Wednesday, November 12, 2008
At a young age, Lance was one of the world’s top cyclists. He won multiple World Championships, the Tour Du Pont and many Tour de France stages. Lance was nearing the peak of his cycling career. At age 25, Lance was diagnosed with cancer.
His diagnosis was testicular cancer and is the most common cancer in men ages 15-35. With early detection, chances of curing the disease are 90 percent. Yet, Lance ignored the warning signs and went untreated until the cancer spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain.
With a combination of physical conditioning, a strong support system and a competitive spirit, Lance declared himself a cancer survivor, not a cancer victim. He actively sought education about his disease and treatment, underwent aggressive treatment and eventually beat the disease.
Before he was fully recovered and knew his own fate, Lance established the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This was the start of his life as an activist for people living with cancer and world representative to the cancer community.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation
"At the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), we inspire and empower people affected by cancer. For more than 10 years, the Foundation and its founder, cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, have partnered with other organizations and dedicated advocates to make cancer a national priority in the United States. Now the Lance Armstrong Foundation is taking the battle to fight cancer global.”
The Lance Armstrong Foundation was founded in 1997 by Lance Armstrong. LAF was created to offer cancer patients information, knowledge, and attitude that are important for dealing with cancer and its exhausting treatments.
LAF is founded on four key programs that provide resources that cancer victims can utilize to help battle and deal with the difficulties of their illness. The first program focuses on education and offers patients and their doctors the information they need to successfully choose the right treatment method. Education not only concentrates on medical advice, but it is also open to give emotional support as well.
Another of the core programs is advocacy, especially at political gatherings and lobby sessions where representatives of people suffering from cancer encourage the government to take action against the war on cancer. Representation can help increase research funding and promote new scientific options that may lead to treatment options in the future.
A public health program is the third program that offers cancer patients and their families post treatment support and special services. The ultimate goal of the LAF is to further cancer research. Through extensive fundraising, the donated money supports and offers financial assistance to doctors and scientists to develop clinical trials and medications to provide advanced cancer treatment. The funding also aides programs who aim to improve the lives of those living with cancer and assisting them with the daily challenges.
LAF has invested more than $18.7 million in research grants. The Lance Armstrong Foundation believes that “knowledge is power and unity is strength”.
“Wear Yellow Live Strong”
In 2003, LAF launched two educational resources, the LiveStrong Survivorship Notebook and the LiveStrong online Resource for Cancer Survivors. Both provide information on the physical, practical and emotional aspects of surviving the disease. They are free resources for cancer victims, survivors and families to explore.
In response to the start of Lance’s LiveStrong theme, Nike approached LAF to create 5 million yellow wristbands with “LIVESTRONG” engraved on them in support of Lance during his sixth Tour de France.
The yellow wristband has its roots in “baller bands,” rubber bands that street basketball players wear on their wrists to get psyched up for games. Nike initially thought to make baller bands with different messages for promotional items, but the idea wrapped around the LiveStrong campaign instead.
The wristbands’ start was support for Lance’s efforts in both cycling and raising awareness for cancer across the nation. Armstrong and his entire team wore the yellow wristband.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike launched the Wear Yellow Live Strong campaign on May 17, 2004.The campaign’s goals were to raise money for cancer research, increase cancer awareness and encourage people to live life to the fullest. Nike’s goal was to raise $5 million through wristband sales on top of the $1 million they donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. All proceeds would eventually go to LAF in efforts to raise $25 million.
This was a significant milestone for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike’s corporate relationship, considering Nike was the only sponsor to stick with Lance when he was diagnosed with cancer. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, the wristbands were given to each U.S. athlete to wear on their arm to show support.
The wristbands became an astounding craze overnight and gave rise to “cause marketing” –the pairing of a product with a social mission. Both the 2004 Tour de France and Summer Olympics created national media attention for Lance’s LiveStrong wristband. Media such as People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Advertising Age were drawn to this yellow rubber silicon wristband. Appearances and endorsements on television shows such as Oprah raised the wristbands profile to a fashionable level.
The alliance between Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation not only created an awareness wristband, but it also sparked a consumer craze. The wristbands cost $1 a piece and the proceeds go directly to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Everything about the wristband breathes Lance. The engraved “LiveStrong” is the foundation’s motto. The color yellow signifies the lead rider’s jersey in the Tour de France and is also the color of hope.
After their debut, the wristbands were worn by Lance and his team at the Tour de France; the U.S. Summer Olympic athletes; celebrities such as Matt Damon, Bruce Willis and Robin Williams; and even politicians such as John Kerry. They were summer 2004’s hardest item to get. Many resorted to the eBay market with hopes of obtaining these charitable wristbands.
Although eBay provided new ground for wristband sales, people were buying them for prices well beyond their original price. People could have easily donated $1 or more to the Lance Armstrong foundation, but it was the visual symbol of concern that was valued more so than the actual cause it was supporting. The wristbands posed a question whether philanthropy was posing as fashion or vice versa.
Philanthropy as a fashion statement goes back to earlier days. Since ancient times, people wore jewelry as a way of expressing some sentiment, feeling or as a symbol. The wristband is a modern adaptation of an age old tradition; jewelry as a symbol of hope, courage and support of a worthy cause.
However, the wristbands are usually worn for personal reasons, whether to support someone fighting cancer or tribute to someone who has lost their battle. The bright yellow attracts attention and has been compared to the red AIDS awareness ribbons. The difference between the AIDS ribbon and the LiveStrong wristband is the lack of controversy surrounding the wristband’s visible concern for cancer.
The most interesting facet of the wristband is its association with Lance’s heroic battle over cancer at the peak of his fame. The LiveStrong wristband satisfies the desire to have something to believe in, making it a “champion of the good-will game”. Cause Marketing Forum President David Hessekiel says it best,
“If this was a bracelet done by an obscure organization, and didn’t have the celebrity attached that created this buzz, we wouldn’t be talking about.”
The wristband zoomed in on the power of today’s youth. The wristband carries a simple message that even kids can identify with. In particular, teenagers were drawn to it because not only do proceeds go to a good cause, but it is a cheap way to look cool. The wristband was versatile and could be worn with any outfit. The LiveStrong craze was a powerful reminder to businesses not to underestimate the power of the youth consumer market.
By 2005, fifty-five million wristbands were wrapped around people’s arms. In spite of the fashion trend they started, the wristband-clad community understood the real meaning behind the wristband.
The “Wear Yellow Live Strong” campaign has been through years of continued success. The wristband is still visibly worn on many arms, but not to the extent that it was in the early stages of the campaign. The wristband’s popularity followed a bell curve path. However, LiveStrong is at its all-time high today today. The campaign has grown through social marketing (www.livestrong.com and www.livestrong.org), special events, and LiveStrong Challenges. Nike and LAF have even extended the LiveStrong line by adding the “10/2” collection. A dollar from each sale goes to LAF.
Betty Otter-Nickerson, the Chief Operating Officer at the Lance Armstrong Foundation said it’s busier than ever with Lance getting back on the bike to train for the 2009 Tour de France and the campaign’s move to go global.
Ms. Otter-Nickerson said the number one thing they must focus on with globalization, is the mere fact that they must expand their message to reach the key countries. The Lance Armstrong Foundation conducted research to determine their target countries by assessing public perception of cancer, media audits and press coverage, and the medical environment. They determined their target countries would be Italy, South Africa, and Mexico. Their global message will emphasize the fact that cancer kills more than 8 million people every year worldwide which totals more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The LiveStrong campaign is leveraging Lance to carry this message as he makes his comeback to the cycling world.
The LiveStrong campaign gave us a charitable cause and paired it with an element of fashion, making it a very successful campaign. After the initial release of the wristband, many non-profit organizations followed in LAF’s footsteps, pushing for donations in return for a colorful wristband to let others know of one’s philanthropic efforts.
However, the LiveStrong wristband posed an issue for some. People started purchasing the wristband for fashion purposes rather than for the original cause. In my opinion this was one of the few flaws to the campaign. It got too big for its own good. However, as time went on, the underlying message resounded its tune and people were brought back from the fashion element they gravitated toward.
Sales on eBay created a black market for the wristband, creating demand so high that prices increased and people were essentially giving their money to profiteers for the dollar-worth wristband. Once again, I think the craze grew too fast. Supply couldn’t keep up with demand; such high sales were not inticipated.
The yellow wristband filled a creneau for philanthropies and called it cause marketing. People who donated to foundations could now visibly announce their generosity. It also filled a creneau in the fashion world. The wristband is versatile enough to be worn with almost any outfit while sharing Lance’s and the Foundation’s message of living strong.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a similar foundation rooted in their effort to raise money for breast cancer research. Instead of fashionable wristbands, Susan G. Komen for the Cure prides themselves in the pink ribbon that so many women and their supporters wear. Both foundations established themselves as the leading foundations for cancer through the use of special events and corporate relationships.
I think Lance’s return to cycling to spread the global message comes at a good time. LiveStrong has fallen off the media map in the past few months. I have always been taught that with growth comes globalization and vice versa. LiveStrong’s globalization efforts not only signal the campaign’s success up until this point, but also shows the impact that this message imparts on its audience. People across the globe want to see and hear this message. LAF’s message speaks truth and that truth is that cancer is the number one killer in the United States and kills 8 million people every year worldwide. This is an astounding truth, but the Lance Armstrong Foundation is giving people the resources they need to live happy and to live strong.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Britney Spears has had a very controversial and highly publicized personal, familial and professional battle for the past 2 years. After hitting absolute rock bottom in every facet of her life, in January 2008, the people behind Spears knew that something had to be done. Before the year was up that “something” had been done and Spears seems to be back on track with herself, her family and her career as she is set to release a new album before the year is up.
RESEARCH/ TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Britney Spears is an American pop musician and performer who has also done work as an actress and author. She was born in December 1981 and raised in the small town of
Spears took time off to attend high school until Jive records signed her as a solo artist in 1997. She first came into the spotlight at the end of 1998 releasing her hit record, Baby One More Time, which sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Spears went on to put out three more records, Oops!...I Did It Again, Britney and In The Zone as well as a greatest hits album, Greatest Hits: My Perogative. During this time, she also had many endorsements including Pepsi and a line of Elizabeth Arden perfumes. Spears was expected to make her comeback at the 2007 MTV video music awards, but her performance received extensive criticism. This was the only promotion Spears did for her sixth and most recent album, Blackout, which was released on Oct. 30, 2007.
