Reflection

As the semester comes to an end I find myself reflecting on my classes of the semester. When evaluating each class I look at what I enjoyed about the class as well as what I didn’t enjoy. I also look at what I would have done differently as a student as well as what I would have liked the professor to do differently.

When I reflect on this class there are many aspects that I enjoyed and a few aspects I did not. This class was different than any other class I have taken so far. Although many times I felt as if I was not given enough direction I realized as the semester came to an end that I was actually learning how to “learn”. Surprisingly many of my other classes had not required this of me. I may have felt frustrated and upset at the time but I can look back now and thank my professor for helping me practice a very essential life skill. I also enjoyed the many speakers that spoke during our classes; this gave us insight to the “real world” and what the profession actually consisted of. It was also easy to pay attention and absorb the information when a new face was speaking in the class. Another aspect of this class I enjoyed and really appreciated were the events we were able to attend. The Aim West event was really interesting to listen to and was very eye opening. The Hub Mixer was also a very beneficial event because it allowed to me to connect with a lot of different people in the fields I am interested it. It was uplifting to hear about their success stories as well as the failures that they made a long the way. My confidence in approaching people and starting conversation also increased from the events we were able to attend. Another aspect of this class that I enjoyed was that the information given to me wasn’t something that was expected to be memorize and “Regurgitated” but instead I expected to use the information to construct a plan book. This type of teaching and learning style is the most successful for me because I learn the best when I can apply the information taught to me to the final product, in this case the plan book. I will retain the information better and also I will be able to replicate what I’ve learned in the future when I learn this way.

A few aspects of the class that I did not enjoy were that it was only once a week; this is not the professor’s fault obviously. Many times I would feel as if I had a grasp on the assignments and what was expected until I got home and started working on the project, I found that many questions would arise that I would either have to wait until next class or ask through email. It would have been beneficial to have the class twice a week so I could have time to ask questions.

As a student a few things I wish I had done differently are the following. First If I were to take the class over I would start whatever assignment or project immediately after the class because then it would be “fresh” in my brain. I would also make a point to look ahead at the syllabus and project descriptions so that I could have questions ready at each class period. I would also make sure to stay on top of or even ahead of my workload because procrastinating or getting behind in this class is very problematic. I would also have made more time to connect with my mentor from the Hub Mixer and take time to go to more events outside of class.

Overall, this class seemed like it was going to be a lot of work and stress. Which it was, but it was also rewarding, enjoyable and fascinating. For the first time leaving a college class I feel as if I have received “real world” experience. The many things I learned and all of the hard work I put into this class is something that I will take and use in my future career. Having a professor that I was slightly intimidated of but I also respected immensely was a new dynamic that I have had yet to experience in my college career. I also feel like I’d actually want to get a hold of my professor after the class is over for advice is monumental. I would recommend this class to anyone but I would give it with a warning hard work and active learning is required.   🙂

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PR definitions past and present

In the beginning of this course I remember being asked to define public relations, and to be frank I wasn’t so sure. My initial impressions of Public Relations were compiled from different “job shadowing” experiences and word of mouth. I found it hard to really pin point exactly what a PR professional did everyday. It became more and more clear that PR is incredibly difficult profession to define because it is nearly impossible to truly encompass all that the PR profession entails in one sentence. Although the PRSA did come up with definitions the first definition formally adopted in 1982,  “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” This definition at the time fit best because public relations main goal is to help organizations reach the public and adapt together. It’s obvious that this simple definition doesn’t contain everything a PR professional would do but it does encompass a main goal of a PR professional. This definition stuck around until a more modern definition in 2012 was reviled. “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This is the definition today and after learning more about PR I could not have complied a better definition. After this course I realize that the profession of PR is very broad and entails a large range of duties. Depending on where and who you work for your job could be completely different. I’ve also learned a bit about solo PR and what it takes to be successful in that realm. I’ve found that in order to be successful it takes a lot of experience and hard work. Overall, As well as the official PR definition changing my personal definition of PR has changed through this course.

