Dove #SpeakHuman

Bron: Dove

Het bedrijf Dove, één van de paradepaardjes van Unilever, lag onder vuur na de lancering van haar campagne op Twitter waarin een oproep werd gedaan aan alle vrouwen over de hele wereld om anderen aan te moedigen om positiviteit te verspreiden:

‘Als jij een meisje of vrouw kent die online negatief over zichzelf of anderen praat… probeer dan op deze manier wat positiviteit te brengen’.

Onder de noemer ‘#SpeakBeautiful’ begon de campagne waarin Dove reageerde op negatieve tweets van vrouwen over het eigen zelfbeeld en daarbij de vrouwen aanmoedigden om positief te zijn. Het initiatief viel niet goed bij het publiek: een storm van negatieve tweets over de campagne begon zich te verspreiden op social media. Vrouwen vroegen zich af waar Unilever en Dove zich in hemelsnaam mee bemoeiden, schrijft website Marketwatch en The Washington Post noemde het initiatief zelfs ‘the ugliest thing on the internet today’. PR blogger Rosa Huetink concludeerde in haar recente blog dat Dove de situatie beter had kunnen en moeten behandelen, door snel en transparant te communiceren met haar stakeholders en de media. Hoewel ik het eens ben met deze stelling, denk ik dat een interessante aanvulling op deze blog een concreet advies aan Dove zou zijn in termen van hun toekomstige marketing communicatie.

De campagne van Dove met haar negatieve reacties ging viraal, maar Dove reageerde niet op de negatieve tweets en verzoeken om commentaar. Zelfs wanneer mediasites hen benaderde voor een reactie, weigerde Dove te reageren. Hoewel geen respons ook een reactie is, kan het van kwaad tot erger gaan voor een bedrijf als Dove wanneer zij helemaal niet reageren op de online firestorm. Zoals onderzoek vermeld, kan social media zorgen voor meer twee-weg communicatie tussen organisaties en hun publiek, wat essentieel is voor de bouw van wederzijdse relaties. Echter, kunnen gesprekken niet plaatsvinden als een bedrijf als Dove niet reageert op reeds gemaakte negatieve inhoud. Ik zal mij verder uitweiden over hoe Dove zou kunnen hebben gereageerd, en wat ze moeten doen in de toekomst om reputatieschade te voorkomen.

Gebruik een Conversational Human Voice
Onderzoek toont aan dat een menselijke gespreksstijl, ook wel een conversational human voice (CVH) genoemd, een belangrijke voorspeller is van succesvolle webcare en de reputatie, geloofwaardigheid en het imago van een organisatie versterkt. Hieronder vallen onder andere personalisatie en informeel taalgebruik. Een bedrijf wordt positiever beoordeeld wanneer een CVH wordt gebruikt. De reden is simpel: door met een conversational human voice te communiceren, laat je als bedrijf een menselijke kant zien, en dat wordt gewaardeerd door consumenten. Mensen praten immers liever met mensen dan met een gezichtsloze organisatie. Mijn advies voor Dove is te beginnen met een CVH in reactie op de negatieve tweets over de #SpeakBeautiful campagne. Klanten zijn namelijk je eerste prioriteit.

Reactieve webcare is effectiever
Er is daarnaast een kritische balans tussen proactief en reactief bezig zijn op social media. Webcare geplaatst in antwoord op het verzoek van een klant om te reageren op een klacht is reactieve webcare. In proactieve webcare zijn organisatorische reacties niet voorafgegaan door enige directe of indirecte verzoeken van de klager om te reageren. Over het algemeen is reactieve webcare effectiever voor zowel marketing en customer care doeleinden, omdat ongevraagde webcare reacties gevoelens van privacyschending zouden kunnen oproepen en omdat reactieve webcare reacties in staat zijn om de negatieve gevolgen te verzachten. De algemene regel is daarom om alleen actie te ondernemen wanneer hier expliciet om wordt gevraagd. Dove moet daarom alleen reageren op consumenten die expliciet vragen om een reactie van het bedrijf.

Over de auteur: Saartje Bakker is een Amsterdamse studente Corporate Communicatie aan de UvA, die in haar vrije tijd houdt van reizen, mode en lezen. Op dit moment schrijft ze haar master scriptie over de effectiviteit van ‘het nieuwe werken’.