Not only known for her music, Spears’ personal life is often in the spotlight as well. In January 2004, she married childhood friend Jason Alexander in
In 2007, Spears’ personal life seemed to be spiraling out of control. Her family and management team forced her into rehab in February, but she checked herself out two days later. The following night, Spears infamously shaved her head and then re-entered rehab. She remained in rehab until March 2007. However, her series of controversial behavior have continued since then.
She cut off ties from her family and has had a constant flow of management teams, lawyers and personal assistants in and out of her life. She has attacked paparazzi on several occasions and has been involved in a number of traffic violations including a hit and run and driving without a license. She is also consistently photographed partying and staying out late. Due to this erratic behavior, Spears began to be seen as an unfit parent and a legal battle over the custody of her children arose. In September 2007, the outcome of Spears’ custody battle was announced. She has been ordered to undergo random drug and alcohol testing and to attend parental counseling. Spears and Federline initially had joint custody of their two children, but on Oct. 1, 2007 Federline got full custody of the children.
In early 2008 it proved that things must really get worse before they can get better. On Jan. 3 Spears locked herself and one of her sons in the bathroom of her
Sept. 7, 2008: Spears opens the VMAs to a standing ovation. Spears looked very put together and spoke with eloquence. She went onto win 3 awards that night thanking her fans every time and not once mentioning her past. Later in September, Spears announced that her new album, Circus, will be out on Dec.2, her 27 birthday. She also released her new single, Womanizer, to great reviews. On Oct.10, 2008, Spears released the video for Womanizer on ABCs 20/20. Also released, was Spears intention to debut, on MTV, a documentary on Nov. 30 entitled, "Britney: For The Record."
Britney Spears could have, at one point, been considered a corporation. However, from early 2007 until now she has not had the teams or plans to be considered a corporation. Before Spears fired her management and was left by her PR person, it was known that Spears had to be put back on the right track in the public eye. The plans for her “comeback” would have been relatively simple and had been done before which can be seen in the cases of Robert Downey Jr. and Whitney Houston.
Robert Downey Jr.:
Whitney Houston: At the peak of her popularity in 1992
The interesting thing about Spears’ case is that most of her courses of action were not influenced by a PR professional. The initial push for Spears to go into rehab to get her life in order was from on-again-off-again manager Larry Rudolf, a move for which he was fired. It was once her family got involved that Spears life took a turn for the better. She was forced into rehab and forced to give up control of her finances. Her father now had control over how she spent her money, which therefore meant he had control over what she did and where she went. After many months of this control, Spears seemed to be going in the right direction. It was during this time that Spears began her new album and started getting healthier. As with
A PR PROSPECTIVE
After an attempt to connect Spears old PR manager went unanswered, I contacted Lou Iacovelli from Altelier Creative Services, a PR firm, to find out what he would have done in regards to the Britney Spears case. I met Iacovelli during my summer internship at Gottex Models this summer. He is a style consultant who also handles what models wear the Gottex bathing suits. I asked him initially if there was anything he would have done differently and he said “Everything…except what ever is being done right now.” Further explanation revealed that as a PR professional he would have never left his client when she was so deep in trouble, however given the specific circumstances he thinks it was justified: “I understand why her people would have left her, but I hope that they did everything in their power before they took that step.” From a PR professional’s perspective, this is one of the worst clients you could have: one that has made no attempt to neither follow the guidelines provided for them nor show concern about their image. Iacovelli also said that it is hard to gain the trust that is needed for a client to place, essentially, their life in your hands. It is unclear if Spears retained Pr help in light of her “new” management or not. “In the past couple months, I think, that things with her were handled as best they could be…if it were my client I would probably have had her get better extensions.” A jab at Spears hair was his way of saying that she could still use people in her life that monitor what she wears and how she looks. Although it may be demeaning to dress a 26 year old mother of 2, it is “vital that her appearances be flawless” because it is these appearances that she is judged upon.
The media has been nothing but brutal honest and sever in their coverage of Spears and her turmoil. But it can be said that without the media the people who eventually made all of the right decisions would have never know how bad the situation had become. She has had many opportunities to explain her actions to many different reporters and/or talk show hosts: Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen, Diane Sawyer and Matt Lauer. However, not all of these interviews did great things for her image, especially not the catastrophe of an interview with Matt Lauer in 2006. Having no professional hair, make-up or wardrobe, Spears smacked her gum through an interview that discredited anything she had to say because of how she looked. The media has had nothing positive, aside from her reading a prompter at the 2008 VMAs, to show or disprove what gossip writers/photographers give them.
Spears official website has been “Under Construction” since, at least, November 2007. This is the perfect outlet for her PR people to get the facts from so they can have accurate reports. Her Myspace page is strictly a place for fans to hear her latest tunes, write comments of support or scrutiny, look at pictures and to read blogs about upcoming, already publicized events. It may seem trivial, but these media outlets are the main way for Spears to reach her fans and set the record straight. When searched in Google, the second site listed is her official website and yet there is nothing there for a fan to see. A well designed website could do a lot for her image in that it is a perfect place to highlight all of the good things she has going on in her life and to promote her new album. It will be interesting to see how she handles her first sit-down interview in close to 3 years. In the clips that have been leaked it looks as though Spears is in a much better state than she was in 2006 with Matt Lauer.
On a positive note, it does not seem that Spears’ mother’s tell-all book has affected Spears or her fans’ opinion of her. Even thought the book divulges very personal information regarding Spears’ sexuality, relationships and family relations. The book was the first test to her “comeback,” if she could weather this everything else would come easier. For instance, the night before the video for Womanizer aired the song was the top-selling song on i-Tunes. This could be a great sign of things to come especially regarding the relationship between Spear and the media.
A lot can be learned from this case, especially for someone like me who wants to go into the entertainment aspect of PR. I think that this is one of the toughest cases that and PR person could come across. Spears was relentless in living her own life and doing her own thing. She fired her PR people, her PR people left her and she went sans PR people. However, the past 6 to 7 months have been, in my opinion, have been picture-perfect from a PR standpoint. It is still unclear whether or not she has had professional help with her publicity or not, however what is being done is right out of a public relations text book. The public sees that her life is being controlled: her father taking over as conservator; they see that she is concentrating on getting her children back: she has been granted more visits with her toddler sons; they see that she is taking her career seriously: photos of her rehearsing her dances, a new video and a new album pending. These things, coupled with a decreased presence in the media of her daily occurrences, are helping Spears get her career and life back to normal. Whether it was her family, her management or her PR manager, the correct steps are being taken in restoring this once pop wreck back to her pop star status.
Monday, November 10, 2008
For centuries, the Olympic Games have provided billions of people with amazing sports entertainment. From Gods and mortals, Hercules and Michael Phelps, the Olympics open the world to more super-human strength, agility and pure talent than they have ever seen. Every stroke in the water, stride on the track, and score of the goal helps to unite the world in a moment of pure joy and excitement. Every four years countries from around the globe send their best athletes to compete in games that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Records are broken, proud countries rejoice, dreams come true. In the summer of 2008, it happened in Beijing.
This case study examines the most recent Olympic Games in Beijing and the controversies that went along with them. Along with providing background and history of the Ancient and Modern versions of the games, the study reveals how and why Beijing was chosen as host city and the years of preparation that it took to hold such an event. During the games, Beijing became the latest casualty in the long list of host cities that have encountered scandals. These scandals will be examined along with comparisons to previous games in which boycotts, protests, and terrorism threatened to overshadow the good intentions of the world event. Finally, the study observes how China responded to the criticism and how the world has reacted since many controversies have been uncovered.
History of Olympics Games
The Olympic Games are an international sport event that celebrates the talent and dedication of thousands of participants while bringing the world together for a common event every two years for both Summer and Winter games. The games date back to Ancient Greece where Olympians were honored with statues and poems, and despite a several century break, they continue to be the world’s most exciting event. The games can be broken down into two sections: The Ancient Olympic Games and the Modern Olympic Movement.
The Ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece. No one knows for sure, but according to popular legend, the god Zeus held sporting events in honor of his succession to the throne of heaven. One of his sons, Hercules, defeated his brothers in a running race and was crowned with a wreath of wild olive branches. Hercules is also given credit for naming the winner of each event an ‘Olympian’ as well as deciding to hold the games every four years. From then on, the Olympic Games became a part of the Greece’s culture and held extreme importance both socially and religiously, with its popularity climaxing in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. Olympians were treated as celebrities and heroes with statues and figures created in their honor. Over time, Roman power in Greece overshadowed the popularity of the Games. In 393 AD Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Christianity the religion of the Empire and due to the games pagan roots, the Olympic Games were banned.
Nearly 1500 years later, the Olympic Games were brought back to the modern world. Although similar games were held before on a smaller and more local scale, it was Baron Pierre de Coubertin who started the preparation for a multi-national Olympic Event. While researching the reasons for the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, he theorized that the French soldiers were not given proper physical education. In order to bring attention to the need for physical activity, he proposed to bring back the Games that were so important centuries before.
The first Games of the Modern Olympic Movement were held in 1896, in Athens, Greece. The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, was responsible for putting together the massive event. This Olympic governing body still continues to organize that event today. The Games were held from April 6 to April 15, 1896 and hosted nearly 250 athletes who participated in nine different sports. These included athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis, weightlifting, and wrestling. The Games were considered a huge success with an outpouring of support from fans who overcrowded the Panathinaiko Stadium day after day to become that largest crowd to ever watch a sporting event at the time.
With each new Olympic Games, more sports were added and new countries participated. It was for this reason that in 1921 the IOC decided to split winter and summer sports into two completely separate entities. Although they would be held the same year, the Summer and Winter Games created equality between the sports and helped spectators focus on one aspect of the Games at a time. The first Winter Olympics were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. It was in 1994 that the IOC mandated that the Winter and Summer Olympics be played every four years on alternating cycles.
Over the last century the Olympic Games have continued to draw unrivaled interest and dedication from fans and athletes all over the world. The 2008 Summer Games in Beijing drew the largest television ratings in United States history and with 302 events in 28 sports, The Olympic Games only continue to grow.
Previous Olympic Scandals
The world is not a perfect place, and the Olympic Games are no stranger to boycotts, protests and scandals. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics were the first Olympics to be boycotted. Countries including The Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland refused to participate because of the cruelty of the Hungarian Uprising by the Soviet Union. Additionally, because of the Suez Crisis, Cambodia, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon boycotted the games. In the heat of the Cold War, opposing countries boycotted each other’s games. Because of Soviet presence in Afghanistan, The Moscow Olympics in 1980 saw 65 nations pull out of its games. In 1984, the Soviet Union and 14 of its communist supporters boycotted the Los Angeles games, citing safety concerns for its athletes.
