Monthly Archives: October 2010

Glee’s GQ Photo Shoot

Many parents are concerned about their children being desensitized by programs airing on MTV or E! because of their reputation for risqué content. We expect to see scantily-clad clothing and explicit behavior when tuning in for “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” but the same conduct on Fox’s light-hearted musical focused around students at William McKinley High School raised some eyebrows last week.

When word got out about GQ’s November issue featuring a sexually-suggestive photo spread of three Glee cast members (Lea Michelle, Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith), the Parents Television Council spoke out, calling the shoot a “near-pornographic display.”

“It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on ‘Glee’ in this way,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “It borders on pedophilia.”

Compared to shows such as “Family Guy,” “Married with Children” and “The O.C.” which have shared the same prime-time slot on the network, do “Glee” cast members and producers really deserve the backlash they’re receiving? Anyone who believes this is a kid’s show evidently has not been watching. If parents are already allowing their children to be exposed to mature issues such as homosexuality, marijuana use and teen pregnancy, then images featured in an adult men’s magazine should be the least of their worries.

“If you are hurt or these photos make you uncomfortable, it was never our intention,” said Glee actress Dianna Agron on her blog. “And if your eight-year-old has a copy of our GQ cover in hand, again I am sorry … but I would have to ask, how on earth did it get there?”

The show is no “High School Musical” and it has definitely gotten that point across with this tactic. As a “Gleek,” I applaud producers for pushing the envelope and allowing Michelle and Agron, 24, and Monteith, 28, to break away from the image portrayed by their teenage characters. Therefore, viewers now see that these stars can contend with entertainers like Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and Rhianna.

We’ve seen stars born from shows such as “Lizzie McGuire” and “Even Stevens,” and “Glee” is no exception. The racy photo shoot may be the end of the show’s so-called “wholesome” image, but I have a strong indication it is just the beginning of these up-and-coming celebrity’s careers.

By Jessica West

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Does the Cox/Arquette Split “Scream” Publicity Stunt?


Hollywood couple David Arquette and Courteney Cox announced last week they are splitting after 11 years of marriage. The couple coincidentally announced their split before the premiere of their upcoming movie, “Scream 4,” and Cox’s season premiere of “Cougar Town.”

According to ET, Arquette and Cox’s relationship kicked off on the set of “Scream” in 1996. During the filming of “Scream 2,” the couple dealt with an on-again, off-again relationship. By the release of “Scream 3,” the couple seemed confused between being engaged and being married. Now, with “Scream 4” set to release April 15, 2011, the couple is separated.

Could this be one of Hollywood’s typical break-up publicity stunts?

We have all witnessed the various rumors and stunts many actors and actresses release to the public— just what they think will “up” their careers. Think Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, for example. This tri-fecta received more publicity and attention than any other relationships in Hollywood. Celebrities remain in the spotlight whether they are dating new people, breaking up with co-stars, adopting more children or facing a new cheating scandal.

People Magazine announced Cox and Arquette have “agreed to a trial separation that dates back for some time.” So, why did they just go public about their break up?

It has been a decade since “Scream 3” was released, and fans need a reason to go see another Scream movie; this kind of drama might just be what attracts an audience, right?

With incidents such as these, PR professionals must deal with celebrities’ personal lives; sometimes, people’s perception of our job can be altered as a result. PR professionals know we must uphold the “best practices” motto when dealing with publicity dilemmas. People assume we know the situation and coordinate with a celebrity the ideal time to announce a personal issue.

PR professionals, however, are taught that when news is made public, we should approach the situation and immediately clarify the issue before the public or media assumes the worst. If PR professionals don’t immediately approach the public, these tactics sometimes backfire and affect the perception of the public relations industry.

Do you think this is a publicity stunt to hype “Scream 4?”

By Paige Niewerth

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Dude, Where’s My Website Traffic?

Last May, I took on the job of creating a website for LessThanUThink, a student-run communications campaign combating binge drinking on campus using a $75,000 grant from The Century Council. At the time, I thought I held the key to campaign success; in a digital world, a website makes or breaks a company, brand or product – right?

After more than 100 hours of hard work and frustration, I launched the LessThanUThink website on Aug. 3, 2010. After another week of arguing with domain hosts and calling customer service hotlines, the website actually launched. Throughout the summer, I relentlessly insisted the team promote the website on all posters, postcards and promotional items. When writing the communications plan for the campaign, I set a goal of 20,000 website views for the six-week implementation – a modest number, I believed.