Does a good story help you in crises? The story of Uber might have some answers

Photo credit: http://www.recode.net/2017/2/28/14772416/uber-ceo-travis-kalanick-apology-driver

Uber and storytelling

Uber has struggled through multiple controversies; the company has been many times in the spotlight and faced crises. Communication at Uber is not a fire drill, though; it is not just a tool for managing reputation. Communication is what their business is based on, it is their foundation stone.  Uber biggest asset is their storytelling skills and how they persuade people to change their lives. To get into a car with a stranger and not to use those yellow cabs in New York which are so part of the New Yorkers’ identity. Uber is about change, it generates difficult situations but always the big picture what matters, and when having such a mission well-told (science also approves), most crises are temporally.

Uber and its crises

The company was born in 2009 in San Francisco and by 2015 it has spread to most major cities in the world. A couple of examples that happened to Uber on this path:  a manager and his team were caught ordering a significant number of rides from their competitor and then cancelling it (2013), it was discovered that Uber could spy on their consumers by reporting their location information (2014), their drivers assaulted their customers, which questioned the company’s background check policy (for example in 2014). This year, so far they had the crisis of #deleteuber; a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc, which accuses Uber of stealing designs for technology; a video that showed the CEO, Kalanick berating a Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers; former Uber employee published a blog post describing a workplace where sexual harassment was common, and finally a conflict with local legislators regarding the permit to test self-driving cars on the streets of California.

How is this handled well?

Many worry – including this blogpost – that Uber has a difficult time to keep their reputation and unable to manage their communication in the time of these crises, and the importance of appropriate crisis management is emphasised in research, as well.

Here is when focusing on the big picture comes in. Uber gives stories to humans on humans. It persuades people on things that were unimaginable before.  Kalanick is an”extroverted storyteller, capable of positioning their companies in the context of dramatic progress for humanity and recruiting not only armies of engineers but drivers, hosts, lobbyists, and lawmakers to their cause.” says Brad Stone, journalist. Uber keeps emphasizing the human stories about their drives and communities and they do a lot to keep good relations with the ‘relevant’ politicians, which is also proven by papers that good Public Affairs is crucial. In 2014, before that legislation that would have cap the growth of Uber in NY, the company used digital storytelling on its app to incite its costumers to speak up against the bill; used (television) ads that focused on the human interest stories of their drivers and gave birth to grassroots activation.

Several events show how Uber already moved on and even profited from their crises with their communication that simply out weights these issues.  I believe the way they use storytelling to communicate their mission and use stories with human interest that will help them to make these crises quieter and then just pass away.

 

 

About the author: Timea studies Communications at the University of Amsterdam. She has been biking a lot since moving to the Netherlands and enjoys public speaking.

The algorithm revealed: these news feed values explain what you get to see on Facebook

In a blog post ‘Is it news? Five tips that will make your story newsworthy’, the ‘updated’ news values by Harcup & O’Neill were listed: exclusivity and follow up, conflict and bad news, celebrity and entertainment, magnitude and the power-elite and relevance. Their research complements the ‘taxonomy news values’ of researchers Galtung & Ruge, containing twelve news values which are, to name a few, frequency, unexpectedness, reference to something negative, reference to elite nations and people, meaningfulness and so on. In this blog post, I argue that these news values are not necessarily overrated, but certainly outdated.

News values

First, the used article was written in the pre-social media era and did not keep any technical interference like algorithms and filter bubbles in mind. It seems like the researchers realized this as well. In their newest research they updated their updated news values (are you still following?) by adding factors like shareability, surprise, audio-visuals, drama, good news and the news organization’s agenda.

News feed values

Second, research shows that especially people under thirty years old use social media on a daily basis. Moreover, the most used social medium for news is Facebook, and on this social media platform not only news values ‘decide’ what news you get to see, but also the (ever changing) algorithm. Considering that, it is weird that the algorithms are so untransparant. Okay, you could check the technical, difficult updates Facebook gives you, but for normal people these are like reading a different alphabet. One researcher decided to sort out Facebook’s patents, press releases and other guide lines and listed the news feed values in order of importance:

  1. Friend relationship
  2. Explicitly expressed user interests
  3. Prior user engagement
  4. Implicitly expressed user preferences
  5. Post age
  6. Platform priorities
  7. Page relationship
  8. Negatively expressed preferences
  9. Content quality

From this list can be concluded that your friends, user history and interests (both explicitly and implicitly expressed) are considered the most important factors based on which your timeline is created, and content quality is the least important factor. Combining this knowledge with things like shareability, surprise, audio-visuals, drama and good news, it is not surprising that cat movies, funny video’s and surprising advertisements (to name a few) are prominent on a lot of timelines.

