to make their ends meet, on the top of that, they are finding an world full of debts taxing highly their generation for the errors their ancestors did, and a highly competitive market where given the current circumstances is harder than ever to stand out and show they are worth it, as it is not the most competitive and capable people those accepting the internships, but only those that can actually afford to do it, as they are still being supported by their parents.

These arguments makes even more concerning the situation as if that is correct, those who are missing out on the opportunities of taking not paid professional internships are those who are more disadvantaged.

Many people seem to agree with the idea that ‘is ethically wrong to employ anyone who, over several months, is adding real value to one's business, without paying them properly’ (Rogers, 2011). This kind of behavior some organisations have is definitely wrong as it affects no just students but also the profession.

As a result of this scandal, many newspapers and websites suchs as are offering advice to students in order to let them know what their rights are and what they should evaluate while deciding if an internship is worth doing such as discussing the purpose of the internship and clarify expectations from the start and ensure the placement is valuable.

Additionally, it has come to light some legal implications such as accusations of exploitation if employers recruit graduates to work for free for periods of six months or more. I am of the opinion that organisations should act in a more responsible way with volunteer students who are trying to prove their skills and learn from daily experiences; at the end students are who should get the more out of it.

For me, it is definitely a case to follow as I am a 1st year student and I have to start thinking seriously on applying for internships while studying, to get an understanding of how the PR real world works, and to prepare for the future. Although there are still a lot of people avoiding the ethics issue of this matter, there are also many others who demonstrate real concern about it, therefore, everything is not lost for us as students. I have received plenty of advice from my tutors at the University and I hope all Universities are doing the same.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

David Cameron vs The NHS

At the beginning of his keynote speech on public services in January, David Cameron insisted that he "wants to do right by NHS staff", in many other speeches he has hailed the NHS as a wonderful fact of British life, and has even underlined his family's own reliance on it. In short, he has bent over backwards to show he is a man in whose hands the NHS is indeed safe, as he promised during the run of the elections.

After the election safely out of the way, he introduced the NHS reforms and set himself at war with the NHS staff, and ignored the leaders of a range of professional organisations and trade unions, that have made it clear that they consider the proposed NHS changes "extremely risky and potentially disastrous".

If that was not enough, the “once before the elections devoted fan of the NHS” referred to its service as a "second-rate” and “poor” one, and had the impertinence to describe the Tory’s "reform" as a reorganisation from the "bottom up" as a witty note in another of his speeches. This ‘joke’, even if intended to amuse the public, came of a really poor taste in a time when many people’s jobs and health are at risk.

I have seen with deep concerns every time I read articles on how the NHS levels of patient’s satisfaction have plummeted during this year, and how when in a time when they are attempting to cut jobs to make savings they are on the other hand paying millions in compensation to patients that have been severely affected by negligence, incompetence, excessive waiting times and lack of staff.

I have seen how multiple political figures and professionals have criticised David Cameron’s policies for being arrogant in recognising they might be potentially and disastrously wrong, and for taking a gamble on public’s health. As in the words of Diane Abbott in her article “NHS changes: David Cameron's dodgy prescription” (The Guardian, 2011) “It is becoming clearer by the day that Tory "reform" is not about improving the NHS, but reshaping the service to drive forward a marketisation agenda. They are designed to meet the political objectives of a Tory-led government. And all Cameron's warm words will not disguise this”.

Proofs this has been more about pursuing a political agenda than the public’s interest have been the embarrassing and desperate U–turns on decisions made by the Tory’s leader, after the Labour is surging ahead in the polls.

It seems like the Prime Minister is PR conscious after all, and has realised if he goes ahead with all this current dramatic and severe reforms in such a short timeframe, he could be not elected in the next elections.

In my own personal opinion I believe the NHS needs changes, and needs to be made more efficient. Limited and regulated competition could offer choices to people, and opportunities for a better value for money service. However, the people at NHS need to be listened to, need to be taken into account to come up with a reform, that acts in the benefit of all and not the Tory’s political agenda. As for David Cameron, if he still wants to go ahead with this reform, he is going to be in great need of a PR offensive campaign “in order to 'salvage the Tories' reputation' on the NHS and prevent the first casualty of his Government” (Fine cited in PRWeek 2011).

What do you think?

Friday, April 22, 2011

The use of celebrities in Social Media charity campaigns

Keep a child alive Is a charity which aims to provide treatment and support to families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.

Alicia Keys is the charity's co-founder, and recently ran a campaign on Social Media called Digital Death in order to raise 1 million dollars for children affected by the illness.

The idea was that the world's most followed celebrities in Social Media sites such as Tweeter and Facebook, had to quit to their social media lives, until they raise the target.

It took them less than a week to raise that amount, from the 30th of November to the 6th of December 2010 and they keep raising money until now.

On the charity's website they have the testaments of each celebrity asking for support and really trying to emotionally persuade people for the way they are expressing themselves.

