Friday, December 18, 2009

Bonus Restrictions Aren't Just for Corporate Execs: New Survey Shows Holiday Festivities and Bonuses Will Be In Short Supply at Most U.S. Companies

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld

      According to results of a new survey, less than one quarter of American companies plan to give workers a holiday bonus this year.  This is a record low that is down almost 20% from last year.  These holiday bonuses are referring to traditional bonuses that companies often hand out to all employees.  Companies are also scaling back on holiday parties, if they're having one at all.  These bonuses are ones that basically magically fall out of the air at the end of the year based on an employer's desire to say thank you. 

      I think that not giving out holiday bonuses is the right thing to do for the companies that are doing this.  It is just a smart idea with the way the economy is going.  If not giving out holiday bonuses are going to help employees throughout the year with their income then it is all worthwhile.  They may not be getting a bonus but that does not mean that they are not going to get paid at all.  It will just be an eye opener for them as to how they need to be spending their money more carefully during the holiday season.  Not only will it be beneficial to the employees because of the income throughout the year but it will also be a benefit for the employers because they will feel a little more assured with the amount of money they have or that they are not giving away as bonuses. 


From Really Bad to Perhaps Much Worse: Tiger Woods Now Linked to Performance-Enhancing Drugs as Canadian Doctor is Probed

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      Dr. Anthony Galea, a Canadian doctor who has treated Tiger Woods and other professional sports figures, is under suspicion of providing athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.  This happened after Galea was arrested at a U.S.-Canada border with possession of an illegal drug.  An FBI investigation has been opened, based in part on computer records found relating to several pro athletes. 


      After Woods had knee surgery in June, Galea had reportedly provided Woods with a platelet therapy.  This therapy was developed through a blood-spinning technique that speeds up post-surgery recovery.  This therapy has been approved by the FDA.   However several are saying and fear that there was more to this simple therapy than just a blood-spinning technique.  "The treatment Tiger received is a widely accepted therapy and to suggest some connection with illegality is recklessly irresponsible," said agent Mark Steinberg.


      The fact that Tiger Woods is already in trouble with his situation that deals with his personal life is bad enough.  But now there is hype about him being involved with illegal drugs.  Honestly, I just kind of feel bad for the guy.  Yeah, he put himself in the first situation but at the same time trying to nail him for more than what is his responsibility is not the best approach for people to be making towards him.   If Dr. Galea is the one dealing with the illegal drugs, get his business figured out before tying to nail everyone he was in association with.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tiger's Brand-Protection Days Could Be Numbered: PR Experts Say Next Few Weeks Could Be Crucial for Sponsorship Deals

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      Over the next week or two, Tiger Woods' sponsors are going to have to decide whether they still want him associated with their brands.  PR experts say Tiger needs to take more professional responsibility with his business contacts.  To do this he needs to issue an apology.  "This is a tough call.  His sponsorships are based on his athleticism-not who he does or does not sleep with," said Jackie Wright, president of Rainmaker Communications in the Phoenix area.


      When thinking about his sponsorships and the companies that he is associated with, I think the right thing to do would be to issue an apology.  But like Wright says, his sponsorships are based on his athleticism.  Because of this, part of me feels as if he should issue an apology because he is in the public eye for those companies he is associated with. When he has screwed up, it somehow could make the companies seem as if they screwed up. The other part of me feels as if this is his personal life and his business, why should he have to issue an apology to the public and his sponsors when it is his own personal life?  They should be looking at how well he plays golf not how well his love life is going.  But he has put himself in the public eye and if an apology is what it takes to save his career than that is probably what he needs to do.



Trouble in Toyland: Feud Between Mattel and MGA Entertainment Rages On, But Bratz Dolls Will Remain on Store Shelves Through Holidays

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      The long-running copyright dispute between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over the rights to Bratz dolls continues in court.  However there has been a new ruling that has determined that the popular toys will still be on sale over the holidays and into next year.  Originally the court found that MGA breached copyright laws.  The court then ordered the company to stop selling the dolls and transfer ownership to Mattel, but an appeals court has suspended the order.


      I think that a kind of dispute on something like this, a toy is a waste of time.  There are so many more things that could be going through court right now and these two companies are fighting over ownership of a toy.  One of the statements made was that the two companies should just come to some kind of an agreement on this dispute out of court.  I think this is exactly what should happen.  The two companies should get together, find some kind of resolution that they can agree on, and settle this argument.  The only good thing that everyone is agreeing on is the fact that the Bratz Dolls need to be sold throughout the Christmas season in order for either of the companies to get a profit from them. 



"He Said, She Said" for the 21st Century: McDonald's Catches Heat Over Discrimination for Allegedly Refusing to Hire Transgender Teen

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      An Orlando Teen who changed her gender from male to female is taking legal action against McDonalds.  She claims that the fast food restaurant refused to hire her because she is transgender.  This McDonalds branch claims to have a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination in any form.  Along with being refused an interview by the company, the 17 year old claims that a company rep left a voice message saying she would never be hired by the company.


