Good Vibes: Health & Wellness Trends

Public relations practitioners need to be constantly scanning industry trends to keep on top of what audiences are interested in. By maintaining attention on popular trends and fads, public relations practitioners can frame their messages effectively to best target audiences. A major theme transcending throughout numerous industries is an interest in health and wellness across the board.Organizations that capitalize on this fad by promoting more products and services geared towards improving peoples’ lives will find considerable success during this time.

A scroll through top feeds on Instagram or Facebook will showcase a variety of media curators promoting health and wellness products. Whether they’re meant for physical or mental improvement, they’re centered upon making customers feel good about themselves and their lives. With increasing numbers of celebrities endorsing such products, it’s now considered cool and attractive for consumers to be concerned with their health and wellness. Organizations of all industries can benefit from messaging that supports customers’ health and happiness.

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Popular bloggers have already established the best health trends organizations should be looking out for. The Holmes Report accurately predicted 2015’s PR trend of the year would be healthcare. The successful blog, Well+Good, has laid out their health and wellness for 2016 already, including new workout, dietary and beauty themes. World-famous music festivals that are based on capitalizing on the most popular trends– case in point Coachella– have  already incorporated fitness, dietary and beauty improvement brands as vendors.

Successful public relations practitioners know to follow and gain traction upon what audiences want. Health and wellness will always be a subject of discussion and priority for all consumers. Recent cultural shifts have influenced publics to become increasingly more interested in their own and others’ health and well-being. These topics affect everyone, and by making them seem more attractive through media, public relations professionals can utilize these themes to their organization’s advantage. At the same time, promoting healthy choices is inevitably always positive for individuals and communities as a whole, and should be continued to be prioritized.

References

2016 Wellness Trends. (2016, January 1). Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://archive.wellandgood.com/fitness-wellness-trends/
Holmes, P. (2015, January 19). 2015 PR Trend Forecast: Healthcare. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://www.holmesreport.com/long-reads/article/2015-pr-trend-forecast-healthcare
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Going Green Will Save Your Brand

Now more than ever before are companies feeling the pressure to alter their practices to be more environmentally-conscious. Climate change is having real affects on the state of our planet. The decisions we make now will have lasting consequences for generations to come. No longer can corporations avoid responsibility as society is forced to shift to more sustainable measures. At the same time, there are self-serving benefits for companies to consider when thinking of becoming more eco-friendly. Going green will not just help save the planet, but it also has the potential to save businesses money and their own brand reputations.

Major corporations, even those on Wall Street, that have changed their strategies cite reasoning to maximize profits and mitigate risk. Preserving resources simply makes good business sense, and sustainable working measures should thus be common sense for successful companies. Companies like Wal-Mart have found that by switching to solar power, for example, they’ve saved a significant amount of money on their energy bills (Davenport, 2014). Depending on fossil fuels is becoming increasingly more risky as well. A case in point includes the ever-fluctuating prices of oil and the potential for it to become more regulated. Consequentially, making smart business decisions can also improve market share from more competitive products. Pat Tiernan, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s vice president for social and environmental responsibility, explained, “We don’t do things just to be, for example, tree huggers. We do select things that have a brand value to them, but most of the things that we do, it has to make business sense” (Davenport, 2014).

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Companies are joining the movement; The Goldman Sachs Group has already invested over $1.5 billion to alternative and clean energy usages (Davenport, 2014). Our society soon will no longer be able to depend on our planet the way it currently does; our resources are fleeting quickly and we must transition to new methods.

Not only is it smart from a financial standpoint, but public relations professionals are also supporting the green movement for brand image purposes. With consumers becoming increasingly more concerned with the status of the environment, many are learning that the brands they support have significant influence over our planet’s health as well. A company that is showing how they are giving back to the planet, and thus customers’ communities, will develop stronger and more positive brand reputations (Linn, 2007). Consumers are attracted to brands that exude similar values as they admire, and eco-sustainability is quickly rising in moral demand.

Not only does this impact the target customer base, but job seekers are also becoming more interested in businesses that adhere to similar virtues (Linn, 2007). A company’s predominant brand image has a considerable affect on the applicants they receive.

There is no doubt that with the inevitable rise of climate change, more companies will follow the trend to go green– not only by the advice of financial consultants, but also public relations professionals. Global citizens want to preserve our planet’s health, thus people will increasingly become more sensitive to the corporate social responsibility measures companies take. Public relations practitioners should be additionally researching how the organizations they support can improve their carbon footprints and consequential brand images.