This is a good example of gaining supporters using the power of social media, because is a campaign full of real-lives photos and videos, very creative, emotional and perhaps shocking for those celebrity-lovers.

Another good example worth following!

'Time to change' campaign

Time to change is a Social Media campaign led by two well recognized mental health charities: Mind and Rethink.

It is inspiring to see how they have already achieved over 15.000 pledges thanks to the effective use they have been given to their Social Media sites, updating people with the latest news of their campaign on facebook, twitter and YouTube.

This website has plenty of videos with shocking testimonials such as the 'don't get me wrong video' and also has real stories of people with mental health problems, a blog, a forum and a section of news and media coverage. What is even more, due to their work they have gained a significant amount of people collaborating with them as a volunteers.

Thanks to the accessibility and their daily interaction on the web, both charities have gained many supporters and people believing in them through a very catchy, original and effective campaign.
Because there's always a time to change!

'The best job in the world' campaign: A SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS

At the end of the year 2008 Tourism Queensland of Australia, the statutory body of Queensland Government, found itself struggling to attract more tourists to visit the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Therefore, they decided to do something different, exciting and special in order to get International attention so they asked the advertising agency SapientNitro to think in a unique campaign to make people aware of the exceptional experiences available there.

They first published classified job adverts and job listings in newspapers worldwide looking for an Island Caretaker and all the key markets were supplied with press releases, story lines and astonishing photography showing how the Island was. All the applicants had to sent a one minute video explaining why they want the job and why they should get it and all these videos were available on YouTube and on the campaign web pages so people could see them.

They create an incredible interaction between all the applicants on the Internet; all of them could share their videos, getting to know each other interests and consequently spread the enthusiasm for being the winners of this incredible adventure.

They had also official groups on Social Media websites such as Facebook and Twitter in which there were thousands of people posting and trying to guess who will be the winner of the competition. The winner was announced after some interviews made in The Islands of Great barrier Reef to the last 16 candidates who had to prove their skills by doing various tasks such as swimming and snorkeling.

In Britain this campaign was a Boom as a result of the many benefits this job was offering such as a salary of a £972 an hour based for just working 12 hours a month for six months, living rent-free in a 3 bedroom villa in the Island with a temperature of 29c, free return flights, transfers and transport around the island included and so on.

The winner had to create a weekly online blog, photo diary, video updates of his/her time on the island and give media interviews and email reports to chiefs at Tourism Queensland. All these with the aim of getting the eyes of millions around the world in order to increase the tourism of the Island. It is said that thousands of Britons applied to this job and the winner in fact was a British man ‘Ben Southall’ a charity fundraiser from Petersfield.

This campaign received full media coverage including TV stations such as CNN and BBC and almost all Newspapers a Radio stations. It was definitely a very good example of promoting a PR campaign using all the channels available and making it fascinating. But as many people commented, the real winner of this campaign was the Queensland tourism board ‘which has pulled off a great PR stunt by generating well over £50m of free publicity’.

Isn't that amazing?.....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Social Media Revolution

Many people still thinking that Social Media is a fad, others that is the biggest shift since the industrial revolution... where do you stand?

It is remarkable that Social Media has turned the web upside down in the last few years and has the power to literally make or break your online Marketing campaign and your business reputation. This incredible broad channel of communication allows you to create a relationship with your customer like no other media has previously allowed. What is more, it enables you to establish a one-to-one relationship and get regular feedbacks on how your clients and supporters are reacting to your brand and marketing messages and also to solve any complaints they may have against your business.

All companies, withouth any exception can triumph in this brave new world if they use it correctly and effectively as they can gain the acceptance and trust of many. It is a new world that we all MUST be looking at.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Apparently, is very difficult to put ethics into practice when working for the good image of a client and manage all kind of unconstructive comments as you get paid for that and sometimes is unavoidable that you have to work for a client that you do not want to; there it comes the important decision of whether you will do it no matter what it cost or to simply reject to do it.

Despite of this, I believe that you have the right to decide what work are you happy to do and which client you are not willing to represent at all because no one can force you to do what you think is not right as a professional. However, I also believe that being in the position in whether you have to choose between doing that undesirable job and lose your own job it is also very difficult and sometimes practitioners simply have to do it for their own good.

As a result, controversy and perhaps confusion of how ethical PR industry is, takes place in the everyday practice. In my position, I would never act against my own values however difficult or inevitable this could be. As a first year student, I believe that if every organisation applies ethics and gives priority to the truth as its main tool to communicate their issues or problems, it is more likely for them to earn respect and the confidence of their public as they will demonstrate how transparent and sincere they are doing business. Therefore, they will conserve their reputation and its people will believe that they will do what they say they will do. As we must remember that famous saying ‘Lies have short legs’, we should bear in mind that in today’s world everything comes to light sooner or later and as PR practitioners we should look after our own reputation before looking after other’s image.