Case Study: Urban Decay Razor Sharp Eyeliner

Urban Decay Razor Sharp EyelinerUrban Decay is a cosmetics company known for their edgy, cruelty-free products. Their brand motto is even “beauty with an edge.” However, that edge might be too sharp for some, as a recent social media post on Twitter appeared to glorify cutting and self-harm.

Founded in January of 1996 by Sandy Lerner and Pat Holmes, Urban Decay’s original tagline was “does pink make you puke?” They rebelled against typical cosmetic ideals, producing alternative eyeshadows with names like Acid Rain, Smog, Roach, and Oil Slick.

In their brand statement, Urban Decay encourages customers to “go from a pixie to a vixen, from a rock star to a starlet. Be who you want to be today, just don’t be average. Urban Decay is beauty with an edge. It is feminine, dangerous, and fun.. appealing to celebrities, rock stars and anyone who relishes her individuality and dares to express it.” This statement deeply resonates with their target audience of young adults looking for an alternative cosmetic line.

Urban Decay quickly became known for their products like Perversion mascara or Vice lipsticks shaped like bullets. Their infamous line of Naked eyeshadow palettes caused a stir upon release in 2010. The release of a new product in August 2016, Razor Sharp Liquid eyeliner, was just as heavily anticipated.

The post

Social Media PostTo promote this new eyeliner, Urban Decay created a post on the social media platform Twitter that asked, “Ready for some razor sharp swatches, UDers?” It featured an image of a forearm with carefully drawn, thin and straight lines of eyeliner across it.

This practice of swatching makeup is a common trick in the makeup and beauty world. Beauty bloggers and brands frequently employ this visual to present products as they might appear on your skin. However, the phrase “razor sharp” next to thin lines across a wrist suggested self-harm, also known as cutting, to many Urban Decay Twitter followers.

The negative reaction was instantaneous, with many followers tweeting back their disgust at the potentially triggering image. The post remained live on social media for at least 12 hours, and generated plenty of outrage as well as support for the edgy cosmetics brand.

Social Media Reaction

Social Media Reaction

The response

Urban Decay finally responded with a quick follow-up tweet, explaining to their followers that they swatched on the inner arm “to show texture and shades. We didn’t intend to reference self-harm as the product is named Razor Sharp Eyeliner.” This explanation did not placate followers that believed that the company was mocking or glorifying self-harm. Urban Decay deleted the offending tweet later in the day.

Urban Decay Response

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that that self-harm is a major risk factor for suicide. Between one-third and one-half of U.S. teens have engaged in some sort of self-injury, mostly through cutting and burning. Another shocking statistic is that 70% of teens have made at least one suicide attempt.

Given their target demographic of young adults, Urban Decay’s ignorance of self-harm and suicidal tendencies was shocking to many customers and definitely eye-opening for their digital media and PR departments.

A Reflection on Social Media and PR

As my time at Auburn University comes to an end, I can look back at my coursework and reflect on what I have learned throughout the spring semester. One class, PRCM 3280 (Social Media and PR), definitely stood out.

If you’re a public relations student at Auburn, I absolutely recommend taking the Social Media and PR class. In this digital age, a knowledge of social media and content management is vital for a career as a PR practitioner.

Millennials may think they “get” social media… how hard can it be to tweet, anyway? As digital natives, we assume our peers can handle their own online. But good social media management is the difference between:

  1. Throwing content into the void and hoping for the best, versus…
  2. Knowing that content is reaching and engaging your audience!

Plus, this Social Media and PR class was far from a simple lecture format. Instead, it has improved my writing, increased my Twitter engagement and given me valuable experience working with real-world clients.

increased Twitter ENGAGEMENT

Twitter is one of the staple social media sites that many public relations practitioners incorporate into their social media strategy. This course required three organic tweets each week, plus responses to three classmate’s posts.

I’ve always enjoyed Twitter, but used it mainly as a source of breaking news, funny memes or interesting articles. Thanks to this class, I have learned to manage my Twitter account like a media professional. Our class hashtag quickly became a wonderful source for public relations posts, case study examples and social media tips.

I’m no longer required to tweet on a weekly basis, but will do my best to continue the conversation online with classmates and the multiple social media influencers I’ve interacted with over the course of this class.

Refined writing skills

In addition to our tweets, I wrote a weekly blog post about different topics in social media. This assignment was definitely my favorite since I already enjoy reading, writing and researching about these topics in my free time!

