Kate Moss: The Silent Muse

Kate Moss seldom talked about herself publicly. Actually, her silence as a part of her elusive personality contributes to her longevity in her 25 years of modeling—the mystery hide behind her continue to fascinate editors, photographers and zillions of followers. After years of silence, the British fashion icon finally opened up to the Vanity Fair.(Read the original story)

Moss started modeling at a very young age. Her early picture taken by Corinne Day, capturing her with light makeup,  lingerie and a string of lights behind, was published in the 1993 British Vogue. This iconic picture has sparked a huge outrage from the public as well as a drastic change in fashion industry.

As a model, Moss is imperfect in so many ways: she’s relatively short, her legs are not straight enough, and her face is freckled. However, it is exactly these imperfection that have made her a perfect model for the “raw” beauty—the anti-glamorous grunge style.

Moss admitted that she partied a lot in her wild teenage days. On the other hand, she also worked very hard. She was the muse of Harper’s Bazaar Calvin Klein.


Moss is still reluctant to talk about her exes. She has had a rough time after broke up with Johnny Depp, because as she said: “There’s nobody that’s ever really been able to take care of me. Johnny did for a bit.”

Neither pregnancy nor marriage has interrupted Moss’ career. She’s still modeling today, but as a mother and a wife, her life is much more settled and kept out of controversies. “I don’t really go to clubs anymore,” said Moss.

The feature story is well-written and interesting to read. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s quite long, but that’s understandable, because it takes long to tell the story of someone’s life. I find it’s really interesting that Kate Moss doesn’t talk too much in front of the public and media, because from a PR perspective, silence is not good for the publicity, especially in the entertainment industry where every celebrity is bustling around to get people’s attention. However, Moss has turned her reticence into an asset—her elusiveness sets her apart. Truly, silence has become a personal brand of Kate Moss. But why speak out right now? Maybe Moss decided it’s time for her to tell her stories. Would this be contrary to her personal brand, or even hurt her personal brand? I don’t think so. She’s still true to herself. At the end of the day, it’s her instinct and talent in dressing that makes her an extraordinary model.


Ogilvy Public Relations: Changing China

This is my favorite part— Mr. Scott Kronick from Ogilvy China talking about public relations in China. Although public relations is still in its infancy in China, PR practitioners will be in great demand in the near future as more and more companies expanding their business to the Greater China. In addition to that, many Chinese companies want to enter into international market and develop global brands. I’ve always been interested in International Public Relations and I was hoping to bring what I have learnt here back to China.

It’s fascinating to see how fast China has developed in the past few decades. I heard a lot of “wows” from the audience when Mr. Kronick showed pictures of the huge contrast between old and new China. Things have changed a lot since China’s reform and opening up in 1978. As some companies getting more financially successful, they start to invest outside of China. The clients of Ogilvy Public Relations are ranging from IBM, Adidas and even the city of Chengdu.


It’s interesting to look at social media in China. Because the Chinese government has blocked the access to social media platforms outside of China, for every major international social media platform, China has its own social media equivalents. For example, we have renren, the Chinese Facebook, and Weibo, the Chinese Twitter. Those platforms are very similar except for the language used on them. However, I also noticed that more professional social media networks, such as LinkedIn, are still missing in China. I’m not sure if such social media platform would enjoy great popularity in China, because to me it seems people prefer entertainment websites much more. Online trading, micro blogging and video sharing are prospering in China. But as Mr. Kronick said and I also agree, social media is the new trend in China. PR practitioners definitely should pay more attention to it.


Starbucks: a people’s company

There’s nothing better than starting a new day with a cup of Starbucks coffee and a passionate speech by James Olson, Vice President of Starbucks Coffee Company. It’s encouraging to see how Starbucks grew from a single store into a global multibillion company. Behind this successful story is the company’s core value of employee engagement.

