Global Communications

Have you ever wondered how advertising, public relations, communications, etc. are in other countries? I never really wondered too much about it until I visited Ireland in May 2022. 

While shopping, I noticed how differently they advertised their products. I could not really tell what most products were unless I got a good look at it, I am not sure if that was the goal to have more people pick up the product, but I was so used to automatically knowing what everything was in America based off of the huge colorful bold letters that pop out in your face. 

To advertise the country as a whole, there is a huge focus on the Cliffs of Moher. Mostly every post, newsletter, etc, that is advertising the country always mentions the cliffs. It is very different from America, considering how big it is no one would really be able to pick one tourist attraction to bring in more tourists. 

Where I was staying, a very small town in the county of Clare called Ballyvaughan, advertisements were basically nonexistent. In such a small town, the only thing I  really saw that was advertising anything was  a small board in the only  grocery shop in town, basically promoting farmers markets and charity events. 

It was amazing to see how other countries live not so engulfed by huge companies and advertisements taking over everywhere, the main thing they really cared about in Ballyvaughan was supporting each other and staying local. It was such a huge transition for me considering I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I would love to visit Ballyvaughan again some day, and even explore the rest of Ireland to see if different parts of the country are the same or different when it comes to advertising and all. Ireland is really a beautiful country with lots to do, they  even got me advertising the whole country for them!

The Hidden Industry

It is sitting quietly behind every business you know. It’s the hidden industry behind every industry. Public Relations, Branding, Marketing, and Advertising, jointly known as Communications create and execute the messaging behind every company. Although many remain unaware of the real job communications does, there’s a $500 billion industry behind every major company, and its obscurity is its strength.

            Every company has, or at least should have, a brand. The identity that the company operates under. Most executive decisions are made to maintain congruence in the brand. Decisions are made every day about messaging, copy, colors, representation, and other signals that can influence a brand’s customers. This is exactly why the industry is hidden. Those messages, those words, those brand ambassadors are all specifically chosen to appeal to very specific demographics. Those appeals tend to work best when done discreetly. After all, nobody likes to be told what to buy or what to do, but through the power of suggestion, people are much more amenable to making brand-conscious decisions.

            Although nearly every brand, certainly the big brands we all know, have their attention on marketing, many people are blissfully unaware of the painstaking intentions and perspiration behind each advertisement, each press release, and each marketing decision. The work is plenty and perpetual, with marketing work being a constant game of managing expectations, crisis prevention, and mediated messaging.

            Each word can have an impact, and investing in marketing can yield great results. Don’t be fooled though, it can be a long game. Cultivating a brand and matching that brand with your audience is something that people in the communications field work tirelessly at. Creating one ad, one social account, or distributing one press release is helpful for any company, but creating consistent success in marketing can’t be a one off. Once an audience starts to take notice of your brand, the work is not done. Building a strong brand and a consistent identity does more than increase sales. Studies have found it can increase employee recruitment within your company, it can tell a story to customers, and reinforce audience awareness of your values.

            The hidden industry of communications at its core is like a mentor or a guardian. Communications agencies do far more than just writing press releases and crafting ads; collaborating on a brand story and not just reaching but connecting with audiences all fall under the advisory purview of a quality agency. Communications agencies don’t tend to see the spotlight, but their work rather highlights the brand they have as a client, and the return on investment can begin when the client is shining.

            Working for a communications agency requires a strong work ethic, but can yield profoundly rewarding results. For both the client and the agency, working hard to ensure a brand’s identity is known does far more than just increase sales. Playing the long game is something that not all are willing to do, but ensuring success is never easy. Although success is never final, connecting with your audiences can help secure your success for the future.

New Netflix Docuseries Shows the Power of PR

The 1990’s was a radical time. Seinfeld was on TV; Titanic was the highest-grossing film, and the internet was still a baby. A big contention in the 90’s was the Cola wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. Much like Team Edward and Team Jacob during the popularity of the Twilight saga, there were passionate camps for the soda companies. Both companies used advertising to win the popularity of the people. Coca-Cola sought to advertise a certain “family-friendly” image and even a “new” formula to sway the public. However, Pepsi leaned deep into star studded sponsorship. The iconic Cindy Crawford commercial that made young boys lifelong Pepsi fans is one of the most memorable Pepsi campaigns. There was another Pepsi campaign that was memorable for other reasons.

Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? (2022), a 4-part docuseries on Netflix details college student John Leonard. In response to Pepsi’s “Drink Pepsi, Get Stuff” campaign, John sought to win a Harrier Jet. The Jet was priced at 7 million Pepsi points and John found a way to buy enough points to get the jet.The Pepsi and BBDO advertising campaign immediately came under fire and began a legal battle with John. The documentary is very tongue-in-cheek with its editing that includes reenactments, simulations, and cheeky text that echoes Pepsi’s later amendment on their Harrier Jet campaign that said, “just kidding”. For PR students, this is an interesting look at public relations and advertising. The Cola Wars was a big PR Campaign but as the legal battle with John went on, we can see PR as a way to control a certain narrative or to cover up company oversights.

(Mild Spoilers Ahead)

After going public about his feud with Pepsi, John’s reputation started to be under attack. The Pepsi CEO at the time went on news outlets to paint John as an opportunistic kid trying to get money from the company. In the beginning, the public was on John’s side until Pepsi decided to fight back. Later John, with the help of Michael Avenatti, started an ad campaign to help sway public opinion back to John’s side. One ad featured John with a black eye in the shape of the Pepsi logo. Another ad featured a blank page with small writing that pointed out that’s how advertisement features fine print for ads.

(Spoilers Ended)

The documentary goes on to show the many levels of marketing and how advertisement shapes public spending. This series is a good example of the challenges of PR and advertising. Every company dream of an impactful campaign but there are dangers (laws even) regarding what an advertisement can or cannot show. Leonard v. Pepsi Co became a landmark case in the reach of contract law that is studied in law schools today. This docuseries is like a nice cross section on how PR Firms for advertisements, law, or big companies work to tell a certain story to the public.

Arcadia Campus Renovation Pictures Spark Controversy Among Students and Alumni

American college campuses are somewhat of a unique type of place in which the students’ tuition and alumni donations funds the university but those groups are often left out of important decision making processes. It can often manifest in a serious disconnect between the community of students and staff and the executive departments that advance changes which affect students and their on-campus experience. Arcadia University recently had to reckon with this disconnect when the university’s instagram posted some before and after images of renovations that had been made to various campus spaces prior to the start of the Fall 2022 semester. The renovations included changes to the first floor of Landman Library, the renovation of Stiteler auditorium into a space for a Physical Therapy program, and the installation of a new student lounge and computer lab in Murphy hall. The images, posted on November 4,  consisted of several slides of photo grids that showcased the recent “upgrades” to those spaces. The post amassed over 350 comments from current students and alumni expressing deep disappointment, anger, and confusion with the changes made. The overwhelming amount of lengthy comments stand in stark contrast to the normal 1-3 comments that can be found under all other posts on the Arcadia Instagram page.

The first slide shows the before and after of Landman Library’s first floor where the older wooden tables and bookshelves were replaced with rows of newer work tables and a variety of funky and organic shaped chairs, stools and couches. The “after” images however seemed to lack intention as they left the space looking incredibly empty and not conducive to a productive workspace. The second slide shows the renovations made to Stiteler auditorium which cannot really be classified as an auditorium anymore because all the seating was removed and the stage cut in half. This was the point of most contention in the comments but before delving into the contents of those comments, there was also the final slide that showed an inaccurate before and after depiction. The before pictures show images of Murphy Hall’s photo lab on the second floor and the after images show pictures of the newly installed student lounge and updated computer lab on the first floor, an entirely different part of the building. This caused confusion as many students and alum thought that the photo lab had been removed altogether. Several commenters also pointed out how the library no longer looked like a workspace but rather an empty lounge area. Yet, it was the changes to Stiteler auditorium, also in Murphy Hall, that caused the most uproar from current students and alumni alike.

