Reflections

Well here it is, the last post. This is definitely a weird exercise as I attempt to articulate the last semester for me. Looking at it right now, this class kicked my butt, but I also feel like it gave me a lot of great opportunities to really confirm whether or not I am in the right major. Before entering this class I was told that it was going to be my hardest class as a PR major and that I better be okay with a lot of long nights, and just a few tears, if I let it get out of control.

However, I can sit here now and reflect on my preconceived notions, my expectations, and my final thoughts and I feel pretty good. I feel like I tamed the monster that is the plan book and that I currently sit in pretty good shape, I feel confident in my work and my ability. I came into this class with what I feel is a unique experience, I work for a PR firm currently and although my daily work resembles this, this class helped correct some bad habits I had gotten and gave me some great insight and tools into how I can take my current job to the next level.

In my Pre-PR Reflection piece I state, ” I view PR as a job that requires a lot of organization, a commitment to meticulous planning, and a dedication to being the most educated person in the room” Through the process of primary and secondary research for the client, I now have a much greater understanding of how to be informed. I learned that it is more than just knowing the information to impress a client, it is about finding ways to use that information to make meaningful and relevant conclusions. My thought process now is that every piece of research is a needle, and knowing when to pull which shiny needle and how to use it best is the most important part of doing all the work. Sure, it’s great to be able to impress a client enough to get the job, but keeping the client by doing exemplary work is what is the most important. I now view PR as a job where a commitment to excellence is the most important part. In my mind, those who proactively approach excellence are the ones who will be successful. How quickly can you adapt? But most importantly, how hard are you willing to work to make it all come together.

As I worked on the planbook I realized that a lot of the work that we do may not get consciously recognized by our client, but that doesn’t make them any less important. The biggest struggle for me for this class was to realize that it was more than just a grade, and that I was contributing to someone’s service in what could be a very real way. I had to tell myself to not look at the rubrics and do the minimum, because this is an assignment that is leaving the classroom and has my name attached to it. That thought process helped me to create a piece of work that I am very proud to hand in both my professor and to my client.

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Reflections

Evaluation

PR is always changing and as technology grows, so does its capacity to measure the effectiveness of different strategies and tactics. As measurements and evaluations get easier so too does it hold PR professionals to a higher standard.  “Joining abstract promises of accountability with concrete evaluation initiatives” (Brock, 1986) `Evaluation is not just the act of determining success, but it also allows for PR professionals to evaluate how they will go about solving similar problems in the future. Evaluation is not just reflective, it is also predictive.of future events.

PR does not exist in a vacuum and people generally tend to act the same way, evaluation is the step in the process where you can look back and see what worked, but you can also look at the publics that you interacted with, what (if anything) was successful about the campaign, and then draw (hopefully) meaningful conclusions about the work that was done and how it could be improved or changed for the future. Evaluation also of course allows for the chance to reflect on work that was already done and give non biased reflection on this work.

However, this can lead to an ethical problem. PR firms are only useful if they are improving some aspect of their clients lives. If during the evaluation process, it is discovered that a main goal was not reached, or that evaluative statistics do not shed positive on a campaign, then the PR firm may be inclined to report either false or tampered evaluations out of vanity (Place, 2015). Obviously, best practices would indicate that to achieve long term honest success, lying about the evaluation ends up hurting everyone and it only contributes to tainting the field and lowering the standards for PR professionals everywhere. Although it may not be ideal, reporting accurate evaluation results and making conclusions based off those accurate results is the key for reflection and transparency. The world of PR is constantly evolving and if an individual is reporting false data then they are refusing to evolve and change with the improved methods and avoiding the dreaded self reflection.

Although it may be easier to ignore the innovations and continue to work the same way, it is the only way to be effective in the world of PR. When a strategy is not working, it either needs to be tweaked or replaced, if that conversation never happens, then it is dishonest and in direct contrast to PR best ethical practices. Even in the event that a PR firm reports false information to a client then does a private critical self evaluation, how do they then justify making any changes to any strategies? Why would a client want to tweak or trash a strategy if it is already working? Even in this situation where ideas are being generated, it is impossible for the firm to test them out to see if they are of any kind of real value. Without useful insights and a platform to test out the conclusions, evaluation isn’t worth doing (Kazokiene, Stravinskiene, 2011).

References:

Brock. T. C. (February 1986) Public relations for evaluation. American journal of evaluation. 7(1)  57-62.

Kazokiene, L. Stravinskiene, J. (February 1, 2011) Criteria for the evaluation of public relations effectiveness. Engineering economics 22(1) 91-105.

