Ebola Turns Racial


Ebloa is a human tragedy which is becoming more of an issue, not only to the health of our society, but it is now causing racial problems. Reports state the children of African immigrants in Dallas are now being labeled as “Ebola kids” because their of heritage or skin color.

In the United State and Europe, Ebola is creating racial profiling when there is already enough to worry about. A Newsweek cover last month (shown below) features a picture of a chimpanzee with the headline “A Back Door for Ebola: Smuggled Bushmeat Could Spark A U.S. Epidemic.”


For those of you who do not know what bushmeat is, it’s wild animal meat, which often refers to chimpanzees, gorillas and other monkeys that are killed so they can be eaten. Previous outbreaks of Ebola have been credited to the bushmeat trade. The intent of the cover of this magazine is apparent, but the photo chosen was a mistake when taking into consideration the racial implications that have surfaced recently.

Research done by the Washington Post revealed that the Ebola outbreak “likely had nothing to do with bushmeat consumption,” the Post reported, and there is no conclusive evidence that Ebola has been passed from animals to humans. “There is virtually no chance that ‘bushmeat’ smuggling could bring Ebola to America,” the Post concluded.

“It’s easy for the world — the powerful world, who are largely non-African, non-people of color — to ignore the suffering of poor, black people,” Harvard Medical School professor Joia Mukherjee said on PRI’s “The World” last month. It’s easy, she said, to “other-ize” the Ebola crisis.

It’s not a new idea that Ebola is easily linked to African Americans, so that gave Newsweek no excuse to make this their cover. It created more problems for the situation linking Ebola to race. As PR professionals, we need to evaluate the consequences of our actions and who you can hurt with these actions. This is a deadly disease, and certain demographics of people should not be targeted or spotlighted because of their ethnicity.

If you were working for Newsweek, what would you have done differently? What photo would have been appropriate with the same headline? Would you have changed everything altogether? Is it right to label these children because of where their parents come from? Whenever we make decisions, especially with topics such as this, we need to ask ourselves a variety of questions to make sure we are making the best and most ethical decisions we possibly can. Are we helping others to free them from harm or are we causing more harm?

Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to a statement from the Ebola victim’s nephew, who questions the treatment Duncan received. View the video Here> and the full article by CNN.


Never Too Old For Facebook

Can you imagine growing up through the ages of technology? Anna Stoehr was born and raised in a house with no phone, computer, or even electricity. As she grew older, and technology advanced, she found herself becoming curious about the many new devices being developed. At almost 114 years old and living in a retirement community, Anna continues to make friends through technology and social media.

It all started when Anna’s son, who is in his 80’s, bought a smartphone at Verizon Wireless. He was talking about his mom to the employee about how amazed she would be with today’s technology. The employee was interested in meeting Anna, and set her up with a tablet that included FaceTime communication. He says that she really enjoys the technology and enjoys FaceTime calls from friends around the world. Anna then went to join Facebook, and the website wouldn’t allow her to join with her accurate age. To make a profile she had to lie about how old she was. This is because the date she entered as her birthday was considered to be too far back. Anna then decided to write a letter to Facebook explaining her concern, and how Facebook would not let her enter her appropriate age to join.

Being that Facebook is a company that aims to appeal to a large audience; they do not want to make users feel left out. An age limitation is a risky aspect for the social media website. It is important that there is a limitation so children are restricted, and they also don’t want people lying outrageously about their age. This is understandable but doing this could also make people, such as Anna, feel left out. Do you think it breaks any values to have an age restriction on a social website? If you were making a potter box to solve this dilemma for Facebook, after receiving Anna’s letter, what options could you come up with? Would you make a change, or leave it the same because a case like Anna’s is a rarity? As a PR professional, who and what would you need to consider when making a final decision?