Concluding: not only modern news values, but also news FEED values decide what you see on Facebook. In fact, there are two gatekeepers and two agenda-setters that decide what your timeline looks like at the same time; the algorithm from the side of Facebook, and the news values from the side of the journalist. Considering the fact that, according to research amongst PR-professionals, social media are considered to have a big influence on different stakeholders within and outside the organization, it is key to understand what factors influence what people get to see on their timeline. That gives the PR professional a clever insight in the ‘rules of the news feed’.

Anique Gijsberts is a fulltime news junky and parttime web editor. She writes for a Dutch news website and volunteers at Medium, the Communication Science magazine of the University of Amsterdam. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Greenwashing Black Pete?

The annual children’s tradition Sinterklaas has been overshadowed for the last couple of years by the discussion whether Sinterklaas’ helper, called Black Pete, is a racist character or not. The opponents of Black Pete claim that the character is a caricature of black people and descends from our slavery history, while the defenders of Black Pete claim that Black Pete is an old innocent tradition and should not be changed. In a recent blog by Anne Sofie Tieman she explained how the large television production company RTL Nederland decided to change Black Pete into a more neutral character in their television programmes. I wanted to further elaborate on that and the way they framed it, because I question RTL’s sincerity and think it was just a PR trick to prevent any reputational damage. 

Author: Cees Hoogvliet

Source: YouTube

Agenda set to St. Nicholas’ Eve

RTL framed the removal of Black Pete, and replacing it with Chimney Pete, by saying that we should respect each other and thought the character was not appropriate. However, prior to the discussion, RTL used Black Pete for years and never claimed it to be inappropriate. This has everything to do with the reversed agenda setting theory, which claims that public issues can influence the media agenda. When Black Pete became a big topic of discussion, RTL decided to replace Black Pete with a more neutral character in order to avoid negative reactions from their stakeholders and possible reputational damage. If they really thought it was racist and inappropriate, they would have changed it before it was a hot topic.

Play the frame game

According to research, many organizations have adopted public relations in order to achieve certain organizational goals by getting media coverage. By framing information about the organization in a certain way, the organization is able to let the public believe the news the way you presented it. RTL framed the change of Black Pete in a way, so the public would think they were against racism and be supportive of everyone’s opinion.

Source: Wecycle

Greenwashing their motives

But sometimes organizations engage in CSR activities just to increase sales or gain a more favourable reputation and not because they are concerned with society. This is called greenwashing and I think that is the case with RTL. RTL released a statement regarding the change and said they respected the opinions of both the opponents as well as the defenders of Black Pete and that they would use a more neutral character in the future, which would be acceptable for both sides. However, the motives of RTL to change Black Pete are questionable. RTL was probably well aware of the fact, that if they would continue using Black Pete in their programmes, a large group would be offended and have a more negative attitude towards RTL. This could result in losing viewers, negative reactions and reputational damage. By using a neutral character, RTL hopes to retain their favourable reputation.

How do you perceive RTL’s decision to change Black Pete? Am I too distrustful towards RTL’s motives or do I have a point? Let me know in the comments!

About the author:

Cees Hoogvliet (23), a soon-to-be graduated master student in corporate communication at the University of Amsterdam. Interested in social media, branding, PR, beer and preferably a combination of those.

 

“We are sinking!” “What are you sinking about?” – Apple’s delayed response to the FBI

About a week and a half ago, one of my cologs (blog and colleague… anyone?) wrote an interesting piece about the 2016 crisis communication case of Apple versus the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). As Lubna, summarized in her post, the FBI played on emotion in order to further their agenda, while Apple took a stance by motioning towards the bigger picture and what the implications would be.

Lubna already stated that Apple did the right thing by responding to the FBI’s claims by focusing on facts in an arguably neutral manner, while fixing on establishing the foundation for their argument. Frames, according to van Gorp, can be understood as invitations to read something in a certain way. In line with this, the contradictory messages of the FBI and Apple can be described as a national security or terrorism frame, and a personal security or privacy frame, respectively. More specifically, Apple held that creating a backdoor for the FBI would equate to accepting potential losses to users security and could mean setting a dangerous precedent regarding the liberties the government can take.