The commenters were overwhelmingly upset for several significant reasons. First, it’s important to know Arcadia University considers itself a Liberal Arts School and Murphy Hall is home to the Media and Communications Department, and much of the Visual and Performing Arts Departments.  Murphy Hall is also the oldest building on campus and has held a long history as a community space. Actually, Stiteler Auditorium was originally a chapel and up until the renovation had beautiful stained glass windows along the wall that looked out into the Murphy courtyard. The historic stained glass windows were removed during the renovation and not properly handled so when delivered to the Gallery staff who were in charge of archiving the windows, there were many broken pieces. As the comments explained, students and alum all expressed how much they loved and enjoyed the space during their time, their fond memories of seeing performances and club meetings. The overall feeling among the students was that their space and community as students of liberal arts had been disregarded and replaced with a space for something that isn’t a part of that community. Many current students also talked about how their times for performing arts classes and activities are being frequently interrupted by the new users of the space. Students also pointed out a variety of other updates that were truly needed in other parts of campus, especially the need for more accessibility on campus, and the low quality of the housing buildings. Another point of contention was the recent purchase of Bishop McDevitt High School which shut down a few years ago. The property has been a point of interest for the University for a long time but it wasn’t until the school shut down that they purchased the property. Many commenters pointed out that this massive purchase should have been considered as a location for the PT facility rather than taking away the already small space belonging to liberal arts students.

Several alumni even commented that they were no longer interested in making donations to the University because of this oversight. The Arcadia University account made one response in the comments which directed students to read the article with more details about the renovations. The comment was met with more outrage and accusation of disregarding the true feedback from the commenters. Then, about four days later on November 8th, Arcadia University released a statement. Posted to their Instagram page, the statement was directed to the University Community and apologized for their “poor communication and engagement on this issue”. The statement clarified that there is no intent to close or minimize any of the arts programs, and that  President Nair met with faculty leadership to plan listening and campus planning sessions for community members. It’s unclear who exactly runs the Universities instagram as in the past it’s often been run by media and communications students but not currently. In any case, the social media channel is one of the largest online representations of the University and it was interesting to see what their strategic response would be to the intensity of the comments.

Their key plan of action was to put together the listening sessions to show genuine concern for the thoughts students and alumni had but judging by the comments left under the statement, many felt it was too little, too late. From what I’ve heard the online listening sessions were poorly attended and people felt like there was no point in discussion because the damage was already done. Since the listening sessions, attention to the issue seems to have faded into the background of campus activity. It’s yet to be seen whether the issues of performing and visual arts students using the Stiteler space will be compromised any further. It’s unlikely that this will be the end of the controversy surrounding Stiteler in particular as the University has made a point of deeming it a “multi-use space”. For now, Arcadia can shift focus elsewhere but it will be important to see how they manage decisions surrounding renovations and especially the use of the newly purchased Bishop McDevitt High School space going forward.

The Try Guys Crisis Response

​​​On September 27th, 2022, many fans of the hit entertainers “The Try Guys” woke up to something that they thought would be unimaginable, Ned Fulmer had left the group. The Try Guys were founded in 2014 under the company BuzzFeed, the guys Keith Habersberger, Zach Kornfeld, Eugene Lee Yang, and Ned Fulmer. The Try Guys separated from Buzzfeed in July 2018. All four founders held equal power over their media house, Second Try LLC, and took a handful of Buzzfeed employees with them after the split. 

Back to the events of September. Fulmer, who has been married since 2012, was seen in August with a co-worker in a club in New York, “Ned and an employee were engaged in public romantic behavior” as stated by Habersberger in their video “What Happened”. The overall video is a prime example of a well-crafted crisis statement. Habersberger, Yang, and Kornfeld removed Fulmer pending an internal investigation regarding the affair. Fulmer was also removed from upcoming videos, and merchandise releases, digitally removed from other videos where he may not have been featured, and not releasing certain videos. The news of the affair also jeopardized their upcoming Food Network program “Without a Recipe Roadtrip”. Overall the estimated revenue losses from this were around 2 million dollars. After an internal review, Fulmer was removed as a founder and employee of the company. 

