I ::heart:: PR

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pron industry

Yes, I spelled it like that on purpose. After Dr. Lambiase talked that one time about Facebook and MySpace, and how years from now, people will be able to pull up everything we’ve ever posted on the internet, it really got me thinking. So, I decided it is not safe to even write out the p-word on the internet, either.

Anyways, about the Omni Hotel pron refusal, and tying it in with my last entry: I really can’t believe that some people think it’s OK for hotels to offer pron in their television services. These are the people who really do think money is the end-all. They see it as part of running a business, and leave ethics out of it.

Big props to Omni for refusing to carry the pron in their hotels. I liked the idea we had in class, where hotels could provide DVD players, and patrons could choose what they played on the DVD players. This way, they aren’t directly promoting pronogrophy. What would it take to get this in action? Do we think other chains would follow suit? I think somebody has to take that step in the right direction, even if it would mean losing money.

General pondering

So, we’ve had a couple of really interesting “debates” recently in class. I guess they weren’t mean to be debates, but throw a bunch of people in a room together, and it’s bound to happen.

I guess I have just been surprised this semester at how many people just couldn’t care any less about ethics. Unfortunately, I think this is how society raises us. And without classes like 4470, we aren’t really forced to think about ethics, business, or otherwise, on a consistent basis.

Still, I would hope that people really have some sort of good core to their being. And when people speak up in class and say, “That’s just the way it’s done,” I get really frustrated. This is the problem; this is what contributes to the never-ending cycle. How can we expect our future to be brighter when people are holding ethics back in the past? I was also surprised that people were so willing to speak out against ethics in AN ETHICS CLASS!

This makes me nervous about the business world. I’ve seen adults who are driven by money. They will do anything for money. They figure as long as nobody finds out, they are in a win-win situation. I feel like it is a sure thing that at some point in my career, I will be faced with an unethical situation in the workplace. I am glad that I’ve had this class to reinforce the fact that it’s OK to ask to be removed from a sketchy project. I also like how we learned all of the things that should be considered before you or a boss decide to take legal action on somebody.

Our duty to Brazil

I just read the article on Bloomberg.com about the slave labor in Brazil, and I felt sick. I know people say that, but I really did feel sick. I felt myself make a face.

It’s really weird because my dad owns two Toyotas, and my mom owns a Nissan. And my fiancé owns a Toyota, as well. And isn’t Kohler the company that has those really pretty commercials and they say “The Bold Look of Kohler”? I buy into that crap, for some reason.

I read further, and it appears as though Kohler took a step in the right direction. I am really disappointed, though, that Toyota seemed to brush it off, like “oh, yeah, we’re not really sure what’s going on…if we find out that this is the case, we’ll stop using the pig iron…” But who is making sure that they’re sticking to their word? Shouldn’t they be proactive, anyways, and do an investigation? As a responsible company, they should have someone go in and investigate where this pig iron is coming from. If they're trying to cover up the fact that they know this is going on...that's even worse.

I need to be more conscious of my consumer habits. If I can be one person who changes, I believe that is an improvement. Where to begin?

Which way is "up"?

I have misplaced the page I took notes on for the map experiment. I will try to re-create the scene for you:

My mom’s kitchen. While she and my fiancé were peeling vegetables and cutting pork for dinner, I snuck the map onto the refrigerator door.

I waited several hours for anyone to notice. At times, I wanted to point it out to them. Finally, my mom broke the silence:

“Court, what is this map doing on the refrigerator?”

“Take a look at it. Tell me what you think.”

“It’s upside-down.”

“Okay…why?”

“I don’t know.”

“Read the paragraph then.”

So then my mom read the paragraph, stepped back, and took another look at the map.

“That’s interesting, isn’t it? I mean, why do we have to be ‘on top’?”

A discussion then ensued between the three of us. I wish my brother would have been there because I know he would have had something interesting to say. He’s one of those deep, philosophical types.

I would love to do this experiment on a larger scale to see what everyone else would say. Sadly, I believe it wouldn’t make a difference to some people. Or rather, they wouldn’t care or make the connection that it is weird that we consider ourselves “on top.”

