And now we have horseballs…

Ikea meatballs have also been found to contain traces of horse meat.

Ikea meatballs have also been found to contain traces of horse meat.

Bad news for all of us who are (were) Ikea meatball lovers. The Swedish company has had to withdraw this famous product from 21 European countries after officials in the Czech Republic found traces of horse DNA in a bag labelled as beef and pork. This is just the latest development in a series of scandals which have involved meat products sold by well-known brands such as Tesco, Findus, Birds Eye and Nestle. As consumers, we must ask ourselves whether we can trust the information on these products’ packaging. As PR practitioners we have to wonder… Were these companies too busy thinking about broader Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) tactics to worry about their supply chains? Continue reading

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Debate about ethical PR. Leave your boxing gloves at home, please!

Is there such a thing as ethical PR?

Is there such a thing as ethical PR?

I recently took part in a debate titled “The Only way to practice ethical PR is to work for the not for profit sector. Everything else is just corporate, political or consumer propaganda”. No doubt about it: this is quite a radical statement. As luck would have it, two colleagues and I wound up defending it…reluctantly, I might add. No self-respecting PR practitioner would agree with such a thing. Or would they?

Please note that we started off by having a show of hands which quickly showed none of the attendees were on our side and that we actually managed to come up with some pretty convincing arguments. Would we manage to convince anyone to support us?  Continue reading

Could social media be the end of the “PR Girl”?

Women's extended use of social media might help to close the PR gender gap.

Women’s extended use of social media might help to close the PR gender gap.

While doing some research for a paper I’m writing (it seems like I do a lot of both lately) I came across an interesting article that brings together the ideas of gender and social media. The authors, Piet Verhoeven and Noelle Aarts, put forth an interesting idea: social media might help solve the issue of the gender gap in PR! Finally, something more or less tangible that we, men and women, can understand and relate to. Whether you’re a he or a she, read on for some insights that could make or break your career. Continue reading

I quit! How two words can prove the need for good PR.

Pope Benedict XVI gives attends an official ceremony while two cadinals whisper behind him.

Pope Benedict XVI gives attends an official ceremony while two cadinals whisper behind him.

Four days ago, Benedict XVI said the words no Pope has said in 700 years: “I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome”.  A simple sentence that has had a powerful effect on millions of people all over the world, including the media and the Vatican itself. The general reaction to the Pope’s resignation has been a mixture of shock and disbelief. Even those who are highest up within the Catholic Church admit that they were surprised by the news. Given the consequences that this action could have for the Vatican, we must ask ourselves how all of this plays out from a PR standpoint. Continue reading

Why all PR students should aspire to be geeks.

  

Steve Urkel from the TV show "Family Matters" is the ultimate geek and is probably an expert in social media.

Steve Urkel from the TV show “Family Matters” is the ultimate geek and is probably an expert in social media.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a geek as “an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity”.  Traditionally, this term would have been used to describe the likes of Steve Urkel or Sheldon Cooper, the scientific, computer wizes who got picked on incessantly at school and who none of us wanted to be. The thing is that they are the ones who become successful millionaires, owning companies like Facebook, Microsoft or Apple. What’s this to us cool PR people? We have the opportunity to be a little more like them… and we should take it! Here’s why.

It’s no secret that biggest, most revolutionary change that has happened in Public Relations in years has been brought on by social media. No matter where we look there are books and journal articles talking about the advantages offered by these platforms with respect to engaging with the target audience, content curation and measuring results, among many others. Nobody disputes the fact that the future of PR lies within the infinite possibilities that social media has to offer. Why then is New Media not a mandatory module in the MAPR programs currently offered in the UK? Why are they not turning us into social media geeks? Continue reading

PR “a la española”

Mariano Rajoy, President of Spain, "attends" a press conference after the scandal breaks out.

Mariano Rajoy, President of Spain, “attends” a press conference after the scandal breaks out.

Whenever anyone talks about the countries where the function of PR is most evolved, they generally mention the United States and the UK. Sometimes Australia… Germany… but never Spain. Any self-respecting Spaniard would be annoyed at this. We do after all have our pride! However, the events that have occurred there within the past few days should make any Spanish PR practitioner cringe; both politically and “PR-illy”. Continue reading

Humble pie, coming right up!

P&G's special Olympic logo for London 2012.

P&G’s special Olympic logo for London 2012.

I love pies. And cakes. But no matter how hard I try, I still haven’t quite aquired a taste for Humble Pie. It’s tough when you have to admit that you were wrong about something or, even worse, that somebody else was right. But sometimes there’s no getting around it and when that happens it’s best to put on a big smile, learn your lesson and make the best of it. And that’s exactly what Procter and Gamble has done. After years and years of doing things “the P&G way” they’ve decided to completely change their branding strategy and, having had a nice big piece of humble pie, are falling into line with the competition. But who the heck is P&G and why is this such a big deal? Continue reading