PR Reflection

This was the first class I have taken in my time at Grand Valley State University that deals with the communications aspect of public relations. It also happened to be part of the curriculum in my last year.   For the most part I really enjoyed the class.  I found the research very interesting although scheduling the interviews among the demands of my other classes presented a challenge at times.

As a Communications major with a focus in broadcasting, I felt the course description would provide a strong connection to my major as my final SWS requirement before graduation.  I am very happy with this decision because as the class has progressed, I have learned to look at my degree in a broader sense.  I don’t believe that broadcasting is the only field that I might try to pursue my career with after graduation.

I feel that when we enroll in college, we believe we must follow a map of classes leading toward a certain career.  However, after experiencing the wide range of classes and other experiences at GVSU I have grown to realize that the road map theory may have been a narrow view of the world.   This class helped to open my eyes to what Public Relations entails and I could see myself working in the field of Public Relations or Media Relations.

At the beginning of the semester, I had just met the prerequisites to enroll; however, this really meant I had some basic experience and knowledge on how to construct a research paper.  As the term began, I struggled with some of the basic core concepts.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that I had not taken any of the 100 level PR classes that many of my classmates did.   In the long run, this may have worked in my favor.  I was required to study and understand the concepts and processes that we used to complete our Plan Book.  This has allowed me a real feeling of accomplishment.  I have not only completed the assignment, but I also feel I have developed the understanding of how all the elements come together.

I am proud of myself for learning and applying the concepts that were new to me.  I also feel that the structure of the class, which allowed for plenty of independent study and learning through the semester, worked well with my personality.

In the beginning, I found the plan book project very daunting.  The size and scope of the project combined with it being the first time I had ever done something like this made me question if I was able to complete the task.  However, looking back now; not only is the project complete, I believe that it is something I can list as practical experience on my resume.  As I face similar projects in the future then they will all seem so much easier.

These regular blog posts are also a great way to enhance the learning experiences offered in this class.   I have enjoyed constructing the posts and also learning the finer points of how to blog so it can also become a professional tool and skill, that will be marketable in the future.

After the completion of this class, I feel I have learned more about myself.  It is one of the experiences I have had at GVSU that makes me feel like I am more than just a broadcasting student, but a more complete communications student who can take my broadcast training and use it to get ahead and cross over to other fields in the area of Communications.   If my career ends up being more corporate focused and less Media focused, I will recall my first experience learning something about Public Relations how we learned to use research to develop objectives, strategies and present our message to the public.

This class helped me understand the full impact of attending a liberal arts college and becoming a more rounded student.

I look forward to taking my educational experiences into the real world and use it to become the successful individual everyone strives to be in their life.

PR in Education

Public Relations can be a powerful tool by assisting educational institutions to portray a proper image to the community.  This is much more prevalent for institutions of higher education that may rely more on a public image to maintain a balance of new applicants.  It might be an internal PR team employed by the institution or can it can be an outside firm hired to deal with a looming crisis.  Universities deal with PR conflicts regularly involving prestige and size.    However, it has recently been asked if primary & secondary educational facilities, often part of public school districts, should also use their own PR department.

Since academics and its impact on the public presents its own unique challenges.  Higher education is concerned about the school’s reputation both with the public and with employers. Additionally, their challenges include university budgets, or student and faculty relations.

As a student at Grand Valley State University, I have observed a potential incident slowly unfold.  The incident has to do with a recent Lanthorn article discussing how GVSU (a public institution) seems to cares more about its private donors then creating an environment to develop higher learning.  While I am paraphrasing, this implication can lead to opportunities where college officials might be perceived to retaliate against the writer of the article, because the article is unfavorable to the Universities public image.  The crisis began when FIRE (foundation for individual rights in education) got ahold of the story and has attempted to bring it to the forefront of the media.  Recently, in an attempt to control some of the damage from this story, GVSU sent an email to all students about hosting a Town Hall type of meeting to address the current state of student feelings on the issue of private donors.  For the university it a good way to publically address all students and understand their feelings about private donors, as opposed to engaging only the opposing organization.

