Apple CEO to Give Away Hundreds of Millions of Dollars (JOUR 4460)

Tim Cook has the right idea.

Before he dies, Cook will donate almost all of the estimated $700 million fortune (Apple stock and net worth combined) that he has amassed since taking over for Steve Jobs in 2011 to philanthropic projects and charities. His only other wish with his money is to put his 10-year-old nephew through college.

I just want to say thank you, Tim Cook, for being an positive example in a time when greed and selfish tendencies abound. Thank you, Tim Cook, for showing the world that no one needs $700 million dollars to live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. I wish more of the wealthy would realize that truth.

Let’s take clean water for an example. There are people in this world that can’t even afford clean water (something required for basic human survival). According to The Water Project, building a well that will provide clean water for a few hundred people in Africa costs around $13,000. Now imagine how many clean water wells could be built with $700 million!

It is so sad to hear facts like those in the infographic above. But Cook is taking that fact (more people have a mobile phone than a toilet) and turning it on its head. He’s taking the money he has personally amassed through Apple (which sells millions of iPhones a year) and using it to better the lives of others.

Tim Cook has a serious interest in supporting the future of the human race. He takes a stance when it comes to social issues like human rights, immigration reforms and stopping the spread of AIDS. In October 2014, Cook announced he was gay in an essay published in Bloomberg Businessweek. He even said that his sexual orientation was a “yawner” and I agree. There are more important issues and endeavors for he and the media to focus on. No matter what your opinions are on a gay man as CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you can not deny that he is doing a great things:

  • He is being honest and being himself (only publicly gay CEO in largest 700 corporations)
  • He is giving selflessly to improve the lives of others
  • He is looking at the bigger picture (the future)
  • He is fighting for equality
  • He is using his position of power to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice
  • He is getting consumers’ attention for Apple in the best way possible (Even if his views and sexual orientation are controversial, he stands for all the right things. This is philanthropic public relations/cause marketing done right.)

Cook is following in the footsteps of other powerful men and women like Bill and Malinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Jack Ma and even Steve Jobs with his Product (RED) endeavor.

More millionaires and billionaires need to take a hint. The one percent can do a lot of good even with a small portion of their money. I can only hope that one day I will be as lucky as Tim Cook and be in a position to make a huge positive impact on the larger population.

Read Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky’s comprehensive article to learn more about Tim Cook.


Crisis Communications: March 2015 (JOUR 4460)

This month, two major news stories have required the use of crisis communications. The first was about Levi Pettit’s and Parker Rice’s (Oklahoma State Sigma Alpha Epsilon members) racist chant that was caught on camera and spread rampantly on social media. The second and more recent story was about the Germanwings aircraft that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 passengers.

Pettit’s and Rice’s need for crisis communications was obvious from the moment the video was posted. But the extent of Germanwings airline’s need for crisis communications was not as immediately obvious. Of course the airline had a problem on its hands because the plane crashed and killed all of the passengers, but two days later the story got worse. Authorities are now saying the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, intentionally flew the passengers to their horrible deaths. Both of these incidents required immediate response from the responsible parties.

Pettit & Rice

When the video of the racist chant began to spread, the President of OU, David Boren, quickly suspended the entire fraternity and then kicked it completely off campus. Pettit and Rice did nothing, which made things worse.

A few days later, Pettit’s parents issued an apology. Unfortunately, the Pettit family implemented the crisis communications plan all wrong. Everyone wanted a sincere apology and explanation from Pettit, not mommy and daddy. A couple of hours later, Rice released a written apology through his father. But there was no face behind the apology, no voice with real sincerity. The apology was almost too eloquent to be written by Rice. Like University of North Texas professor Samra Buskins said in an interview with the Dallas Observer, “It would come across as a lot more sincere and believable if they went on camera, even if they did a YouTube video, and did it themselves.” The fraternity’s executive director announced the implementation of a diversity training program and diversity committee and also publicly apologized.

