Carnival Cruises – Travel at your own risk

22 Apr

In light of the string of Carnival Cruise Line catastrophes, Carnival declared it will spend up to $700 million to prevent further blackouts and fires on its ships. Over the past couple years, Carnival has had a cumbersome time with it’s fleet, given the constant engineering casualties, and now, its failed health inspections.Image

From a public relations perspective, the first question in my mind is how to regain trust with customers. Most people take cruises because of the all-inclusive luxuries that come with sailing the open ocean and the ability to travel from port to port. When a fleet of cruise ships has a myriad of problems including breaking down in the middle of the ocean leaving its passengers without plumbing and hot water, how can the company alleviate concerns and mitigate the risk to customers?

Carnival’s response to the engineering mishaps is to order an operational enhancement of the company’s fleet of 101 ships. The company has taken to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to disseminate information on the company’s overhaul, but Carnival will need to continue its costly efforts and fix issues far beyond potential fires and blackouts.

To accompany the bad press on the ever-apparent engineering issues, the company also received a failing score on their health inspection on the cruise liner Fascination, citing that “flies and roach nymphs were found in a drain below a juice dispenser, in a pantry, in a room service area, and in an under-counter compartment in a kitchen,” amongst other problems involving no paper towels in a bathroom and not enough chlorine in the swimming areas.

In response to the failing score of the Fascination, Carnival’s spokesperson, Vance Gulliksen, was commented saying they have taken corrective actions and all issues will be resolved within 24 hours. They’ve also requested a re-inspection as soon as possible.

There’s no question that Carnival has had many PR crises recently and needs to ensure that their brand doesn’t continue to deteriorate in public opinion. One effort the company has made to combat it’s tarnished reputation is the video series on the company’s website depicting the beautifully overhauled Destiny to be renamed Sunshine. After reading the dirty details of the cruise line sanitation debacle, I couldn’t help being enticed by the new restaurants and lido deck this redone ship will offer. Perhaps I’m just asking for food-borne illnesses, or maybe the PR efforts are indeed bringing a hint of trust back into potential passengers. From the posts on Carnival’s Facebook page, not everyone is deterred from taking a Carnival vacation.

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Handling the Social Media Burnout

27 Jul

I just came across an e-release with 7 Tips for Avoiding the Social Media Burnout. I was able to relate to this article because finding time to maintain my social media sites is sometimes difficult. The world of social media is fast-paced and it’s important to stay focused so that “burnouts” don’t happen. The article lists seven steps to take in order to avoid turning off the social media light all together. Here are a few of the steps that I find most important.

(Image from German-Jordanian University)

The first good tip is essentially making sure your social media usage is goal-oriented. It’s easy to distracted with social media because there is a spectrum of diversions eagerly awaiting your time and attention. Remembering to stay focused on your goal can help save time and energy.

A second good tip is scheduling time for social media usage. It is extremely easy to unknowingly kill several hours while browsing social media sites. It’s a good idea to allot a certain time each day for social media so that time is not wasted and is used most effectively.

The last good tip is “handling criticism with class.” Remember that social media sites are seen by all and sometimes people just don’t share the same opinions as you. Your reaction to negativity can detour your audience from continuing to contribute to your conversation. One thing to add to this is don’t let negativity detour you from contributing to the conversation. There can be lessons learned from negative feedback, and in my opinion, any feedback is good feedback.

Back off, bully!

1 Jun

After the six-month hiatus I took from updating my PR blog, I can’t help but comment on the “That’s Not Cool” campaign that has blasted itself into my periphery.

Callout Card from That's Not Cool

Callout Card from That's Not Cool

I check Google news multiple times per day, just to keep updated on certain stories, worldly news… whatnot. I’ve noticed an increase in stories covering teen bullying, harassment and other punishable offences which, sadly enough, are caused by American adolescents. With the rise in what we could collectively title “bullying,” I have also noticed a campaign to combat these instances, and most importantly to educate America’s youth on boundaries.

The “That’s Not Cool” campaign educates on topics such as “textual harassment, ” “privacy problems,” “rumors,” and other similar problems plaguing high schools. The capabilities of cell phone technology and the increasing use of social media have created a whole new array of problems for teenagers today. Instead of being shoved into lockers, some teens are having nude pictures of themselves texted throughout entire high school populations, a new phenomena also known as “sexting.” This kind of humiliation is causing irreversible damage to the esteem of some teens, and in some cases, even suicide.

The Web site for this campaign also has many other callout cards with hopefully “sticky” lessons to be learned by teens today.

Campaigning for better credit

24 Nov

In Athens, Ga., a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a television commercial by the Advertising Council and the U.S. Treasury. The advertisement’s purpose was to encourage better credit practices for young Americans. This campaign is a beneficial way to make the public more knowledgeable of better spending habits, especially in a time serious national financial strain.