However, this kind of writing is distinctive. In the past, my articles were written for journalism courses and focused on interviews. On this blog, I create content that shares social media knowledge while incorporating relevant research.

This opportunity refined my writing skills and served as an introduction to the world of blogging, whether as a private citizen or corporate entity. It also gave me confidence working with content management systems like WordPress.

Real-world experience

This semester, our class teamed up with Auburn’s School of Communication and Journalism to help improve their presence and engagement on social media.

During the semester, my group and I did both secondary and primary research as well as conducted a communication audit in order to better understand CMJN’s current social media practices. We also worked together in forming a strategic plan to increase their reach and better engage their target audience.

This was a great learning experience for our group since it allowed us to apply what we learned in class to a real-world client. My group has created a full report and will present to CMJN’s social media managers by the end of the semester.

This final project and presentation combined all the strategies that we have learned throughout our Social Media and PR course. This wasn’t the first time I have collaborated within a group to create a successful campaign for clients, and it definitely won’t be the last.

In conclusion, I believe public relations practitioners must embrace the digital age or get left behind by their competitors. Social media is here to stay! Armed with a Hootsuite Certification, I’m more confident than ever to work within the ever-changing world of social media marketing and management.

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to our professor, Dr. Sisson. From PR Fundamentals class to Social Media and PR, you’ve been such an influence on my education and future career. Thank you so much for your constant support moving into this next chapter of life!

For the last time, #Sisson3280.

5 Social Media Skills to Have on Your Resume

Social media coffee mug

It’s crazy to think that 10 years ago, my dream job in social media management simply didn’t exist. Now, the lines separating public relations, marketing, advertising and customer service are all blurred together in the growing world of social media. So whether you’re looking for an internship or job opening, social media skills are guaranteed to be a part of the job description!

Here are five skills you’ll need before applying to a dream job:

1. Writing skills

Writing skills are essential for social media, as status updates, tweets and blog posts are all created through words. In my journalism classes, I lost major points off from each typo in my assignments. I quickly learned to keep my copy clean! Social media platforms are even more unforgiving, and social media managers must become experienced writers, editors, and proofreaders to avoid an embarrassing mistake. An awesome tool for this is Grammarly, which helps correct copy as you are writing it.

2. Social Media Savvy

It might go without saying, but you should have a familiarity with multiple social media platforms. This familiarity goes beyond just Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. New tools and channels emerge every day, and millennials are often expected to be ahead of the curve with this technology. Take some time to research the latest trends, like live streaming videos or relevant memes, and investigate how they could integrate with the rest of your marketing mix.

3. Clear Communication

You will always need to be a clear and concise communicator, no matter the situation. This skill will come in handy whether you’re talking to a journalist in a crisis communications scenario or simply getting feedback through a focus group. Public relations often calls for a special appearance or presentation, so you’ll need to sharpen your public speaking skills and prep for an audience.

4.  Critical Thinking

The challenge is to understand what content is best suited for which channels. Then, you should be able to craft posts that are effective for each specific platform. What follows is the ability to analyze the results of your efforts. For example, you should be able to determine the times that posts get the best engagement, whether your followers like videos more than photos, etc. Each platform has its own analytics tools, but there also third-party options like Google Analytics. These tools can give you valuable data and quantify your results.

5. Creativity

While writing is a major part of the job, the ability to create visual content is just as important. To stand out in the crowd, you need to create a compelling and powerful visual brand across all your social channels. Videographers, photographers and graphic designers are all having their 15 minutes of fame right now! However, anyone can create beautiful graphics in the internet age. For beginners, Canva is a simple design tool that’s much less intimidating (and less expensive) than the Adobe Creative Suite.

My Hootsuite Platform Certification Experience

Hootsuite Infographic

I am thrilled to say that I am now Hootsuite Certified! My Social Media class was required to become Hootsuite Platform Certified this semester. This has been one of my favorite things about the course.

I was fortunate to have worked with Hootsuite as the Director of Public Relations for Auburn Panhellenic. This position required me to post once a day on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Planning out content using Hootsuite made my job much easier.

where i use it

What I love most about this platform is the ability to schedule posts in advance. This saves time and keep my day from being interrupted. Hootsuite even helps me set up different social streams to track relevant content. It also allows me to schedule Facebook posts or save drafts.

In contrast, the Tweetdeck dashboard only allows the user to post or schedule using Twitter. Hootsuite gives control over multiple accounts on multiple channels. However, users don’t yet have the ability to automatically post on Instagram.

