Mind the gap: Consumer perspectives of ‘ethical’ retailers

I was recently tasked with writing a research report for the Ethics, Issues, and Crisis Management unit on my Public Relations and Communication course. I am required to research into an organisation of my choice and identify any ethical issues that this organisation faces and how this affects their brand reputation and stakeholder communication.

Ethics has always been a part of PR that I have been interested in and this report is a great opportunity to practice researching into ethics for a small report before taking on the task of my dissertation, which also focuses on ethics. I chose Gap as the organisation in focus for the report, not to draw out and Gap logohighlight their ethical issues but to demonstrate how some organisations can struggle to repair reputations after widely covered scandals, such as Gap’s sweatshop and child labour scandals. I have recently ended my part time job at Gap to focus completely on my final year studies and during my time with the organisation I worked with the Southampton team on a number of different CSR events, such as an employees uniform recycle scheme where staff donated old pieces of Gap uniform that could be resold at a stand within West Quay, Southampton to raise money for Rose Road, a charity for disabled children and young people. I think that the current ethical responsibilities that Gap are managing aren’t achieving enough awareness for consumer perceptions to change. From this report I hope to emphasise the need for awareness when reputation management efforts are being made and give recommendations on how organisations can effectively communicate their ethical responsibilities.

In order to gain some consumer perspectives about Gap and ethical retailers I have created a short survey. If you would like to get involved and share your views on ethics within retail please go to my survey.

Is social media the only way to reach a younger audience?

Recently consumer PR has been catching my eye and the efforts in which brands are making in order to try and attract different audiences. Of course all companies and PR agencies want to think of a new and dynamic way to approach this but always seem to settle for social media. Every morning I read through prweek.com and have been drawn to the consumer section where article after article can be seen detailing how companies are reaching out to agencies with digital expertise. Yes, social media has been on the rise and is the forefront of modern communications but is social media the only way to reach a younger audience?

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After reading an article this morning titled ‘Umpf to help Park Inn by Radisson target younger travellers via social’ it got me thinking that many companies solely rely on social media to attract younger audiences. The article was published last wednesday (12th June) and explains how a Europe-wide pitch run by brand owner the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has landed Umpf with the brief of creating ‘a social strategy encompassing community management and social stunts as well as wider campaigns across multiple social media channels.’ The current social activity for Park Inn is handled in the UK by FTI Consulting but has now been branched out to Umpf in Brussels. Johnson, the founder of Umpf, said: ‘The brand has great potential in the social space and we have created some exciting campaigns across a range of social channels which will bring the brand’s personality to life.’

This is just one of many articles focusing on new social media campaigns all with promises of exciting ways to reach younger audiences. The argument that I’m putting forward is whether other dynamic drives are available for these agencies. For example, a simple academic backing wouldn’t do any harm. Say for example, Umpf, on behalf of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, did some PR stunts focussing on university graduates… Whether this was giving discounts to graduates who need somewhere to stay whilst looking for a job after finishing their course or even offering cheaper rooms to students who are still studying but need accommodation during the summer months. This approach would certainly catch my attention and I’m sure many other students as well. A tweet from Park Inn simply saying ‘come and stay here’ will only get lost in the sea of other promotional content found on Twitter, however dynamic stunts and support for the younger generation will no doubt attract attention. Just a thought.

Article and quotes found at :http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/1185568/umpf-help-park-inn-radisson-target-younger-travellers-via-social/