House Arrest: Crime or Cash-In?

With all of the media attention Lindsay Lohan receives due to her outlandish, bad girl ways, there is no reason for anyone to not know of this troubled actress.  However, just in case you somehow missed her numerous appearances on an endless number of news broadcasts and websites, here’s a brief recap:

Recently, Lohan was sentenced to four months in jail after pleading no contest May, 11 to stealing a $2,500 necklace from a Venice jewelry store, but due to chronic jail overcrowding in Los Angeles, and because she’s a nonviolent offender, she was eligible for house arrest.  As a result, she wears an electronic ankle bracelet and is confined to the interior premises of her home at all times.  The judge in the case also sentenced Lohan to perform 480 hours of community service, but she will not be allowed to perform that work while under house arrest.  Even more, Lohan was ordered to undergo psychological counseling and participate in a shoplifters alternative course.  Here’s footage of Lohan’s sentencing (*Do not attempt to playback the videos simultaneously to ensure you hear the sound):

Nevertheless, this actress is not allowing even house arrest to hold her down. Besides reading scripts for future productions and holding business meetings, Lohan has also recently starred in a commercial, shot in her apartment, for Beezid.com, an Internet auction site.

According to eonline.com, “A rep for the company said that Lohan was originally offered a whopping  $25,000 for the gig, but she turned it down. Beezid then upped the ante (the rep says it was in the five figures) and threw in a $10,000 credit to spend on the  site.  That was enough to sway Lohan.”

“The company rep said they chose Lohan because she’s a “huge shopper” who had  “extra time right now.””
Read more: http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b248429_lindsay_lohans_house_arrest_pays_off.html#ixzz1Q1zi2NWK

Lohan admits in an interview with Life & Style magazine that she does miss being beyond the confinement of her $2.25 million, 3,000 square-foot home in Venice Beach, California.  She also says that she is certain to keep alcohol out of the equation—not even allowing her friends to bring it in her home when they visit her.  Furthermore, she insists that she understands the past situations she has placed herself in and she does not wish to revisit them.  However, when questioned about her return to nightclubs, Lohan’s response was “I don’t think you should ever say never.”

So to all of my PR people, do you think that this interview was a good attempt of redemption on Lohan’s behalf?  Personally, I believe that the way she tried to manage her relationship with her fan-base ultimately failed.

As proof, in the previously mentioned eonline website, a few of the comments under the posting says:

  • “If no one gives her anymore attention, she would just fade away… she is not deserving of an opportunity to make so much money for 15 seconds of ‘work’.  She  is not humble or appreciative of anything in her life.  I hope 800 hours of community service gives her a good smack down.” –MHO
  • “After this mockery of house arrest I wouldn’t support Lindsay or any of the  products that endorse her if they gave me the product for free .” –Diane
  • “This proves how unfair and unjust the “justice system”  in the United States  really is. Any other country would NEVER allow this to happen. ” –Gina Fan

Basically, even though Lohan is being kept out of the negative spotlight–for the time being–she is still managing to get some sort of camera time.  She is not showing her fan-base that she is actually taking time to reflect on her actions so that she can be certain not to go back to her previous ways.  Instead, Lohan is using her resources to quickly breeze through her punishment, and using her time to focus only on returning back to her drama-filled life.

Clearly, this approach that Lohan has chosen to take has activated influence noise and barriers amongst her fans.  In other terms, Lohan’s message didn’t produce the desired response from her fans.  If Lohan had a good PR professional on her team, they could have advised her to use this time to “lay low” and later return to the public scene showing that she really and truly has learned her lesson this time around.

TMZ disagrees with Lohan’s actions so to the point that they have produced this video that is, essentially, mocking Lohan’s punishment:

Is It Just Spin?

Public Relations…What Is It???

According to Edelman on his blog (http://www.edelman.com/speak_up/blog/archives/2011/04/pr_not_communic.html), “The general public puts PR into the box of master manipulators (“spinners”) or publicists.”

In the words of Mickie Kennedy (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/public-relations-spin-zone/), people tend to associate public relations with “”spin” or “covering up a scandal.””

Similarly, Jason Falls believes it is unfortunate that “[…] the education most public relations professionals received, coupled with the company-first doctrine of the business world means most public relations, by nature, isn’t good. It’s spin” (http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/online-public-relations/spin-doctoring/).

Do you see a trend yet?

