Case study blog : PR ethics & accepting gifts from a client (S0133122)

Module 10 Blog Topic:   As a public relations practitioner you are approached by an Indian company wanting to promote the company in Australia. One of the employees gives you a $500 Myer gift voucher to thank you for taking on the company as a client. When you try to decline, you are told that gifts are common practice in India and it would be insulting to refuse. Explain whether you adhere to your own standards of ethics in this situation, or adapt to the ethical standards of the client’s nation. Would your response be different if you were in India?

In the public relations (PR) scenario this blog topic describes, I would’ve accepted the gift in the first place in my own country or abroad IF there was no legislation, or code of ethics, or capped amount for gifts already in place stating otherwise. I would’ve accepted the gift for all the right reasons though, not because I love getting presents. As a PR practitioner it is a part of the job to recognise cultural differences and adapt to local traditions when operating in other countries (Wilcox et al. 2013, p 293).  On the same note, a PR practitioner operating in Australia would be wise to respect and accept foreign traditions from a foreign client as well. Why would it make any business sense to make a client unhappy or insulted unnecessarily?

It is the scenario that leads to the gift, the value of the gift itself and expectations before or after receiving the gift that will demonstrate whether it is ethical or not to accept (Pilon 2014). Companies accepting and giving gifts has become a part of common business etiquette, for example, companies worldwide send out a discount voucher to clients as a gift on their birthday. A discount for a pre-existing client on their birthday demonstrates a no obligation gift, therefore ethically correct to give as well as receive. The blog scenario demonstrates that the client did not become a client due to the gift, the gift itself was based on traditional beliefs and there were no underlying expectations from receiving it – so, in my opinion those facts are enough to know there is nothing ethically wrong with that situation either. To show appreciation and to cover all legal aspects though, I would provide a thank you email also reinforcing the gift was not necessary.

Pilon, A 2014, Business Gift Giving Etiquette and Mistakes to Avoid’, Small Business Trends, http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/10/business-gift-giving-etiquette.html

Wlicox D, Cameron G, Reber B and Shin JH 2013, Think Public Relations, 2nd edn, Pearson Education, New Jersey.

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Tris Kerslake (Lecturer) – COMM11110 Public Relations @ CQUniversity
Monday, 2 February 2015
SHELLEE MCCARTHY RECEIVED A ‘HIGH DISTINCTION’ FOR THIS BLOG
Grading System
Fail / Pass / Credit / Distinction / High Distinction
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McDonalds PR crisis 2013: McResource Line (S0133122)

Module 9 Blog Topic:   Find an example of a public relations ‘crisis’. What did the company do to cope with the crisis? In your opinion, has the action helped or hindered the company’s reputation?

A ‘public relations (PR) crisis’ is a significant threat to operations that can have negative consequences if not handled properly. There is also a PR conflict management life cycle to be followed due to the potential damage that a crisis can inflict on an organisation, its stakeholders, and industry. Wilcox et al. (2013) clarifies the four phases in a PR conflict management life cycle:

  1. Proactive – Try prevent the crisis or minimise its severity as much as possible
  2. Strategic – Determine risk communication, conflict positioning and crisis management plan
  3. Reactive – Once crisis reaches critical level, react with the determined risk communication, conflict positioning and crisis management plan
  4. Recovery – Repair reputation

Fast food giant McDonalds have had to deal with a PR crisis or two, or ten. The funniest thing is though most of them have all been their own fault. One example of a major McDonalds PR crisis is the ‘McResource Line’ blunder. The ‘McResource Line’ was an employee only website but in 2013 there weren’t ANY security measures found in place to verify the person actually signing up was an employee, therefore ANYONE IN THE WORLD had access to all areas of the website and a variety of private information (Bernstein Crisis Management Blog 2013). When the media caught on, there was a picture highly publicised from the website which embarrassed McDonalds even further; it was health advice they gave their employees which strongly did not support their own products, and just to add to it, their advice promoted Subway instead (News Corp Australia Network 2013).

McResources-Burger-Sandwich-comparison-Dec-2013
Health advice for employees found on McDonalds website ‘McResource Line’

The McDonalds proactive, strategic, reactive and recovery phases of this crisis led quickly to the website simply being shut down by CEO Don Johnson. McDonalds has proven to have a resilience in overcoming PR crises before and the ‘McResource Line’ blunder of 2013 has proven to be no different either. But still it needs to be said… that particular PR crisis was a very big McFail on so many levels!