      The 17 year old definitely has a right to be taking legal action against the company.  I am someone who does not agree with the concept of people choosing to be transgender.  I think that what you are born with is what you got, and is who you are.  I would never judge them for that choice though, but that is beside the fact in this article.  The way that the company went about this whole situation was bad all around.  They first of all were discriminative towards the teen in making the choice to not hire the teen.  Then they handled it wrong when telling the teen and explaining their decision.  There should have been better judgment made from all of the representatives in this situation.  Especially when it came to leaving a voice message on the teen’s answering machine.  It seems as if they treated the situation as a joke which it definitely was not.




Monday, December 14, 2009

In age of 'sexting,' parents weigh options for blocking content

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--As cell phone use becomes common place among children, parents express growing concerns about the content and quantity of material transmitted via the devices. One major concern is "sexting," in which sexually explicit material is shared via text messages, photos or video transmitted between cell phones.

A report released today by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health shows that 41 percent of parents are either "very" concerned or "somewhat" concerned with the amount of time their children spend text messaging.

The poll also shows that 27 percent of pre-teens, ages 9 - 12, and 75 percent of teens, ages 13 - 17, have their own cell phones. Among these children, 87 percent send and receive text messages and 23 percent access the Internet through their phones.

"We found that 55 percent of parents guard against inappropriate cell phone activity by limiting the time children can use their cell phone," says Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the poll and associate professor of general pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School. "Time limits are used substantially more often by parents of preteens than by parents of teens."

However, a less common strategy, used by 33 percent of parents, involves blocking the transmission of images on children's cell phones. The poll found that 45 percent of parents block images on phones for pre-teens, while only 29 percent for teens.

"While many parents have placed limits related to time spent using cell phones, far fewer parents have instituted a mechanism for blocking images," says Davis, who is also associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the U-M Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. "Parents may not be aware of the various options for blocking inappropriate content or the potential risks of sexting."

As parents and relatives consider purchasing cell phones as holiday gifts for kids, it may be wise to consider adding image blocking safeguards to calling plans. In addition, parents should establish rules and expectations with their teens and preteens, in order to guard against sexting, Davis says.

For parents not already doing so, most national cell phone companies will block image content for a monthly fee (usually $5-$10).


Download the report:

View the figures:

Download the questions:

American Academy of Pediatrics: Talking to kids about social media and sexting:

Methodology: This report presents findings from a nationally representative household survey conducted exclusively by Knowledge Networks, Inc, for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital via a method used in many published studies. The survey was administered in May 2009 to a randomly selected, stratified group of parents aged 18 and older (n=1,471) with children from the Knowledge Networks standing panel that closely resembles the U.S. population. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau. The survey completion rate was 56 percent among parent panel members contacted to participate. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 to 6 percentage points, depending on the question. For subgroups, the margin of error is higher.

To learn more about Knowledge Networks, visit

Purpose/Funding: The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health - funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and part of the CHEAR Unit at the U-M Health System - is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.

News about the news -
Finally, a Weight-Loss Solution You Can Live With!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coca-Cola Pushes Its Green Agenda By Announcing New Climate-Friendly Vending Machines to Reduce Huge Carbon Footprint

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      Coke has announced it will take a huge step in its green-conscious refurbishments by rolling out new vending machines and coolers that eliminate the greenhouse gas hydroflourocarbon (HFC) by 2015.  Coke is the world’s largest beverage company.  It currently runs 10 million appliances globally that emit 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.  This is the biggest contributor to the company's carbon footprint.  


      This is such a beneficial thing for not only the Coke Company but it is also setting an example for other companies to follow as well.  It will allow others to see that there is room for climate-friendly refrigeration.  If one company starts this trend, it will most likely catch on because most companies are looking for more environmentally friendly solutions to problems.  Because HFC is blamed for global climate change, it has prompted the food and beverage industry to find other ways to cool products.  This being one of them. People are going to keep drinking a large amount of pop/soda beverages, so I don't think that there is a way to regulate the amount or number of pop machines that are located all over.  So regulating the climate-friendly refrigeration aspect is one of the best things you can do for this environmental struggle.  "Our hope is that our initial investments will trigger adoption by other companies in the food and beverage industry," said Coke's chief executive Muhtar Kent.



Thursday, December 10, 2009

College Grads, Not Meeting Standards

By: Brooke Shanholtz


I am a college student and will be the first to admit I do not attend classes at my peak appearance. My typical look in a class consists of jeans, a sweatshirt, and my hair pulled up in a pony tail. But I will soon be graduating and I realize I have to make the transition into the "real world." I will get up a couple hours before work, show up to my job early, look my best, and be in my top mindset everyday. I know that is what is expected and thought that most college students did as well. Studies have proved otherwise.

Recent studies have shown that recent college graduates are not living up to professional standards. David Polk, York College sociologist, performed a study with business executives. His findings revealed that, "many of the 500 business execs who participated in the study complained that young employees fresh out of college were disrespectful, didn’t have good work ethic and weren’t professional-looking."

Polk compared our generations complaints with that of the baby boomers; the generation gap. But as a baby boomer himself, Polk stated that, "We threw away the tie-dye shirts and bell bottoms."

