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Case Studies 1-16: Questions and Assignments

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      Case Study Questions and Assignments


      Case Study #1: Doesn’t Live up to its Name

      2023 YouTube video: CEO Vishal Garg on going public

      Questions and Assignments:

      1. Write a code of conduct (with at least 3 main rules/standards) for your CEO and other top managers to follow that would help ensure that a crisis like this never happens again. How would you ensure that these people (who are your bosses) actually follow the code of conduct?

      2. If you were Garg and wanted to lay off 9% of the workforce, what would you have done differently? 

      3. Press Release– Write a press release about the layoffs of 2021 using the template provided in the first section of the workbook. The number of employees laid off shouldn’t change but the way you talk about the layoffs should be significantly better than the case study. Your goal is to create an overall message that is much more polished, ethical, and nuanced than what Garg actually said over Zoom in 2021. Think of this press release as how Garg SHOULD have communicated the layoffs, both internally and externally. So while the release is going to be sent to journalists, it should be written knowing that employees will read it, too. Keep in mind: You will need to be creative when exact details are not available. For example, you may list yourself as the PR contact in the upper left corner of the press release. You will also need to find where is located and use that city/state in the press release dateline. Also, anytime you see TKTK (to come, to come), it is a place that you need to add copy/text. Don’t forget to delete prompts like (Headline) and (Subhead) and anything else in parentheses in the template. 


      Case Study #2: A Good Time, Not a Long Time: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

      2023 YouTube video:  ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

      Questions and Assignments:

      1. Draft a press release from the ALS Association that they could have sent out once they realized the Ice Bucket Challenge was going viral. Remember: this release will go to the national and international media (ideally) and should not only describe the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, who started it, and the money raised, but should also take the opportunity to inform the general public about ALS the disease and why fudning is so important. 

      2. What do you think the ALS Association could have done differently to elongate the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and/or to raise more money from the viral challenge? 

      3. The textbook says that celebrities were the reason the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral. Look online for 3 celebrity ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos that you think are the BEST representations of the true spirit of the challenge – i.e. they stress the importance of the cause and the severity of the disease, they commit to donating money to the ALS Association, and they persuade others to participate in the challenge and donations. These exemplary videos can be from Hollywood celebrities or politicians but they could also be social media influencers who you think were particularly persuasive or compelling. Explain why you chose the videos. Link the videos to your response. 



      Case Study #3: The Tylenol Crisis

      2023 YouTube video: Painkiller: The Tylenol Murders

      1. Pretend that the Tylenol Crisis happened in recent years, where Johnson & Johnson would have access to social media. Write a Facebook post, a LinkedIn post, and a Twitter/X post that communicates to the public that uses the following crisis response strategies: Remediation, Rectification, and Sympathy. Keep in mind that as this is a complex crisis situation, and there is a LOT of important information to share, you may exceed the normal 1-3 sentence guidelines for most social media posts. 

      2. One point made in your textbook is that Johnson & Johnson lacked a strong media relations response. Write a press release that Johnson & Johnson could distribute to the media that employed the following crisis response strategies: Remediation, Rectification, and Sympathy. 

      3. Aside from sending out a press release to share information with the media, list some ways that Johnson & Johnson could have built a better relationship with the press and and how they could have calmed fears in the public sooner. 


      Case Study #4: Surprise Strike Against UPS

      2023 YouTube Video: UPS Strike: Lessons from ‘97

      1. Pretend you are the PR person for the Teamsters in this case (NOT UPS). As you read in the textbook, according to the man in charge of PR for UPS at the time, “the Teamsters won the communication battle largely because they had “key messages that played well.” Many times when key messages are responsible for a winning PR battle, the key messages have been written down in a Message Map. Using the template of the Message Map in the introduction of this workbook, create a message map that the Teamsters would have used to win this PR battle against UPS. All of these key Teamster PR messages are laid out in the textbook, so find the main PR messages and then add supporting points/facts that make sense for the case (if you can’t find supporting points in the case itself). Remember: this case happened before the advent of social media (and even before websites were used in regularity by groups like the Teamsters) so you can just make up some fake social media account names and use the current UPS Teamsters website ( 

      2. The PR Team at UPS admits that they made mistakes and describes what they did wrong in the textbook. One of those big mistakes was not having strong key messages (like the Teamsters did). Create a Message Map for UPS, and make sure they have strong key PR messages and supporting details/facts for those key PR messages. Again, you may need to use your creativity and put yourself in the shoes of a PR person from UPS. 

