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Occupy These

One of the most annoying and heinous results of social media is bandwagon- activism and conflation of issues. This issue isn’t social media itself , but the way some people use social media.  One of the most recent and infamous examples of this is the Trayvon Martin incident. As stated in a previous blog , speaking out about it became more of a “trendy” thing to do than actual activism and it felt like it was the flavor of the week issue rather than a legitimate call for action. This was much like the occupy movement , which in my opinion was a bunch of spoiled brats attempting to ride yet another trend and sound important, while simultaneously drowning out the serious concerns of those who are oppressed and mistreated in this society and around the globe.

As much as I personally support social media as a source of sharing and gaining information  , I do believe that there can be at times major disconnect between the digital community’s opinions, and the opinions and actions of those in physical reality . In many instances , social media creates its own secular communities which can sometimes be isolated or withdrawn from individuals who are not frequent users of social media. This can often times cause many people who are not active tweeters or facebook users to not take the opinions and concerns of the social media community very seriously, and to social media activism as another trendy to be cool. In my opinion , such suspicion and/or dismissal  of the concerns of the social media community may be warranted.  It’s very easy to sit behind a screen and claim to be serious about change, justice, or correctness and have a feeling of self satisfaction and being involved and trendy.

The sad part is that many people would not be involved with or interested in such things if they didn’t hear about it through social media, when some issues and concerns are centuries old.  This is not to say that social media isn’t a powerful tool for exchanging information about important causes that will eventually lead to action. I am just suggesting that the focus should always primarily be on the issues at hand , and not just trying to be remotely involved in something because everyone else is.

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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Happy Office is a Healthy Office

The daily wear and tear of being an employee can definitely take its toll on one’s health. Lack of sleep, exercise, and personal time can all lead to employee health deficiencies, which can then impact job performance and office morale. It is beneficial for organizations to take a role in their employee’s health and fitness needs.

The National Association for Health and Fitness encourages organizations to initialize worksite health promotion programs to enhance the overall health and productivity of employees. Each year the NAHF administers the Nation Employee Health and Fitness Month, which is created to promote the benefits of physical activity for individuals through their work site health promotion activities. The NAHF claims the benefits for employers include: enhanced employee productivity, improved health care costs management decreased rates of illness and injuries, and reduced employee absenteeism. The benefits for employees include: lower levels of stress, increased well being, self-image and self- esteem, and improved physical fitness.

Some companies are taking this concept a step further by making wellness a standard in their company policy. The real estate company RPM Development Group has created a wellness program to better the livelihood of its employees.  The plan includes a fitness club membership, nutrition/diet and required checkups for preventive measures.The plan has been implemented since 2008. The purpose is to promote healthier wellness and healthier lifestyles, and also to keep healthcare costs from skyrocketing. Management personnel have very stationery jobs and these programs help to promote better physical and mental health. An employee wellness program can be extremely effective in boosting not only employee morale, but also employee livelihood.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Coaching the Coach

In my exercise for my PR Theory  class I had the opportunity to play both a media coach as well as the client. On the client side of things I role played the captain of the Carnival cruise ship crisis. My media coach was tasked with insuring that my responses and tone with the press shed a sympathetic light on the deaths of the respective passengers. I found that as a person the receiving end of the coaching it is very difficult to accept people telling you what to say , especially when you believe that your actions were correct.

It is frustrating and even startling to hear another person  critique how you are coming off to the general public. I played the role of being indignant and not wanting to take responsibility and accountability for the deaths of the passengers and I was in the mind frame of attempting to protect myself and to be myself , rather than to admit any wrongdoing , or to have to be tactful .

On the side of being a media coach , I had the monumental task  of being the public relations coach for Jerry Sandusk , played by my Professor. I found that it was imperative to be as specific as possible when speaking to a client. Inflection , demeanor , word choice , and body language all have to be taken into consideration. I had to mentally take myself out of the role as a public spectator, and I really had to be very objective and honest with Mr. Sandusky. The importance of using words in the most precise manner became very evident , very quickly.

Words like attached, love, boys , like, mine , and feel all became hot-button words that we needed to be mindful of. I also found that it could be frustrating for some media coaches to engage clients , as some may be too stuck in their way of thinking to actually take heed to professional advice. Ultimately I enjoy the exercise from both sides and really was able to get a taste of real life scenarios.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Scapegoating Social Media

At some point in time everyone needs someone or something to place blame upon. It is much easier and harmless to point the proverbial finger at an idea, concept or platform rather than to demand that individual take accountability for their perceived incorrect thoughts, speech, and actions. Currently , blaming social media for the pitfalls of society seems to be the safe thing to do for many pundits and journalists.