Daily Dog. (2009, Dec. 10). Recent College Grads Not Living Up to Professional Standards of Last Generation's Job Seekers, New Survey Suggests. Retrieved from


Google Struggles to Protect Image

By: Brooke Shanholtz


Google has been struggling to protect their image because of scammers using their name. The company filed a lawsuit against Pacific WebWorks and other defendants because they have used Google’s name and logo in money making schemes. Google has stated that they have not produced or endorsed any money making schemes through the company.  Many have either seen the advertisements on the web or have received emails stating that they can make easy money from home through Google.


I personally never pay attention to any advertisements for easy money on the web, but recently I received a message on facebook from a friend stating that it works and she was making money. I went to the site and then researched the money making scheme before signing up for anything. I immediately found sites full of post stating it was a scheme, and many of the post stated how quickly they lost money. People need to research where there personal information is going before they submit it over the internet. I am sure glad I did, and I actually feel silly for thinking there was any possibility of it being true. But it shows how easy it is for these unethical groups to make money.



Daily Dog. (2009, Dec. 10). Google Fights for Its Image: Search Giant Sues Work-At-Home Scammers That Have Used Its Name and Logo In Fraudulent Schemes. Retrieved from


General Mills Plans for Healthier Cereal

By: Brooke Shanholtz

Obesity in children has been a highly discussed topic over the past couple of years. Cereal, such as Coco-Puffs, has been blamed for offering unhealthy cereal options for children. General Mills has recently reported that they will be reducing the amount of sugar in their cereal to single digits. Many are wondering if the change in the cereal is a marketing move because of the received criticism.


General Mills claims that the change in the nutrients of the cereal is a reaction to the consumer’s desire not criticism. Regardless of why they are changing the nutrients of the cereal, I think it is an excellent move. It is better late than never. The choice benefits the consumer and if it benefits General Mills that is great too.



Daily Dog. (2009, Dec. 10). General Mills Announces It Is Reducing Sugar in Kids' Cereals — But Is This a Health-Motivated Move, or One Designed to Skirt Marketing Criteria? Retrieved from

Tiger Woods Dominates The News...Not For Golf Though

By: Brooke Shanholtz


Tiger Woods has been dominating the news for well over a week now, and it does not seem to be vanishing. The well known golf star is not dominating because of his sports game either. His reputation has been ruined due to extramarital affairs. The article, ""Brand Tiger" Collapsing: TV Ads Featuring Golf Icon Disappearing as His Personal Business Escalates Into Image-Wrecking Scandal," discusses how some of Tigers many sponsors are reacting to the situation. Tiger has not appeared on the television since the thanksgiving incident. Many sponsors are not going to drop him, but are going to hold back on using Tiger for marketing. They are doing this out of respect for Tiger Woods and his family, and also because it is not a good time to have him as the image of a product. Nike, Gillette and Electronic Arts are a few of Tigers sponsors that for now still support him and will keep him as their spokesperson.


Daily Dog. (2009, Dec. 10). "Brand Tiger" Collapsing: TV Ads Featuring Golf Icon Disappearing as His Personal Business Escalates Into Image-Wrecking Scandal. Retrieved from

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wal-Mart Settles State Lawsuit Alleging Employee Mistreatment: Retailer Coughs Up $40 Million to Pay More Than 87,000 Staffers

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      In 2001, there were claims of employees in Massachusetts that Wal-Mart denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards and refused to pay overtime.  Finally after several years of working through these arguments, the retailer has agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 staffers.  This is a huge increase from when the company originally agreed to pay only $3 million in a deal with the state prosecutors.


      I think that Wal-Mart getting this situation resolved is definitely in the best interest of the company.  It is sad to hear that this happened even before the economy started going downhill, that Wal-Mart was short handing people while the company was still doing well financially.  It is interesting to hear that even though it is a huge amount of $40 million that will settle this, it is split up to people getting as low as $400.  Doing what this specific Wal-Mart company did in Massachusetts shows low value in how they treat their employees.  Wanting the money that they earned as employees is only fair.  Hopefully because of this litigation, this Wal-Mart company has learned the value of treating their employees with importance. 



AT&T and Verizon Agree to Stop Ad-Claim Catfight: Without Saying Why, Carriers Jointly Dismiss Lawsuits Challenging Ad-Campaign Statements

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      AT&T and Verizon have accused each other of lying about cell and 3G coverage-area superiority in TV ads.  One claims to have "more bars in more places" while the others "there's a map for that" ads claim it has far wider coverage.  Even though they have been accusing and throwing arguments at each other, they have now decided to play it nice.  Without explanation, the two competitors both agreed this past week to drop lawsuits against the other. 


      I think that having the arguments and lawsuits against each other in the first place was a mistake.  These days it seems as though almost everyone has a cell phone/some kind of technology gadget or needs one.  Because of this, people are buying new phones or new pieces of technology all over the place.  I would think that with the huge amount of people that we have in this country, there would be no need for argument between cell phone companies.  Coverage within a cell phone company is a big deal to people when buying from that company.  But I'm not going to trust the ad on TV for that anyway, I would rather ask the cell phone company at the store for that information.  I really do feel like there are enough people to go around and enough people to keep the cell phone companies busy.  To me, these lawsuits are just something extra for the companies to be arguing over.




