August PR Round Up

Two Major College Football Programs are Under Hot Water

What Happened?

The college football season hasn’t started yet but there’s already been enough to talk about. Urban Meyer, The Ohio State University’s highly profiled head football coach, was at the center of a two-week investigation after reports surfaced that he failed to report serial domestic abuse by a member of his staff.  He was ultimately suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season. At the same time, University of Maryland’s (UMD) football program is accused of “a toxic coaching culture” when a player died of heatstroke after participating in a team workout. Two members of UMD’s coaching staff have been placed on administrative leave.

The Public Responds

Throughout both scandals, many have taken to Twitter and other platforms to voice their opinions. Some think Myers punishment was too soft. Others think too harsh. Many are demanding justice for Courtney Smith, the actual victim of domestic abuse in all of this. And in regards to UMD’s situation – many are heartbroken and sending prayers to the family and friends of the incoming freshman football player- Jordan McNair. Thus far, UMD has taken proactive measures to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself. The entire external investigation reports will be released Sept. 15th.

What’s The Big Picture Here?

Both of these scandals prompt us to think “haven’t we learned anything?” College sports have been turned into a multibillion dollar business that continues to exploit student athletes year after year. It is important to remember at the end of the day; the Ohio State and UMD football scandals are bigger than football and bigger than sports. Hopefully, many college programs will be taking steps to realign their values and beliefs.

Is Tesla Actually Going Private? How does that change their communications department?

He Said What?!

Elon Musk is no stranger to being in the spotlight as of late. He is the co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla. And recently – the one to watch on Twitter. On Aug. 7th, Musk tweeted “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”The tweet sent the stock market into a frenzy. Tesla’s shares went up more than 12 percent before Musk put an end to the madness by issuing a statement. He explained in his statement that no decision had been made and nothing had been approved by shareholders.

A Single Tweet Leads to Loads of Legal Troubles

After the initial tweet, Musk still continued to tweet about taking Tesla private…and then the lawsuits started to pile up. By Aug.14th, a fourth lawsuit is filed against Tesla claiming securities fraud. Complaints were filed by the U.S. District Court in Calif. Yet, by the end of August- Musk and Tesla seem to be steering clear of any big penalties. A final statement from Musk explains that the Tesla Board agrees the company would be better off staying public.

A Shake Up in Tesla’s Communications Department

Shortly following Musk’s Twitter circus, Head of Communications for Tesla, Sarah O’Brien, announced her departure. Her decision was apparently made before the recent Twitter drama. Dave Arnold, Tesla’s Senior Director of Global Communications will take over.

Starbucks, Third Time’s A Charm

What is the Story This Time?

Starbucks has had an interesting summer to say the least. Back in May, they temporarily closed 8,000 stores for Racial Bias Training. In July, they pledged to help the environment by eliminating their use of plastic straws by 2020. And now, they are trying to win over the hearts of vegans everywhere. Starbucks is debuting its first plant-based protein blended cold brew that has everyone talking.

All Aboard the Plant-Based Train

It’s no secret that many consumers are gravitating towards healthier options. The vegan market is growing rapidly and Starbucks is getting in on the action. The new plant-based drink is non-dairy, made from pea protein and super trendy. A grande will cost you $5.95and your entire recommended sugar intake for the day. Nutritionists have weighed in saying that consumers should think of this drink more as a meal. All in all, thank you Starbucks for creating more options for those who follow plant-based diets.

Courtesy of Jenna Scull

Jenna Scull is a senior studying public relations and writing, rhetoric and technical communications at James Madison University. She serves as the Director of Bluestone Communications, JMU’s student run PR firm.

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