 

Career Aspirations in PR

 My career aspirations have drastically changed over time, which tends to be the case with almost everyone these days.  From graduating high school with plans to become a special education teacher to then changing my major to dietetics my sophomore year, to now deciding on communications, which seems to be my best fit so far, finally! I can attest to how easy it is to feel like a failure when time after time you can’t decide on what seems to be the most important decision of you’re entire life, your career. But reassuring words from witty mother tend to ring in my ears “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” who mind you, is a few months away from retiring. She’s always taught me that its okay to not have it all quite figured out yet. What is most important is that you work you butt off and follow your passions and put your happiness before anything else when choosing a career. I have passions for a wide range of things and I believe if I work hard enough I can turn any passion into my career.

Before entering this classroom I had a very vague idea of what public relations consisted of, when attempting to understand what career might suit me best I sat down with someone in marketing, PR and a few other fields. I can distinctly remember what the woman working in PR had told me about her job and what stood out most to me was how the job was incredibly fun, exciting but very stressful. She claimed she generally doesn’t going to sleep until at least 1am and is often awake at 5am. She made it seem like the work never really ended and it was nearly impossible to catch up. I’m going to be honest and say that a career in Public Relations after that coffee date didn’t seem so appealing. But I’m pleased to say with nearly two weeks left of this course I have changed my mind about a career in PR. I’ve found that I can use my creativity to implement new and improved ideas. Although PR can be stressful it can also be exciting and intense which is something I desire in a future career to keep me interested. In the end I’m not sure where exactly where I’ll end up but in any career it is always helpful to understand other positions you are working with. Overall I feel as if I am leaving this course more prepared and equipped with “real life” experience. 

The Pros and Cons of Solo PR

With almost everything in life, it takes practice and experience before you can be successful on your own. This is especially true with the profession of Public Relations. In order to become a PR expert it’s vital to make connections in person and through digital platforms. Being well connected will aid in all aspects of becoming successful in PR, but more particularly in your search for clients. Connections will also be useful when you can’t provide all the tools your client may need, this way you can refer them to an excellent and reliable person who can get the job done.

Going solo in PR is generally more successful when you have a bit of experience under your belt.  According to Claire Celsi from the Public Relations Princess blog “Hard work is not a substitute for experience. As a senior PR counselor, people pay me for my expert opinion. If you haven’t got experience, a solo practice is not the route to go” Going solo can also have some downsides such as there is a lack of human interaction, if you don’t have a client that day then you might not see another person all day. Taking the incentive to make a coffee date or lunch meeting with friends or co-workers can alter this issue.

Although, when the time comes and you are ready to go solo in PR, the perks can be endless. Let us be reminded of a few, you can be your own boss and in my opinion not much beats the benefits of being your own boss. First of all you can determine your own schedule depending on what works best for you. Another benefit of going solo is you’re able to say no to clients you don’t want to take on. Another huge perk of going solo in PR is creative freedom “Maybe one of the biggest reasons I love this lifestyle. I love the complete freedom (and pressure, mind you) to problem solve on your own. To find creative solutions to client (and business) issues” (Hanson, 2011).  Overall, it’s important to understand what it takes before going solo in PR as well as the cons and the pros of the solo PR life before diving in head first.

Celsi, Claire. (April 7, 2011). What its like to start a Solo PR practice. Retrieved from http://www.publicrelationsprincess.com/2011/04/what-its-like-to-start-a-pr-practice.html

Hanson, Arik. (September 20, 2011). The pros and cons of the solo PR life. Retrieved from http://www.arikhanson.com/2011/09/20/the-pros-and-cons-of-the-solo-pr-life/

Corporate PR vs. Pr Firms

The opinions of whether corporate PR or PR firms are superior for a company are strong and loud coming from both sides. According to a time magazine cover claiming, “PR is dead” it’s easy to claim that corporate PR is dead because… “Almost all of the activities that fell under formerly large corporate PR departments have gravitated to PR firms and especially the press relations part”(O’Dwayer, 2013).  Where on the contrary those who are in favor of “In house PR” or PR corporations claim that the benefits are cost savings and many of the tasks that PR firms accomplish can easily be done “In house”.  This claim is refuted by leggio stating that “anyone who thinks a PR manager can do the work of a PR agency is either cheap, has never had a good PR firm, doesn’t really care, or some combination of all of the above” (Leggio, 2013). Its clear to see that there are strong opinions on both spectrums of this debate.