The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin were used by the German Nazi Party to promote their political policies and demonstrate their anti-Semitism and racism. The country allowed only Aryan athletes to participate in the games, which is just a taste of what the world would encounter in the years following. In a case similar to the Beijing games, the city of Berlin attempted to fool the rest of the world by removing anti-Jew signs from stores in an attempt to mask their prejudice and “clean up” the city.
A political incident on a smaller scale but with resounding influence occurred at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, both black athletes from the United States, were the first and third place finishers in the 200-metter track and field race. During the National Anthem, both men performed the Black Power salute on the victory stand. Peter Norman, the second place finisher from Australia, famously supported his opponents by wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the stand. In response, the United States Olympic Committee was forced to send its two athletes home by the IOC committee.
Sadly the Olympic Games are not immune to Terrorism. The 1972 Summer Games in Munich is the site of the worst tragedy in Olympic history. Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by the terrorist group Black September in what is now known as the Munich massacre. Nine of the deaths were a result of a liberation attempt by police. The five terrorists were also killed, along with a German police officer. Terrorism was also seen at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. A bomb was detonated at the Centennial Olympic Park, which killed two and injured 111 others. The bomb was set by Eric Robert Rudolph, an American domestic terrorist.
Process of hosting Olympics
ABC News article - http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=80796&page=1
Hosting the Olympics is a huge honor, one that takes years to secure. A new two-phase host city election procedure was adopted in December 1999 by the 110th IOC session for the selection of the 2008 host city. The initial selection phase was based on technical requirements and was completed by a team of experts. The cities in the running after the first phase for the 2008 games were: Bangkok, Beijing, Cairo, Havana, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, Paris, Seville, and Toronto. Once approved by the Executive Board of the IOC, the cities became official Candidate Cities and were authorized to go forward into the full bid process. On August 28, 2000, the IOC Executive Board announced the five Candidate Cities for 2008: Osaka, Paris, Toronto, Beijing, and Istanbul. After being announced, each of the five cities were visited by the IOC Evaluation Commission. The Evaluation Commission inspected the sites of the games and submitted their reports two months before the host city was announced.
Beijing Planning Process
Beijing was elected as the host city for the XXIX Olympic Games on July 13, 2001. They defeated four other cities in the final round of competition including Toronto, Paris, Osaka and Istanbul. With hosting duties came seven years of preparation, including a huge amount of renovations that needed to take place in the city. Partnerships and sponsorships were secured early on to help with the planning and execution of the Games. By 2004 the Olympic Committee in Beijing had secured partnerships with seven five-star hotels to provide accommodations during the games, signed the Bank of China as the official banking partner of the games, and created the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co. to ensure successful broadcasting of the games to fans around the world. Volkswagen Group signed on as the official automobile partner, GE and Autos Origin became Worldwide Official Partners, and numerous sponsorships were secured with companies around the world.
To market the games, the city introduced the world to the 2008 Summer Olympics emblem, known as Dancing Beijing. The emblem combines a traditional Chinese red seal and a representation of the calligraphic character Jing with athletic features. The slogan was "One World, One Dream" and the mascots were the five Fuwa, each representing both a color of the Olympic rings and a symbol of Chinese culture.
Dozens of arenas were erected and the transportation systems were completely revamped. Thirty-one Olympic structures were built in all, including the Beijing National Stadium, Beijing National Indoor Stadium, Beijing National Aquatics Center, Olympic Green Convention Center, Olympic Green, and Beijing Wukesong Culture & Sports Center. The Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed The Birds nest, is perhaps the most famous structure of all, having been the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.
In preparing for the massive amounts of people who would be attending the Games, the city of Beijing added the new Terminal 3 to its airport which helped it become the world’s largest. The Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Rail was built to shuttle people back and forth between cities on the world’s fastest scheduled train service. Inside the city, Beijing doubled its subway system in capacity and size by adding seven more lines and 80 additional stations. Thousands of buses, minibuses and official cars were brought in to transport people between venues. Overall, the Beijing Olympics Games became the most expensive in history, with the city spending over 42 billion dollars.
2008 Beijing Olympics
For the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, security was going to be a main issue with all of the issues surrounding the country. As a result, there was a big security increase for the Olympics, as each personnel were trained to counter multiple scenarios of terror attacks. To provide the top of the line security for the games, Anti-aircraft missiles were installed in all Olympic stations in Beijing as well as having 110,000 mobile police, 1.4 million security volunteers, and 300,000 surveillance volunteers. Of course, security does not come cheap, either. The security bill for Beijing was an estimated three billion dollars. For cities outside of Beijing that were hosting Olympic events, there was an estimated 34,000 troops, 74 military aircraft, 48 helicopters, and 33 naval vessels that were all placed on high alert.
Prior to the Olympics, officials anticipated over two million tourists, with one third of them being from overseas. However, due to the Tibetan unrest, the torch relay protests, and an earthquake, the actual volume of visitors fell 9.2 percent than expected.
Many hotel owners invested in a big way for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Many anticipated their hotels to be sold out with room prices jumping through the roof. However, due to an increase in security for visa rules and requirements, it was hard for people to visit Beijing.
According to the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, the 6.8 million tickets to the Games were sold out. However, if you watched the Olympics on TV, there were many empty seats available for many of the events. Because of this, many journalists took shots at the committee about the suspicious claims that all tickets were sold out. It eventually came out to the public that most of the tickets were corporate sponsors that refused to make it to the games due to scheduling difficulties, conflict of interest, and many other reasons. On top of that, besides the 2.7 million tickets that were given to the corporate sponsors, many people didn’t realize that there was no re-entry policy for the events. If you left to go back to your hotel or get something to eat, you would not be allowed to get back into the respected stadium or arena you were in. Another thing that angered many athletes of different countries was that the majority of the tickets that were sold were given to the Chinese, which caused a ton of controversy to those who wanted more representatives of their respected country.
Even though all of the tickets were allegedly sold out, more than six million dollars in tickets were sold by a fake online ticket broker.
Due to the construction of the venues for the 2008 Olympics, over 300,000 Beijing residence were displaced and evicted in preparation for the games and whoever decided to protest the forced evictions would arrested. However, China’s Foreign Ministry and the Beijing Olympic organizing committee said that only 15,000 residents from 6,037 households were displaced. In the end, it left thousands and thousands of people homeless due to get ready for the Olympic Games. The most peculiar thing about this is the fact that they evicted the poor class of Beijing residents and nobody else. Many people believe that China did this to make them look good for the Olympic Games and not look horrible as a city for housing so many slums.
Correct English and etiquette
For the Olympics, The Beijing government issued new requirements for its police officers by demanding them to act more professionally for the Olympics. They told the officers to stay clear from using profanity, being arrogant, and hanging up on people who call to report crimes.
Also, the government issued a drive to improve the English translations on advertisements in China. Due to the poor translation for those who speak English, China wanted to be more welcoming to its incoming tourists by improving the translations of their signs in the city.
Boycotting has been a popular issue for many countries over the years of the Olympics. This year was no exception. Those who decided to boycott the games include many prominent people outside of the athletes. Steven Spielberg, who was the artistic advisor for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, stepped down from his role because he protested the Chinese and their refusal to pressure Sudan to stop the criminal activity in Darfur. He went on by saying that there is human suffering in the region and that China needs to stop these crimes against humanity. Due to the activity in Darfur as well as the forced relocation of 300,000 Chinese people to make room for the games, 106 lawmakers in the United States started a letter calling for the United States to boycott the Olympic Games.
Other popular political figures across the world boycotted the Games as well. The Japanese government announced that its royal family would not be there because of the violence in Tibet. France President Nicolas Sarkozy was also in favor of boycotting as well.
On April 10, 2008, China announced that it foiled a plot against the Olympic Games. According to the Chinese security ministry, separatists planned suicide bomb attacks on Chinese cities to disrupt the Olympics. On April 25, Interpol released a warning saying that there was a real possibility that the Beijing Olympics would be targeted by terrorists.
When the Olympic Torch is being carried around the world getting ready for the Olympics, security always has to deal with protesters attempting to stop the relay or taking the torch. It has been a problem for many Olympics and is one that requires a ton of security, for the Olympic Torch symbolizes what the Olympic Games is all about. For the Beijing Olympics, protestors from Tibet tried to take the Olympic Torch towards the end of the relay before it reached Beijing.
"Racist" advertisement in Spain
Prior to the start of the Games, the Spain Men's and Women's Basketball teams were featured in ads that appeared in the Spanish newspapers. The team was getting a group picture taken on a basketball court when the entire team decided to use their hands and pull back the skin on their eyes, making them look like they are Chinese. Many Chinese papers as well as others across the world and even the IOC called it completely racist and inappropriate. However, the players on the team said that it was by no means trying to come off as racist.
Environmental and health issues
Environmental and health issues have been a plaguing issue concerning Beijing and China itself. The haze and smog that has surrounded the city has polluted the air of China. During its bid for the Olympic Games, China wanted to clean up its air to give the athletes clean air for their participation. Included are more issues involving the environment that affected the Olympic Games in Beijing.
The United States Olympic Committee, due to their concern with the safety of food products that are produced in China, brought their own food to the Olympic Games through imports. The athletes were concerned that the meat that was raised in China could contain steroids to cause the athletes to test positive for their drug tests. The leader of the food services for the Beijing Olympics was very disappointed with the action of the Americans.
Like mentioned before, the quality of the air in Beijing and other areas of China was a chief concern for the athletes. Even though Beijing committed to lowering their air pollution, the pollution drifted over to neighboring provinces, causing the toxic air to flow into neighboring areas and affecting many millions of people. In order to get rid of the pollution in Beijing, they removed over 60,000 taxis and buses from the roads by the end of 2007 and relocated 200 local factories before the Olympics started. This caused many Beijing residents to relocate to different areas to live with no jobs due to the relocation. In order to be safe with the air pollution in Beijing, many countries and their athletes would arrive at the games as late as possible to limit them from the exposure of the polluted air in the area. They would also set up offshore training camps in Japan and South Korea to avoid the pollution. Also, other athletes, including major ones from different countries, decided not to compete in the games due to the pollution.
In July of 2008, Beijing officials introduced stricter pollution controls, including the suspension of more factories and power plants, lowering the number of cars, and intensifying driving restrictions, which included only driving on alternate days, and depending on whether the last number on their license plate was odd or even. As a result of these restrictions, traffic was reduced by two million vehicles.
