June 18, 2014
By: Sydney Gardner @sydneygardner
We know the looks. We know the stereotypes. Public relations professionals and students are not unfamiliar to fact that they are not everyone’s’ #1 fan. We’ve heard it all before. We’re greedy, we lie and cheat, and we cover up the truth and sensationalize the lies. However, the field of public relations should not be blindly bashed. Public relations’ good effects can be seen all over from the smallest local campaigns to large international promotions.
Within the last decade a large part of PR has been focused on social media, and for good reason. Social media has the power to gather people all over the world together to make a difference. UNICEF Sweden’s “Likes Don’t Save Lives” campaign is their most successful social media campaign to date. Guess who came up with the campaign that was able to raise enough money to vaccinate thousands of children? Their PR people were able to harness the popularity of social media to create a call to action that makes a real difference.
Some PR campaigns aren’t even focused on getting anything from the customer except their loyalty. In 2010, Kleenex hoped to do just that with their “Feel Good” campaign. Kleenex took the time to send a surprise care package to just 50 sick people (who weren’t even customers!), and in return their surprise was shared by 100% of recipients on their personal Facebook pages. Kleenex was able to create 650,000 impressions on social media from all over the world.
If you haven’t already seen our last example, grab your cup of cocoa and get ready to wish it was December. WestJet’s Christmas Miracle promotion is very much a PR campaign, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. WestJet’s PR team was able to create and execute a campaign that genuine made people feel good by giving them exactly what they wanted (literally). They didn’t lie, and they didn’t cover up anything, but that doesn’t mean that they were not executing an extraordinary PR plan.
Whether it was that tweet from your favorite company that made you laugh, or that campaign that took a grass roots organization and thrust it into every water cooler conversation across the U.S., public relations is not a field that should be viewed with distain. So if you are one who is not a fan of PR professionals, just remember that the bad actions of a few should not form your decision of a whole.