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Neo-PR

Public Relations in a Postmodern World

Christopher Caldiero

Christopher Caldiero examines new ways of thinking about public relations practice in today’s technological and postmodern world. His concept of «Neo-PR» and its thought-provoking principles re-examines and re-frames modernistic notions of public relations for today’s burgeoning PR practitioners. The book begins by looking at the historical development of the public relations field in the context of the modernism movement of the early twentieth century. Drawing parallels to this movement, Caldiero argues that public relations practice was inevitably shaped by modernistic thinking. Using a series of recent and prevalent public relations cases, he then shines new light on different ways public relations can and must be practiced in our different world. These cases and organizations include the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon crisis, Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood, The Boy Scouts of America, Penn State University, and SeaWorld. Neo-PR: Public Relations in a Postmodern World re-conceptualizes public relations as we’ve come to know it, and helps to prepare today’s undergraduate and graduate public relations students for our postmodern world.
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Chapter 7: SeaWorld and Blackfish

Extract

CHAPTER 7

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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