      3. If you were in charge of their PR, what would you have done differently for UPS outside of updating their key PR messages? Describe at least 3 PR strategies along with tactics for each strategy (so not only describe the strategy, but also the steps you would take as part of that strategy) that you would have implemented as the PR leader for UPS. Remember- the messages themselves are already covered in Question 2 (above) so these strategies should be related to HOW they get the messages out, and how they respond to Teamster strategies, and other ways they manage the reputation of UPS.


      Case Study #5: PETA Denuded

      PETA post: Victory! ‘I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur’ Goes Out With a Bang

      1. Google “PETA (current year)” and then limit the results to “News” (click the “News” tab above the list of results). You should find all of PETA’s latest press releases and publicity stunts. If they have moved on from the “Naked” strategy, what is their new strategy? What are they doing to gain attention and stay in the media these days? What do you think of their new strategy? 

      2. Do you remember seeing the “I’d rather be naked” PETA advertisements? Which ones do you most remember? If you don’t remember encountering any of the advertisements years ago, look at the ads in the post linked above. Which ones stand out? What do you think of that strategy? Do you feel like it was persuasive? Why or why not? 

      3. Take a look around PETA’s website and social media accounts. What animal rights issues are they focused on now? Pick one of those animal rights issues that they have featured on their website. Pretend you are their PR lead and write a Message Map for that issue, including Key PR Messages and supporting details/facts.


      Case Study #6: Bud Light & Social Media Influencer Dylan Mulvaney

      1. If you were Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light's vice president of marketing, would you have collaborated with Dylan Mulvaney? Why or why not?

      2. If you were advising AB InBev as a PR expert, what steps should they have taken after the conservative backlash began? Assume they came to you for public relations advice right after Mulvaney’s videos went viral– were there any ways they could have avoided such a long-standing and effective boycott of Bud Light? Create a social media post for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that they should have posted during the first week of the crisis.

      3. If you were Dylan Mulvaney’s publicist, would you have recommended that she partner with Bud Light in the first place? Which brands would you recommend she work with and why? What brands would you caution her to avoid partnerships with and why? 



      Case Study #7: Naomi Osaka’s Public (and Private) Approach to Mental Health

      2021 YouTube Video: Naomi Osaka Makes Us Come Face To Face With Mental Health Issues

      1. If you were Naomi Osaka’s PR team, it would have been your job to conduct media training sessions with her. According to Osaka, she had never been media trained. If you were going to train her to prepare her for media interviews, what tips would you give her? What have you learned about interviews with the media that could be turned into advice for Naomi as she prepares to be interviewed before and after tournaments? Have you ever watched an athlete in a press conference after a game and thought they did a good job handling the press? What made you think that– what did they do right?

      2. Pretend you are Naomi Osaka’s PR team and part of your job is handling her social media accounts. Write a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter post that she could have used during the French Open to help explain what was happening with her mental health. 

      3. Thinking creatively, if Osaka has fear about being interviewed by the media, she may be able to create her own videos during big tournaments that she could share publicly that would provide preemptive responses to common media questions. If she were going to put out a TikTok video during the French Open (instead of participating in a press conference) write a script for her that would outline her main messages about mental health and her career as a tennis professional. Describe everything about this TikTok video: where should she film it, what should she wear, how should the script be delivered, what her nonverbals should communicate, etc.


      Case Study #8: “Almost Naked” Party-Goers Get a Dressing Down

      2024 YouTube video: ‘Almost naked’ celebrity party at Moscow nightclub sparks fierce backlash

      1. If you were a PR team for Anastasia Ivleyeva, the host of the party, write a Facebook post, Instagram post, and a script for a TikTok video that would have been received more warmly by the public than her three unsuccessful attempts. Remember, in terms of length, this will not be a short Facebook post, Instagram post, or TikTok script. You will have more to say than just 4-5 sentences. Think strategically about what she needs to say to explain herself, apologize, and atone for her mistake. 

