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Four Things That Really Need a Good PR Campaign — and a Few That Don't
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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What do Justin Bieber, the Russian hockey team, airline seats, and the Arctic Freeze have in common? They could all use a really good PR manager. You know how it is. All of the sudden you start hearing about some issue or product out of the blue and you think, wow, they must have a pretty good PR manager. Oscar-nominated movies are the perfect example. But what about those things that could really use a good campaign but don’t have one?

Here are just a few.

He Ain’t Heavy. He’s My Recliner
Have you ever settled into your economy-class airline seat, pulled out your laptop, and thought, “Please make this flight uneventful so I can get some work done or watch a good movie,” and then Wham! The front passenger’s seatback slaps you hard, dashing all hope of a semi-comfortable flight. As your tablet screen cracks and your hot coffee spills down your legs, you think, "How can this be legal, let alone moral?"

Perhaps an all-out, integrated, multi-pronged public relations initiative can help. Let’s call it the "Stop The Airline Recliner (STAR)" campaign, with the strapline "Be a STAR and stay where you are."

It’s already got a strong constituency. A recent Expedia survey, in fact, found that Americans are quite irritated by "seat-backers," with 35% calling the violation one of the most egregious on-board and a "major discomfort"; 42% say it should be banned or restricted behavior.

If we can get Americans to recycle, stop littering, stop lighting forest fires, and curb their drunk driving, then perhaps we can get them to stop reclining their airline seats. It's certainly worth a try.

The Russian Olympic Ice Hockey Team
We all love an underdog, but what happens when the "overdog" is expected to win but doesn’t? Do we feel sorry for them? Not always. The Russian ice hockey team is a case in point.

There are 98 medal events at the Olympic Games this year, but none was more important to the host country than winning men’s ice hockey. After some bad luck with a referee call in a qualifying game against the Americans, it all started to unravel for the Ruskies. But instead of taking it like true Olympians, the Russians complained bitterly about the ref call.

In truth, the game was enthralling, complete with overtime and a shootout that could have gone either way, ending with a fair-and-square win by the American team. The Russian team then followed with a narrow win over Slovakia and a decided loss to Finland, leaving the Russians out in the tepid cold of the Sochi games. “I have lost any desire to stay here any longer,” said Dmitry Pechenik, 18, an Olympic volunteer from Moscow. “There is no sense to stay. As for me, the Olympic flame can be put down as well.” Not exactly the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

With the ref in the American game the victim of death threats, protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and very little sympathy from players like U.S. defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who when asked whether he sympathized with the Russians, replied, “Uh, not really,” the Russians could really use a good PR manager. Perhaps a press avail where the Russian coach calls the ref a "fair-minded dude" and says "we wish for better luck next time" would help. Or maybe a mea culpa by President Putin himself that "the Russians were outplayed and the best team did win" would go a long way to establishing some goodwill toward the Russian regime.  

The Justin Bieber Song Book
It’s probably not advisable right now to try and win the public back to Justin Bieber’s side as he tries to establish his "bad boy" credentials by pelting eggs at his neighbors, drag racing on a beach strip, and allegedly abandoning his pet monkey in Germany. But what about his song book?

He’s actually produced some pretty good songs: "Baby" (2010), "As Long as You Love Me" (2012) and "Boyfriend" (2012) come to mind. A good PR manager might be able to re-establish his entertainment value by ignoring his current infamy and bad behavior and focusing on his song book.

Perhaps a stealth PR campaign that does not actually include him. Bieber look-alike lip-synching events. Bieber tribute acts. Or maybe Bieber DJ-only dance parties?

This might give Bieber the time he needs to heed Barry Gibbs’ advice: “You can lose perspective, but you can also lose them in the long run if you’re not a role model. Hopefully, what he does on stage and the way he dances and the way he sings, he will apply that to his real life,” said the Bee Gees singer to Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

The Winter of Our Discontent
America has taken a winter beating and — across the Atlantic — our English brethren are underwater. So goes the great winter blitz of 2014. No one is happy. Not the Atlantans who slept overnight in their cars on the highway, not the Texas schoolchildren who are now using their vacation time to make up snow days, and not the New Englanders who have withstood one storm after another after another. And certainly not the Boston pedestrians who were pelted this week by falling icicles and snowdrifts as they sludged through the city.  

Absolutely no one has a good word to say about the weather this year.

What the weather needs is a good PR manager — one who can talk about all the great things the weather has done over the years. How the weather is responsible for bringing about the flowers and the bees to pollinate our food. And how the weather — although fickle at times — really came through in 2013 when it was the first Atlantic hurricane season since 1994 not to end with a major hurricane, and the first since 1968 to feature no storms of at least a category 2.

An infographic of great weather accomplishments would be perfect, augmented by a social media campaign featuring weather "superheroes" like Samson the Sun, Ramsey the Rainmaker, and the Manny the Moon — complete with capes, superpowers, and magic wands. With a good PR campaign, the public is sure to warm up to the weather again soon.

Absolutely No Help is Needed Here
And here are a few that need absolutely no help at all:

Netflix’ House of Cards
Candy Crush
Content Marketing
The city of Austin
TJ Oshie


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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