Personal Connection #2: A Company’s Crisis

Have you ever done something that you knew was wrong, on some scale; whether it was as minor as telling a white lie or as major as stealing something you desperately wanted? No matter how big or small, wrong is wrong, right? Let’s add perception into this equation- what if in your eyes you did nothing wrong and what you deemed to be a win for everyone, but then frantically go into panic when you find out it’s been caught on camera because that changes everything? Once other eyes can judge you, it’s all downhill from there. If you found yourself in any situation like this, do what big companies and corporations do: call in public relations.

Every company or corporation is different. We, as the audience members and consumers, don’t ever stop to ponder on the thought of if they are doing things by the book. Why would you anyways? Shouldn’t we be able to correctly assume they would? Back in the day before the social media development, you either trusted hearing it through the grape-vine, or from the news. Even still, big companies secrets weren’t as easily leaked as they are today. We now have numerous medium outlets that provide an instant streaming of information for the world to see. Wouldn’t you think this would be more of an encouragement, especially now more than ever, for these big companies and corporations to do everything by the book, as if all the world’s eyes had access on the inside? The obvious answer here people is no. However, PETA has recently done something that proves they’re thinking exactly that.

PETA is apparently rumored to be deploying aerial drones to monitor hunters, along with big farms, for any and all activity that they deem to be questionable. David Bartlett, Senior Vice President of the Levick public relations firm, explained on the company’s website that the drones will be operated via remote control and armed only with cameras. Bartlett also stressed that the big farms would have significantly more to lose if they are caught doing anything that could be viewed negatively and sent to regulators and/or law enforcement (Bartlett). But as influential as those regulators and/or law enforcers would be, they don’t hold nearly the amount of power as medium outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and in this case, especially YouTube does. Truth be told, PETA would probably be better off leaking it to one of them first, or at least directly after.

David Bartlett, SVP

(Pictured above is David Bartlett, Senior Vice President of Levit)

In this case, you’re probably wondering what the big crisis is. Yes, it is extremely great to ensure that all animals are being treated properly, I’m a big advocate for that myself. But nonetheless, a company’s a company and this would result in the worst possible scenario of a crisis for them. Their reputation would be destroyed and their revenue would be compromised. So, some advice from David Bartlett: take some videos of your own. Footage documenting their compliance efforts not only makes for great website content that helps boost SEO, (search engine optimization, and build a positive brand image: it allows a company to regain control of the narrative, if PETA, or any other critic, tries to circulate evidence of problems (Bartlett). This is a universal idea and would work for any big company, not just for the farms protecting themselves from PETA.

Aside from this directly correlating to the text by the simple fact that this proves why and when a company would need the help of public relations professionals, it also demonstrates very simple ways in which these companies can help themselves, even without the public relations professionals. As stated in chapter three of our text, The Practice of Public Relations, the medium is the message (Seitel). A great example used to easily explain the meaning of this is that if an issue is published on both an internet blog and The New York Times, clearly The New York Times would hold a higher ranking and carry more weight on the issue than the internet blog. This supports the dangerous threat that social media outlets have on and against big companies and corporations.

For more information on the PETA drones, refer to David Bartlett’s article titled, PETA Drones and the Star Wars Age of Animal Rights Activism, on

Both images displayed are credited to


2 thoughts on “Personal Connection #2: A Company’s Crisis

  1. This is fascinating. I hadn’t heard about this. It does make me wonder though, even with drones in an attempt to raise public awareness, will it be affective?

    I do agree, these big companies should advertise all of the efforts they are making to be compliant. However, just because what they’re showing doesn’t mean it’s everything or all true. It could be showing the public only what the company wants them to see; sort of like Agenda Setting.

    I think the use of modern social media may force major companies, people and other parties to comply more with honest PR as the years go on because, even though it doesn’t carry the weight of the NY Times, it still causes people to raise questions and demand answers as well as investigate, interrogate and seek out the truth. No matter how good the image may appear through a companies PR, if they’re hiding something or not being 100% honest, the truth will come out and cause further PR fiascos.

    I’m very interested to see how these drones, if put in to action, play out. Nice article.

  2. Great article Kimberlee. This is a great connection to our course conversation on ethics and public vs. private information. It was fun to read and compelling. I like that you presented both sides of the situation as well.

    A couple of technical notes:
    1. I wasn’t sure who was pictured in the photograph or what the context was for the other image. Try using a photo caption to show this information to us.
    2. You have a couple of issues in writing with clarity. For example, this sentence: “According to David Bartlett, Senior Vice President of the Levick public relations firm, he explained that the drones will be operated via remote control and armed only with cameras. ” might be better phrased “David Bartlett, Senior Vice President of the Levick public relations firm, explained on the company’s website that the drones will be operated via remote control and armed only with cameras. ” Then link “on the company’s website” to the actual page.

    Really cool discussion. Thanks.

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