“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.

   


Just as many people expect holiday-themed decorations and events around each holiday, you can expect holiday-themed advertisements and campaigns. Most popular is a Christmas theme. Ads posted in November and December all have a touch of Christmas magic. During the holidays, public relations companies need to flood the media with ads and announcements.

Companies need to capitalize on the thrill of the season. Executives assume that consumers are distracted with the holiday hustle and bustle, but in reality customers are most exposed to advertisements compared with any other time of year. Here are ways public relations companies use the holidays to an advantage:

A year in review. Year-end wrap-ups would be very attractive for current and potential clients. It is helpful for clients to see the progress their company has made throughout the year. The year in review could be sent through video, card, or booklet.

The review allows your company to highlight your company's most recent achievements and promote upcoming events that your company has planned. As the recent surge of franchise reboots has proved, people love nostalgia. Giving clients and employees the opportunity to remember the biggest moments from the year will make all involved feel good about the work done and your partnership with the client.

If the last year was not a great one for your company, year-end wrap-ups are a way to explain yourself. This is a platform to communicate directly with your clients and workers where you went wrong and how you are going to fix the problems. It is better to be upfront with your issues, rather than act as though they do not exist. Once you have explained yourself, you can paint a brighter picture for your future.

Having Christmas Spirit. It is extremely important to capitalize on the season. It is the most wonderful time of the year, and it only happens once a year. The holiday season presents many unique opportunities. Everyone is excited about the season; it helps if your company is, too. Posting themed material and engaging in special activities allows you to remain relevant.

The simplest things can keep you in the loop. The smallest gesture, such as tweeting “Merry Christmas,” can send a message to your clients that you care. Sending a company holiday card can show you care, too. Changing your cover photos and backgrounds on all social media platforms to fit the season can be of great use. For example, DELL turned its simple circular logo into a Christmas ball ornament.

Even though it is was controversial, Starbucks adjusted for the season. The company switched from all white cups to all red cups for the holidays. All press is good press, right? Using holiday hashtags can increase your popularity and chance of customer interaction. Macy’s uses #Macysbelieve to promote its letters to Santa Claus Make-A-Wish Foundation campaign.

Everyone loves presents. Clients are no different. It could be highly beneficial to send out tokens of appreciation for those who support you. Depending on your company, bottles of wine may be appropriate to send to CEOs of some of your larger clients. If you are involved in the retail industry, sending faithful customers special coupons is a good idea. The holiday season is a time of giving. The end of the year is the perfect time to donate. Making charitable donations will better society and improve public opinion.

Preparation. It is easy to assume that during the holiday season customers are less susceptible to advertisements and media. You could not be more wrong. During this time, customers are bombarded with advertisements like no other time of year. Pictures of Santa will be everywhere they go. Christmas carols will be playing in the background everywhere they walk. Buyers will not be able to escape it. This is the time to post and promote as much as possible. This will take lots of planning.

A team will need to be organized months in advance to prepare for the holiday season. This is very common. Planning for the Thanksgiving Day parades begins in early March. Since your pool of reachable people will be so high, the amount of content you have available needs to be high. “More posts means more exposure.”  However, more posts mean more work, which takes more time.

The end of the year is also a great time to hype upcoming announcements. Teasing the announcement throughout the holiday season will interest people into remembering you after the holiday season. The announcement should be made after Christmas, heading into the new year. This time could also be used to promote big events planned for the new year.

A radio station once teased all holiday season that it had a HUGE announcement underway, unveiling tiny hints each day throughout the season. Finally, after Christmas the radio station announced it would be changing the station name beginning in the new year. The station took advantage of the increased amount of listeners during the holiday season, hoping seasonal listeners would flow over into the new year, with the new brand.

Community Involvement. There is no better time to interact with the community than during the holiday season. Every weekend there is either a tree lighting, children’s choir concert, Christmas village, ice skating rink, or Santa meet and greet. All of these are opportunities to be seen and heard. As a company, you could either sponsor an event, host a table, hold a toy drive, or anything to make your presence known.

When citizens see that you give back to your community, they will be more willing to do business with you. Having your name associated with something positive can really help a business, even if you are not in trouble. When torn between two companies, a customer may remember seeing you at the recent Toys for Tots event and pick your company over another. It never hurts to go out into the community.


   


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.

   



A lot can happen in 10 years. Ten years ago email was not popular, texting did not exist, Google and Facebook were not around, and many companies only had one phone number. It is morbid to say, but 9/11 had a serious impact on how we communicate today. Sometimes it takes a significant and traumatic occurrence to spark change.

In the several months following 9/11, all communications norms disappeared. Executives did not feel comfortable calling companies to pitch ideas. Many marketers felt their products or services were meaningless. Out of respect, most business deals came to a halt. For a while, all the news stories being produced focused on one thing, the terrorist attacks.

There was no competition between news stations or hot celebrity gossip. All reporters and broadcasting companies simply wanted to air the unbiased and unfiltered reality of what America had experienced. Once communication returned to normal several months later, it was a completely different world. One huge story changed the way communications and public relations work forever. Here are a few ways the industry has changed:

  1. User-generated media was not common before the September 11th attacks. After the attacks, news outlets begged viewers to send in their self-shot footage of the travesty. Most footage was shot on flip phones. It was powerful for people at home and all over the world to see people’s first-hand accounts of what happened that day. Watching videos filmed by people on the streets experiencing the trauma themselves gave the stories more validity. Stations wanted viewers to be able to feel the energy, hear the sounds, and see the events unfold and the chaos that ensued. It also attempted to feed the viewer’s need for understanding. If it were not for submitted media, we most likely would not have a lot of the footage we have today from September 11th, 2001. Today, more than once a week news stations embed a viewer-submitted video of what is happening. An example is when fights break out on the subway, news stations usually try to incorporate a video shot by someone witnessing the event.

  2. 9/11 drove officials to make communications between them and their constituents easier and faster. In the event of something tragic happening again, officials wanted to be able to reach whoever they needed to as quickly and accurately as possible. The best way they found to do this was to begin collecting email addresses. Therefore, emailing became more popular. Now, email is used for a lot more than emergency notifications. Google credits the September 11th attacks for motivating the company to make search result times faster. They, too, wanted people to be able to access vital information in the case of an emergency. Now when an event happens, it is usually trending on social media and then covered on the news. People have faster and easier access to posting and reading the news than ever. Often when the news reports on an incident, more details and confirmed facts are added, compared to what is published online by social media users.

  3. The attacks on the World Trade Center caused foreign affairs and terrorism to be discussed more frequently. In 2016, there is a segment regarding terrorism or foreign affairs every day. A study conducted in 2006 found that since 2001 coverage of foreign affairs has increased 102% and discussions on terrorism have risen 135%. A certain “appetite for news” grew from 9/11. Stories changed from feel good to informative.

More than public relations has changed since the September 11th attacks; lives have been changed, people have been changed, the government, and so much more. Since 2001, the U.S. has added the Department of Defense, the Public Safety Bureau and improved the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

   

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