Welcome (or welcome back) to the new PR @ Westminster page!

For those of you who have had me for class before, this page might look a bit different. In order to make the former PR Ethics @ Westminster page a bit more useful, I’m in the process of redesigning it. New features include an RSS reader, a blog for PRSSA, and a page dedicated to PR ethics. Look around, let me know what you think; I’m always looking for ways to improve the site and make it more useful to students. You’ll still be able to see past PR ethics posts via the blog archives (links are located in the right sidebar).


Dr. C

Music Industry…using you?

Over the years, the music industry in the United States is an industry that always seems to be in the public’s eye. In both good and bad ways. In a recent report by The Atlantic
(http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/12/the-shazam-effect/382237/?single_page=true), investigators found that a now ancient-app called Shazam (the older version of SoundHound) has been able to predict what songs were going to become hits just by viewing the data from the app. “We know where a song’s popularity starts, and we can watch it spread,” Titus told me. Take, for example, Lorde, the out-of-nowhere sensation of 2013. Shazam’s engineers can rewind time to trace the international contagion of her first single, “Royals,” watching the pings of Shazam searches spread from New Zealand, her home country, to Nashville (a major music hub, even for noncountry songs), to the American coasts, pinpointing the exact day it peaked in each of nearly 3,000 U.S. cities. (Shazam Effect, The Atlantic).”

We see this a lot today in advertising; think of how many times you’ve been shopping on amazon or watching youtube videos when you tab back to Facebook or another social media site and see an advertisement for something you just viewed or something related? However, Shazam and SoundHound are not the only forms of data searching that promoters and the music industry utilizes. “Shazam searches are just one of several new types of data guiding the pop-music business. Concert promoters study Spotify listens to route tours through towns with the most fans, and some artists look for patterns in Pandora streaming to figure out which songs to play at each stop on a tour (AltPress,http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/the_music_industry_is_sucking_up_your_data_to_create_the_next_big_hits).”

This raises a lot of questions in our society. For example, is it ethical for companies of any sort to monitor what we look at or are interested without our knowledge in order to find the next big money maker for them? Is there a more ethical way to do this? Do you feel that the music industry is controlling what we listen to? Watch full PBS feature and let me know your thoughts.


Minaj Under Fire

Minaj Under Fire

Hip-Hop artist Nicki Minaj has come under fire recently for her lyrical video of her song “Only” featuring Lil Wayne, Drake and Chris Brown. The video, which has been posted at the bottom has created major backlash due to the amount of Nazi symbolism portrayed by cartoon characters resembling the group. In addition to giant red banners that hang from government style buildings, there is also red arm bands on each soldier in the video, rows upon rows of battle tanks, fighter jets and missiles and bombs hitting the ground.

Minaj responded to the backlash with, “The artist who made the lyric video for ‘Only’ was influenced by a cartoon on Cartoon Network called Metalocalypse & Sin City. Both the producer, & person in charge of over seeing the lyric video (one of my best friends & videographer: A. Loucas), happens to be Jewish. I didn’t come up with the concept, but I’m very sorry & take full responsibility if it has offended anyone. I’d never condone Nazism in my art ( http://www.billboard.com/articles/6312278/nicki-minaj-only-video-controversy-nazi-response).” This is interesting given the fact that the video is still on Minaj’s official Youtube account. In addition to all of the symbolism that resembles Nazi propaganda, in the song the background voice or sound bite sounds a lot like they’re saying “Heil.” Which was a common phrase in a Nazi salute. The full phrase was “Heil Hitler” Translated into english, “Hail Hitler.”

If you were a PR professional representing Minaj and the group of hip-hop artists. How would you handle this situation? Do you feel as though her response puts the blame on someone else? Do you think keeping the video on her official Youtube account is ethical?

Warning: This video contains extreme language and may be considered offensive.

Malaysia Airlines Twitter Mishap


This year, newspaper headlines and conversations were all about the Malaysia Airlines issues. It started with the disappearance of the MH370 over the Indian Ocean in March earlier this year which had 239 passengers and crew onboard still missing today. in more recent news, flight MH17 tragically crashed with a supposedly land-to-air missile in the Ukraine.

It’s extremely difficult for large companies to come back from one disaster, but two in one year might make it impossible. Their strategy was to carry on with business as usual, but many are unhappy. The airline company recently tweeted “Want to go somewhere, but don’t know where?” Many people were furious and responded to the tweet in anger.



Malaysian airlines responded to the negative feedback by stating in a press conference: “Unfortunately, it unintentionally caused offence to some, and we have since removed the tweet.” This response did not seem like they cared at all that they offended their key publics.

If that wasn’t enough, in September they launched a contest called “My Ultimate Bucket List,” which is a list people make of things they want to do before they die. As you can imagine, that didn’t kick-off as they imagined.

If you were the PR director for Malaysia Airlines, what would you have done to reposition the company and change its reputation? Would you have tried to go on with business as they did, or try something different?

How would you respond to these angry tweets and comments made against your company? Do you think Malaysia Airlines handled the situation appropriately after the first Twitter mistake?