On March 25, more than two weeks after the release of the video, Pettit publicly apologized in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma:

I pray that Pettit has learned some valuable lessons. Mainly that racism has absolutely no place in our world.

All parties involved in this situation (the OU president, the fraternity executive director and the students) implemented crisis communications. The president and executive director may have been somewhat successful, but the students are still in the hole they dug themselves into. Only actions, not words, will improve their situations and chances of ever getting jobs in the professional world.


Although the story is still unfolding, one thing is for sure: the plane crash was not an accident. The airline’s parent company, Lufthansa, began its crisis communications right after the crash on March 24. The “black box” or voice recorder in the plane was recovered and investigators found that there was nothing but steady breathing from the co-pilot in the cockpit and later screaming in the background from the passengers, pilot and flight attendants. The investigators made the announcement early on that the crash was intentional, most likely before the company was ready to speak publicly. But how could a company really prepare for something so horrible?

Andreas Lubitz Credit

Those who knew Lubitz never thought he was suicidal or never had any obvious problems, physically or psychologically. Lubitz does have an unexplained gap in his flight training though. Today, more evidence of a mental illness came to light. Investigators found torn-up doctors notes stating Lubitz was too ill to work, including one dated the day of the crash, at his home. Apparently he had been evaluated by doctors twice in the months before the crash, but not treated for anything.

The company is probably going to see a drop in sales and a huge hit to its reputation. Germanwings must effectively communicate all new information about the crash and the co-pilot to its publics and families of victims, as well as implement programs that will make passengers feel safer, like tougher guidelines and psychological tests for pilots and co-pilots. The airline will not bounce back over night, but may not be completely doomed if its PR professionals handle the situation correctly.


Sexualized Violence in the Media (JOUR 4250)

Is it ever OK to hit a woman? No. Is it ever OK to hit a man? No. The use of self-defense is really the only time that violence can be justified legally, morally and ethically.

Unfortunately, entertainment teaches us something different. Violence in the media is sexualized and made to be perceived as acceptable and sexy. One of the most recent examples of this is in Fifty Shades of Grey. I would think that the majority of people don’t want to be whipped or flogged by their lover. It’s not sexy—it’s violence (even if it is consensual).

A great example of sexualized violence in the media is Eminem and Rihanna’s music video for their song “Love the Way You Lie.”

The couple in the video beat each other brutally and then almost immediately make out. It’s definitely not normal to want to kiss and make love after your partner punches you and makes you bleed (man or woman)! The music video presents a false reality and the perception that violence can be tolerated and forgiven easily. I understand that Rihanna was in an abusive relationship (at least at some point) with Chris Brown and perhaps she was trying to tell her story. But healthy relationships do not involve violence in any way. Media like this music video convey another message though (that violence is acceptable and sexy).

The “slap-slap-kiss” concept is another unfortunate concept that appears in all types of media that conveys the negative message that violence is acceptable and leads to sexual activity.

There is no denying that men can be victims of domestic violence, but the majority (85 percent) of victims are women. One in four women will be victims of severe violence in an intimate relationship in their lifetimes. These statistics are so sad. What’s even worse is that many people say that men and women are equally responsible for violence against women or that women ask to be abused. If a woman asks for a man to abuse her, there are deeper issues in her life and the man should say no. That is only some kind of call for help. And the fault in domestic violence situations falls on the abuser. If a man abuses a woman, it’s the man’s fault. If a woman abuses a man, it’s the woman’s fault. If a woman abuses a woman, then it’s the abusive woman’s fault. There are no grey areas in these situations!


All We See is Processed Food: No Wonder America is Fat (JOUR 4470)

There is no question that America is dealing with a widespread obesity problem. Who is to blame? Americans of course. Consumers choose what food to put into their body and choose whether or not to exercise.

