Tylenol Crisis

Recently in one of my classes we have been discussing the Tylenol cases from 1982 pretty heavily.  We’ve been debating the PR strategies used then and how Tylenol handled the crisis. 

For a little background, Tylenol bottles in a Chicago suburb were poisoned with Cyanide killing consumers who took the infected pills and causing a recall of nearly 4.7 million capsules.

The PR strategies Tylenol used during this time of crisis were the norm for that time era but how would they have handled the situation in current day?  Tylenol released multiple formal apologies, recalled millions of pills, implementing new packaging strategies to ensure this is not likely to happen again, and had to rebuild their credibility from the ground up. 

In the time when this happened clearly social media did not exist and consumers had to rely strictly on traditional media for all information on the situation.  Good or bad?  

There are two sides to this, as with most everything.

People tend to make up stories and release information that isn’t necessarily always true from personal standpoints and that couldn’t happen in this situation.  Who knows how much the story would have escalated if that were possible.  Virtually all information you knew you be true. 

News would reach consumers faster.  Could having that media outlet have saved some of those deaths?  If you read the article first online without having to wait for the story to be published and reach you, would that have been a difference?  Maybe consumers would get the facts first and throw out their Tylenol earlier. 

The ultimate question does getting media coverage faster and easier change the way we view that media?

Think about how companies handle crisis that directly affect their consumers today and how Tylenol would react differently with the different media outlets available today.




‘New’ DUI laws still fall short-state

In recent Washington news the increase in DUI punishment laws set in motion by Governor Jay Inslee have been the talk of the state.  Discussions over the need for new laws have been talked about heavily over the past few years and lawmakers have finally reached a decision.  The new laws are as follows:

Police would have to arrest and take the driver into custody after a first DUI offense, according to the Governor’s office. After a second offense, drivers would have to choose between treatment or a mandatory six months in jail.

“Drivers convicted of a third DUI would get at least a one-year prison sentence. In addition, a three-time offender will be issues a new driver’s license that would prevent them from buying alcohol for 10 years.”

In my opinion, these still just aren’t strong enough.  Drunk driving is a serious offense and needs to start being viewed as just that.  People die all the time, literally all the time, weather from being hit by a drunk driver or driving drunk themselves.  This not something to be taken lightly and despite the governors comments, that’s just what lawmakers are doing.

DUI offense #1 new law: All first time offenders will be taken into custody.  Great…then what?  Simply taking a DUI driver into custody is not enough.  Most frequently they are booked-and-released anyway so taking them into custody is pointless when they are let free immediately following the arrest.  It’s a good start, but further action needs to be taken.  Even more frequently than book and release, the offender goes to court and gets the charge reduced or dropped!  That is far too common in this state, offenders go to court, work out a deal where they attend a few alcohol awareness courses and then suddenly they didn’t actually commit DUI.  How do they ever learn?  This is exactly why there is are so many repeat offenders like the ones mentioned in the press release about the lawmakers decision.

DUI offense #2 new law-choose between a treatment program or 6 months in jail.  Too bad half the treatment programs out there don’t work and don’t follow strict enough guidelines to     work, not to mention they can be completed in a much shorter time frame than 6 months.  Why is it even at all that offenders convicted of TWO DUI’s have a choice between anything?  They clearly are not capable of making rational choices on their own so why would we allow them to chose their own sentencing?  Mandatory jail time should be in place ALONG WITH treatment upon release from jail.  Jail time should be decided upon the nature of both DUI’s but I think without question jail time should be a mandatory repercussion of making the choice to continuously drink and drive along with treatment.  If a person is making that choice of repeatedly drinking and driving, they have a problem and need treatment.

DUI offense #3 new law-minimum one year in jail and alcohol restrictions on buying for 10 years.  This one really hits hard.  One year in jail.  ONE YEAR IN JAIL.  One year of your life for the potential of taking another’s away forever (if they didn’t).  This seems so unfair.  Other crimes even less serious than DUI’s receive longer punishment than this.  How does one year of a life equate to the possibilities or damages to others lives? Not to mention that there are obviously ways around not purchasing alcohol.  Minors do it all the time for one prime example and of-age people do it all the time for convenience reasons.  Not too punishable in the large scale of things.

