“Hot Coffee” heats up Samford campus

Movie Poster
"Hot Coffee" is now available for purchase on DVD.

Years ago, when I first became aware of the McDonalds coffee burning situation I rolled my eyes annoyed at public America. I was annoyed that people fabricated and exaggerated the truth just to receive a payback.

And then I watched a documentary, “Hot Coffee.” The images shown of coffee burns from McDonalds looked like they should have killed someone. It seemed as if coffee could not possibly do anything of the sort—actually eating through Stella Liebeck’s skin.

For years the media had led me to believe that Americans, like Liebeck, will manipulate anything for money. Instead, it is the PR companies that agree to work alongside large corporations to cover up crisis.

Tort reform, which protects companies for getting sued for frivolous matters, is the focus of the movie “Hot Coffee.” The law has made it so difficult to sue large companies for problems of which they should be sued.

More than anything, watching this film made me realize the ethical dilemma for public relations firms. They have to ask, should we represent this large company and mask their wrongdoings? In return making a large amount of money. That choice I am sure is something they are faced with on a daily basis. A PR company must set their own standards for who and what they will represent. It is hard to stick to your word when you are presented a large amount of money, but is it right to cover up someone’s mistakes?

Hot Coffee
Jenna Young hangs posters in the University Center to advertise movie to students.

Notifying students about the event on Samford’s campus is similar to raising awareness in a community. Our class distributed posters, spoke to organizations, advertised to teachers and specific majors, and used social media to reach potential viewers. PR requires knowledge in many outlets on how to successfully reach people. It was great having a team of students, with various talents and abilities, to reach the Samford community.


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