Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Padded" and "Push-up" Tops Now Made For Little Girls.....

Abercrombie & Fitch has always been one for controversy. They like to offer “grown-up” clothes to little kids, causing concern for a lot of parents. Recently, they have been under the spotlight for offering, “padded” and “push-up” bikini tops for young girls.

We’ve discussed in my Race, Gender and Media class about how little girls are being taught, at a very young age, that they need to be aware of their sexuality. It’s sad that we are pushing children to grow up faster, when really, we should be teaching our children to act like children longer.

Abercrombie & Fitch made a huge mistake by not making any comments on this issue. We’ve talked in class that, by not saying anything, makes you look guilty. Obviously, Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t see an issue with it because they didn’t have their PR department release a statement to clear the air that they aren’t trying to push little girls into being aware of their sexuality. So what did they end up doing to “fix” the problem? They just changed the information, on their website, to read, “striped triangle, bottoms sold separately”. Sounds like their PR department needs a re-training and a whole lot of classes with Bufkins.

According to the article on, Abercrombie got into heated waters in 2002 for a controversially racist shirt against Chinese people and then again in 2003, when they were pressured into “halting” their racy magazines and discontinue their holiday catalog that had naked young adults in provocative positions.

It is obvious that Abercrombie & Fitch needs to work on fixing their image before they become an un-reputable company, including a hiring a new PR team. They need to remember that they market to tweens and young adults, who mostly rely on parents for income. Parents aren’t going to want to support a company who offers a “padded” and “push-up” bikini tops for little girls. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

World Wide Travel's Press Release

This week a tour bus, in New York City, crashed into two poles on I-95 killing 14 people. The New York news speculated if the driver fell asleep at the wheel or if they were hit. The driver surprisingly survived and said that the bus clipped a tractor-trailer, sending it sideways into two signs on the highway. This account is still being investigated. Since the accident, the bus company World Wide Travel, has been scrutinized and investigated as well. The media has found that they have had accidents in the past couple of years.

Immediately, World Wide Travel sent out a press release. An article called “Seven Rules to Remember When A Crisis Strikes” in the PR Daily discussed seven things you should always remember. World Wide Travel hit four of those rules. The first rule, which says you should discuss the victims, was done well. World Wide Travel made sure that they sent their condolences to the victim’s families. The rule I thought they followed best, and one that we’ve discussed in class, is how timely they sent it out. We’ve been taught to send out the release as soon as possible and World Wide Travel sent theirs out within hours.

The last two rules, that they followed, have also been discussed in class. The third rule is to make sure your company responds first and becomes the primary contact before others. This helps control rumors and accusations. The last rule is saying “not comment” is like saying your guilty. Professor Bufkins has talked about this subject continuously. When companies don’t say anything, it sounds like they are trying to cover up their guilty actions. World Wide Travel did a great job by communicating and showing that they cared.

It was a tragedy what happened and it will be curious to see what happens with the investigation. Until then, World Wide Travel has done a great job communicating to the public and attempting to control the crisis.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Do the right thing because it is right

“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic key to living your life with integrity.”
–W. Clement Stone

I’ve always loved this quote but I wish doing the right thing would be that easy. Obviously, people struggle to know what is right and acting upon what is right. This is where codes of ethics come in handy. We’ve been discussing the different codes of ethics and what topics they discuss. I thought I would share three codes that I found interesting to compare.

We will start with Honesty. I believe that everything revolves around this key factor. Without honesty to the client and the public, a PR practitioner is nothing. Some codes are blunt, like Arthur Page Society, and just tell you to tell the truth. Some of the others, like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Global Alliance, tell you to “adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth.” Although these are basically telling the same thing, to be honest, I feel that the meaning of “highest standards” could be skewed to fit what people feel it should. The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) said something I really liked. Not only do they tell you to be honest with others, but that it is more important to be honest with yourself. This type of honesty should be encouraged because, if you can’t be honest with yourself, you won’t be honest with your publics. I read that the American Advertising Federation listed truth as their first code of ethics. I was glad to see that telling the truth is just as important to Advertising as it is to PR.