Dockers Tries to Remake Its Brand and Image with Launch of Campaign for New Line of Pants Luring Bargain-Hunting Shoppers

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld
      Dockers has recently decided to try to remake its brand and image with the launch of campaign for a new line of pants for bargain-hunting shoppers.  A recent article has said that mroe often than not, brands that ruled the roost in a bygone era fail in their attempts to remake themselves for the younger, hipper crowd of today.  Dockers however is giving it a shot this holiday season with a new line of pants and a new multimedia campaign.  A revamped line includes new colors and fits with attractive price points. 
      I do remember the time when dockers was a big deal and then, it just kind of died in a sense.  I think that it is good to see the brand trying to come back and be something exciting for many bargain shoppers.  The brand is seeing that buyers and especially men who would be buying this product are becoming much more price concious, and taking how they look a bit more seriously.  Becuase of this, the brand is offering up this new campaign to grab the attention of these buyers.  One of the things the article talked about was the fact that they have a new multimedia campaign that includes a Super Bowl spot.  I think this is intereseting to see and very smart of the compnay.  Their target audience is aimed towards men, so putting something in with the Super Bowl is definately a smart option to have.  It is good to see that the company is promoting the bargain part of the shopping and concerned with shoppers during the difficult economic times.  Especially because is it obvious that apparel sales are still not up to where they used to be.  Dockers is launching something new in a difficult time and it will be neat to see how the target audience reacts.

What's Tiger Woods Thinking? Crisis Experts Criticize Golf Star's Silent Approach, Which Could Create a PR Nightmare for "Brand Tiger"

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      There have been many things written about Tiger Woods and the incident that happened near his home, but no one knows exactly what happened.  The first rule of crisis management is to speak up and address the issue, as many brands have learned the hard way.  Lingering silence just turns little problems into giant problems that are hard to get out of.  Tiger Woods has so far been completely mum about his "incident", refusing to speak with police about what happened and why. 


      I think that it is good that Woods wants to keep his personal life just that, his personal life.  That is nobodies business but his own and he should not want other people to know.  By him, as a celebrity, not blurting out all the details, it shows that this was not just another incident put on display in order to get attention.


      However, if the police need more information from him as to what happened, that is a different aspect of the story. "When you avoid the police, it not only hurts you in the court of public opinion but it also hurts you in the court of law," says Mike Paul, president of MGP and Associates PR.  For Woods to be avoiding the police shows a sense or lack of respect for the law and for values or moral standards.  This is definitely not good for his brand.  Yes, it is important that he protect his personal life but it is also very important that he obey the law just like any other citizen. 




Friday, December 4, 2009

Despite Huge Revenues, Wall Street Financial Firms Make Extra Efforts Not to Celebrate with Luxurious, Image-Damaging Holiday Parties

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld
      Wall Street, over the past couple of years has learned a lesson from the PR nightmares created by bailouts and bonuses over the last year.  Even some of the rich firms are excerscising some humility this holiday season.  Rather than luxerious bashes, like in years past, companies like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are planning low-key offices parties to avoid further scrutiny.  "I think the right tone is one that is low key," said David Ellis.
      I think this is such a great and smart thing for businesses to be realizing.  I think it would be very unsmart for companies to be spending money on big Christmas bashes, then because of economic circumstances, have to tell their employees, oh sorry you are all getting a cut in your pay.  We spent too much this past holiday season.  The fact that companies are realizing these things and cutting back on events like their holiday get-togethers really shows that employers and owners are concerned with theirs employees.  Whether it be for money purposes or not. 
      "Now is not the time to show off," said Brad Hintz, a Sanford Bernstein analyst who tracks several bulge bracket banks.  I think this is a very wise statement and something that some companies should really think about.  By realizing that now is not the time to show off, you are saying that you are more concerned with what is really going on within the company rather than on what people may think is going on within the company.  Which I believe is the right tone to have in this situationn and for the approaching holiday season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lie--a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

By Brandon Moore

Over the past few years there have been many public figures that have
been caught and/or accused of lying; some to fans, some to clients,
others to congress and the world. These lies have ruined lives
destroyed stability and caused irreversible emotional and sometimes
physical damage.

On February 13, 2008 Roger Clemens sat in front of Congress and
definitively denied using any performance enhancing drugs. During
these hearings there was also testimony from Clemens former trainer
that he personally injected Clemens with steroids. In addition to
Clemens former trainer, former teammate Andrew Pettitte also stated in
2000 that Clemens took steroids. This case is still under
investigation and if evidence is found Clemens could be charged with
perjury and obstruction of justice.

December 11 2008, Bernard Madoff was arrested after admitting to his
sons that his multibillion dollar company, Bernard L. Madoff
Investment Securities LLC was nothing but a giant ponzi scheme.
Madoff was convicted on over nineteen different counts securities
fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and perjury. For the
over fifty billion dollars that Madoff stole from his investors he
will due 150 years in federal prison.