According Schafraad and colleagues, agenda building (essentially the establishing of news via journalists) entails the creation of issues that are of public concern. The authors discuss the news factor theory, which lists multiple factors that tend to make up ‘good’ news stories. The fact that the Apple-FBI-situation brought together controversy, impact-reach, negative consequences, and elite organizations, all of which are central factors to the theory, explains how it garnered such broad attention.

As Timothy Coombs argues in his paper, when an organization is faced with a challenge-type crisis (stakeholders are upset, arguing the organization has operated inappropriately) that shows a strong resonance, said organization should deny their intentions. The FBI framed their stance in a way that would garner emotionally charged responses and the story, as mentioned above, was bound to make for an important news item. Therefore, Apple was right to respond by denying malintent and repairing their position by stating clear points as to why they actually did not comply.

Being the hugely well-known global player that they are and offering solid arguments, Apple not only function as opinion leaders themselves, but additionally were supported by other opinion leaders soon after. Ronald Burt established that opinion leaders or brokers have the capacity to disseminate information among groups, which then further spread internally.

Due to this, soon there was an equal part in society taking Apple’s side.

Through a number of things that came together, Apple managed to turn the page and gain a firm stance in their dispute with the FBI, after taking a week to come up with a proper response. By cleverly establishing their arguments and having that stance properly resonate throughout a number of outlets and opinion leaders, they were able to fight their way out of the initial underdog position. As we can see, swift, yet thought-out, sophisticated measures have the power of resurfacing a seemingly sinking ship.

So the next time you are captain of the Titanic, about 12.7 seconds after having hit that iceberg, don’t run to the leak with a mop-bucket right away, but maybe rather reflect on the situation – and then take appropriate measures.

…alright, that might not have been the best analogy, but you get the point.

About the author: 
Jason C. Teetz is an aspiring communication professional, 
studying Persuasive Communication (Masters) at the 
University of Amsterdam, who tries to blend the fun 
with the factual so you don't have to suffer while 
learning something.

Brexit and the Media: How Bad Was It, Anyway?

Brexit has left many spectators bewildered about the role of news media in the outcome of the vote. In a recent blog post, Timea Klebercz suggests that several factors in a malfunctioning communication setting have helped the ‘Leave’-side win the referendum. In this blog post, I provide alternative explanations and solutions for the existing problems, which Timea has already introduced. In the face of several upcoming elections in Europe, it seems also well-timed to advise political PR professionals on how they can take along this knowledge to their own contexts.

Creative Commons, Artfcity

Partisan news media – how bad are they really?

Timea criticizes the role of partisan news media by questioning their selective reporting during the Brexit referendum. Critics might argue against her claim, that opinionated news should usually foster the quality of public debates, especially because the UK has a diverse range of dissenting partisan media. Hence, people should be able to consider a lot of different opinions.

Nevertheless, I share Timea’s opinion that partisan media were detrimental to the matters of Brexit, yet for different reasons. In my view, there was another level that helped to hinder the establishment of a fruitful public discourse. Partisan media have created civic echo chambers of likeminded opinions through reporting ideologically and highly selective. Thus, being surrounded by similar opinions has made it less likely for readers to exchange their political views with different-minded people. This is supported by behavioural research, showing that people, who are solely relying on partisan media, strongly reinforce their negative emotions towards people with opposing opinions.

Thus, in my opinion, political PR professionals need to see partisan media differentiated. For one thing, like-minded partisan newspapers can be considered easy targets for earned media coverage by professionals. Yet in the end, politicians need to find political consensus amongst different opinions. Because political PR professionals also promote this democratic process, they should avoid jeopardizing it. Hence, they must carefully find their balance between campaigning their interests to potential voters and fostering public debates across society.

Creative Commons, WSJ Graphics

How simple is too simple?

But what does having partisan media on both extremes of the political spectrum imply for the coverage of issues? Timea points out that partisan news media have distorted complex EU issues into oversimplified populisms. News media have battled, armed with polarizing frames, for their sovereignty in interpreting the political reality. While this is factually correct in the Brexit case, it also needs to be delved into why that was and how it could be solved.