Cosmopolitanism

Where can cosmopolitanism take us as PR professionals? Everywhere. As PR professionals, I believe we have the responsibility to be forward-thinking and socially aware.

Now, how can we be free of local and political biases that are a part of living in the United States (or anywhere for that matter), in order to achieve this state of cosmopolitanism? Short of traveling to these other countries, I am stumped. I have only been to England, Italy, France, and Switzerland. This was a vacation, not a trip made in order to broaden my way of thinking.

Is there any real way for us to understand the ways of war-torn countries where women and children have no rights? My cousin is a Lt. Navy SEAL serving his second deployment in Iraq right now. Every now and then he’ll send me an e-mail talking about the differences he sees over there. He says people will use their children as shields from incoming bullets. They don’t place the same value on life that we do.

How about the topic we recently discussed about knowing other nations’ holidays? I never truly thought about it before.

So how can we move towards a state of cosmopolitanism? I think we have to talk about it, and we really have to have a desire to be aware of the world around us.

Saving truth

I had to ponder this for a long time. Do I have a saving truth? I guess I feel as though my main saving truth is the love of the Lord.

I have talked to Kasey about this before, and we agree that if you have a saving truth, it is cruel to keep it from people. It may ruffle some feathers (as we see on campus from time to time), but I think it’s important to talk about. If nothing else, it gets people thinking.

Now, some would say that this entails actively seeking people out and sharing the Gospel with them. I have a bit of a problem with this. I think that people are less likely to really listen to and appreciate what you’re saying if you jump out at them and start talking about something they’re not familiar with. I’ve found that people will ask about it when they’re ready.

Can this be applied to everyone’s individual saving truth? Perhaps so. One thing that I have learned through my schooling is that it’s not likely that you will change a complete stranger’s viewpoint on something. People are very set in their ways. This is especially evident when discussing two of society’s hot-button topics: politics and religion.

So, how do we go about sharing our saving truth? I believe we have to wait for those who are ready to hear it. Lead by example until then.

Financial conflict of interest

By the time the newspaper clipping made it to my side of the room the other day, class was close to over, and we were long past the actual discussion about financial conflict of interest.

But I took a look at the companies, as well as the info on the sidebar. The sidebar says that the companies are supporters of World AIDS Day, and as such, they will more or less be positive spokespeople for those with AIDS.

Now, I looked at some of these companies, and, quite frankly, I feel like they’re giving some money to have their names put on this list so they’ll look good. I don’t think that they are really being proactive about being supporters of people with AIDS, or of any AIDS foundations, etc.

This kind of ties in to us talking about the alcohol companies wanting to give money to MADD. It’s weird that companies feel like they can give “hush money,” and all of their problems will go away. People still recognize the problems. And I think it looks tacky when companies try to donate money to inappropriate causes. This goes hand-in-hand with odd companies giving money to have their names listed. I feel as though they’re just doing it to look good, but I hope more people can see through this façade.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Meet Natalie!

I "interviewed" Natalie in class today. Natalie is from Arlington, and is the oldest of seven children. We got into a discussion about how Kurt had said that his parents told him, "Don't trust white people." To me, this is really weird. It is, in a sense, a form of racism in itself. I feel that this is sort of backwards, if we hope to progress as a nation into something better.

Now, if Kurt happens upon this blog, I'd like to say that I don't hold anything against anyone. I just don't understand how everyone can talk about treating everyone equally, but not trusting white people. And, for the record, I am only 1/2 Caucasian.

Small digression...Natalie told me that her family told her not to trust anyone who wasn't white. I really can't imagine this. I don't remember my parents telling me who to like and who I wasn't allowed to like. They led by example. They interacted with people of all races, classes, etc., so I took this as the norm.

Natalie told me about a Women's psychology class she is taking, and how, despite how similar men and women are, society really likes to point out the differences. For instance, on television shows, there is the role of the loud, annoyed wife, and the goofy, lazy husband. We are expected to believe that this is normal. What a shame. I believe that couples will drive each other nuts at times (that's a given in practically any relationship), but there aren't to be these stereotypes of who does what. For instance, I am getting married in May. My fiance likes to cook; I HATE cooking. I don't mind cleaning dishes, vacuuming, etc. Tim doesn't get around to those things as much as I do. :) The point is, we can compromise. We don't have to let "tradition" dictate the way we live our lives.

