Public Relations in a Postmodern World
Chapter 7: SeaWorld and Blackfish
SeaWorld and Blackfish
Join the SeaWorld’s “Truth Team.” With these words and this call, SeaWorld has attempted to sway public opinion and garner support following an impactful public relations crisis that began in late 2013 and continued throughout 2014.
According to the company’s website, “Increasingly animal rights extremists are using social media to spread misperceptions to advance their radical agenda. They attack us and those who support our parks and conservation efforts” (Join the SeaWorld Truth Team, 2014). This “attack” was largely defined by the production and release of the film Blackfish in 2013. In it, SeaWorld is portrayed as a dishonest, uncaring, and greedy corporation satisfied with putting profits over the concerns of human safety and animal welfare.
SeaWorld (SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Inc.) is a marine park (there are 3 in total—the original in San Diego, California, opened in 1964, followed by parks in Orlando, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas) that advertises itself as providing, “up-close animal encounters, educational attractions and innovative entertainment…designed to inspire guests of all ages to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world around them” (http://SeaWorldentertainment.com/en/who-we-are/history/). There is little doubt that, in the fifty-plus years since SeaWorld opened, the company (and its associated “acts” like Shamu) has become a part of American culture. Indeed, SeaWorld holds an elite place among American travel destinations, hosting on average 11 million visitors each year at the 3 parks (Barkham, 2013) and over...
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