References

Davenport, G. (2014, August 26). Worldwide Energy KC. Retrieved March 03, 2016, from http://www.worldwideenergy.com/going-green/
Linn, A. (2007, April 18). Corporations find business case for going green. Retrieved March 03, 2016, from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/17969124/ns/business-going_green/t/corporations-find-business-case-going-green/#.Vtjg6IwrIgo

Happy Customers Make for Happy PR

Throughout all my analyses on synthesizing charitable motives with public relations practices, it has become increasingly apparent how the bottom line in any industry never drastically changes: organizations thrive off making their audiences happy. Whether that’s by asserting that the customer is always right, or by simply creating honorable messaging with a feel-good narrative, a brand can almost never go wrong by putting the needs and wants of its clientele first.

Public relations is about forming relationships between organizations and publics. The first step involves conducting research about your audiences, but people don’t like to be thought of as specimen to be examined. Learning about what your audiences want and like is sometimes best found through meeting them on their level. Focus groups and surveys framed with messaging familiar to the targeted demographic can prove to be considerably insightful. Once understanding of the clientele is established, determining on what actions your organization can make to establish strong relationships with them is appropriate.

Building rapport with customers is essential to promoting a successful brand. If your audiences like what you have to say, then customer retention, loyalty and growth can only improve. At the end of the day, people like to feel welcomed, respected, comfortable, understood, recognized, valued and listened to. Shaping an organization’s public relations tactics to be framed in this manner is nearly guaranteed to make a customer happy.

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With freeform public channels and blogs across the web, it’s easy to come across messaging from media curators that shames organizations for having poor ethics or corporate social responsibility. Brands are being held accountable for their actions by publics now more than ever. It seems better to adhere to what publics are truly looking for in a trustworthy brand than to risk backlash for a public elations campaign made in poor taste.

Regardless of the brand or product, organizations need to make their audiences feel good to some extent to retain brand loyalty and public support. Companies that are known for their customer service and treatment are more likely to retain their audiences, and have consumers recommend their business to others. All in all, a business can prioritize their profits and bottom line by prioritizing the needs and wants of their customers. Thus public relations practitioners should be mindful of how their campaigns might come across to publics. It isn’t just about targeting audiences in ways that frame the messages effectively, it’s about ensuring that what is put out ultimately gives the consumer a positive impression of your brand. Inspiring a customer can feel good about his or herself associates good feelings with your organization. Public relations professionals should never underestimate the power of contagious and positive messages.

Redefining Women’s Roles

Our culture spreads ideas about sex and gender through our media that are predominantly inaccurate, but unfortunately perpetuate our realities and thus shape affect our experiences. In attempt to appeal to the dominant culture, a patriarchal society that historically and institutionally favors men, organizations have long exploited the image of women in their messaging. Advertisements that objectify and degrade women are not difficult to find, just try scrolling through the Internet or passing by magazines at the store.

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A common example of this is when companies compare an idealized woman’s body to the product they are selling. Degrade a woman’s worth to her beauty, and associate that to the level of a car or cheeseburger in order to please a male audience. Carl’s Jr. is an infamous example of this, where the company has openly prided itself in using this tactic.

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In response to criticisms about using nearly-naked models to sell hamburgers in commercials, Carl’s Jr. said, “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers” (Young, 2014). The fast-food chain has received so much backlash for its practices that nonprofits, such as Beauty Redefined and Miss Representation, have initiated campaigns against it. Regardless of the profits a company may be making, if charities and nonprofits are boycotting one’s advertisements, it strongly indicates that a company needs an ethical and brand-image rework. No company should want to be known as the one that women and nonprofits resent.

For decades now, people have spoken out against these media representations due to the social implications they have on our culture. These images get out of hand too often, and ultimately promote sexism, misogyny and rape culture.

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With the rise of fourth wave feminism piggybacking on the power of our digital communications age, organizations can no longer create these messages without facing backlash. As people become more educated about the issues and effects of sexist media, many turn away from companies that participate in it. Individuals have the opportunities and forums to speak out against what they think are morally wrong practices, and few hold back these days.

It’s essential in the public relations sphere to keep audiences happy, and socially moral responsibilities ultimately trump an organization’s desire to appeal to the male gaze. Marketing, advertising and public relations employees are responsible for the messages they put forth. Public relations practitioners should hold themselves and their organizations accountable for the representations they perpetuate in the media. Good public relations seeks to ethically appeal to as many audiences as possible in order to establish a credible and honorable brand image. In our day and age where gender equity and respect is prioritized, organizations can no longer afford using questionable tactics such as these.

References

Young, F. (2014, September 17). Carl’s Jr. faces criticism for ads apparently objectifying women. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://universe.byu.edu/2014/09/17/carls-jr-facing-criticism-for-ads-again/

Misrepresenting Minorities

Institutionalized racism has pervaded all levels of society, and are at times most clearly depicted in our media. Popular media is framed towards the preferences of the dominant audiences, which in America particularly include those who generally identify as white, male and middle class. Ethnocentric and racial superiority tendencies within our culture frame our media to showcase what the dominating populations want to see: other people similar to their demographics. Consequentially, minorities have been historically excluded from popular media.

While white actors and spokespeople are prioritized across the board for spotlighted roles, when a role of a person of color is needed to be filled, oftentimes that position is tokenized or white-washed. Tokenizing, in the context of racial issues, can be defined as the practice of including a minority person as a representation of their social group. Doing so is usually with the intent of claiming that minorities are included, but it ultimately trivializes minorities’ experiences to that which could be superficially acquired, rather than respectfully integrated. We might see this in television shows, for example, where the cast is all white but there is the “one black friend” included, in attempt to suggest that the other cast members aren’t racist. People of color might feel used simply for their identities if treated in a tokenizing manner.

In addition, white-washing is another practice used too often that harms minority communities. White-washing is when people of color are showcased to look and behave more similarly to white people and their culture. A hard-hitting example is the feature movie recreation of the show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” The original television series was set in an Asian community with all Asian characters. However, producers working on the movie version were criticized for only casting white people. Thousands of fans subsequently boycotted the movie, which ultimately failed in the box office (Press, 2010). The movie’s critics say that the white-washed cast is just another example of an institutionalized trend in media of demeaning people of color.

Organizations that have been caught misrepresenting minority groups have faced serious criticisms that are difficult to bounce back from. A case in point is the 2016 Oscar nominations with an all-white ballot, which sparked harsh criticisms from audiences for its lack of diversity. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite went viral, with which individuals expressed online their frustrations against the major awards show (Buckley, 2016). While it wouldn’t be appropriate to tokenize a person of color in the ballots just to include them, it remains unnerving that across the board white people are seen as the most skilled and deserving of such honors. As the date of the Oscars continues to approach, it seems predictable that the criticisms will only further taint the credibility of the award show’s brand.

Not being conscientious of racial representation in your media can be very detrimental to not only minority groups, but also your brand. In our digital age where independent bloggers and media curators have significant voice and outreach to our publics, it seems evident that offending marginalized communities is no longer tolerated. Public relations practitioners need to be aware and prepared to actively prevent and deal with these situations, as the call from publics for racial equity is only bound to become louder. Anything that is considered offensive will be called out. No brand should afford the risk of viral backlash for topics as sensitive as racial diversity. Being inclusive of all identities is not simply just making audiences feel more comfortable, but it establishes healthier dialogues and social initiatives within our media and popular culture.

References

Buckley, C. (2016, January 15). Another Oscar Year, Another All-White Ballot. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/16/movies/oscar-ballot-is-all-white-for-another-year.html
Press, T. A. (2010, May 25). Last Airbender movie blasted for ‘whitewashing’ – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/last-airbender-movie-blasted-for-whitewashing-1.918316

Activism Needs Mainstream Media

Activisms will always be a part of human civilization. At the same time, entertainment is just as prominent throughout society, and generally gains more of the public spotlight. Latent audiences tend to want media that pleases them, rather than that which challenges or upsets them. Consequentially, social justice movements have historically been diminished in the public sphere because they address issues that many would rather not hear. However, it is crucial that publics are aware of the problems at hand. Exposure, education and productive dialogue about what ails our culture are necessary to improving how our society functions. This also ultimately affects every individual, and thus matters enough to be properly addressed in the mainstream media.

From a public relations perspective, there are fruitful opportunities in framing activist agendas with entertaining packaging. By promoting important messages through more digestible ways for audiences, activist movements can more effectively engage publics. A groundbreaking example of this is the February 2016 annual Super Bowl 50.

Beyonce performed her new new single, “Formation,” a song projecting support for African American civil rights, with visual references to the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and the Black Lives Matter Movement. It was a political statement heard across the world, and evidently the most radical Beyonce has ever accomplished in her 20-year career. In addition, Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, promised a $1.5 million donation to the Black Lives Matter movement the previous Friday (Elgot, 2016). Beyonce and Jay-Z are arguably the most influential American entertainment celebrities of our time, and the Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event of the year. Combine these powerful figures and the Black Lives Matter movement is positioned with significant attention and credibility like it hasn’t seen before.

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In addition to Beyonce’s political performance, Coldplay’s set featured LGBTQ pride themes. For the show, Levi’s stadium was lined with marriage-equality inspired rainbow waves that spelled out: “Believe In Love.” This is particularly relevant because just last year, in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal. However, with backlash against the decision still remaining by some populations, it was unanticipated that the Super Bowl would feature a pro-gay rights halftime performance.

The gay rights and Black Lives Matter movements have never before had spotlights as prominent like the Super Bowl provides. Some have found it inconceivable for the Super Bowl to express pro-gay and civil rights messages during the halftime show, but the decision has been groundbreaking for both entertainment and social justice campaigns. Countless viewers have sung praises for this revolutionary show, and many hope that media attention of this scale will continue to focus on issues that matter. Ultimately, the alliances between activist movements and mass media entertainment are mutually beneficial for both parties.

 

References

Elgot, J. (2016, February 08). Beyoncé unleashes Black Panthers homage at Super Bowl 50. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/feb/08/beyonce-black-panthers-homage-black-lives-matter-super-bowl-50

On Sensationalism, Entertainment and Politics

It is no secret that major media outlets frame stories to be more attractive or captivating to their audiences. In extension, journalists have been criticized for incorporating sensationalism to influence public responses for generations. According to Oxford Dictionaries, sensationalism is defined as the “presentation of stories in a way that is intended to provoke public interest or excitement, at the expense of accuracy.” Even today, traces of sensationalism can be found in our mass media. There is a line to be drawn between the news and our entertainment, but tuning into major political channels proves that this distinction has become increasingly blurred. While “putting spin” on political news can attract more viewers, it’s impediment that media curators are mindful of the impact their messages can have on audiences.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump exudes this issue in his public speeches. Trump is primarily an entertainer, considering his extensive background in television shows “Miss America” and “The Apprentice.” He’s translated persuasive skills learned from the entertainment industry into his strategies to gain voters. By making exaggerated and even offensive statements, Trump provokes viewers to profit off any reaction they may have towards him. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Even if people disagree with him, he’s making headlines, and that enough propels his campaign.

At the same time, while considerable populations oppose Trump, his words do not go without consequences. His hateful rhetoric towards marginalized groups have hurt our diverse communities in America, and in some cases have even provoked physical harm on individuals. While Trump has countless examples of politically incorrect and insensitive statements, a major one is his proposed ban on Muslims from immigrating to America.

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In December 2015, Trump called on the United States to bar Muslims from the country in light of San Bernardino terrorist attacks, which escalated Islamophobic rhetoric across the country (NY Times, 2015). By correlating all Muslims as contributors to the radical terrorist group, ISIS, Trump promoted a dangerous message that was unfortunately accepted by too many.

Stories of American Muslims living in fear daily due to threats made by Trump and his supporters have surfaced across the internet. One mother was quoted to describe the current social climate as “a dangerous place right now” (Independent Journal, 2016). The Huffington Post reports that, “Trump has taken the first tiny dangerous steps towards unleashing forces that could trigger large-scale violence against the Muslim community.” Xenophobia and racism doesn’t just affect marginalized communities emotionally, some Trump supporters have been convicted for committing acts of violence against others as inspired by Trump’s speeches. This past November, a Black protester was beaten up by Trump fans, and Trump condoned it by saying of the victim, “Maybe he should have been roughed up” (Think Progress, 2015).

Trump has the unwavering right to express his opinions freely. However, as someone with significant power, he should consider being more considerate of the harmful influence his words have on people. Whether or not he would truly enact his proposals if elected in office, the sensationalist way he presents his ideas provokes detrimental reactions across the board. While they may inspire his fans, that impact has a ripple effect that ultimately harms our communities, especially those that are typically marginalized. It’s incredibly important as we continue our conversations in the political sphere that we remain exciting through engaging publics in the voting process, but not in ways that further divide our country.

References

Healy, P., & Barbaro, M. (2015, December 07). Donald Trump Calls for Barring Muslims From Entering U.S. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/12/07/donald-trump-calls-for-banning-muslims-from-entering-u-s/?_r=0
Ahmed, A. (2015, December 09). Countdown to Kristallnacht. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/akbar-ahmed/donald-trump-kristallnacht-islamophobia_b_8762076.html
Lapotin, K. (2015, December 20). A Muslim Girl Was Scared By Donald Trump’s Words. Here’s How Army Vets Responded… Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.ijreview.com/2015/12/497601-a-muslim-girl-was-scared-by-donald-trumps-words-heres-how-army-vets-responded/
Shen, A. (2015, November 22). Donald Trump: My Fans Were Right To Beat Up Black Protester. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/11/22/3724879/donald-trump-black-lives-matter-protester-beating/

When Celebrities Meet Politics

A popular rule-of-thumb suggests that one should avoid discussing politics, religion or money with others. People are likely to disagree to some extent or another, and the sensitive nature of these topics can create tense atmospheres in conversation. Those in the public eye need to be especially careful about statements they make regarding these issues. Time and time again has proven that a slip of the tongue or misunderstanding of a situation has costed some people their careers.

A prime example is Iggy Azalea, who previously headlined at No. 1 on the nation’s Billboard Top 40 with the hit song, “Fancy.” However, within less than a year her popularity plummeted due to offensive actions and comments she made. With homophobic and racially insensitive tweets, Azalea unintentionally self-sabotaged her own career. She made politically incorrect statements about Black, Latino and Asian communities that ignited a storm of retaliation against her. Her social media presence tarnished her image of a fun hip-hop meets pop-star, and framed her into seeming like a rude and racist snob.

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Fans reexamined their feelings about her, publics who originally did not like her now had more reasons against her and the hip-hop community of which she was a part of disowned her. Due to the backlash she consistently received thereafter, Azalea was forced to cancel her summer 2015 tour. Ultimately, Azalea dug her own career’s grave through offensive and insensitive comments on her social media. If she had made the effort to educate herself about the politics she was brashly speaking upon, or at the very least kept quiet on social media, Azalea potentially could have saved her once booming music career.

On the other hand, political statements can also catapult a celebrity’s career. Take a look at Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson. Both women are A-list actresses, but have distinguished themselves as advocates for important causes. As a result, their individual reputations and brand images have been bolstered considerably due the praise and support they have received for their activist work. Watson in particular has established her own campaign called “HeForShe,” which aims to fight for the social, political and economical equity between genders. The campaign has generated over 1.3 million gender equality actions across the world since being established. Her project has earned headlines on Time, Huffington Post and MTV.

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HeForShe has been significantly successful in its mission to internationally raise awareness and engage publics in fighting for gender equality. As a result, Watson has fortified her position in the public sphere as not just Hermoine from Harry Potter, but as a reputable social influence that will likely stand the test of time.

 

Those in the public eye have major influence on their publics and industries, and at the same time are in positions for great scrutiny. It’s essential for celebrities to be aware of the impact their words may have, as even just a tweet goes a long way and lasts forever. People in high-profile positions shouldn’t take the power of their voices for granted. Political statements carry a lot of weight and deserve to be taken seriously by those who make them, considering not only the influence they may have on others but also the impact on one’s career.

References

HeForShe: Stand Together. (2016). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.heforshe.org/en
Russoniello, M. (2015, June 10). Inside Iggy Azalea’s Rapid Fall From Fame | Celebuzz. Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.celebuzz.com/2015-06-10/iggy-azalea-downfall-flop-controversy-timeline/

Examining “Politically Correct”

In our age of widespread social unrest with simultaneously advanced mass communication, a demand has grown for media and people to use more inclusive, appropriate and sensitive language. We’ve called this active choice being “politically correct,” which is defined as: “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people” (Merriam-Webster, 2015).

Our society has never been completely sympathetic to the experiences of minority populations, and our media reflects that. Stereotypes, prejudices and the marginalization of under-privileged demographics have been so integrated into our culture and media that these harmful practices have become normalized (Trotta, 2013). This ultimately further oppresses targeted populations and contributes to institutionalized racism, sexism, classism and ableism. As more people are able to raise their voices through social media and mass communication channels, we’re now hearing more that people will no longer tolerate this for the harm it causes.

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On the other hand, many challenge this notion because they suggest that those supporting being politically correct are being too sensitive to the issues (Debate, 2016). Some claim that jokes and comments about certain populations are entertaining and are thus conducive to more comfortable social atmospheres. Being held consistently accountable for particularities about one’s dialogue could potentially encourage senses of “fear” and “paranoia” in people (Srivastava, 2016). However, the unease of being conscientious of one’s language is marginal compared to the suffering minorities endure daily. The need for safety and recognition of oppressed groups trumps the need for comfortable conversation.

Consequentially, public relations practitioners should be actively aware and respectful of the need for political correctness for many audiences. Our messages should be shaped to be inclusive for all, to not only the benefit of our society, but also the organizations public relations practitioners represent. Being politically correct matters to a considerable amount of people, and thus should be validated and implemented in messages our publics receive. As representatives of organizations, the feelings and impressions we inspire in our audiences matter to our success as well. Organizations hold significant impact in the power of their words and messages due to their mass outreach. Being considerate of the potential negative reactions publics could have is a major strategy practitioners can take to improve relationships. This could furthermore improve an organization’s brand image by suggesting one is sensitive to the personal needs of its audiences. We have the ability to shape our conversations in the media, and so they should reflect the needs of all groups in our society.

References

Do people worry too much about being politically correct? (2016). Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://www.debate.org/opinions/do-people-worry-too-much-about-being-politically-correct
Politically Correct Definition. (2015). Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politically correct
Srivastava, N. (2016, January 11). Why We Should Not Be So Politically Correct. | Nipun Srivastava. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from https://campusdiaries.com/stories/why-we-should-not-be-so-politically-correct
Trotta, S. O. (2013, April 29). Why I Stand Up to Politically Incorrect Jokes. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/04/why-i-stand-up-to-politically-incorrect-jokes/

Know Your Audience

Skilled public relations, advertising and marketing practitioners know by heart how essential it is to frame an organization’s message to its target audience. A public isn’t going to actively listen unless a message tugs at some point of interest for them; something that affects or intrigues them one way or another. Communications experts put themselves in the shoes of their target audience members and ask, “Why should they care?”

While this is a standard step in any communications strategy, the process can definitely go further. I challenge public relations practitioners to take the extra time to engage in empathy with their audiences. By fully understanding the demographic details of a target audience, including what they want from organizations in which capacities, one can expand his or her message to better engage publics.

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A case to examine is how presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, reached out to the Latino demographic in an attempt to connect with them by comparing herself to their “abuelas,” which means “grandmother” in Spanish (Luisi, 2015). Her public relations team must have assumed that by relating Clinton to the Latino family dynamic would essentially get her platform’s message across to that population. However, this strategy backfired because Clinton’s team did not conduct enough research to better predict how their target audience would react. Citing cultural notions to a group she does not belong to is widely interpreted as offensive. In fact, some labeled this half-hearted attempt to connect with a Latino audience as, “Hispandering,” a term used to describe the fake interest politicians often make in Hispanic issues for self-serving purposes (Meraji, 2015). Social media erupted with the hashtag, “#NotMyAbuela,” in response (Sanders, 2015). Audiences turned the platform strategy into an opportunity to challenge Clinton’s sincerity and knowledge about the Latino-American experience. Clinton comes from a much more privileged family upbringing than many Latino families, and thus the comparison felt more self-serving for Clinton’s political gain, rather than actually to represent Latinos. If her communications team had empathized with the societal and emotional triggers that Latino individuals may have on such a message, they likely would have reconsidered their tactics. It’s essential in any campaign that communicators fully understand their audiences’ perspectives, including their personal emotional responses.

The average American is bombarded by 3,000 advertisements a day (Kocina, 2006). Surrounded by so much noise, consumers are seeking an organization that they feel like they can trust. Brand loyalty can be established by a sense that an organization actually understands what a patron wants and needs. Focus groups and interviews are effective ways that public relations practitioners can research exactly what that might mean for their target audiences.

References

Kocina, L. (2006, February 23). The average American is exposed to … – Media Relations, Inc. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://www.publicity.com/advicetips/the-average-american-is-exposed-to/
Meraji, S. M. (2015, December 10). A Politician Walks Into King Taco … A Look At The Political Term ‘Hispandering’ Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/12/08/458461200/a-politician-walks-into-king-taco-a-look-at-the-political-term-hispandering
Sanders, S. (2015, December 26). #MemeOfTheWeek: Hillary Clinton, Not Quite An Abuela. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2015/12/26/461116160/-memeoftheweek-hillary-clinton-not-quite-an-abuela
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