Introduction Public relations refer to two way communications between a company and the public; it is designed to strengthen the relationship between these two parties so as to move a company towards achievement of its goals and values. Some of the major functions linked to public relations include planning, researching, communicating and evaluating one’s outcomes. Nike is a multinational company based in Oregon – US. It is sportwear provider and also deals with equipment supplies. Its product range varies from athletic shoes, to sports apparel to sporting accessories and equipment.
It is a fortune 500 company with approximately $ 18.627 billion dollars worth of revenue (by 2008). The company has several stores located worldwide and these stores are called Nike towns. Given the magnanimity of Nike’s operations and its success, one cannot undermine the importance and influences that public relations have had on this company. The essay shall look at how the company has been affected by this phenomenon in greater detail. Press agentryPress agentry entails the use of third parties – usually professionals in public relations – that disseminate information through the press after carefully preparing it.
Nike has made use of press agentry in circumstances where it has been the object of discussion if it has had to clear its name off any wrong doing. An example of an experience in which the company used this method occurred last year i. e. 2008. At that time, an Australian based news company aired an undercover story in which Nike manufacturers in Malaysia were found guilty of employing forced labour. At that time, it was found that the concerned parties were living in squalid conditions and that the company had to respond to this expose.
Nike used press agents in order to address the problem where it made a press statement that it would correct that action. More is yet to be seen about this corrective action but the press statement was intended on calming the public’s tempers especially those who began thinking of Nike as an oppressive employer. It should be noted that the use of press agents and several letters in response to the numerous criticisms against this company’s conditions has led to a number of legal battles.
In the year 2002, a consumer advocate known as Kasky was responsible for a law suit known as the Kasky vs. Nike case. Here the plaintiff claimed that Nike had made false claims in its press releases and that this was false advertising. However, Nike responded to those accusations by claiming that anything classified as public information should be protected by the First Amendment. However, the judge presiding over this case took the plaintiff’s side by claiming that their forms of communications were categorised as commercial speech.
Eventually the two parties were able to settle their dispute out of court. What this did for Nike’s publicity was that it tarnished its image as being a protector of its respective consumers. Consequently, its press releases were placed under heavy scrutiny owing to the fact that they were treated as being false.