Place, K, R. (March 12, 2015) Exploring the role of ethics in public relations program evaluation. Journal of public relations research. 27(2)

Evaluation

Social Media

Social media is the biggest technological advancement in the 21st century. It creates a large online community the enables the sharing of information and news.  Social media allows for many great things to happen. As great as it is, and as many advantages as it can give us, it can also cause a few problems like the over sharing of information.

I use Twitter mainly for quick news and to market myself. Twitter allows me to follow so many diverse information sources. Over three quarters of the accounts that I follow are devoted to sports. Twitter is the first website I visit each day. I check what happened in sports the day before and then I proceed to read various blogs if anything catches my eye.  “Criticism is also a kind of reportage, and Twitter is an ideal way of breaking news,” (Kirsch, 2013)This is another one of my main uses for Twitter. The amount of news on it makes it quite easy to stay up to date with current events. The diversity of information that Twitter grants me is the main reason that it is my social media outlet of choice. I see other people using it as a way of sharing information about their own lives.  It usually ends up with a few pictures posted and a few sweeping statements about their lives.

Beyond that, most people use Twitter as a way to express their opinions and exercise their voice. Whether that be with politics, or other pertinent news it allows people to voice their ideas and perhaps have a conversation about it on a platform that can, at times, give people a diverse and almost global perspective on topics. #BlackLivesMatter is a great example of the advantages of Twitter, where each opinion is given equal weight. Twitter has recently become a way to accelerate a perspective on a medium that has become increasingly for activism. Many people see the media and Public Relations as the same entity, however, it is quite different and things like #BlackLivesMatter is a great example of this kind of difference. (Kaul 2013)

I am on Facebook more than Twitter, however I find that I am much less active on Facebook. I use it more to keep up with my friends lives by looking at their old pictures or  posts. I also use Facebook to chat with my friends, something that is hard to do on Twitter. I used to use Facebook for all my social media purposes, however, when I added Twitter into my social media cannon my activity on Twitter replaced my activity on Facebook. I haven’t posted a status in what seems like years, but I tweet every day. Despite my increased activity on Twitter, I still spend more time on Facebook than on Twitter.

I find that many of my friends use Facebook the same way I do; with limited activity but high frequency. However, I have many friends that use Facebook as a way to advertise themselves for a business, skill, or hobby that they have. Some of my friends are aspiring musicians or artists and they use Facebook as a way to generate interest and spread the word of their aspiration in hopes of an internet connection.

Moving forward I think social media will grow even more and become an extremely important part of everyone’s lives. It will make the world smaller and smaller and connect us more and more. Amanda LittleJohn said the following in an interview, “While I don’t believe the press release is dead, it has been transformed, to become this living, breathing thing.”  She goes on to say that every release has to have a social element or it has no legs. I think social media has already altered PR so much and as social media grows so will PR.

References

Kaul, V. (Spring 2013) PR and the media: friends or foes? Global Media Journal.(6) (1) [58-90]

Swallow, E. (2010, August 16). The future of public relations and social media.

October 30, 2013, from http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/

Kirsch, A. (2013, October 29). How has Twitter changed the role of the literary critic.

       

 

Social Media

NFL Crisis Management

The NFL has had a myriad of crises in the last few years. When I was asked to pick a crisis to talk about, there were almost too many football crises to choose from, from Michael Vick’s dogfighting scandal, to Ray Rice’s domestic abuse video, to Adrian Peterson’s child abuse, to “DeflateGate”,  and even the Washington Redskins insistence on keeping their racist and bigoted team name and mascot. However, the most prevalent crisis in the NFL is what continues to plague them today, and will for the foreseeable future, player concussions.

It is not necessarily surprising that gigantic men who collide with each other constantly over an almost 3 hour period are going to suffer from some head injuries, well, unless you are making public statements from the NFL that is, as Paul Tagliabue, former NFL Commissioner, recently “Concussions is one of these pack journalism issues, frankly… the number is relatively small.  The problem is, it is a journalistic issue.” Although this is just one, it is representative of a larger pattern of the NFL’s attitude on this issue. This is a great example of poor crisis management. As the NFL in this case does not address the severity of the problem that they are presented and makes the media their enemy, something that can never be to your advantage through the lens of PR. The NFL refuses to take responsibility for this issue, dismisses it as journalistic fear mongering, which ultimately reflects on a lack of sympathy and empathy for players whose future health and well-being is at stake.

Ideally, in this situation the NFL makes a general statement including their desire to keep the game safe and that they will conduct a scientific investigation on the prevalence of concussions in the NFL and any possible ways to reduce them. However, the NFL did not do this, and instead covered up the health dangers for their players. When a crisis occurs, it is always important to come at your audience with a sense of regret, sympathy, and empathy. However, the NFL blatantly disregards this and instead chose to come at the situation with a sense of pretentious, hostile apathy. This attitude has been compared to the way that cigarette companies ignored and disregarded the links between cigarettes and cancer (Dabscheck, 2014).

