Author Archives: Jessi Dixon

“What’s Your Goal” – CSR at its best

Corporate Social Responsibility, commonly known as CSR, is a corporation’s initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social wellbeing. The best CSR plans are when there is shared value, and when the initiatives match the company’s core competency. Shared value is when the giver (the company) benefits as much as the receiver. The company’s core competencies are the main strengths or strategic advantages of the company.

A car company’s CSR involves the environment, whereas a book company focuses on improving literacy, especially among children. For sports organizations, there is no obvious choice of CSR or core competency, so they have more of an option when it comes to CSR. An option could involve kids participating in sports and exercise to combat childhood obesity. A main core competency of sports teams is to entertain their fans and make them smile. This is the core competency the Chicago Blackhawks, of the National Hockey League, choose to focus on as their CSR.

In 2008, the Blackhawks started the ‘One Goal’ campaign in conjunction with Ogilvy & Mather. The mission of the ‘One Goal’ campaign is to showcase the personality of the players as well as stating the overall goal of the Blackhawks organization. While the campaign started out to showcase the team, it turned into helping their fans achieve their own goals.

The organization started the “What’s Your Goal” campaign where they ask their fans what their goals are. The campaign has gained critical praise from not only the fans, but from the entire sports community. The Blackhawks have started the trend of teams interacting more with their communities.

Two of the best “What’s Your Goal” campaign videos involve Ben and Cammy. Ben was born with a condition which makes it difficult to use his arms and legs. Cammy was born unable to walk or speak. Both Ben’s and Cammy’s goals were to meet their favorite Blackhawks players. In all the “What’s Your Goal” videos the Blackhawks go above and beyond what they are asked (see videos below).

Their CSR campaign will always be a great fall back in case something negative happens in their organization. It’s not only important for companies to have CSR, but to treat it as a brilliant PR tool.

What’s Your Goal – Cammy

What’s Your Goal – Ben


Stunt Marketing

This past week, the cast of Broadway hit musical Hamilton gave a special performance at the White House in front of the first family and a group of students. They performed two songs from the musical which was also live streamed on the White House’s website. Tickets to see Hamilton are sold out for months and the resale tickets are up to $1,000 online. While the musical isn’t in dire need of good press at the moment, the performance was a win for both parties involved.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and star of Hamilton first performed “The Hamilton Mixtape” for the President and First Lady during Obama’s first year in office. Now he is back performing sections from the full-fledged musical. After the performance in the White House, Miranda joined President Obama in the Rose Garden to perform a free-style rap based on signs the president held up containing words like “Congress,” “POTUS,” “Supreme Court,” and  “Obamacare.” At the end of the video President Obama said “Do you think this is going to go viral? This is going to go viral.” The President was right as the video received over 5 million views.

Stunt Marketing is a particular form of marketing or advertising through which a planned event is designed to attract the public’s attention to the event’s organizers or their cause. In his last year in office President Obama is still receiving bad press and is constantly in the headlines because of his policies and the current issue with the Supreme Court nomination. By collaborating with Miranda, the White House is trying to drown out the negative press the Obama Administration is receiving, and replacing it with good press.

Stunt Marketing can be an option for any company that is trying to gain quick media exposure. Jack Morton, a global brand experience agency, is best known for its promotional stunt marketing. One of their company phrases is, “Let’s Do Something Extraordinary.”

Jack Morton did it best in 2013 when LEGO asked them to reignite the excitement around LEGO Star Wars. The plan, titled “The Secret Reveal.”, was to build the largest LEGO model ever and reveal it in the heart of Times Square. The stunt generated 271 unique pieces of positive media coverage, a 90% increase in social media followers for the title, and a 50% uplift in social media mentions globally.[i]

Stunt Marketing is an effective tool brands can use to get their name out in the public. Especially in today’s age of social media, stunt marketing could be the perfect way to get a brand media exposure.


John Scott the Savior of the NHL

Undrafted. Eleven years in the league with only five goals and six assists.

First-round draft pick. Eight years in the league with 236 goals and 396 assists.

By looking at the statistics, it is an obvious choice who the National Hockey League (NHL) wants to be represented by at an All-Star game. But an online fan campaign voted the “undrafted nobody” John Scott, an enforcer who is more known for punching people in the face than scoring goals, into the All-Star game. Not only was he an All-Star, but he received the most votes by the fans, making him an All-Star team captain.

The fans loved it. The NHL did not. To the NHL, having someone like Scott represent the league as an All-Star was a joke.

