For many, the Fourth of July is a holiday to relax and unwind, but for public relations folks, it is an opportunity to accomplish something. For some organizations it is a prime date to get out a message to your audience. The Fourth of July requires weeks of preparation for many companies, especially their public relations departments.

There are two main types of Fourth of July PR: public service announcements and sponsorships. A company may aim to get out a message that encourages purchase of its product or build its reputation as a company that cares about its customers. Additionally, it may reach its audience with a sponsorship that brings an experience to the people.

When it comes to reputation many companies may try to improve their images or feature an agenda on the Fourth of July. Fireworks accidents, travel safety, boating safety, pet safety, sun safety, following the law and food safety are common topics for related companies to address on this holiday. For fireworks accidents, the conversation is often started by fireworks distributors and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Something like sun safety is facilitated by the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreen brands and hospitals.

Companies will also use the Fourth of July to promote their brands. In most of these cases the company sponsors a related event or donates money based on the customer’s involvement. Some examples of event sponsors are Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest, Macy’s New York City fireworks display, Coca-Cola’s Atlanta fireworks celebration, TOMS’ “Red, White and Bold Bash,” and Disney’s week of festival in both parks. Other companies like Kraft and Epicurious prompt their audience to use their recipes to make the summer holiday special. If companies aren’t presenting events or content, then they may be asking for customer participation. Pepsi and Budweiser encourage their customers to buy a specially marked bottle to help the company donate money to charity.

The Fourth of July is an opportune holiday for a gamut of organizations and causes to facilitate their messages or promotions. Chances are your local festival or fireworks display has a sponsor or sponsors, so check them out. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

   

Public relations is a significant department in any company, yet some CEOs and other workers never appreciate or understand its necessity and power within an organization. Another reason PR doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves is because it is confused with other specialties and departments. People often confuse PR with marketing, advertising, promotion, or production.

Successful CEOs, business owners and other prosperous people understand the importance of having PR specialists. This is what they have said: 

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”

– Bill Gates, Chairman of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft


“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire public relations officers.”

– Daniel J. Boorstin, Historian, professor, attorney and writer


“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”

– Jean-Louis Gassée, Founder of BeOS


“Public relations are a key component of any operation in this day of instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens.”

– Alvin Adams, Diplomat


“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”

– Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group  


“Public-relations specialists make flower arrangements of the facts, placing them so the wilted and less attractive petals are hidden by sturdy blooms.”

– Alan Harrington, Novelist

Public Relations is not always recognized by its name, but the concept is sometimes understood and appreciated by its functions:

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.”

– Malcolm X, Human rights activist


"Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality."

– Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer


“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

– Warren Buffet, Investor


“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and this is not being talked about.”

-Oscar Wilde, Novelist, poet and playwright

           Every company can benefit from public relations. PR has many functions, some of which overlap with other jobs. You can differentiate PR by remembering this:

“If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is – that’s advertising. If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely, and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is – that’s PR.”

– S. H. Simmons, Author

   



“America loves a comeback, it’s our favorite addiction.” Companies, countries, and celebrities all need strong public relations. All three make a living from their interactions with the public. When their relations are better, their bank accounts are fuller. Indeed, the biggest bank account is always an end goal. When their public image has been tainted, it is paramount that a celebrity fix the problem promptly and fully. One bad news story can completely ruin a career.

A perfect example is Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was a golf prodigy, and was described as one, if not the most successful golfer of all time. Tiger went pro at 20 years old. Tiger broke several records when he won the 1997 Masters tournament. Tiger was the number one golfer from 1999 to October of 2010. However, beginning in late 2009, his kingdom began to crumble.

Upwards of 120 women admitted to having sexual relations with the famed golfer. Following the media explosion following these revelations and his marital conflict, Tiger lost millions of dollars in endorsements. Some companies that severed their partnerships with Tiger include Gillette, AT&T, Gatorade, and General Motors. As a consequence of all the company retractions, shareholders were estimated to have lost roughly $10 billion.

Tiger has never recovered from these events. The bad press continued to pile up and his star has dimmed. His performance has slumped and he has never regained the millions of dollars in endorsements that he once enjoyed.  Other celebrities have rebounded from bad public relations and have returned to have extremely prosperous careers. Here are some examples:

  • Former United States President Bill Clinton: Bill Clinton won his first election as president in 1992 with 43% of the national vote. His lowest approval rating occurred in June of 1993, when he was only favored by 37% of the population. His highest approval rating was toward the end of his presidency in 1998, when his approval rating was over 70%. When Clinton left the oval office, he had a 68% approval rating, matching that of Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt.

