Crisis Public Relations- Drunken American Red Cross?

As I was following the PR world on Twitter last week, I watched a very interesting event unfold. During the night of February 16th, an employee who tweets for the American Red Cross accidently tweeted a personal thought under the organization’s twitter account. Gloria Huang posted on Twitter, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” Immediately Twitter filled with tweets responding to the shockingly inappropriate Red Cross post.
With the expansion of twitter and other social networking sites in the business world, people often juggle personal and professional accounts for multiple social media outlets.  Gloria made an honest mistake, but her tweet was a reflection of the American Red Cross, a well-respected organization that is a player in the international community. Such a comment is a true case of a need for crisis PR.
How would you fix such an enormous blunder that reached an international scale? Many agree the Red Cross handled the situation appropriately.  Instantaneously, the tweet was deleted, but deleting a tweet could not fully reverse the damage that had been done. So the Red Cross took a few other steps to repair its’ reputation. Quickly, a new tweet appeared, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” This response not only acknowledged that a mistake had been made, but also showed that the Red Cross has the confidence to laugh at itself. The Red Cross also addressed the mistweet as a “twitter faux-pas” on its blog.
In the blog the Red Cross said, “While we’re a 130 year old humanitarian organization, we’re also made of up human beings. Thanks for not only getting that but for turning our faux pas into something good.” Because the mistake was attended to with an air of grace, many followers of the Red Cross showed their understanding by pledging donations monetarily and expressed interest in attending blood drives.
Here are some key lessons that can be learned from the Red Cross  mix-up are as follows:

“1.When a crisis occurs, address it quickly.

2.  Respond to the crisis in the same forum where it occurred, as well as putting to work other available social media networks.
3.  Be honest about the mistake.

4.  Apologize for the mistake.

5.  Don’t panic.

6.  Use the moment to humanize your brand.”
You often hear that any press is good press, and in the case of the mistweet, this was proven to be true. Because the mistweet included the mention of the small brewery Dogfish, the brewery stirred interest on an international scale. To show their thanks for the free advertising, many distributers of Dogfish joined the twitter conversation and offered beer-for-blood promotions! The mistweet went from an unprofessional crisis to a gain for both the American Red Cross and Dogfish Brewery! By spinning a story with creativity and humor a major crisis can be transformed into good press. Next time you are faced with a crisis, look upon this mistweet case for guidance!
Written by Sarah Vlach 


From Newark to New York: Top three things I learned during my internship at Hunter PR

Written by Kayley Conti

This past winter I was awarded an internship at a fabulous Madison Avenue public relations agency, Hunter Public Relations, owned by PRSSA-UD’s national advisor, Grace Leong. During my 5 weeks at Hunter PR I was exposed to the field of Public Relations up close and personal.  Here are the top three things I learned about PR:

1)     In the field of PR, there is no such thing as a typical work day

I know it is drilled in our heads by our PR professors, and guest speakers, but its true! I came to know and love the unpredictable work day filled with surprise projects. In a “typical” workday I did everything from calculating media impressions, writing press materials and creating media lists to arranging and mailing a gift basket to famous ice skater Johnny Weir!

2)     PR professionals must always be on their toes, ready for crisis to occur

My very last week at Hunter PR I was asked to help write press materials for a coat drive at a school  in the Bronx hosted by a pro bono client.  Being the day after Groundhog Day, the plan was to have my supervisor dress up as Staten Island Chuck, New York City’s local groundhog, to meet and greet the kids and help hand out coats. When an ice storm hit NYC that evening, the event was cancelled and postponed to the following day. With press materials already approved and ready to be pitched to media, suddenly we had to start over.

3)     PR professionals must learn to be “jacks of all trades” knowing everything there is to know about a specific client or industry

Upon receiving the assignment of creating press materials for the coat drive, I was asked to do some research and find out how we could use Groundhog Day to promote our event. I now know more than I ever thought was possible about Groundhog Day! Here are some of my favorite facts:

1)     Staten Island Chuck’s formal name is Charles G. Hogg; he resides in the Staten Island Zoo.

2)     Chuck has a 76% accuracy rate at predicting Spring’s arrival.

3)     Last year, upon emerging from hibernation, he bit Mayor Bloomberg’s finger.

I truly enjoyed my experience at Hunter Public Relations. As a future PR professional, I highly suggest all PR students (and members of PRSSA) jump at any opportunity for an internship. After my short 5 weeks at Hunter PR, I am excited and ready for the workforce I will be thrown into upon graduating from UD in May.

Principal of Icahn Charter, Danny Garcia; NYC Clothing Bank board member, Mary Lanning, our very own Lauren C., Jason Winocour as Staten Island Chuck, me and coat drive voluntee

Spring Semester News

PRSSA-UD has a busy semester ahead! We will be taking our members on multiple PR-related field trips, including one to New York and another to a Phillies game, and to the regional activity hosted by Penn State University PRSSA. We also have a great speaker line-up for our general meetings. Check out this tentative schedule below, and mark your calendars now! We hope you’ll join us for all the great events we have planned this semester.


–        Wednesday, Feb. 16th: Philly Ad Club “Personal Branding Boot Camp”

o   St. Joseph’s University, 6:15pm-8:15pm

§  Carpool from UD, Leave at 4:30 p.m.


–        Thursday, Feb. 17th: General Meeting

o   7pm, Kirkbride

–        Week of February 21st: Want to join PRSSA-UD? Look for our dues collection areas around campus to pay your membership dues.

o   Locations and times TBA

–        Friday, Feb. 25th: Agency tour at Aloysius, Butler, & Clark in Wilmington

o   2:00-3:30pm

o   Tour AB&C, and hear about PR and agency life from CEO John Hawkins and Public Relations Coordinator Natalie Peters


–        March 1st: Dues due to PRSSA National

–        Thursday, March 3rd: General meeting

o   Speaker TBA

–        Monday, March 14th: PRSSA Challenge

–        Saturday, March 26th: Regional activity at Penn State University

o   “The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World”



–        Thursday, April 7th: General meeting

o   Speaker TBA

–        Thursday, April 21st: General meeting

o   Exec. Board 2011-2012 Elections


–        Monday, May 2nd: Spring Networking Function
Yours in PRSSA,
Abby Stollar
Chapter President

Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to the new blog for PRSSA-UD! I am extremely excited for this new forum to discuss Chapter news, PRSSA-related events, and the public relations field as a whole. I hope this blog sparks discussion about trends and themes throughout the PR field, as well as provides valuable PR-related tips for all of our young professional readers!

Please check back next week for the official release of our Spring 2011 Calendar, where we will highlight all of the exciting plans we have in store for our PRSSA-UD members next semester! In the meantime, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to get more Chapter updates and news.

All the best,
Abby Stollar
Chapter President