Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Why the United Airlines PR team failed horribly

United Airlines…WHY am I writing about you again?! Ugh…I am in disbelief with this company, and my family and I are frequent fliers with them. My brow is furrowed with disbelief at the latest PR nightmare for United.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, this past Sunday, just before departure in Chicago, the passengers of United Express Flight 3411 headed for Louisville were told that the flight was “overbooked”. The announcement made stated that it was necessary for four people to volunteer to get out of their seats and leave so that crew members could make it on board to fly out of Louisville the next day.

When an incentive of $1,000 failed to get any volunteers to leave, United followed their protocol on this situation and used a random selection tool to pick passengers to leave the aircraft. Apparently, this protocol is in the small print when an individual buys their ticket. Right.

Before I even finish the recap – why did United stop at $1,000 for their incentive? There has to be a more customer-friendly approach to asking someone to change their plans last minute because the airline overbooked the flight. I’m curious if eventually individuals would volunteer to leave if the incentive had been better.

Anyways, three out of the four individuals that were randomly picked to get booted off the plane left peacefully. The fourth individual refused. When the airline attendants couldn’t persuade him to get off, they called in Chicago aviation authorities. And that’s when the bystanders whipped out their phones and hit record.

The fourth passenger, obviously not happy about getting kicked off the plane, refused to leave with the officers. As seen in many videos online, an ununiformed officer (I presume) is seen pulling the passenger out of the seat, dropping him on the ground where the passenger bangs his face on the seat and starts bleeding and is then seen being dragged down the aisle by his hands while bystanders are yelling in horror.  In some videos you can also hear the passenger saying, “I’m a doctor- I have patients I have to see tomorrow” as he is being dragged.

The video is honestly hard to watch. I understand that he was refusing to leave however, the way that they literally handled the passenger was disgusting. It was like they were dragging a bag of garbage to the dump, with no consideration that this is a human.

Ok, so at this point United should have went into crisis mode. The PR team should have been monitoring social media and should have seen how upset people were about the situation. Crisis mode should include a heartfelt apology, release of a specific plan for addressing the situation and mistake, clear communication with the front-line employees and a statement sent to frequent fliers.

However, what happened instead was an impersonal statement from CEO Oscar Munoz stating that he was sorry for having to re-accommodate customers and that he “empathetically” stood behind his employees. With no mention of the way that the passenger was treated, this statement made things even worse.

The United PR team must have realized that because in the next two days, the CEO apologized two more times.

Knowing when and how to shift into crisis mode when a situation like this occurs is important, and while United failed at that, moving forward, they need to work to restore trust with the public. I mean who would want to fly with an airline with fear they might get kicked off and dragged off?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Pepsi under fire for mocking BLM Movement

Here I am again, writing about more drama on the Internet. This time, Pepsi came under fire this past Wednesday for their newly released ad featuring public figure Kendall Jenner. 

In the ad, Jenner is seen modeling in a photo shoot in the city and then notices the group of protestors. She decides to join them and dramatically rips off her blonde wig. Towards the end of the commercial she walks up to a policeman and hands him a Pepsi and gets him to start smiling.

All within a couple of viewings, the social media world blew up accusing Pepsi of mocking the Black Lives Matter movement and using social justice to sell a can of pop.

Users also compared the ad scene to that of photos of Ieshia Evans, a protestor in Baton Rouge following the shooting of Alton Sterling, who was iconically photographed before being detained.

I can see Pepsi’s logic in trying to use a relevant scenario in their ads, however my biggest argument with Pepsi is why did they use Kendall Jenner in this ad out of all people?

Jenner does not have any relevancy and has not had a voice in the wake of protests and law enforcement disagreements. Her brand is a rich young woman famous for being part of the infamous Kardashian family clan in which many people have an bad image of.

Sure, Jenner would bring a lot of attention to the ad because she’s a public figure, however Pepsi should have thought twice about what kind of image the public would have of her being in a sensitive ad.