As of late, I have stumbled upon a series of articles blaming  social media networks and platforms for a variety of social issues. There have been reports that social networks cause users to exhibit signs of Tourette’s Syndrome, commonly referenced as “twitching”. Critics have speculated that social media users twitch , tic and have uncontrollable outburst unexplainably , and that by posting videos of their conditions through social media  makes the symptoms of the disorder spread.

Also, last summer there was allegedly an epidemic of so called flash mobs throughout certain areas of this United States that have been stated to have its origins through Facebook and Twitter communication. This then lead to false claims that these sites could potentially be used for non constructive purposes by so called ” urban youth”. None of these claims came to fruition.

Currently, the tragic shooting of Travon Martin in Florida has apparently caused a ” social media outrage”.  Trayvon was a teenaged black male that was  unarmed and shot by a neighborhood watch captain. There are many signs pointing to racism as the motivation. Many journalist are attempting to spin the reaction and calls for justice  as a social media movement for Trayvon – rather than general outrage being expressed through all platforms and venues.

In the “twitching” incident , the high school students reporting these symptoms should be viewed with strong scrutiny – people often times imitate what they see. In the so called flashmob epidemic , much of the media was creating hysteria and paranoia and using social media as a scapegoat for potential wrong doings. Finally , the tragic death of Trayvon Martin impacts people in both the digital and physical world. Attempting to label the reaction to the incident as a “social media movement” certainly marginalizes the reality and gravity of the incident. There is nothing tragic about social media as a platform. As a platform, it’s neutral and a reflection of the people that use it.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Reich N.O.W.

It is commonly stated that Public Relations has drastically changed history and society. Nothing could be truer than in regards to the so called “revolution in the 1960s.  Public Relations was chiefly responsible for the both the genesis and the outcomes of the Civil Rights Movement and Feminist movements during the 1960s in the United States. For the Civil Rights movement in particular Public Relations strategy was an integral part in all aspects. There have always been advocates against white supremacy prior to the 1960s, however the advent of television and other forms of communication greatly expanded the reach and frequency of the messages for justice. For the first time the entire world was able to overtly see the abuse and mistreatment of non white/black people that wasn’t in the form of a newspaper or post card. Speeches, marches, protests and violence were all broadcasted in their raw form to millions.

Although the main PR message of the Feminist movement was to “liberate” women, it can certainly be argued that the movement itself was another counter PR campaign to piggy back on, distract, conflate and ultimately slow down the Civil Rights movement in an essential PR bailout plan for white America. Betty Friedan was a prominent figure in 1960s feminist movement and certainly used PR to garner support for the movement. During the time of the rise of NOW and the Feminist movement, the civil rights movement was also gaining momentum and prominence. Friedan’s book “ The Feminine Mystique” presented the idea that women were tired of being relegated to being domestic suburban beings and having to live in the shadow of their male counterparts. One could argue that the very idea of the feminist movement in the midst of the Civil Rights movement was a racist tactic by white women to shift the focus from ending white supremacy in the US to actually expanding white supremacy by giving the white female even more power and authority, thus doubling the household income of whites. The so called “ Leave it to Beaver” suburban lifestyle was being portrayed by N.O.W. and the media as being oppressive to women , all the while this “lifestyle” was essentially being denied to black and other non white people. The same group of people who were denying basic human rights to others,  caused lynchings, condoned murder, rape and war , were now using Public Relations to claim victimization, and demanded even more power to partake in the white supremacy power structure.

 

One of the main lessons that can be learned when analyzing the Civil Rights and Feminist movements is that those who have access and control of the media are ultimately going to have the most success.  Also, it is evidenced that conflating issues and piggybacking off of strong social movements can be a very effective public relations strategy. It is also interesting to note that the advancement of technology dramatically influenced both of these movements, as television became the main stage for both of these movements to play out.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Pun Intended

As of late , there have been several instances in which prominent journalists have gotten severely reprimanded for allegedly misspeaking and subsequently offending a specific interest group.  Last week’s blog entry was in regards to the highly debated decision to suspend CNN Journalist Roland Martin for so-called homophobic Tweets. This past weekend , ESPN editor Anthony Federico  was promptly fired from ESPN for using “ chink in the armor” in the headline of an article about the current phenomenon of Knick’s star Jeremy Lin. There was an immediate and widespread outcry after the headline from sports fanatics and media outlets alike, and Federico was quickly canned for the supposed offensive slur.