Most people view public relations as nothing more than spin.  Such predisposed, or perhaps cognitive, beliefs undoubtedly make it hard for people to accept a PR degree as one of value and substance.  In fact, many PR graduates, such as Christina Holm, have witnessed the lack of significance of holding a PR degree to be successful in the field.  Holms said that while on the job, she has heard all sorts opinions about obtaining a PR degree, such as”[…] a lot of people in PR […] don’t have degrees and they are doing fine” (http://publicsphere.typepad.com/behindthespin/2006/06/why_pr_degrees_.html) She has even heard someone undermine PR degrees so badly until they insisted that a bartender with a hint of creativity and the right attitude could carry out the tasks of a PR practitioner.

Certainly, we can see that there is a problem: The public does not value the importance and seriousness of having a PR degree.  Instead, at the mention of public relations, most people instantly think about “spin.”

So, what should be done about this issue in order to bring PR into a better light?

Perhaps PR practitioners can adhere to some of the following suggestions:

  • Change the connotation of PR:  In actuality, a functioning definition of PR is “the management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on which its success and failure depend.  Does this sound like spin to you?  Certainly not, so what does this mean?  The notion that PR is centered around spin was added to the associations of this word, perhaps because of several cases of bad public relations.
  • Change the content of PR being spin:  In order for people to recognize a change, there must actually be a change.  Therefore, it is pointless to attempt to argue that PR is more than spin if the practitioners are not working in a manner consistent with this belief.
  • Change the perception of PR being associated with spin doctrine: It wouldn’t be wise to go into an uproar about the word’s negative usage because your anger behind these accusations could strengthen the public’s view that PR is simply spin.  However, you also cannot simply ignore the fact that this is being said about your profession.  What, then, are you to do?  You should place a SPIN on this perception.  Instead of associating “spin” with negative meanings, find a way to change the meaning of this term so that it becomes neutral, or even positive.

PR practitioners cannot let people’s misconstrued views of their work discourage them from persevering.  After all, like Tim Penning said, “[…] more often than not, particularly in politics, “spin” is perpetuated by people who do not have a degree in PR, and are not members of PRSA and aware of its ethics code, and therefore should not be considered exemplary of PR as commonly practiced.”  Simply put, a lot of the people who claim PR is simply spin do not have a sufficient amount of knowledge on the topic to make such obscene statements.

Doc in a Day

How long would you say it takes to make a documentary?  Certainly longer than a day, right?  Well, if this is your way of thinking, catch up with the amateur film industry because while professional filmmakers may frown at the idea of creating such a work of art in such a short amount of time, the amateurs have proved it to be possible.

According to blogger Madlen Nicolaus (pictured below), Kodak Europe’s social media manager, in response to Kodak’s “Documentary in a Day with a Kodak PlayTouch” challenge, students have been documenting everything from London bus journeys to stereotyping and immigration, all within the course of 24 hours.

Madlen Nicolaus, Kodak Europe's Social Media Manager

 Nicolaus’ blog can be accessed at the following link: http://1000words.kodak.com/thousandwords/post/?ID=7718181094383697948.

While reviewing the contents of this blog, let’s keep a few things about successful blogs in mind:

  • Good bloggers tend to include pictures, links and other relevant information regarding their topic on their blog.  Remember, though, not only do they want to add these additional elements, but they also want to make sure that they work.  There is nothing worse than having one of your blog’s visitors click on a link that cannot be accessed.  Nicolaus, nonetheless, certainly mastered this aspect of blogging.  Each of her links allowed me to utilize it with no problems.  Even more, being that her topic was centered around one of Kodak’s products, this enabled her to showcase an abundance of great quality photos on her blog, which brings me to my next point.
  • By blogging about one of the company’s products, although Nicolaus does not, by title, work in the marketing department, she was able to place good publicity and insight in the public’s eyesight regarding the Kodak PlayTouch pocket video camera.  Furthermore, she also added an additional plug for a Kodak-sponsored event, saying, “watch [the results] on the big screen at Open City London Film Festival – June 16th till 19th. So if you are in London, we recommend you come to this lively screening with the filmmakers – students and professionals alike.”  Even if you weren’t considering being in London for this event, her description of the event’s atmosphere will make you reconsider, “One of the highlights of this year’s Open City London Film festival is definitely the unique bicycle powered outdoor cinema, where 20 cyclists will power a huge outdoor screen, accompanied by a bar, world food market and spit roast BBQ. So don’t miss this.”  Who wouldn’t want to see this, right?  Now, let’s get into a deeper area of this analysis—the content of Nicolaus’ blog.
  • In composing her blog, Nicolaus did not include TOO many whitty comments.  In a blog, a few humorous or ironic statements are fine, but once the blogger goes overboard, such puns are, ultimately, a failure.
  • Nicolaus did, however, manage to start off in a manner that interests her targeted readers: “Make a DOC in a DAY? Now that’s a big ask for even a professional filmmaker.”  This opening sentence pulls the reader into the blog because it implies that while a professional filmmaker would not rejoice at having to complete this type of demanding task, there is someone who is able to successfully do so.  As a result, the blog’s visitors are compelled to continue to read in order to get a better explanation, which is one of the goals of a blogger.
  • One possible downfall that Nicolaus had, though, was the fact that she used very little tags in an effort to make her blog more promoted or accessed.  The tags that she used can be found on the very end of the blog.  However, in all truth, Nicolaus’ blog was a fairly decent one, seeing as though it met many criteria for a successful blog, but if you notice, as of 6/16/11, there are no comments listed beneath the blog.  Perhaps, this is the case because people do not know that this blog post exists!  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that adding more tags will instantly get your blog to become more known, but it certainly will help out