According to the 2015 Eurobarometer, Brits were less interested in EU issues than any other member state. In my opinion, complex political issues should be communicated in ways that try to also engage politically apathetic people in politics. For example, a study by Matthew Baum showed that the personalized writing style in tabloids can help increasing political attention amongst politically uninterested readers. Yet, I agree with Timea that simple messages can be dangerous when they are framed the way she explains. Some researchers assert that people try to collectively make sense of political issues by aligning their existing frames to some degree. However, this process is not possible when opposing frames are characterized as non-negotiable with other people’s opinions.

Therefore, political PR professionals should communicate their issues simply but constructively. A major share of citizens with lesser political knowledge may sometimes need explanations that are accessible to broader audiences. However, these explanations should be open to factual criticism and negotiable with other opinions.

About the author:
Thilo Schröder is a Political Communication (MSc.) student at the University of Amsterdam. Interested in how societies deal with crisis situations, he is writing about them in his blog entries. Thilo likes to travel and he is furthermore deeply interested in global football cultures. You can follow Thilo on Twitter.

SAMSUNG: ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE

(Source: Lubna Rezzoug)

Helen van der Weij responds optimistically to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 crisis in her latest blog: “You might think that a crisis like this will have negative effect on an organization and will…end their elite reputation…it did not for Samsung. I… use Samsung as an example of how an elite organization can save itself… and make sure that their reputation won’t explode like their phones.” Do I agree that Samsung as a company survived in the long run? Yes, definitely. Do I believe they got out this crisis without a scratch? No, as matter of fact their profits and reputation did ‘explode like their phones’ – in a bad way. Only the recall of their products already cost them $5.3 billion and according to the BCC their valuation even shrunk by $20 billion! Do I agree that media coverage on the crisis was rather neutral as a response to Samsung’s ‘successful’ crisis communication? No! Curious to why I disagree? I will shed more light on this below.

BRAND REPUTATION: HARD TO WIN, EASY TO LOSE.
Samsung has not always been as elite as may be suggested. Think of it, they build up their emporium from scratch in only twenty years. In the current social media-driven landscape where people are highly connected and news travels time, negative news has the tendency to gain more attention (as suggested by Soroka and Trussler). Nowadays, elite or not – it doesn’t really matter – Reputations are hard to win and easy to lose. Even though, Samsung replied to the crisis very promptly by recalling the defect products and offering new products. Their reputation got harmed by a worst case scenario: The new devices also showed defects. The Edelman Trust Barometer of 2017 shows 60% percent of consumers trust companies only when they offer high quality products or services and that the majority of consumers only buy products from brands that they trust.  Additionally, research showed that ‘a product-harm crisis’ results in significant decreases of trust and purchase intention of consumers. This reflects how a brand’s reputation can lead to severe losses.

In contrast to Helen’s suggestion:”.. the media in general were really neutral and definitely not negative about Samsung”, the image below shows that there was a negative sentiment towards Samsung during the crisis. Some argue that the negative sentiment towards the brand would have been lower if they reacted sooner on the exploding phones. Should they have replied even more swiftly? I will elaborate on this in a bit.

(Source: Zignal Labs)

TIMELINESS VS. ACCURACY
 I don’t think they should have replied sooner. Showing a prompt and caring response towards their customers already backfired on Samsung. Why? Isn’t it good these days to communicate timely during a crisis? Yes partly, as scholars argue that  “a prompt response is required since the speed of information dissemination on the Internet is incomparable to that of traditional media.” But speaking out too quickly can also add fuel to the fire by disseminating false information. This happened with Samsung, as they spread inaccurate information which frustrated regulators and consumers even more.

So, how to find a balance between trust, timeliness and accuracy? I would say to come up with a strategy that meets the expectations of all the stakeholders that are involved.

Lubna Rezzoug (25) is specialized in integrated marketing communications and public speaking. For her graduate thesis at the University of Amsterdam, she is studying the effects of sponsorship disclosures on Instagram. She enjoys working as a volunteer at Stichting Vluchtelingenwerk. In her time off she loves to travel, and she sings at local pubs. Connect to Lubna on Twitter: @LubnaRezzoug.