In 2004 America's favorite stay at home mom was sentenced to five
months in federal prison after being found guilty of insider trading.
After receiving an unpublicized tip about ImClone Systems Inc., a
cancer research company. Martha's friend Sam Waksal owner of ImClone
tipped Martha off that ImClone's newest cancer drug was rejected by
the FDA. Martha then sold her 4000 shares of ImClone stock.

One of the most notorious white collar crimes ever committed was by
Jeff Skilling, former CEO of the energy giant Enron. Skilling was
convicted of 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of insider trading, 5
counts of making false statements to auditors, and 12 counts of
securities fraud. These 17 convictions landed Skilling with 24 years
and 4 months in federal prison. Skilling started serving his term in
December of 2006. Skilling is scheduled for release sometime in 2028
when he will be 75 years old. On October 13, 2009 the Supreme Court
accepted Skilling's appeal case and the trial will begin in 2010.

Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic, attempt to shape
perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a
response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.

Though propaganda and lying are never directly correlated it is
obvious that they are in fact one in the same. Both propaganda and
lying are forms of deceitfulness intended to hurt the receiving party.
Through the cases of Roger Clemens, Bernie Madoff, Martha Stewart, and
Jeff Skilling it is plain to see what drastic effects lying can have
on the people around you as well as people that you don't know exist.

It may be a stretch to say that all propaganda is intended and/or used
for negative purposes, but the fact of the matter is that it's true.
Propaganda was used starting back in the 1600's where it was vastly
used within the political and religious circles.

Propaganda in today's society is used to sway people's opinions and
get them to see ideas in a new light. This is the exact situation that
the four people mentioned previously have done. They were all
introduced to what they thought was a short cut to success, rather it
was steroids, or money all four of these people and many others like
them find their fate being decided by the greed that once drove them.

Works Cited:
Zambito, Thomas and Smith, Greg B. (2008, Decemeber 13). Feds say
Bernard Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme was worst ever. Retrieved
October 27, 2009, from New York Daily News:
(2003, June 4). Press Release. Retrieved October 27, 2009 from
Security and Exchange Commission:
Salter, Malcolm (2009, February 4). Jeffrey Skilling's Latest Lesson
For Us All. Retrieved October 27, 2009 from Forbes:
Jowett G., O'Donnell V. (1999) Propaganda and Persuasion. Thousand
Oaks CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Safety Alert: Advocacy Group's Annual List of "Trouble" Toys Includes Several Items that May Be Toxic, Choking Hazards . or Just Plain Annoying

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      The U.S. Public Interest Research Group's 2009 list of dangerous toys was released this week.  It was somewhat of a relief considering all of the troubles the toy industry has dealt with over the last couple of years.  But the organization warns and still feels as if there are many items, including some from leading toymakers that parents should be aware of and steer clear of.  Among the hazards include toys that pose potential choking hazards, toys that have potentially toxic chemicals in them, and toys that are excessively loud.  There are also several toys that do not necessarily pose a hazard but come uncomfortably or dangerously close to violating the restrictions.


      The fact that we have a research group that tests all of these toys is significant.  There are so many different restrictions, I feel like it would be hard for these research groups to even keep up with everything that they need to check on.  I am not a parent but I think for many parents, they probably appreciate this very much.  Because of these restrictions, parents can be calmed with information letting them know what is ok for their child to play with and what is not ok for their child to play with.  I do however think that there are some guidelines or restrictions that could be avoided if some parents would give or pay more attention to their kids.  I don't think that I would give my child a toy with potential hazards to it and then leave them alone for an amount of time.  If you think it could be harmful don't give it to your child.  But I am sure that is easier said than done.



Good News for Retailers: As Black Friday Approaches, New Survey Shows Moms Plan to Increase Spending By 32 Percent This Holiday Season

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      Despite the estimated poor outcome for holiday shopping this year as most Americans continue to struggle through the recession, a new survey from parenting website BabyCenter has a brighter outlook on retailers.  According to this survey, mom shoppers plan to spend more on presents this year than they did in 2008.  Poll respondents said they plan to do their shopping online as well as in stores.  There was also more polled who said they would be giving home-made as well as store bought gifts this year.  The results of this survey show both the temporary and the permanent effects of the recession on families and also shows what is really becoming important in these families lives-caring for each other.


      This article is encouraging.  I think it is good to see that despite the economy and everything that is going on within it, family is still something that is very important to people.  I think it is good for moms to be concerned with caring for families and their children around the Christmas season.  For some kids, Christmas may be one of the very few times that they get any kind of special gift from their parents.  For parents to realize this and still want to present their kids with something at Christmas, even though maybe financially they cannot afford it, is a beneficial thing for parents to do.  I think it also shows a kind of defiance against our crumbling economy.  It shows that people have come to not be so scared of what is going to happen within their families financially and just spend that extra money around the holiday season.  I think that parents need to continue to be smart with the money that they are spending around the holiday season but it is good to see that moms are aware of what’s important.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Right Sarah, Wrong Crowd: Fox News Plays the Wrong Crowd Video in Palin Coverage: Network Says It Was a "Regrettable Mistake"

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      Fox news was caught making a bigger deal out of Sarah Palin's book tour than it is in reality.  They showed a much larger gathering from other irrelevant footage.  They apologized for the error calling the incident a "production error."  But many are thinking that this wasn't just a "mistake."  Fox did the same thing while promoting Palin last year during the presidential campaign.  They apparently had shown a huge crowd at a not-so-well attended event.


