Post Class Reflections

Upon completion of the course, CAP 220 has my head spinning. I think that’s natural, however. I expected to come out of the course with a full grip on Public Relations, but I feel as if I’ve only identified the handle. That doesn’t mean I’m clueless to what PR is: my blog in the beginning had a pretty good idea. I’m aware of what PR is, but through this course I’ve adopted a modified, personal version that seems to fit well; Public Relations is the field of relationship building and image/identity sculpting in order to help the client in the best way possible to meet their desired outcomes. Public Relations is about problem solving, and making ends meet even if you don’t know where they begin. Public Relations is like a shot in the dark, but then you conduct research and buy night vision goggles. Public Relations is quite a bit of fun.

I think the moment when I realized PR could be so fun is when the class sought to establish a goal for the campaign. We switched classrooms because of the uncomfortable heat in the first one, but somehow we managed the raise the temperature of the second room even higher. The class may have argued, and I might’ve been told to use my inside voice, but building off of one another’s ideas to make the best composite representation possible for the client had my neurons firing faster than before. I learned that sometimes it’s okay to let someone else take control, and my ideas aren’t always the best. Teamwork can be the best way to come up with ideas.

When the GVSU alumna came in and outlined her job in PR at Weber Shandwick, I further understood the roles that PR takes on. Among other fields, there’s much to learn about PR and crisis management, and she did a wonderful job highlighting her role in GM’s crisis. I expand on some similar ideas in my crisis blog post. Crisis management is one of many facets of PR, but through this course, it has managed to be one of my main interests. I’m excited to continue this major to learn more about it.

At the end of this course, we turned in our biggest assignment, the one that scared us all in the beginning, the plan book. I had expected myself to do exceptionally well on this project, as I am a PR major. Despite my early expectations, I failed. Without giving myself enough time, and letting outside stressors get the best of me, I set myself up to fail. I learned another lesson: PR takes time. I cannot pull a plan book out of thin air, and no one can. I am so disappointed in myself. But this doesn’t mean I’ve given up; I’ve only just begun. Hitting a personal rock bottom only means there’s nowhere but up to go, right? As I pick myself up and dust off the rubble of a failure, I also pick up notes of time management and dedication.

As I venture on into my Ad&PR experience at GVSU, I feel confident CAP 220 has equipped me with a tool belt to help me succeed. I’ve met some stellar classmates who inspire me to think harder, and some stellar instructors who inspire me to think better. As the inner workings of PR continue to reveal themselves to me, I’ll work even harder.

reflection-blog

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Blog Your Way to PR Stardom

I think I’ve fallen in love. Cupid must have got me while I was writing, for my heart beats proudly for blogging. I was never into blogging until I began my studies in Public Relations, so basically I didn’t know it existed until two months ago; now I’m infatuated with all the fun in creating your own website and writing about your passions. I mostly write about PR. Go figure, the PR major writing about PR. I write about PR because I find it interesting, but I also write about PR because it’s a useful tool in the industry.

Blogs are more than just online journals to proclaim your passions. They provide information from industry experts, and highlight relevant hubbub in the news. Think of blogs like a conversational writing about news and industry passions; at least, that’s how I look at them. Through writing about your industry, more specifically PR, you can learn more and grow as a professional. PR is a field especially catered to the usefulness of blogging. Since it’s a communication field centered in relationship building, it only makes sense to put your thoughts and ideas on the center of communication: the internet. By being an active blogger in PR, some may even regard you as an industry expert. Writing on the latest search engine optimization trick, or recounting the events of an important conference, both educates your readers and enhances your expertise simultaneously.