Sixty-eight percent is an astonishing exit rating for someone who was facing impeachment and suffered a widespread cheating scandal during his presidency. So how did Bill come back from such a blow to his public image?  By stepping up his political game and manufacturing helpful results, he managed to win over the American public.

Bill Clinton’s presidency enjoyed the longest period of fiscal growth and created over 22 million jobs. It was under his presidency that the U.S. saw the highest percentage of home ownership, lowest unemployment rate since the 30 years leading up to his presidency, and had the lowest crime rate in almost 30 years.

Those are only a few of his remarkable accomplishments following the Lewinsky scandal. Results were what gave former President Clinton the ability to recover his public image. Today, he is well liked by the American people. Hillary Clinton considers him her secret weapon on the campaign trail. For his part, he is paid millions of dollars each year to attend speaking engagements.

  • Alex Rodriguez: Alex Rodriguez is a 14 time all star baseball player, who has earned three most valuable player titles, and one time world series champion, among countless other accomplishments. A-Rod has been classified as one of the best baseball players in MLB history. Until, it came into question how A Rod accomplished all of those amazing milestones.

In 2009, it was revealed that Alex Rodriguez had been taking illegal performance-enhancing substances. People began to question if those previously earned achievements would have been possible without drugs. Rodriguez admitted to dabbling in illegal substances for two years during his career, succumbing to the pressure to perform.

In the season following the steroids scandal, Alex Rodriguez led his team, the New York Yankees, to a world series win. After that, all was forgiven. As long as a celebrity can have a bigger and more positive media story, no one will remember the bad. Especially when it comes to sports, everyone wants to win.

Today, Alex Rodriguez is still one of the Yankees’ valued player, and a fan favorite. He was able to restore his public image by doing what he is good at, swinging the bat. He announced earlier this year that he will be retiring after the 2017 baseball season. He is expected to break several more records naturally before ending his professional sports career, naturally.


  • Eliot Spitzer: 54th Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer found himself in a public scandal in 2008. Spitzer graduated from Princeton University with a degree in international affairs before earning his law degree from Harvard. He eventually worked his way to the position of New York attorney general. Eight years later becoming governor of New York.

In 2008, the New York Times released a story documenting an extramarital affair that Eliot Spitzer had with a prostitute. The New York Times disclosed records of Spitzer interacting with the Emperor's Club, a high-end escort service. It is believed that over several years of service, Spitzer spent more than $80,000 on escorts through the Emperor's Club.

Former Governor Spitzer announced two days after the story’s release that he would be stepping down as Governor of New York. After his resignation, Spitzer removed himself from the spotlight. Eliot Spitzer re-emerged into the public eye in 2010 as a CNN analyst. Later, he began his role as a reporter for Slate magazine.

Spitzer was able to successfully reinvent himself. He was able to do this by quickly admitting his wrong, apologizing, stepping away, and starting new. Although he will most likely never hold a government position again, he does have a successful career now. His opinion is still respected and people are willing to forgive him.

Technology can help or hinder a celebrity’s public image. One slip up and it is plastered all over every news outlet the next morning. But, it can also be a great recovery tool. Social media allows celebrities to attach positive media to their name after a public relations mishap. Social media can also be used to calm the public. Following a public relations blunder, a celebrity can broadcast their apology directly on several different platforms, or their side of a story. If a celebrity is in trouble, he or she may hire a public relations team to work as internet fixers. The team would filter google, stop bad stories from being published, and assure that only positive stories regarding their client will be seen.

   


Not only do companies need public relations, countries do, too. The reasons why may vary. Some may want to boost tourism, others may need to improve political relationships. The money public relations and lobbying firms can earn with these types of clients is unbelievable. However, it does come with ethical dilemmas. Is $250,000 a month worth helping a country known for mistreating its citizens?

Here are some countries that have invested in the help of K Street:

  • Libya: Moammar Gadhafi was a strong believer in hiring U.S. public relations companies to help improve his international reputation. Gadhafi would pay influential leaders from all over the world to travel to Libya to create the impression that he was a “thinker and intellectual.” Gadhafi also wanted Libya to be viewed as an intellectual country. He wanted Americans to invest in academic ventures in Libya.

Being a client to a U.S. PR firm cost him $15,000 a month. On top of the base cost was the price of trips for the officials, and the cost to implement the image campaigns costing as much as $3 million a year. The company in charge of these campaigns justified their actions by stating “we are not working for Gadhafi, we are working for Libya.”