In the new form of media and communications there are many outlets for opposing voices to be heard.  This is making it more important for public and private school districts to have PR departments, which would help them, develop a strategic message supporting the public image they wish to present to the community.   Communication and transparency are two of the ground level goal of public relations and would help the school districts explain their goals and how they are properly utilizing state funding.

Communication is never a bad thing and it is important for academic institutions to portray a positive image to the public.  Whether a private institution of education or public school, those in charge need get out ahead of any potential issues and show that issues are being addressed in a proper and expected manner. Public Relations can be powerful tools to assist educational institutions portray the proper image for the community.

 

Sources-

Cherenson, M. (1925, October 12). Success Communications Group    We help our clients communicate. Recruitment advertising, public relations, traditional advertising, social networking, association management and interactive Web design are our core services.. Success Communications Group RSS. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from https://successcomgroup.com/schools-districts-public-relations/

Cohn, A. (2014, January 14). FIRE. FIRE. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.thefire.org/grand-valley-state-administrators-attack-newspaper-staff-for-criticizing-donor-handling/

Veil, S. R. (2010). Using Crisis Simulations in Public Relations Education. Communication Teacher, 24(2), 58-62. doi:10.1080/17404621003680906

Wynne, R. (2013, July 30). Lessons In Higher Education Public Relations. Forbes. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2013/07/30/lessons-in-higher-education-public-relations/2/

 

PR Crisis: Miami Dolphins Workplace Conduct

A current public relations crisis that is currently going on is the whole Miami Dolphins bullying fiasco.  It was originally centered on two offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and Richie Incognito.  However the issues have gone much deeper than that and Investigator Ted Wells researched and released a report on the improper conduct in the workplace, and it goes beyond just Martin and Incognito.

The whole story came to the view of the public when Martin up and left the team about 8 weeks into the season. As more details came out it was thought to be because a teammate (Incognito) had been bullying Martin and finally he lost it and left.  The report Ted Wells turned into the Dolphins and the National Football League showed that it went deeper. The report also lists other players, lineman Mike Pouncey and John Jerry as culprits to the workplace wrongdoing. In addition to the 2 players it was mentioned that the offensive line coach Jim Turner not only knew this was happening but also from time to time joined in the unfair treatment.   It was   exposed that Martin and other young players had been receiving harsh treatment for the past 2 or 3 seasons.  Not only did it include players but it also mentioned that an assistant athletic trainer had received many instance of racist treatment from Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry.

During the season, Martin had left and never returned to the team, after phone records and text messages were turned into the proper people Incognito was suspended for the rest of the year without pay, which cost him over 1 million dollars in salary.  With the report coming out only 4 days ago there has been no more action taken yet by the NFL or the Miami Dolphins organization.

This all begs the question of what will happen with the decisions from the Dolphins and the NFL with the people involved in the “Bullying” incident.  The Dolphins have to make a statement that this cannot be tolerated and the situation escalated so quickly that they are already to the point where they need to repair their image. I feel like what will come of this is that Incognito and Coach Turner will no longer be with the team.  I would also expect that Jerry and Pouncey would get a small suspension from the team.  On the NFL front I expect that they will produce a anti-bullying conduct policy that will go into effect immediately.

The NFL is a popular enough league that they will be able to recover their image quickly, but they will make sure nothing like this happens again.

Sources-

Coaches. (n.d.). News RSS. Retrieved February 17, 2014, from http://www.miamidolphins.com/team/coaches.html

Wells, T. (2014, February 14). REPORT TO THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE CONCERNING  ISSUES OF WORKPLACE CONDUCT AT THE MIAMI DOLPHINS . NFL.com. Retrieved February 17, 2014, from http://63bba9dfdf9675bf3f10-68be460ce43dd2a60dd64ca5eca4ae1d.r37.cf1.rackcdn.com/PaulWeissReport.pdf

Ethics in Public Relations

Ethics deal with a choice and a decision that any individual will encounter frequently.

Ethics are a philosophy dealing with personal or societal values relating to human conduct, with respect to the acceptance or non-acceptance of certain actions.  Ethics also deal with the perception of right and wrong when it comes to a person’s motives for their actions.

