Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A crisis with Crisco

Last night was an interesting evening for me. I was just hanging out with sisters, decided to put Halo 3 away for a change, to watch some quality TV (yes such a thing exists...check out How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory on CBS if you don't believe).

So while the TV was going, we decided it would be a good idea to get some snacks. My sister suggested she would make chocolate chip cookies. Add this to the fact of there being chocolate milk in the house, a great combination was in the making.

However, there was a catch. We had a curious case of Crisco shortening in the fridge. What I mean is we had no idea how long it had been in the fridge and whether it was still good or not. So we decided to check.

My sister hopped on my laptop and searched the Crisco site. It was easy to find the information. But to understand it was a whole other issue. A crisis with Crisco awaited us. Maybe those chocolate cookies weren't going to make it into my stomach tonight.

Now for the PR person, graphic designer, or combination of both who made the website, full marks. It features a nice combination of colours making it look great. But when we came to the Crisco FAQs and needed to know if our shortening was good or not we had more difficulty.

Basically, what you have to do is look at your manufacturing code or the date the shortening was made and find this number on your shortening. So we did that. The following numbers were presented to us: 3 094 201 5361.

Just an aside. In PR, for those of you who don't know, math is not our specialty. Many of us would agree that we cringe when we see a slew of numbers together. It is foreign to us. Well these numbers to me and my sister made us completely lost, more than ever math related problem I have ever come encounter with during my years in PR ever could.

The instructions according to the site would give us the following explanation: the first number is the year it was made...so the first number 3 would be 2003 (go figure)...the next 3 numbers, 094, represent the day of the year the product was made...so the 94st day of 2003 (I'm pretty sure but have no clue).

The second set, 201, are plant codes and have nothing to do with anything (then why are they on the container), and the last four numbers, 5361, is the date the shortening was manufactured in the so commonly used and wonderful...military time.

Needless to say it took a while to decipher the numbers. Were the numbers even deciphered in the first place? I'm not even sure....the cookies tasted good though.

The Crisco crisis gives us a perfect PR example of why your message needs to be clear to your audience at all times. Not just because you could make spoiled cookies. It has more to do with providing your publics with information that is clear, concise, correct, and complete - the Four C's of PR, the pillars of a strong message in PR.

In this case, will most people cooking be able to figure when in fact their shortening expires? Yes? No? Maybe? If you think the answer is not a definitive yes and you have to think about it, make sure it contains the Four C's, and then work on creating a clearer message for the audience you wish to reach.

It isn't worth taking a chance risking it and getting sick over it. Hopefully, I learned my lesson...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm back....

Yes I know it has been a while since I have contributed to this space. The consistency required for blogging can be difficult at times, especially when not part of one's regular routine.

After receiving new video games over the Christmas holidays and into the new year, you can imagine what it was like at my household. (P.S. Halo 3 is incredibly fun gaming online with over 200,000 people worldwide playing at any given moment...video games are indeed for the cool kids). Suffice to say there were enough long nights playing various titles online.

However, with school now in full-time swing again, it is time to put the xbox 360 away and focus on my work and the wonderful world of PR, and all I have yet to learn and uncover in it. Time to get focused again. See you soon.