      Not only is it bad enough that Fox got caught once doing this but twice.  You would think they would have learned their lesson.  Doing this sort of thing just makes it bad for everyone all around because it jeopardizes the credibility of not only Fox but also of Palin and who she is working with.  From different perspectives it could seem as if Palin and who she is working with may have wanted this promo as a benefit towards her and her new book.  But really it is Fox who is thinking that by doing this it will allow Palin to have a better representation of her.  It is good that they like her and what she is doing but that is no reason to bring negativity to her career with this mistake.  Hopefully they have learned a lesson through the negativity that has come from this or maybe the third time will be a charm.



AOL Targets Tween Girls with Launch of New Blog: New Site JSYK - Text Speak for "Just So You Know" - to Feature Mostly Original Reporting

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      AOL has launched a new culture blog called JSYK, targeted towards teens.  The new site will feature plenty of updates concerning celebrities such as the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, lots of exclamation points and most importantly, about 70 percent original content.  Two AOL staffers have been assigned to the site, along with reader contributions.  JSYK adds to AOL's growing content targeted at kids and parents. 


      I think that this is very smart of AOL to launch this type of new culture blog.  With technology being such a big part of everyone’s lives launching this new blog is something that will probably be very successful for them because of the target audience.  The average age of kids who are getting on the internet also seems to be getting younger which will draw in more kids to this new culture blog.  Especially because of the updates on celebrities such as the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and other teen celebrities. 


      I love the idea that JSYK's content is targeted at kids as well as parents.  This just adds to the possibility of this new launch being successful.  When the kids are targeted along with the parents, I think it makes the parents feel more comfortable because they know that the content is safe.  Also having two AOL staffers being assigned to the site will help with making sure that the new culture blogs will be what the audience is looking for or what the specific target audience is looking for because they will know exactly what AOL wants to present to its audience.  Having outside publishers is good for having another point of view or broader spectrum on things but I think because this is targeted towards kids and parents, having their own staff is a much better option. This new culture blog seems like it could be something interesting and exciting for this target audience to check out.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Social Media Boosts Airlines Images

By: Brooke Shanholtz

I recently read an article discussing airlines jumping into the world of social media. There are a few airlines, such as Southwest and JetBlue, who have been engaged in the social media world for a couple of years but there are many who have been slowly entering the use of this medium.  Christi Day, a communications specialist for Southwest, manages their twitter page and states that, "It is the most efficient way to share news, whether it's to our customers or to our employees." She reports that Southwest continues to grow by 7,000 followers a day. Many airlines use Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to promote their services and specials. These airlines have reported the social media as a booster of their image. 


Many people may remember the bad image United Airlines received because of a posted YouTube video. After a bad experience with the airline, country singer Dave Carroll posted a song and video he produced about his horrible experience. The United Airlines broke his guitar and were not very helpful with the situation. His song was titled, “United Breaks Guitars,” and he sang about how he should have chosen another airline or just used a car. This video has received over five million views. Talk about bad publicity!


Social media sites are a positive tool and can be a great image booster. But it is important for organizations to maintain a positive relationship with customers because they too can use social media to share their feelings and ideas with the world.


Daily Dog. (2009, October 30). Airlines Finding a Silver Bullet with Social Media: Carriers that Engage in Facebook et al Successfully Boosting Brands, Reaching Customers. Retrieved from

Monday, November 9, 2009

Is your "foot-in-the-door"?

By Colby Morris

What does it mean to have one's 'foot in the door?' Is it painful?
Where did the phrase come from? How can it be used today? Is it used
for persuasion, propaganda or both? Is it a technique that is
successful? What do researchers say about its effectiveness?

When given the assignment to analyze what and how the phrase, 'Foot in
the Door', is used as a persuasion and/or propaganda technique, I had
no idea I would find so much research and information available. This
paper and the related blog may be used as both an informational source
and a forum for discussions which I look forward to starting. I have
an interest in investigating this phrase, as I've heard it used all of
my life. I hope after my education at Northwest Missouri State
University, and after having this class with Dr. John Fisher, I just
may have my 'foot in many doors' leading me to a successful future!

History of the phrase

Gary Martin, founder of Phrasefinder in 1997 suggests, "The phrase,
'foot- in- the- door' means an introduction or way in to something,
made in order that progress may be made later." (Martin, 1997). While
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, describes the phrase 'Foot in the
Door' (FITD) as "a compliance tactic that involves getting a person to
agree to a large request by first setting them up by having that
person agree to a modest request" (Wikipedia, 2009).

When I first read those two meanings, I felt the FITD technique
sounded deceptive in nature. When I hear the words, 'tactic' and
'setting someone up', I think of a technique that would always take
advantage of someone or something, making them in one way or another
victim. Yet as I researched, I have come to think very differently
about the phrase, FITD, and see it as a very valuable technique that
when used correctly makes a win-win situation with no victims at all.

