PR Roundup March 2019

Getting into college? Lori Loughlin says “You got it, dude!”

            Full House star Lori Loughlin was among many stars to catch media attention this month in a college admissions scandal. Loughlin was charged with bribing her daughters’ way into the University of Southern California (USC) by paying for them to appear to be on the crew team. Despite the two girls having never participated in the sport, Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying half a million dollars to better their children’s chances of being accepted to the school.

What’s the big deal?

            Loughlin and her husband are among 50 others who were charged in the scandal, including Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and her husband William H. Macy, who stars as the dysfunctional head of house in Shameless. The couple met with William Singer, the head of a college preparatory business. According to investigators, Singer told the couple that he could get their daughter’s SAT scores improved by faking a learning disability to grant her extended time for the test. Additionally, Singer was in contact with the SAT proctor, who secretly changed their daughter’s answers after the exam was over.

What do they have to say for themselves?

            While both Loughlin and her husband have yet to release a public statement apologizing for their actions, Hallmark chose to cut ties with Loughlin after her arrest concerning the scandal. Loughlin had a role in the channel’s show When Calls the Heart up until news broke in mid-March. Huffman or Macy have yet to make a statement as well.

Okay but what is USC doing?

            USC immediately fired its senior associate director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic, who are both charged in the scheme. Additionally, USC will use any money received in connection to the scandal to fund scholarships for underprivileged students. The university announced they caught six students who applied for the 2019-2020 school year and denied them acceptance. 

Wow! This Airline is Terrible!

            An airline once known for their affordable transatlantic flights to Europe shut down this month as a result of bankruptcy. This year, 20 airlines also shut down so this may not seem like a big deal but Wow shutting down was a public relations blunder. Rather than the airline telling customers they had shut down indefinitely, passengers found out via social media and emails.

            Customers are understandably fed up with the airline and to make matters worse, have no way to refund their tickets. The airline’s website released an information sheet telling customers that unless they purchased travel insurance, they would not be compensated. As if things couldn’t get worse for Wow, they offered $12 vouchers for passenger’s next flights. Too bad they’ll never get to use them.

Newsjacking at its finest

            Other airlines have chosen to take advantage of Wow’s mistake. The Lufthansa Group, which owns Swiss, Lufthansa and Austrian airlines is offering 25% off the cost of the Wow ticket price. Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus will provide rescue fares to participating Wow customers if they are traveling within a certain date and can provide proof of their ticket.

Other aviation disasters

            If you think Wow is the only airline PR disaster of the month, think again. All Boeing 737 MAX airplanes have been grounded due to crashes in Indonesia in October and Ethiopia earlier last month. Both crashes were a result of a software problem, however, new software upgrades don’t seem to be a solution. After many days of discussion, President Trump decided to ground all Boeing Max’s.

Zuckerberg Down for the Count

            And you thought Mark Zuckerberg’s biggest issue was when he had to testify to Congress last year. The CEO of Facebook and owner of Instagram faced even more controversy this March when both sites shut down for a full 24 hours, leaving users disgruntled, distraught and determined (to post their spring break selfies).

Why did the outage occur?

While Facebook is “very sorry” for the longest-ever outage of its service, the company blamed it on a server configuration change. However, it took the company almost a day to release a statement, causing some to believe that the situation was not as controlled as Facebook let on.

Bad for your business

            The shutdown of these top-rated apps has been eye-opening for companies who rely on social media. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with loved ones and friends near and far but if the fate of your business lies in someone else’s hands, you probably do not have enough insight to what your consumers need or want. While Facebook and Instagram are both powerful tools, they are just that; tools. And if you want to have a successful business, you will need more than one tool in the toolbox.  

Sydney Wishnow is the Digital Communications Director of American University’s PRSSA Chapter.

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