After Natalie graduates in August '07, she plans on going to France for a minimum of one year, to teach English and enjoy the architecture. I told her she will LOVE it. I used to live there when I was young, and I have returned since then. It is a beautiful country, and the French aren't as rude as everyone says they are. Natalie recently broke up with her boyfriend because he was clingy, and she wanted the opportunity to go out and explore. I think it's neat how different people work their goals into their lives. For instance, I definitely want to travel more. Yes, I think it would be an adventure to go off and live in Europe as a young woman. But my life has taken me in another direction. Why would I leave the best thing that ever happened to me so that I could travel alone? I look forward to many trips abroad with Tim in the years to come. In fact, we're going to Italy for our honeymoon. The point here is that everyone has this really neat inner self that makes them totally different from everyone else. I think that is awesome.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

PETA Beer case

OK, I'm a bit behind in talking about this, but I've been thinking about it and decided I should blog.

PETA's "Got Beer" campaign seemingly worked out for them at the college level. But it was horribly irresponsible for them to seek out a target audience of underage drinkers. How could they think it was OK for them to encourage underage drinking in order to promote their agenda? I guess they don't care what the cost is, as long as they can promote PETA. This is a good example of utilitarianism.

But do the ends truly justify the means? I guess some college students are going to drink no matter what anyways, but it was still irresponsible for PETA to promote beer as an alternative to milk...I think it was irresponsible mostly in that its target audience was college students, specifically at "party schools." If this had been a campaign more aimed at adults, I think it would have been acceptable. It would have been the equivalent of a beer commercial (more or less, and without the sexual undertones).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When I grow up...

I'm sure a lot of you have seen this video by now, but if you haven't, go check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaoIsPZAgck (When I grow up, I want to work in advertising)

I watched this and it kind of made me smile just because of how true it is. Then I got to thinking about what that meant, and I wanted to cry. I was reading Kasey's blog about how the girl at The Richards Group didn't really say exactly how many hours they worked, and then remembering Farrah talking about her midnight conference call...is this really how I want to live my life?

I believe that my generation has different motivation for working, sometimes. For instance, my parent's generation worked hard because they wanted to be important, contribute to society be loyal to their company, and move up in the world. Whereas, nowadays, I want to work so that I have money to support my family. That is really my main motivation for wanting to do well. Not so much for me, as much as for my family.

Is there a place for this lifestyle in PR? I get the feeling that PR is just a fast-paced job filled with workaholics, who turn around one day and wonder where their lives went and what they have to show for it. That kind of worries me.

Friday, October 06, 2006

T.O.

Jacque, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "...goals trump personal security." Whose personal security? T.O.'s?

This is highly reminiscent of the case study that Glynn and I did last semester. The head honchos tend to keep quiet about controversial issues, instead of just talking about them. Isn't it OK for them to just say what they feel? "Yeah, this is messed up, but we're dealing with it."

That's all they need to say, for me; I mean, at least address it! The public is watching, and we all think it's weird that you're pretending like it's no big deal.

Taco case

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but how were Azteca and the Friends of the Earth activist able to test for StarLink, while Mission foods concluded that there was "no truly reliable test for StarLink"? Is Mission trying to back out?

A utilitarian approach to this case would argue that the people have the right to decide for themselves, according to the text. The problem here is how are these people going to get this information, and be able to comprehend it? Will there be signs in the grocery stores warning of the potential for the presence of StarLink in these foods? And, what if someone decides to risk it, and they become ill? Will they be able to sue?

I think, ethically, if there is reason to believe that this product could harm people, there is no need for it to be for sale to the public. Mission, Kraft, et. al, need to find a better flour; Azteca needs to be sure of the quality of the corn crop they are getting. If there is no way to protect the crop w/o possibly harming consumers, then I believe the product production needs to come to a halt. I'd like to know what has happened since 2000, because I currently eat Mission tortillas. What has happened since 2000 that makes it OK for me to eat them? Has anything happened? OK, I just read the case resolution.