The first uses of the phrase started way before the 1800's and it was
used in a very concrete, literal way. It literally meant something
physical, like your foot, stepping into someone's house, or using your
foot to keep a door from closing. After that, the phrase became a
classic persuasion strategy used to sell something by going door to
door. The salesman would have the hardest time getting his or her
'foot in the doorway' after knocking on a stranger's door. Many times
all they would get is a door slammed in their face, rather than an
invitation inside. I know today that sometimes I will hide and
pretend I wasn't home when I realized it was a salesman, or stranger.
It always feels weird pretending to 'not' be home, but it also saved
me the time and prevented me from being talked into buying something I
cannot afford and/or do not need. As Richard M. Perloff puts it, "If
they (salespeople) could just overcome initial resistance - get a
'foot in the door' of the domicile - they felt they could surmount
subsequent obstacles and make the sale of Avon perfume, a vacuum
cleaner, or a set of encyclopedias. Going door to door is out of date,
but starting small and moving to a larger request is still in vogue."
(Perloff, p.248).

I think the majority of people use the phrase, FITD symbolically, and
in a positive, innocent manner. If I wanted a really important job, I
would not want my application to go into a pile of hundreds of them go
into. I would say, 'If I could just get my foot in the door, I know
they'd hire me.' Now 'how' to go about 'getting my foot in the door'
is where the process and research become important.
Many experiments have been done to test the effectiveness of the 'foot
in the door' technique. Researchers want to know if this tactic will
work well to persuade people to comply. For example:

In a classic study, Freedman and Fraser (1966) arranged for
experimenters working for a local traffic safety committee to ask
California residents if they would mind putting a 3-inch 'Be a safe
driver' sign in their cars. Two weeks later, residents were asked if
they would place a large unattractive 'Drive Carefully' sign on their
front lawns. Homeowners in a control condition were asked only the
second request. Seventeen percent of control group residents agreed
to put the large sign on their lawns. However 76% of those who agreed
to the initial request or had been approached the first time complied
with the second request.

Participants were more willing to volunteer to construct a hiking
trail if they had agreed to address envelopes for an environmental
group than if they had not acceded to the initial request (Dillard,

Individuals were most likely to volunteer a large amount of time for a
children's social skill project if they had initially assisted a child
with a small request-helping an 8-year-old get candy from a candy
machine (Rittle, 1981).

There have been more than a hundred studies on the FITD technique over
the years and all of the results show in one way or another the effect
is 'reliable and occurs more frequently than would be expected by
chance' (e.g., Dillard, Hunter, & Burgoon, 1984). Some other classic
FITD experiments were early studies with psychologists testing. For

A team of psychologists telephoned housewives in California and asked
if they would answer a few questions about the household products they
used. Three days later, the psychologists called again. This time,
they asked if they could send five or six men into the house to go
through cupboards and storage places as part of a 2-hr enumeration of
household products. The investigators found these women were more than
twice more likely to agree to the 2 hr request than a group of
housewives asked only the larger request (Freedman, J.L. &Fraser, S.

More recently, persons were asked to call for a taxi if they became
alcohol impaired. Half of the persons had also been asked to sign a
petition against drunk driving (which they all did) and half had not.
Those who had signed the petition (complied with a small request) were
significantly more likely to comply with the larger request of calling
a taxi when impaired compared to those who had not been asked to sign
the petition (Taylor, T.,& Booth-Butterfield, S.1993).

There have been more than a hundred studies on the (FITD) technique
over the years and all of the results show in one way or another the
effect is "reliable and occurs more frequently than would be expected
by chance" (e.g, Dillard, Hunter, & Burgoon, 1984).

Positives and Negatives

Now that we have so many media outlets to persuade the public of one
belief or another, the 'Foot in the Door' strategy is used in both
positive and negative ways. We are hearing persuasion and propaganda
and are totally unaware at times when it is happening. One example
would be through commercials. We may not even be paying close
attention to a commercial on the TV or radio; but a tune, picture, or
phone number given in a song, slips into our subconscious and comes up
in our minds much later. The use of the FITD technique is great and a
positive strategy for politicians, marketers, recruiters and more.
Yet it should be used in an honest, fair and helpful way, which does
not happen on too many occasions.

The Internet is now one of the main places propaganda and persuasion
tactics are used and too often, abused. Criminals of all kinds use
the FITD technique to influence people of all ages. They trick people
out of their money, make false promises and worst of all use their
'foot in the door' tactic to hurt innocent victims. The impact on
teenagers is tremendous. Just a click on the computer can take an
innocent teenager, accidentally, to places they should never have had
the chance to look at. Child abusers use the Internet to get their
'foot in the door' and slowly persuade a person to agree to a small
request like sending them a picture and then later get the person or
child to meet them some place. People, especially young people, are
so easily persuaded to do things that can put them in such danger and
many times lead to their death. This happens just by letting a
perpetrator get their 'foot in the door' and into one's mind. They
can change the behaviors and thoughts of the victim and use it over
and over before they ever get caught. Detectives have advanced their
techniques in catching these criminals, but all too often they are too

As Anthony Pratkanis and Elliott Aronson point out, "Every day we are
bombarded with one persuasive communication after another. These
appeals persuade not through the give-and-take argument and debate,
but through the manipulation of symbols and of our most basic human
emotions. For better or worse, ours is an age of propaganda"
(Pratkanis and Aronson, 1991).

