A PR Crisis: Hillary Clinton Email Controversy

When working in the public relations field, I think handling a crisis is one of the key attributes to being successful at your job. Being able to handle a media crisis is something that one must know will probably happen when starting a public relations job, and I think the key to handling a crisis is to stay calm, cool and collected. In a book about public relations issues and crisis management it talks about how to cope with a crisis and says, “Practitioners should therefore ‘operate as an organization’s “antenna”, constantly scanning the organization’s environment and alerting management to new threats and opportunities, and helping frame appropriate responses to emerging issues.'”(Galloway, 2005, 10) This is basically saying that public relations should always be alert and searching for new problems that could occur to their clients and should always brainstorm appropriate ways to handle the crisis. However, this is not the way the public relations people handled the Hillary Clinton’s Email crisis.

In a post written by David E. Johnson he talks about the crisis explaining that, “the media has been saturated with stories of how Hillary Clinton used a private email and server when she was Secretary of State thus avoiding freedom of information requests.”(2015, 2) The media has made this a huge story, big enough that when people think of Hillary Clinton often times they will think of this email scandal. Johnson says that this scandal makes her appear a lot like Richard Nixon and really takes away the publics trust of her. (2015) I think that her public relations team could have really helped by making the media not make this such a huge scandal, and they could have also gone with a different tactic when answering questions regarding the scandal in interviews, she pretty much avoided answering questions involving the scandal which made her seem like an even bigger liar. Johnson thought a better way to deal with the scandal was to show, “emotion and acknowledge that while it was legal there are valid reasons why people are suspicious and she understands that in this age of distrust of government.” (2015, 5) Trust is the biggest way to gain the respect of the public, which is a huge reason why Donald Trump is ahead of her in the polls.

Usually interviews make the public respect you for answering allegations with truthful answers but this can also have the opposite affect, especially when you are not truthful and a terrible liar. This occurred in a recent interview of Hillary Clinton where she appeared very transparent in the interview, avoiding almost every question that the journalists were asking her. Her public relations team had obviously not prepared her well enough for these questions, even though she had five months to prepare for these questions, she still appeared very transparent and made the matters worse. (Phillips, 2015)

If I was apart of her public relations team I would first choose our key messages to address, so I think she should first address that she made a mistake and be very honest with the public to gain their trust back. I would then decide on the overarching objectives, which would be gaining the publics trust back so she doesn’t look like every other lying political figure. I would then choose the target audience to focus on and the types of communication to get her message across. By doing these tactics she would’ve been better prepared in interviews so she didn’t appear to be a liar, I think her PR team went with the denial tactic which made her look even worse than she did before the interview. Gaining the publics trust is the greatest way to get the public votes and with the way her PR team is dealing with the crisis as of now, it doesn’t look good and they should’ve been more prepared for something like this to happen.

Galloway, Christopher. & Kwansah-Aidoo, Kwamena. (2005). Public relations issues and crisis management. Southbank, Vic : Thomson Social Science Press

Johnson, D. E. (2015, March 10). Hillary Clinton Email Controversy: Crisis Management Tips. In CommPRO.biz. Retrieved from <http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/crisis-communications/hillary-clintons-crisis-management-lessons-to-learn/&gt;.

Phillips, B. (2015, September 2). The worst media disaster of August 2015. In Ragan’s PR Daily. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/The_worst_media_disaster_of_August_2015_19309.aspx


Why is Research Important in Public Relations?

When I think of Public Relations, my initial thought doesn’t instantly shoot to research, I always thought this was a minor part in this field. After day one of class I realized that I was very wrong. Research is a way to help you understand what audience your client is trying to reach and to gain a better understanding of them. It can also help you to gain trust with the client as well, showing that you know the audience well and that you always have a reason for promoting with a certain tactic, or for example, choosing one advertising agency over the other because you know one will appeal more to women than men.

In order to become successful in the public relations field I believe you must gain trust from clients, the public and from other people you work with. I think gaining the trust of others is important in every field but especially in public relations. One of the ways that people can gain trust is by doing research on the clients and their views on certain components that are important to your campaign. In a newsletter written by Michelle Hinson she talks about how trust and research effect public relations, she said, “Trust and ethics are both business currencies. Being ethical or having ethics can help build trust. Trust, in turn, can help build an ethical foundation”(2014,12). Being trusted in the field can help lead you to be seen as an ethical public relations person which I think this would be the key to landing jobs and clients in this career. Having done your research will show clients that you know your stuff and will in-turn gain your clients trust.