A day after the ad was released, Pepsi made an announcement that they pulled the controversial ad. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

United Airlines' Leggings-gate Controversy

Over the weekend, United Airlines’ PR team scrambled to rectify a highly-publicized controversy on Twitter regarding one of their gate agents turning away girls wearing leggings from boarding the flight.

After witnessing the gate agent deny boarding privileges to two young girls due to their improper attire, Shannon Watts, a well-known influencer and founder of Moms Demand Action, tweeted to United questioning why the girls were not allowed on the flight and added that maybe it was because they did not allow spandex.

Naturally, this opened a can of worms on Twitter and gained even more attention when public figures Patricia Arquette and Chrissy Teigan learned of the situation and shared their opinions.

Once United learned of the situation, they replied to Watts informing her that in United’s Contract of Carriage, Rule 21, they have the right to refuse transport for passengers who are not properly dressed.

Well, that reply put fuel on the fire. Twitter erupted with accusations that United was sexist and “leggings-gate” was born. The hashtag #BoycottUnited was even formed.

What United failed to mention from the very start of this situation was that the passengers who were denied entry were United Pass Travelers. These passengers are on an employee standby status that is subject to a separate set of rules and guidelines, including the dress code. Therefore, they are representing United because they are using an employee benefit.

So where did United go wrong? Their team did not address the issue until people dubbed this controversy as “Leggings-gate”. The immediate reply that United sent Watts did not explain that the denied passengers were subject to separate rules and guidelines due to their United Pass Traveler status.

I don’t know why they didn’t address that from the very start, perhaps they were busy investigating who these passengers were? If that was the case, they should have let users know that they were considering the situation instead of feeding them a vanilla blanket statement that sounds like all passengers are subject to this rule.

Needless to say, United will be working on damage control for a while after this controversy, because they did not communicate information timely.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How to effectively engage with your Twitter following

As mentioned in previous blogs, the one social media platform that I have a hard time consistently posting to is Twitter. Most of the time I don’t tweet because I can’t fit what I want to say in 140 characters and I’m not witty enough. Companies alike can relate to that same feeling. Twitter is a platform for short briefs of information and to start conversations with a couple of sentences. It can be a powerful platform but it can be tricky to engage with one’s followers.

Post Intelligence, was recently launched to help tweeters step up their social media game and assist users in growing their Twitter presence.  This program analyzes a user’s tweets through artificial intelligence, learns about the user’s tone, and then suggests topics and themes to tweet about. Building a following and engaging with those followers is difficult to do, and Post Intelligence will help alleviate that issue.

Companies can utilize this program by generating content that is relevant to trending topics. Post Intelligence will suggest content to post about that will help the companies interact with their followers and be a part of the global conversation.

For people and businesses wanting to grow their social media presence on Twitter, they might want to check out Post Intelligence.

To read more on this third party social media app check out this Forbes article:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I'm obsessed with Apartment Therapy's blog - here's why

I love learning about interior design and seeing spaces transformed. I recently started following Apartment Therapy’s blog and social media channels. 

According to Forbes, “Apartment Therapy is one of the most influential interior design sites on the Web.” Their content creates unique value by allowing readers to submit their own house tours. 

Apartment Therapy’s approach creates value for the customer because after they submit their house tour, other readers can solicit suggestions for specific improvements. Their target market consists of 20-50 year olds who are renting an apartment or own a house. 

They really engage their readers in many different ways, with their biggest campaigns in the form of contests that readers can participate in. Their highest followings are on Instagram and Pinterest and almost every day they share content that calls the reader to action by giving them a link to follow to learn more about the post or by asking engaging questions.

 I have to say that after analyzing all of their social media platforms, I am very impressed with the way they curate titles of blogs to engage their readers. Almost all of the titles have the word “you” in it, which catches the reader and immediately gets them thinking that maybe this article is interesting. 

Needless to say, browsing their site and home decor ideas has been what I've been doing in my downtime ;)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

YouTube Under Fire: Social Media Blog

One of the most amazing channels on the Internet that many companies fail to recognize in their social media strategies is YouTube. The impact of the content on YouTube was brought to attention this past week when their most popular personality, Felix Kjellberg, known as his screenname PewDiePie, was dropped from the site because of his content that included crude anti-Semitic jokes and references to Hitler. Kjellberg’s sponsors also stated that they would not work with him again because of his crude comedy.