One code, which can interfere with honesty, is loyalty. According to PRSA, PR practitioners must be faithful to their clients but take care of the public interest as well. I personally believe that it is loyalty that will test how PR practitioners deal with honesty, especially if their client doesn’t want the truth out. I was a little shocked that some codes, didn’t have codes for loyalty. I’ve always assumed this was as important as honesty, but I guess some codes don’t feel that way. PRSA, Global Alliance and Arthur Page Society, all have codes for loyalty. Not to play favoritism, but I am happy that PRSA has ethical codes for all the big ethical issues. When it comes to Advertising codes, they don’t really hit the topic of loyalty but they do suggest that advertisers make a clear representation of their client.

The last code I found interesting was competition. I never knew there was a need for a competition code until I got into my class. Competition can be good if it’s done right but can be extremely harmful if it’s not. I really liked what the Council of PR firms code said about competition. It said, “handle relationships with business partners and vendors in a businesslike manner, and give credit for ideas and services provided by others.” I really liked that they encourage PR practitioners to give credit where credit is due. Advertisers are constantly having competition and so I wasn’t shocked when I found their code for it. Advertisers are not allowed to make wrong statements about a competitors products or services.

There are so many codes for PR and advertisers to follow. They are all state different ethical codes but they all say the same thing. It comes down to us, in every decision, to make the right choice. Again, I wish it were so easy. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Race, Gender and the Media 2/28

Monday in class we listened to people present their projects. I really enjoyed Kali's project about how gay's are misrepresented in the media. I'm an avid Glee watcher and, although Kurt is one of my favorite characters, I do feel that they make him be every stereotype a gay man has.

I feel that stereotyping gays has led to a lot of issues, possibly even the reason there has been an increase in bullying. I understand that a lot of people don't agree with their lifestyle but that doesn't mean we should tease and bully them. This same type of treatment happened to women in the old days. We were characterized as "housewives" and portrayed as weak. Then, the feminist movement happened, and women began to show they were more than what men believed them to be.

Today, the media portrays more women being independent and successful. I feel that the time is coming, when gay's will have their chance to prove themselves as well. Until then, I won't be able to watch any shows, with a gay character, without feeling sad and bewildered for people I have known to be kind and absolutely amazing.

80 Cents to $1

The Public Relations industry is growing fast. Last year, reported that 73% of PR practitioners were females.  Despite the majority of the industry being women, women are still experiencing a smaller salary than men. In 2007, PRSA found that men were making an average of $93, 494 compared to women, who made only $66,467 for the same jobs.

Wednesday, an op-ed came out in the NY times called “Girls and Boys Together” that discussed this issue. According to the article, women still only make 80 cents for every $1 a male makes. You would think that, 40 years after a feminist movement, this problem would be corrected. Obviously, it’s not.

What exactly is PRSA doing to fix this problem? According to them, they have a committee, called Work Life and Gender, which “explores various issues concerning the industry’s income discrepancy and how PRSA can address those issues.” The organization claims that the way professionals determine pay is through people’s years of experience.

What’s worse, studies show that young, childless women make more than men but once they get married and have children, their salaries decrease. Doesn’t sound like professional experience to me. So how exactly can women, like myself who are going into PR, do to fix this problem?

We’ve discussed in a lot of my classes that men ask for higher salaries. Women need to take an initiative, and do the same. We can have just as much experience and work just as hard, but, unfortunately, we need to prove ourselves more. Luckily, knowledge is power and letting women who are entering the Public Relations world know that the “glass ceiling” still exists, might allow the problem to be solved.

It will be interesting to see what PRSA does to correct this problem in the next couple of years. I just hope that businesses learn that experience is more important than gender.