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Public Relations

United’s PR Opportunity

By | Communications, Public Relations | 2 Comments

Some people like to play fantasy baseball. I play fantasy public relations.

By now, you’ve heard about the doctor who was forcibly dragged from his United flight to Louisville, Ky when a flight was oversold and seats needed to be made available to United staff.

 

In the wake of the incident, the airline’s CEO released a statement that surely, no PR professional touched.

 

There’s universal agreement among PR pros and the general public that this was a PR failure of epic proportions.

What United Should Do Now

  1. Apologize for the mistreatment of a passenger and take steps to insure nothing like this ever happens again.
  2. Stop overselling flights, and lead the industry in changing policies to make air travel humane, courteous, and pleasant again. (This is where the fantasy comes in because airlines will always oversell flights, hedging against no-shows and missed connections, to make the most money possible on every flight).
  3. Ask the CEO to step down. This guy is a disaster in a crisis. Not what you want in an airline.

If United does this, and puts in place a new CEO with a strong relationship to their PR team, they will be on track to salvage what has become a terrible reputation. The likelihood that any of this will occur is small, because, realistically, our attention span for this kind of thing is short. As passengers, we have limited choices of airlines going to the destinations we seek. We need to select the least expensive option when we shop for airline tickets and our morals will only last so long when we need to fly somewhere. We will keep flying United, even if, for now, we’re determined to do otherwise.

The Importance of Asking for What you Want

By | Marketing, Public Relations | No Comments

In 2010, after working remotely from Virginia for a firm in St. Louis for five years, I decided I just couldn’t do it anymore. The flights, often delayed, once a month back to Missouri, the isolation of being the only person on the team not in St. Louis, and the lack of control over the client work had taken a toll. I knew I could continue my local client work as an independent and began to consider opening my own firm.

There was one big problem. Like most people working for PR firms and agencies, I had signed a non-compete agreement stating that the clients belonged to the firm. Most such agreements require a one-year period in which the former employee steer clear of the firm’s clients. I was prepared to do this, if necessary, but hoped it wouldn’t be.

Since I moved to Charlottesville, every local client I’d gained had a relationship with just me. They knew other members of the firm a little bit, but I was the one who met with the clients regularly, who corresponded with them, and provided the bulk of the deliverables. If I left the firm, who would continue to take care of those clients?

I took a deep breath and I asked my boss to be released from my non-compete. I asked to take my clients with me, allowing me to start my own business. I promised to continue to serve other clients as a subcontractor to the firm and to ease transition.

It was a crazy thing to propose.

But she said yes. That client work gave Jaggers Communications a healthy start. Clients said they didn’t care to what account they wrote their checks, all they knew is they wanted to continue working with me.

Just ask.

CrowdJustice Platform Launches in the US with Legal Aid Justice Center Case

By | Public Relations | No Comments

Our work in public relations and social media strategy sometimes intersects with fundraising efforts, as it did this week when Legal Aid Justice Center launched a crowdfunding effort through CrowdJustice, a platform designed to raise funds specifically to support legal cases.  We think legal help should be available to anyone who needs it, and CrowdJustice was established on that premise. The case Legal Aid is asking to support is Aziz vs. Trump,

“Just hours after President Trump signed his executive order on immigration, Tareq and Ammar were handcuffed, detained, and forced to sign papers that they had neither read nor understood.  Those papers signified a “voluntary” waiver of their legal immigration status.  They were then put on a plane to Ethiopia, the location of their layover on their way to Dulles.  As of this writing, they are still in the airport, unable to leave and with no place to go.”

The goal of Legal Aid’s litigation is to force the United States government to bring Tareq and Ammar back to the United States and to restore their immigration status.  The organization is seeking the same for each of the other ~60 Visa holders and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) deported from Dulles under similar circumstances.

If you’re inspired to give to this case, or others like it on CrowdJustice, you can do so here. The CrowdJustice platform brings legal aid to the masses, which should be of interest to all of us.

Is it News? Check Your Pitch Against the 8 News Values

By | Media, Public Relations | No Comments

Seasoned PR people and journalists know what makes something news, and what doesn’t. We all hate to see any kind of brand or organization wasting time spinning its wheels pitching news that isn’t newsworthy. What makes something news? Check it against these eight standard news values:

  1. Proximity
  2. Prominence
  3. Significance
  4. Timeliness
  5. Human interest
  6. Unusualness
  7. Conflict
  8. Currency (newness)

Even if you’re clear on what value your pitch holds, you may struggle. “Is it enough?” In fact, it’s better for a story to have proximity, for example, AND unusualness. Conflict AND timeliness. Prominence AND human interest. More value leads to greater likelihood your story will get picked up. If you’re still unclear, scan through a list of headlines in your local paper or favorite online news source (local news may have more diversity in values than that on the national or global level) and see if the values jump out at you.

Piedmont Housing Alliance and the Redevelopment of Friendship Court

By | Public Relations | No Comments

 

Our client, Piedmont Housing Alliance faces many challenges. Their mission is to help provide access to affordable housing to people in central Virginia. They do this by providing Piedmont Housing Allianceeducation to help people save, clean up their credit scores, and purchase a home. They do their homework and connect people with sources to get mortgage assistance or subsidies. They purchase, renovate, and build properties to help shrink the affordable housing gap in our community. Currently, they’re working on the redevelopment of a big community called Friendship Court, a 12-block, 150 unit, Section 8 subsidized housing development in the heart of downtown Charlottesville.

Piedmont Housing is a nonprofit organization, so they raise funds from private donors, through government funding, and through grants to support their mission. They share the information about the work their doing through an e-newsletter, a blog on their website, and for the Friendship Court project, on www.friendshipcourtapartments.com.  Both Piedmont Housing Alliance and Friendship Court Apartments have Facebook pages. They keep the public informed through press releases shared with local media, and staff stays in close communication with the residents they serve in all the properties they own or manage.

We believe that affordable, safe housing is essential for everyone in our community. We are pleased to help Piedmont Housing share the word about what they offer, raise funds to support the good work they do, and seek opportunities to tell their story.