In order to settle this debate it is important to look at the advantages as well as the disadvantages to see whether Pr firms or Corporate PR are a better choice.  PR firms seem to be thriving immensely. “Fifteen of the 25 biggest PR firms, had double-digit gains in 2012 led by Edelman which grew 12.4% to $655 million” (O’Dwyer, 2013). Public Relations firms are a good choice for companies who are not equipped with the tools to accomplish what they need “in house”. Although, many companies that are just starting up with little to no budget may find it difficult to find the money to spend on a PR firm but depending on the company’s goals the budget may need to be stretched to include a PR firm. A benefit of hiring a PR agency is they come with pre build media relationships. This takes a lot of time and effort and is not an easy task. This also means that it will be easier and quicker to get the press that is desired.

A benefit of “in-house” PR is that “you” know your company the best whereas a PR firm would have to learn the company and therefore they would probably never really know the company as well. An additional advantage of in house PR is “No one cares as much as you do. When someone works for your company, they tend to take ownership of their work. In other words, they buy into what you are doing and it strikes an emotional chord with them. They care. Can you say the same for that agency guy? Maybe not”(Mickie).

Overall, the debate over corporate PR and PR firms comes down to the fact that it hardly matters who does the PR as long as it is done well. Some companies may benefit more from PR firms whereas some companies can satisfy their needs through in-house or corporate PR. The choice between corporate PR and PR firms depends on a few main factors. The factors consist of the goals of the company, the experience of the staff and the budget. In my opinion either option can be a good choice for a company when chosen with thought and the companies specific desires in mind.

References

Kennedy, Mickie. Should you hire a PR agency or Build an In house team? Retrieved from http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/should-you-hire-a-pr-agency-or-build-an-in-house-team/

O’Dwyer, Jack ( July 8, 2013). Corporate PR is Dead. Retrieved from http://www.odwyerpr.com/story/public/781/2013-07-08/corporate-pr-is-dead.html

Conner, Cheryl ( June 3, 2013). What do Pr agencies do? Can you do it too?.Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/06/03/what-do-pr-agencies-do-can-you-do-it-too/

Leggio, Jennifer (May 13, 2013) In the PR agency Vs. In-house PR http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferleggio/2013/05/13/in-the-pr-agency-vs-in-house-pr-debate-nobody-wins/

Creative Social Media and PR

Today, there are about 1.26 billion users on Facebook and 215 million active users on twitter (smith, 2013). Social media is used in many different ways.  From keeping up with your friends and family on Facebook to sharing a picture on twitter of a cup of coffee from your new favorite coffee shop down the street. Social media allows the consumer to share positive or negative feelings about a company and their services and products. This can obviously be a very good or a very bad thing for a company.  Regardless, “If your company is not participating in social media today, it’s missing an opportunity to spread its message and missing valuable – and even damaging – conversations that could be taking place about your brand” (Seiple).

Social media is another platform for consumers to talk about a company and the products and services they provide.  Although, the difference with social media is that it has the potential to reach a very large audience. Conversations on social media sites can spread incredibly easy and quickly. Positive social media is basically free PR. Its important that a company is present on social media sites in order to be able to reply to consumers who are pleased as well as unhappy about a service or product. This way a company can somewhat control their reputation on social media. It is also a beneficial way to share new products and information about their company.

An example of how PR team used social media in real-time is when “The Bridge won a PR Week award for innovative design of “holistic engagement.” The basic idea is to provide 24/7 conversation monitoring for clients and offer rapid response within social media. When Al Roker overslept his Today Show shift, for example, he was tweeted at by the McDonald’s Twitter account”(Lipschults, 2013). This tweet shows that this PR team has constant engagement in social media and is following trends in order to react so quickly and creatively. Personally, when I see a company using social media and replying to consumers via a tweet or comment on facebook I feel that the company clearly cares about its customers and it also gives a more personal experience with the company.

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Overall, it’s clear to see how social media is a vital tool for any professional in PR. When used properly social media can help a company grow and gain a relationship with its consumers, through witty replies and concerned responses to upset costumers it’s crucial that a company of any nature is present on social media.