The toughest part of studying ethics is to determine if the balance between conducting yourself in an ethical manner and being successful or efficient in accomplishing your short term goal. Public relations firms, as well as most businesses have to make these tough decisions on a daily basis.

The perception of ethics in the public relations industry, have garnered a poor reputation, primarily because of the prominent use of Spin used on every fact or story.  It’s difficult to imagine how the questionable perception of the PR industry will ever change because frequently, PR companies are hired to turn a negative public image into an acceptable or a positive public image. Each time a Public Relations campaign is launched, the circumstances or facts of the story will be spun in the favor of the client, even if the facts are in conflict with the public’s perception.

One ethically questionable tactic used is “Pay for Play TV”.  This is where the PR firm will pay to get their clients airtime on TV shows and news broadcasts. The firm is successful in getting the message to the public; however, the story itself may not be significant enough to get airtime on news broadcasts.  Media outlets also practice the balance of ethics with “Pay for Play”.   Many TV and Radio stations will take money to broadcast a message in a timeslot where they clearly begin and end the broadcast disclosing that the message is a paid announcement.  The disclosure allows the viewer/listener to make an informed decision on the message.  This prevents the TV/radio station from any appearance of taking money to make something a news story.

The importance of ethics has been questioned often; Shannon A. Bowen, Associate Professor of Journalism, University of South Carolina said; “as recently as 2008 a Dean at the University of Maryland (where she received her PhD) said that there was no need for an ethics course because no one cares about learning ethics”.

Recently ethics may have started gaining back some attention in the PR field.  Bowen indicated the renewed interest toward ethics in the PR field is a double-edged sword.  Stating that as a professor and advocate of ethics “it’s excellent to see the interest returning, however, the other side of the sword is why ethics were not important enough to have them included in the educational curriculum for Journalism and Public Relations.

Sources-

Bowen, S. (2013, September 13). Explaining PR’s ‘newfound’ interest in ethics. PRWeek US. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from http://www.prweekus.com/explaining-prs-newfound-interest-in-ethics/article/311265/

Fawkes, J. (2012). Saints and sinners: Competing identities in public relations ethics. Public Relations Review, 38(5), 865-872. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from the Science Direct database.

Kennedy, M. (2010, August 9). Public Relations & Ethics: Why the Bad Reputation?. PR Fuel  Public Relations News  PR Tips. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/public-relations-ethics-bad-reputation/

Research in Public Relations

Research is critical to the foundation of Public Relations for any business regardless of the specific industry.  Whether managing a large corporation or a small business you need to know how to position your product to the needs of the public and properly address concerns that may arise.

Proper research is crucial. It provides companies an understanding of how the public might perceive the organization.  Additionally, independent research helps to eliminate any bias within the company.  If company management were to lean only on their own opinions of how they believe the public views them, the company might risk becoming complacent and not realize an opportunity for improvement of their public image.  When a company mismanages a situation facing the public, the best Public Relations firms in the country may not be able change the outcome in the short term.

Acquiring feedback is a primary reason for the research.  Any company or organization needs feedback of how the company is viewed as a part of society.  However, research is also critical as a tool to measure how the company is doing related toward business goals or the PR plan that was put in place for the company.

Understanding if the plan has worked or not allows the organization to choose if they want to keep the plan they are working with now or if they need to modify it or create a totally new plan

This research is usually obtained through customer surveys and other data research methods such as retail surveys, experiments, focus groups, interviews, and content analysis.

The results of the research will help lead the company to three main concepts.

  1. Understanding the client
  2. Finding the market for your good, service or message
  3. Effective choice of the medium used to convey your message

To be successful, companies and organizations require self-awareness.  Engaging in research and using that information to formulate a public image or a message is critical.  Market Research will provide an important outside view of the organization.  When used to formulate the PR plan, it will help to firmly enforce the desired message focused toward the public.