In a seemingly desperate attempt to save face, and to perhaps have some sort of damage control , Federico took to his Twitter page and issued an apology and an explanation. Here is an excerpt:

“They would see that on the day of the incident I got a call from a friend – who happens to be homeless – and rushed to his aid. He was collapsed on the side of the road due to exposure and hunger. They would see how I picked him up and got him a hotel room and fed him. They would see I used my vacation time last year to volunteer in the orphanages of Haiti. They would see how I ‘adopted’ an elderly Alzheimer’s patient and visited him every week for a year. They would see that every winter I organize a coat drive for those less fortunate in New Haven. They would see how I raised $10,000 for a friend in need when his kids were born four months premature. “ – Anthony Federico, Twitter

Photo courtesy of the New York Post

I find a few things interesting about this incident and how it has played out. I find it interesting in comparison to the Roland Martin incident, there was little ambiguity or argument over the fact that Federico was being intentionally offensive, except from Federico himself of course. I do believe that this infraction might be a bit more blatant that the Roland Martin incident as well. I also believe that it was an interesting move on the part of Federico to use Twitter as an outlet to explain, at length, how he did not mean to offend anyone, and that it was an “honest mistake”. Giving a laundry list of good deeds ranging from organizing a coat drive for “those less fortunate” to “ volunteering in orphanages of Haiti”  seems a bit disingenuous to me and is the equivalent of a blatant bigot saying “ I’m not racist , one my best friends is ( blank).” It just doesn’t cut it and is a very specious defense.

When I first became aware of the incident, my initial reaction was “ wow, it’s about time”, as I always felt uneasy hearing the phrase used professionally , or otherwise, without a second thought. I always wondered how people were getting away with it in the first place. In a society where words are ultimately power, I believe this incident exposes how deeply offensive a lot of colloquial phrases and idioms have offensive connotations – whether directly or indirectly. At the very least it took jump on the bandwagon athlete of the week sensation to actually make the public think about it.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Roland with the Homies

The recent suspension of CNN journalist, Roland Martin, presents several interesting and controversial points to the surface. Martin’s suspension is a prime example of being a victim of both social media as a platform, and public relations agendas. For those of you who aren’t aware, CNN recently suspended Roland Martin indefinitely due to Tweets during the Super Bowl that the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) found to be offensive:

“Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass

Ain’t no real bruhs going to H&M to buy some damn David Beckham underwear! #superbowl

If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl”

Roland Martin

Roland Martin - Photo Courtesy of Euroweb.com

According  to GLAAD these Tweets were “homophobic” and therefore encourage violence against homosexuals. Martin retorted these claims by stating that he is not homophobic and that the tweets were not intended to incite any harm towards homosexuals and was only in jest. CNN subsequently suspended Martin indefinitely for the tweets.

I personally have mixed feelings about CNN’s decision to suspend Martin. On one hand , it’s understandable from a PR perspective  for CNN to present itself as a so-called politically correct organization that does not tolerate harmful threats towards certain interest groups, and respects the sensitivities of the groups.  On the other hand, CNN also presents itself as a pushover organization that will bend to the whim of certain political agenda’s while being ready and willing to throw its staff under the proverbial bus, without analyzing the details. For one of the largest and most reputable news organizations on the planet, I find the actions to be a bit ridiculous.

What details needed to be examined by CNN? Perhaps the fact that the Tweets were personal and certainly not work related – although it is true that Martin represents CNN in all of public communication. Also, none of the Tweets actually present a “harmful threat” to homosexuals, nor were homosexuals as a collective even mentioned in any Tweet. Perhaps Martin is not a fan of H&M and therefore was joking about “smacking” someone for being excited about the commercial. Perhaps he thought the pink suit looked tacky (I certain think it does). I personally do not believe his tweets warranted a suspension, which makes me question if the personnel that decided to suspend him even fully thought about what was being said and the context in which it was said.

We can learn several lessons from this incident.  One: If you have a high-profile career, it’s best to keep tweets and/or blog posts as neutral and objective as possible. We are all going to be held accountable for our words, even if our words are going to be misconstrued. Also, can learn that companies can sometimes hurt their image and appear easily influenced by certain interest groups, even if it’s at the expense of their employees. Somebody at CNN AND GLAAD needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized