How to Survive a PR Disaster

By: Meredith Erikson

CrisisAhead (1)
Photo via Bolt PR

Crisis communications is taught to PR students because a PR practitioner is guaranteed to experience at least some type of crisis in their career. Institute for PR says, “A crisis can create three related threats: (1) public safety, (2) financial loss, and (3) reputation loss.” Here are some ways that can help your team not fall under pressure.

Have a plan in place- every company should have some type of crisis plan established. This way your team has something to refer to and won’t react frantically off of unpreparedness. For instance, the Wounded Warrior Project did not have a crisis PR team until after the investigative reporters got on to them. This resulted in a bad interview, defensive and confusing statements on their website and poor media relations. Each member of your team should have an understanding of what the plan is.

The mention of a bad interview brings me to the next tip- have media preparation and talking points. In case your team has to talk to the media, it’s first important to choose a strong spokesperson. Someone who can think on their feet and not look nervous. Preparing talking points is important because you have no idea what exactly the reporter’s going to ask you. According to Entrepreneur, “if you go into an interview or press conference unprepared, it will only spiral your PR crisis further out of control.” You should practice so you can fall back on what you’ve rehearsed. Think of key messages about your organization so you can give something positive to the reporter.

Timeliness-your team must have some type of response within 24 hours of the crisis. It shows that you are acknowledging the situation and are going to take the matter seriously. Social media is a good place to post your first statement, but then you’ll eventually have to do one on your company’s website in the newsroom. Keep in mind with social media that you must respond to your follower’s questions and concerns. Lack of responding can represent lack of care.

The most important thing is to not let your crisis situation turn into even more of a disaster. Not following these steps can potentially result in a damaging reputation. Be prepared, timely and organized.






Scheller, C. (2015, August 25). 5 Things You Must Do to Survive a PR Disaster. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from

Coombs, T. (2014, September 23). Crisis Management and Communications (Updated September 2014) | Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from


The “New” Public Relations

By: Meredith Erikson

Ethics is what constitutes what is right and wrong in our society. However, every individual has their own set of morals that defines what is right or wrong to them. That being said, to answer the question whether or not PR practitioners will adopt the trend of becoming more ethical or not, it depends on the individual.

Journalism, advertising and public relations are all often criticized for being seemingly unethical at times. According to the Institute for Public Relations, “current research supports a historical trend of associating public relations with all things unethical – lying, spin-doctoring, and even espionage. Many critics argue that there can be no ethical public relations because the practice itself is akin to manipulation and propaganda.” Personally, in my future career with strategic communications, I want to help end the stereotype of PR being a field of untruthfulness by being as ethical as possible. Those who value the principle of strategic communications and care about their job are going to strive to be more ethical, not just pretend. To relate this thought to Virtue Ethics, it wouldn’t be a stretch to believe that people with good habits of character are going to naturally do what’s right. People who are morally mature are going to be deliberate in handling their ethical dilemmas. I believe those who take pride in their profession are going to adapt to the new ethical standards of PR.

The Public Relations Society of America makes a good point that “the practice of public relations can present unique and challenging ethical issues. At the same time, protecting integrity and the public trust are fundamental to the profession’s role and reputation.” PR professionals have to encounter the difficulty of balancing loyalty to a client and loyalty to the public. They must fulfill both of their desires and expectations while preforming ethical practices. The new PR ethics are about honesty, loyalty and fairness. The PR professional must not compromise these ethics to either the public or the client. Honesty is a very important part of the code of ethics that should not be avoided. From an article in the Houston Chronicle, it stresses how being honest is more important than trying to minimize a damaging incident because peers can criticize your organization once they find out the truth.

Adapting to PR ethics is going to take time, however. How to deal with ethical dilemmas can only truly be learned from experiencing them. So those who are ready to adopt to PR ethics may not have it under their belt in the beginnging and will tend to adopt the guise of acting ethical.



Ethical Guidance for Today’s Public Relations Practitioners from PRSA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2016, from

Bowen, S. (2007, October 30). Ethics and Public Relations | Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved March 27, 2016, from

Johnston, K. (n.d.). Ethical Issues Confronting Public Relations for Practitioners. Retrieved March 27, 2016, from



Cross-Platform Media-It’s Inevitable

By: Meredith Erikson

cross platforming
Photo via Webplanex

As technology advances, so does globalization. With increasing globalization, there is more connectivity. In relation to my media studies, it has become transparent how connected we have become with the trend of globalization and how valuable cross-platforming is. In Larry Litwin’s, “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook,” he defines cross-platforming as the convergence of distribution. This includes print, radio, television, broadband, wireless and digital signage. It is otherwise known as the transformation of media. According to an article on Experian, “consumers move between multiple devices and platforms many times each day without batting an eye.” In regards to Public Relations, practitioners must be convincing to radio or television stations that the information they’re trying to tell is actual news. They must excel at communication on the Internet. Cross-platforming is important for firms and organizations because the more the platforms, the more information that will circulate.

