By Brenna Parker
Public relations is not spin.
I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back. PR. IS. NOT. SPIN. For everyone at Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication “Journalism’s Way Forward” event, it was made clear that #PRKent is not about spinning the truth.
The event was a panel discussion of post-election America and the future of journalism and communication under President Trump. The panel, which was moderated by news anchor Russ Mitchell, of Cleveland's WKYC Channel 3, included Henry Gomez, chief political reporter at Cleveland.com; Cheryl Ann Lambert, an assistant professor in the public relations sequence at Kent State; Jacqueline Marino, an associate professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Connie Schultz, a professional-in-residence within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a nationally syndicated columnist; and Chance York, an assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Heading into the third week of the Trump administration, it is apparent that the need for a strong relationship between journalists and the American public is now more important than ever. The problem with Trump’s campaign during the election was that he manipulated his supporters into distrusting the media, therefore they now view media professionals as the enemies of the executive office. PR professionals and the media now have to maneuver a working relationship with President Trump, and more importantly, there has to be a sincere and strategic plan in building a relationship with the American public.
Another problem facing PR professionals is that the public is self segregating its news. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have algorithms within their site that tailor your content from your online searches and past browser history. The challenge for these professionals will be communicating with these segmented publics, especially when social media sites are kicking out messages and content before it even reaches people.
As an aspiring communications professional who wants to work in public policy, the past two weeks of this administration have been beyond frustrating because our work will be compared to the work of Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. These two, who are furthering the negative stereotypes of public relations professionals, are perfect examples of what not to do when speaking to the press. Take Sean Spicer, for example. In his first press conference as press secretary, he completely shocked reporters around the globe when he scolded the press by reading a statement from the White House that included four verified lies about the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration.
For those of you that want to pay it forward and give back to the media, buy a subscription and support quality journalism. I do not think I am wrong by saying the millennial generation has taken for granted free information and news, but somewhere along the line we forgot to pay it forward and support these news organizations.
Brenna is a senior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's vice president of professional relations. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Meghan McDonald
What’s more entertaining in the news than campaign coverage in the months leading up to the election? During this campaign season, the big name that’s seemingly always in the news is Donald Trump. He is known for his controversial quotes and outrageous behavior during debates and rallies, many of which end up enraging the public because they come off as racist or sexist.
At an Iowa rally in August 2015, Trump dismissed a Latino reporter by saying, “You haven’t been called, go back to Univision.” Univision is an American Spanish broadcast network, so needless to say many people were offended by his comment. It is a wonder to me if all this news coverage is only fueling his fanbase, despite most of it being negative? The saying “all publicity is good publicity” comes into play here. Even though it makes all public relations majors cringe, seeing Donald Trump’s name in the news so frequently may be the cause of him getting votes.
According to The Atlantic, when reporters interviewed supporters of Trump and were asked why they were voting for him, a good portion of the people seemed to be motivated by the show he puts on in the media. Trump reinforces the idea that even bad publicity is helping him gain supporters. However this begs the question, what kind of people are voting for him? The Atlantic got quotes from Trump supporters as to their motives for voting for him and their answers were quite telling. One of them said that, “At some level, I don’t really care how things go with America as long as it’s fun to watch.” Another claims that, “Like the joker from The Dark Knight, I just want to see the world burn.” Not exactly the kind of people I want deciding who our next President will be. Luckily, any public relations major can weed out publicity stunts from genuine behavior. However a good way to lose the vote from PR people is something that Trump said at an Iowa rally in November. Trump said, “Did you read about Starbucks? No more ‘Merry Christmas’ at Starbucks. No more. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.” Please don’t take away our coffee, that is no way to “make America great again.”
By Brenna Parker
American pop culture is often defined by what we consume. And for many women we have grown up with Barbara Millicent Roberts. In many ways Barbie is an introduction to womanhood. She has played a role in how young girls (and boys) view femininity and gender. Her many career choices from a UNICEF Summit diplomat to a Baywatch lifeguard, have shown that women can become any profession they so chose. Although, Barbie has changed with the times by reflecting changing social norms, she in herself has become a stereotype.
Mattel, Barbie's parent company, has fiercely protected her image and brand over the past 57 years, but Mattel decided they could no longer ignore their number one customer: millennial parents. In an attempt to save America’s golden “it” girl the brand launched an internal campaign to make Barbie more relevant. The result was three different body types: tall, petite and curvy.
In a recent interview with TIME magazine, Barbie General Manager Evelyn Mazzocco, said millennial parents are more concerned about what brands signify within their household. Barbie for many young girls represents the “ideal body type” that so many look to achieve. Mattel felt as though consumers on social media painted Barbie as an out-of-touch product that consumers did not relate with.
Mattel shifted its focus to try to rework the company’s social responsibility to young consumers. As a result, Mattel spent two years on the secret “Project Dawn” campaign to adjust the brands relationship with Barbie and the public.
Some of the criticism Barbie faced from consumers on social media was that she did not reflect the multicultural environment that her audience plays with. Barbie’s Senior Designer of Design Robert Best said that Barbie’s hair is the most significant part about the doll. Some of the dolls the company plans on releasing feature different textures of hair, multicolored hair and even some dolls with half-shaven heads.
Mattel hit a strong mark by listening to their consumers. Their struggle was not with young girls, but with parents (particularly with moms) who have questioned the role Barbie has played in their lives and now in the lives of their daughters. It is unfortunate that the company waited 57 years to address the root of the issue that not all women are built the same.