Typing up awesome blogs is not only a good skill for yourself, but it’s also a good skill for your clients. PR has a lot to do with presence and image, so having a blog for your clients establishes their place and spices up their image. By advocating a coherent and special brand for your client, they’re sure to cover some ground and beef up their business. When potential customers or donors (depending on what organization you’re representing) are on the internet, they are much more likely to come across the represented business if there’s a blog for it. It will show them the wealth of knowledge behind the business, and the business’ willingness to educate their readers. You know what they say, sharing is caring. Sharing information to readers shows that you care.Placeholder Image

Podcast Reflections: Hung-up on PR Hangover

As a member of my university’s chapter PRSA, known as the PRSSA, I am exposed to many opportunities. One in particular happens to be a student run podcast dubbed “PR Hangover”. The podcast is run by the chapter’s VP of Social Media, Kelly Darcy, who was kind enough to invite me onto this new communication medium. I can’t even begin to tell you how fun it was.

The podcast centered around our previous meeting of PRSSA. At this meeting, we had the chance to meet the faculty at Grand Valley State University who are associated with the APR program. Public relations is all about networking, and the students were actually networking with the faculty! Such a rich networking adventure listening to the personal experience held behind the title of professor. Titles that draw formal boundaries, like professor for example, can make it hard for some to relate to the people standing behind these titles; big titles make people feel small. This open forum presented at the PRSSA meeting erased those boundaries. To hear further on this notion, give the podcast a listen.

Being a part of PRSSA grants me the opportunity to keep fostering my love for public relations, and being a part of the podcast allows me to express that love. Also, I get to chuckle endlessly with K. Darcy, so what tops that? The podcast has a fusion of conversation and education that has me enamored. The next one that I get to be a part of is TBD, but I’m sure it’ll be soon enough. Why so sure? Well, if the podcast was THAT amazing the first time, there’s reason a second can’t be too far along. gvsu-prssa

Crisis Communications Model: Sochi Slip Up and My Gossip Addiction

I don’t think there’s anything juicier than a scandal. I’m not referring to Kerry Washington making out with the leader of the United States, but instead a real life crisis dripping in detail. If I’m being quite honest, I live for crisis. Well, I actually live for gossip, but the commonalities between crisis and gossip fuel my fire. One fire that needed putting out was the Under Armour speed skate suit crisis at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

Rivaling other athletic outerwear companies has been a main priority of Under Armour, so having their suits be worn by the Olympic Skating Team was a big step for them. What could go wrong, right? It’s not like the ski team was going to epically lose and not place medals, right? Spoiler alert: that happened. The newest suit, the Mach 39, was worn in the qualifier games instead of an older UA suit previously worn. When top skaters weren’t skating at mach speed, the media pounced, slicing under the armor of Under Armour, giving birth to a crisis on an international playing field; however, UA’s expertise in crisis management allowed them to shirk away most of the negative light.

The proactive piece of their elite response starts with issues tracking. UA spotted The Wall Street Journal calling out the potential connection between the new suits and the poor athletic performance. Having such a notorious news source point fingers at you underlines the gravity of the crisis on hand. Monitoring the media was a big part of UA’s success in handling the crisis. Public opinion of the suit reflects public opinion of the company itself, and with a large influencer speaking ill of the suit, the brands image is affected thusly. The public’s opinion changes swiftly, and large communicators like the WSJ create sub arenas for which opinions are formed (Coombs & Holladay, 2014). The aforementioned sub arenas are where the opinions of the people come to fester. Perhaps the crisis campaign could’ve tapped into these areas for a more informed outlook of the beginnings of the campaign.

Moving onto the strategic phase, I think it’s important to note how well UA positioned themselves with their crisis management plan. By using the CEO and other lofty officials, they decided to stand their ground, and communicate their zero fault to the media. It’s one thing to own up to your criticisms, and then it’s a whole other rigmarole to refute the criticisms. I think this worked out in UA’s favor because this protected the brand from other product criticism. If this one product was admittedly at fault, there might be other products subject to curiosity. By silencing the nay-sayers here and now, that could prevent them from further scrutiny.