Each vehicle of cross-platforming as its own advantages. To talk about a few, radio reaches audiences faster than any of the other vehicles. To succeed with radio, you must have strong diction because imagery should be created for the listener. Television may not be able to reach audiences as fast as radio, however no other vehicle can reach the amount of people that T.V. can. Opposite of radio, language should be more concise, as pictures and videos are already creating the imagery. Most importantly, no other vehicle has the type of impact that T.V. can produce. It creates emotion. Whether on television or radio, there are best practices to be followed as a PR practitioner. Of course, acting professional is key. This includes proper planning and assistance with the stations you’re pitching your story to. Take their constructive criticism, be timely in all aspects and follow instructions. Don’t let the art of being professional take away from your personality, though. When telling your story, it’s important to be yourself because audiences want to be able to trust you. They want to know you’re a real human being.

The Internet now is all about connecting people. Social media, blogs, vcasts, and podcasts are all among the advantages of Internet. The Internet reaches a great amount of masses as well. Instagram for example, gives you the opportunity to cross-platform among other social media sites by being able to share your pictures on multiples sites instantly. PR practitioners must have a well-established presence on all platforms.






Fetto, J. (2013, February 05). Cross-platform media planning, time spent using various platforms – Marketing Forward Blog. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from

Litwin, Larry. The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook. 3rd ed. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2009



Go Kings Go!

By: Meredith Erikson

la kings.jpg

Just a few weeks ago, I participated in a Twitter Chat with #GetRealChat. They typically discuss social business, marketing, media, leadership, relationships and life. The topic for that night was social media at events. First off, I have to say how much I enjoyed this chat. The first time I had ever done a Twitter Chat, I felt that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. With GetRealChat, I felt so welcomed and was able to discuss topics I knew more about. The participants were all so friendly and informative. However, I did get stumped on one question. It asked “what are the best events you have been to where organizers integrate social media and why?” I just couldn’t determine any particular events.

I have just come back from a trip to Los Angeles to visit my brother- a city of endless media opportunities. While having fun there, I realized I was able to answer that puzzling question. My brother, being a huge Los Angeles Kings fan, took me to a hockey game at the STAPLES Center. Without even analyzing it at first, I was subjected to the organization’s tactical social media usage and became extra involved in the game. First, they encouraged us to tweet either #KINGS1, #KINGS2 or #KINGS3 to indicate which style of the Kings’ home jersey was our favorite. By doing so, we entered a chance to win $100 in Floyd’s 99 services, a signed puck and Floyd’s 99 grooming line. This created a fun engagement in the game and brand awareness for Floyd’s 99. Also, the announcers asked us to tweet to @BaileyLAKings, asking the mascot of the team to send us “Popcornopolis” popcorn directly to our seats. If we won, not only would we get a chance to enjoy their popcorn and become aware of a delicious product, we could be filmed on the Jumbotron. The social media usage I liked best was Fanpics. It’s an app that the STAPLES Center has created a partnership with that allows images to be shared via social networks and can create ways for teams to connect with fans. Pictures of the fan’s excitement and reactions to the game get a chance to be shown on the Jumbotron. “We are always seeking methods to enhance the entertainment value of our overall in- venue, game-day experience, and Fanpics provides us with a very innovative way to do just that,” says Lee Zeidman, President, STAPLES Center.

Tweets and pictures were constantly shared throughout the game and enhanced a modern way to incorporate fun and engagement during sports events. Now that I can answer the question to my Twitter Chat, I’m excited to share with my GetRealChat followers what I’ve learned about social media at events.




Gump, B. (2015, June 2). STAPLES Center Puts Spotlight On Fans with Cutting-Edge Fanpics Technology for Clippers and Kings Games | STAPLES Center. Retrieved March 15, 2016, from

Pledge for Parity

By: Meredith Erikson


Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Along with the hashtag #pledgeforparity on social media, I have seen tremendous support for women all day. Today’s an important day to recognize all of the social, cultural, political and economic changes women have made and to keep the push for gender equality going. Besides enjoying all the encouraging posts online, I also looked at today from a PR perspective. In an article on Stuart Brucecalled “Seven things PR professionals can do to empower women on International Women’s Day” I learned some new advice. Even though I’m not working for a company yet I thought this advice was essential for professionalism; an attribute that every working person must obtain.