C.V. Narasimha Reddi informs us in the book Effective Public Relations and Media Strategy, “Research is the first step in public relations process to elicit the public opinion and their reactions towards organisational goals and programmes. Research is also called the listening phase of public relations”(2014, 137). This is saying that research happens before developing the final product, it is when we hear what the public is saying or doing. Some tools that Reddi listed to listen to the public include: personal contacts, interviews, advisory committees, the call-in telephone line, media monitoring, etc. I believe that research can be one of the most important aspects of public relations because you are hearing what the public thinks and feels about certain ideas and by listening to the public you can then avoid campaigns that may be seen negatively toward your target audience. For example some stores may be seen negatively with obvious Photoshop body rendering, so some stores like Aerie have made it known that they use REAL women instead of giving women unrealistic body standards. This can be a way to help women relate to your store by having women in the advertising that actually look like real women.

In a blog post written by Elena she says that “Decisions you make on your PR campaign needs to be based on data and not plain instinct or “a hunch.” Where data is available, use it to better understand your market and competition”(n.d, 10). She then gives examples on how researching can help you to become better in public relations. One example she gave was if you saw an increase in social media activity when you released your news. Knowing the data about certain results can help to improve yourself in PR and you can then change what you have done wrong by researching your results after putting out a campaign.

In conclusion, without research you would not know anything about the audience that your client is trying to target, and you couldn’t produce any strategy’s to promote the client. Research plays a huge role in public relations, it allows you to be known as a reliable source which is the basis of the media’s and client’s trust. Having the trust of the client and the media is imperative in public relations.

Elena. 5 Elements of Strategic Public Relations (n.d.). In PR in your Pajamas. Retrieved from http://prinyourpajamas.com/elements-of-strategic-public-relations/

Hinson, M. Trust Me, I’m Ethical! The Relationship Between Trust, Ethics, and Measurement. the Measurement Standard, 1-2. Retrieved from http://www.themeasurementstandard.com/2014/06/trust-me-im-ethical-the-relationship-between-trust-ethics-and-measurement/

REDDI, C. N. (2014). Effective Public Relations and Media Strategy (Second ed., pp. 137). N.p.: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Pre PR Reflection

Coming into this class I didn’t really have much of an idea of what advertising and public relations was REALLY all about besides what I saw on Mad Men. This show showed me that there is a client and pleasing the client is pretty much the most important part of the business. You need to listen to the clients needs and objectives that they are trying to show to the public, so any advertisement is important because it will be the image or slogan that the public will think of when they hear about that client. I’m sure that the vast majority of what happened on that show was not what working at an Ad agency would be like but it helped me get a little idea of what the stress level and the creative thinking involved might be like. However, I am looking forward to learning more in depth about advertising and public relations than what I saw on Mad Men.

As an art and design major that is trying to get into the graphic design program, I thought advertising and public relations would be a good field to minor in and gain some insight about. Since my graphic design work will have to appeal to the public, it would be helpful to gain some understanding of the interests and concerns of the publics and how to relate to them.

When I think of public relations my mind instantly thinks about celebrities and scandals. People in the PR field try to do anything in their power to promote their client’s image. Sometimes this can be good things and other times not so good. For example, when celebrities get in trouble with the police, PR people try their best to keep everything under wraps so the public hopefully won’t hear much information about it. They also help with giving celebrities a positive image like when they go to a charity event they will usually notify the paparazzi to the location of the celebrities. PR people’s main job in my mind is to pretty much protect and promote their clients image, so the public will see the celebrities the way the celebrities want to be seen to the public.

I feel that people in the public relations field can be seen in a negative way. This can happen when they promote bad people or bad business’s. If I decide to pursue a career in public relations I would like to stay true to myself and to not try to fix the image of celebrities that I know is a terrible person or promote a business that I know will do nothing but bring harm to the public. For example in Mad Men when the main character decided to end all relations with clients that sell cigarettes because he knew they were bad for the public and he also wanted to gain other clientele.

This is a business that I think can be easy to get involved in challenging situations and may involve changing a bad person’s image. However, this can also be a very rewarding career when you promote the image of an aspiring small business or help the image of a good person that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I obviously have a lot more to learn about public relations and I can honestly say that I am excited to actually learn NEW information in this class no matter how challenging and frustrating it may get. I am also excited to get to promote real clients and to have assignments that I will really be achieving in the future.