Creative Crack: #OscarsSoWhite

You may think, “#OscarsSoWhite happened so long ago. Why is this even a blog title right now?”

Have you ever seen a train wreck of a situation happen for a company and wonder who has to deal with it? Have you seen the issues with Pepsi, Sean Spicer, and United within the last couple weeks? Crisis Management is one of the most important facets of PR, and #OscarsSoWhite is a prime example of people who tried to deal with a crisis well.

Can anyone ever do anything perfectly? Of course not. Can we learn a thing or two about damage control when we work for companies that set themselves in the middle of the public eye? Absolutely.

#OscarsSoWhite helps us to see the steps a company, or in this case The Academy, take in order to come back from a situation that could have made people scoff at the idea of the Oscars for a long time to come. However, after a year of a mess, The Academy was able to put out a response after the 2016 Academy Awards, and they also were able to make a turn for the better during the 2017 Oscars.

So what did they do?

  • Confront the situation. Some companies decide not to say anything, and that may be the worst thing you could possibly do, aside from saying more terrible things. However, the Academy came out with a statement when they were under fire for having all-white nominees for two years in a row. They stated the facts and started a dialogue with the public. They released the following statement on Twitter (the best form of social media when in a crisis):
  • Actions speak louder than words. The president of the Academy announced in that message that the Academy would be seeking to diversify their membership, and while it hasn’t been a drastic change, it has been a slow and steady change that they have clearly worked on.
  • Time is of the essence. These were actions that took place within the week. The Academy had called together their Board of Governors for the association and released this statement. In it they said,

The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up. These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

  • Actions speak louder than words pt. 2. During the Oscars of 2017, actors who were not white were nominated for Oscars. Among those nominated were 3 black actresses nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and a black actor and actress were in the running for Best Actress and Best Actor. However, the greatest accomplishment to note was Moonlight, with a predominantly black cast, won the Best Picture, and both Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor Oscars were taken home by Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali.
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  • Perhaps the greatest thing we can learn though: Leave them talking…about something good. The night of the 2017 Oscars left people talking because the Best Picture was first, mistakenly, awarded to La La Land, and revoked to be handed to the cast of Moonlight. There is the smallest chance this was an accident, but there is a greater chance this was the Academy explicitly showing, “Look, we are taking this Oscar from an all-white cast and making a drastic change by handing the most prized Oscar to a cast of minorities.”

This may have been the most brilliant comeback I’ve ever experienced in terms of organizations with a voice in the arts making an actual difference and strides in diversity. What a moment. What a cast. What beautiful crisis management.

Creative Crack: What is vlogging?

Disclaimer: I’m not a vlogger. And I’ve never put out a vlog before. I’m a videographer. Not professionally, but I dabble in casual video, bought the GoPro, made some short videos, got a job as a videographer that could one day lead to something professional. Stay tuned for that, but anyway…

Let’s talk about:


This is a newer form of promoting and using social media for the benefit of branding a company or a person. The videos are recorded using an iPhone (or a smart phone of your choice) and usually compiled using a basic movie-making software. These are not strict stipulations, but what’s important is that the video is easy to make and quick. The biggest benefit: it makes people feel a part of the story you’re telling, and to include may be one of your most powerful tools. Humans would much rather consume something quick, easy, and visually appealing than sit and read a long article because, let’s face it, our attention spans are only getting shorter.

So what is vlogging and why should you care about it?

Casual video has some similarities to vlogging. While casual video is usually used for the purposes of promoting quickly and inexpensively, vlogging is another quick way to share bits of your day or your story with people on the internet. A lot of videographers, celebrities, and even normal people like you and me do it. It gives people an inside look at other people’s lives.

A vlogger/YouTube star/videographer that has been taking the internet by storm is Casey Neistat. He is a filmmaker, YouTube personality, co-founder of the social media company Beme, and most recently, he sold Beme to CNN for $25 million, but he has also created daily vlogs to challenge himself in his video-creating abilities. This seems small in comparison to what else he does on a daily basis, but he’s able to capture bits of his day and share them with us. He emphasizes that it doesn’t take expensive equipment to be a talented videographer, it’s actually about learning the basics and learning how to be creative with what you have that makes you a talented videographer. He is a constant encourager to those trying to make it big on YouTube, proving anyone can do it with enough commitment and passion.

Why do I bring this up now?

Neistat took a break from his daily vlogs after doing them for almost two years. However, as those in the videography/vlog community have found out, Neistat has restarted the vlogs in the past few days.

And it all started with this:

He’s also made a how-to video for those who want to learn to vlog.

If you’re looking to be someone in the process of branding themselves, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Millennials, and humans in general, live by storytelling. Specifically, we live by the inside story. We love to feel close to the people we follow on social media, as if we could have been their friends all along.

Whether you’re a photographer or a writer or a videographer, it’s all about letting people in and having a sense of transparency in the way you brand yourself. Sometimes that means a series of social media posts sharing your story, and sometimes that means hopping in front of a video camera and testing out new shots, angles, ideas for the rest of the world to see.

Creative Crack: Let’s talk about branding.

Why is branding so important?

The better question: why would I pay $5 for a cup of coffee? Because the Starbucks Coffee brand is iconic. (Strap in because Starbucks is about to school you in incredible brand building and management). Because I’ll drink your decent coffee, pick up your beautifully printed handouts around your store, and stop my skimming of the NYTimes for your company. It’s a piece of our culture that we automatically associate with the word “coffee.”

How have they done it?

When we think brand, we initially just think of a logo, but the brand of a company is so much more than that. It’s how they are viewed in the eyes of the general public. The company’s pictures are eye-catching. The Starbucks logo has evolved in the most innovative way I have ever seen done by a company. People who have never touched a cup of coffee know this logo (all over the world). The graphics are sleek and appealing. They are very responsive on all of their social media. They participate in many community outreach events. They work their way into our early mornings, lunch breaks, and late evenings. And this is all the brand of Starbucks.


SEO (search engine optimization) also helps. They may just be @Starbucks on all of their social media, but their brand name has the word “coffee” in it, and any post or article we find about them contains coffee multiple times.

They brand new products, like the Cascara Latte, in trendy ways that will get retweets and favorites, so the advertising is cheap and basically runs itself. All of their newest drinks, they automatically create a hashtag for, and this allows them to communicate easily with customers about specific topics. It’s brilliant, really.

They’ve even worked themselves into your daily workout. They run the gamut in terms of the audience they reach. Even the hipsters who only drink from local coffee shops probably have a special place for Starbucks Coffee in their hearts.

They even get themselves into the activist sphere of their buyers. Starbucks is a huge company for supporting veterans and the military, and they make sure to publicize about that (especially in their newsroom, which you can check out here). And coffee shops are generally seen as a space for community. Just because Starbucks is a multi-billion dollar corporation doesn’t mean they aren’t also that same community-based coffee shop we’ve all known and loved. They make sure to do good in the communities they are serving, whether that’s with a cup of coffee to get your day going or an event supporting veterans in your area.

These are a few, out of so many, of the things that contribute to Starbucks’ brand. What makes an even stronger brand is that they realize they are such an influential brand, not just in the States, but around the world, and they use that voice for good.

So I’ll always say, “Shop local,” when it’s an option, but in terms of huge companies that make the most dependable cup of black coffee when the mornings start early AND do some good in the world, I’d always choose Starbucks Coffee.


P.S. Creative Crack is a new series I’ve started to parallel with a Public Relations Writing class I’ve been taking. These posts will also carry out of this semester, especially when I find brands, graphics, etc. that set me on fire. Thanks for joining in on this journey.