When no social media is better than using social media (for RTL and other PR’s)

The racism issue around Zwarte Piet or Black Pete has received a lot of attention lately. RTL has recently decided to not use Black Pete in their programs anymore and that they will not be allowed in commercials on their channels. The announcement of banning Black Pete from their channels raised a lot of fuss on social media and recently PR blogger Anne Sofie has written a blog about the reaction of RTL on the fuss. This blog was mostly about the way in which the reaction of RTL was framed and in this might have made them look indifferent to the negative comments on social media, but is there more to it?

 

(source: ANP: Roos Koole)

 

Communication handled well

Anne Sofie wrote that RTL handled the communication about taking Black Pete out of their channels and programs pretty well. On the one hand I would like to agree with this point of view, because RTL indeed made clear from the start why they banned Black Pete. According to Fournier and Avery social media is seen by the public as a discussions platform for consumers or in case of RTL: viewers. This study shows that the reaction of companies on these conversations, unless specifically asked for by consumers, is seen as an intrusion, which support the findings by Valentini, who also found that social media is not always the best medium for PR. Even though some of the comments were indeed placed in hope of a further response from RTL, most comments were to further discuss the subject among RTL viewers. Therefore, I agree with Anne Sofie that RTL did the right thing with not further involving themselves.

 

Or was it not?

On the other hand, if you are going to comment, like RTL representative Pieter Klein did on Twitter, it might be best to do this in a sympathetic way and react to specific comments according to (Noort and Willemsen), so the viewers will feel personally addressed and it will feel less like an intrusion. This is a better way to present yourself as a company, than Pieter Klein’s comment, which in my opinion would seem intrusive for the public instead of adding value to the discussion. The public will not become any wiser and maybe even feel offended, since it might come across as: you people are wasting your time. Company representatives should try to keep this in mind!

 

Did RTL really frame themselves to be neutral?

What RTL could have done better is to be consistent in their frame. Anne Sofie said in her blog that they frame themselves to be neutral. In my opinion they do engage in framing. It was only last year when RTL said they wouldn’t ban Black Pete from their channels and then one year later, they suddenly side with the opponents by banning Black Pete. It important to be consistent in your frame to be convincing (Moreno et al.). This seems logical, since inconsistency makes people unsure about the next move and have less trust in announcements. Therefore, include past statements in decisions and look at important scenarios that might happen in the future. This is something that RTL has forgotten and what may cause this announcement to change a lot of attitudes about RTL, don’t you think?

 

About the Author:

Mary (Debbie) van ‘t Hullenaar is a Master Student Persuasive Communication at the University of Amsterdam. She interested in, and writing her master about brands on social media. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing fashion blogs. For comments or questions feel free to contact me on my LinkedIn page. And don’t hesitate to leave a comment on the blog!

 

 

Media, mind your own business

How the NOC*NSF stayed with the facts, but then the media got involved

The entire sport-loving world was glued to the television last summer during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, so were the Dutch. How excited were we all when our ‘Lord of the rings’ Yuri van Gelder qualified himself for the Olympic final? But then, he messed up and was sent home by the NOC*NSF. A lot of questions appeared in the media. What was the role of the media or did the NOC*NSF did something wrong? Last week I have read a blog on this topic, which I partly agree with. Still I see some things in a different way, which I would like to share.

In short, this prior blog states that the NOC*NSF did not take the importance of more information for fans in to account. I do not think that the fans should be the most important thing here, van Gelder, the Olympic Games and the NOC*NSF are what really mattered. As this study describes, when constructing media content on a certain topic the larger culture should be taken in to account, which means that in this case the media could have thought of the magic Olympic sports culture. Also according tot this study, the power of frames should be taken in to account. So be aware of the impact something might have on, in this case, the athlete himself. I think it is harsh that a lot of media content on van Gelder was disrespectful.

(“..And think about it Joer. If you win, just a glas of soda..” Source: Geenstijl.nl)

So, the blame frame…
I do agree with the prior blog that there was mostly a ‘blame frame’ present in the media. The media might have done this to create entertaining news content. As this study stated, that might result in falsified content, which is actually misleading. And yes, that is partly what happened. But not completely due to the information the NOC*NSF provided, the media choose to highlight one part of their information. This news article is a good example, the media highlights the alcohol abuse as a reason for sending van Gelder home. Where does the NOC*NSF actually say that this was the precise reason? He speaks about rules and unacceptable behaviour. The alcohol abuse is one part, the ground on which they actually made their decision was that van Gelder missed a training the next day. And yes, missing a training due to a hangover is not a valid reason.