However, when I checked http://www.LessThanUThink.org’s Google Analytics account throughout our campaign, my goal of 20,000 views seemed ridiculous. I didn’t understand; everyone we approached with promo items or posters already knew about the campaign and loved our message. We believe our campaign hit campus with a bang, and we know it reached students.

Why the lack of interest in our website?

As I pondered the exceptionally low website hits, I tried to remember the last time I visited a website I saw on a poster, T-shirt or television commercial. My realization: almost never. I do, however, visit new websites via referrals on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube almost every day.

Trying to rationalize a lack of organic website visits, I researched trends in website traffic for 2010. I found no statistics or articles on trends in student website use; however, John Arnold’s article “10 Web Marketing Trends for 2010” on Entrepreneur.com answered my question.

Arnold explained that generating organic traffic, or getting people to actually type your website into the address bar, won’t work in 2010. Instead, Web developers should focus more on driving their website content to high-traffic sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Advertisements, fan page updates and tweets send a site’s content to its audience in places where they’re already getting new information, generating more interest in the site.

Confirming my personal experience, Mashable provided statistics for its website traffic proving my new point; the site received most of its traffic from Facebook. After reviewing LessThanUThink’s Web statistics again, I found more confirmation. Yet again, most traffic to our website hailed from Facebook.

PR professionals can’t get enough of social media, and we’re constantly talking about the impact of social media on PR. Study after study shows how social media influences consumers and industries in huge ways.

However, will social media hurt direct website traffic? Should Web communications pros turn their attention to Facebook or Twitter to promote their brands instead of spending hours and resources developing a creative and interactive website? Is this a generational trend, or does society as a whole prefer social media to the traditional website?

As part of the LessThanUThink campaign’s final research, I requested we test trends in student Web usage. I’m curious to see if our generation is creating a new trend in Web communications or if I’m simply justifying a low interest in our website.

Do you believe there’s a shift in website usage? Can you remember the last time you visited a website from a poster or commercial?

By Allison Cook

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Favre’s Lips Are Sealed After “Out-of-Bounds” Texts

We thought the “sexting” epidemic only afflicted hormonally-charged, pubescent teens. Then the Brett Favre scandal hit newsstands across the nation.

Allegedly, the 41-year-old Minnesota Vikings quarterback has been making passes both on the field and off; Jenn Sterger, a former New York Jets sideline reporter and Playboy Bunny, claims Favre sent her unsolicited nude self-portraits via text message.

Whether or not Sterger’s claims are true, they’ve created yet another sports celebrity scandal. Some PR professionals, like Glenn Selig, founder of The Publicity Agency, doubt the scandal will be devastatingly detrimental to Favre’s fan base. Selig said the football legend’s long and successful career will cushion him from losing too many fans; however, Favre’s lack of response to Sterger’s accusations will only raise eyebrows and fuel suspicions.

While the judicial system operates on the “innocent until proven guilty” principle, our society tends to assume the guilt of celebrities in scandals like this. As Selig said, Favre “will need to respond or people will believe it is him.”

Favre should learn from past PR mistakes of other sports celebrities, like Tiger Woods. Almost a year ago, Woods made no comment after news broke of his reputation-damaging domestic disturbance, and his silence caused an even greater uproar among fans and media.

However, Favre remains mum, even as the NFL begins investigations into claims that a Jets employee acted as an intermediary between Favre and Sterger — allegations that could lead to sexual harassment charges and more serious legal action.

By saying nothing, Favre allows the media to take control of the story and the fans to think what they will — however untrue it may be.

The quarterback’s best PR play at this point is to come out and tell the truth. It doesn’t matter what the truth is or how Favre releases it; the only way to begin combating the negative press around this scandal is to deal with it directly before it inflicts permanent damage on his reputation — and his football legacy.

What’s your advice for Mr. Favre?

By Caroline Beard

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PR = Satisfaction > Stress

Public relations professionals are known for overworking themselves and biting off a little more than they can chew, even if it means working 12- to 15-hour days. Whether it’s taking on an extra event you don’t have time to plan and promote or overwhelming yourself with goals for a campaign you’re working on, PR work can be stressful. Why is it that even though the field generates such a high stress level, the job market for PR is still so competitive?

PR quickly shot to the top in terms of necessity and growth in the past decade, according to CNNMoney.com. The website recently published an article, “Best Jobs in America,” listing the top 100 jobs in 2010. The position of public relations director made the list at number 84 with a growth rate of 13 percent in the past 10 years. The statistic proves PR is flourishing. The field is becoming more and more necessary for every type of business or organization, thus providing more job openings for students with the backbone to tackle it.

