Instagram: A Platform for Pluto

Instagram, a photo sharing app created in 2010, can be downloaded on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.  For the field of public relations, Instagram has been used by many major corporations to help bolster brand images. (Seitel, 2014) Even NASA uses Instagram to post pictures that are out of this world.

The New Horizons spacecraft captured an incredible image of the planet Pluto, and what NASA decided to do with that image was a wildly successful, yet somewhat controversial public relations strategy: They decided to post the image on Instagram an hour before the official NASA press conference to give the world a “sneak peek.”


“The Pluto photo was not only NASA’s most liked photo, but it also gained them 300,000 new followers” (Stockton, 2015). The controversy over the Instagram photo is that NASA is a government agency, and government agencies cannot exhibit favoritism towards private companies.  Social media platforms draw a fine line for government agencies because, technically, they are public venues.  However, in the case of NASA and Instagram, the company did profit from NASA’s post because of the immense traffic flow to the site following the image posting. (Stockton, 2015)

What do you think: Should NASA have posted the image to Instagram and why?  If not, what should have been their PR strategy?


Seitel, F. P. (2014). The Practice of Public Relations 12th Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.

Stockton, N. (2015, July 23). NASA’s Social Media Strategy Is Genius—And Kinda Maddening. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from Wired:


PR Game Plans and a Budding New Industry

Finding a common ground between public relations and legal issues can be a challenging endeavor.  Emerging industries across the nation will face legal issues, and they will have to come up with a public relations game plan related to issues that will inevitably “crop up.”

As marijuana used for medical purposes increases in the United States, and with the legalization of the drug in states like Colorado, businesses selling the product are going to have to start thinking about what will happen if and when they find themselves in need of issuing a recall.  Colorado companies have already had to issue recent recalls for some “bad” inventory. The first ever medical marijuana recall was issued by a Canadian cannabis company back in 2014 (Leaf Science, 2014).

Image courtesy of The Humble Gardener

Because the legalization of marijuana is a sensitive and controversial topic, public relations professionals and company managers must decide in advance how they want to approach the subject in the case of a recall.  They must thoroughly understand state laws so as not to do anything illegal.  It may even be wise of them to consult with a lawyer before making any comments.  Being proactive and planning ahead will help new companies deal with issues when they arise and will hopefully help them to be able to salvage their reputation early on in the process.

Food for thought:

What would you do if you were in charge of one of these new companies facing a recall?  Without clearly defined best practice standards, how would you decide the best plan of action?  What if your state laws do not mandate a recall, but you know that you have sold a potentially harmful product to consumers?


Leaf Science. (2014, April 21). Health Canada Issues First-Ever Marijuana Recall On Batch Of Purple Kush. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from Leaf Science:

Public Opinion: Subway Restaurant’s PR Nightmare

The ability to sway public opinion is never an easy task, especially after a major news story breaks and threatens the reputation of a company.  This is exactly what is happening to the major restaurant chain, Subway.

Jared Fogle has long been a spokesperson for Subway restaurants, traveling the country telling stories of his astonishing weight loss.  Today, however, there are suspicions that Jared may be connected to a child pornography investigation (Hullinger, 2015).

Photo courtesy of The Daily Sheeple.

This leaves Subway in the middle of a PR disaster.  Subway has a huge challenge ahead of them to maintain the reputation of their brand.  They have so far suspended the relationship with Fogle and have removed him from their online presence. Subway has so far done a good job doing damage control.  They acted quickly and did not try to cover up the story or pass the blame. Some say that the popular sandwich company should have dropped Fogle a long time ago.  The brand had been struggling, and their campaign strategies were not working.  Now with this latest drama unfolding, it will be interesting to see what happens to the company.  As for Jared, it appears that his spokesperson days have come to an end.  There are certain acts that, once committed, are nearly impossible to fix; being associated with pedophilia is one of them. (Hullinger, 2015)

Food for thought: What are some other actions or decisions that would be nearly impossible to recover from, even with the help of the best PR professionals?  If Jared is found NOT guilty of this involvement, what steps should he take to rebuild his own personal brand?


Hullinger, J. (2015, July 14). Lessons Learned: Inside a PR Disater. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from Fast Company:

What It Takes to Be Great at Public Relations

As a marketing student, I am realizing that the marketing profession encompasses a wide variety of careers.  Without experience in the field, it is often difficult to know where you would fit in best.  I was curious about the area of public relations.  What type of person does it take to be a successful public relations professional?  Would my personality and skills be right for such a career?  Would I enjoy it?  These are all valid questions that anyone pondering the idea of a career in public relations should ask themselves. So what makes a great PR professional?

The first thing that a public relations professional must possess is technical skill.  They must have a solid understanding of the public relations field, and they must have a desire to keep up with current events.  They need to be proficient with computers, and they should understand basic business practices.  Both written and verbal communication skills are imperative, and management skills are a big plus. (Seitel, 2014, p.15)

Another aspect to consider is personality.  Some personal qualities fit with certain careers better than others. For example, a very shy and timid person may not be comfortable in a public relations role.  On the other hand, a person who enjoys communicating with the public would be quite comfortable.  PR professionals must be honest, ethical, and believe in what they are doing and who they are representing.  They need a positive attitude and the ability to “bounce back” after a fall. Lastly, a good PR person is not afraid to take a risk and stand up for what they believe. (Seitel, 2014, p.15-16)

PR Traits

Image courtesy of Traits of a PR Pro | JSH&A

Food for thought:

Think about PR professionals that you either know personally or know because they are in the news.  Do they possess the above traits?  Can you think of a PR professional that you consider to be really good at his/her job? What sets them apart from others in the field?


Seitel, F. P. (2014). The Practice of Public Relations 12th Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.