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#PR: Ellen's Oscar Selfie Inspired Real-Time CSR
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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By now, I am totally sure there is hardly anyone who has not seen the famous selfie photo Ms. DeGeneres took during Oscar night. Retweeted over 3 million times, the photo broke a previous record held by the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What not as well known is the CSR action that followed.

As the story recently in PR News noted, “At the same time, DeGeneres (and Samsung) may have changed the game when it comes to how brands and organizations distribute charitable donations.”

Samsung, which manufactured the smartphone Ms. DeGeneres used to take the selfie, and was among the sponsors of the Academy Awards broadcast, denied it had any direct involvement with it, or even paid DeGeneres to take it.

The column, authored by PR News' staffer Matthew Schwartz, went on to say:

“'While we were a sponsor of the Oscars and had an integration with ABC, we were delighted to see Ellen organically incorporate the device into the selfie moment that had everyone talking,' according to the statement from Samsung. 'A great surprise for everyone, she captured something that nobody expected.'

“Samsung is spreading the wealth from its PR riches. The company said that in honor of the selfie, it’s donating $1.5 million each to two of DeGeneres’ charities of choice: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Humane Society of the United States.

“The move could be a watershed in the annals of CSR.

“Rather than have a meeting to debate the wisdom of CSR programs, brands can take a cue from DeGeneres and Samsung by practicing more real-time CSR.”

A most interesting suggestion indeed. Schwartz ends his piece by noting:

“Companies tend to agonize about whether their CSR programs are commanding enough attention and enhancing the brand’s visibility. Part of the problem is too much debate about the wisdom of the program. Better to demonstrate that (tangible) help is on the way for those charities in need.

“DeGeneres’ selfie shows there can be a quicker road to CSR donations, so long as it is paved with the best of intentions.”

What say you, corporate America?

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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