The article also rated achievements that make up a person’s quality of life. While PR received its highest ratings in satisfaction and flexibility, the field received its lowest rating in low stress. Public relations is growing because professionals in the field love what they do; otherwise, the pressure of the job wouldn’t be worth the work.

Many day-to-day business operations fall under the PR director or department, which may lead some PR pros to ask “What have I gotten myself into?”. However, underneath this question is a ton of eager future professionals asking “what can I get myself into?”. Most public relations professionals are in this line of work because they don’t enjoy sitting behind a computer screen every day doing the same monotonous chores. They do it because they are workaholics who thrive off of the variety and amount of tasks and opportunities they find in this field.

The tasks aren’t necessarily tedious, but they do come in bulk. The work may be more manageable for individuals who encompass certain qualities: a good communicator, creative thinker, effective writer, dependable time manager and a hard worker who is not easily overwhelmed.

The broad umbrella of tasks that fall under public relations allows for individuals who possess these characteristics to find their niches. Although one aspect of the field may be stressful, the satisfaction received from another aspect makes it all worth it. The equation for a fulfilling PR career is when Satisfaction > Stress or, in layman’s terms, when the benefits exceed the costs!

By Laura Rabushka

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Mission Possible: Obtaining an Internship

Our professors repeat one word to us public relations students over and over: experience, experience and more experience. But how do we get that experience?

Internships.

All PR students are encouraged to get internships. This gives us much-needed experience, opens up our job prospects and widens our professional network.

Of course gaining experience seems a lot simpler during a lecture. All students easily envision being able to write that dream internship on their resumes. However, obtaining that internship seems like a very daunting task.

If you are stuck in that internship rut, here are some tips that helped me in the past.

Google

Don’t be afraid to use Google or your favorite search engine. Have a city in mind? Just type in “PR agencies in Washington, D.C.” or “PR internships in Chicago,” for example. You’ll be surprised at how much relevant information may turn up.

Network

Ask your friends, ask your family, ask your neighbors, ask your professors . . . ask everybody! We live in a 6-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon world and you never know who other people know. You could be one step away from the guy who gets drinks with the CEO of Edelman or goes golfing with the CEO of Ketchum. Just remember, it never hurts to ask.

Direct Contact

Don’t limit yourself to filling out only the general internship applications for big name PR firms. A lot of small, cool, independent agencies are easily found on the Internet. Contact their human resources staff directly. Send a short, professional e-mail inquiring about internships. You never know who will reply!

Think Outside the Box

All PR majors don’t end up working for PR firms and agencies. It’s the same case for internships. All companies, big and small, look to become more visible and marketable. Search within your community. Any non-profits? Family-owned shops? Walk into local businesses and offer your services as a PR major. You may be surprised at the responses.

Work for Free

An unpaid internship is better than no internship. If you’re having trouble finding that paid internship, work for free. Experience can be worth so much more than money.

Regardless of how you decide to go about finding the perfect internship, remember above all to be confident, be yourself and be open to new things.

By Karissa Bursch

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Has Zuckerberg Ruined His Social Network?

Mark Zuckerberg had made a name for himself by becoming the youngest billionaire in history when he created the social media phenomenon known as Facebook. However, the release of “The Social Network” may have added a few extra names to the list. Raking in an estimated $23 million during opening week, viewers all over the world formed their own opinions about the social media guru. This attention did not sit so well with Zuckerberg.

Facebook redefined the way we socialize and stay connected. The film portrays its creator as a selfish, conniving manipulator who co-developed the site and later ditched his partner to fully reap the benefits. Facebook may not have wanted this image painted for its 500 million users.

Zuckerberg has reacted nonchalantly to the film and encourages viewers not to take it too seriously. Bulldogreporter.com quotes the CEO as saying, “They do a wonderful job of telling a good story… of course, the reality probably wouldn’t make for a very fun or interesting movie.”

Clearly, Zuckerberg is trying to play it cool in a situation that he realizes may have a strong negative impact on his career. In the weeks leading up to the movie’s premiere, he made a bold PR move during the taping of his Oprah interview. Zuckerberg founded the “Start Up Education Foundation” and pledged $100 million to New York and New Jersey public schools. A donation that could have conveniently countered the unfavorable depiction of him in “The Social Network.”

Was this a smart move for Zuckerberg? It looks like he may be trying to make up for traits he didn’t care for thousands of viewers to know he possessed. This PR strategy potentially could have backfired and tarnished his image even further. Luckily for him, it didn’t. But the stunt still hasn’t kept the public from voicing their harsh opinions of his character, and the film’s tagline “you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies” seems to hold true once again.

By Jessica West

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