Reacting to the crisis and implementing the plan is what takes this example of crisis PR to gold standard. By using the people in charge of the company to publicly defend the product they were able to come off authoritative and in check with product knowledge. Miltenberg points out how important it is to have a face in front of the mics, and not a finger above the keys (2013). Perhaps this same strategy, CEO standing their ground, is what soars the campaign above the rest. There truly is no one like the head honcho to speak for the company. Writing articles for prime news sources would not have cut it in this situation. Another strong point for the campaign was the announcement of UA’s eight year sponsorship with the Olympics. Not only did this crisis platform shut down criticism, it promoted the company’s positive future. It also shows (once again) they’re not scared of future scrutiny.

That last part had a lot to do with the company’s recovery as well. The installment of an eight-year renewal with the Olympics helps the company keep a good reputation with the publics. Luckily they didn’t retaliate against any athletes talking down on the suit, for they would have had to make a whole other campaign with the goal of making the company look like less of an upset bully impermeable of outside opinion.

A big factor that I think makes this campaign so successful is the dedication to future success.  Their strategies seem to point to the future instead of dawdling on the present, almost as if they can distract the public from the crisis. You can’t distract me from the gossip, but perhaps the publics aren’t as enticed in the latest tea as me.

Research & Horror Films: Public Relations Foundations

Let’s play a game. I promise it’ll be interesting, and I promise I won’t kidnap you SAW style either. It’s a simple guessing game, and the title may or may not have given it away, but let’s pretend like it hasn’t. It’s a vital facet of public relations, and it takes on the role of the unsung hero. It may take a lot of time, or it may take hardly any time at all. It should come first in the PR campaign process. Have you guessed it yet? Well ready or not, here comes the answer: research. Research is the first jumping point in PR. It lays a foundation on which you can build anything. Dipping our toes in, let’s delve further.

Research is arguably the most important part of PR. Without knowing what you’re talking about, how can your campaign wedge any credibility? With the graces of research on your side however, you can form a sound campaign. Sanchez (2013) writes that research “can help you target the appropriate audiences, find the right influencers and even determine the most cost effective budget” (p. 1). Research is such an integrated part of the PR field; it helps with almost every aspect. From audience selection to budgeting and funds distribution, research aids you with an informed opinion. Prior to pitching an idea for a project, utilizing research can increase your success rate as a professional.

Before a campaign is built, a mastery of intelligence on your client is essential. To know your client inside and out demonstrates a proficiency in your career as a PR consultant. Client mastery can only be acquired through thorough research. Waltzing into a meeting without your client’s message directly under your thumb is a laughable blunder. Knowing the key messages that your client wants to provide, and knowing the best way to provide said messages, is what makes research your closest friend (Johnson, 2013, p. 1). Describing the key messages with the support of a credible source or two makes your client or boss that much more likely to rely on your ideas. Having some beef behind why you think the way you describe them is best is what sets you apart from the rest.

Keeping credibility in mind, research also serves another purpose. Completing your background knowledge can help you save money. Before you go with your gut and make an uninformed decision, you should do your research to change uninformed to informed. When you don’t, after setting up all the campaign plans and working with your team, you may find a snag in your plans. Research drags you away from the snags. In a more specific zone, segmented research can help cost effectiveness as well (Kim, Ni, & Sha 2008, p.751). Separating your audiences, and knowing who belongs and who doesn’t, is possible all through research. Compiling a list of factors of persuasion for a specific public, or getting that extra fact about your target audience can save you both time and money.

It’s obviously inarguable that research is an essential primary function in PR. It should come first, for it prevents a waste of time and money. Credibility comes with knowledge. Research might be boring, but boring your colleagues with old news is even more dry. The unsung hero can be your biggest aide. If you don’t take advantage of it, the only thing scarier than SAW might be your superiors.

