Archive for December, 2009

Public Relations in Fight Against HIV/Aids

December 1, 2009

Throughout the decade, I have come across many non-profit organizations, advertisements, marketing strategies, and campaigns helping to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The best marketing strategy that stands out is when GAP went “red” by selling shirts throughout their stores to raise money for HIV/AIDS.
At the time, I didn’t realize how many people are living with AIDS, have died, and how common this epidemic has become on a global perspective. In the U.S. more than 1 million people are HIV positive. In South Africa, over 250,000 people have died from AIDS and 5.2 million people are living with AIDs in 2008 according to http://www.avert.org. According to the New York Times article “South Africa to Expand to Combat Aids, South Africa has more people infected with AIDS in contrast to any other country. 35,000 babies died last year and 330,000 people died from lack of treatment under Mr.Mbeki’s governement according to Harvard researchers. As a result, Pres. Zuma will be treating pregnant women and babies who are HIV positive. As a result, more people with AIDS will be living fuller lives.
On an international public relations standpoint, a public relations practitioner has to understand cultural differences, political and economic forces along with societal forces that influences the South African culture. The primary language is English along with 11 other official languages. A practitioner’s job is to work as external or internal public relations officers. An external agent would be consultants or advisors to a company where as in internal public relations officer performs multiple functions such as organizing, media relations, and production of media messages. In relation to the HIV/AIDS issue in South Africa, it is important for one to understand the background history and how a country operates as a whole. Public Relations has had a major impact in the country’s operations, especially with HIV/AIDS. For example, due to the many struggles of political and social conflict in South Africa, public relations has been a communication tool to help build trust among the various cultures within the region. According to Skinner and Von Essen (1991) “public relations has emerged in South Africa today as a sophisticated, multi faceted discipline able to help forge effective two-way communication between an organization and its various publics.”

H1N1: A Media or Social Responsibility?

December 1, 2009

Beginning in April 2009, Swine Flu became a prevalent current event worldwide. Two months later, the Swine Flu, better known as H1N1 became a pandemic issued by the WHO. Since the summer, the H1N1 has become a global concern. The media plays a role in how serious this issue is. H1N1 is a headline on any news channel, newspaper, or online. Due to the media reporting various news angles on Swine flu, people started panicking around the world asking questions such as How do I avoid getting Swine Flu?, what are the symptoms?, and how is the government going to resolve the epidemic? Thus, the media is clearly “telling people” what to think about on a daily basis (Swine Flu) which defines the agenda setting theory. Swine Flu/ H1N1 is an example of an issue related to communication agenda setting theory in many ways. Agenda Setting Theory is defined as the media telling people what to think about. The Swine Flu/H1N1 has dominated the news on a global level since the summer. As a result, whatever headline is on the morning/evening news, or online, people are influenced on how to think about the issue as well. The main issue of the Swine Flu/H1N1 is the shortage of H1N1 vaccinations. Who receives the vaccinations first? children? Hospital employees and patients? People will begin to shape their opinions based on what the media says, which is a primary example of the Agenda Setting Theory. We are all influenced by the media one way or another on a daily basis. Furthermore, who’s responsiblity is it to explain or tell us what to think about, especially when our health is at stake? Well, according to the agenda setting theory, the media tells us what to think about.