Bernstein Crisis Management Blog 2013, ‘Crisis Management Advice for McDonalds after ANOTHER Web Content Fail’, Blog post, viewed 2 January 2014,  http://www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com/blog/crisis-management-advice-mcdonalds-another-web-content-fail/

News Corp Australia Network 2013, McDonalds shuts down McResource Line employee website that warned about dangers of fast food, News.com.au, http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/mcdonalds-shuts-down-mcresource-line-employee-website-that-warned-about-dangers-of-fast-food/story-fnda1bsz-1226789580718

Wlicox D, Cameron G, Reber B and Shin JH 2013, Think Public Relations, 2nd edn, Pearson Education, New Jersey.

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Tris Kerslake (Lecturer) – COMM11110 Public Relations @ CQUniversity
Monday, 2 February 2015
SHELLEE MCCARTHY RECEIVED A ‘HIGH DISTINCTION’ FOR THIS BLOG
Grading System
Fail / Pass / Credit / Distinction / High Distinction

Learning attributes from evaluating a PR campaign (S0133122)

Module 7 Blog Topic: Apart from campaign outcomes, what, if anything, can a public relations practitioner learn from the evaluation of a campaign?

A public relations (PR) practitioner can learn a great deal from the evaluation of a campaign, in fact, understanding and learning from the evaluating process supports the fundamentals of effective public relations. The four essential steps for effective public relations are:

  1. Research – Gain information about the campaign’s target public
  2. Planning – Central management function. Determine objectives and strategies.
  3. Communication – Create a persuasive message for the target public
  4. Evaluation / Measurement – Accountability

The evaluation / measurement stage and the key accountability information learned from this process include:

  • Assessment of campaign’s budget – Was too much spent? Are the costs justifiable?
  • Assessment of all areas used in the campaign – Were all efforts involved effective?
  • Assessment of objectives – Were all goals and objectives met?

There are many measurement techniques used in PR campaigns that are used from a variety of sources. Wilcox et al. (2013, p.128) states “sophisticated techniques are used, including computerised news clip analysis, survey sampling, quasi-experimental designs in which the audience is divided into groups that see different aspects of a public relations campaign, and attempts to correlate efforts directly with sales.” Macnamara (2002) explains the PR practitioner will also learn from these methods that the overall value of a campaign can be measured, and most importantly, the evaluation stage is the only stage which can determine the ultimate accountability measure; Return on Investment (ROI). The definition of ROI (Entrepreneur Encyclopaedia 2014) is the most common profitability ratio with many ways to be measured. A ROI has been increasingly used by PR practitioners to demonstrate campaign results to decision-makers and other stakeholders (Curtis 2013).

With all the above mentioned evaluation techniques and information available, a PR practitioner can gain a significant range of knowledge, as well as gain a well-informed perspective for future events/campaigns.

Curtis, T 2005, ‘ROI or evidence-based PR: The language of public relations evaluation’, PRism Online Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-10, viewed 20 December 2014, http://www.prismjournal.org/fileadmin/Praxis/Files/Journal…/Watson.pdf

Entrepreneur Encyclopaedia 2014, Return on investment,  viewed 20 December 2014, https://www.google.com.au/search?output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=ROI+defintion&btnK=

Macnamara, J 2002, ‘PR Metrics – Research for Planning and Evaluation of PR and Corporate Communication, MASS Communication Group, NSW. http://www.pria.com.au/sitebuilder/resources/knowledge/…/prmetricspaper.pdf

Wlicox D, Cameron G, Reber B and Shin JH 2013, Think Public Relations, 2nd edn, Pearson Education, New Jersey.

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Tris Kerslake (Lecturer) – COMM11110 Public Relations @ CQUniversity
Monday, 2 February 2015
SHELLEE MCCARTHY RECEIVED A ‘HIGH DISTINCTION’ FOR THIS BLOG
Grading System
Fail / Pass / Credit / Distinction / High Distinction

Using presentation to reflect professionalism (S0133122)

Module 6 Blog Topic: Using your blog as an example, explain how you have used presentation to reflect professionalism. Justify your post in the context of public relations.

The ever-growing ways to present information in different language styles makes it very difficult to get a target audience to interpret what is actually intended. Emails, advertising, SMS, Facebook status updates, Tweets, the list goes on… all can be shortened or abbreviated informal messages. In contrast, formal educational sources such as textbooks, scholarly journal articles and so forth can be academically written to the point that they end up simply creating confusion for many readers. A definition of a blog (Macmillan 2014) is a web site of posts that can be both informally and formally written to express an individual’s opinion, interests and personal beliefs in a conversation style.

