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Op-Ed Assignment

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For purposes of this assignment, assume you are a writer at a public relations agency representing a product/service/brand (either an individual or an institution) of your choice. Note: though the crisis can be purely hypothetical, the product/service/brand must currently exist.

Step A: After choosing your product/service/brand, determine a crisis that it (a) has confronted, (b) is currently confronting, or (c) might confront at some point in the future.

Examples of crises: product tampering of Extra Strength Tylenol, Charlie Sheen’s public misdeeds (drinking/womanizing), Goldman Sachs’ financial malfeasance, Nikki Haley’s (Indian-American South Carolina Governor) alleged extramarital affairs Step B: In Microsoft Word, develop Deliverable #1, a ONE-PAGE PLANNING SUMMARY, an internal document that, in bullet-point form, addresses the four following issues (each under a separate heading, as indicated below):

………in approximately 3-5 bullet points (please label this section “Crisis”), succinctly describe the crisis and how it unfolded

…….…in approximately 1-3 bullet points (please label this section “Rationale), convey why the crisis is important to the product/service/brand you have chosen (e.g., Goldman Sachs’ potential loss of revenues)

…….…in approximately 2-4 bullet points (please label this section “Key Points”), reveal the key points you will make in the op-ed piece to repair public perception of the brand (e.g., Goldman Sachs was not the only organization that made mistakes during the financial crisis, and is now atoning for those mistakes now through its partnership with Warren Buffett)

…….…in approximately 1 or 2 bullet points (please label this section “Audience”), briefly cite the audience (or audiences) that is/are most affected by the crisis, mentioning why it is important that the product/service/brand regain the trust of this audience (e.g., institutional investors who may require Goldman Sachs’ merger-and-acquisitions services in the future) Final Step: In Microsoft Word, develop Deliverable #2, a 2-4 PAGE OP-ED PIECE (an “opinion essay”) that defines, discusses, and highlights your product/service/brand’s perspective on the crisis it faces. Your op-ed should include the following components: Develop a headline and (if appropriate) subheads to guide the reader through the stages of your argument Define and explain the problem facing the brand [length: 1-2 paragraphs] and—most importantly—express a sincere apology for any harm caused to others. Adopting a fully sympathetic tone is absolutely vital. Provide examples to reveal how the problem affects key stakeholders, including (and perhaps most especially) the public. [length: 1-2 paragraphs] Present the story of how the situation unfolded, and why it resulted in the public-image problem the brand now faces. (Note: this is the perspective that the brand doesn’t agree with—and/or is unfavorable to the brand—but that the public has already heard and been influenced by through media exposure) [length: 1-2 paragraphs] Conclude your op-ed piece by sharing the brand’s perspective, exploring the problem carefully and fairly, explaining why you believe the brand’s view is right; then discuss the product/service/brand’s history, record of social responsibility, future aspirations, and strong, caring relationship it maintains with its stakeholders [length: 2-4 paragraphs]

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