AFA pours cold water on Ice Bucket Challenge

^^ Nifty headline, right? I thought so anyway. And maybe it would have served the American Family Association well to use it on a recent release urging people to think twice before donating to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association as part of the popular Ice Bucket Challenge.

Instead, they went with this…

afa_head

 

I guess it has its own charm.

AFA is firmly on the religious right, boycotting companies that promote products to the LGBT community and choose the term “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas.” But this particular message seemed to bother even supporters of the group – not because of its position, but because of the manner in which it was communicated.

I’ve been meaning to blog about the shift in headline writing to SEO and viral social sharing. For now, let me just direct you to a feature in the Columbia Journalism Review, though you probably don’t need to click to know exactly what I’m talking about.

“ALS challenge kills babies” is about as tabloid-esque as it gets… the good old-fashioned form of clickbait. The actual argument of the AFA and similar groups is that the ALSA’s use of embryonic stem cells for research violates the sanctity of life.

This is not a blog post to debate the merits of that argument.

Instead, it’s one to think about why even those who agree with that argument cringed at the way it was presented.

Continue reading “AFA pours cold water on Ice Bucket Challenge”

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Getting goats for Christmas (Or, how a disillusioned shopper found his joy)

I hate Christmas shopping. Not because I’m bitterly opposed to the commercialization of the holidays. Not because I can’t fight for a bargain (one infamous Black Friday, I bobbed and weaved through a crowd at a now-defunct electronics store to physically lie atop a row of desktop computer boxes my dad needed for his office). In fact, I love surprising my loved ones with gifts that I know they’ll enjoy.

It’s just that sometimes those gifts are awful hard to find. Maybe I’m just not creative enough. Maybe I don’t have the gift of gifting. My aunt can find everyone in the family the perfect gift every single time, despite only talking to us a handful of times each year. Meanwhile, I’ve never known what to get her. A candle that smells like the ocean? Socks with jingle bells? A toaster?

When you don’t know what to get, hunting for gifts is painstaking, and usually fruitless. It was even worse for me when I lived in Arkansas and the nearest shopping destinations were over an hour away. So, one Christmas, I dug into the family traditions and revived something a fellow displaced relative began some seasons ago. In lieu of the perfect gift, I made a charitable donation in honor of that family member.

Continue reading “Getting goats for Christmas (Or, how a disillusioned shopper found his joy)”

Chick-fil-A, the First Amendment, and the drawing out of a public relations firestorm

Since Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s comments on same-sex marriage one week ago, folks on both sides of the debate have been speaking out. Opinion leaders have publicly shown their support for the fast-food chain, like former Arkansas governor and current talk show host Mike Huckabee, who is orchestrating a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Opinion leaders have publicly denounced the fast-food chain, like the Henson Company, which announced its Muppets characters would no longer be tied to Chick-fil-A promotions. As I wrote last Thursday, choosing a side on a hot-button issue is not going to come without repercussions. From a purely business perspective, the hard-line stance could only harm Chick-fil-A’s bottom line by offending some and turning a trip to the drive-thru into a moral dilemma.

[RELATED: Chick-fil-A on public relations tightrope after latest Cathy same-sex marriage comments]

But in recent days, Chick-fil-A has received some unexpected help in its public relations quagmire from an opposition that has lost its mind and its constitutional principles.

Continue reading “Chick-fil-A, the First Amendment, and the drawing out of a public relations firestorm”

Chick-fil-A on public relations tightrope after latest Cathy same-sex marriage comments

I cut sheets of black paper into indiscernible blobs, taping them on the canvas of an old white t-shirt. It could have passed for a Rorschach Test until I went in search of a bovine mask and a bell to bind around my neck.

I dressed up as a cow last week for a chicken sandwich combo meal. What would you do for free food?

Courtesy Chick-fil-A.

Cow Appreciation Day is just part of Chick-fil-A’s charm. The fast food restaurant feels like anything but. The dining rooms are clean, the service is done with “pleasure,” and chances are, you’re going to get a free taste of something if you stick around long enough.

Of course, if you don’t have a stack of readily available coupons, Chick-fil-A ain’t exactly the value menu. It’s pricey fast food, but its customers gladly pay the premium in exchange for the culture.

The Chick-fil-A culture is closely intertwined with the Christian faith. Its founder, S. Truett Cathy, is a publicly professing Christian and through the success of his restaurant chain began a number of Christian missions under the umbrella of the WinShape Foundation. It’s not uncommon to hear Christian music playing in the restaurants and, perhaps most famously, you can’t go to Chick-fil-A after church – they are closed on Sundays.

It’s something Evangelicals can appreciate – no wonder the chain does so well in the Bible Belt – but the friendly service and philanthropic endeavors are enough to appeal to people of most any ethic. Everybody appreciates an upstanding company with strong ties to community. Christians and non-Christians alike can get behind eating more “chikin.”

But lately, the restaurant chain’s leadership has been vocal about a divisive religious issue with political connotations. Namely, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy has publicly decried same-sex marriage, most recently in a radio interview on the Ken Coleman Show:

I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

Continue reading “Chick-fil-A on public relations tightrope after latest Cathy same-sex marriage comments”

KONY 2012: Awareness and accuracy; Idealism and cynicism

Joseph Kony is an evil man. But are the people who likely made you aware of him in the first place even worse? Over the course of just a few days, the world responded to the message of Invisible Children’s short film, Kony 2012, then shot the very messenger that brought them the news. And by the end of it all, at least one man was naked on a street corner.

It was a unique event.

The video itself was the eleventh by Invisible Children, and even in its short lifespan, the most effective. As of the writing of this post – three weeks after the video’s release – Kony 2012 had been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube and Vimeo. MSNBC wrote in greater detail about how the video went viral, while the Chronicle of Philanthropy provided a more philosophical, yet briefer account.

So, Kony 2012 was achieving its goal – to make Joseph Kony famous. There is no denying that the world is now more aware of the man than before the campaign. However, in the process of making Kony famous, Invisible Children too became noteworthy, and when one attracts a certain amount of attention, it is only a matter of time before a critical lens is applied.

Continue reading “KONY 2012: Awareness and accuracy; Idealism and cynicism”

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