My point here is that people who chose to drink and drive need to be held responsible for their actions.  Too often they let go without enough punishment to make an impact on their lives not to do it again.  As the governor said, “Every accident and every death we see involving a DUI could have been prevented,”  Maybe not every but you get the point.

A girl I know recently received a DUI when she leaving a downtown bar one night.  She was stopped, given sobriety tests, a breathalyzer, brought to the station and immediately released.  She also was rightfully stopped and arrested because frankly she should not have been driving, so why was she immediately released?  What lesson did that teach her exactly?  Especially because after going to court her DUI was reduced and no longer a DUI, she was assigned some community service and paid a fine.  Bam, just like that. Her license was suspended for blowing over a .08 BAC and a mandatory suspension from the DOL is in place for three months, she still drives everywhere in a car not registered to her including after leaving the bars.  So to recap, she drove drunk, was immediately released from jail, still drives, and learned nothing.

This is why we need to re-evaluate our policies.


Women beating the odds-International

We’ve all heard of poverty and third world countries and we’re all aware of the living situations in those countries.  We think we know all about them but the hard truth is you will know the extreme of the situations unless you live them.

Here is the US we have so many benefits and options available to us that we take for granted because of the culture we grew up in.  Our generation has never had to deal with basic schooling because it was given to us, even made a law in some states.  Simple things such as food handlers permits and getting our first jobs at 16 came easy; basic things people often take for granted because we feel a sense of entitlement to them.  I’m not saying everyones life is so easy or was growing up, I’m fully aware that poverty exists in our country too but it’s not to such an extreme.  It’s simple things are they lack in some countries such as clothing and basic, basic knowledge.  

One group of women is breaking out against all odds and creating a better life for them and their families.  As the new year is being celebrated in Myanmar, women are celebrating new options available to them made possible through a storefront called The Yangon Bakehouse.  

The Yangon Bakehouse is almost structured as a college for the women.  Basic instruction in skills such as food preparation as well as in other areas such as reproductive health, personal finance, hospitality and English are taught.  The women of this business have truly amazing stories and deserve to be where they are today.  

“One of the women preparing food spent years in prison without due process under Myanmar’s previous regime, another has come out of the sex trade, two others were orphaned during cyclone Nargis in 2008.”

As the article states, their stores are hard. One women explains how proud she is that she’s acquired these skills because she can now afford to make her children’s school uniforms and pay school fee’s that she previously was unable to do on her own (those are fees are about $45 US dollars).  When reading her statement you can literally imagine the proudness of herself and her skills as if she were standing right in front of you speaking.  It’s extremely motivating.

Kelly Macdonald, creator and mind behind the Yangon Bakehouse says, “We realize that we can’t change Myanmar ten women at a time, but for those ten women, we hope to make a difference.”


Police station falls short-national

Yet another tragedy has struck hard in our hearts this past week involving a firearm.  Too often lately are we exposed to sad stories all over every form of the news and media and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Recently a police chief in New Hampshire left his gun unattended and not stored properly in his home where teens had access to his firearm.  The police chief left his gun sitting atop a safe in an upstairs bedroom of his home while he left; His teenage daughter and her boyfriend were home alone in the home.  The boyfriend found the gun and committed suicide using the firearm.  

Its so tragic when our youth leave us too early and hits even harder when they take their own life and feel that is an only option.  This tragedy will affect the teenagers parents life, and many others, forever.  

The second maddening part to this story is the response to the press regarding the incident.  CNN published an article about the tragedy and it fell short on the sympathy side. It’s very clear that the PR team behind the police station needs some serious work.  The article lacked remorse and pointed out unnecessary and insensitive facts pointing out how this is the first time in 15 years the attorney has had to cite someone with this violation, and not in a shine good light on the station way, in an insensitive way.  The article always refers to the punishment as a “violation” throughout the whole article, which I don’t feel is a very fitting word.  

Stating that the offender will be charged with a maximum $1000 dollar fine for leaving his gun accessible and used in a teens death is extremely disgusting and probably should not have been published in the same article announcing the death and the incident.  People get speeding tickets for more than that and this man contributed to a death of a teen; sickening.  No other punishment was implied or mentioned.

