Category Archives: Topics of the Week

Twitterful Twitter

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I used to think Twitter was just another one of “those” trying to take a stab at Facebook. Why would I need to post a status on Twitter, when I can do so on Facebook? I finally bit the bullet a few months ago and created one just to see what all the hoopla was about. I eventually came to the conclusion that I actually liked Twitter. While I don’t use it nearly as much as I do Facebook, I find it a neat way to communicate and follow up with others. I also like the fact that I have a smaller amount of people following me, so I could be a bit more personal if I wanted to be.

Another favorite? Trying to fit my thoughts into 140 characters…I kind of find it a neat challenge.

Favorite thing thus far? My mom doesn’t have one..and won’t ever. No Twitter stalking from my her.

Looking for more Twitter followers?

Sad your twitter account is trailing your many Facebook friends?

Click the photo to read a neat article about how to start from scratch via Ragen’s PR Daily…

Photo from Ragen's PR Daily News

 

PR Department or Firm?

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Chapter 5 of the book Think Public Relations refers to a PR practitioner starting out in a PR Department or a Firm and the pros/cons of these jobs.

In a Public Relations department, the jobs vary depending on the company. Some PR jobs would focus on marketing communications, while others are working as communication specialists. It seems like a job in a PR department would be much more difficult to find, unless one has already had experience. In a PR department, salaries are usually higher and medical benefits are also better as opposed to a firm where the benefits can be minimal. Working with a firm would mean an individual is working with the same people and the same clientele all the time, which could become boring, although I don’t feel a job in PR could ever get that tiresome.

In a Public Relations firm, the job is a bit different because each company provides a different type of service depending on their clientele. These firms give counsel and carry out technical services. Some firms work hand in hand with a certain organization, or they may work conducting the entire endeavor. Some of the services provided by PR firms include marketing communication, media analysis, events management, public affairs and financial relations. A PR firm is never the same and there’s usually quite a bit of variety since you’re working with different people and projects. A firm would also yield the way for networking with other professionals, leading to better job opportunities, which is where the disadvantage for working in a department comes in.

From what I’ve read, it seems like someone beginning in the PR field would do better starting out in a department. This would give them the knowledge and experience needed if they wanted to work at a firm. Working in a department would put an individual in a more specialized field, resulting in learning a deeper amount of skills. On the other hand, working in a firm would provide a wide range of skills, but it would be better suited to someone who has much experience already in the PR field. Personally, I would choose to begin in a department setting and then work in a firm later on.

PR Era: The 1970’s

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If I could pick a time in Public Relations history, I would probably choose the 1970’s. Something about this time has always interested me, and not because of the wild hippies, drugs and all that this time period is known for. My parents always point back to this time period as being one of their favorite growing up.

This was a time of revolution for many Americans living then. People were able to express themselves through dance, music, art and politics. I think this time also changed the ways journalists and PR professionals worked. With coverage of the war in Vietnam blasting through their radio’s and television’s, people were more engaged in what was happening during those days. I think people were beginning to feel more open about expressing their opinions. A huge PR crisis during that time makes me think of President Nixon and the Watergate scandal. I’m sure there were a lot of PR professionals involved in this matter.

I tried doing some research on Public Relations in the 1970’s, but didn’t come up with too much. It seems like there was a lot going on from this time due to the war and Watergate scandal, so it seems some PR professionals didn’t know what to say, or how to handle these situations. PR seemed to be a growing trend and people were still learning how this profession was working.

This article talks a little bit about the three different stages of public relations history from the 1950’s-1970’s.

Three Phases of Public Relations Development

I think this would have been a really fun time period to live in. Some of my favorite music comes from this era, fashion trends and even the wacky hair styles.

How to Avert a PR Crisis: Don’t Look to BP

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Image Credit: Social Media Commando

When I think back to a public relations crisis that could have been handled better, I can’t help but remember back to the BP oil spill last year. The 3 month long ordeal captured national and world attention, but more than that, the company’s handling of public relations was quite catastrophic. For a company with millions in profits and revenue, the handling of this disaster was un-professional and has left many Americans with a bad taste in their mouths toward them.

The oil spill is easiest the worst accidental oil spill in history. During its three months, over 4.9 billion gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, devastatingly affecting the entire region including the marine life and millions of small businesses along the Gulf Coast. Often overlooked, eleven people lost their lives on the day the explosion occurred, which began the spill.

With the use of modern technology and social media, Americans were able to watch a daily view of the oil spewing into the ocean. This alone left many frustrated with the amount of time it took BP to plug the whole. Several attempts were made before the hole was finally capped in July 2011, after 3 long months.