It also turned out that there was a major controversy during the Opening ceremony. China faked part of the ceremony when nine-year-old Lin Miaoke was singing “Ode to the Motherland”. However, it turns out that she was just a visual effect, as the real person behind the singing, Yang Peiyi was originally supposed to sing the song live. However, according to the ceremony’s chief musical director Chen Qigang, the more photogenic Lin took her place on stage because a senior Politburo member objected to Yang’s crooked teeth. He then went on by saying that Peyi is a magnificent singer who doesn’t deserve to be hidden.
Also during the opening ceremony, one segment of the fireworks show displayed fake fireworks. During the one part when 29 footprints wandered into the Bird’s Nest (China’s Olympic Stadium), it turned out that they were simulated by computer animation due to the hazy conditions in Beijing. The reaction from the media was extremely negative.
A number of sportsmen were criticized for their behavior at the games:
• The Chinese Men's Soccer team was severely criticized by the media for poor sportsmanship
• Iranian Swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei pulled out of a swimming meet during the Olympics under the orders from officials of the Iranian delegation for political reasons.
• A Swedish wrestler rejected his bronze medal in 84kg Greco-Roman wrestling in protest over the judging of a semifinal match.
• Cuban taekwondo athlete Angel Valodia Matos kicked a referee in the face after being disqualified. His coach further accused the referee of taking bribes from Kazakhstan. Matos' records at the Beijing Games were erased, and he and his coach were banned from all future taekwondo events.
• Chinese taekwondo judges were accused of throwing games to benefit the Chinese taekwondo team.
State training and expectations of Chinese athletes
Since China was the host country, it put a ton of pressure on the Chinese athletes competing in the games. For example, Liu Xiang, the defending Olympic champion in the 110 meter hurdles, pulled out of competition in the 2008 Olympics. After winning China’s first gold medal in track and field, he is considered one of the biggest athletes in China. After bowing out of the games, he disappointed his millions of fans and faced harsh criticism for just quitting. It is possible that due to the immense pressure, he was afraid to lose, and that the pressure just worn him out. In his mind, his fans expected him to win the gold medal and nothing less. As a result, he might have felt afraid that if he received anything less than a gold medal, he will be remembered as a failure.
Also, there has been much criticism for the training regime of the Chinese. Considered to be just as harsh as the former Soviet Union, the Chinese government received tremendous amounts of negative attention throughout the world for their training style. If you were Chinese and wanted to be in the Olympics, these young athletes have to sacrifice living with their families at such a young age in order to endure and sustain the tough training that the Chinese instill in these kids. These kids train in certain “sports schools” or what they like to call state academies, where thousands of children give up getting an education to just focus on the sport of their skill. In the end, if a career in sports doesn’t turn out for these kids, they are now forced out into the real world with no education and the fact that they haven’t seen their actual family in many years. However, if a career turns out to be very successful, the Chinese will pay them performance bonuses that equal to ten times more money that a normal family makes per year.
“Zero Tolerance for Doping” was the official slogan for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Out of the 4,500 athletes at the games, six of them were caught with doping. Although it was a significant decrease since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, doping experts express concern however due to the advanced technology to stop doping in today’s society of sports.
On July 23, It was announced that the Public Security Bureau would issue permits for protesting in protest zones during the Olympics. The three designated locations were Purple Bamboo Park, Temple Of The Sun, and World Park. However, people who requested a permit for protest did not get them for many different reasons, including disturbing the social order of Beijing. 77 people applied to get a permit. Out of those 77, 74 were withdrawn, two suspended and one vetoed. The protesters were eventually wrongfully discouraged to apply for the Chinese government wouldn’t even allow you to do so.
Web and media censorship
China promised in its Olympic bid that it would allow open media access during the games, but it didn’t turn out that way. 20,000 journalists were given sub-par internet access to do their work. On top of that, many reporting sites were blocked from their access because China didn’t want anything controversial being said or reported in which it would give China a bad name. In late July, the Beijing Organizing Committee announced that they would allow only “convenient” access, which still blocked sites that included controversial content about the Olympic Games in Beijing. Beijing authorities also didn’t want live broadcasts of locations such as Tiananmen Square because they didn’t want to show all the protests going on in China.
According to Business Week, at least 50 Beijing human-rights activists were either arrested, put under house arrest, or banished from the city during the Olympics. Reasons why these activists were arrested include criticizing China’s hosting of the Olympics by comparing it to Nazi Germany.
The reaction from the IOC and international media outlets has been positive. Even through all the controversy, the IOC did a great job covering it up with riveting stories such as Michael Phelps’s quest for 8 gold medals. On a public relations standpoint, they always seemed to put a positive spin on what was going on during the Olympics and making sure that nothing controversial will get in the way of the Olympic Games.
On a short-term basis, you can say that the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing have been a success. There were no protests on a medal podium, no terrorist attacks, and the best weather and air quality in over ten years. With recent tragic activity in previous Olympic Games such as the bombing at Atlanta during the 1996 games, this is considered to be a huge victory for the IOC and the City of Beijing. Even with all of the tension going on with Tibet, the altercations during the Olympic Torch relay, and allegations of boycotting the games, China came away as big winners with this years Olympics.
However, many people who live in China have been affected negatively during the Games. Thousands of people are now homeless. Thousands of people now are unemployed. As a result, millions of people now have a skewed view of what China is really like. Elyse Adams, a senior at Penn State, traveled to China this past summer to do research and service work with a professor. She traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, and many other areas of China and came back shocked with how many people’s lives have changed for the worse because of the Olympics. According to Adams, “You have people whose homes are being burned down just for a spectacle for two weeks. It’s unreal how China cares more about what their reputation is going to be like from an international standpoint that they would do anything to make them look good and cover up anything that makes them look worse. It is unfair to the poor families in Beijing who now have to find a new job and a new home.”
It is unclear what the reaction is going to be like in the long-run, but so far it looks good for the city of Beijing. Many people within the country garnered a good amount of national pride as the lasting effect of the Olympic Games will view Beijing as a city on the rise.
While the country of China and the city of Beijing found international respect this year by hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, they also lost a good amount of integrity with the people of their nation. While the country was too busy trying to present a good image for the rest of the world, their own citizens were struggling, and the Chinese didn’t help matters. Instead, they covered up run down buildings, burned the slums in the outskirts of the city, and reduced the air pollution and population by getting rid of factories and enforcing stricter driving laws during the Olympics. While the world was watching Michael Phelps becoming the new Olympic hero, more than 300,000 people had to change their lives by finding a place to live and getting a new job.
In the end, there have been much worse scandals and controversies in past Olympic Games that have been far worse than anything that has happened in this year’s games, but in conclusion, there will always be controversy surrounding the Olympics. Whether it’s political issues, racism, the environment, human rights, or other issues, something will cause a stir before each Olympic Games. Overall, while China had their share of problems before, during, and after the Olympics, in our opinion they did a decent job covering up the problems China was facing and gave society something to cheer about for two weeks that only comes around every four years.
Just fewer than 600 Wawa stores litter Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. As one of the largest and most profitable private companies in the country, Wawa has provided its customers with top quality food and customer service for generations.
Wawa origins date back to the early 19th century when the Millville Manufacturing Co. first opened its doors. Originally starting out as a large textile company operating in several states, the company began to change shape when its owner, George Wood, became interested in dairy farming. To begin his foray into processing dairy products, Wood established a plant in Wawa, Pennsylvania, a suburb west of Philadelphia. Although Millville was still operating, the dairy farm became known as Wawa Dairy farm. It should be noted that the name Wawa is the word for goose in the Native American Lenni Lenape language, and also contributes to the chain’s logo, a goose in flight.
Wawa Dairy Farms grew in size and began a delivery service to homes and businesses throughout the region. Owing to the rise of supermarkets and the fall of milk men, Wawa Dairy farms took note of the changing times and opened its first Wawa Food Market in Folsom, Pennsylvania in 1964. The store sold both national branded products and Wawa products and became a hit. After adding two more stores, Millville Manufacturing Co., Wawa Dairy Farms and Wawa Food Markets merged to be collectively known as Wawa Inc.
Over the next two decades Wawa added nearly 80 more stores, employed some 2,200 people and reached sales of $140 million a year, all while managing to stay private and family-owned. Several factors have contributed to Wawa’s success and expansion ever since, but staying true to their core values and establishing their niche have led to nearly 600 stores, 16,000 employees, and billions of dollars in revenue.
Since they opened their first store, Wawa Inc. has had the task of staying on top of an increasingly competitive market. Because Wawa is a convenience store, customers want just that—convenience—and patience wears thinner every day. Because of the fast-paced society that we live in, Wawa’s biggest obstacle is changing with the times and adapting to their customer’s needs. Coincidentally, it is this adaptation that has kept them the leader in their industry for decades. Wawa has a keen ability to find the hole, or “cherchez le creneau” and filling it with new and innovative ideas that not only keep customers happy, but differentiate them from competitors so that they become the only option. The following factors contribute to Wawa’s success:
Stay true to core purpose
Wawa’s slogan is “Simplify the lives of our customers.” It is these words that the company and its employees live by. Simplicity and ease are the keys to convenience, which is the overall goal of the industry. One example of Wawa’s dedication to its slogan has always been making the payment process easier. Before the development of ATM services, Wawa offered a paperless cash-access system in 1977 that allowed customers to withdraw up to $25 a day from their bank accounts. This system was eventually abolished but is known as the precursor to the ATM.
Another way they try to make its customers experience even easier was to differentiate from competitors and to make the most of their, on average, 3000 square feet space. Wawa formatted the stores in a way that was easier for the customers to maneuver through. As opposed to the conventional convenience store goal of getting a customer to buy things that they did not intend to buy, Wawa’s aim was to get the customer in and out quickly. Onetime vice-president of marketing Frederick Schroeder, once told Chain Store Age Executive, “Architecturally, we made the checkout area remote from the sandwich/deli area. This is more labor-intensive, but we feel it makes it much more comfortable for the consumers to shop our stores. We also removed the beverage area from the deli, also to make it easier to customers to get in and out of our stores.” (Robert Halasz)
Throughout the continuous addition of new stores, existing stores are not forgotten. To accommodate popular locations, Wawa has been known to buy adjoining property to add several parking spots to accommodate traffic and congestion. The year 1999 saw the addition of touch screen monitors that helped to speed up made-to-order food.
Expand and improve while always adhering to core values
Wawa’s core values are as follows: value people, delight customers, embrace change, do the right thing, do it right, and passion for winning.
In the late 1980s, Wawa experience lower sales and an increasingly slow employee turnaround rate. To combat these issues, they went back to one of their core values, which was to value people. These ‘people’ are not limited to customers, but to employees as well. The President’s Club is an annual event created to recognize top performing general managers. Each year the top 20% of general managers are brought together at a resort location to celebrate their financial and business achievements. Store associates are also rewarded for their achievements with surprise in-store parties that offer prizes to top performers.