But what about the white corn? I eat Mission's flour tortillas every couple of weeks when I make quesadillas. I don't understand what research they used to determine that Hispanics like white corn better. Personally, I do. But the Hispanic side of my family LOVES yellow corn tortillas. We use them in enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas, to name a few things.

I agree with the text's discussion on Communitarian scenarios: "The underlying value is harmony and agreement about what is best for the community, broadly defined. Economics might have to be a sacrifice." I know that the capitalist-driven United States as a whole has a hard time with the idea of sacrificing economics, but, really, is it worth messing with the health of our population?

I understand that this would affect farmers, Mission, Kraft, etc...but overall, they are not a representation of the public as a whole. It is more important to take into consideration the health of the general public, than to worry about economics, in this case.

It disappoints me that Mission took the utilitarian approach. According to the text, "The utilitarian would shift consideration to the issue of the safety of biotech products, valuing the freedom to discuss the problem and explain the situation." This can be understood at some level; however, this could have also been done while the food was off the shelves, so that people could have had the opportunity to learn without taking the risk of eating the food. Again, I understand the freedom of choice point of view, but if people are not properly educated, they won't realize they actually have a choice.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

In order to protect the ...

Well, I was telling someone recently about this class and how interesting it was, and how I appreciated that I could relate it to life as well as my profession.

This person said that was really neat, and went on to tell me about the ethics "program" that their employer enforces. This person works for one of the largest companies in the world (no exaggeration, here), and in order to stay in line with the company's ethics policy, they must attend one hour of ethics "training" per year. This totally blew my mind, but I kept my mouth shut because said person was proud that their company didn't "overlook" ethics.

I am trying to not mention names/companies here to protect those who obviously don't know much about how important ethics are to EVERYONE in business...but I just can't believe that a company so large only requires one hour of ethics training a year!

Let's see...according to Rent, there are 525,600 minutes in a year :) So if 60 of those are spent learning about ethics, that leaves 525,540 minutes where ethics are in the back of these minds (presumably at best). That's unacceptable to me, especially for such a large corporation.

What can we do about this? It scares me that this is the way people practice business.

Friday, September 01, 2006

assignment uno

Utilitarianism is defined by some as "the greatest good for the greatest number of people."

Communitarianism, according to Gower, "calls for a movement away from the emphasis on individual rights to that of social responsibility."

The IABC code of ethics relates more to the communitarian approach to PR, and this is something I can agree with. The Preface of the IABC code of ethics states, "Because hundreds of thousands of business communicators worldwide engage in activities that affect the lives of millions of people, and because this power carries with it significant social responsibilities, the International Association of Business Communicators developed the Code of Ethics for Professional Communicators."

Their code of ethics then goes on to state, "...members of IABC will: engage in communication that is not only legal but also ethical and sensitive to cultural values and beliefs..." This makes it clear that the IABC code of ethics adheres to more of a communitarian approach to PR. I agree with this approach because a utilitarian approach seems hard to achieve. It is very difficult to decide exactly what the greatest good would be and exactly what number = the greatest number of people. There are so many subsets of people, based on gender, wealth, race, age, education...etc.

I think it makes more sense to base ethics on a certain culture or community's general accepted morals and way of life. For instance, the way people conduct business in Sri Lanka will differ from the way people conduct business in the UK or U.S.; it is based on cultural acceptance of the way things are done. I appreciate the fact that communitarianism takes into consideration each specific culture it deals with, instead of the population as a whole.

On the other hand, PRSA's code of ethics states that, "Protecting and advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful information is essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision making in a democratic society." While I agree with this statement, this code fails to take into consideration the different beliefs and morals of different cultures worldwide.

I feel as though I may have repeated myself here a few times; I'm not sure if I'm trying too much to analyze something that is as simple as communitarianism makes more sense to me, rather than trying to decide who the greatest number is and what the greatest good is for that group of people.

Lastly, I think that Habermas' theory of discourse ethics goes rather hand-in-hand with communitarianism. He states that "ethical communication...cannot be dominated by any one party," according to Gower. One of his four criterium is that "ethical communication must be appropriate for the audience." This takes into consideration that you have to determine what is ethical on a case-by-case basis. There is no general blanket determination of what is ethical for everyone.