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I'm Kelcey Blanks, a 23-year-old public relations/marketing professional. I'm obsessed with all things social media. My family, friends and pup make my world go 'round. Clothes, jewelry and shoes make me happier than a kid on Christmas. And chances are I'm already planning my next meal in my head. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

NYPD Twitter Hashtag Backfires

This week, the New York Police Department initiated a social media campaign to create buzz for the organization by engaging its followers to use a hashtag. The NYPD asked its Twitter followers to tweet pictures that they had alongside the New York City police officers using the hashtag #myNYPD. The NYPD public relations department apparently thought these pictures would be of good sentiment. What ended up happening was completely opposite from what was intended, as in the picture below.

Picture retrieved from: mashable.com

People took this opportunity to poke fun at the New York Police Department. Tweets were posted that showed police officers in a displeasing manner, using brutality and misconduct towards individuals as they were being arrested.  

Picture retrieved from: mashable.com

This person tweeted about the brutalization New York City police officers demonstrated towards an older gentleman for jay walking. Tweets flooded in using the hashtag #myNYPD, expressing overall distaste for the New York City police officers. It was quite opposite from what was intended for the NYPD social media campaign, which was meant to create good sentiment and engagement with the community.

Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster, a spokesperson for the NYPD, defended the Twitter campaign. She said that despite the backlash, it was a way to “provide an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.”

However, the social media campaign was not all negative. The NYPD received many tweets and pictures of individuals paying respects to the hard-working police officers. Despite the overwhelming negative response to the Twitter campaign, there was just as much positive reinforcement for the NYPD.

Picture retrieved from: mashable.com

(The photo above displays the positivity that the NYPD Twitter campaign received.)

The campaign caused quite a stir this week in New York City and on social media platforms. The New York Police Department public relations team did what it could to come up with an innovative way to engage with the community it defends and represents on a daily basis. From a public relations standpoint, it was a great effort by the NYPD to engage with its followers.

For me personally, it doesn’t seem like police departments do enough to try to reach out to followers on social media, so I think what they did was a great idea. The NYPD isn’t always going to make everyone happy, but it seems as though the organization completed its plan to provide an open forum for ideas on social media. The negative backlash probably wasn’t exactly what the NYPD had expected from the campaign, but the organization handled it with grace without letting it get too out of control.


Laird, S. (2014, April 23). NYPD's Feel-Good Hashtag Campaign Backfires. In Mashable. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from http://mashable.com/2014/04/22/nypd-hashtag/

Ford, D. (2014, April 24). #D'oh! NYPD Twitter campaign backfires. In CNN. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/22/tech/nypd-twitter-fail/

Wilson, M. (2014, April 24). NYPD’s hashtag promotion goes awry. In PR Daily. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/16533.aspx#

Friday, April 18, 2014

Public Relations Disaster: US Airways Pornographic Tweet

This week, US Airways stirred up major controversy when one of its employees tweeted out a very disturbing and pornographic picture. This all came about after an unsatisfied customer tweeted their disappointment over a flight to the airlines. What happened next shocked everyone on Twitter and the social media world and even made headline news.

Retrieved from: washingtonpost.com

According to US Airways, the picture was sent to them and the employee who tweeted it out for the world to see was simply trying to flag the tweet as inappropriate. The airline apologized for the mishap and chalked it up to miscommunication on Twitter. The employee who sent out the tweet was not even fired because it was an accident.

We are used to seeing airlines experience difficulty in the public relations aspect of the industry. Airlines are known for delayed flights, lost luggage, overbooking, etc. These types of things happen all the time, but never has an airline had to deal with lewd photographs sent out on its official Twitter page.

The pornographic tweets were up for about an hour before US Airways realized what had happened. The company did the right thing, though, by clearing up the issue right after it occurred, instead of waiting the standard three days to apologize as most airlines have done in the past.

But should this incident have occurred in the first place? Anyone experienced in using social media should know that things like this could happen in a split second, so you must always check and recheck before posting anything, especially when your Twitter following is as large as US Airways’. The employee who sent out the tweet was not paying attention at all, and probably should be fired for that simple fact alone.

It’s nice and all that US Airways apologized for the mishap, but the apology wasn’t on a broad medium that enough people would even hear about it. I’m sure the situation has to be pretty embarrassing, but you have to make right with the public after something this major has taken place.

American Airlines, which is in the process of merging with US Airways, even issued a public apology on behalf of US Airways. I think everyone could agree that US Airways needs to take responsibility for its own mess. American Airlines has enough problems to deal with on its own.

For now, US Airways remains the laughing stock of the airline industry. Mistakes can happen very easily but it’s all about how you pick yourself up after these situations take place. Hopefully US Airways does more in the upcoming weeks than just a silly apology on social media.

Maybe the company could create a video to display the severity of its apology to post on its website and social media accounts. I hope the airline can pull itself out of the public relations disaster it created and move on from this incredibly embarrassing situation.  