In 2007, Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz first addressed the issue of “commoditization of Starbucks” in a memo to the key executives of the company. The company seemed lost its way in the highly commercialized modern society, and along with that is the loss in share value. To turn things around and to bring back the passion of Starbucks, the company decided to close all the chain stores in one day and bring about 10,000 store managers together to New Orleans to reinstate the company’s value and purpose. The leadership conference was a huge sensation. The partners are once again united as a team through community service.

Starbucks always keeps a balance between its profitability and social responsibility. When the whole country was in crisis in 2011, Starbucks was among the first companies trying to do something to help stimulate the economy. Starbucks initiated Let’s Create Jobs for USA—a fund raising campaign which encourages people to donate $5 to support small business in this country. By asking everyday citizens to help shift the country’s economy, Starbucks gives out the message that embedded in the company’s mission and value—everybody matters.

Howard Schultz’s charismatic leadership definitely contributed a lot to Starbuck’s success. Starbucks employees should be grateful that they have a leader with passion and persistence, and most importantly, values the importance of communication, both internally and externally. However, not every CEO is like Howard. Most of the time, we PR people assume the role to coordinate each part of the company. It’s important we follow the best practice of communication and make sure that every employee is aware of and adhere to the company’s value and mission.

Another blemish on reputation—Massive Toyota recall

As Toyota’s sale goes up, its reputation goes down. On October 10th 2012, Toyota announced a global recall of 7.43 million vehicles, including 2.5 million in US, due to a faulty power window control switch that could lead to potential fire accidents.

Toyota described the switch as “notchy” and said the problem will be fixed by applying a special grease. Following the largest recall of 8 million cars over sticky gas pedals and floor mats in 2009 and 2010, this massive recall is another heavy hit to the company. The company’s stock shares went down almost 2% on that day, making its comeback even harder.

Toyota floor mat recall history (source:online)

The recent fault gives rise to safety and quality concerns about the car. Toyota executives acknowledged that Toyota cut back on quality control in order to be the world’s largest auto seller.

Efraim Levy, a marking analyst from “Standard & Poor” points out that the latest Toyota recall may not only considerably impact the company’s financial condition, but also negatively affect its recuperating brand image.

Recalls don’t necessarily undermine a company’s reputation. However, Toyota’s brand image was greatly injured for improperly handling the recall crisis in 2009 and 2010. Toyota was criticized for its slow reaction, masked apology and defensive response.

This time, Toyota takes a more proactive role in this recall. A news release of this recall was posted on its website and owners whose vehicles were covered by this safety recall will receive a notification letter via first-class mail starting in late October. However, Toyota did not take full advantage of social media. At least I didn’t find anything on their Facebook page and twitter.

We should keep it in mind that the best way to deal with a crisis is keep it from occurring in the first place. If Toyota has really learnt its lesson, it should not let this happen again.

Here’s what I think the company could do better:

First, keep a balance between sales growth and quality control. A series of recalls leave the public an impression that Toyota is so aggressive in boosting its sales that it sacrifices the quality of the products. Massive production may be profitable in a short period of time. But for the long run, a good reputation is more valuable.

Second, act fast and make full use of social media. Have a crisis plan right at hand can help the company react and resolve the crisis as soon as possible. Especially when this kind of crisis happened before, the company should know how to handle it properly or even not even let it happen again. Companies should pay more attention to social media, because news travels fast in social media. As we discussed in class, if you don’t tell your story, someone else would fill in the blanks and in that case a small crisis could escalate into a disaster.

Last but not least, don’t overly rely on outsourcing. Car companies hardly make any parts nowadays. Instead, they assemble cars using parts from outside suppliers. This can certainly cut cost, but at the same time it’s also a risky practice because the quality is hard to guarantee.

Where brand gets personal


It’s the new trend on social media and in the job market—personal branding. Thanks to the increased globalization and advanced technology, the boundaries between work and personal lives are blurring. More and more people are taking social media platform to build their own personal brands.

Personal Branding is all about how you market yourself, to identify and communicate what makes you unique and relevant and to differentiated yourself from your competitors, so that you can reach your career and business goals. Social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook opened doors for us to establish connections with those who can support our career now and in the future.