In my opinion, more thought should have been put into the information released and published in this first article about the tragedy with a little more sensitivity to the incident.




Snowstorm hits hard-local

Middle of April and still getting snow showers?  Who would have thought.  Over the weekend there was a giant snowstorm over Snoqualmie Pass with a devasting afterblow.  

The snowstorm hit Saturday afternoon and continued into the night.  Snowshoers, skiers and people up on the mountain were the most affected.  A few posts ago I mentioned how dogs were being used for avalanche rescue and were in the training process.  This exact situation is where their beneficial skills will come into play.  Animals that put in hard work in training for emergency and other situation are so honorable and should be recognized.  

The devastation from the storm Saturday is still hitting close to home as one victim has still not been found.  Tragedies occur all too often in this world and this is just another example of that.  Weather mother nature induced for crazy person set off, the outcome is still the same in any tragic situations.  

Although it’s impossible to eliminate these situations altogether it is possible for us all to come together and take part in the healing process during the aftermath.  Be as nice as you can to people and never take things for granted.  


Eat like you mean it

If you’ve heard of Carl’s Jr. you’re probably familiar with their take advertising and you’ve more then likely seen their ads.  ‘Eat like you mean it’ is their slogan and they’ve branded their company with a very…racy image.

Some appreciate this, others not.  Whatever your take on their culture, you know their name.  Can you name any McDonald’s commercials that you’ve recently seen and stuck in your head long enough to remember?  What about KFC?  Burger King?  Now Carl’s on the other hand, Carl’s has some pretty memorable ads.

For arguments sake if you by chance haven’t seen a Carl’s Jr ad I’ll describe the general culture…seductive women, a deep voice, seducing words, and zoomed in notions on people eating.  Got a nice visual going?  Here’s a link to an ad starring Heidi Klum just in case you need some visual aid. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AdViveJYD0

Carl’s has been marketing this way since the beginning of their QSR life.  They’re recognized for it and nobody should expect anything less.  So when the newest ad for a promo ‘Memphis BBQ Burger’ was recently released…why was New Zealand so shocked?  After the ad hit the oversea market it was quickly banned.  New Zealand commented the ad is, “running afoul of two of the country’s advertising rules—prohibiting the use of sex appeal in an exploitative and degrading manner, and the use of sex to sell an unrelated product.” The ad features two women dressed (or hardly dressed I should say) in country outback outfits throwing pulled pork on each other and exchanging some seductive looks.

American consumers weren’t too pleased by the ban either.  Comments via twitter and facebook broke out across the web regarding the issue and how Carl’s Jr. responded.

Anyone want to take a guess at just what Carl’s Jr’s response was?  I bet you can guess they didn’t just take a hit and decide not to market to their largest oversea consumer market.  They found a creative solution to not being able to allow consumers to watch that particular ad while still advertising and promoting their new hit burger. How you ask?  They turned it into an even more racy radio ad describing exactly what takes place in the ad.  How clever.

This link allows you watch both the original ad and hear the radio version. http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/carls-jr-reacts-banning-racy-tv-ad-describing-it-radio-spot-148487

Carl’s Jr takes this approach to advertising and it must work for them seeing as this is the only approach they have ever attempted.  It’s bold, it’s new for QSR and it drives attention.  Other consumer brands do the exact same thing so why is Carl’s Jr being frowned upon so much? Perfume ads, swimwear for both sexes, virtually all products being audience driven by our generation take this approach.

What is your thoughts?  Too far or just far enough in this market?

Keep calm and graduate on

Today in literally all my classes some sort of graduation or post graduation plans, internships jobs were all discussed.  Sorta freaking when it sets in that us seniors in college will be setting foot into the post college, real world life in just two short months.  Between guest speakers and Skype sessions today it really set in.

I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one stressing out about what to do next.  Thankfully there are many many resources in assisting steps and tips over the place.  Look to your colleges, fellow classmates, online, any connections you have for advice; everyone has something to contribute and everyone is after the same goal.

