Category: ISC Connections


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The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most notable news stories thus far in the 21st century. During the months of April-June of 2010, BP was responsible for an oil spill that dumped mass amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reeking havoc on the marine and wildlife habitats, as well as causing extensive damage to the fishing and tourism industries in the Gulf. It was the largest oil spill in history, and was covered extensively in the media. BP took some major hits from the media, and was blamed (rightfully so) for the incident.

Looking back on the coverage of the oil spill, much of what happened can be linked to many of the things we discussed this semester in COMM 306. This incident was the first thing that came to my mind when I read Chapter 4 in Sietel’s “The Practice of Public Relations” that discussed public opinion. I don’t know if there’s ever been a company that took as big of a hit in the public eye following a mistake than BP did. After it came to light that BP was responsible for the spill, people were boycotting the company and there were hundreds of reports noting BP’s lack of safety precautions and discussion of how easily the spill could have been avoided. The negative downturn that the company took in the public eye, was exponentially increased when BP CEO, Tony Hayward, began clearly trying to downplay BP’s fault in the spill.

BP’s and Tony Hayward’s reactions and statements following the oil spill were again the first thing that came to my mind after reading Chapter 19 in the textbook, which goes over crisis communication. The oil spill for BP was a monumental crisis within the organization, and the way the company handled the reverberations is a perfect example of what not to do following a crisis. BP did everything they could to cover up for themselves, avoid blame, and twist the truth. Tony Hayward would have been much better off by coming out and saying that unfortunately BP was at fault, they feel terrible about what happened, and that they would try to do everything in their power to fix the huge mistake that they had made.

A few nights ago I was up late and tuning into some late night television. While flipping through the channels, I stumbled across a few infomercials that got me thinking about how bizarre some of the things are that make it on our TVs, and how odd some of these infomercials are. Does anyone actually buy these products? I’m dying to know who these people are that actually call the number on the screen and pay for these odd and assorted products, that are marketed in the strangest ways.

Earlier in the semester, in class we took a look at the infomercial for ShamWow, which is right up their with the weirdest of all infomercials. We took at some common strategies for persuasion, and identified them in the ShamWow commercial. The ShamWow commercial is like so many other infomercials on TV that pretty much use every persuasion strategy possible, but do it in the most obvious and ineffective way.

Take a look at this infomercial above that attempts to sell the “Slap Chop”. It’s the same guy that does the ShamWow commercials, and again he hits on almost all of the strategies for persuasion, but it feels way too obvious. He uses rational arguments, emotional/motivational appeals, credibility, sequential/contrast strategies, aesthetics, and a narrative method all in the span of a three minute commercial. I actually do believe that these persuasion strategies work, but informercials, in particular, make them all way too corny and obvious.

I created my Facebook account a little over four years ago. I was a junior in high school at the time and was basically forced into creating an account by my friends who had all created their pages several months before I did. Eventually, I gave in and agreed to get a Facebook of my own. Four years later, as a junior in college, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as to whether or not I should keep my Facebook account or not. There’s been numerous times that I’ve felt on the verge on deleting my account, as its primary purpose seems to be a way to procrastinate from starting my school work.

After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no way I can delete my Facebook. Being a college student, especially, it has become essential to have a Facebook. I’ve realized that Facebook is honestly what keeps me in the loop about the goings on around campus, with my family, and various other things. My account is not only a way to connect with people, but it honestly keeps me informed. I can’t begin to list how many things (events, news stories, etc.) I’ve found out about through Facebook, that I wouldn’t have found out about otherwise. As a busy college student, I rarely have a moment to turn on the morning news or read a newspaper. I find out about a lot of things through what I see on Facebook, and I know that a lot of my friends and college peers echo the same report.

Facebook also allows me to multitask. I have three sisters that I rarely get a chance to pick up the phone and catch up with. I can have a quick 2 minute conversation with them on FB chat that allows us to get each other up to speed on what’s going on in our lives, while simultaneously doing my work for class the next day. As I begin exam week, I have a custom of deactivating my FB account for the duration of exams. A brief break from Facebook is always nice, but I’ve come to the realization that its an essential part of the way I stay in the loop, and I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to totally delete my account.

ISC Connection

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Every time I turn on the news, I feel like I’m always getting an update on the life of the infamous Lindsay Lohan. I usually turn the channel right away, as soon as I realize that I could care less about whether this girl is in jail, out of jail, in rehab, whatever. When’s the last time she was in a movie anyway? Was it Freaky Friday? I honestly have no idea. I also have no idea why her antics can’t escape from my television. I can only assume that people out there actually care about her problems. There are so many more important things going on in our world, and Lindsay Lohan is just one of many examples of pointless news stories. Things like this have absolutely no business being in our news.

This got me thinking about how what is in the media gets chosen for coverage. It seems obvious to me that we don’t need constant updates on Lindsay Lohan’s personal life. One of the key rules in public relations is, report things that are NEWSWORTHY. I turn on the morning news, and literally 10% of the top stories actually seem newsworthy. How is Lindsay Lohan or the royal wedding relevant to me? Is this a problem with the media, or a problem with our society? I feel embarrassed every time I turn the news on.

George Gerber’s Cultivation Theory, states that the more one watches TV the higher their fear levels of the world are. This seems so wrong. The news shouldn’t increase fear; it should simply inform the public of the most important goings on. I realize that what’s most important isn’t always what’s most interesting, but does that matter?

Just something that’s been on my mind, thought I’d share in an ISC Connection.