We touched upon the importance of personal branding in class. Generally speaking, it tells the rest of the world who you are and what you have to offer. A strong and professional personal brand is very powerful because it helps to set you apart and position you as an expert.


We also analyzed some of the CEO blogs in class. Those are all good examples of personal branding and how to integrate personal brand with the company’s brand. Some CEOs have their personal brand closely connected with the company’s brand. It humanizes the company by putting a face to the company. However, it can be a risky strategy because when the CEO or the person represents the company get trapped in scandals, the reputation of the company will definitely be tarnished.

This led us to another question we have discussed: where to draw the line between our personal brand and the brand of the company we are working for? I think that depends on how much you agree with the image of the company and how much you want to represent the company. But you should at least keep your personal image in alignment with the image of your company. If you don’t agree with the messages of a company, you can choose not working there. But when you sign a contract, you automatically give up some of your freedom, and you should keep in mind that your personal brand represents the company’s brand to some extent.

LIVESTRONG moves on as Armstrong stepping down

On Wed October 10, 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a detailed report accusing the legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong doped his way to the top.

On October 17, 2012, Armstrong announced stepping down as the Chairman of LIVESTRONG, a leading cancer-fighting foundation created by Armstrong 15 years ago. The position will be hand over to Jeff Garvey, the founding chair of the organization.

The statement was also posted on the LIVESTRONG website and tweeted by its twitter handle.

Lance Armstrong has already become a brand and the face of LIVESTRONG. It would be better for him to step down as he said “to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career.”

To many people, Armstrong will remain a hero who has conquered cancer. His most recent post on Facebook has got more than 11,000 likes.

As Armstrong stated, he will “remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer.” His latest tweet  praised the work of LIVESTRONG.

As we discussed in class, every organization should has a succession plan in case of sudden, unexpected loss of talents. Succession often indicates some dramatic change within an organization, so the key of a successful succession is to keep the organization stable. Since Armstrong and LIVESTRONG are so closely connected to each other, it’s a good idea the announcement of succession came from both the organization website and Armstrong’s personal website.

In this case, twitter has been used as the main tool to spread the news. The succession announcement was tweeted by LIVESTRONG and retweeted by Armstrong as well, to ensure that this information reach to as much people as possible. Due to the 140 characters limitation, the tweet only gives the title of the statement and a link to the actual statement. But that’s enough. The title is pretty self-explanatory, and for anyone who’s interested in the details of the succession, they can go to the announcement on the website.

VP debate makes the headline



I started browsing the news online this afternoon. Almost all the headlines are about the vice presidential debate that will take place tonight. Each media outlet has its own focus. For example, ABCNews talks about the format of the debate and how it will be different from last presidential debate. CBSNews is more critical about the two debaters and hope it won’t become another meaningless “partisan”. WashingtonPost compares the different debating styles of the two candidates and how they prepared for the debate. But most of them agree that this debate receives higher attention and expectation because of President Obama’s unsatisfactory performance in the first presidential debate. CNNnews goes further by stating that the Democratic Party counts on Biden to reverse the negative media coverage on Obama campaign after the first presidential debate.

I think it would be interesting to see how these media outlets comment on the VP debate, so I wait until midnight for the updates. CNNnews takes a more neutral position and tries to stick to the facts. ABCNews comments more negatively on Biden’s attitude. NYTimes keeps update all the fact-checks along with the debate. Media outlets call this a heated debate and both contenders aggressively challenged each other. It seems most of the reports favor Biden’s performance.

As the most important event in America, the presidential election obviously attracts extensive attention. Every media outlet devotes a large portion of space to cover the presidential campaign. Political is still of great newsworthiness in today’s media climate, especially in a democratic country like America where the freedom of speech is the most valued right of citizens. I went through several other top stories and found that stories of human interests and celebrities are also on trend. As we learnt from the media panel on Wednesday, as PR practitioners, we should always keep an eye on the trends in newsworthiness for today’s mass media, and do a thorough research on the media outlet before we reach out to make a pitch.