But how are American consumers really supposed to know what is good for them and what is bad for them? The average American has no training in nutrition and are exposed to thousands of food advertisements everyday. I believe advertisers are being unethical by creating the perception that consumers do not need to eat food other than what’s advertised. The number of households that cook has decreased by about 15% in the last 30 years and more consumers eat out for most or all of their meals. And I bet even households that do cook eat packaged, prepared and frozen meals. That food is killing consumers. What ever happened to fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade bread, beef that’s not dripping in vegetable grease and sautéing fresh seafood?

Do a Google image search for “food advertisement” and most of the results are photos of pizza, greasy tacos, hamburgers, breadsticks, cereal, soft drinks, juice, candy, Twinkies and cheese. The occasional piece of fruit, glass of milk or chicken sandwich appears, but not nearly as often as junk food ads. Watch TV for an hour and count the number of fast food commercials. American consumers can’t escape these ads because they’re everywhere! Do advertisers not care about the health of their audiences?

Take a second look at that last ad. Do you really think Heidi Klum is thin and beautiful because she eats huge, juicy burgers all the time? Of course not. But by using celebrity endorsements, advertisers put the idea in consumers’ heads that they too can look like her if they buy and eat that food. When society is constantly throwing ideals at its consumers, they’re eventually going to adopt and follow those ideals.

What’s worse is a large part of the target audience is children. American childhood obesity has tripled in the last 25 years. Childhood obesity can lead to obesity in adulthood, which increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. These statistics are directly related to the time that children spend consuming media! This exert from the American Psychological Association describes exactly why the exposure to hundreds of food advertisements a day is so detrimental to the health of children:

“Most children under age 6 cannot distinguish between programming and advertising and children under age 8 do not understand the persuasive intent of advertising. Advertising directed at children this young is by its very nature exploitative. Children have a remarkable ability to recall content from the ads to which they have been exposed. Product preference has been shown to occur with as little as a single commercial exposure and to strengthen with repeated exposures. Product preferences affect children’s product purchase requests and these requests influence parents’ purchasing decisions” (American Psychological Association).

So how do we fix this ethical problem? Without encroaching on the first amendment, I believe the government should regulate junk and fast food advertising. To solve such a widespread health problem like obesity, the federal government needs to take action. Believe or not, advertisements have a huge impact on consumers’ perception! Before something even more detrimental than obesity happens to our society, fast food advertisers need to re-think the importance of ethics and the effect advertisements have on consumers.


Ferdman, Roberto A. (March 5, 2014). The Slow Death of the home-cooked meal. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from

Newman, Cathy. (2015). Why Are We So Fat? National Geographic. Retrieved from

Google. (2015). Home page. Retrieved from

Clarke, Suzan. (March 21, 2013). Heidi Klum Sizzles in New Burger Ad for Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr. ABC News. Retrieved from

American Psychology Association. (2015). The Impact of Food Advertising on Childhood Obesity. Retrieved from

Harris, Jennifer L. & Graff, Samantha K. (February 2012). Protecting Young People From Junk Food Advertising: Implications of Psychological Research for First Amendment Law. Retrieved from

Cueva, Maya. (June 14, 2011). This Is Your Brain on Ads: An Internal ‘Battle’. NPR: Youth Radio. Retrieved from

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The West Virginia Surf Report. Retrieved from

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New York Daily News. Retrieved from!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/gallery_1200/heidi-klum-carl-jr.jpg

Public Relations Versus Promotion (JOUR 4460)

In my personal experience, I’ve found that most people don’t know the real difference between public relations and promotion. I have a palm-to-forehead reaction when I tell someone I am studying public relations and they say, “Oh, like advertising?”

Public Relations is “the value-driven management function that helps establish and maintain mutually beneficial, long-term relationships between an organization and its external as well as internal publics through continuous two-way communication to serve both the organization’s and the publics interest in the democracy toward this goal” (Fuse). In simple terms, public relations is the management of the relationships an organization has with its internal publics (like employees) and its external publics (like donors). Public relations is all about earned media, while advertising is paid media. Earned media is free, but is more difficult to achieve than paid media. Networking is also an indispensable part of the public relations industry.