Part of Wawa’s appeal is the neighborhood feeling that translates back to their “milk men” days. Many stores feature coffee hosts who maintain the coffee areas and chat with customers. In 1985, the company began test-marketing Lite Bite salads, its first product directly targeted to working women. These tests were a reaction to what research found was a huge part of their clientele—young white-collar workers. At the time, it was widely accepted that the typical convenience store customer was a young blue-collar male. However Wawa found that by keeping its stores neat and clean and offering healthy alternatives to the usual snack food staples, they were appealing to working women.
When the door-to-door delivery milk service died out with the advancement of supermarkets, they opened a store. When dinnertime business needed to be stimulated in the early 90s, the company introduced a new buffet line of chilled entrees. In the new millennium, toasted sandwiches were being requested by customers, so Wawa outfitted their stores with state-of-the-art ovens that allowed their signature hoagies to be heated in an efficient and pleasing manner.
Do the Right Thing
To maintain a wholesome image by halting the sale of adult magazines, cigarette papers, and beer in the 1980s. As a family-owned business, the company wanted to make sure their stores were appropriate for customers of all ages. Wawa has contributed millions of dollars to charity organizations including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of Philadelphia, Special Olympics, Children’s Miracle Network, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, American Red Cross, Cycstic Fibrosis Foundation, and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. They work with 50 different groups to employ more than 500 special needs persons as Wawa associates. Not only to they donate to their own charities, but Wawa offers a fundraising program for community-based non-profit organizations to raise money for their own causes called ‘Wawa Hoagie Fundraising.’ Groups can buy Hoagie coupons for $2.50 and resell them for $3.50.
Do things Right
Wawa is a company that prides itself on being the best in its industry. This includes the best products with the best customer service and leaves little room for error.
Passion for Winning
It was a long road to get to where the company is today. A strong dedication from the upper management, the cashiers, and everyone in between, is what it takes for the company to continue to thrive. There will always be competitors and copycats, but the passion that Wawa employees share makes the company stand apart from the crowd.
Distinguish themselves from competitors
To distinguish itself from competitors, Wawa specialized in certain aspects of the convenience store and capitalized on its successes. These not only filled holes in Wawa’s brand, but in the industry as well which helped customer’s to associate convenience to the brand even more. In 1995, Wawa introduced an unheard of convenience at the time—ATMs free or surcharge.
To create a total one-stop-shop experience and to compete with gas station and convenience store chains, in the mid 1990s Wawa started adding fuel stations to their locations. The first gas station opened in Millsboro, Delaware in 1996 and more have been added every year since, which brings the number to over 200 across the five states.
One of Wawa’s top sellers is their coffee. By creating a brand with several different varieties at a very cheap price, the company has successfully created hundreds of thousands of daily customers. Because coffee is so personal to so many people. Wawa found the right product to specialize in. By 2008, Wawa held the leading share of coffee in the Philadelphia market and the #7 share nationally by selling over 195 million cups each year.
Almost all of the company’s locations are open 24 hours, 7 days a week. This separates them from the rest by making their business available at all hours of the day. Instead of just being a breakfast or lunch place, Wawa customers are able to get their fix late at night after a long day or early in the morning to start their day off right. The availability of its products makes it easier to fit into everyone’s daily schedules and become a part of their routine.
Stay private, which contributes to quality products, good service and a neighborly feel.
One of the most interesting things about Wawa is that with all of its successes, it would only be a natural progression for the company to go expand their brand exponentially by going public. They have however, decided to stay privately owned. Although 2005 saw the CEO become a non-family member, they are dedicated to keeping their family appeal by staying small enough to offer the best quality products yet large enough to accommodate the most number of people in the five states in which the stores are located.
High quality products and low prices
High quality products are a huge part of why Wawa customers come back day after day. With a good balance of national branded products and Wawa brand products, customers know that what they take away will be fresh and delicious. Whether it’s milk or coffee, a hoagie or a signature Wawa salad, the ingredients are always fresh and comforting.
Stay current and in the news with promotional activities
To capitalize on their dominance in the world of hoagies, Wawa petitioned Mayor Edward Rendell to name Philadelphia the official sandwich of Philadelphia through a promotion that garnered over 30,000 signatures to support the designation. May 6, 1992 was dubbed ‘Hoagie Day’ and Wawa celebrated by building a 500 foot-long Hoagie in its honor. The tradition has continued ever since with the hoagies getting bigger and bigger each year.
The year 1994 marked the 30th anniversary for Wawa as a convenience store. Because this coincided with Ford Motor Company’s reintroduction of the Mustang, Wawa gave away one 1960s Mustang a day for 30 days.
More recently, Wawa celebrated the sale of their billionth cup of coffee in the new millennium by announcing their new campaign “Coffeetopia” which is a “celebration of all things Wawa coffee. According the press release, “Wawa Coffeetopia is an 8-week in-store campaign that celebrates all the reasons people are passionate about Wawa coffee. The promotion features a different Wawa coffee variety highlighted every two weeks for customers to sample in all Wawa stores, the launch of a new microsite dedicated to Wawa coffee lovers, as well as the introduction of a new Wawa Cup design with rich, warm colors. Wawa Coffeetopia also gives customers a chance to win one week’s worth of free coffee by getting “perked” in weekly in-store drawings.”
This summer, Wawa held another event for Hoagie lovers around the area, with ‘Hoagie Fest.’ Hoagiefest kicked off with a proclamation officially designating July 16 “Hoagie Heritage Day,” The festivities included with a series of hoagie and 1960s-inspired contests, giveaways, and activities celebrating the great hoagie tradition, including: Hoagie building contests involving the public, Hoagie building contests involving the 7th & 8th Police Districts for charity, Hoagie eating contests, The crowning of Mr. & Mrs. Hoagie, and A walk through exhibit featuring sixties images interspersed with Wawa famous hoagie milestone images.
After researching articles about Wawa’s recent promotional campaigns, I found that the news outlets for the most part just wrote straight from the press releases. There was not much coverage of ‘Hoagie Fest’, but ‘Coffeetopia’ got a good amount of coverage. Because it is a brand new campaign, I expect the coverage to increase as the campaign moves forward.
PR Professional Interview
I spoke to Patrick Menton, a Publicity Manager at RCA Music Group. Although he now works in music, Patrick got his start in consumer products. By answering a few simple questions, Mr. Menton was able to shed some light onto the situation.
Q: In your professional opinion, what do you think is the reason Wawa is the leader in its industry?
A: Wawa is able to stay on top because it is synonymous with convenience. Customers know that they can get in and get out in no time.
Q: What makes customers so loyal?
A: Consumers like a brand they can trust. Wawa customers know they are getting a quality product so it makes shopping there a no brainer
Q: Do you think promotion should be a bigger part of their future plans?
A: In some areas where Wawa is the only option for quick food, excessive promotion isn’t necessary. However in areas where competition is inevitable, Wawa needs to prove that they are the superior brand.
Q: Would you ever want to work for the brand?
A: They are so successful, I imagine it’s probably a dream job to handle their publicity.
They are so successful, I imagine it’s probably a dream job to handle their publicity.”
a professional PR person (from the company if possible) about the case – what are their thoughts about how the company and PR person handled it? If you cannot interview a PR person directly involved with the case or who is now with the company/organization, select a PR person in the same field/industry.
Wawa is a company that found a niche and ran with it. Branding is a strategic part of starting a company or introducing a new product and it can make or break that business or item. Wawa new from an early point that simplicity was their goal and customer relations was their priority.
7 Eleven and Sheetz are the two companies most closely related to Wawa. Although 7 Eleven is bigger in other parts of the country where Wawa does not exist, when paired with Wawa it cannot compete. Whereas Wawa opens new locations continuously, 7 Eleven closes its doors almost as much.
After doing research, it is clear that Wawa and Sheetz share many of the same qualities. Both are family-owned, cater to the same part of the country, and offer nearly identical made-to-order food. However, although it has been open for 10 years longer than Wawa, it has failed to garner the same respect and notoriety. This could be due to Wawa’s dedication to customer service and quality of food. As both chains continue to grow, it will be interesting to see the tactics they use to differentiate from each other.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
By Natasha Barnes
On August 25, 2005 Hurricane Katrina crossed into the United States and caused more than 9,000 confirmed casualties and $96 billion in damages (Lessons Learned, p.6). “Katrina is the first disaster-- natural or man-made-- to have damage totals almost reach the $100 billion mark (Lessons Learned, p.7).” The magnitude of the effects of Katrina resulted in the cyclone being branded as the deadliest and costliest natural disaster in American history. In the event of such tragedies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is the primary respondent to restore and reduce future detriments.
However, FEMA was heavily criticized for its lack of action, languid response rate, and disorganized resolution plans. The catastrophe exposed the government emergency procedures as lacking in credibility and warranted improvements to enhance management of similar situations in the future. Communication methods and devices were crippled and in some cases destroyed completely. As a result all actions were prolonged, which contributed heavily to the amount of devastation caused by this catastrophe.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was established in 1979 as an official governmental agency after combining various disaster response committees. “The primary mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation (FEMA).”
There are 10 regional offices across the nation and two area offices that are responsible for directly interacting with state officials to properly plan and manage disaster response efforts.
As of November 2007, FEMA had responded to more than 2,700 presidentially declared disasters. The first disaster response committee began in 1803 to handle a destructive fire in New Hampshire. FEMA wasn’t established as the official disaster relief agency until 1979. On March 31, 2003 FEMA was considered to be an integral aspect to Homeland Security and became a division within the department.
A key aspect of understanding how this tragedy was handled is that FEMA is the primary coordinator of emergency response, not the sole organizational body responsible for handling all disasters. FEMA supervises and works with a variety of response teams to handle natural tragedies when they arise. The Urban Search and Rescue Response Team is an example of an organizational team within FEMA comprised of state and local respondents. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act (Stafford Act) operates on the principal that “response efforts should first utilize State and local resources” before requesting Federal aid (Lessons, p.12).
FEMA S.W.O.T Analysis
Although the FEMA Agency itself didn’t come into existence until 1979, government response committees had been successfully dealing with natural disaster management since the early 1800s. After handling a multitude of crises for more than 200 years, the organization has gained extensive experience with administering such situations. Personnel staff consisted of the most knowledgeable and competent individuals available. In regards, the FEMA Web site contains easily accessible disaster prevention materials and information about all types of nature-caused calamities. The Federal government emergency response division is comprised of a strong contingency of specified task units within it that includes teams from local, regional, and federal levels. This network system was built to ensure that resources would be available because assistance centers would be evenly distributed across the nation (FEMA Brochure).