Instead of apologizing about what happened, BP and CEO Tony Hayward were quick to blame others for what happened. Comments were made by Hayward such as, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” The handling of their PR during this time was unquestionably unprofessional. During a crisis, a company needs to act swiftly and carefully, making sure the public is up to date on the current situation. Unfortunately, due Hayward’s hasty comments, many were upset at the way things were handled during the oil spill and BP’s failure to fix the solution quickly.  BP was found to be held responsible by the White House. They noted that cutting costs left many of their equipment out of date, which led to the explosion that happened in April 2010.

This was a terrible situation, and in some ways one feels empathy towards BP for the oil spill. However, a company as large as BP should have done a much better job with the way they handled their public relations. I feel that many would not have such negative attitudes towards BP if their response had been different. The first thing BP should have done was to assemble a team to handle the PR outflow from the crisis, reassuring the public that the first thing on their minds was to control the oil spill. Tony Hayward should not have been allowed to comment on the crisis after his outburst.

BP has since claimed full responsibility for the incident and has promised to fund over $20 billion to clean up the mess and restore the Gulf of Mexico. In a statement on their website, BP said,

“From the outset, BP acknowledged its role in the accident and has taken concrete steps to further enhance safety and risk management throughout its global operations, including the implementation of new voluntary standards and practices in the Gulf of Mexico that exceed current regulatory requirements and strengthen the oversight of contractors.”                                                    Source: BP website

While doing a little research, I found this comedy on YouTube, poking fun at the way BP handled the crisis.

Warning to viewers: Please be advised there is bad language used in the video.

Reaction to Dealing with Difficult Conversations

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Photo courtesy of dealingwithdifficultpeople.org

I’ve just finished the NewsU course on Dealing with Difficult Conversations. I enjoyed this course because it dealt with real life situations and how to best handle them, especially in the world of public relations. I learned from the quiz that I am in favor of the collaboration style, happily right in the middle of competition and avoidance. I felt like this described me accurately because while I’m not a fan of confrontation, I won’t necessarily avoid it either. It is not my favorite thing to do, but when needed, I know how to handle it. However, knowing how to handle these situations isn’t something that comes easy and it requires a lot of patience and humility along with the right words to handle conflict the correct way.

The most valuable thing I learned was how to correctly start a difficult conversation. I’m not a speaker and sometimes I have a difficult time wording things the right way. I can write a great paper on the appropriate subject, but when it comes out of my mouth, somehow it doesn’t sound as great. The course gave several legitimate examples, such as dealing with employee who smells. Ideally, no one wants to have to deal with that, but as head of a company, it is necessary. I definitely took away some key concepts for how to start and finish a difficult conversation with someone.

I found the course to be informative and easy to understand. I liked the fact that it asked me how I would handle the situation and then compared my answer with the correct one. Sometimes my answers were right on, and sometimes they weren’t even close. It’s good to have practice for handling these conversations, so you know the right things to say and are careful not to offend anyone.

It was also helpful to know that when having a difficult conversation, its okay to have a representative from HR there with you. Hopefully, this will eliminate an outburst from a disgruntled employee and they can help you with handling things.

Overall, this was a very informative course. I liked the way it was set up with a compilation of videos, illustrations and text that were engaging for the users.

Journalism vs. Public Relations

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While most people consider Journalism and Public Relations to be very similar, these two fields of work differ in many distinct ways. Both professions relate to people on a daily basis and center around a tremendous amount of writing, technology and people, but they are fundamentally different in the way they reach people.

According to Think PR, Public Relations focuses on many different events from counseling appointments to special events. Most public relations professionals seem to be juggling many different hats when it comes to organizing events and working with different clients. Public Relations tends to deal more with marketing and finances as well.  Journalism is also a very involved field with journalists working hard to discover stories, doing research, interviewing people and distributing different kinds of media. Public Relations is an important part of Journalism as the public is the main audience they are reaching out to.

Professionals in Journalism and Public Relations have two different crowds in mind as an audience. Most journalists are reaching out to masses of people from their daily newspaper articles to the web and broadcasting. While on the other hand, public relations professionals are drawn to a more distinct crowd depending on what type of people group they are looking at reaching. In addition, a more fundamental difference is that Journalism’s main objective is serving the public interest, while public relations professionals are working toward the best interest of their employer and clients.

Though Journalism and Public Relations differ in many ways, the two rely on each other when working in the news/media field. These days, many journalists and public relations professionals are being trained with the same techniques so they can better serve the continually changing media industry. Both are high energy and competitive fields that require a tremendous amount of work and respect for each other.