Episode 23: The Ramifications of Businesses Taking Political Sides
What happens when businesses take political sides in this fractured political environment? How can a company recover from a public relations misstep? PR veteran and CEO of JoTo PR, Karla Jo Helms,1 joins the Fordham IPLJ Podcast to discuss how a company’s inadvertent pro or anti-Trump position can quickly turn a company into a political target.
For example, Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from seven countries ignited a swift and divisive reaction: 55% of Americans approve while 38% disapprove.2 That divisiveness was echoed by businesses:
100+ tech companies filed a brief arguing against the ban.
Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter, saw her shoe brand removed from Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Shoes.com post-election.3
During a taxi strike at JFK airport in protest of Trump’s ban, Uber continued its services as usual, which many viewed as an endorsement of the ban. The hashtag #DeleteUber began trending shortly thereafter and over 200,000 customers deleted their accounts.4
The podcast explores how companies, like Uber and Disney, can prevent themselves from becoming the next victim of a political firestorm. Helms says the solution is strategically-planned-out public relations. Helms adds that political commentary is always a risk for businesses: companies fare better when keeping commerce separate from intense subjects with volatile human emotion and reaction.
The podcast also explores the recent controversy surrounding podcaster and video game journalist Colin Moriarty.5 On International Women’s Day, Colin tweeted out the following:
The tweet was met with a mixed reaction. Some saw the tweet as an offensive and sexist statement. Others saw the tweet as a harmless joke. This lightning rod of controversy led the podcasting history buff to leave the company he co-founded Kinda Funny and start his own podcasting endeavor titled Colin’s Last Stand. Is this result acceptable or is it the symptoms of a dangerous obsession with political correctness?
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Lien, Tracey, and James Peltz. “More than 100 Tech Firms Join Legal Fight against Trump’s Travel Ban.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 6 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.↩
Huddleston, Jr. Tom. “Here’s How Many People Watched the Super Bowl.” Super Bowl: Here’s How Many People Watched | Fortune.com. Fortune, 06 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.↩
Isaac, Mike. “Uber C.E.O. to Leave Trump Advisory Council After Criticism.” New York Times. N.p., 2 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.↩