I never once thought I would utter this phrase: “Oh I need to follow Nicki Minaj on twitter!” That all changed when I was scrolling through twitter and saw that the female rapper was throwing out student loan payments last week like LeBron James throwing threes on the Toronto Raptors.
Now I racked up quite the bill while I was in college. I don’t want to bog you down in the specifics, but let’s just say I could sell my kidney on the black market and still not make a dent. For anyone who took out student loans to get their degree, paying them off is a terrifying task. Getting that email from Navient (the company responsible for collecting debts on behalf of the Department of Education) nearly minutes after graduation is like getting a sweet pinata for your birthday only to be whacked in the face by the first blindfolded kid who steps up to break into the candy.
Now when I heard of Nicki Minaj’s unfounded charity, I immediately followed her, but I didn’t stop there. I tweeted at many celebrities in the hopes of starting one of those classic student loan bidding wars between Nicki Minaj and A-list actors. Apparently Chris Pratt and Nick Offerman are too busy to answer my tweets, but they’ll get back to me soon.
This got me thinking though; this is an amazing PR win for Minaj. I mean what is more noble than literally giving back to your fans and combating the corporatization of higher education all in one act. Using your social platform to not just connect with your fans, but to genuinely help your followers with a hot button issue like the rising costs of college education? Bravo, Ms. Minaj, bravo. Seriously, this is one of the best social PR strategies I have ever seen. She even plans to continue being committed to the education of her fans with a financial aid/tuition assistance charity.
Even better, Nicki Minaj isn’t even in hot water! She’s just a kind lady with a large rump and an even larger bank account who scored a totally unneeded PR win. With that in mind, here’s a few CEOs, brands, and one celebrity who I think definitely have the bank account to pay off a few educational expenses and could use the PR win.
Adidas (Nike’s weird cousin)
Full disclosure: I dig Adidas. Maybe it’s simply because they make hockey sweaters for the NHL, Taylormade golf clubs, and really comfy running shoes, but I just prefer the brand to Nike and Under Armor. Which is why I was quite upset to see that somebody inside the Adidas digital marketing department somehow let the worst email subject line of all time out into the world. For those who didn’t see, Adidas sent out an email following the Boston Marathon that read “Congrats! You Survived the Boston Marathon!” Unbelievably tone deaf seeing as how many Americans were horribly injured and three lost their lives as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing. The ONLY reason this didn’t turn into a PR nightmare for the Nike knockoff is because it happened right around the time of the United Airlines debacle, and was completely ignored by just about every major media outlet. Just in case this comes back to bite them in the butt one day, I think Adidas should take all the good PR they can right now. Luckily, the German athletic company is worth $25.2 BILLION. Yeah, I think they can tackle a couple $100k loans for a fair public perception. With a social PR movie a la Nicki Minaj, Adidas can easily make up for their tone-deaf email subject, maybe even crack a few jokes about how they want to educate the next generation of digital marketers to avoid making the same mistake.
Curt Schilling (2001 World Series MVP, Hall of Fame Asshole)
Curt Schilling was a helluva a baseball player, no doubt about that. He also has one helluva mouth that has gotten him in loads of trouble when he was an active player and long into his retirement. He is steadfast in his absurd opinions that have gotten him in trouble with reporters, teammates, coaches, fans, politicians, just about everybody. His most recent and possibly most famous incident came last year when he openly made fun of transgender rights and put his narrow minded stupidity on full display with a serious of tweets in support of the North Carolina bathroom law, in which he was fired by ESPN for (now that’s a good reason to let someone go, ESPN. More on that below). Curt Schilling’s net worth is considerably less than the others on this list at $1 million (he lost his $50 million fortune from baseball trying to start a mediocre video game company.). He definitely can’t take on my student loans, but he could help out some other kids who aren’t as buried in debt and help curb that whole ass hole perception he is constantly putting off (spoiler, zero percent chance Curt Schilling does this, although credit where credit is due, he often donates to the ALS Association). However, helping some kids get through school could be a worthwhile non-partisan social PR win that could help alleviate the divide Schilling has created with left-wing baseball fans.
John Skipper (CEO of ESPN, Layer-Offer)
ESPN recently laid off 100 front facing employees, front facing meaning TV personalities and reporters. Around 50 of the layoffs were to relatively unknown reporters, but there were some high profile personalities like Steeler’s legend Jerome Bettis that we will no longer see analyzing touchdowns. I may be a bit bias, but the worst of the layoffs hit the sports media giant’s hockey staff in the MIDDLE OF THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS FURTHER PROVING ESPN DOESN’T GIVE A PUCK ABOUT HOCKEY- sorry, got a little carried away there. Needless to say, many sports fans are upset, so it may be time be time for a good PR win for the literal Skipper of ESPN, especially after SportsCenter Anchor Sarah Walsh’s gut-wrenching lay off tweet. Skipper’s net worth sits around $15 million, so yeah, he can afford to take one for the team and fund some futures since he just cut so many others. If Skipper REALLY wants to take an easy Social PR win, he should reply to Sarah Walsh’s tweet and offer to put those kids through college, or at least award them some sort of scholarship. Tell me that wouldn’t get thousands of retweets and a touching 30-second story on Buzzfeed.
Oscar Munoz (CEO of United Airlines, Bunny Killer)
I am not ashamed to swing at low hanging fruit, and this is the lowest hanging fruit of them all. Yeah, yeah- what happened to that guy who was dragged off the plane sucked, but the most heinous crime committed by United Airlines was the mishandling of a 3-foot giant rabbit that resulted in the death of said rabbit, which they then cremated without the owner’s permission. Here’s the kicker: this happened a mere ten days after Easter- Hope you enjoyed Easter this year, kids! Because the Easter bunny is now dead, thanks to United Airlines. Mr. Munoz made a total of $18.7 million dollars in 2016, so I thiiiiiink he can afford a few student loan reimbursements here and there. However, in order to sway the PR meter back in the green, I think ol’ Oscar would have to pay off millions of dollars of loans (c’mon man, a giant bunny died a week after you had a man violently dragged off a plane, albeit that guy was being a bit of a turd).
What do you think? Any celebs, brands, or business people who should look into helping out some struggling college grads?