As well-versed in crisis management as FEMA representatives may be, unprecedented issues can always arise and render plans ineffective. Especially when reviewing Hurricane Katrina, it’s evident that unexpected problems left officials at a loss without alternative plans in certain situations. Plus, with the wide-variety of emergency response teams involved management troubles could happen as a result of an inefficient chain of communication plan.
According to the Stafford Act, the order of responsibility starts first on the local level and then continues to rise up to the Federal level once the previous governmental body has been found incapable of handling the situation on its own. In extreme situations such as Hurricane Katrina, this chain of communication is overridden and the Federal Government intervenes and takes control (Lessons, p.75). Scenarios such as this are defined by the National Response Plan as a “catastrophic incident.”
Catastrophic Incidents result in high “levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale and government functions (Lessons, p.75).”In addition to ensuring that all levels of government are in unison about plans of action, there are hundreds of organizations within each level that must also cohesively work together. Yet, this is another obstacle because all of the teams must coordinate together. However, if communication and management difficulties occur, this isn’t necessarily as successful as it could be.
The extensive international experience with disaster, rescue, and crisis management overall creates the opportunity for FEMA and the Federal Government to be one of the most credible organizations for disaster planning and administration. The United States has been both criticized and hailed for their involvement with other countries during a time of need. As a result, American emergency response teams have been able to handle a wide-variety of situations.
FEMA’s relationship with media outlets is not only a possible threat to the confidence citizens have in the agency’s qualifications, but also to accurate coverage during a crisis. Investigative reporters strongly criticized FEMA for any shortcoming the government possessed. It is the responsibility of these news sources to ethically and accurately report information to do what is best for all citizens. With that being said, not clearly communicating with or working with the media is a detriment to the agency because reporters will expose any flaws they discover if it appears as if something isn’t being done properly or ethically.
An internal threat would be the structure of the agency itself. An issue with crisis management planning is that it’s all planning until an actual catastrophe happens. Therefore, it’s imperative that thorough research is conducted and every possible obstacle is considered when developing emergency response plans.
The FEMA Web site currently features basic details about Hurricane Katrina and the government plans implemented to cope with the economical and personal devastation that arose. General information about proper protocol for dealing with natural disasters is also a part of the site content. There is not any information answering any criticisms the agency received. Figures about the amount of casualties and total cost of damages are also unavailable according to this statement, “The total number of lives lost, number of injuries sustained, and value of property damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina are still being tabulated.”
The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned report from February 2006 was an essential resource. The document contained extensive and thorough information about how Katrina, FEMA, and other organizations were structured and logged each step taken in handling the catastrophe.
Non-governmental site research was also conducted to gain the perspective of those who believed FEMA’s actions as being unsuccessful. Local Louisiana and regional newspapers were reviewed from the time of the calamity, in addition to the subsequent months afterwards. Video coverage of news segments and events related to Katrina were also researched. A video of the former FEMA director Michael Brown’s perspective on the way Katrina was handled and the reasoning for his resignation was also watched. Andrew Thomas, FEMA External Affairs representative at the Louisiana Office, was interviewed to gain his insight on the management of the situation. Redevelopment progress was provided by Derrick LeBeouf, Director of Government and Legal Affairs for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.
As to be expected news coverage of Katrina was heavy during the first few months of after the Hurricane. The following news sources were reviewed to assist with the content analysis comparison between FEMA press releases and articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and local Louisiana Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper The Times-Picayune. All of the articles reviewed and included in the resources section of the case study.
A key difference between the local and regional articles was the level of humanism included. The Times-Picayune stories featured an actual account of what happened to a victim of the storm by personalizing the content with the individual’s name and background.
Newspaper Content Analysis
1) FEMA Release Aug. 2005 vs. Washington Post/NY Times Aug. and Sept. 2005
The first subject was the initial announcement that Hurricane Katrina posed a threat and its arrival date. FEMA issued its initial release about Katrina on August 25, 2005. The article discussed information about the impending arrival of the hurricane and what preemptive actions were being taken. This precautionary information was included in the Times-Picayune and other local newspapers. The Washington Post September article content was very similar to the release listed by FEMA as it focused on all of the Federal efforts dispensed to handle the situation.
2) One Week Later Coverage: FEMA vs. The Washington Post
A week after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, two different messages were expressed by FEMA and The Washington Post. The article issued by FEMA focused on all the progress the government had made thus far and gave status reports for assistance applications and associated events. In contrast, The Washington Post took a more analytical viewpoint and critiqued the shortcomings of FEMA and cited possible reasons for the issues that arose. FEMA also disbursed articles explaining how to find information and apply to assistance programs, yet none of this information was contained in The Washington Post Article.
3) One Year Later: FEMA vs. The Times-Picayune, and The Washington Post,
In the “one year later” analysis, the differences in the writing styles were interesting to read. A Times-Picayune reporter chose to write a story illustrating the affects of Katrina to emphasize the fact that the management of this tragedy was “one more tale of institutional breakdown (Grace, Times-Picayune).” On the other hand, the FEMA news release for the anniversary of the calamity highlighted all that the government had done thus far to administer the situation.
The local newspaper article didn’t contain any positive information about FEMA or successful actions. Instead, it discussed the fact that FEMA officials did a poor job of explaining the cause of death for an elderly man by declaring reasons that were obviously not possible due to location. On a regional level, The Washington Post chose to publish testimonies from citizens around the country about how they were personally affected by the tragedy.
In retrospect it may have been in FEMA’s best interest to put additional effort into local news affiliates because they were the ones that wrote articles that tended to primarily have a citizen focus. These articles usually used an actual incident involving a victim of Katrina to further emphasize their point about whether the government’s actions were up to par or lacking.
The Times-Picayune and Nola.com
This Louisiana newspaper, Times-Picayune, received a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for its “courageous and aggressive coverage of Hurricane Katrina, overcoming desperate conditions facing the city.” NOLA.com is the Times-Picayune online affiliate. Once the Picayune offices were flooded and printers were damaged by Katrina, journalists published solely on NOLA.com. The site became a primary source of information for external news outlets, but it was especially useful to local citizens. Journalists posted listings of those in need of rescue that were able to SMS text their families and friends with their location. As a result, the U.S. Coast Guard and other relief teams relied heavily on this site to help victims.
Although many news outlets provided ethical and accurate coverage and seemed to know more information at times than government officials, there were some rumored fabricated stories that detracted from the otherwise aggressive and commended reporting due to communication issues. For example, there were various claims of violence and rape within the Superdome and Convention Center.
However, such alleged accounts were scrutinized for their validity after individuals such as Lt. Col. Jacques Thibodeaux of the Louisiana National Guard said certain stories were untrue on a segment of the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. September 6 on Oprah, New Orleans Mayor Ray Ragan discussed murders and rapes occurring in the refuge centers with the host. Such contradictory stories are found throughout the handling of this entire situation especially, with the unconfirmed death toll.
To confirm, there was an influx in crimes committed due to unprecedented management of convicts and correctional facilities affected by storm conditions. Injustices were done against authorities and assistance agencies. However, due to the extensive damage on communication methods and devices, confirmation of such incidents was difficult to obtain, which attributed to rumors and fabricated accounts (Lessons, p.40). Even in the Federal Government report on Hurricane Katrina, researchers state that “reliable crime statistics are unavailable and it’s clear that violent crime was less prevalent than initially reported.”
“A Concert for Hurricane Relief”
This event was broadcasted by NBC to raise support for storm survivors. The concert featured Louisiana jazz performers such as Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, in addition to an eclectic group of international acts as well. Plus, artists of various genres and entertainment personalities reported on different aspects of the crises, such as Chris Tucker and the event was hosted by Kanye West and Mike Meyers.
The main topic of discussion from this concert was rap artist Kanye West’s deviation from the script as he personally spoke out against President Bush and the poor handling of the situation. West expressed that the delayed response and lack of action for Katrina victims was race. The infamous quote was, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people (MSNBC).” Statistics from the Louisiana Department of Health do support the fact that majority of residents in affected areas were African-American. However, West was alluding to race being the primary reason for delay. However, officials site management issues and unprecedented obstacles as the true causes for postponed assistance.
Several stations continued to air similar benefit concerts and some featured artists voiced their opinions about the government, which added to the already existing critiques. "When the hurricane struck, it did not turn the region into a Third World country ... it revealed one," said actor Danny Glover. Infamous musician Harry Belafonte also commented on the crises management issues, "Katrina was not unforeseeable," Belafonte said. "It was the result of a political structure that subcontracts its responsibility to private contractors and abdicates its responsibility altogether."
Despite personal views expressed during these benefit concerts, the primary goal of raising awareness and funds for Katrina relief was accomplished.
Geraldo Rivera & Shepard Smith Plee
The unique aspect of all coverage of Katrina is the overwhelming amount of emotion displayed. These sentiments are not only shown by news anchors, but celebrities as well especially with their disdain for the lack of governmental action. Such is the case with these anchors too. Reporters Geraldo Rivera and Shepard Smith were on the scene at the refuge centers to attest to the conditions survivors were experiencing. Both journalists expressed their outrage at the injustices going on in the entertainment arenas turned into refuge centers.
Social Media Efforts
Numerous social networking sites were used to spread awareness and raise funds to support the Katrina Relief Effort. On Facebook, a site creator promised to donate $1 for every set of 100 people that joined the group. The outcome of this site was not only to increase visibility of the crisis, but also served as a medium for other assistance groups to advertise and victims to express their gratitude. The particular Facebook group mentioned didn’t have a posting with an update on how the fundraising effort was going and the site creator could not be reached for a total either.
“Thank you to everyone who supports or has supported the Hurricane Katrina recovery. I'm a survivor and if it were not for all the wonderful volunteers, we would be in even worse shape than we still are. It's been over two and a half years since the storm and there is still so very much to do,” said Sherri Joubert of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This comment was left on the wall of the mentioned Facebook group.
Education was also a focus of social networking sites such as Global Kids, Inc., which is a New York City non-profit organization created to “educate urban youth about civic engagement and international affairs.” The site called “Hurricane Katrina: Tempest in Crescent City” was developed to celebrate the three year anniversary of the catastrophe to educate youth on the event and inform them of ways to continue to assist the redevelopment initiative. After entering the URL for the interactive site, http://www.tempestincrescentcity.org, one can play a game that helps them understand the experience that many refugees had with trying to assist one another, finding missing loved ones, and acquiring basic necessities.
