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PR Future, the USC Center for Public Relations Podcast

USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, Fred Cook, University of Southern California

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The PR Future podcast from the USC Center for Public Relations (CPR) shares the latest trends and provides insight into the future of public relations and strategic communication. Produced at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and hosted by CPR Director and Golin Chairman Emeritus Fred Cook, #PRFuture features discussions with communication executives, academics, students and more as part of our mission to define the future of our industry and to develop those who will ...
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M&M’s is Gen Z’s favorite brand. Its spokescandies are beloved by all, so much so that any minor change to their cadence can cause a political discourse and polarize the nation. How does a legacy brand stay relevant in the modern world and remain pervasive in the minds of millions? In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl, we’re revisiting the 2023 M&M …
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In this episode, we navigate through the transformative impact of AI on the PR industry, discussing its potential for crisis communication, risk assessment, and countering disinformation. We reflect on the potential for AI to revolutionize PR, comparing it to the invention of electricity. Listen to our insights on how AI could bring about a culture…
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How is AI transforming the public relations industry, and what does it mean for PR professionals? We recently hosted a captivating discussion with a panel of AI pioneers, including Aaron Kwittken of PRophet, Ed Clarke of Cometrics, and Bobby Lincoln of PeakMetrics, to explore this fascinating topic. Our conversation delves into the need for communi…
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The COVID-19 pandemic has been the most significant disruption of our lives. Its impact has been far-reaching, altering our work habits, communication styles, and even our priorities. Most importantly, it sparked a widespread discussion about mental health. In this episode, we are joined by guests who wrote about mental health in USC Center for PR’…
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The USC Center for PR’s 2023 Relevance Report found that 47% of consumers believe corporations should get involved with social issues by focusing on internal policies and issues. But what does that look like in action? In this episode, we talk with communication leaders spearheading various corporate social engagement efforts at their organizations…
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TikTok has knocked down the wall between public figures and their audiences, putting celebrities and high profile individuals in closer contact than ever before. Inspired by the Harry and Megan interview with Oprah Winfrey, ColorMeLoverly has blown up on TikTok for her comedic and relatable takes on the public relations field and the irony of this …
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How far should a company go with corporate activism? Lyft is setting the example for how companies should use corporate activism to speak out on issues. Last year, Texas passed the Heartbeat Act, which banned women from receiving abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. The bill went even further, putting Lyft drivers who take women to a…
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As a bookend to our third season of episodes, we are presenting a replay of our Kenneth Owler Smith Symposium on Public Relations, held at USC Annenberg, on the topic of “The Future of Corporate Activism.” The panel was moderated by our Dean, Willow Bay, and featured leaders from companies that are actively engaged in communicating about and suppor…
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Inspired by Selena Gomez’s own mental health journey, Rare Beauty was built with a focus on mental health as the heart of its brand. When Rare Beauty was launched in September 2020, its commitment to truly making a difference through de-stigmatizing mental illness and spreading resources and self-love through their products and programs was evident…
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In 2016, patent attorney Vanessa Otero posted a chart on the web. It was a simple graphic, rating the bias of news sources. And it went absolutely viral. This chart was the first of many iterations of the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart, a map that helps news consumers, educators and communications pros navigate the complexities of today’s media landsca…
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Creating a truly purpose-driven communications campaign is a nuanced and laborious process — one that has become increasingly crucial in the world of public relations. In an era where brands are expected to be a part of social change efforts and use their influence for good, it is essential that companies have a road map for creating authentic camp…
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This past year and a half has been nothing short of historic. As we’ve chronicled momentous events in real time through a communications lens this season, our guests have provided invaluable insight into effectively addressing some of the most prominent social issues of today. Change, especially large-scale social change, is never easy. But through…
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Political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh believes that there’s more behind polarization than just the existence of opposite perspectives. In 2018, she published a report with RAND CEO Michael D. Rich that proposes a framework for understanding one of the deeper issues behind the division in our country: truth decay. In a nutshell, the phrase “truth de…
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In her book “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out,” journalist and author Amanda Ripley introduces the framework that there are two types of conflict: high conflict and good conflict. In America, Ripley believes that we are stuck in a vicious cycle of high conflict — one that is destructive and unproductive. But as Ripley tells us, …
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From cooking red and blue spaghetti while hosting Democrats and Republicans around her dining room table to leading dinner events with hundreds of people from diverse political viewpoints in communities across the nation, social sculptor Philippa Hughes has been entrenched in the polarization issues that plague our country, and intent on solving th…
