Saturday, December 8, 2007

Obesity: The Next Hurdle in Human Rights?

I've been thinking lately about the obesity epidemic. I have a little sister who fits into this category and watching her grow up, facing the problems that go along with being overweight, has got me thinking. Obesity is a big problem in America, with our fast food and highway system. I really think obesity discrimination is going to be the next big thing when it comes to human rights violations in America. Already I have heard (through the grapevine and what have you) that it is a problem in corporate America. There is a glass ceiling effect taking place similar to that which used to (some may argue it still exists) affect women. I found some information on The Obesity Society's website ( that I found interesting. I really think this might be a problem that we, as PR professionals, will be dealing with in the future. I don't doubt that weight discrimination takes place in corporate America. We tend to focus on outward appearances. We like good looking people. I wonder how long it will take before weight is included in the list of things protected by equal opportunity employment. I wonder if there will ever be laws against weight discrimination. Honestly, I hope so. I would hate to think that an intelligent overweight individual wouldn't be able to get the job he or she deserves just because he or she has a little extra baggage.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Starbucks Standards of Business Conduct

For my blog this week I decided to go through the Starbucks Standards of Business Conduct that was included in my new partner information when I was hired on as a barista. I thought it might be interesting to read through and identify the different values that are emphasized within Starbucks. The twenty page document begins with a short letter from chairman and chief global strategist Howard Schultz. In this letter Schultz emphasizes that "How we conduct our business and how we treat others will continue to determine how the world views Starbucks (stewardship)" and that Starbucks has a "longstanding commitment to follow the law and to act ethically in all situations." The letter ends with a request for partners to "At all times, please remember, do the right thing." The following pages outline various ethical hurtles including everything from partner privacy (freedom) to securities. I was surprised to see that Starbucks appears to value many of the core ethical values present within a more communitarian organization. Starbucks appears to value humaneness, truth and freedom more than justice and stewardship. But I use the word appears for a reason, what Starbucks corporate officials put into print and what they actually do on a daily basis may very likely be in conflict. Often corporations appear ethical on paper but are not actually so in reality. But was nice to read that Starbucks is committed to being honest. "In all sales and advertising, Starbucks competes on the merits of our products and services. Our communications without customers or potential customers must be truthful and accurate. When we say something about our products and services, we must be able to substantiate it. We sell the quality of what we do; we do not disparage or take shots at our competitors." They also put in that "we treat our customers as we treat one another, with respect and dignity (humaneness)." I think this are both great goals for a company to have. I have to say I was impressed with the Standards of Business Conduct. This is the first job I've had where I was given such a document. Never have I worked for a company where ethical standards were emphasized among all employees. I'm glad that Starbucks finds it necessary to provide every new partner with these standards. It puts everyone on the same page and holds every employee to the same standards. This is a great policy for a company to have. Informed employees are valued employees.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kitchen Nightmares = PR Nightmares

I've just been tuned into the new show on Fox, Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay. I also watched some of the original show from British television. After watching this show all I have to say is WOW. I can't believe there are such ignorant people in the world. In the show Gordon Ramsay visits various local restaurants that have been started up by a variety of individuals. He critiques the restaurant in order to try to fix the problems he sees affecting their business. A good number of the restaurant managers and owners have no idea what they are doing and have flung themselves into the business without any doing any sort of research. Ramsay, who has opened restaurants throughout the U.K., tries to help the owners by fixing all the mistakes they have made in the past. He shows them how to fix the menus, the decor, the staff, the communication between employees and the food. Essentially, he's helping them with public relations. Almost none of the new business owners did anything to get the word out about their new restaurants. I guess they watched Field of Dreams too many times. "If you build it, they will come." Sorry honey, doesn't work that way. The new owners just decided on a menu, a decor, a price and opened up shop. They didn't take their publics into consideration at all. So Ramsay has to come along and slap them into reality. He goes out and talks to the public to find out what they look for in an eating establishment and what they have heard about the particular restaurant in question. He takes out samples to pass out, encourages people to come in and in one episode, puts advertisements on buses. The entire time I was watching the show I kept thinking to myself, "Have these people never heard of public relations before or what?" To me it seems so obvious but it never occurred to them. I guess I've just begun to assume that the idea of public relations is common knowledge; that everyone knows what public relations is. But, I need to take into consideration that I am a PR major and that it's only common to me because I have studied it. The show was infuriating to me. I just can't believe there are such ignorant people in the world. People who have no idea how the world works. People who sink half a million dollars into a restaurant without doing the research first.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I'm still trying to figure out how ENRON managed to hide its dirty secrets for so long. It seems to me that someone would've figured it out earlier. What's even more shocking to me is how many other corporations, Arthur Andersen included, were willing to go along with ENRON for so long. This is really a scary situation to fathom. I really wonder how many other companies are engaging in similar practices. I sincerely hope none but I doubt my hopes are realistic. I am however glad that Skilling and the other executives were punished for their crimes. Our society puts so much emphasis on street crimes and often ignores the white collar crime taking place in large corporations. I think we need to rethink this mindset. White collar crime involves much larger amounts of money and many more people. We need to focus on eliminating loopholes for companies to exploit. Including deregulation. I can't understand why anyone would see the deregulation of commodities as a good idea. No one should have the ability to play God with the prices of things our society depends on. It is essential that the government have the ability to control the prices of things that we can't live without. I understand that we are a capitalist society and that we support the ideas of a free market but its impossible to have a truly free market when there are people like Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay willing to play God. There are too many greedy people in the world to trust in a truly free market. There will always be someone out there trying to exploit the freedom of a free market. Especially alarming were the rolling blackouts in California caused purposefully by ENRON. Hearing the traders laugh about the fires and the accidents was life altering. I can't believe there is such selfishness in the world. This really makes me wary of working for corporate America. I just don't know if I'm tough enough.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Conflicts of Interest

