Fake News, A New Term: Is It Really New?

The term ‘fake news’, which means false, fabricated and inappropriate information, first appeared in the 1990s, when TV Guide published a cover story on the subject, advising professional on how to mark sponsored Video News Releases (which are “video segment(s) made to look like news reports, but are created by a PR firm, advertising agency, marketing firm, corporation, or government agency,” as defined by Wikipedia). TV Guide recommended that media organizations should always display the source of external material when it is used in a broadcast – for as long as the material is on screen. The article was published during a time when media outlets were often not properly marking external or promotional material. As a result, broadcasts were losing credibility and reliability – a development that TV Guide wanted to bring attention to. So, while some claim to have come up with the term “fake news,” this cover proves that it has been used for at least 25 years.

 

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Columbus Day: Should We Celebrate?  

Many Native Americans, and increasingly Americans that are of non-native descent, question if Christopher Columbus, who not only “discovered” the continent, but also brought slave trade and the appropriation of Natives’ territories, deserves a national holiday.  

Like every year, Americans celebrated Columbus Day last Monday, remembering the historic moment of 1492, when Italian explorer Christopher Columbus first landed in the Caribbean. While the first Columbus Day was celebrated in 1792, President Franklin D. Roosevelt only declared the day a national holiday in 1937. Whether the day should remain a public holiday has become a controversial public debate.

Columbus’ arrival in America and the subsequent European colonization of the Americas started centuries of mistreatment of Native Americans. Not only by bringing infectious diseases from Europe, but also through slavery, murders and resettlements. Due to these reasons, a group of Americans is advocating for renaming the holiday.

As a result, some American states, such as Oregon, South Dakota, Alaska and Hawaii have officially renamed the day to "Indigenous Peoples Day." The newest addition to this list are Los Angeles and Austin, which voted to replace the name from 2019 on, celebrating Native Americans’ diverse history and culture instead. Amidst such controversy, someone vandalized a famous Columbus statue in New York in last month, representing the second incident in the city.

Christopher Columbus Statue at Central Park, New York. Photo Credit: New York Post   

Christopher Columbus Statue at Central Park, New York. Photo Credit: New York Post 

 

Inception of PR In India 

By Priyanka Banerjee

After over 200 years of colonization, when the British had left India, the country’s GDP collapsed strikingly and the literacy level was at the nadir. Overall, socially, politically and economically, India was on the verge of destruction. Amidst such despair, pioneering corporations started philanthropical programs for people in need.

A country with a complex economy, diverse culture and notions, India approached public relations quite differently compared to western cultures. For the most well-known family-owned businesses, like Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO), PR was more like a philanthropical effort. Tata significantly contributed to the social and economic development of many communities, helping build housing and hospitals, set up electricity, and provide access to clean water. The company continued its people-first policy, when it established its first public relations department, emphasizing employee communication.

During the independence movement, the Indian media had made noteworthy contributions to liberate the nation from British rule by generating patriotism and consciousness about all sorts of rights among the nationals. In the post-independence era, Indian broadcast and print media took significant steps to provide Indians with objective, reliable information, so that they wouldn’t come under any type of further exploitation as they did during the British period. Journalism was more like a mission than a profession in India and meant to serve the public.

India didn’t have an official public relations body until 11 years after the independence, when the Public Relations Society of India (PRISI) was established. The organization was meant to formally regulate the public relations profession for the first time in India. When the country started to witness globalization in the early 1990s, public relations recognized its right place for the first time. With foreign investment, a growing economy, and the emergence of multinational corporations, the value and public perception of brands suddenly started to matter. As a result, PR took a different shape altogether. During this time, global agencies, like Ogilvy & Mather, opened offices in India. Since then the PR industry in India began to observe a remarkable evolution. In the 2000s, the industry watched further growth when the New York-based Burson-Marsteller, one of the largest global public relations firms in the world, acquired the Indian public relation company Genesis, which was founded in the 90s. Gradually, the Indian PR industry is receiving more and more attention for creating innovative strategic communications, building significant brands, dealing with crisis and improving customer communication.