Video of Anna’s Story:


One Too Many: Toyota Continues to Recall Vehicles

You hear in the news from time to time about recalls from automobile companies. But lately, one company seems to be heard of a little more often. This is because Toyota has issued three new recalls that have covered more than 1.75 million vehicles. These new announcements will extensively add to Toyota’s whole recall number for the year. The company has already issued recalls previously over software issues and nonworking airbags. In fact, earlier this year, Toyota approved to pay a $1.2 billion fine. It was to settle a situation from four years ago that involved their behavior during an unintended acceleration recall of more than 10 million cars. This fine is the largest of its kind. Since this, there are three more reasons for the recalls of Toyota vehicles of different models.

The vehicles sold in Japan, were the largest of the three recalls. The company stated in an email that this was issued to fix a problem in the brake systems of certain Crown Majesta, Noah, and Voxy models. Toyota felt that in some cases, the brake performance could begin to gradually degrade if the problem is not fixed. The automaker is also looking for a fix to an issue with fuel delivery pipes that could increase the risk of a vehicle fire. This second recall consists of 759,000 vehicles that includes 423,000 of the Lexus models. These are mostly sold in the United States and were made between the years of 2005 and 2010. The third recall is restricted to 190,000 cars that are sold in Japan that could possibly develop fuel leaks. In all three cases, close to two-thirds of the cars were sold in Japan. Toyota stated it was not yet aware of any crashes, injuries, or fatalities in results of these issues.

With all of this said, imagine being a PR representative of Toyota. Do you think there is a way for the company to comeback from so much going wrong? What steps could you take to revamp the company, and gain a solid customer base back? Also, how could you get customers to stay with Toyota after having their vehicles recalled? Do you think this could be more difficult because it effects more than one country?

Higher Cost for High Definition: Netflix Raises Prices

Netflix has become a huge game changer in the way many people watch movies today. Many television junkies love that this service provides close to unlimited amount of their favorite TV serious and movies commercial free, for close to $9.00 per month. Not only does Netflix deliver unlimited TV, it conveys it in high definition. Lately, there has been a fascination with the new 4K high definition resolution that is being offered when buying new televisions. It obviously wouldn’t be long until Netflix would offer this version of HDTV.

The new 4k ultra definition is known as a big step in HD television. In technical terms it displays at least 8 million active pixels with a lower resolution boundary. The good news for Netflix fans is that the company is developing more and more programs in the 4k definition. Of course with the good news, there is a downfall.

Having 4k definition on your Netflix account is about to raise the monthly cost from $8.99, which is already a raised price, to $11.99. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I have a 4K TV and I’ve never even seen the option for 4K content on Netflix.” That’s because, even if you have a 4K TV, it has to be one that Netflix supports. Therefore, ultra-early adopters will not be able get this upgrade. Consumers are angry about this. Also, not only are consumers paying premium for their new HDTV; they are being up charged for Netflix, which not every show or movie is available in 4K definition yet.

I found this story interesting because it is similar to the cable switch Westminster underwent this year, and needing a television with a specific tuner. So as a result I ask, is Netflix being unethical in this situation? Do you feel the company is only acting in this way for self-benefit? If not what other principles is the company using when making this decision. What principles should they be following, and what would you suggest the company do if you worked for Netflix.

Red Bulls settles $13M lawsuit

In September, Red Bull reached a settlement after being sued by customers for $13 million for false advertisement. Customers filed two class-action lawsuits claiming that they were deceived by Red Bull’s slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings” and that Red Bull’s marketing distorted the product’s functionality and safety. Red Bull agreed to pay back consumers, which added up to $13 million, as well as improving the product and its perceived marketing. Instead of defending themselves against these lawsuits, Red Bull stated that their slogan was only a metaphor and not to be taken literally but decided to agree to a settlement and pay back the customers to avoid further trial. Apparently, Red Bull does not give you wings but they do give you cash back. Red Bull’s settlement declares that any person who has purchased Red Bull between Jan. 1, 2002 and Oct. 3, 2014 can submit a claim to receive either $10 cash or $15 in Red Bull products. Customers submitting a claim do not have to have proof of their Red Bull purchases but can submit their claim online, by email or by mail until March 2, 2015. On May 1, 2015 there will be a court hearing to determine whether or not Red Bull was approved for the settlement. If Red Bull is approved, customers will be reimbursed (if a claim was submitted within 150 days after the approved settlement.