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While it seems like people with different political ideologies can’t agree on anything these days, one thing we can all agree on is that our nation is polarized; perhaps like it never has been before. As we enter into a new political era with messaging focused on reaching across the divide and restoring a sense of unity, we talked with Christina Be…
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The Gen Z and Millennial audience is often an enigma; to seasoned PR practitioners, their obsession with TikTok videos clocking in at 60 seconds or less, the ever-evolving Instagram culture and their use of various media channels as catalysts for change — such as during the Black Lives Matter movement — can be hard to puzzle through. This week, we …
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As we inaugurate a new president amidst a pandemic and civil unrest, new data from the 2021 Global Communication Survey gives us valuable insight into what this next year may hold. In this episode, our guest Dr. Ulrike Gretzel, senior research fellow at the USC Center for Public Relations, discusses the preliminary findings with Fred, exploring the…
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This year, we’ve not only experienced a pandemic that continues to upend our lives, but the resurgence of a powerful racial justice movement that has reminded us all that it is time for change. It is time for equality. It is time to put in the work across our industry and many others to dismantle white supremacy and systemic racism, and establish a…
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2020 is unlike any year we’ve experienced in our lifetimes; arguably, the only constant has been change. As PR professionals, we’re well-equipped to deal with crises. But in the time of COVID-19, we’ve grappled with entirely new kinds of challenges: closures of entire business sectors, fluctuating reopening guidelines and an entirely new definition…
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Fulfillment and purpose: two things that we all search for throughout our lives, and maybe have been thinking more about lately in our new normal. And two things that Global CEO and Founder of WE Communications Melissa Waggener Zorkin thinks about constantly. Leading with purpose and fulfillment in mind, Melissa and her agency have built strong, au…
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In this special season finale episode, our host Fred Cook puts on his professor cap to bring together everything we’ve learned from prominent activists and communications pros in our debut season of #PRFuture, in the context of the research that started it all: the 2020 Global Communication Report. In our research, we found that “New Activism” requ…
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As we near November, the 2020 presidential election is on everyone’s minds. Dubbed the fight for the “soul of America,” it’s also the first presidential election to take place during a pandemic. With a pandemic election comes a variety of obstacles to the voting process, which means voting rights organization Rock the Vote is working overtime to pr…
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Ben and Jerry’s has always been known for serving delicious ice cream with extra scoops of peace, love and justice. Social mission has always been an integral part of the company’s day-to-day operations — so much so that Ben and Jerry’s has their own in-house activism department. Christopher Miller is the head of this activism team. A few months ag…
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From Star Trek to K-pop, fan culture is everywhere — and as USC Professors Henry Jenkins and Robert Kozinets say, so is fan activism. This week, we’re taking a more theoretical approach to New Activism, exploring the roots of activism in fandom, and how corporate fans — also known as invested consumers — can help companies improve their corporate s…
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Corporate activism has long been sewn into the fabric of Levi Strauss and Company, and over the past seven years, senior vice president and chief communications officer Kelly McGinnis has continued to uphold Levi Strauss’ reputation as a pioneer in tackling social issues. Bringing her background in social work to the table, Kelly has continued to s…
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Damon Jones has been challenging gender stereotypes, promoting sustainability and fighting for racial equality for the past 23 years through his work at Procter and Gamble. Since being promoted to P&G's chief communications officer at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Damon has continued to foster important discussions within P&G’s audiences and…
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As she watched the Oscars from her living room, attorney April Reign tweeted a single hashtag that would change the conversation around diversity and inclusion in Hollywood forever. #OscarsSoWhite started a movement that led her to devote her life to activism, working to amplify traditionally underrepresented voices in the entertainment industry. I…
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At age 15, Colombian-American activist Jamie Margolin organized the Zero Hour Youth Climate March, a youth-led demonstration urging those in power to take concrete measures against climate change. Using traditional PR tactics and leveraging the power of social media, Jamie and her team turned their initial march into a global movement that has more…
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March for Our Lives began in a small town in Florida, but its student organizers went on to spearhead the largest single-day protest against gun violence in U.S. history. The organization registered over 50,000 new voters and spurred the highest percentage of youth voter turnout ever in the 2018 midterm elections. In part two of our interview with …
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On February 14, 2018, a gunman open-fired on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in what became the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. The tragedy gave birth to an influential movement, the student-led March for Our Lives, which transcended South Florida and sparked activism for gun control reform through national pro…
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