Word Play: Don’t Screw It Up (FAIL: “Black Olives Matter”)

By Brian Murnahan
In the world of Public Relations, we often use word play to get peoples attention, draw out a news tie-in or otherwise spice up our writing. If done well, word play can be very advantageous for our clients. On the other had, it is not hard to really screw up either. Over the past year or so, the “Black Lives Matter” campaign has brought a great deal of attention to the treatment of African American’s by law enforcement.
Black Olives Matter PR FAILIn return, in a play on words, campaigns for “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” along with others have popped up in hopes to drive home a similar message. In response, many people have been offended, in all honest by each of the above mentioned campaigns for one reason or another, ranging from the implication that only black lives matter to white lives matter more.
Sadly, one pizzeria owner in New Mexico thought that they would create their own play on words with “Black Olives Matter” and thus the fallacy of all press is good press was made evident to the owners who have taken a beating near and far for their tone-deaf use of the paraphrased and politically contentious campaign.
In PR, using the events already in the public eye is a key to gaining additional press for a business or cause, but you must be ever so careful not to overstep the bounds of decency, which be done easily with little or poor research.

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