After reading the New York Times article "In Diabetes Fight, Raising Cash and Keeping Trust" all I have to say is WTF mate. I really can't believe that the American Diabetes Association has really been bought out. I had never realized before reading the article how many of our public health charities have probably been bought out by corporate America. I guess I've just never really thought about it before. I've always trusted the stamps of approval from these charities, that are slapped on their Corporate sponsor's products, without questioning. It's crazy for me to fathom it really. I mean, now that I think about it it makes sense, I mean, the democratic process has been bought so why not charities... but seriously? I just can't believe that the A.D.A. would even consider lining up behind Burger King. Don't get me wrong, I love BK, but we all know it's horrible for you. That's why we like it. Sometimes you just want a big, juicy burger. They shouldn't be patted on the back for offering healthy products because they should have already been offering healthier choices. They have a responsibility to their customers to offer healthier products. I was amazed by the quotes from A.D.A. executives justifying their behavior and claiming that the money wasn't affecting their integrity as a reliable source for information. I seriously doubt that the money has no effect. If someone gives you money you in turn owe them something. It's just kind of how our society works. Companies don't just give away money for nothing. They want something in return. Being the daughter of a diabetic, and probably a diabetic in the making, I'm really disappointed that I can't trust the A.D.A. Their stamp of approval has no meaning to me as of this moment. I only wish more people would come to this realization. Things can't change until people understand what is going on and get angry about it. We need to start getting angry.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fake Steve Jobs

Dear valued Apple lovers,

I want to begin by saying how truly sorry I am about the confusion concerning the iPhone's sudden drop in price yesterday. I understand how shocking such a large drop in price must have come across to those of you who paid full price. We here at Apple appreciate each and every one of you that purchased your phones early and I want you to know that we are just as committed to you as we are to the are to the quality of our products. I also want to thank those of you who voiced your concerns about the drop in price. We realize now that we may have made a mistake and that we owe it to you, our dedicated customers, to make it better. In order to do so I want to first explain why we decided to drop the price down so suddenly. Our hopes were that in dropping the price more people would be able to enjoy this wonderful, groundbreaking technology. But we also realize that we may have been a bit hasty. After realizing how upset our customers were we have decided to offer early adopters a $100 rebate for the iPhone as a peace offering. I hope this will show how sorry we are here at Apple and how dedicated we still are to our loyal customers. I also want to make this promise to you: we will work harder next time to take care of our early adopters. You deserve better and we know this.

Steve Jobs
Apple CEO

Friday, October 19, 2007


I watched the movie since there were no more tickets to the play. I really wish I could've seen the play though. It is obvious, when watching the movie, that it was originally a play. The long monologues and fast-paced back and forth dialog lends itself better to the play setting. I enjoyed David Mamet's style. His dialog is quick and clever. I can see why Dr. Lambiase wanted us to see this play/movie. It's hard to believe that companies were so unethical back in the 1960s. I wonder how many of these unethical practices still take place today. Mamet is obviously poking at the unethical behavior of both the higher ups (Mitch and Murray, the owners) as well as their employees. By setting up a competition in which employees either succeed greatly (earn a Cadillac) or fail miserably (lose their job) Mitch and Murray are not being fair to their employees. This competition strains the relationship not only between the owners and the employees but also between the employees, making for a seriously terrible work environment. The way in which they hand out the leads is also unfair to the salesmen. They continuously give out bad leads to those who are doing poorly and the valuable leads to those who are already succeeding. This has led to an unbalanced and unjust system of profit for the employees. Mitch and Murray are setting up their employees for failure and then punishing them when they fail. This, in turn, begins to affect the sales force. The men are forced to make a sale by any means necessary, even if that means lying to, bribing, threatening and intimidating clients. Roma is the best example of this behavior. He lies to his client and purposefully avoids his client in the hopes that his sale will go through before the client realizes he's been screwed over. Moss begins planning to steal the good leads to sell them to another company so that he can make some money since he can't make any money with the bad leads Mitch and Murray keep handing down. In the end though, it is Levene who steals the leads and sells them so that he can take care of his sick daughter. Mamet saw the unethical practices that plagued marketing strategies of the 60s and decided to make a movie, perhaps in the hopes that he might be able to change those strategies. I can't say whether or not his play/movie helped any but I doubt it hurt. He helped bring attention to some of the unethical practices taking place in business. I would absolutely hate to work at such a place; I don't know how any of the characters could handle working for such an unethical company. I wouldn't last a day there.