Finding internships and interviewing for starting jobs can seem so intimidating but there are so many resources to be used to our advantage.  Today in our chapters PRSSA meeting we had the opportunity to Skype with NYC PR Girls, bloggers in the industry who do amazing things.  One of their recent posts is a great article relating to the graduates everywhere.  Check out the article here http://nycprgirls.com/top-5-tips-for-soon-to-be-grads/  

Unfortunately the cold truth is thousands of us are graduating in June and none of us are owed anything.  In the words of the wise Casey Cartwright, “you have to think short term as well as long.” Chances are well have to take yet another internship post graduation and that’s a reality we need to become familiar with now.  Working odd jobs and unpaid internships before landing our dream job is not uncommon and shouldn’t be frowned upon in any form. “Taking a job doesn’t mean that you have to stop pursuing a career,” also quoted by Casey.  

Keep all of this is mind and try to stay calm during this time of crazy.  ‘Keep calm and graduate on’ one might say.  


What’s next for Clinton?

Hillary Clinton is buzzing around all sorts of news lately since reportedly ‘coming back’.  My question is back from where? I’m fully aware she had she health injuries which she took some time off for to recover but the media is making it seem like she traveled to some foreign planet or alternate universe. 

All of a sudden she’s ‘back’ and neither denying nor admitting to running for presidency in the next election.  Hillary Clinton is a strong politician and an even stronger woman.  Whatever she has up her sleeve, she knows damn well what she’s doing; the girl’s got strategy.  Her plan in motion must have some sort of PR behind it and probably for well reason.  As a woman even being considered as a candidate running for presidency, she has a lot of obstacles to overcome and a long way to go.  

It seems pretty obvious that she’s going to run so why not just announce it now and get it over with. We’re all waiting to see what her next move will be and I’m just as curious as the next.



Pay it Forward

We live in a cruel, cruel world.  ABC news recently published a story about an 89 year old elderly woman who was kidnapped and locked in her car trunk for two days.  How sickening. 

Reportedly four teenagers begged the elderly women for a ride across town and the woman, feeling generous, decided to do her good deed of the day and help the kids out.  Well, that ended badly. 

The world is a cruel place because of people exactly like these teenagers.  Violence has become a norm and nobody can simply do a good deed for the fact of doing a good deed without it backfiring in some way; pay it forward hardly exists anymore.

Some want to blame the news and the media for the way they highlight only negative stories and not enough good but that isn’t quite the case.  Yes, media outlets could chose to run more stories about positive things people do but is there really enough of those stories to generate an equal amount of positive stories versus negitive? No, because put simply,  people live for drama.  People report these stories and send them to the news because that’s what they want to watch and hear about.  If this story was simply the elderly woman doing a nice thing for some teenage children by giving them a ride across town and the story ended there who would really watch that?  The human drama adds forces a sense of attention because people find it interesting. 

Now don’t get me wrong it’s not that people never do nice things, it’s just less common than the bad.  My challenge to all of you readers (which probablyf isn’t many) is to go do five pay-it-forwards this week.  Change the face of basic thinking and imagine that for at least a week people care more about the good that you do than the bad of others.  Imagine that everything nice thing you do will be a breaking story on the news and thousands will watch, see how your actions change. 

The woman’s message in this story to the children who did this to her is simple, “You got to be kind to other people.”

Take that and run with it.



High Risk, High Love

While recently reading an article I found a link too from CNN, it really got me thinking.  The article was about high risk dog breeds and why insurance may not cover certain breeds of dogs.

I find the fact that an insurance agency would not allow an owner to put health insurance on certain types of dog breeds absolutely appalling.  Why is it that certain animals wouldn’t be covered simply based on assumptions about their breed?  Do we do that to people?  Certain tests allow doctors to predict genetic situations based on their parents health history and detect if they are at high risk for certain cancers, diseases, etc.  Those people are still allowed health insurance.  Yes, I understand dogs and people are not at all the same, but why is it that an animal who is supposedly at high risk for needing health care not allowed health care?  It baffles my mind. People develop a strong love towards their pets and treat them in some cases like they would their children. 

In my opinion, discriminating against certain dog breeds is putting a bad name on pet insurance companies.  This is a growing industry that they could really market on but not if they don’t re think their approach.