Promotion on the other hand is an attempt to increase awareness and traffic for an organization, a blog or an event through a variety of traditional and non-traditional media channels. Promotion focuses on short-term goals, while public relations focuses on long-term goals.

Although public relations agencies and professionals may use promotional tactics while executing communications plans, that is not their main purpose.

This infographic is a great illustration of what promotion can involve:

In today’s world, public relations is a necessary management function in any business or organization. Public relations is most effective when it works hand-in-hand with company leadership. And it is usually best if the CEO is the company’s spokesperson, not a PR professional. Its publics want to hear from the men and women who have the power and are making decisions.

Although promotion, advertising and marketing are also important functions, public relations is absolutely necessary and invaluable.



Fuse, Koji. (2014). University of North Texas.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Speaks at UNT (JOUR 4250)

Ta-Nehisis Coates, a correspondent for The Atlantic, had some amazing thoughts when he came to speak at the University of North Texas on March 12, 2015. His focus was on millennials and race.

One of his best points was that race does not exist. Race is man-made. We simply made decisions about what to call people, put those names on censuses and have left them to manifest. Coats could not be more correct.


White men in power created the division between blacks and whites when the enslavement of Africans began. That enslavement stemmed from indentured servitude when the colonies were created. What does this show us? Division is all about having power and race is just a dividing line that people have created to gain power. Because the majority of exports were cotton in the 1800s, slavery was all about getting rich (and therefore gaining power) through the bodies of black people, Coates said. “Slavery is all about the right to plunder someone else’s body and steal the fruits of their work,” Coats said. That reality is so incredibly sad. Another horrible reality is that black people were stripped of their right to vote up until the mid-1900s, even though they paid tax dollars, in order to strip them of their power.


Coates repeated multiple times that race is not real. Different skin colors doesn’t make people different from each other. What makes individuals different is personalities, culture, religion, values and beliefs. In America, “black” usually means African-American. But some “black” people are Haitian, Caribbean, etc. Why is every person with light skin that is not Latino or African-American called white? Italians are different than Canadians. Poles are different than Australians.

An extremely important question arises when talking about race. What race are biracial people? Why is a half black, half white person called black? Why are they not called white? They are just as much white as they are black. Why is a half black, half Latino person called black? Why are they not called “Latino? With the increasing amount of biracial couples and children, why can’t we come to a conclusion? Although it may not be referred to the “one drop” rule anymore, why does it still have power in our society? I believe that one day, everyone will be of two or more races. This is only more proof that race is not real!


Race may not exist, but racism does. Although many believe it is the right thing to do, adding more races on ballots, survey or censuses doesn’t fix the problem, Coates said. Racism comes naturally to so many people because it has been practiced for so long and passed down through generations. It has only been publicly shunned for less than a century. Children learn racism from family members, society and entertainment. But we need to eliminate it! It is the Millennials’ responsibility to do so. If we can eliminate racism, we can eliminate race and finally see each other clearly without the man-made boundary called race.

What do we do?

1. Educate ourselves: What really makes people diverse? Why do we call people certain things?

2. Reflect: Do you say or do anything that is racist or enforces the division of different races?

3. Take action: Inform your peers, family and friends. Teach your own children (now or someday) to view other people’s differences as a positive thing and not to divide people by physical characteristics.

Come on people! Just like Coates said, some of the world’s biggest problems are being ignored because we can’t get past issues like racism. No one will care about race when we no longer have an ozone layer. No one will care about race if we no longer have water to drink or food to eat.

Coates left UNT with some words of wisdom: To move forward and solve our problems, as a species and intelligent beings, “We must be honest with ourselves about all things,” no matter how ugly or difficult the problem is.