  • Poland: Recently, Poland has been in hot water with its own people as well as international allies. As recently as four days ago, Poland released a job-wanted ad for a public relations company that specializes in global crisis relations. The country is in trouble for reportedly “breaking its own constitution and scaring away foreign investments.”

Poland is desperate to fix friendships that it may have damaged. Poland also needs help on the social media front. Last year the newly elected Law and Justice party took over all public media channels. Polish officials have admitted that they have no idea what to do when it comes to social media and production.


  • Bahrain: A country widely known for a lax approach to human rights and refusal to acknowledge Israel. However, it wants to be acknowledged as “the new middle east.” Within the last several years, it has looked for help from 10 different U.S. public relations companies. They are attempting to fix their negative association with the September 11th attacks.

One idea Bahrain had in January to fix its reputation was to hold a human rights summit near the Gulf. Actual human rights organizations have checked “no” on their RSVPs as they were skeptical of the sincerity behind the event. Bahrain reportedly paid American PR company Qorvis $40,000 a month, plus expenses. Qorvis previously helped Bahrain’s good friend Saudi Arabia fix its image.

  • Qatar: Qatar officials enlisted the help of New York City public relations company, Fenton, to create and launch an anti-Israeli campaign. Qatar’s goal was to raise awareness regarding the blockade on the Gaza strip. This created a dilemma for the Fenton group.

Projects like these put companies between a rock and a hard place. When Israel asked Burson Marsteller for help, Marsteller said no. Burson and Marsteller told Israel that if the company were to accept the offer, the amount of bad press it would receive would far outweigh any benefits of taking it on as a client.


  • Syria: When Syria hired several international public relations companies, it goal was to keep bad press off the airwaves. It wanted to block anything bad while filling available airtime with positive stories. One company responsible for Syria’s public relations vigorously prepared Bashar Al Assad for a Barbara Walters interview. He was well versed in what to say and how to make it sound believable. Meanwhile, innocent Syrian citizens were being massacred in the street. One of these stories made the air, the other did not.

Al Assad’s wife Asma, who is currently under strict European economic sanctions. landed on the cover of Vogue and was described as “glamorous and chic,” an element of a public image campaign funded by the Syrian government. The first two words that come to mind when you ask a Syrian to describe Mrs. al Assad are most likely not glamorous and chic.

It is not uncommon for Middle Eastern countries to hire American lobbying firms to bring a country into the spotlight. Leaders of countries will not think twice about wining and dining a reporter or official in order to assure good press. Leaders of extremist groups are also guilty of bribing journalists with fancy dinners and extravagant trips. Reporters who take these offers can easily be accused of “selling terror and brutality.”


  • Nigeria: Nigeria is another country with an awful human rights record trying to better its global opinion. Terrorist Group Boko Haram runs rampant throughout Nigeria. In 2014, the rebel group stole 130 schoolgirls in the middle of the night. Most of those girls remain missing. Nigeria signed a $1.2 million contract to better its image. On top of the base cost,are travel expenses which entail $22,500-per-person media trips. Jonathan Genser engaged this contract because he felt his aid was “fighting Boko Haram.”

Nigeria aims to be seen as a trustworthy country. The other part of Nigeria’s goal is to “publicize past, present, and future priority to foster transparency, democracy, and rule of law in Nigeria.”  The president of Nigeria has stated that his silence on the issues has been misinterpreted. He intended for his silence to be taken as strength, when it was seen as ignorance.


  • Egypt: Within the last two years, Egypt’s favorability rating has dropped 18 points. After numerous negative news stories were released,, the country hired U.S. public relations company, Grover Park for $250,000 a month. Egypt was concerned the negative news stories would make America second guess their alliance, which Egypt cannot afford to lose. The U.S. has already stopped contributing to the country militarily.

Grover Park was hired to put Egypt “back in America’s good graces” and provide strategic diplomatic consulting. Previously, Grover Park lent its services to South Korea and Columbia.


The biggest global crisis public relations company in the U.S. is DLA Piper. It coins itself able to assist clients all over the world that have legal struggles. The United Arab Emirates has spent the most on public relations in the U.S. with over a whopping $10,000,000. Second was the UK with over six million dollars spent. Countries that had the most meetings with U.S. Congressman were Turkey, meeting 2,268 times and the Congo, meeting on 1.538 occasions.

   

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