Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Do you remember when children used to play ball outside and when the media was only a newspaper?

Well, things have changed drastically over the past few years and with the spike in media platforms, the role of a PR has skyrocketed because now there is even more turf to play on.

Our youth are exposed to social media, television and influencers daily. The way that children act is directly influenced by what they see — and you, dear PR pro, are in control of what you want to put out there.

Still not convinced? Well, surveys have shown that 90% of teens between the ages of 13 and 19 have access to social media. Now, ask yourself the question: Where do you showcase most of your campaign efforts to build your brand image? On social media of course! And are you certain that your image and outputs are PG-13?

Whatever the campaign, communication or press release that you create, you need to be certain that your work doesn't bring harm to the upbringing of the youth, but that you are conscious of your social responsibility towards them.

So PR pro, let media update's Jana van der Westhuizen highlight some important traps that can make your PR campaign a danger to our youth.

Listen up and let's make your PR reputation PG-13: 

Misconception is a big no-no

As a PR pro, it is your responsibility to be able to distinguish the truth from unreliable sources. You need to look at your media campaigns with a more critical eye, putting yourself in the shoes of your viewer and especially the youth. Misconception can easily take place in any campaign. 

The best way to not fall prey to this trap is to stop and look at how your brand message will be perceived. When looking at your campaign, a misconception is one of the biggest elements targeting our youth. 

For example, a misleading campaign can lead children to experience body issues. If you create a campaign to sell a certain clothing brand and you use the same body type over and over, children with a different body type may think that they won't look good in those clothes. 

Creating a false image can cause serious damage to children's mental and physical health.
Instead of focusing on selling your brand in a pushy manner, rather take an inclusive approach

Dove takes a more body-positive angle to their PR campaigns and regularly advocates for body positivity and inclusivity.

In the above, Dove created an ad, which allowed its audience to see the true reflection of how women perceive themselves versus how strangers see them. This supports the message that they can be comfortable in their own bodies. No misconception there!

Playing on emotion is never the answer

Without even knowing you might be playing with a child's heart that has been through abuse, bullying or even the loss of a parent. It is important to notice that whatever campaign you are running, emotions are real.

Children sometimes turn to the media for some comfort and to escape from their daily lives. Whether it is online games, television or just flipping through a book — they use social platforms to get a feeling of belonging.

Now, imagine if you take a child back to a place where they feel abandoned or hurt by your campaign? Now that will leave them with more issues than before they ever clicked on the play button.

GoDaddy is an example of a brand that launched a controversial campaign that capitalised on pulling heartstrings. 

This campaign tells a story of a puppy that was lost and managed to find his way home. Yet, the moment when he got home his owners were so relieved because they wanted to sell him online with no care in the world. Many children could have watched this and felt loss and sorrow.

Emotions can easily influence the attributes of a child's growing stage. So, let's not mess with their feelings or bring up a memory they don't want to relive!

Don't name bash to get your brand across

As adolescents, a child's mind is like a sponge. Whatever they see or hear is not easily forgotten. As a PR professional you have the ability to shape children's views and values from a certain viewpoint by what you say and how you make them feel.

We live in a society where there are many opinions, and you need to be sure that what you are putting out there is not merely your opinion on a matter, but the actual truth.

Bashing a brand, authority or an opponent's political views in your campaigns will not do your client's brand image any favours. Instead, it will create a polarised view within children's minds.

Let children decide what they want to believe in and let them have a say in how their value system is shaped — don't try to create a perception for them by bad mouthing and portraying your own objective view.

So PR pro, get your parental mode, on!

Do you think that being more child conscious in your PR campaign can make a difference to our youth? Share your thoughts about it in the comments section.

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*Image courtesy of Pexels