Thomas, R. (2014, April 14). US Airways apologizes for tweeting pornographic photo. In KPHO. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from http://www.kpho.com/story/25247158/us-airways-apologizes-for-tweeting-pornographic-photo

Murdock, S. (2014, April 14). US Airways Tweets Out VERY NSFW Photo Of Woman With Toy Plane. In Huffington Post. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/14/us-airways-masturbating-photo_n_5148458.html

Mutzabaugh, B. (2014, April 14). US Airways apologizes for lewd photo sent via Twitter. In USA Today. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2014/04/14/us-airways-apologizes-for-lewd-photo-sent-via-twitter/7710713/

Friday, April 11, 2014

Making Social Media Work for Your Brand

We all know about it. We’ve all been taught how to use it throughout our entire college career. We grew up in the generation where it was created. It’s social media, of course. It’s obsessive, addictive and sometimes incredibly dramatic (especially for me). But, it is definitely a must to be educated on, especially for public relations professionals. In fact, it is important no matter what career you pursue in the future. It is probable that social media will be a part of your day-to-day responsibilities. 


Public relations and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t have one without the other. It is a way to engage with an audience and also get information out about a brand, company, business or nonprofit. It is such a fast-paced development and if you aren’t keeping up, it is likely you will be forgotten.

So part of the responsibilities of the younger, less experienced public relations professionals is to keep up with a company’s social media page, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and so on and so forth.
Word of mouth is huge on social media, so it can influence opinions about a brand, negatively or positively. So what are the most important things to consider when posting to social media on behalf of the business you are working for? What things need do you need to avoid doing to prevent a major crisis from occurring?

Engage in conversation
Don’t be on social media just to be on social media. You have to make use of the vast audience that you have on various sites.

Share links
Whenever a story is published about your company, be sure to share it so your viewers can read it as well. People want to hear good things that your brand is doing, so be sure to share. Also, it is nice to share things about other companies that you’re associated with. It can build your following base, as well as theirs.

Know when to post
Each social media platform has an ideal day and time in which posting is appropriate. Just because it works on one platform, does not mean it will work on another. Know the platform you are on and your audience. Socialmediatoday.com has a great infographic about the best times to post.


Pictures, please
Always share pictures with your audience. Links to articles and websites can only keep attention for so long. Share a picture every once in a while to keep your audience excited about your brand or company.

Keep it real
Every brand has its own personality so don’t steal someone else’s. It’s okay to admire another company’s social media presence, but don’t become something else that is completely different from the brand’s identity.

Create content for each platform
Just like certain times do not necessarily work for each platform, some content does not translate across the board. You have to create different content for each social media site that your brand is on. Some things work better on Twitter that might not work on Facebook, and vice versa. It is okay to share pictures on all social media sites, because who doesn’t love pictures?


Richards, E. (2013, November 11). 8 Easy Ways to Use Social Media to Optimize Your PR Campaign. In Social Media Today. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from http://socialmediatoday.com/erinr/1905096/8-easy-ways-use-social-media-optimize-your-pr-campaign

Frasco, S. (2014, January 7). 15 Do's And Don’ts of Social Media. In Social Media Today. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from http://socialmediatoday.com/stephaniefrasco/2039866/15-dos-and-don-ts-social-media

Friday, April 4, 2014

Public Relation’s Participation in April Fool’s Day Stunts

April Fool’s Day is a celebrated national holiday in American where people play hoaxes, stunts and pranks on one another. It is also on of the few days out of the year that recognized brands and companies get to have a little fun with customers and audiences.

Public relations professionals stir up fun and major noise when it comes to playing practical jokes on customers of a brand. Not only are the jokes comical and enjoyable to hear about, it accomplishes exactly what the public relations professional is supposed to do. It creates buzz and attention for a brand.
Retrieved from: prdaily.com
One of the funniest April Fool’s pranks this year, in my opinion, was done by Cheetos and Frito-Lay. Frito-Lay sent out a pretty convincing press release about the introduction of a Cheetos perfume, brilliantly named Cheetau. According to Cheetos and Frito-Lay, the new perfume is "a prestige fragrance that celebrates the irreverent, intriguing and playful nature of the iconic feline." Even better, people actually believed that Cheetau was a real thing. Even better than that, it created major buzz about the brand, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what really matters?
Retrieved from: latimes.com
Google also had to join in on the 2014 April Fool’s Day fun. Each year, Google divisions around the world participate in trying to out-prank itself from the last April Fool’s Day, and this year was no exception.

One of its biggest pranks was launched on Google Maps called the Pokemon Challenge. The winner of the Pokemon Challenge was to receive the title and job position as Pokemon Master at Google. This encouraged many people to participate in the challenge and stirred up quite a bit of noise for the Google Maps division.

Cat keyboard – that needs no explanation right? Google Chrome introduced its QWERTY Cats for Chrome along with its other pranks on April Fool’s Day. If you love your cat, then you should give them access to type on their own keyboard.

Perhaps one of the best uses for April Fool’s Day this year was American Eagle Outfitter’s launch of American Beagle Outfitters. If you’re looking for trendy, fashionable clothing for your dog, then American Beagle is the place for you. The successful clothing company event released a website and ‘dogumentary’ for store’s introduction.

Retrieved from: designtaxi.com
Of course this stunt turned out to be just another April Fool’s Day shenanigan, but American Eagle made it stand out from the others by linking its website to ASPCA donation. A dollar from every order on the store’s website will also be given to the ASPCA.

It makes me happy to see company’s using its power to better the world around them. It is always great to generate buzz and excitement for you brand, but American Eagle Outfitters did it in a way that also promoted a great cause. As public relations professionals, we should always be able to have fun with our brand, but always remember the bigger picture.