Six Flags Over Texas Success Story

On this day, August 1st, 1961, the biggest amusement park chain in America was born. Six Flags Over Texas opened with the first 360-degree looping roller coaster, modern parachute drop, man-made river rapids ride, and an all-inclusive admission price. Along with these novel features, all rides and stands were centered on the theme of the history of Texas, which made the park unique and a part of history. The park had six differently themed sections, representing each of the six flags that had flown over the state at various times. The novelty of this idea brought on much initial success. Six Flags continued to keep up the positivity by developing communication strategies with special promotions, partnerships and a social media presence, all based on this distinctive and historical theme.

The novel amusement park features, along with its communications techniques and theme, made Six Flags an enormous financial success, ultimately becoming the world’s largest regional theme park company, owning and operating 30 theme, water and zoological parks in North America. Today, the company enjoys widespread name recognition around a vast majority of the country.

July 28, 1917 – The Silent Parade Down Fifth Avenue Spoke More than Any Words Could

In response to the brutal white mob attacks known as the East St. Louis riots, around 10,000 African Americans walked down Fifth Avenue to protest the murders, lynchings and violence that was directed towards African Americans. Women and children were dressed in white, while men followed behind in dark suits.

Organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) the goal was to influence President Woodrow Wilson to pass legislation that would promote Black causes or, at the least, implement anti-lynching initiatives, which he had promised to do during his campaign.

The parade was unlike any other. Flyers and posters contained a list of phrases such as “America has lynched without trial 2,867 Negroes in 31 years and not a single murderer has suffered” & “Mothers, do lynchers go to heaven?”Shockingly, not one word was uttered as the protestors marched from Fifth Avenue to Madison Square. The only thing that was heard was the muffled drums and the marchers’ footsteps. Today it is described as “one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed,” per the Herald.

The silent parade was a major beginning of the civil rights movement and demonstrated that a protest is not just about chants and songs. Silence has an immense power of its own.

July 26, 1775 - U.S. postal system established

Before this date, letters and mail existed, but delivery methods were sporadic and took many months. There were not even post offices to deliver to, so mail was often just left at inns and taverns. Benjamin Franklin became postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737, as he began to create vast improvements to the mail system, and he was later officially appointed the first postmaster general in 1775 during the Second Continental Congress. He worked to set up more efficient colonial routes traveling via relay teams both day and night, and he also debuted the first rate chart which standardized delivery prices based on distance and weight.

What Benjamin Franklin started, has made tremendous strides to get to the point where it is today as an independent agency of the United States government, and as one of the few that is explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. In 2017, there are now over 40,000 post offices in the United States, delivering 212 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million locations. Although there have been many advancements in technology offering competitive ways of sending a message, specifically with email, technology has also helped improve mail service efficiency with the creation of letter sorting machines and automation. This universal mail system does not only facilitate general correspondence, but has also played a huge role in strengthening relationships between friends, communities, and businesses around the world. Without the postal system, communication would be greatly limited.

An AP Stylebook Original

Below are two photos of AP Stylebooks: one is from 1967, the other one from 2017. Over the years, this essential writing guide has changed immensely, primarily due to societal advancements. For example, in the 2017 version, in situations of possible gender nonconformity, singular “they” is now acceptable as a pronoun when rewriting the sentence as plural would be too difficult.

Because the Stylebook adapted over the years, it is still relevant today and imperative to many professionals, offering a completely fundamental perspective on writing and syntax. It is generally used as a reference to grammar, punctuation, and principles of reporting, which have been adopted by the majority of broadcasting, magazine publishing, marketing departments, and public relations firms. This 1967 version of the AP Stylebook is a significant relic in the history of writing and the PR industry as a whole, and it is now featured in the Museum of Public Relations!