The national campaign is targeted towards Americans between the ages of 18-24 years old. This age group is targeted because a study by Sallie Mae showed that 50 percent of college students accumulate around $5,000 dollars in debt while they are in school. One out of 10 U.S high schools teach financial management, according to studies done by Capital One; therefore, education on the subject of credit may be quite beneficial.

The campaign’s Website uses an online game to teach young adults about how to make good credit choices to ultimately gain a credit score of 850. The campaign also has radio and television public service announcements that all ultimately say, “Don’t let your credit put you in a bad place.”

Credit card debt can create many financial problems for Americans. It is important that young adults practice appropriate spending habits so they don’t find themselves with serious long-term problems such as bankruptcy. Many Americans find themselves in atrocious credit card debt, so it is important to teach the future generation of adults the power of good credit. This campaign is a step in the right direction toward helping Americans budget their money better, especially with the U.S. personal savings rate at 3.3 percent.

It would be great if this campaign prevented future Americans from finding themselves in the financial bind that many Americans are in today. Hopefully, the efforts of the Ad Council and the U.S. Treasury will be successful.

Celebrity PR: How much is too much information?

1 Nov

Have you ever felt as if some celebrity gossip was just too much information? For individuals under constant public scrutiny, it is important that simple interviews and public statements do not include information that can damage their reputation.

As a avid scourer of the daily headlines, I am curious as to why some celebrities feel the need to jon-kate-gosselin-divorcemake so many aspects of their private lives public. Although I realize that any press is good press, I am confused as to why celebrities want to jeopardize their reputations by making public statements about their divorces and intimate relationships. One couple really comes to mind with this subject. We’ve all seen Jon and Kate Gosselin plastered on headlines and magazine covers. Both Jon and Kate have done countless interviews for tabloids commenting on their marriage, alleged affairs and family. With all of the new publicity, the couple went from America’s favorite family to D-list pariahs within months. Seeing them appear daily headlines only makes me wonder if the content of their continuous interviews is what turned their reputation sour.

Making too many public appearances on a particular story can also damage reputations. The story of Mackenzie Phillips’ incestual relationship with her father came as a shock to the public. People felt intrigue in her story, but when she appeared in several high profile interviews, some felt as if her “brave confession” was only a publicity stunt to sell books.

If celebrities want to continue to be respected in the public eye, they should be very careful with the nature of the information they share about their personal lives.

“Friend of the family” with malicious intent

28 Oct

Over the weekend, the remnants of what was Washington Mutual officially switched over to a new title. Last year, WaMu went bankrupt and was sold the monstrosity that is JPMorgan Chase. Before Washington Mutual’s eventual buyout by Chase, their motto was “friWashington Mutualend of the family,” and in my experiences, they lived up to it. Apparently, there was a different side to the bank…

In researching the final days of the bank I’ve utilized since I was 15, I found that their downfall might have resulted from poor public relations. In the wake of the housing market crash, WaMu took on predator-like tendencies, targeting home buyers to borrow with an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). Their justification for this was, “Pay less on your mortgage and take that vacation you’ve always dreamed of.” With the eventual housing market crash and the thousands of home foreclosures every day, I’m pretty sure that putting mortgages aside to pursue vacations is only a pipe dream. Essentially, the nontraditional ARM  tricked customers into borrowing with extremely low rates.  Then after a month, the payments soared to double or triple the amount.

Following a less-deceitful and more transparent plan might have benefited WaMu and their borrowers. Now, thanks to the ARM, WaMu and thousands of borrowers are out of business. It seems as if WaMu forgot that cheating their stakeholders would eventually come back and haunt them. This rule does not apply exclusively to banks; deceiving stakeholders is bad business anywhere. According to an article by the Seattle Times, many borrowers of WaMu felt taken advantage of because of tricky tactics and incomprehensible loan terms. This goes to show that WaMu wasn’t effectively communicating with its customers.

Better late than never

19 Oct

Since the start of my fifth fall term at the University of Oregon, I’ve been contemplating my inevitable plunge into the social media spectrum. Now, three weeks into it, I’ve decided to take a dive into my first unnerving task: the blog.

The public relations scene has developed into an online frenzy of activity with building connections, posting opinions and keeping in contact. This is something completelIMG_3257y new to me, and I’ve decided to embrace it. Although I am new to social media, I’m becoming more and more intrigued with what it offers to public relations and to the practitioner.

I’ve had experience doing public relations for the campus magazine, Ethos, helping with events and fundraisers to support the non-profit magazine. My spare time activities include seeing the world and broadening my perspective.

This blog is geared towards anyone and everyone interested in public relations. My future posts will contain thoughts about current public relations events and topics discussed in my public relations classes. This is the start of my entrance into the blogosphere, and I am excited to see what it has to offer.