Public Relations: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
July 31, 2015

Public Relations: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Much of a company's success is based on how the world perceives them. I've watched many companies face challenging decisions that have defined them as a brand. When it comes to the public eye, good PR choices are everything. This year, three big corporations made choices that affect me as a consumer. I'm going to call out the good, the bad and the ugly choices those companies made during times of strife.

The good was the Apple/Taylor Swift incident. An angry Taylor Swift shamed Apple's CEO in a letter criticizing Apple Music's new streaming service, pointing out that the plan fails to pay artists for the first three months of their new trial period. She also said she would hold back her "1989" album if Apple continued the service with no compensation for artists. After sensing that the public was on Taylor's side, Apple quickly reversed the policy, preventing any further backlash. Good PR decisions can sometimes mean understanding the client and agreeing to their terms for the greater good of the company.

As much as I love this chain market, Whole Foods was "the bad." After being investigated for overcharging their pre-packaged food, Whole Foods was quick to deny the allegations and "vigorously defended themselves." However, a few days later they retracted their previous statement and admitted to making mistakes. Although they made a later attempt to apologize for their actions, it was a poor PR move to deny the accusations. As a loyal Whole Foods customer, the company lost my trust by lying and attempting to cover up the scandal.

And finally, the ugly goes to Blue Bell. Following the death of five Kansas residents who developed a listeria illness linked to Blue Bell products, the company recalled all of its products. Blue Bell then later called for a more extensive recall, compelling the public to question why they weren't notified of the issues sooner. The public's negative response harmed the long-time favorite ice cream company and its products have been on hiatus since March. Blue Bell should have publicly announced their mistakes before this national scandal was unveiled. While I don't know if I will be a returning Blue Bell customer, it seems that the public is anxiously awaiting it's return to grocery store shelves despite the blunder. This kind of loyalty amidst such a severe PR crisis speaks well for both the company's marketing team and the quality of their products. The decades Blue Bell spent building brand loyalty just may save them from a situation that would have ended any other business.

The public eye is everything for a company. Although admitting flaws and changing policies can be a challenge, it pays to be honest. Lying and covering up scandal will only hurt a brand. Would you rather face the wrath of Taylor Swift or understand the stakeholders involved? The choice is yours.

Cate Kelly

Public Relations Intern