Monday, March 21, 2011

Think critically!

As a student of public relations, I have learned a lot about crafting messages that will be received by both internal and external audiences. My coursework has also stressed the importance of being an active and critical consumer of the media.

I recently received an email from my credit card company encouraging me to donate to Japan relief using my credit card. Once I opened the message, I was given the option to donate either using my credit card, or by donating my reward points.

One one hand, I saw the campaign as a brilliant way to raise awareness about the huge need for relief in Japan. I also thought it was a smart way for the company to attach itself to a good cause.

However, as I thought about it more, I began to question the ethics of such a message. Particularly if people donate using their credit card, the company stands a chance of profiting from interest fees on the donations.

A closer look into the campaign revealed that the company itself had donated $5 million to relief efforts. This reaffirmed my original belief that the campaign was in good conscience, but I still couldn't help feeling a bit skeptical.

What do you think, is it ethical for the company to attach itself to a relief effort from which it could also benefit monetarily? Or is this a good example of corporate social responsibility? Either way, the campaign is a good example of the need to think critically when interpreting messages.

If you would like to donate to American Red Cross relief efforts in Japan, you can do so by clicking here. The site also provides a list of cash donation sites and the names of many organizations working to provide relief to the victims in Japan.

1 comment:

Stacey B said...

I understand your skepticism. However, I don't believe this company violated any ethical principles as long as they were honest and disclosed all donation campaign information to their customers. And since the company itself had donated $5 million to the cause, it's clear that they are dedicated serving the public good, which is also a great PR tactic.

Stacey Battenberg, PR undergraduate, University of Minnesota