Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served?

Movie Poster
Movie poster for "Hot Coffee"

Our guest speaker, Stacy Smith, began our class discussing with this question: “What do you know about the lawsuit where a woman sued McDonald’s?”

Seems like a simple enough question. The woman was careless, greedy and wanted attention. The lawsuit was stupid, unnecessary and silly.

Was it though? Through viewing the new documentary, “Hot Coffee” our PR class discovered just how ‘un-silly’ this lawsuit actually was. And how manipulative the media–specifically public relations–can be.

Twenty years ago, manipulating the public was more accepted. Without the Internet and social media being as big as it is today, it was easy for PR practitioners to manipulate public opinion. Citizens didn’t care to research past what they were being told. They took what they could get.

Thankfully today this sort of behavior wouldn’t fly with the public. PR has changed by becoming more transparent and honest.

Smith told us that you can do good today and make money. When presented with a campaign that appears immoral, we should ask ourselves who we are and stick to what we believe is right. These were comforting words to hear, because I believe that the direction the public relations industry is moving in is a great one. The more honest companies are, the more respect they will earn and the better PR professionals will feel about their hand in that process.

I would much rather work in an environment that handles the issues head on rather than ignoring it or spinning it.

In addition, working on the advertising for the showing of “Hot Coffee” on Samford’s campus was great experience for our class, especially myself. I enjoyed created the poster, table tents and coffee sleeves to help promote the documentary.


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