However, after this information had come to light, the NFL conceded that although concussions may occur rather frequently, that they were not serious, despite mountains of scientific and medical research that completely contradicted those claims, ” These consequences can include motor, cognitive, and behavioural impairment sometimes associated with the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)” (Nierengarten, 2011)

So to recap, so far the NFL has shown an almost amazing disregard for the media, demonizing them and accusing them of fear-mongering, showing what was earlier described as a pretentious, hostile apathy. It appears as though the PR team for the NFL looked at a how-to guide for crisis management, and decided to do everything the opposite. When ESPN approached them with the intent to be their ally in this case(after all they have a lot of stake in the continued success of the NFL) the NFL refused to comment and was quoted several times during the outbreak and development of this story with poor statements like, “no comment,” or “we will not have any comments today” do almost only harm. (Marketing Communications Collective) Refusing to talk about the situation only makes the audience more suspicious and distrustful of the brand.

It is almost hard to call this a case of poor crisis management, because one has to reasonably ask the question; did the NFL even attempt to manage this crisis?

References:

Dabscheck, B. (2014). League of denial: The NFL, concussions and the battle for the truth. Labour & Industry: A Journal of the Social and Economic Relations of Work, 24(2), 161-163. doi:10.1080/10301763.2014.91579

Marketing Communications Collective. (September 10, 2014). Crisis management, nfl style. https://lgkmarketingmatters.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/crisis-management-nfl-style/

Nierengarten, M. B. (2011). Neurologists weigh in on sports-related concussions. Lancet Neurology, 10(4), 302-303. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(11)70058-8

NFL Crisis Management

PR: Why Research At All?

Knowledge is power. Using this old adage as a guide, the more you know in the PR world, the better you can do your job.  As technology improves and knowledge becomes easier and easier to attain, it becomes much more important to know more. As the world innovates, PR can innovate along with it.

Things happen very quickly in the world of Public Relations. As a result of this fast moving world, it is important to be prepared for anything. There isn’t always time to lay a foundation after things happen, a lot of times you have to be prepared for any situation, so, when a crisis happens, you have the knowledge to take care of it effectively and efficiently.  “No matter what level employee you are – from interns to senior account executives –every decision you make has an impact on your team. With that said, research is critical to making informed decisions,” (Sanchez, 2013)  It is incumbent upon us all when working in Public Relations to use every piece of relevant information attainable to make the best and most responsible decisions that put us or our clients in the most advantageous positions. Doing research puts us in the position to make intelligent and informed decisions quickly. Since it is hard to predict crises, creating the best and most functional foundation for management may be a lot of extra work, but when the inevitable crisis hits, it can reduce stress and make the management of the situation much easier to deal with. Like Laurel English stated in her paper titled, Public Relations in the Real World or Business “Public relations research provides the foundation for almost everything communicators do”(English, n.d.).

Not only does research allow us to make more responsible and informed decisions, it also allows us to grow and innovate Public Relations. We can research current events and understand how they relate to our clients brands and goals, or we can do research to do see how similar PR firms have handled similar situations with comparable brands. By employing this strategy into our research, we are able to innovate the PR world by constantly improving common practices. The blog Progression from Publicity writes the following, “Nestle lost the trust of its publics because of boycotts promoted by interest groups. Nestle did not address the issue until years later. Nestle worked with the National Association of Infant Food Manufactures to end all supplies of infant formula in developing countries and to be continuously committed to ending free baby food supplies to hospitals of third world countries”  (Smith, 2001). If a client came to a PR with a comparable product issue, we could use this as a precedent to show the client how not to act. In this example, Nestle avoided the media and avoided the problem. However, this was shown to be an ineffective and maybe even destructive tactic. Since we have this knowledge today, we know that there are much more effective tactics and strategies to deal with customer issues in a Public Relations arena. However, if a client came to us and we had neglected research, we might be prone to make the same mistakes as previous PR firms had made. Research can be extremely effective to innovate the PR world due to technological improvements and the increased ease of acquisition of information.

References:

English, L. (n.d.). Public relations research in the real world of business. English Communications. Retrieved from http://www.english-communications.com/downloads/WP_Research_chapter.pdf

Sanchez, C. (2013, September 24). 3 Reasons why research is crucial to effective public relations. Retrieved from http://www.webershandwickseattle.com/2013/09/3-reasons-why-research-is-crucial-to-effective-public-relations/

Smith, J. (n.d.).  Research becomes important. Progression from publicity. Retrieved from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/jsmith/cocoon.html

PR: Why Research At All?

