Advertising is a public relations’ function through which practitioners place information, commercial messages in media, for reaching their audience. The company that places the message (or the public relations agency that places the information for its client) purchases advertising space and time in specific types of media, identified as relevant for the targeted audience, meaning that the targeted audience is exposed to the specific media in which the messages are placed. Hence, this is a controlled manner for distributing a message to the audience, as the sponsor directly inserts the add in the chosen media.
The movie “Thank You for Smoking” includes this issue when Nick Naylor, the chief spokesman of the Academy of Tobacco Studies refers to the public relations campaign, in which his company would invest $50.000.000 in order to generate awareness regarding the consequences of smoking, with the purpose of determining the teenagers not to start smoking. In fact, the advertising campaign is a subliminal campaign that induces the desire to smoke and that definitely generates publicity for the company for which Nick Naylor works. The publicity is an uncontrolled form of public relations, and in this case it is generated by the impressive budget invested in an awareness action directed against smoking, which is intended to generate media coverage, unpaid, hence – return of investment.
Initially, the value of the budget for this action was supposed to reach not more than $5.000.000, targeting few outdoor and subway panels, as we find out from BR, Nick’s coordinator. Nevertheless, Naylor has understood that his company needed to change its image, from an executioner to a life protector of youngsters, and seized this opportunity by increasing the budget line and promoting it publicly.
The information is available at page 13 in the studied course material.
Public Affair issue
This issue refers to the relationship between the organization, or institution and the government or the groups of community stakeholder. The institution needs these groups in order to unfold its business in good vicinity relationship and needs them in order to support its actions. Building and maintaining strong relationships with government and community stakeholders through corporate social responsibility programs, an organization creates a good reputation among its stakeholders. This generates competitive advantage and an increased productivity. As the organization creates a good reputation for itself, by getting involved in the social activities, by supporting social causes, the stakeholders that the organization sustains will become its indirect ambassadors, making lobby and advocacy actions for the specific organization.
The movie “Thank You for Smoking” includes public affairs issues. By the simple fact that there is announced a public campaign, targeted at persuading teenagers not to smoke with an impressive budget of $50.000.000, the company that Nick Naylor represents, supports a social responsibility program, dedicated to the community’s welfare.
Although the campaign that Nick Naylor initiates is contradictory to its business activity, the action that it supports through its campaign generates the community support or better yet, precisely because a pro – smoking company initiates an anti – smoking campaign is what generates the public support and the community’s engagement in generating a good reputation for the company.
The information regarding the public affair aspect of the public relations is presented and described in chapter 1 at page 17 in the studied course.
This is another public relations issue, covered throughout chapter 5. The relation between professional and his/her practice in the public relations field, should be governed by professional ethics. This implies that the individual who is practicing public relations must be directly interested in protecting the profession and his/her position within this profession, through his/her actions. Another perspective for seeing the public relations ethics is the approach towards the sense of social responsibility of each practitioner, who must be concerned with the society’s wellbeing. Among the practitioners of public relations there is a code of ethics that creates cohesiveness within the PR responsible and not respecting this code leads to practicing public relations without considering the profession, the other colleagues and not regarding the social responsibility. This implies that the actions that a public relations practitioner might take on behalf of his/her company might have a good impact for the company, but a negative impact for the society. Moreover, the company’s credibility can be affected, on a long – term perspective.
This was the case of “Thank You for Smoking” short movie. The Chief Spokesman, Nick Naylor acts as a public relations practitioner, as he publically speaks on behalf of his organization and he permanently deceives the public opinion and the social community stakeholder groups. He himself admits to this in the beginning of the movie. The organization that he works for, Academy of Tobacco Studies manipulates research and the public opinion, into believing that smoking it is not addictive through key people (researchers and lawyers, public opinion shapers). Nick Naylor also misinforms and denigrates, by stating that the representative of “Health & Human Services” intends to kill young men as the “Cancer Boy” from the movie, in order to profit of such sad stories, “trafficking in human misery” (Nick Naylor, “Thank You for Smoking”).
These are severe infringements of the ethical code of business. Naylor acts against the public and the community stakeholders and against his branch colleagues. He promotes the company by denigrating other associations, which are also stakeholders of the company for which Naylor works. The stakeholders of a company are all actors that might influence its business, positively or negatively and the “Health & Human Services” institution worked against the Academy of Tobacco Studies.
Communication – Public Relations define attitudes and opinions
Communication is a two – way process, but in public relations the objective of the communicator is to trigger the attention of the targeted publics and then to generate interest towards the promoted message. The communicator sends the message that he intends the audience to perceive and the audience should also generate a response signal, which is visible by analyzing the interest, or the lack of interest towards the message that it has been exposed to. What is interesting about the public relations communication is the fact that it shapes attitudes and opinions, by “forming pictures in our heads” (sursa). This is a PR objective, that can be achieved through the coorientational model, which includes: agreement (creating a similar evaluation between two or more people), understanding (two or more people sharing a similar definition for mutual interest issue), accuracy (the estimates of one or more people match the views of other people) and congruency (one’s views match the estimates of another person’s view) (sursa).
Nick Naylor applied the public relations communication, obtaining as a result common attitudes and opinions regarding his message. First, during the TV show, he changed the attitudes of the public, from a community group against Naylor’s action, to a group that supported his actions. Second, he defined attitudes when he attended the school day with the thematic “What Do You Do”, in which parents of the students had to present their professions. Nick talked the children into convincing them to think for themselves, subliminally transferring them the idea that they should start smoking in order to understand for themselves if this was good or bad for them.
This issue is covered within chapter 8 of the courses studied.
Strategic Thinking and Planning
This issue is the object of chapter 12. Strategic thinking implies the forecasting the future development of a business and establishing this through actions meant to reach the predictions. The actions must be included in a specific strategy that should identify the company’s business objectives on short and long term. Strategic planning refers to decisions making regarding the set goals and objectives of the company, approaching the key publics and developing policies and rules to deliver the targeted results.
Nick Naylor is both a strategic thinker and a strategic planner. First, he seize the opportunity to get media coverage and to change the attitudes of a considerable audience that could also influence others negatively regarding Naylor and his company, like a snowball. Once obtained, these goals generated a good reputation for the company, and this would contribute to reaching the long – term goal of the company: increased profitability through consumer loyalty, plus through gaining new customers.
Therefore, Naylor decided then and there, on the plateau of the TV show in which he was invited, to launch a campaign dedicated to persuading teenagers not to smoke, with a budget of $50.000.000. Although this brought the dissatisfaction of his boss, Nick convinced him of the efficiency of this plan. A strategic thinker in PR should have autonomy of making his/her own decisions that would impact the entire business, but also the authority. Although Nick did not have the proper authority, he had autonomy and he definitely had charisma and this contributed to his strategic skills.