Hootsuite Features

Although I knew the basics before taking this course, I learned more about specific marketing and customer service features during the certification process:

  • Reply seamlessly to FAQs with approved drafts
  • Avoid duplicate responses by assigning messages
  • Target messages by location or demographic profile
  • Track efficiency through inquiry response times

In conclusion, I would absolutely recommend becoming certified before entering the workforce. I already know this social media management platform will be incredibly useful to me in a public relations career.

If you would like to learn more about what you can get with this Platform Certification, check out my infographic!

The Best Social Media Channel for Your Content


Pros: Facebook is a true leader as the largest and most active social network in existence. It’s an easy place for a business to get started, and allows for the best possible demographic targeting. It’s also a great platform for running contests and competitions.

Cons: Facebook has become a pay-to-play network and is one of the most competitive platforms to advertise on. Page owners are subject to the whims of the algorithm, and have no guarantee that their content will appear on user timelines. It’s also declining in use among teens and millennials.


Pros: Instagram has been a rising star in social media. This visually pleasing network has higher engagement than Facebook and is the go-to platform for teens and millennials. Instagram allows for creativity while still providing a good structure for beginners. It can also track posts using hashtags like Twitter.

Cons: Instagram is more about branding than selling. It also needs strategic visual content. If you don’t have the talent for photos, Instagram probably isn’t the right platform for you! Sharing photos must be done from mobile devices, and the new sorting algorithm could affect the future performance of posts.


Pros: Twitter is the ideal channel for news, announcements, product launches, trending topics and quick bites of punchy content. Engagement revolves around conversation. It’s a great customer service tool when used to respond to customer complaints or questions. Twitter’s value also lies in its ability for posts to go viral using trending hashtags. It’s now evolving into a top real-time news source.

Cons: Twitter doesn’t give you much wiggle room to get a message out to your followers with its 140 character limit. If you’re targeting an older population, then the people you’ll want to do business with probably aren’t engaged here. It’s also much more difficult to target users based on their behaviors and interests.


Pros: This strong visual branding tool generates direct sales with the help of its “buy-now” button. Pinterest is perfect for promoting products, from clothing and furniture to wedding cakes and gift ideas. Almost 70 percent of Pinterest users are female, but it’s catching on with men too. Well-curated content can easily be shared and viewed by millions.

Cons: Curating the best content onto virtual bulletin boards can be time-consuming and easily overwhelming on this platform. It’s definitely not the best place to target men, and it takes a strong visual appeal to see results. Only use this channel if you have great images to share!


Pros: YouTube has a huge audience as the second most popular search engine. It reaches 81 percent of all Internet users! This platform is perfect for ‘how-to’ tutorials or demonstrations. Advertising is cheap, and you can easily create a brand channel to host videos. YouTube is now owned by Google, so videos are much more likely to appear in search engine results.

Cons: Video production can be expensive and time consuming. While videos can certainly be entertaining and informative, they also need to be high quality to attract an audience. Older visitors tend to spend less time on the site.

You Are What You Tweet

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Blogger, YouTube, Pinterest. Social media provides endless platforms and an endless audience. Everything you share is put on display for the world to see, even if it’s just a cute cat video. You could spend hours crafting the perfect post, to be rewarded with “likes” from your friends, followers and fans… or you could lose your job, respect, and credibility.

First impressions

In the Internet Age, we are increasingly judged by the tweets, posts and pictures we choose to share. A survey by found that more than half of employers use social media profiles to research job applicants and filter out inappropriate candidates. Who could forget the Justine Sacco scandal, when a PR executive pressed send on this tweet before boarding her 11-hour flight: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” By the time she landed in Cape Town, she had been fired and publicly shamed.

If this kind of news tempts you to lock down all of your social media accounts, take a deep breath first. The flip side of this research tells us that a deactivated or private account makes the job applicant look like they have something to hide. You can try to erase your unflattering pictures or delete embarrassing status updates, but nothing is guaranteed private online since the invention of screenshots. Present your best instead of disguising your online presence.

flip the script

Being social media savvy in 2017 means choosing your words with care. Use your platforms for good, not just for promoting constant a highlight reel of your life. I love social media and plan on making a career out of it. I can connect with far-flung friends and family and keep myself updated on world news or trends. It’s a powerful tool that serves as your online representation and can lead to amazing connections. Social media can make an lasting impression and YOU get to decide what that impression looks like. Make it a good one!