Friday, December 11, 2009

One, One Dollar, One Dollar Value Menu

McDonald's is slated to release it's new value menu in January. This value menu consist of breakfast items for only $1 each. Just when we thought McDonald's couldn't get any cheaper! Well, now we can eat breakfast for cheap too. The underlying reasoning behind this new, ultra-inexpensive breakfast menu is due to the ever-declining economy. McDonald's sales, overall, are dropping--not because of a lack of satisfaction with the food, but rather, because of the lack of money in the consumer's wallet.

The corporate executives at McDonald's took a small step for man, and a giant step for PR when they decided that it was time to implement a $1 breakfast menu. Instead of charging more for their meals in hopes that McDonald's enthusiasts will stay loyal and pay for an over-priced meal in hopes of rescuing from them from their current economic downward-slump, they significantly reduce their prices as a means of empathizing with the struggling American. Way to kill two birds with one stone, McDonalds. They are pulling themselves out of economic disparity while simultaneously doing the same for consumers. PR at its best, in my opinion. By implementing this new value menu, they are making themselves look great and still worth visiting to the consumers, while attaining even more consumer loyalty because the enhanced convenience. Why can't everything be a dollar these days?

Seeing Double

Men's Health magazine's December cover features Twilight star Taylor Lautner. Most people have seen several pictures of Taylor Lautner and would probably agree that he has a very fit, healthy, and admired frame. It's because of his much-appreciated body that the fact that he's on the cover of Men's Health should come as no surprise. However, the surprise is that Lautner's cover is almost identical to the cover that Jason Statham shot back in October 2007. The cover pages are eerily similar as almost all of the text on the left-hand side of the most recent cover matches the text from the left-hand side of the October 2007 cover as if it were a carbon copy. This seemingly ridiculous repeat of information poses this question: are Men's Health readers being gipped? Relieving words from the magazine's editor tell us no. David Zinczenko enlightens us by saying that the apparent re-use of material was entirely intentional, an an alternate cover was sent to subscribers. "Rest assured-it's this originality and reporting rigor that's made us the biggest men's magazine brand in the world," Zinczenko said.

From a PR perspective, Zinczenko trusts the readers of Men's Health enough to appreciate the creativity behind such a stunt. It takes a committed magazine-to-reader relationship to be confident doing something so dangerous as to making it seem like the information in an issue will be repeated. If anything, a loyal reader will pick up the issue anyway regardless of the misleading cover, and subscribers will be reinforced of the benefits of subscribing: no misleading covers.

A Riled Up O'Reilly

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly is not a happy camper, and Law & Order is to blame. The hit NBC show ran episode this week depicting an anti-immigrant activist who set out on a mission to kill the children of immigrants. During a scene of this episode, one of the main character's states, "Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, all of 'em, they are like a cancer spreading ignorance and hate...They've convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system..." Offensive? Yes. True? Well, definitely not in O'Reilly's eyes.

O'Reilly directs his outrage at creator and executive producer of Law & Order Dick Wolf. The upset host referred to Wolf as a "far left, despicable human-being." While Wolf has the right to express his opinion through a show over which he has total creative control, this may have crossed the line. He characterized O'Reilly and other conservative news show hosts as being to blame for anti-immigrant violence. An opinion it may be, but does Wolf have the right to potentially shape the political views of Law & Order viewers nationwide? I'm not sure he does. And as far as the implementation of PR tactics on Wolf's side, he declined to comment on the matter.

Boo York Times

New York Times really did themselves in with a racially slurred article published in yesterday's issue. A new addition to Times' annual Holiday Gift Guide is what sparked this subtle uproar. Now a part of the article is an "Of Color/Stylish Gifts" section. Yes, this is in fact a list of gifts compiled specifically for ethnic people. The mere fact that an article so degrading as to actually designate certain gifts as being proper for ethnic people would even pass through the editing process is what baffles me. Are they implying that other gifts like clothing, tools, or electronics are things that only White people would appreciate? Absurd. This article may just be controversial enough to make the "PR Blunders of 2009" list. Some New York Times reporters defended the article because of the fact that it was written by an African American. Regardless of this truly-insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things fact, the article purely by its content serves as a vehicle for segregation--even in the most innocent sense.

Diane McNulty, spokeswoman of the New York Times says, "Our online gift guides are intended to offer holiday gift ideas for a wide variety of audiences and interests..." Their motives are respected, however, the execution was entirely improper. My advice to the New York Times editors/reporters: use tact and respect when attempting to appeal to a diverse audience, and imagine what their response would and could be if you were them.

Facebook Privacy: Things Are Changing

Facebook users are experiencing a new kind of privacy with their profiles--one with less privacy. Users were recently given the option to more narrowly specify what they want to allow certain other users to see. However, before this privacy modification users had the ability to keep everything private to non-friends with the exception of their name and network. This is no longer the case. Now aspects of your profile that are in the public category include profile pictures, pages of which you are a fan of, home cities, and friend lists. Critics from the online rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation are disappointed, and even disgusted at the weak attempt to enhance privacy. Facebook's attempt to give user more control over who views their information did not effectively translate to the EFF.

In response to the harsh opposition from EFF, Facebook's director of global communications Barry Schnitt says, "It's not that big of a change. The vast majority of users have already made this information available to everyone." Now this is an interesting approach in the PR sense. Instead of admitting any fault the public, Schnitt is supporting the actions of Facebook by exposing the fact that most users were already comfortable with making certain information public, so if anything, they're making Facebook easier for people. According to Schnitt, over 10 million users took advantage of the opportunity to implement their own privacy settings. Schnitt claims that they're are giving users credit in terms of their ability to decide their privacy for themselves, and feels that this is a step in the right direction. He's implementing some important rules of effective PR: Support your company. Defend your company. And believe in your company. Two thumbs up, Schnitt.

Snaps for Jenny Sanford

Finally, a first lady who does it right. Jenny Sanford is the wife of South Carolina republican governor Mark Sanford, soon-to-be ex-wife of an adulterer. That's right, we've got another public official cheating on his wife behind closed doors (is it just me or has this become a sick trend?). In any case, that's not the shocker in this story. The shocker is that she's divorcing him. This is a big deal because of the sad fact that it's typical of most wives of public figures to "stand by their husband in such a difficult time." Well, not for Jenny Sanford. During an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Sanford said, "It's one thing to forgive adultery; it's another thing to condone it." Spoken like a true strong, independent woman, Sanford.

Taking it to a PR perspective, Sanford isn't concerned with painting the "nothing can shake our marriage" image to the public. She cares about showing the people that it's okay to show that you're hurt, and that your husband who's in a respected position of authority has made a serious mistake. Perception is reality in world of public relations, and in this case, what I'm perceiving is a woman married to a man in the public eye is finally not afraid to expose his faults by taking control and getting the divorce she deserves. Now that's relationship management if I've ever seen it.

Tiger Talk

Tiger Woods is in need of some serious image management at the moment. He's been in the most ridiculous of car crashes with no excuse, he's having affairs with multiple women, and now word just got out that some of those women were actually prostitutes. Tiger, could you make things any worse for your PR people? Now here's the question, is there anything that this guy can do to make himself look better to the public? To his fans? He's got domestic violence, mistresses, and mysterious car crashes under his belt--it's going to take a long time to climb back up to the squeaky clean respected image the golf star once had.

It's doubtful that the "heartfelt apology" Woods issued will be enough to erase what's already been done. Apologies aren't always enough in the world of PR. It takes genuine reformative action behind the words to pick up the pieces. Once we see that from Tiger, we'll see progress.