Coca-Cola Introduces Its New Drink: Milk (Yes, You Heard Me Right) (4460)

The Coca-Cola Company is taking yet another step to promote its “healthier” image. In 2013, Coca-Cola joined the anti-obesity fight and tried to convince the public of its social responsibility through its “Coming Together” campaign. Many blame sodas and the companies that produce them for obesity in children and Americans in general.

Trying to promote healthy lifestyles again, the company has announced its new drink: milk. The milk brand, called Fairlife, claims the milk has “superior nutrition” and is “ultra-filtered” because there is “less sugar, more protein and calcium, and no lactose” (Fairlife). Colbert had something to say about that. The brand offers reduced fat (2%), chocolate, fat-free and whole milk. It should be available sometime in April of this year and will cost around $4 for a half gallon, if not more.

The campaign ads are quite interesting, featuring pin-up girls wearing dresses made of milk. The ads have already been criticized for being sexist and too racy. While the photos are quite revealing and sexy when you see them close-up, they do what any ad campaign is supposed to do: get attention. The campaign appeals to adults, teens and children in its (much less racy) animated video below, but like many of the “Got Milk?” campaign ads, the milk promotion is aimed at adults.

Coca-Cola goes even farther and is promoting sustainable farming and humane treatment of animals.

Because milk is such a shocking off-shoot from soft drinks, I think Coca-Cola may have some difficulty selling the product to the health-conscious. The parent company name combined with the high price is going to narrow Fairlife’s target public significantly. But fortunately, launching a drink perceived as health-concious and promoting responsible farming will aid in Coca Cola’s efforts to show its publics (including every American consumer) that the company is in fact socially responsible.

And with American’s drinking less soda, including less Coke and other Coca-Cola products, the company needs to find a way to boost sales and profits. Americans drink about 450 cans a year now compared to 56 gallons a year in 1998.

Will the famous soda producer succeed in the Milk market?



Salvation Army Uses “The Dress” in Anti-Abuse Campaign (JOUR 4460)

Initially I thought “the dress” was black and blue. In certain lighting, the dress is white and gold while in others it is black and blue. But appearances can be deceptive. Salvation Army South America is using the same concept in its new campaign against domestic violence:

The first ad, which appeared on Twitter on Thursday, states, “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in 6 women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.” The second ad appeared on Twitter today. The campaign is using #stopabuseagainstwomen as its hashtag.

The Ireland Davenport advertising agency brought the campaign idea to the Salvation Army, arguing that “the dress” controversy actually meant nothing. They wanted to use its popularity for good. Carin A. Holmes, Salvation Army Spokesperson, told NBC news that they hope the campaign brings attention to violence against women and the organization’s work with CareHaven, shelter and psychiatric care center for abused women and children in South Africa.

This Salvation Army public service announcement/ad campaign is an amazing public relations play on an Internet sensation like “the dress.” With the controversy having gained so much attention and creating millions of interactions, the ad agency was right to jump on the opportunity to use it to promote anti-violence. The ads have resonated with and received support from many on Twitter:

There is no doubt in my mind that social media skills are a requirement for today’s PR and communications professionals. I think knowing how to use the trending topics on Twitter, Instagram and other sites to your advantage is necessary to achieve success in online campaigns. This could also be called content strategy. Advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations can especially benefit from these skills because, for most, using PR is more realistic than using advertising (advertising is expensive).

If domestic abuse was talked about as widely and openly as the white and gold dress controversy, I think more victims of abuse would report it, find safety and live lives free of fear. It is almost impossible to be unaware of or ignore trending topics today because of social media. Therefore, I hope more organizations take the cue from the Salvation Army and use these opportunities to create awareness of real issues in our world.

Make or Break: Social Media (JOUR 4460)

For public relations and communications professionals, social media can make or break them. This also goes for students looking for a career in the PR field. Social media is now such an integral part of 21st century communication. But it must be used ethically because posted content is so public (meaning everyone can see mistakes) and can never really be deleted. There are many professionals who have ruined their own reputation or the reputation of their organization by misusing social media.