      2. Russian celebrity Philipp Kirkorov issued a public statement that lied about the length of time he spent at the party, and a video was later shared on social media that exposed the lie. As a result of the exposed lie, his shows were cancelled and he lost advertising partnerships. Describe another case when a public figure lied about something embarrassing or illegal and the lie was later exposed on social media. What consequences did the public figure face?

      3. One of the PR lessons from this case was “Humour needs to be used carefully. Even when witty or poignant, current events may make its application unpalatable to audiences. Public speakers need to be able to “read the room” when they offer their comments.” Describe a case when a public figure didn’t read the room when using humor publicly. What did they say, and why did audiences find it inappropriate? How did they overcome the faux pas, and what was the long term effect on their reputation? 


      Case Study #9: Entergy Responds to Hurricane Katrina

      2023 Entergy blog post: ‘A Herculean effort’: Employees rally after Katrina to restore power safely in 11 days


      1. Do you agree that “employees are its most important audience, surpassing even customers”? Why or why not? 

      2. In 2005, social media was not widely used. If Katrina had happened in 2005, how could Entergy have used it to communicate with both internal and external publics? Be specific: which social media networks could they have used and how (specifically) could they have used them? Be mindful of which channels offer ways to communicate to private/internal publics (like employees) and which channels are better suited to public communication or communication with the media. While you do not need to write social media posts for Entergy, you are asked to write a Message Map that the company could use as internal guidance for anyone on the team writing for social media or speaking publicly about the company after hurricane Katrina” . 

      3. This case shows that being open and transparent with media, speaking with one unified voice, and prioritizing employees can help a company survive even the worst crisis. Describe a case in which a company did not act transparently with media, speak with one voice, or prioritize employees. What did they do wrong? What could they have done to improve their response to the crisis? 


      Case Study #10: Purdue Pharma and the Opioid Crisis

      2023 YouTube video: Purdue Pharma family protected from lawsuits in exchange for addiction treatment funding

      1. If you were a PR person representing the Sackler family (owners of Purdue Pharma) write a press release that addresses this crisis, the fallout, and the legal settlement after Purdue Pharma was found liable for the opioid crisis while protecting the reputation of the Sackler Family. 

      2. As you read in the textbook, “From a PR perspective, the campaign was successful because they set their objective for expanding their market, researched their audiences (high-prescribing doctors, civic groups needing funding, agreeable universities), built relationships with stakeholders, used opinion leaders, and ultimately changed the narrative about their product.” When we as PR people are successful at our jobs but end up harming society or hurting our local communities, what is our ethical responsibilty? What was the ethical responsibility of the PR people for Purdue Pharma? How would you evaluate their performance? Explain your reasoning.

      3. If you were the PR team for Purdue Pharma, what would you recommend the company do to improve its reputation? Before you answer, read all about their current PR efforts on their website here: Knowing that the restoration of the company’s impage may take years, even decades, what steps do you recommend they take? What would be the key messages of this PR campaign? 


      Case Study #11: Jack in the Box E. Coli Crisis

      2011 YouTube Video: Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat

      1. Create a message map that Jack in the Box could have used in response to this crisis. 

      2. Write a press release that Jack in the Box should have distributed to the media after they learned that customers had died because of contaminated meat from their restaurants. You can mirror the messaging strategies that the company ended up using (avoidance, attachment, and forgiveness strategies). 

      3. This case pre-dates social media. Pretend that the same case happened today. Write a Facebook, Twitter/X, and Instagram post that Jack in the Box should use the first time they address the public after learning about the deaths/illness of their customers. If you link to more information somewhere else, indicate what website you would link to and what information would be provided there.



      Case Study #12: NASA Challenger Disaster

      YouTube: 1986: CNN’s coverage of the Challenger explosion

      1. Write a press release that NASA should have distributed to the media the day the Challenger exploded. You can mirror the messaging strategies that NASA and the President ended up using. 

      2. This case pre-dates social media. Pretend that the same case happened today. Write a Facebook, Twitter/X, and Instagram post that NASA could use the first time they address the public post-Challenger explosion.  If you link to more information somewhere else, indicate what website you would link to and what information would be provided there.

      3. If you were the PR team for NASA today, how would you prepare for shuttle launches, knowing that crises can and do occur (see Challenger and the more recent Columbia explosion in 2003)? What documents would you write ahead of time? What statements would you have prepared and approved by NASA leadership ahead of time, in case of crisis? What other PR crisis preparation should take place before each high-risk launch or shuttle re-entry? 



