Stella Liebeck spills Hot Coffee

A few years ago, I remember hearing about the media scandal of “Hot Coffee.”  My reaction to this old woman, Stella Liebeck, spilling coffee on herself seemed to be a dramatic approach to a story.  To me, it seemed that this old woman was a little clumsy and looking for some extra cash.  

My viewpoint on this specific story remained constant until I was able to watch the documentary, “Hot Coffee,” in class.  Stella Liebeck’s true story was revealed through visuals of her burns.  I was shocked.  This McDonald’s coffee circumstance that I had always thought was a scheme was in fact real.  After the visuals were shown, my stance on this case completely turned around.

My understanding of the situation was broadened through this film.  I quickly understood the role that the PR companies had in covering up this McDonalds crisis.  I was educated on tort reform, which is the protection that big companies have for getting sued for matters such as this one.  Through this documentary, I have learned how hard it is to sue large companies such as McDonalds because of these policies.

If I learned one thing from this documentary and the story surrounding “Hot Coffee” it would be that a PR firm needs to have moral boundaries when engaging with a company.  Looking into the future, I need to be detail oriented while looking into a PR company.  I want to be sure of a PR company’s standards, no matter what amount of money is thrown their way.  Is that agency ready to be held to their standards or are they ready to cover up company’s mistakes?

After watching the “Hot Coffee” documentary in class, we were able to promote this film as if we were working in the field of public relations.  Our goal was to

inform the students of Samford University about the film “Hot Coffee” that was going to be shown on Tuesday April 17.

The class was split up into different sections to reach various areas on campus.  We were able to use individual strengths in the midst of the classroom to prepare visuals, such as posters and brochures.  Also, social media was used through Facebook and Twitter.  It was great to see a classroom filled with so many different talents come together to promote this film.


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