In my previous blog I act in the context of a PR practitioner for a flying fox charity discussing the Hendra virus (WordPress 2014). I easily could’ve included in the presentation pictures of infected dying animals to gain sympathy from the reader, or added in my elected charity’s logo in order to promote it, or even add an attractive graphic to make my personal blog look more professional… but in my opinion that would’ve been unethical from a PR standpoint and taken the reader away from the blog’s serious key message and title, Hendra virus: more research needed.

The presentation of my previous blog reflects PR professionalism by leaving out distracting graphics/fonts, and instead ethically focuses on the clear brief message, not only the potential benefits that could be gained by my charity. The blog is free of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, is just over 300 words long which met my assessment criteria and is in a conversational style which intends to prevent the reader from getting bored. Furthermore my arguments/opinions are justified with references, PR ethical reasoning as well as a section available to discuss further points of view and comments about my blog.

Macmillan Dictionaries 2014, Blog, viewed 15 December 2014 http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/blog

WordPress 2014, ‘Hendra virus: more research needed’, Blog post, 14 December, viewed 14 December 2014 https://shelleemccarthy.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/hendra-virus-more-research-needed/

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Tris Kerslake (Lecturer) – COMM11110 Public Relations @ CQUniversity
Monday, 2 February 2015
SHELLEE MCCARTHY RECEIVED A ‘HIGH DISTINCTION’ FOR THIS BLOG
Grading System
Fail / Pass / Credit / Distinction / High Distinction

Hendra virus : more research needed (S0133122)

Module 5 Blog Topic:  You are acting as a public relations practitioner for (fictitious) non-profit charity “Flying Fox Appreciation Agency”. From the details here http://www.abc.net.au/news/specials/hendra-virus/  –  Write ONE key message. (What is the specific aspect of Hendra virus that you want to promote in the context of this charity?) Who is your target audience/public? Why? 

On behalf of the Flying Fox Appreciation Agency I would like to promote a specific aspect of the potentially deadly Hendra virus – the need for more research. Having said that, the target audiences for this blog and those that could benefit from future Hendra virus research could be anyone, not obviously just horse owners or those that live in areas where fruit bats are common (Department of Health 2012).

The purpose of this blog is not to create fear or exacerbate this virus’s capabilities – instead this blog encourages the public not to undermine what the Hendra virus has proven to accomplish in recent years; fruit bats have been found to be hosts which in turn has led to the death of multiple humans as well as countless horses, and also in 2011 a dog was also found to contract the virus. Many would agree that one infection or death from a virus is cause enough for great concern and further research. Leading researchers have clarified that more studies are needed into the Hendra virus strain itself, how it transfers, the immunity present to fruit bats, how it has evolved to somehow kill more and affect more species in recent years than cases previously reported (Preez 2012). It is evident public awareness, the protection and ongoing research especially of the fruit bat species is vital in understanding the Hendra virus (Middleton, Pallister, Klein & Feng 2014).

ABC News online report “CSIRO scientists suggest it is a more stable virus unlike strains of the human flu, with change and adapt”. From the onset this statement seems reassuring but still they only ‘suggest’ it is a more stable virus. The fact that more and more species are getting affected by the virus proves change has begun (Middleton, Pallister, Klein & Feng 2014). Research has led to a Hendra virus vaccine now available for horses, more research hopefully could lead to prevention and cure for every species.

Department of Health 2012, Hendra virus: National guidelines for public health units, viewed 10 November 2014,   http://quitnow.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdna-song-hendra.htm Middleton D, Pallister J,

Klein R & Feng R 2014, ‘Hendra Virus Vaccine, a One Health Approach to Protect Horse, Human and Environmental Health’, Emerging Infectious Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 372-379, viewed 10 November 2014.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944873/ Preez R 2012, ‘The science and mystery of Hendra virus’, ABC News, viewed 8 November 2014, http://www.abc.net.au/news/specials/hendra-virus/

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Tris Kerslake (Lecturer) – COMM11110 Public Relations @ CQUniversity
Monday, 2 February 2015
SHELLEE MCCARTHY RECEIVED A ‘HIGH DISTINCTION’ FOR THIS BLOG
Grading System
Fail / Pass / Credit / Distinction / High Distinction