MillerCoors has nicely, or sadly, illustrated the difference between marketing and public relations in the context of New York's upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade. The beer company apparently thought it had the blessing of the parade's board of directors for promoting the event on its light beer cans, but in an era of social media, especially, sensitivities extend far wider.
Coors decided to withdraw the cans after a whirlwind started brewing and the National Institute for Latino Policy noted that the theme of the June 9 parade is "Salud - Celebrating Your Health." "Among Latinos," said the Institute in a Web news release, "Puerto Ricans have the highest rate of alcohol dependence and the highest rate of the need for alcohol use treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health. So, in this case, they must be using "salud" as drinkers do, "iSalud!", and not as a public health message."
An alert, well-connected public relations group could likely have headed its marketing colleagues off on this one.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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