From a PR perspective
According to the prior blog when we look at this case from a PR perspective “The simple explanation that van Gelder violated the rules guiding sport performance overlooks the impact on the fans”. Indeed a simple, incomplete statement is not a good way of practicing PR, it could cause damage for several groups involved. As explained in prior paragraphs, that is in fact not what the NOC*NSF did here.

In short
– Van Gelder was blamed guilty, which he was.
– The media made the public think in a certain way, about van Gelder as well as    the NOC*NSF.
– NOC*NSF gave the information needed and protected their athlete.
– The media sometimes should respect others and mind their own business.

 

About the author

Helen van der Weij (25) is a Dutch Master student, in Corporate Communication, at the University of Amsterdam. After studying Art History and finishing a Bachelor in Communication Science and studying at the KNVB/UEFA academy, she hopes to find a nice job in PR or media after receiving her Masters degree. Working as a soccer trainer is nice, but it is time for something serious now. Want more information? Check my LinkedIn profile!

Think that neutral framing exist? Think again!

(Source: RTL)

In a recent blogpost by Anne Sofie Tieman, she states that the Dutch television channel RTL framed oneself neutral in the ongoing ‘Zwarte Piet’ discussion in the Netherlands. To chose for a ‘Chimney Piet’ instead of ‘Zwarte Piet’ last December, RTL tried to stay away from the original discussion which was heavy and evolving at the time. The choice for another version of the same ‘Piet’ is framing in itself and neutral framing doesn’t exist in my opinion.

‘Zwarte Piet’ discussion
Let’s start with some background information. Every year, on December the 5th, children in the Netherlands celebrate ‘Pakjesavond’. On that night children get presents from ‘Sinterklaas’ who has ‘Pieten’ to help him (as the fairytale states). What Santa Claus is for children in the US and UK, is Sinterklaas for children in the Netherlands. What leads the discussion is that Sinterklaas is a white man and the Pieten have a black colored face, which is racist and leads back to the slavery according to opponents. Advocates highlight Sinterklaas as heritage of the Dutch culture, a long tradition of many generations which shouldn’t be given up.

(Source: De Volkskrant)

Social media change the discussion 
Even though some people use the discussion as an example of the increased discrepancies between people in Dutch society, the discussion about the special feast in the Netherlands is ongoing and of all times. However, the discussion really exploded with the rise and interfering of social media. The outburst on social media supports Valentini’s view that social media is not always good for the public relations profession. Now, people who have been never heard before can give their opinion on online blogs, networks and sites. A Korean study found that online personal media have a leading role in agenda setting of a crisis and this was exactly what happened. Special demonstrations were organized online, television shows and newspapers focused upon the issue and it was even a topic for the Dutch government: they rejected this February a special ‘Zwarte Piet’ law.

RTL and their framing
Because the discussion is so fierce and complicated, a lot of brands seek for Zwarte Piet alternatives. RTL created a new version: a so called ‘Chimney Piet’ in which the black skin color is replaced with smudges of root. This decision was made after ‘many conversations with the proponents as well the opponents of Zwarte Piet’. As mentioned by Anne Sofie Tieman, RTL tried to frame this decision as neutral as possible to highlight both sides of the story. However, the choice of RTL to replace the original Zwarte Piet with a Chimney Piet matches the opponents’ view. After the press release, #BoycotRTL appeared on social media but RTL did not actively interfere and left it mostly for what it was.

(Source: Twitter)

Neutral framing doesn’t exist
The problem with the way RTL handled the situation is that neutral framing of a situation is not possible. For RTL and every other brand involved, the Zwarte Piet discussion can be seen as a crisis since many people made accusations and to stay away was simply not possible. Framing is the way people chose words to make sense out of a situation. RTL framed the situation implicitly, as many frames are not explicit. To say that RTL understood both sides of the discussion but chose (implicit) for the opponents’ side is their choice, but to stay away from further comments and  discussion is not well considered and will backfire in the end. It leads me wondering what RTL will communicate upcoming Sinterklaas.

Judith Koster is an enthusiastic, eager Persuasive Communication student at the University of Amsterdam who would love to work in retail when she’s finished. After an internship at a large Dutch women magazine she thought of PR as a shallow profession. The course ‘PR, Media and Public’ at the UvA opened her eyes: the way Public Relations is interacting with the media and society is an interesting and exciting field.