Topic of the Week #1

Well, here we are, Case Studies and Issues in PR. This week I have been asked to answer three questions that discuss public opinion and persuasion, so without further ado, let’s get down to business.

1.What has made you change your opinion of a public figure, organization or brand. Please give one example.

The first person that comes to mind when I think of public opinion is Lance Armstrong. I have never seen someone fall from grace the way he has, and he is a wonderful example of what NOT to do in PR. Lance Armstrong, winner of 7 Tour de France titles, made a “shocking” confession in January 2013 on the Oprah Winfrey Show, that he was in fact doping during most of his professional career. I can’t think of a better way to give your image a shine then to go on the Oprah Winfrey show. However, what was meant to be a “tell all” turned out to be a “tell on,” as Lance didn’t really take responsibility the way I thought he should have after over a decade of bull-faced lies. Of course everyone makes mistakes. But, it was the way that Lance vehemently denied the allegations, and bullied people into a corner that I find most off putting about the whole thing. Lance Armstrong went from being someone that people looked up to and adored to being stripped of his Tour de France titles, and stepping down from his Live Strong Foundation. Lance Armstrong is learning the hard way a lesson that we as PR professionals know to be true: honesty is the best policy.

2. What factors have influenced your decision to do or not do something. Please give one example.

To do, or not to do: that is the question. In regards to persuasion and what works for me, I need a clear call to action and an easy way to take said action. When first reading this question I thought of a book I read many years ago called Alan Carr’s Easy Way to Quit Smoking. At the time I was a pack a day smoker, and looking to quit, but had no idea how. I had heard from a few friends (gotta love word of mouth advertising) of this book and thought I would give it a try. I figured I had nothing to lose. So, with cigarette in hand I started reading this book that actually recommended I smoked until I finished reading the book. The magical thing about this book is the constant messaging that continues over the 150 pages. Alan Carr takes every lie smokers tell to themselves (I need a smoke to relax, I love smoking after meals, I’ll quit next week) and breaks it down into small readable chapters with one consistent message, “There is nothing good about smoking.” At the end of the book the call to action is very clear — Have your last smoke and then never have one again. I know it seems pretty obvious that this is how to quit smoking, but the way he discusses the addiction of smoking and calls you to quit is powerful. I stopped smoking the day I finished the book, and haven’t picked up the nasty habit again (except for that year when I lived in Europe, but hey, everyone’s doing it….)

3. What has made you think differently about an issue. Please give one example.

The Dove Beauty Evolution Campaign was something of an “AHA” moment for me. I still remember the first time I watched the video of a model being retouched and photoshopped as she gets put on a billboard for all to see and admire. Although I knew that photoshopping happened, I didn’t realize to what magnitude. It brought tears to my eyes when I realized that I was comparing myself to a standard of beauty that wasn’t realistic. As someone who has been brought up in a world of celebrities, supermodels, and billboards, it took a long time to be more gentle on myself and re-evaluate what my own standard of beauty was. The Dove Beauty campaign struck a chord in me that still resonates to this day. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I couldn’t be more grateful that Dove started this very important conversation.

 

…and that, my friends, is the end of another exciting addition of “Topic of the Week.” Stay tuned next week where I will be discussing another topic in the fine art of PR. Until then, I will leave you with this thought:

“For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”
― Sam Levenson

 

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