Red Bull’s marketing suggested that “Red Bull gives you wings” and customers seemed to have taken that motto quite literally. In my opinion, these lawsuits filed are completely bogus and just a way to scam Red Bull out of money. If you were in Red Bull’s public relations department, how would you have handled this situation? Do you think Red Bull made the most ethical decision for all of the company’s four primary claimants: the customers/clients, the organization, the profession and society as a whole? What alternative situations do you think Red Bull could have chosen? Make a Potter Box and list the facts, values, principles and loyalties for Red Bull.


Clothing line releases controversial concentration camp shirt

In August, Spanish clothing brand, Zara was criticized for releasing a baby shirt that closely resembled the striped concentration camp shirts that were marked with the Star of David during the Holocaust. Zara, the intentional fashion retailer released the controversial shirt on their French, Israeli, Swedish and Albanian websites but they were quickly removed from the stores after receiving harsh backlash on social networks from many nations, including America.

Zara has publicly apologized for releasing this shirt that very closely bears a resemblance to uniforms that the Jewish concentration camp prisoners wore during the Holocaust. The company expressed their deep regret in multiple languages via Twitter to the hundreds of angry tweets they received after the initial release of the shirt. Although Zara apologized for the shirt, the company sustained further criticism after Zara’s Israeli spokesperson used distasteful wording when asked about the situation. The spokesperson stated that the shirts would be “exterminated” from the shelves, which stirred up more criticism for using the exact Hebrew word [exterminated] to describe the removal of the shirt.

The concentration camp shirt is not Zara’s first case of releasing controversial clothing. Zara also released a shirt near the time of the Michael Brown shooting that read “White Is The New Black”. Another case that sparked controversy for Zara was their 2007 release of a handbag that displayed yet another Nazi related symbol, the swastika. Much like Urban Outfitters, Zara has released several contentious products that have done nothing but spark negativity and result in removal from the stores. Which brings me to my point, why does Zara release clothes and products that generate controversy and negative connotations with their brand? Are they doing it for attention in the media and becoming more public? What does the company get out of releasing these offensive items? Did the company handle the situation in the most ethical manner? What could they have done differently and what values, principles and loyalties within the Potter Box did Zara keep in mind or the lack there of with the release of this concentration camp shirt?



Wal-Mart points blame on Tracy Morgan


On June 7, 2014 a Wal-Mart delivery truck crashed into a limousine holding actor/comedian, Tracy Morgan and four others. The collision resulted in a six-car pile-up in the early morning hours of June 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike, as well as the death of one and injuries of many others. Comedian James McNair was killed, while Morgan and two others were left in critical conditions after colliding with the Wal-Mart truck. The National Transportation Safety Board reported that Roper was driving 20 mph over the speed limit and had been driving close to 24 hours. In July, Morgan filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart for being unaware that Roper had been driving after being awake for longer than 24 hours. Roper pleaded not guilty in June to felonies including vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

On Mon. Sept. 29 Wal-Mart attorneys blamed Morgan in a court filing stating that Morgan’s injuries were in whole or in part caused by the actor’s failure to wear a seatbelt and also that Morgan and company had “acted unreasonably and in disregard of (their) own best interests.” Wal-Mart attorneys also stated that the injuries could have possibly been caused by third parties that they had no direct control over.

Morgan, 45, sustained multiple wounds such as broken ribs, nose and leg that he may not recover from in months. While another comedian, McNair, 65, suffered fatal injuries during the accident. Wal-Mart attorneys have pointed the finger back at Morgan after initially being blamed for causing the accident. In your opinion, do you think Wal-Mart has handled this situation in the most ethical manner? Why or why not? What ethical values are Wal-Mart following or not following? If you were a Wal-Mart public relations practitioner how would you handle this situation?

Walmart blames Tracy Morgan


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