The NHL did everything they could to not-so-secretly make sure Scott didn’t play in the game. He was not-so-mysteriously traded to a different division so he would be invalid to play. Then the team he got traded to sent him to the hockey minor league. The NHL and his former team both asked him not to play. They asked him if playing in the game would be something his two young daughters would be proud of.

This is where John Scott and hockey fans lost some respect for the NHL. The NHL, like the NBA and the NFL, has had its share of issues with its players. Whether it’s drugs or accusations of sexual harassment, professional athletes have given sport leagues a bad reputation. In these cases, the league can argue that they don’t stand for the actions of these troublesome athletes. But it’s different with the NHL and John Scott. The NHL is making itself look bad.

The John Scott story started as an online campaign, so when the NHL announced that Scott would not be allowed to participate in the All-Star Game the internet was livid. Players and fans alike were posting multiple messages on various social media accounts on how the NHL was wrong for not letting Scott play. It was a public relations nightmare for an already tumultuous league. The NHL had no choice. They had to let John Scott play.

They did. It was the best decision they ever made.

The fans and players embraced Scott the whole weekend. He received the loudest cheers out of any of the so-called “deserving” All-Stars. Every time his name was called fans shouted, “MVP! MVP!”

The NHL All-Star Weekend went from a PR nightmare to the best thing that could have happened to the sport. John Scott’s All-Star helmet is being sent to the NHL Hall of Fame in Toronto. His manager confirmed reports that there are talks about making a movie on John Scott. Another online campaign wants to get Scott on the cover of the NHL17 video game. No doubt, all of these things will have the NHL’s trademarks and name on it.

From the ashes of a PR crisis, the NHL was able to make John Scott their savior.

What we can learn from Scandal

SCANDAL: The show we all love; the show that gives us heart attacks every Thursday; the show that makes us want to be Olivia Pope.

If we strip back the soap opera, “Shondaland” drama, Scandal is a show about a high-powered government and crisis PR professional. Olivia Pope is actually based on Judy Smith, who graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication in 1980.

Although highly dramatized and sometimes very graphic, Scandal can teach us some things about how to be prepared for any situation.

  1. Research
    1. At Olivia Pope and Associates, the team researches their clients and the situation diligently. They need to know every little detail so they know what could come up and potentially become a crisis
  2. Media Training
    1. They train their clients on speaking to the media: what they are supposed to say, how they are supposed to look, everything! Whether you are a media relations personnel or even a client media training is an important part of PR.
    1. Olivia Pope and her team know everybody who is in DC and other places. They know who they can rely on to help them get their story out. They know who to trust and not trust. They also blackmail some of their connections because they have some sort of dirt on them. (It is a TV drama)
  3. Stay in the Know
    1. If you’re a PR professional and you don’t have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world, you’re already behind
  4. DON’T LIE
    1. Olivia Pope’s first rule when dealing with a client is “Tell the whole truth. Don’t lie” It is bad to lie to your crisis manager because they need to be prepared for anything that could come their way. Also, if you lie your lose your credibility.

How to Apologize in a PR Crisis

One of the most powerful things an organization can do during a crisis is to apologize. But simply saying the words “I’m sorry” won’t cut it. The apology has to be executed in the right way, or else the company could suffer even more damage to its reputation. The “right” apology will differ in every crisis but there are some key tactics that should be applied no matter what the situation is.

  1. Candor – an acknowledgement of guilt
    • Admitting that you made a mistake allows people to trust that your apology is sincere
  2. Empathy – a phrase of personal regret
    • Show that you understand how your mistakes impacted others
  3. Explanation – explain why something took place
    • Explain briefly in the apology why this situation took place, even if it starts with “we are investigating the situation.”
  4. Affirmation – what did the company learn from the situation / how it will influence future behavior
    •  In your apology, state how your company will move forward to prevent the same mistake from happening again
  5. Declaration – specific steps taken to address the issue and change policy
    • Detail the steps your company will take to address the issue
  6. Contrition – continuing verbalization of regret
    • Repetitiveness helps to reaffirm the sincerity of your apology
  7. Consultation – using a third party that can help resolve your image
    • Bringing in a third party to consult with helps your credibility
  8. Commitment – set goals as an organization that you will stick with
    •  Reaffirm how serious your organization is about implementing change
  9. Restitution – make it clear that organization will pay the price
    • Do everything you can to make it up to the people your mistake impacted

Apologies can be hard to write. When a company needs to apologize, they need to not only seem apologetic, but to actually be sorry, and be sincere in their efforts to change. An apology is a chance for the company or organization to move forward and to regain trust with its stakeholders.

Using these tactics will help guide you in any apology after a crisis– let’s just hope you never have to use them.