      Case Study #13: Nespresso Coffee Pods and Corporate Greenwashing

      Nespresso Sustainability Website

      2014 YouTube video: What happens to the capsule afterwards?

      YouTube video: Nespresso - Le pari – George Clooney, Julia Garner et Simone Ashley | 60" | FR

      YouTube video: Unforgettable taste, now on paper- Nespresso


      1. As the textbook points out, the Nespresso PR videos (What happens to the capsule afterwards, as an example) are less stylish than the George Clooney consumer-facing marketing videos. Which do you think are more impactful in terms of Nespresso’s reputation? Explain your answer. 

      2. Nespresso now offers a paper pod that can be composted at home (as opposed to recycled). Watch the video “Unforgettable taste, now on paper” linked above. Does this move make the company appear to be more authentic in its attempts to appear environmentally friendly? Pretend you are Nespresso’s PR team: write a press release announcing the new paper pods that explains their importance to the media and the public.

      3. The term “greenwashing” has a negative connotation. To quote the text: “to shift an opinion, a brand must make a genuine effort towards the cause in question and must convey the message in a way the audience is willing to accept (lest the company be skewered in the media).” Think of a company that has attempted to prove that it is “green” or environmentally friendly, but has been unsuccessful at shifting opinions (i.e. they either didn’t make a genuine effort at being environmentally friendly or they didn’t convey the green message in a way the audience was willing to accept). Explain why your example company was unsuccessful at greenwashing their reputation.



      Case Study #14: Bernie Sanders’ Media Blackout

      2015 YouTube Video: Take a Look at Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential Campaign

      1. Do research on Bernie Sanders and his 2016 campaign. Then create a message map that encapsulates his key messages, slogans, etc. 

      2. Watch the video linked above (“Take a Look at Bernie Sanders…”). What does the tone of the story and the way the reporter talks about the campaign tell you about the future success (or failure) of the campaign?

      3. The textbook notes that while Bernie Sanders didn’t want to play the game, political campaigns are about personality or doing things to attract the media’s attention. Do you agree? What could Sanders have done if he wanted to push his personality and attract the media’s attention away from other candidates? If you were his PR team and you wanted to compete with Clinton and Trump, what PR tips would you give Bernie Sanders?



      Case Study #15: “Hello Hong Kong” Needs a Reintroduction

      2023 YouTube video: Say Hello Hong Kong


      1. According to the textbook: “The key message of the whole campaign is “Come and visit Hong Kong. We are as vibrant as we used to be.” However, the key message is not effectively encapsulated in the encoded message, “Hello Hong Kong.” It fails to communicate the irresistible features of the “real” Hong Kong, such as the eclectic atmosphere in older districts, the well-preserved natural environment, and the underestimated waterfront running trails.” Pretend you are Hong Kong’s PR team in charge of re-branding the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign for 2024. What tagline would you use instead of “Hello Hong Kong?” Keep in mind what the former tagline failed to communicate and explain why your tagline is an improvement.

      2. Review the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s website. Write a Message Map for your new 2024 re-branded campaign using the information on the website.

      3. The textbook talked about the failure of the Hello Hong Kong to consider their return on investment, and explained why they failed. Looking forward, understanding the failures of the Hello Hong Kong campaign, design a full campaign plan for your 2024 Hong Kong Tourism campaign. Pretend you have a budget similar to the Hello Hong Kong campaign. What would you do differently? List at least 3 campaign strategies and tactics, explaining your rationale behind each one.



      Case Study #16: Whitewashing Black Lives Matter: How Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner Commercial Went So Wrong

      2018 YouTube video: Pepsi Kendall Jenner So Controversial Commercial 


      1. Watch the video of the Pepsi commercial. Do you agree with the criticisms of the commercial in the textbook? Why or why not? 

      2. After reading the “Learning for Public Relations Practitioners” section of Case Study 16, what kind of commercial would you propose for Pepsi instead of the Kendall Jenner commercial? Explain why you believe your proposed ad takes into consideration all of the lessons from the controversial commercial.

      3. The textbook notes that “despite the magnitude of the ad’s negative response, this did not have a significant long-term impact on Pepsi’s brand perception.” Why do you think that is? Explain.


      Case Studies 1-16: Questions and Assignments is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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