In my ethics class, our studies have stressed the importance of the need for diversity in the industry. In an article by “The Atlanticcalled “Why are there so many women in Public Relations,” it noted that there are more women in the PR industry than men yet the executives are still male. For PR and every other type of workplace, it’s important not only to keep the number of women in the field growing but to have opportunities for women to be in the higher positions that men are typically in. Out of the seven things PR professionals can do to empower women, I wanted to share the two that stood out the most to me.

Number two on the list is stated as “you’re a professional communicator so be professional. Eliminate all sexist language and avoid phrasing that assumes people are male – he/she, policeman etc.” Demeaning language cannot exist in the workplace. In my class we talk about stereotyping in advertising and how it’s unethical. For example, women are usually always seen using cleaning products. Men always portrayed as the boss. It’s time to end the stereotyping because it’s important that women believe they can be anything they want to be. If more women were advertised as CEOs, doctors or any other high-status career, it would be more empowering and communicated as a norm. We need to assume that women can hold any position a man can.

Number three on the list said to “create a safe space where women can talk to someone supportive who can provide informal, confidential advice and support on everything from career development to preventing harassment.” It’s important that women feel that they are working in an environment that encourages them to succeed. Without this, women won’t have a desire to work at such place.

Keeping these suggestions in mind, I hope that the recognition for women doesn’t stop today and that we’ll soon be closer to equality.


Bruce, S. (2016, March 08). Seven things PR professionals can do to empower women on International Women’s Day. Retrieved March 08, 2016, from

Khazan, O. (2014, August 8). Retrieved March 08, 2016, from





An Unforgettable Scandal

By: Meredith Erikson


My crisis communications class has exemplified the adrenaline rush of what it might feel like to be a crisis communications expert. The more I learn from the class, the more I can’t help but to analyze the constant controversy that happens every day in the media. In Jane Jordan-Meier’s book, “The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management,” she identifies the four stages of a crisis situation and explains how to determine which events fall under which stage. I practiced identifying those steps using the infamous Tiger Woods scandal and wanted to share how I did so.

Stage one is called the fact-finding stage. “The traditional mainstream media are looking to confirm the basic details of that show-stopping event” (Meier 47). This is when everyone looks to find the details of the event. The mainstream media typically uses social media to find out more about what happened. In the case of Tiger Woods, we would look for who was involved, how it started, and whether or not this was going to be a big story. The drama unfolded in 2009 when the National Enquirer broke the news that Woods had been cheating on his wife… and everyone wanted to know more.

Stage two is the unfolding drama. “The spotlight moves from the incident to the response and the victims” (Meier 59). This is the reputation-forming stage. In this stage you are supposed to keep the media updated on any actions you’ve taken or plan to take. In this stage Woods informed the media that he decided to take an indefinite leave from golf while he worked out his marriage.

Stage three is the blame game. The finger-pointing stage. In this stage everyone is looking for who to blame. In this case, Woods was the obvious man to blame. He took full responsibility by giving an apologetic speech on CNN. He even took the time to apologize to the school his children went to for causing so much controversy. In an apologetic response to a voicemail he left to one of his mistresses he said, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.” A note to keep in mind is that even though Woods took the blame, he was criticized for not sounding sincere and perhaps sounded more like a rehearsed robot. Maybe some quality media training could have helped?

Stage four is the resolution. “Typically, this stage marks the end of the crisis; there is some resolution” (Meier 75). For Woods, his crisis ultimately ended with a divorce and a damaged reputation. He lost sponsorships and spokesperson positions. This incident is forever with his name. However, in this stage Woods must focus on rebuilding relationships. The point of this stage is to learn from what happened to ensure that a mistake as such is never made again.

Proper planning for these stages is essential to handle a crisis effectively. Practice and learning from other crisis’s will help you be prepared for the next crisis situation your organization may have to face.





Bacon, S. (2010, August 23). The complete Tiger Woods timeline, from Escalade to divorce. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from,264574

Vale, T. (2010, March 16). Tiger Woods timeline: How events unfolded. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from

Jordan-Meier, J. (2011). The four stages of highly effective crisis management: How to manage the media in the digital age. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Tiger Woods’ apology: Full transcript. (2010, February 19). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from