Moving forward in the video, Yang explains how the company was planning on making a statement publicly, and the full statement was not yet released pending the investigation; but because of the recent speculation and acceleration of posts on Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit action had to be taken and the now infamous “what happened” video was released. Overall the release of the video ended speculation online as to Ned’s recent departure from newer videos, and the rumors of him having an affair. The statement though was in the best interest of Fulmers family, Ariel Fulmer and their two sons Wesley and Finley, are living through the fallout to minimize the pain caused by the constant speculation.

Though this news was shocking, it was an incredibly well crafted crisis response. Watching the video and other social media statements made by Second Try LLC goes to show how much the owners care for their company, and care for maintaining their morals and ethics within the company. Watching this as a PR student, and someone who is now working in a small PR firm this statement was incredibly well crafted considering the events that transpired. The team beginning an investigation before a full crisis could occur, and then releasing statements across their social media pages. I’m interested to see what the rest of their crisis plan is, and how the rest of the year will go for them in terms of editing out Fulmer, and how the dynamics within the group will change as a whole.

Agency Life in Public Relations

During my last semester at Arcadia, I have been interning at Vault Communications, a
Public Relations Agency in Plymouth Meeting. After experiencing various internships, I have
noticed the differences in agency work versus work for one brand. In an agency, you work with
many different clients, all with different goals and tasks. The diversity of this work can be quite
refreshing and allow one to explore different areas of public relations. It can also provide
opportunities to learn more about the individual needs for specific clients.

Since starting in September, I have worked on accounts such as Takis, Subaru, Party
City, Hologic, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, and many more. All of these accounts have
different work and goals set for them. For example, Takis partnered with Teracycle, (a recycling
company), and told their fans to recycle their products for a chance to win merchandise. At
Vault, we worked to put together the boxes with different Takis products inside and send them
out to the winners. This helps Takis and Teracycle benefit from each other and create more
marketing opportunities. Another example of work I have done is writing up event descriptions
for Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia. I have been given different events to write out
descriptions for. Once approved, I go down a list of outlets on an excel sheet and submit the
events to these websites. This promotes events hosted by or at Live! and makes them more
popular and seen by others in the area.

Vault Communications has taught me a lot, especially when it comes to media
monitoring and media lists. I have worked on many lists using services such as Critical Mention
and Cision. These platforms allow us to find media outlets, articles, influencers, and more. For
Party City, I have been working on monitoring the media for any mentions they may have. On
Critical Mention, there are specific key words programmed to show any and all mentions of
those words with Party City. Since we are getting close to Halloween, we look for things such as
“Party City, Halloween” and “Party City, Balloon” etc. Any important media clips or articles are
defined every day, put into an excel sheet, and sent out to the Party City account team every

Looking at Cision, lately I have been compiling a list of media contacts for Harsco
Environmental. These lists consist of outlets that talk about construction, steel, metal,
agriculture, building supplies, environmentally friendly supplies and more. This list is essential
for finding key outlets that Harsco can promote their business to for more publicity. After
defining all the outlets, I will be pulling editorial calendars to show opportunities for Harsco to
pitch their ideas. This makes it easier to understand what outlets fits and which do not for future
use. These lists are constantly growing and changing, and many other accounts have this need as

Overall, I have learned a lot in my short time at Vault. It has officially been one month
since I started, and I have worked on so many different things. Agency life can be fast paced and
change every single day. You never can truly know what the workday will look like, but that’s
what makes it so much fun. I can’t wait to see what other tasks I will complete at Vault and decide of agency work is right for me.

How I Got Into PR as an Acting Major

When I first started my time at Arcadia University, I never thought I’d be involved with the Public Relations programs, let alone be running a Marketing and Public Relations student team for the Theatre department. Back in 2019, when I initiated my academic path as a Knight, I was an Acting major pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. And although performing is my passion, I was a freshman eager to learn about as many subjects as possible. So I did as much as I could. I signed up for as many clubs as I could fit into my schedule, made plans for studying abroad, and took a lot of classes outside my major. I was so enthusiastic about being in college that I didn’t care about whether or not I would be exhausted. So, applying my recently gained Improv knowledge, I’d say “yes, and…” to as many opportunities I could. From Scene Study and Latin American Art History to coding my own website and learning about event management. My mom used to tell me that as a child, I was a little bit too curious. I would always ask her too many questions about everything as I was excited about understanding the world around me. I guess my college experience proved that story to be true. I was exploring as many areas as Arcadia could offer.  