One Small Step

48 years ago on this date, July 20, 1969, about 600 million people gathered by their radios and televisions to watch and listen in real time to the landing of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. This event not only marks an influential moment in technological history, but also in the history of media and communication.

Interestingly, all of the shared enthusiasm and positivity around the NASA mission was close to not being possible, as many NASA engineers believed that live broadcasting from the moon would take too much effort and money. The public affairs team for NASA was forced to step in and insist on the importance of the live video due to the community support they had to gather for the Apollo missions, which was garnered to justify spending billions of tax dollars. Once pride abounded in the country, NASA was able to do more than just promote their cause. They educated the media, who became third-party spokespeople for the program, and through both television and newspapers, they would tell the space story the public was so eager to hear. In their own publicity efforts, however, NASA was strategically avoiding the argument over cost and previous failures. Instead, the agency positively branded the astronauts’ faces as representing American ingenuity, pride, and bravery. Many believe that public relations played a crucial role in getting public support for America’s race to the moon, which it ultimately reached before the Soviets.  

Richard Jurek, a public relations specialist, referred to the significance of the event by claiming that, “Apollo’s place in our collective memories is chiseled there because we experienced it together. NASA didn’t just send three men to the moon on the Apollo 11 mission, they sent more than 600 million of us—men, women, and children from all over the globe—to the moon and back, thanks to live television.”

Eaten responsibly, or indulged in gluttonously for the sake of foodie heaven, bacon resurges to grace the American palate

 

Very few items scream America in the morning like sizzling strips of bacon. This American tradition was originally synthesized by PR “Founding Father” Edward Bernays, who was able to demonstrate, before modern scientific studies countered the claim, that a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs was very healthy. Thousands of doctors were enlisted to research and present the claim, which was so powerful it created bona fide American tradition.

This tradition almost went the way of quilting when scientific research showed several negative effects of excessive bacon consumption. By 1989 Oscar Meyer, Tyson Foods, Hormel Foods and many other purveyors of America’s favorite cured pork product began looking at a slowly but consistently ebbing trend in consumption.

However, Americans have always enjoyed risk, especially a delicious one, so recent years have seen a shift in attitudes towards the crispy, meaty strips. Used in moderation as a garnish or ingredient, or simply eaten sparingly, bacon has become common again.  It graces almost every possible sandwich, soup or salad, and there are now restaurants that serve exclusively bacon. This year the United States Department Agriculture released figures showing that American consumption of bacon over the last winter was the among highest it had been since tracking of pork bellies began in 1957. Yearly consumption is catching up, as farmers struggle to bring enough pork bellies to market to meet a raging consumer demand.

The greasy thanks for this epicurean Cinderella story goes to a new generation of foodies and a couple of fairy god-fathers - Tom Bush and Mark Schweiger. These two inventive businessmen realized that it wasn’t just the health mess created by bacon that prevented many Americans from enjoying their traditional guilty culinary pleasure - it was the actual mess. Every time bacon is cooked, whether on the stove or in the oven or microwave, there is oily splatter everywhere, (as many readers remembering being hit with splattering grease can surely attest). So, Tom Bush and Mark Schweiger introduced pre-cooked bacon to the American shopping aisle.

Of course, Oscar Meyer and other large bacon producing corporations were unwilling to sell or market it back in 1995 when Bush and Schweiger pitched them. So, Bush and Schweiger turned the other cheek, said “Oh ye, of little faith,” and went on to reverse the market trend. They eventually sold their successful company SHK Foods to Con Agra for $30 Million.

Ready to eat bacon now hogs about 10% of the total bacon market- about $400 million out of a $4 billion industry. The pre-cooked bacon success may even be reverberating to the larger bacon and pork markets. Americans bought about 14% more bacon in 2016 than 2013 according to the research firm Nielsen, and according to the USDA, total pork supply has reached its highest levels since market tracking began in 1915. It seems, at least for the time being, that Americans are pigging out.

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