To all of you bloggers out there, let this be a lesson:

If you are blogging but you have no audience, this is not a good sign.  Blogs were meant to be interactive, but if you have no one reading your posts, no matter how good the content of your blog may be, you are not achieving all of your goals as a blogger.

Kodak PlayTouch

 

WAIT…He’s Alive!!!

When a mother makes the decision to willingly abort her innocent unborn baby, can she be correctly classified as a murderer?  This has been, and will probably remain, an ongoing debate.  While many Christians aren’t hesitant in citing Bible scriptures, such as Exodus 20:13, which says, “Thou shalt not kill,” their opponents, such as Planned Parenthood, insists that having an abortion is a “legal and safe procedure” that often leaves the woman feeling “relieved.”  In any case, Texas Governor Rick Perry, by signing a new sonogram law, has added fuel to this long-lasting dispute.

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The newly signed law, mentioned in greater detail at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/health/7608581.html, goes into effect September 1 and requires a doctor to describe the fetus’ features and allow women to hear the fetal heartbeat no less than 1 hour before an abortion procedure is performed.  The following video gives even more insight to this law:

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Needless to say, many groups were against this law going into effect.  One such group, known as the Center for Reproductive Rights, went as far as to file a lawsuit in an attempt to delay implementation of the law.  Nancy Northup, the president for this organization, believes that allowing this law to be enforced is equivalent to being “held hostage and subjected to an anti-choice agenda.”  Furthermore, Northup bluntly stated that the law is “based on outdated stereotypes that women are too immature or too incompetent to make important decisions.”  More of Northup’s thoughts and opinions may be accessed at the following blog:http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/06/state-sued-to-stop-new-abortio.html.  Beware, though, while this blog is good in the sense that it pursues a newsworthy topic and uses graphic and expressive language to communicate the blogger’s ideas, there are no artistic elements included.  In other words, the blogger failed to include any relevant links, pictures or videos.  Adding such elements would have greatly enhanced the total overall perception of this blog.

Getting back to the subject at hand, deciding to have an abortion is, undoubtedly, an incredulously hard decision to make without having to deal with the additional pressure of listening to a very precise and vivid description of one’s unborn child.  However, regardless as to whether you believe the act of prematurely terminating a human life is justifiable or not, the fact of the matter is that unless this law is blocked, all women considering such a procedure will have to undergo these extra steps starting September 1.  This procedure, Governor Perry feels, will ultimately produce a decline in the number of unborn innocent lives in Texas.

Public Relations: What’s the Spin?

     When people hear the term “public relations,” they generally tend to acquaint it with a negative connotation.  “That’s nothing but spin; PR practitioners simply want to alter the public’s view about this particular situation,” many may say.  However, the truth of the matter is that the object of public relations is NOT to place a positive influence on events, people, or products.  In fact, a working definition of PR is “the management function that establishes and maintains beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.”  As you can see,contrary to popular belief, PR is actually meant to be beneficial and mutual — not simply propaganda or mere persusasion.  If you still don’t take my word for it, check out these examples below:

This video shows you that United Way has a genuine interest in helping any and everyone:

Sticking with the United Way, this comical, although informative “good donations” video shows that this organization holds the belief that even the smallest donation can help someone in need:                                                  

Moving on, besides the United Way, there are other companies who have a true interest in giving the public a helping hand, just to name a few:

     After seeing the above examples, you should no longer be a “victim” of misinformation.  The next time someone tries to persuade you that PR is little more than persuasion, you should feel confident enough to tell them that you know a spin when you see one.  Sure, as with everything in this world, there are exceptions to the rules, but for the most part, PR is highly involved with good companies communicating the importance of obtaining a well, fully-functioning society.  As the previously mentioned companies prove through these videos, sometimes, whatever you can spare is more than enough for someone in need.

Remember, when it comes to PR, be careful not to confuse promoting with spinning.  Mmemorize this slogan and you should have no problem keeping the two separate:      Spin is NOT in; after all, if companies cannot promote, they cannot succeed.