The use of the FITD technique is great for politicians, marketers,
recruiters and more. The use of the Internet has accelerated the use
of persuasion and propaganda to the point of no control, and that is
scary. Today people are overloaded with information.

Have the tactics and multitudes of ways we receive communication on a
daily basis been a good thing or a bad thing? For the very first
time, people are communicating and discussing issues all over the
world in a completely uncensored way. Is that a good thing, or bad?

Sites and References

Burger, J.M. (1999).The foot-in-the-door compliance procedure: A
multiple-process analysis and review. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology Review, 3,303-325.
Dillard, J. (1990).Self-inference and the foot-in-the-door technique:
Quantity of behavior and attitudinal mediation. Human Communication
Research,16, 422-447.
Freedman, J.L. & Fraser, S. C. (1966). Compliance without pressure:
The foot-in-the-door technique. Journal of Personality and Social
Gueguen, N. (2002) Foot-in-the-door technique and computer-meditated
communication, Computers in Human Behavior,18, (1),11-15.
Perloff, Richard M. (2003) The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication
and Attitudes in the 21st Century. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
Inc.Publisher,Mahwah, New Jersey. (2) 247-249.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Who's Watching the Parents? New Nielsen Research Finds the Average Pre-Schooler Watches More Than 32 Hours (!) of TV Every Week

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld
      TV usage is the highest it's been in eighty years among kids aged 2 to 11, according to new research.  Nielsen findings show that children ages 2 to 5 are watching TV for an average of more than 32 hours a week, while those ages 6 to 11 are viewing more than 28 hours of TV weekly.  These stats include live and recorded TV, as well as VCR and game console usage.
      This is a really sad statistic if you ask me.  What happened to playing outside, finger painting, making projects, and running around with friends on the playground?  I figured the numbers were up there but this is really high for this age group.  I guess I am used to the old fashioned way of kids having fun, which meant going outside and hanging out or making messes.  I probably feel this way also because I grew up on a farm where we spent a lot of our time outside doing things.  I have an older brother, so when we were little we spent time outside digging in the dirt or playing make believe while helping our parents around the farm.
      On the other side of it, I also can see why the numbers for this are high.  I babysit two kids for a few hours every afternoon that are in this age group.  After we get back from school, have a snack, and do homework, there are a lot of times when it is much easier to just go sit in front of the TV set and watch a recorded show than to get coats and shoes on again and head outside to ride bikes around.  So I assume, like this example, for a lot of people it is much easier to just tell the kids, "Go put on a show and watch TV," than it is to actually have to do something active.  But instead there needs to be an effort made, for the benefit of the kids, when it comes to telling them to "go play."

New Survey Says Americans have Increased Use of Online and Radio News Sources, While Daily Newspaper and Television Use Drops

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      According to a new study, Americans are increasingly turning to online and radio sources for news and information, while relying less on daily newspapers and television.  "While traditional media isn't going away any time soon, this does change how we as marketers reach these sought-after consumers," says marketing, social media and public relations blogger Dave Fleet.  According to a credible survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, daily newspaper usage dropped 4.1 percent and television usage dropped 3.6 percent, while radio usage increased 2.9 percent and online usage increased 1.9 percent.


      I think it is interesting to see how from year to year the traditional usage of media percentages are probably going to keep dropping.  It is good that there are people conducting these surveys so that like this article says, marketers can reach consumers with what they are wanting.  I also think that it is important that like the article says, traditional media will not be going away any time soon.  I still feel like I rely on traditional media and what it has to say about what is going on from day to day.  The internet and online sources for news are great and really help a lot of people to be in the loop.  But for those who are used to the more traditional usage of media such as the Saturday morning paper and the 10 o'clock news, getting rid of these traditional uses of media would be a huge adjustment to their everyday lifestyle.



New Study Finds Facebook Users More Affluent than MySpace Crowd - Bloggers and Tweeters Tend to Be City Dwellers

By: Roseanna Sonnenfeld


      A new study from the Nielsen Company has found some interesting facts about social media and culture.  According to these results, Facebook and Twitter users have more money and tend to live in urban areas than the rest of the nation. 


      I grew up on a dairy farm out in the country outside of a very small town.  I now am at college where I have access to the internet but when I go back home I do not.  At my house back home, we do not have Facebook/Twitter let alone internet.  Some may think that this is a burden but not really.  There is so much more to do than look at Facebook and Twitter all day long.  While at home on the farm I have plenty to do and plenty to keep me busy instead of being hooked onto the computer screen 24/7. 


      So responding to this article, it is completely understandable to me as to why more Facebook/Twitter users seem to have more money and tend to live in more urban areas.  Because in rural areas more of your time is spent outside compared to urban areas where more of people’s time is spent inside.  If you are outside completing tasks in rural areas you are not going to take time to check somebody’s Facebook status.  Also, in urban areas people will spend more money on things such as their internet use because they are using it more often and depend on it more.  Because of this it would certainly show that these Facebook/twitter users have more money.