American Express Credit Card Company sponsors a program called Member Projects, where they supply funding to members who have outstanding ideas to improve their communities. A member wanted to obtain financial support for redevelopment of areas devastated by the storm. The organization that assisted with the realization of this idea was Global Green USA, which rebuilds homes to ensure that they use the least amount of energy, assist with the restoration of schools, and finalize projects on affordable homes that meet green standards.
In 2004, FEMA developed and funded a Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Project to create an action plan for the area in the event of a hurricane. The purpose of the organization was to bring “all levels of government and the American Red cross [together] to identify, analyze, and address the overwhelming operational complexities that would be involved in responding to a catastrophic hurricane striking southeast Louisiana (Lessons, p.24). “ More than 300 representatives from all levels of government were involved.
Unfortunately, the committee took a reprieve and the planning committee didn’t meet again until late July 2005—only a few weeks before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. At the initial meeting, shortcomings in current plans and FEMA were identified. However, former FEMA Director Michael Brown stated that the problem with the existing plans is that it would take about two years to complete all revisions (Kansas University). Plus, Brown noted that the government’s focus wasn’t crisis planning and had switched to terrorism after the 9/11 Attacks on the World Trade Centers. Therefore, in his opinion these plans weren’t a priority which also attributed to the issues experienced.
Before the storm FEMA worked with The Hurricane Center and other weather service authorities to ensure that advisories were sent out. All states forecasted to be effected had their emergency plans ready to put into action, but as the storm progressed it became evident that the intensity of it was also increasing and the effects would be more severe than originally anticipated.
A State of Emergency was declared for the influenced regions and the storm was announced as an “Incident of National Significance.” Temporary shelters were created as well. In preparation of the storm, press releases were distributed to media outlets to inform the public of preventative measures to be taken. The first news release about storm preparation was issued on August 25, 2005, the same day that Katrina touched down in Florida. It contained information about preparing for the storm.
Federal resources were strategically placed around the forecasted areas to be affected and awaited deployment. Materials included ice, water, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and additional supplies. The image on page 30 of the Lessons Learned report has a map of the U.S. and notes all of the areas and the quantities of resources at each location.
In the days leading up to Katrina’s landfall, government officials continued to touch base with the state and local representatives to determine if there was a need for Federal aid. The responses did not contain many requests for Federal assistance until the very last minute before the storm. Due to the short window of time before Katrina hit, some needs could not be met. For instance, Louisiana asked the government for 180,000 liters of water and 109,440 MREs for the Superdome refugees however, they were only able to receive 90,000 liters of water and 43,776 MREs before Katrina made landfall (Lessons, p.29). The day after the storm hit, each of the 15 National Response plan Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) were on standby and ready to act.
An unprecedented 80 percent of the city was flooded in New Orleans (Lessons, p.6). All emergency response teams were deployed, but the overwhelming intensity of the storm rendered the effort to be insufficient.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Radio, NOAA Internet, and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) were crucial to disseminating messages to the public (Lessons, p. 28). Director Brown held daily video teleconferences with the media at noon to provide status reports for the recovery and search and rescue efforts. FEMA also released numerous press releases to continue to keep citizens aware of what was going on in their communities.
In the affected regions, the communications infrastructure was completely the destroyed. The mayor of New Orleans was unable to remain in his office and was forced to retreat to a Hyatt hotel where he was unable to contact anyone during the first 48 hours after the storm hit. 911 and public safety radio was inoperable, in addition to the State of Louisiana’s 800 MHz radio system which received repairs days later (Lessons, p. 37). Slowly, communication capabilities were restored and resulted in an outpour of emergency calls. Plus, The Times-Picayune’s aggressive coverage and postings on their online affiliate NOLA.com was a crucial resource for authorities to assist victims.
Response teams and emergency aid organizations were essentially on their own and were unable to receive information or orders from any level of management. Both governors of Mississippi and Louisiana requested additional aid from the National Guard to assist with these issues. Despite these obstacles, FEMA US&R (Urban Search and Rescue) teams were able to successfully rescue 6,500 people (Lessons, p.38). However, the US&R and CS&R (Civil Search and Rescue) emergency response organizations could’ve maximized their efforts by improving their communication with one another and coordinating their resources in a more effective manner together. The FEMA US&R, Coast Guard, and Department of Defense were the primary search and rescue authorities.
Due to the severity of the damage done to communication resources, FEMA was unable to contact other Federal Agencies to effectively distribute government supplies (Lessons, p.45). An accompanying issue to this problem was that the different Federal agencies were unfamiliar with the procedures associated with the other branches. This created a dilemma because FEMA employees who were not well-versed in the resources other branches were offering ,such as the United States Department of Agriculture, which prevented necessary products from being distributed (p. 45).
Hurricane Katrina was officially declared an “Incident of National Significance” on August 30, 2005 by Secretary Chertoff. He also put FEMA Director Michael Brown in charge of “coordinating overall Federal incident management” as the Principal Federal Official (Lessons, p14). The PFO is also responsible for being a “primary point of contact and situational awareness locally for the Secretary of Homeland.”
Organizational Structure Issues
In an article published by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on October 20, 2005, the conflicting opinions of former FEMA Director Michael Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff were compared. According to Brown’s testimony, the budget and quality of FEMA was “emaciated” after the 9/11 Attacks on the World Trade Center. However Chertoff made a comment later on stating that the budget “had expanded from 2001 and 2005, FEMA’s core funding increased from $349 million [annually] to $447 million," and its number of employees swelled from 2,057 to 2,445. "I would take issue with the idea that FEMA had been cut (Sentinel)," said Chertoff.
In regards to execution from FEMA concerning this issue, it only continued to contribute to the negative reputation that FEMA was being branded upon anything related to FEMA. It also made the planning measures taken by FEMA in preparation of the storm appear even more incompetent due to this discrepancy.
A new official to oversee the restoration of the Gulf Coast has been appointed by R. David Paulison, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, He announced that the new Assistant Administrator of the Gulf Coast Recovery effort would be James W. Stark (FEMA). Former FEMA Director Michael Brown resigned and is currently starting his own disaster management agency (Associated Press, MSNBC).
Redevelopment and financial assistance are the key focus points for FEMA as it continues to aid in the restoration of the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Officials are especially working toward reinstating public schools and providing hazard mitigation funding for those attempting to reconstruct their homes. In the Three Years Later FEMA report, it details the actions the government has taken so far and breaks down initiatives by Federal dollars spent. In the press release issued on August 26, 2008 it detailed that the “more than $11 billion in Public Assistance grants have been provided to communities along the Gulf Coast to continue rebuilding (FEMA).”
Employee & Community Relations
A December 10, 2005 press release from FEMA highlighted two employees who had created a “donation collection effort” that assisted with allocating contributions to designations that were in critical need of the aid (FEMA). This was able to put FEMA in personnel in a positive light, as they were going above and beyond their roles to continue to assist with the relief program. In regard, to community interactions FEMA disseminated messages, updates, and application policies on a regular basis. Communication method complications, such as towers being damaged, did make the disbursement of such information difficult. Again mismanagement continued to be an issue and that clearly showed when trying to interact with citizens to help them rebuild their lives. Yet, over time relations and management structure improved so that the community and FEMA can work together to rebuild the affected regions.
Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006
This legislation was created to restructure FEMA and expand upon the previous mission statement of the agency. After Katrina, a multitude of areas of improvement arose and this act forced officials to systematically ensure weaknesses were identified and addressed.
Resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown
According to an article published in The Washington Post on Sept. 9, 2005, Director Brown was “stripped” of his role and replaced by Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard. The continued negative publicity and accusations by the public of mismanagement were identified as they key factors for Brown’s demotion. At a press conference, Mr. Chertoff clearly expressed that the change in management was of his own accord and Director Brown would retain his position of being the director of the agency, but not the primary federal official residing over the recovery effort. Director Brown eventually resigned from FEMA and is currently planning on establishing his own disaster management planning agency.
There were 9,000 confirmed casualties however, there are almost 200 bodies that have yet to be identified and claimed at the Victim Identification Center in Carville, Louisiana (Lessons, p.8). Plus, 2,096 people were still listed as missing from the Gulf Coast region on February 17, 2006.
The American government requested that Katrina and Rita be removed from the list of the potential names to be used for future hurricanes, due to the level of devastation caused. The names were retired by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will never be used again. The International Committee selected the replacements names of Katia and Rina for the 2011 edition of hurricane names.
Receipt of International Support
FEMA officials couldn’t respond to government officials to notify them of how to accept or use donated funds and supplies due to communication obstacles. Countries around the world showed their compassion with financial contributions and assorted materials. An “integrated satellite and cellular telephone system” was offered by a German company to supplement the damaged and destroyed communication methods. However, they didn’t receive a response until five days after the storm hit (Lessons, p. 46). Italy sent medical supplies, but the materials were damaged by weather due to negligence by the American officials responsible for them.
Greece proposed transporting a cruise ship to provide housing for Katrina victims but was declined by the U.S. government because officials didn’t believe the vessel would arrive in time to be useful. However, Louisiana ended up purchasing crew ships anyway, which were overcrowded at the expense of tax payers (Sloan, CFRE). The government has created a new system for facilitating these contributions and explained the procedure as one of its “Lessons Learned” revisions.
Convention Center & Superdome Victims
One of the main critiques of FEMA’s response tactics was the lack of action taken in the days following the impact of the hurricane. “[The] Federal government” was unaware of victims in the Convention Center until day 4 after Katrina hit, “said Michael Brown former FEMA director (CNN). The CNN reporter that interviewed Brown challenged him on being unknowledgeable of those taking refuge into the Convention Center and other entertainment arenas. Those staying in these buildings were also prevented from leaving and travelling to safer regions by authorities until further notice, so even if they wanted to depart it wasn’t an option.
The flooding caused by the storm made it difficult to send supplies to the convention center. Disbursement of materials was also a challenge because the structure wasn’t stocked with any food or water as it wasn’t originally designated as a shelter location (Lessons, p.39). Plus, when the site was categorized as a refuge center it was initially only for those with special medicinal needs, but this purpose was expanded to offer support to the general public to meet the surge in demand, which significantly increased the population. The American Red Cross considered the Superdome conditions to fall short of its standards for safe environments and thus did not send any staff members to the site. However, the ARC did send supplies when transportation of the materials was available.
Unfortunately, authorities were unable to evacuate victims in the Convention Center until September 3. By this time all occupants at the Superdome had already been rescued (Lessons, p.29).