One of the absolute worst, disrespectful social media blunders was made by PR executive Justine Sacco in 2013. I’ll just leave her tweet here for you to decipher:

According to Forbes, this could be filed under “lacking sensitivity.” But it goes even further than that. Sacco is blatantly racist, completely insensitive to those who actually have AIDS and embarrassingly sarcastic. This ended very badly for Sacco: she lost her job and ruined her reputation.

Although she tweeted on her personal account, she was still representing the organization she worked for. That’s something that I think a lot of young professionals and PR students do not understand. No matter what you do, as a public relations specialist or any other position, you are always representing your employer. In any public setting, physically or online, you must uphold your reputation, credibility and moral character.

Social media mistakes will not always be as obvious as Sacco’s. Failing to engage or respond to customers, focusing too much on yourself or your business’s goals and misusing hashtags are all ways to earn a spot on lists like this. (Note: You do not want to end up on a list like that).

Students looking for work need to be aware that their potential employers will check out their social media pages. Therefore, students should not post anything offensive (e.g. foul language, pictures at parties with drinks).

But social media is also an awesome way to network, make new connections, find a job and learn. The best ways to avoid making any type of detrimental social media mistake is to be aware of current trends, news and social norms, think twice before you post, proofread multiple times and use common sense. And always follow the golden rule: if you wouldn’t say it in public, don’t say it online.

The 2015 Oscars: Patricia Arquette’s Call for Equal Pay (JOUR 4250)

Patricia Arquette won the award for best actress in a supporting role for Boyhood at this year’s Oscars. But her acceptance speech was far from typical. She used the air time to call for equal pay for women in America. “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” said Arquette. The speech sparked a fire in audience members like Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez:

Backstage she continued with her speech saying, “The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make,” she said. “It is time for us. Equal means equal. Wage equality will help ALL women of all races in America. It will also help their children and society.”

Although many supported her call to action, she also gained more than a few critics. Much of the criticism stemmed from some of her remarks backstage. Especially after she said, “The truth is, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are at play that do affect women, and it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we all fought for to fight for us now.” Critics said Arquette was implying that all issues revolving around gays and minorities in America had already been solved, and wage equality for women was the last issue. Obviously there are still many barriers of inequality for the LGBT community and minorities that have yet to be resolved.

Another criticism of her speech is that she is a well-paid actress and provides a comfortable life for her children. Firing back, Arquette brought to light that she once lived below the poverty line and just because her kids do not live in poverty doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about the kids who do.

Other criticisms included the fact that she did this at a nationally-televised, Hollywood event. It is very easy for someone to say something powerful, but taking action and creating change is difficult. Some said that as a white woman, she didn’t understand the even deeper struggle of that black and minority women for wage equality.

Clueless and Mean Girls star, Stacey Dash, contributed to the criticism on Fox News. “I mean, first of all, Patricia Arquette needs to do her history. In 1963, Kennedy passed an equal pay law. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights,” Dash said. But just because a law is passed doesn’t mean that it will be enforced. History proves this to be true. For example, for slavery was abolished (by law), it wasn’t eradicated for years. Dash should also try to use verbs correctly. I didn’t know you could “do” history. Did you?

Unfortunately no matter how Arquette would have worded her call for equal wages, someone, somewhere would have criticized her or try to imply that she is sexist or racist. And if she’s that passionate about women’s rights, I highly doubt that she doesn’t know that the LGBT community doesn’t have equal rights all around or that minorities aren’t discriminated against.

Arquette did have many supporters though, including Hillary Clinton. Clinton thinks that Arquette is right and I agree. Women should receive equal pay. She also has some facts supporting her stance. Forbes magazine’s top 10 paid actors and actresses only list two women, compared with eight men. According to research from Wells Fargo, even in the millennial generation, men generally make more than women.

Now the question is: will this call for equality turn into action?