This situation has raised many questions about the level of vetting and oversight that advertisers and media companies should have for social media influencers and the content they are creating. Many companies choose to work with social media influencers rather than well-known regular celebrities because they are cheaper to work with. However, I believe that the standards need to be the same for both groups of people.

If a brand chooses to work with a person it is important to conduct full audits, background checks and understand risks associated with them. In the instance of Kjellberg’s association, his sponsors and YouTube should have been paying more attention to the content he was posting for the world to see, because their name is attached to everything he publishes.

The internet is a great place to advertise one’s brand however, because it’s such a big place it is important to be frequently checking who you’re associating with and what image they are sending out. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Learning the importance of social media audits

In the past two weeks, I have completed two full social media audits. I had never heard of a social media audit until my social media class and I learned that it is the process of reviewing what’s working, what’s failing and what can be improved upon across your social media channels. I conducted a content and user analysis audit on Magnolia Market’s social media platforms.

Conducting social media audits are necessary because it’s important to ensure that the content that is being posted has a positive impact on the business objectives. The main objective in an audit is to ensure that all platforms are on brand and the content being shared is reaching the target market and is engaging users. In conducting the audit of Magnolia Market’s social media I found that their image branding was not consistent and that they needed to update their profile photos to more professional images and ensure that all platforms were the same.

One of the main findings that the audit showed was that there were tons of users engaging with the Magnolia Market Facebook page by posting photos or comments on their page. However, Magnolia was not answering user’s questions or engaging with the users who took time to write them a note. My suggested future action for Magnolia Market was to increase engagement on all social media platforms so that users feel important. Through this assignment, I learned the importance of the content that companies choose to post.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Purpose in Marriage

At the end of last year my wonderful bible study leader challenged me and our group to share a word that summed up our spiritual journey for that year. I picked the word "purpose". For this blog I thought that I would share how my understanding of purpose has changed my life.

2016 was a huge year for me, and this upcoming year will only be greater! On the eve of the new year, my best friend and high school sweetheart, Greg, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!

Naturally, we started planning this new chapter of our lives together and as much as we wanted to be married we knew that we would have to wait until I was done with school in a year and a half. Greg and I continually prayed throughout the year for patience...long engagements are hard! We still have 171 days left, but God showed UP this year in our relationship in ways that we could have never predicted.

After being together for six years, Greg and I know each other like the back of our own hands. However, we grew even closer during our Preparing for Marriage class we took this summer. One of the greatest lessons we took away from the class was the truth that God designed marriage to make us both happy AND holy! We had great discussion on this challenging statement: "The problem with looking to another human to complete us is that, spiritually speaking, it's idolatry. We are to find our fulfillment and purpose in God . . . and if we expect our spouse to be 'God' to us, he or she will fail every day. No person can live up to such expectations."

The PURPOSE of marriage is to serve God through our love for each other. I pray that this new chapter in our life will only bring honor and glory to him.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How I use social media platforms

As I enter into my last semester as college student, I have the opportunity to take a social media class for my marketing minor! I use social media quite often, and am probably immersed in it way too often. However, in this class we are learning about the use of social media in business.

I'm excited to learn about the differences and similarities in each platform and how to use each of them to benefit a specific strategy a business is trying to achieve. For instance, would a banking company benefit from the use of Snapchat or Pinterest? I'm taking this class because I know that in my future career in marketing/PR, social media will be important. 

In my personal use, I am active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn. I really enjoy sharing my life through photos on these social media platforms and I enjoy keeping up with people that I'm not around much. Twitter is the platform that I  post on the least, mostly because I can never fit what I want to say in 140 characters, and I don't have witty comments that pop into my head that I want to tweet. However, I do follow many people on Twitter and am active in that matter. I can remember many instances where I heard breaking news over a tweet. I love to pin on Pinterest for my own personal use, and I'm excited to learn how to use it for business.