According to the CNN segment, few transportation methods were provided for those who either chose not to evacuate or were physically unable to do so due to disabilities or had no available means of travelling. Plus, the state did not issue an official evacuation decree until 19 hours prior to the estimated arrival of the hurricane. Due to the late request for support from response teams, local resources were unable to be used as a substitute because the majority of transportation vehicles were inaccessible because of flooding.
In regards to victims receiving financial support from the government, there were several scams that involved false claims which detracted from those truly affected receiving the support they needed. There was an incident in which a convict successfully requested damage compensation while being incarcerated (MSNBC). Another situation involved a woman from Queens who had successfully obtained a significant amount of funding from the government (The New York Times).
Analysis & Evaluation
Professional Insight and Analysis:
Two professionals were contacted for their opinions: Andrew Thomas, External Affairs FEMA Louisiana and Derrick LeBeouf, Director of Government and Legal Affairs for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.
Andrew Thomas gave his perspective from being in the FEMA Louisiana office at the time the storm made landfall. Some aspects of Thomas’ account mirrored information contained in the Federal Lessons Learned document, however he was able to provide additional insight into the housing situation of victims. As a middle-man of sorts between FEMA and the state of emergency response efforts, Thomas was responsible for communicating emergency response plans, evacuation information, and assistance program details to the citizens of the affected areas.
Thomas had direct interaction with the housing situation for affected victims in regards to trailers supplied by FEMA. By April 2008, he said that the amount of people using government supplied trailers had “decreased from 23,280 in Orleans Parish down to 7,282.” Thomas also discussed that the goal of FEMA was to have all of the families who were living in trailers, relocated into permanent homes by June. “We will work with each of these families, one-on-one, to help them return to their homes," said Thomas. FEMA is currently still working on this initiative.
A housing issue that arose was related to the government created Road Home Program. The initiative was created to families who wanted to sell their homes to the government. FEMA and related officials encountered various problems, such as residents living on a property unknowingly maintaining ownership because of bookkeeping errors. There were also incidents in which original occupants of Federally provided trailers left those temporary homes and new unregistered residents moved in instead. In these cases, Thomas said FEMA would provide alternative housing to the original occupants.
Director LeBeouf was able to provide insight into the redevelopment process. In regards, to the initial handling of the situation LeBeouf believed that the elected officials in charge did not have a good understanding of the purpose of the Redevelopment Authority, which attributed to the slow progress. He estimates that it will take 10 years for the New Orleans area to be restored to its original state prior to the storm. Director LeBeouf noted that he predicted it would take a decade when the storm initially hit, and three years later he maintains the same time period because of the lack of recovery action that has taken place.
In regards to government relations, Director LeBeouf cited that the Stafford Act is contributing to lengthy processing times for obtaining Federal funds. He said that the state of Louisiana has been a tremendous ally in assisting with getting around some of the “red tape” involved with procuring financial assistance from the government to help citizens rebuild their homes.
Director LeBeouf personally experienced a negative interaction with FEMA representatives from the rental assistance program. He and his wife were homeowners who recently purchased an additional home to renovate. The devastation of the storm caused them to have to rent an apartment and when they requested aid from the government, they were told that LeBeouf was ineligible because he made too much money. This was a very trying time to say the least for the LeBeoufs as they were paying for two mortgages and an overpriced apartment. Due to the fact that lodging was scarce, their landlord added a premium to accommodate demand.
Strong community relations have also been crucial to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. To ensure that citizens view the NORA as being “transient” as possible and that they play an active role in the restoration of their historical neighborhoods, Director LeBeouf has led community outreach forums. He said that NORA has been successful in meeting the majority of the needs expressed by community members. “They don’t want chocolate covered roofs or anything, they wanted basic services and we were able to meet those needs,” said LeBeouf.
The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned report includes a multitude of specified area for amelioration and restructuring within FEMA as a result of issues experienced during the management of Katrina. After reviewing all of the Federal suggestions I developed my personal analysis based on information that wasn’t discussed in depth within the document. There are three areas I would recommend improvement within to ensure that FEMA appropriately handles such disasters in the future: pre-disaster planning, overall communication, and aftermath conflict resolution.
Although, extensive research was completed prior to the hurricane’s arrival to ensure that all preventative measures were taken, sufficient back up plans were not created. Hours before Katrina hit, technical experts evaluated the levees and judged that in their current state it was evident that the flood barriers might not withstand the potential impact of the storm (MSNBC). Government officials also forecasted that the flood barriers could be overwhelmed by the hurricane. Improved versions of these structures need to be designed and tested to make them more effective prevention tools.
The impact of the physical devastation caused by the hurricane was predicted by various meteorologists. So, methods of handling the effects, especially the spread of inhabitable land, should’ve been better prepared. An earlier evacuation time could’ve assisted with this in addition to, publicly provided transportation to safety. Plus, the state of Louisiana could’ve reached out more to FEMA and vice-a-versa to ensure all vehicles, equipment, and miscellaneous items were accounted for prior to Katrina’s landfall. Louisiana Governor Blanco admitted that she should have asked for buses sooner because all available buses within the state were unusable due to flooding (Lessons, p.34).
Navigation was also an obstacle because the traditional method of using street signs was not possible because of the high water levels due to flooding. An alternative way of travelling should be discovered to be utilized during such situations. I recommend that some buildings of high elevation could be marked with their location. Also, GPS navigation may be ideal in these situations as well so it could be an essential investment.
Additional tests should also be conducted to ensure the chain of communication is efficient and flows appropriately. A key factor to the breakdown of governmental control of the situation was noted to be a lack of competent leadership with clear plans. Officials should run through this procedure as many times as necessary to identify and remove any problems.
The planning committees comprised of representatives from every level of impact, such as the Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Project, should meet more frequently to ensure that plans work for all parties involved. Most of these groups were able to identify areas of improvement, but due to a lack of funding and actual meetings these issues were not addressed thus the plans were not completed.
During the Situation
During the crisis all of the plans will be put to the test and it’s imperative that officials adjust accordingly and ensure that basic needs are being met. When Michael Brown, former FEMA director, was interviewed by television news shows days after the hurricane made landfall, he admitted that “the Federal government did not know that there were victims at the convention center (ABC, Nightly News).” The news anchor interviewing him found that hard to believe considering the fact that several news outlets had been covering the refugees at the Convention Center and Superdome. This clearly showed that the media was more informed about certain aspects of the situation than the government. With this in mind, I recommend that the government strengthen its relationship with news media outlets to ensure that the primary mission of FEMA is upheld which is to “reduce the loss of life.”
It would also be in the best interest of everyone involved to educate news media outlets on Hurricane Terminology. A huge problem with deteriorated communication methods was that authorities had to rely on a variety of sources that weren’t always credible because they weren’t familiar with hurricane terminology. In particular, there were several incidents of confusion involving the words “overtopping” and “breaching (Lessons, p.35).” Overtopping occurs when the water flows at a height above the levee however, this will cease when the flood level decreases. On the other hand, a breach is a more serious matter because it’s a continuous overtopping situation that could destroy the levee completely. It might be helpful if the government made this information available on its Web site and stressed to the media to reference this document when covering hurricanes.
Another issue that arose within the first few days of the crises was a lack of basic necessities being delivered to refugees. Officials stated that it was difficult to evacuate anyone from the Convention Center or Superdome due to inaccessibility caused by flooding. However, I think in these situations supplies could’ve been airlifted and dropped off much sooner. Also, the Red Cross declared the locations inhabitable because of poor conditions and the unsafe quantity of people inside. These victims were not rescued until September 3.
News outlets constantly aired segments with photos of survivors who had made signs asking for help that detailed a lack of food and water for a certain amount of signs. To prevent this situation from occurring again in the future, I recommend the special task forces with the sole purpose of providing food, shelter, and other vital materials intensify their efforts, especially during the first few critical hours and days after a storm hits.
A similarity between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew, the second costliest hurricane to Katrina, was that many lives were lost days after the initial landing (FEMA Archive). To prevent this, I recommend a significant increase in authorities and personnel during the first 24-48 hours of the storm to rescue the survivors. Deaths were primarily caused by those who were trapped and unable to receive aid and those who suffered injuries from damaged buildings, trees, et cetera.
“The magnitude of the storm was such that the local communications system wasn’t simply degraded; it was, at least for a period of time, destroyed,” said Paul McHale, the assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense (Lessons, p.34).
After reviewing press releases issued by FEMA and other news outlets’ coverage of Katrina, it was apparent that more could’ve been done to inform the public of what was happening and with managing the overall situation. FEMA did send out news releases and plans of action to state officials prior to the hurricane. Before Katrina’s landfall, advisories were sent out by The Hurricane Center and other weather authorities. Yet, the first official FEMA press release listed on the Web site was on Aug. 25, the day the storm hit Florida. However, in light of the fact that Louisiana Governor Blanco had concerns about people not taking the warnings seriously and thinking they could wait out the storm, advisories and information probably should’ve been sent directly from the Federal level to ensure the message was heeded (Lessons, p.34).
In regards to following the emergency plans put in place, some aspects were found to be unsuitable. Some of the details in the plan weren’t applicable to the situation and a poor chain of communication efficiency resulted in a lack of proper management to execute tasks. The major issue was the demolition of traditional communication methods. The strong severity of the damage done to news outlet locations, technology, and phone towers was unprecedented. One of the 800 MHz communications towers for the Louisiana State Police was deemed “inoperable” and thus, the officers were unable to talk with one another (Lessons, p.30). To accommodate this problem a significant increase in the amount of Mobile Emergency Response Support vehicles (MERS) for “communication, operational, and logistical support” should’ve been deployed (Lessons, p.27). Upcoming research studies should focus on finding alternative means of communication in situations such as this.
A religious operation known as “Brother’s Keeper” was a citizen organized effort to transport those without means of travelling to safety. There is definitely room to make adjustments to increase the success rate of this program. At the time Katrina hit there were only four congregations involved. If the amount of groups, religious or with an unreligious affiliation, involved was expanded the amount of victims rescued could be much greater (Lessons, p.26).
Locations for evacuees to seek temporary refuge at were not pre-determined. As soon as a state has been notified of a potential disaster, they should enter into negotiations with surrounding regions to discuss the possibility of housing victims in that area. Or there could be set agreements about such situations in advance. For example, Louisiana and Texas could create a pact that states that in case of an emergency, each will allow the other to use certain areas as refuge centers. The Louisiana Evacuation Plans did not contain any “post-landfall evacuation” information about how to handle such matters, which is why external refuge shelters were not finalized until days after the hurricane arrived (Lessons, p.38). An agreement with Texas was not reached until August 31 to evacuate victims to Texas’ Astrodome (Lessons, p.39).