Tag Archives: crisis communication

Use Your Career to Change the World

The last few years have seen a crazy world take shape in front of us. Between climate crisis, the pandemic, economic upheaval, wars, racial inequality, gender issues, and political turmoil, it makes one wonder how to best contribute to building a better world for the future.

After all, it feels good when we make a positive impact. It can be a small change such as contributing a few dollars to someone in need, or it can be a larger change such as starting a new program or organization for social justice or community service. And of course our jobs and careers can also contribute to making positive changes, either through donating money or using our time to make inroads to solving issues.

A movement called “Effective Altruism” formed in the late 2000s by Oxford University philosophers uses science and data to determine how people can use their time and skills to do the most good in society. When the movement first began it focused on lucrative careers so as to generate more money to contribute to important causes. But that has morphed into other approaches to doing good with our careers. This has been particularly true in the past few years during the pandemic as workers consider their purpose and meaning of their work.

This led to the nonprofit called “80,000 Hours” which evolved from Effective Altruism to help people design careers where they can do good things in the world. Why 80,000 hours? On average, today’s workers are likely to spend 80,000 hours working over a 40-year period (40 hours/week x 50 weeks/year).

But how does someone find the right career to pursue? What is our best opportunity to have a positive impact in the world? 80,000 Hours gives advice to job-seekers who are looking for high-impact jobs that address the social problems that concern them. Perhaps it is working at a start-up company focused on a new medical intervention, or a technology company focused on climate change.

The four main factors for defining your impact are:

  1. Help solve a more pressing problem.
  2. Find a more effective solution.
  3. Find a path with more leverage.
  4. Find work that fits you better.

Think about it.

What issues drive you? Where can you do the most good?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This is a slightly softer activity that the usual ones about creating a new marketing program. But, it is very relevant to today’s students.
  2. Discuss the importance impacting local and global issues for the future benefit.
  3. Poll students: What are their concerns for the future? With what issues would they like to get involved?
  4. The following two organizations and websites can take some time to review. Set aside some class time to allow teams to review the articles and approaches.
  5. Show the website for Effective Altruism: https://www.effectivealtruism.org/
  6. A video explanation: https://youtu.be/nwhoSX9AFXU
  7. Show the website for 80,000 hours: https://80000hours.org/
  8. A video for 80,000 hours: https://youtu.be/1xsR0XBwyo4
  9. Divide students into teams and have each team prepare a summary of what was learned from these websites.
  10. Consider a discussion board or assignment that focuses students on the topic of how to use their skills.

Sources: Varagur, K. (Oct. 10, 2021). Can your career help change the World? Wall Street Journal.

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Marketing Used for Good

We commonly think of using marketing principles and practices to promote business and grow revenue. And that’s fine – up to a certain point. However, marketing can be so much more.

We know that marketing is used to grow businesses and organizations. Increased revenue usually leads to new research and development, new products and services, and strong returns for shareholders and stakeholders. Lots of people benefit from this. And that’s good. But it is only part of the story. Marketing can also be used to help society in very powerful ways.

In one example, advertising agency Havas Tel Aviv recently used it powers for good when it partnered with Laisha, a popular women’s magazine in Tel Aviv, to promote a domestic abuse hotline. A study of women in Israel had found that most women were not even aware that a  hotline number for domestic abuse even existed. Therefore, for the promotion the agency created a simple cover page for Laisha with the 24/7 helpline phone number in large white letters on a black background. Basically, making it an impossible-to-miss cover. The text stated that women who suffer from domestic violence are not alone – and that the anonymous phone line offers help in all languages.

The result: An increase in calls to the hotline by 500%!

Musicians and artists also are powerful contributors to social programs and awareness. Several years ago rapper Logic recorded the song titled “1-800-273-8255,” directing young people to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. The song chronicled a youth’s journey through depression to a suicide prevention call. The song was nominated for Grammy awards for song of the year and best music video as well as a MTV music video award. But the most stunning result was the increase in calls for help during its release.

The results: 9,915 more calls to the support line were made in the 34-day period after the Grammy and MTV Music Award shows! The song’s impact contributed to an estimated 245 fewer suicides over the same period. That’s powerful!

Consider: Marketing makes a difference in many ways.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss how marketers can be active with social responsibility and justice.
  2. What skill sets translate from corporations to community service?
  3. Show Logic’s video: https://youtu.be/Kb24RrHIbFk
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a social issue or a community program that they admire.
  5. Challenge each team to develop a marketing tactic to highlight the ways in with the programs can help people.
  6. Alternatively, have each team research an existing social program and analyze its messaging and tactics (ex: Red Cross, Big Brothers, etc.)

Sources: Ansari, T., (Dec. 15, 2021). Rapper Logic’s song about suicide prevention may have saved hundreds of lives, study says, Wall Street Journal; Griner, D. (Dec. 2, 2021). This magazine cover boosted calls to an abuse hotline by 500%. Ad Week.

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Peloton Recalls Treadmills

Peloton has been riding high for the past year as gyms closed and people took their fitness routines into their homes. Peloton stock and sales are at an all-time high. To be clear though, high sales volume has given the company problems with supply chain and manufacturing during this time period. It even has a recall due to problems with broken pedals on its bikes which caused injuries.

However, a more recent and critical problem for Peloton has been a number of cases of injury to adults, children, or pets being pulled underneath the rear of the treadmill. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been at least 72 reports of adults, children, and pets being pulled under the treadmill, including 29 reports of injuries to children and one death of a six-year-old child. Serious issues indeed.

The recall notice was issued by Peloton, but only after an urgent warning from the CPSC that forced the company to change its initial stance about the problems. Peloton is now offering a full refund for owners of the treadmill.

What should companies due about hazards to consumers?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the components of public relations and crisis communications.
  2. Show video about the problem: https://youtu.be/RiAjg4RXLMQ
  3. View Peloton’s statement on its website: https://www.onepeloton.com/press/articles/tread-and-tread-recall
  4. Show the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall notice for Peloton: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/peloton-recalls-tread-plus-treadmills-after-one-child-died-and-more-than-70-incidents
  5. Show additional recall notice for a separate Peloton recall: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/peloton-recalls-tread-treadmills-due-to-risk-of-injury
  6. What are the basic components and steps to handle crisis communications?
  7. How did Peloton initially handle the problems? What did they later do?
  8. Divide students into teams and have each team select a company/product. Then, have teams determine the steps to take during a crisis for that company.

Source: CBS; CNBC; New York Times; other news sources

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