It was during one of these ventures that I found a new area of interest: Public Relations. After a period of taking PR classes, I figured it was something I wanted to do professionally. But the only issue was figuring out how to implement that in my academic plan. It wasn’t easy to be a double major as I was already pursuing a B.F.A. in Acting. After considering many options, I was able to create an individualized major in Public Relation and Acting. During this process of arranging my academic path, I found the internship I work at today.  

Professor Kathryn Petersen was my Theatre designated academic advisor, so she has been watching me grow as a student ever since my first day at Arcadia. As Professor Petersen observed me balance my interest in PR and Theatre, she also noticed the needs the Theatre program had regarding Public Relations and Marketing. As I signed up for classes for my senior year, one of the requirements was an internship. It was then that the opportunity presented itself. Professor Petersen asked me to do something the Theatre department had never done before: A team of students focused on promoting our program through Marketing and PR.  

Hence, here I am, running a Marketing and Public Relations team of students for the Theatre department. And as much as the fact that we’re pioneering this team can be scary, it’s just as thrilling. Again, because we’re pioneering this group, there are a lot of introductory steps we need to take. Even though the internship only truly started in the Fall semester, during the summer prior to it, I was able to have multiple meetings with my supervisor, Kathryn Petersen. Our goal for these meetings was to understand what our team needed to do, what our resources were, and how we could achieve our goals.  

During these sessions, we were able to set some primary details. Professor Petersen already had an idea of what the Theatre needs were, so we started with that. A lot of Arcadia students aren’t aware of our program, nor of what it has to offer. Taking a moment to promote it a little bit here, the work that the department does is truthfully incredible: Every semester we present two plays for which any Arcadia student can audition for, therefore participate in. And for those productions, the department hires professional theatre artists to be involved with. That way, the students can get a full sense of what is like to be in a show for a Theatre company.  

In order to get a rough idea of what we’re dealing with, during one of the first weeks of classes, my team and I created a survey to be sent out to Arcadia’s students. In this, we included questions to comprehend the basic information about the students responding (such as year and major), and questions related to the Theatre program (if they’re familiar with the department, if they know things such as non-theatre majors can audition, tickets are pay what you can and so on). As a conclusion of this survey, we confirmed that Arcadia’s community wasn’t largely aware of our Theatre and its opportunities.   

Thus, our goal for the semester was to raise awareness of our Theatre program on campus. Once that was set, we were able to collectively form an action plan. One of the exciting aspects of this group is that we have students from both departments of Media and Communication and Theatre. Our unit is formed by a Marketing and PR Team Supervisor -me-, Advanced Social Media Supervisor, Social Media Assistant, Video Content Creator, Video Content Assistant, and Marketing Assistants. In total, we have nine members collectively working and brainstorming ideas on how to achieve our goal.  

For me, one of the highlights of this internship was our first meeting. It took place during the Labor Day weekend, and I remember how nervous I was to run a whole meeting by myself for the first time. Because of that, I spent the weekend prior to the meeting studying all my notes from my previous PR classes. And although stressing over this was a lot, once it was time to host the meeting, I felt prepared and confident about it. Along with my team, we were able to create an action plan for the semester, focusing mainly on Social Media and advertisements around  campus. We planned to create different content for each Social Media platform, as each has a distinct reached audience. For example, we found out that our Instagram followers are mainly formed by students, therefore the content there is focused on that audience. On the other hand, Facebook reaches an older audience, so the content produced for these two platforms needs to be approached differently.  

Today, after having hosted a couple of group meetings and having more experience in running the Marketing and Public Relations team, I feel extremely proud of the work I’ve done so far. We’ve been following the steps of our action plan and soon is the Opening Night of our first production, Into the Woods directed by Kevin Glaccum. And even as I look back at my freshman year schedule and wonder how did I ever take that many classes, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Exploring different areas of interest allowed me to find how to conciliate the two things I want to do professionally: Public Relations and Acting.  

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