Pre PR Reflection

When I was a senior in high school, I had my first PR internship. The firm I worked at was hired to work on two separate political campaigns throughout the year. The first one was to coordinate the campaign. During this process I created literature and delivered them to possible constituents. I would also help to plan several different events and fundraisers for the candidate. The second client hired as an extension of their campaign to work on fundraising and community engagement. I spent a lot of time calling names from a list and asking for money, as well a lot of time planning events and fundraisers. I was given a unique opportunity to work at a small understaffed and quickly growing PR firm. I was given responsibility that under normal circumstances I would not have had and as a result I learned a lot and was given the opportunity to gain real experience as a very young high school student.

I currently work for a PR firm based out of downtown Detroit. We service mainly high profile professional athletes. My job at the PR firm is to work with clients on their brands and social media management. During the summer I worked in the office and attended client meetings, however now that I am at school, I work off my computer. This job has definitely taught me a lot about PR. When I envisioned PR before, I thought about a bunch of frantic people doing a hundred things at a time. In my experiences, I view PR as a job that requires a lot of organization, a commitment to meticulous planning, and a dedication to being the most educated person in the room. Due to the geographic positions and interests of my clients, most of the time I am working is spent doing research. I set up an email exclusively for google alerts of my clients. I spend roughly 5 to 10 hours a week just reading about my clients and their personal and professional interests. As their brand manager it is my job to know all about current events and deal with them all accordingly.

I spent a lot of time with one client in particular this summer. He was being featured on a documentary series on CNN. The show attempted to find the most inspiring entrepreneur in the country. After a few meetings we talked about strategies to propel his brand and increase his platform. Through research we found the times at which his twitter following was most active and which tweets were performing the best and we targeted those times to get people thinking about his company and to get them to support his brand. This client in particular taught me quite a bit. He asked me to deliver a unique PR campaign because he was a unique person with a unique business and a unique goal. Even though it wasn’t always easy and we didn’t always agree on different strategies, we were eventually able to figure out an effective strategy to grow his brand while staying true to his values.

I am very excited for this class. I think that CAP 220 can strengthen my foundation and give me the tools to perform my job better. Although I have about 3 years of experience working in PR, most of that experience has been in places where I wasn’t prepared or trained for the jobs I was doing. Through hard work I taught myself a lot, but this class will hopefully give me the opportunity to do my job better and more efficiently.

Pre PR Reflection

The future of Collaboration

The current workplace system consists of a bunch of people working together in an office to complete a specific project. However I think that this process will change quite quickly with the advent of social media and technology. The new social media and technology is shrinking the world. It allows me to collaborate with someone halfway across the world and be as effective and efficient as working with someone who works in the same office as I do. We can video chat, share documents, use the cloud, all of these things allow us to share information and work in ways that were impossible before.

The shrinking world will eliminate a lot of the bad businesses and firms that exist. Thus, collaboration will occur between business and client from great lengths. The idea of a “virtual team” will be critical to almost anyone a part of the workforce in the near future. People will need to be more efficient and have a higher quality finished product if they want to be successful. The ability to adapt will be the biggest skill for any future worker. When collaborating with other people it will be imperative to grow with the field, whatever it may be, and be able to work with anyone around the world. The virtual team concept is expounded upon by Michael Watkins, he talks about the need for balance between reliance on technology in relation to legitimate face to face communication. I find Watkins argument on this to be faulty. I think that this style of collaboration will save businesses so much money that they will be unwilling to invest the proper funds to make their virtual team meet in person to get a feel for each other. I think that it is much more likely that this initial meeting will turn into a meeting on Skype or a similar network and each member will dedicate an hour or so to get know each other and assign roles to complete the task.

Getty Images            Technological breakthroughs will without a doubt determine the future of collaboration. The more networks we have available to us the more we get to broadcast our thoughts and ideas. This is crucial to the idea of collaboration. The more people we have that can comment and provide juxtaposition to our original idea the more we are forced to think about our ideas. The more we think about our ideas, the more educated and intelligent we become. This concept alone will strengthen collaboration. Mike Schnaffner says that, “Collaboration technology can also be a vehicle for people to put forward their opinions and allow others to comment and discuss the merits of someone’s positions.” The idea of two brains being better than one can be expanded to 5 brains is better than one. Or even 100 brains is better than one. The more brains you have present the stronger and more confident your idea can become.

Schaffner, M. (2010 , January). How Technology Enhances Collaboration. In Forbes. Retrieved November 19, 2013

Watkins, M. (2013, June). Making virtual teams work: ten basic principles. In Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 19, 2013

The future of Collaboration