Preconceptions of Public Relations: Expansive Field and Expansive Ligaments

Defining public relations makes me laugh. I sit here, in a desk that is too small for my lanky, asparagus-like body, struggling to bust out a solid definition, and I can’t help but laugh. It’s absolutely hilarious that I can’t come up with a definition of my major that I feel one hundred percent confident in. How am I supposed to major in something that I can’t properly describe? Prior to reading the text, and coming to class, my definition of public relations is as follows: public relations can be defined as the management of a person or organization’s relationship with the world (or public) through its various medias. I feel that that definition is subpar, and as I write this post, in a desk that forces the role of giant upon me, I’m starting to realize why that definition lacks.

My definition fails to adequately encompass the large field that is public relations. PR is an expansive field that contains many responsibilities and functions. As I delve into the field and its wide breadth, I am finding some established basics. According to Cerinova (2016), there are five latent actions of PR: “link business strategy and communication, cope with the digital evolution and social web, build and maintaining trust, deal with the demand for more transparency and active audiences, deal with the speed and volume of information flow” (p. 5). As the mind of the public is being molded, the five actions are in full motion. A PR practitioner executes the five aforementioned basics as they build a campaign, work on a case, or strategize with their team. What interests me about this list is the word “latent”. These actions are taking part underneath the functions of PR, but should be regarded with importance. The part I find the most interesting about these five actions is how it notes the quick pace of information exchange. PR is a rapid job field where multiple things are happening all at once. So many things happen every day; it’s hard to keep your head on straight. The media today is moving faster than some can keep up with, thus making PR an inherently vital function (Comcowich, 2014). With the speed of communication increasing, new media popping up at an alarming rate, and technology’s hand laying rest on everyone’s shoulder, PR becomes a necessary discipline. Speed causes the need for more people monitoring the public’s quickly changing opinion. New media generates the need for novel forms of swaying that opinion, and technology eases the access of said media. PR has a lot of power, and is clearly a useful asset.

To further this claim, the claim of PR’s undoubted practicality, I’ll go over a prime example of a PR campaign. The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom was experiencing the grave issue of a lack of blood donations. So, in order to help fix this issue, the NHS employed the help of a communications agency called MHP Communications. This agency executed a very successful PR campaign of getting name brands and services to erase three specific letters out of their logos: A, B, and O, the three categories of blood (Leigh, 2015). This crazy idea inspired many non-affiliated brands and organizations to join the cause, due to the rise in attention in the media. The outcome of this cutting-edge campaign was remarkable. After the first week of the campaign concluded, ten thousand new donors had signed up (Leigh, 2015). So, a simple dropping of letters can pick up thousands of charitable donations. This campaign reiterates the idea of the fast paced landscape of PR, with results being achieved in high quantity in the time span of only a week. The exchange of information between the NHS and the public, information being lack of donations, was communicated so creatively and seamlessly that the public yielded only positive response. A PR power punch, if you will.

If you’re wondering, I moved to a table. It’s much more fitting this way, describing a broad field in a broader space. Through the research I conducted for this assignment, I was able to glean much needed inspiration for a more complex, fitting definition. I would define public relations to be the careful management of communication between publics and clients, utilizing contemporary media and quick response, to create a desired outcome for both the client and its many publics. Technically I could write a whole paragraph explaining the definition of public relations, but alas, I have run out of words per my assigned word count. This being said, I think I got my point across. Now that I am no longer restrained by my ignorant mind, and cramped study space, I am confident in my representation of public relations.

Reference List

Cernicova, M. (2016). Redefining public relations in the 21st Century. Professional

Communication and Translation Studies, 9, 3-6. Retrieved from

http://sc.upt.ro/images/cwattachments/121_49f19911a51a4b7931ae627a59e1f0da.pdf

Comcovich, W. (2014, December 12). The new PR landscape: fast-paced, chaotic and

Uncontrollable. Cyber Alert. Retrieved from http://cyberalert.com/

Leigh, R.  (2015, June 5). Brands and street signs drop As, Bs, and Os from logos to

highlight national blood week. PRexamples. Retrieved from http://prexamples.com/