References

Lipschults, Jeremy. (10/16/2013).  Real-time social media creative marketing and PR. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-harris-lipschultz/realtime-social-media-cre_b_4102446.html

Smith, Craig. ( 10/7/2013). How many people use 275 of the top social media, apps and services? Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/

Seiple, Pamela. How to leverage social media for public relations success. Retrieved from http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/53/docs/hubspot_social_media_pr_ebook.pdf

Education and Public Relations

“Public relations is a function schools cannot afford to ignore (2001). “ Today more than ever the use of Public Relations in schools is essential for success.  In order for a school to do well they need to attract parents and students to their school.

When considering the k-12 education system the attention is more focused on attracting parents into a their specific school. What exactly does a PR plan for a school look like? First, media is a frequently used tool to implement the PR requests of the school. The media tools used are press releases, paid advertisements, e-mail, website, and radio.

Through all of these tools the school is able to reach the community and attempt to portray the image they desire. “Today, school public relations is less about conveying information than it is about establishing and promoting partnerships within the community. An effective school public relations plan provides value by giving people information they can use, not just information that the school needs to convey about process. Effective public relations means schools ask for and receive information just as much as they transmit it (2001)”

Concisely it is clear that involving the parents and people of the community in the k-12 school’s decisions is key in successful school public relations. It is imperative that parents feel as if their voice is heard and matters to the school system. Additionally it has been found that in this level of education the “little things” matter the most. For example a simple hand written note from the principle to a parent expressing how well that student did on a particular assignment or a simple welcome baby card sent to new parents in the community, it’s never too early, has been proven most effective (2001).

When addressing higher education such as colleges the PR campaigns are definitely more apparent. “Higher education is big business in the United States” (Wilcox, 2013, p. 385). This type of public relations differs from the k-12 education because it is more similar to the public relations of a company. Many public relations employees of a college will perform many different tasks. These consist of writing, photography, graphic design, broad casting and computer networking (2013).

These tasks are important in higher education because they are trying to appeal to the student and parent. “Higher education is also a business that has millions of customers—namely, students. In the United States, more than 20 million students are enrolled at more than 4,000 colleges and universities. Almost ever one of these institutions has personnel working in such activities as public relations, marketing communications and fund-raising”(Wilcox, 2013, p. 385).  High education requires a more intense and business type of PR in order be successful.

Previous to this post I was somewhat oblivious to the significant use of PR in all school systems from k-12 to higher education. I have also found that the use of PR is somewhat more complex in Higher education due to the more competitive and business-like nature. Overall, Its now clear to see how often and how valuable PR is in all education systems.

Reference

Carlsmith, Laura & Railsback, Jennifer. (2001) The Power of Public Relations In Schools. Retrieved from http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/447

Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., Shin, Jae-hwa. (2013). THINK: Public Relations. Upper saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education

Chick-Fil-A—A Social Media Crisis

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Chick-Fil-A experienced a Crisis due to a statement they released to the Baptist Press saying, “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family—led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that” (Agnes, 2012). This statement ignited a huge debate particularly on social media sites such as facebook and twitter. The comments shared on social media sites were definitely not positive towards chick-fil-a as a company.

A social media crisis is especially unpleasant because it tends to spread and intensify at an alarming rate. People can easily share posts and comment their opinions on the topic. This caused Chick-Fil-A to quickly lose control of their social media sites.

The debate hit the streets when many people decided to boycott the restaurant as well as protest in front of many locations. For example, “The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), meanwhile, is promoting a National Same-Sex Kiss Day to be held at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country on August 3” (Aarthun, 2012).

There are many ways Chick-Fil-A could have improved the way the crisis was handled. First and foremost the rule is to be very cautious when sharing your religious views, that doesn’t mean that you can’t share you religious view it just means that when sharing it make sure you are cautious. Secondly, In order to gain back control of their social media sites chick-fil-a should have wrote a well thought out apology to anyone they may have offended to share on their facebook, twitter and to share public on a news station.