Sources-

Lang, F. (1951). The Role of Research in Public Relations. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 15(1), 54-64. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/stable/2745751

Research gives public relations room to grow. (n.d.). Research gives public relations room to grow. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/jsmith/cocoon.html

Symes, S. (n.d.). How Is Research Important to Strategic Public Relations Plans?. Small Business. Retrieved January 25, 2014, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/research-important-strategic-public-relations-plans-15586.html

Diversity in Public Relations

For the first time in history there we have a traditional minority candidate as the president of our country.  While many would assume that this would lead to increased diversity and greater acceptance of diversity in the cooperate world, this has not always been the case.

In an article for The Holmes Report, Lee Hayes wrote that the lack of diversity in the PR industry is a dirty little secret. He states, while the communication industry talks about becoming more diverse and is saying all the right things, that the industry hasn’t taken many steps to truly ensure an increase in diversity.  Hayes has spent 20 years in the communications industry and believes the only way that we will see change is that if the large brands will only agree to work with communication firms that demonstrate diversity as well as a dedication to promoting it.

According to the US Census bureau African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans will make up 36.5 percent of the US population and by 2020.  These groups will also account for $3.6 trillion in spending power.  Targeting diversity may be in the best interest of many brands because demonstrating diversity can result in more inclusive marketing to different cultures.

A study conducted in the Howard Journal of Communications, in 1995 examined diversity of the work force in Corporate America.    Although this study is dated, it estimated the diversity of corporate industries was at about 10%.  This total was based on of all companies’ surveyed.  In this specific survey, approximately 61 percent of the results were returned from PR companies.  It’s interesting to note that Lee Hayes who wrote the previously mentioned Holmes Report article entered the work force right around 1995, at the same time as the Howard Journal article.  Therefore, Hayes has experienced diversity in the PR industry and has indicated little change in his 20 years.

The future needs improvement on the diversity front.  Dr. Natalie Tindall, of Georgia State University, states that more work must be done to encourage, retain, and promote minorities in the field of Public Relations.  The mission of the industry has remained similar over the years but it is time to start seeing results so the industry grows and adapts with the constantly changing times in our country.

Sources-

Coffee, P. (2013, November 18). Meet PR’s Diversity Problem. – PRNewser. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/meet-prs-diversity-problem_b77958

Diggs-Brown, B., & Zaharna, R. S. (1995). Ethnic diversity in the public relations industry. Howard Journal Of Communications6(1/2), 114-123.

Hayes, L. (2013, February 25). Lack Of Diversity Is PR Industry’s Dirty Little Secret. Lack Of Diversity Is PR Industry’s Dirty Little Secret. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://www.holmesreport.com/opinion-info/13071/Lack-Of-Diversity-Is-PR-Industrys-Dirty-Little-Secret.aspx

Tindall, N. (2012, February 7). Diversity in the PR field: Some progress, though challenges persist. PR Daily News: Public Relations news and marketing in the age of social media. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Diversity_in_the_PR_field_Some_progress_though_cha_10753.aspx

I Attempt to Define Public Relations

When enrolling in this Fundamentals course we were asked to give our own definitions of what public relations are and what they entail.  Being asked this made me realize that even though I am not totally in the dark of what Public Relations are that, I am pretty off with what my definition of them was.

My definition of PR was as follows: An organization and how it manages their public profile.

While that definition isn’t the most flawed definition of PR you will see, it only covers a very small sliver of what PR entails.

They way I am used to seeing the work of PR companies is usually in the role of crisis control.  In being a huge sports fan, and spending most of my free time watching athletics I have seen the unheralded work of some of these firms when there is an player or coach who gets himself into an dicey situation.  Usually there will be a PR agent behind the scenes helping to get the individuals image back to where it was at before the discretion.

Information control is a major role of public relations however it is not only trying to get information to the public, they also try to control the info that is sent out to investors, employees, other shareholders and those who have stake in a company.

There are many similarities between PR and, marketing, advertising, journalism.  Our book helped me understand more about what PR is when I read that PR is a management process to build and maintain a hospitable environment for an organization.

PR is a field that while doing many day-to-day operations does not get much notice in an normal business day.  That seems to be the goal if your job is to work PR you want to do your job well so no one has to know what your doing, keeping everything running smooth, and out of the criticism of public.