Everyday PR

Together We Thrive to Offend

Yuck.  My sentiments exactly.  That single word from one of my colleagues is the perfect way to describe the University of Arizona’s decision to print specialty T-shirts handed out at this week’s memorial service for shooting victims.  Other descriptors from friends and colleagues ranged from “nauseating” to “inappropriate” to “you’re kidding, right?”.  Contrary to some reports, the White House didn’t have anything to do with the “Together We Thrive” slogan or promotional materials.  The $60,000 idea solely rests at the feet of the university who wanted to provide attendees with some memento of the service – like listening to the President of the United States wasn’t satisfying or like hearing about individual victims wasn’t moving or like attending a moment in our country’s history wasn’t enough.  Worst of all, the action is being labeled as “branding an event” like it was a circus or movie opening.  If branding was a goal, the University of Arizona got it.  The bad news is the branding they got.  No virtual Cup of Joe for this week’s public relations performance.

The virtual Cup of Joe Award from EveryDayPR spotlights our pick of the week for a public relations performance –  good, bad or ugly.  If you’d like to make a nomination, contact shart@hartpr.com or www.Twitter.com/susanhartpr.

Category: Cup of Joe Award

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8 Responses

  1. jimgenet says:

    Thoughtful & relevant post. I look forward to reading your work in the future.

  2. Lynn Williams says:

    Much of the memorial event seemed inappropriate to me too and yet it seemed satisfying to the community that hosted it. Yuck is right. At first I was offended by audience applause until I considered the memorial was more like a wake – a celebration of life. T-shirts seem like the most tacky memorabilia to me, too, but evidently organizers thought they'd be popular among people attending the event and I assume they will be worn proudly by some. The public is a diverse body from a mesh of educational and cultural backgrounds with differing expectations, and that was a public event – in Arizona, no less. What can you expect from a state that takes such an independent approach to conducting its own civic life?

    • everydaypr says:

      Your insightful comments have prompted me to think what the underlying problems here may be – semantics and location. Memorial implies a somber and reverent time to reflect on the people basically being eulogized. Like you said, a wake means more levity and celebration of the life. Had the event taken place in a church, community location or on site at the tragecy, applause and t-shirts likely wouldn't have become issues. Keep commenting, girlfriend, you're thought provoking! Thanks Lynn.

    • everydaypr says:

      Your insightful comments have prompted me to think what the underlying problems here may be – semantics and location. Memorial implies a somber and reverent time to reflect on the people basically being eulogized. Like you said, a wake means more levity and celebration of the life. Had the event taken place in a church, community location or on site at the tragecy, applause and t-shirts likely wouldn't have become issues. Keep commenting, girlfriend, you're thought provoking! Thanks Lynn.

    • everydaypr says:

      Your insightful comments have prompted me to think what the underlying problems here may be – semantics and location. Memorial implies a somber and reverent time to reflect on the people basically being eulogized. Like you said, a wake means more levity and celebration of the life. Had the event taken place in a church, community location or on site at the tragecy, applause and t-shirts likely wouldn't have become issues. Keep commenting, girlfriend, you're thought provoking! Thanks Lynn.

  3. Jon S. says:

    I think this is a little unfair. Sometimes the telescoping lens that modern communications provides can alter perspective.

    There are really 2 events:

    1.) The event that was attended and celebrated in-person by attendees who want to feel part of the whole of the experience and may like to symbolize their feelings and emotions with a singular message; corny as it may seem to some.
    2.) The whole of the rest of us that have been transported by the juggernaut that is modern media. The feelings and emotions in the room were surely shared and cathartic to the crowd, but that can just seem hokie to the casual living room viewer.

    It was a tragedy and hopefully some positive benefits will be achieved with better focus on mental health and possibly better attention paid to negative rhetoric and dialogue.

    • everydaypr says:

      Good points Jon! At times like this, emotions tend to cloud judgment for good or bad – the country was in serious mourning following 9/11 with celebs wanting to do anything they could to help and a sense of unity prevailed. I agree with your assessment of two versions of the same situation – very interesting perspective. Thanks for commenting.

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