Angnes, Melissa. (July 30,2012). Lessons to Learn From Chick-Fil-A’s Social Media Crisis. Retrieved from http://www.melissaagnescrisismanagement.com/5-lessons-to-learn-from-chick-fil-as-social-media-crisis/

Aarthun, Sarah. (July 28, 2012). Chick-Fil-A wades into a fast-food fight over same-sex marriage rights. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cnn.com/2012/07/27/us/chick-fil-a-controversy/index.html

Why research at all?

 

“Why Research at all?” is quite the silly question when pertaining to Public Relations, mainly because research is EVERYTHING in PR campaign planning, okay well not everything, but almost!  Without research we wouldn’t have the basic understand on which we would plan the campaign. “Research provides the information required to understand the needs of publics and to develop powerful messages” (Wilcox, 2013, p. 90).

There are multiple different types of research conducted in order to have a successful campaign.  For example, formative research refers to the research done prior to the campaign, this educates and gives a basic understanding on which to build the campaign. Next, the research done during and after the campaign is known as evaluative research. This helps us understand “what went right?”, “what went wrong”, and how to do better next time , as well as, distinguishing if the campaign was successful in terms of meeting the objectives. Social media is often times used in evaluative research “in social media it’s key to find where members of your target public are interacting on a relevant topic. That’s where you should be and what you should measure” (Wilcox, 2013, p. 93)

Why is research important for a company’s public image? “Research, when conducted properly, eliminates bias and gives the leaders of a company a realistic picture of how various members of the public perceive the organization” (The Houston Chronicle, 2013).  If the company didn’t look outside their own biased opinions to research how the public might see the organization they wouldn’t know how to improve the organization.  In order to find out what is most important in the eyes of the public it’s essential to research to find out feedback.

It’s clear that research is imperative so why isn’t more research done, because research is incredibly time consuming and expensive. “Studies show that public relations departments typically spend 3-5 percent of their budgets on research; however, some experts argue that this share should be as much as 10 percent” (Wilcox, 2013, p. 91). Overall, in order to have a successful public relations campaign it’s effortless to recognize the relevance and importance of research.

 

 

Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., Shin, Jae-hwa. (2013). THINK: Public Relations. Upper saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.

The Houston Chronicle (2013). How is Research Important to Strategic Public Relations Plans? Retrieved from

Evaluation in Public Relations

How does evaluation improve Public Relations? According to Dennis L. Wilcox, author of Think: Public Relations, “The desire to do a better job next time is a major reason for evaluation public relations efforts, etc” ( 2013, p.127). In order for the evaluation process to benefit a Public Relations campaign there are a multiple “measurement questions” to touch on after the campaign (2013, p.127). For example, did the planning of the campaign go as planned? This question seems to be the most basic but it also very vital in the evaluation because if the campaign didn’t go as planned something substantial went wrong. Next, did the target audience grasp the main idea of the campaign? In order for the campaign to be successful it is necessary that the target audience recognized and followed the essence of the campaign.

Another important question to ask would be if anything unanticipated happened that affected the campaign in a positive or negative way? Obviously life happens and there is almost always something unanticipated that happens but what I believe to be most important is how it was dealt with in the heat of the moment. If it was negative, did the campaign group handle the situation in a calm and efficient manner? Next the question that everyone dreads, did the campaign stay under or at the set budget? “People want to know if the money, time, and effort expended on public relations are well spent and how those efforts contribute to the realization of an organizational objective” (Wilcox, 2013, p.127). This can be difficult depending on what type of budget you’re dealing with, obviously it’s more difficult with a smaller budget and even more important to be accurate.

Last but not least, what can you do better next time? If anything, making mistakes can help you learn and do better the second time around. Another way to measure what could be improved is to do survey involving the participants of the campaign. This way you receive another perspective to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign. “Evaluation should be a proactive, forward-looking process of continuous systematic gathering of information used to plan future activities more effectively”(IMPACT, 2013) In order to fully understand what went wrong and what you can improve next time, evaluation is necessary.

Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., Shin, Jae-hwa. (2013). THINK: Public Relations. Upper saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.

IMPACT.  Evaluation Public Relations Marketing Campaigns. IMPACT! Reputation Management and PR. IMPACT!—Public Relations & Reputation Management.  Retrieved September 11, 2013 from http://www.impactpr.net/evaluating-pr-marketing-campaigns/