Tag Archives: public relations

How to Not Handle a Crisis: United Airlines

While companies plan for success and upbeat public relations stories, most companies do not plan for crisis situations or public relations snafus. But, they all should do so, as was recently experienced by United Airlines.

First, there was a ‘leggings scandal’ when the airline refused to seat “pass travelers” (employees and dependents traveling free on a standby status) who were wearing leggings, and thus not judged to be dressed appropriately. This one was noteworthy on social media, but not troublesome.  Puma jumped on the social media trend and offered 20% off leggings at its U.S. stores to anyone who brought in a United Airline ticket!

However, the next situation was much more serious as United Airlines had a man dragged off a flight when he refused to give up his seat (due to overbooking), so that a United employee could fly instead of him. The man suffered a broken nose, concussion, and lost two front teeth, according to lawyers representing him in a lawsuit against United Airlines. There was no transparency into how customers were selected to be bumped off the flight.

The company was slow to apologize to the man, and the entirety of the plane’s passengers. It now faces a crisis communications situation. What should it do?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the role of public relations and crisis communications in a brand’s promotional mix.
  2. Discuss the problem that United Airlines faced. Various videos of the event are available online: https://youtu.be/VrDWY6C1178
  3. What are the student opinions of this incident? Are these actions legal, or ethical?
  4. Divide students into teams and have each team prepare a crisis communication plan for the above situation.
  5. What elements and needed in the plan?
  6. Teams can also research other public relations disasters to see how each was handled. (Remember Chipotle, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Wells Fargo?)

Source:  New York Times, L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, other news sources   

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Love is in the Air – and so are Tacos!

Taco Bell has been expanding its offerings the past few years as it competes with other fast food outfits. But still, how can a fast food outlet truly differentiate from the competition? What could a company do that would be first-to-market? Hmmm….

Taco Bell has an idea on an offer that is really unique – weddings! That’s right, weddings!

Beginning this summer, Taco Bell will hold weddings at its new Las Vegas Cantina restaurant. For only $600, couples can get a wedding ceremony held inside the restaurant, including an ordained minister, with as little as four hours advance notice. And that’s not all! There is also a private area in the restaurant for a reception with up to 15 of your closest family and friends. And, if you forgot to buy a gift, there is a selection of custom merchandise including sauce packet garters, bow ties, champagne flutes, and a Taco 12-pack along with Cinnabon Delights cake for dessert. Forgot the bouquet? No worries. A sauce packet bouquet is also available for brides.

Located on the Las Vegas strip, the new restaurant features two-stories, modern design and art work, VIP lounge, DJ booth, open-kitchen viewing, and serves beer and Twisted Freezes 24-hours.

Ready to tie the knot?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where was the last wedding they attended?
  2. Show the Taco Bell site: https://www.tacobell.com/loveandtacos
  3. Poll students again: Who would consider getting married there? Why or why not?
  4. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for launching a product.
  5. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  6. Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
  7. For Taco Bell weddings, have each team select three different tactics. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.

Source: Time magazine, Mashable, other news sources  

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Wedding Registry Idea – Pizza!

Wedding registries are used around the nation to help guest select gifts for the bride and groom. Usually, wedding registry items tend to be about the new household – appliances, china, dishes, towels, bedding, luggage, household items, and more. Predictable, and perhaps a tad boring for brides and grooms who might want a more unique type of gift. After all, why be limited by the types of things your parents would have placed on their (old-fashioned) wedding registry? Think more modern.

For the new millennial couples, the wedding registry can now include their preferences for pizza. Domino’s now offers a unique Wedding Registry Web site. Some of the savory, and cheesy, options for the bride and groom include:

  • The 2 a.m. Bachelor Party Feast – $60
  • Cater the Bachelorette Party – $60
  • The Wedding Night – $25
  • Thank You Card-a-thon – $30
  • Low-Key Date Night – $30
  • Post-Honeymoon Adjustment to Real Life – $25

Couples can register online, and gifts can be ordered with a personalized message for the happy couple.

Think outside of the box instead. Or should we say, inside the box – as long as the box contains a pizza!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students about the weddings they have been to, and the gifts they gave.
  2. Show brief video on Fortune’s Web site: http://fortune.com/2017/02/08/dominos-pizza-wedding-registry/
  3. Show the Domino’s Wedding Registry site: https://dominosweddingregistry.com/
  4. Poll students again: Who would buy this, or want to receive it?
  5. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  6. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market f. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  7. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?

Source: Fortune magazine, other news sources

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