Reflection on CAP 220

You never really think back about something until it’s almost over; same goes for all of my classes. When the semester began back in January, I didn’t really think that I would be sitting at my desk in April, trying to finish up everything and prepare for exams and moving out for the summer.

When I wrote my first blog post, which was about my thoughts about PR, I said that I think of PR as something a company does to reach the public and inform them of something that is occurring within the company. Even after going through the entire semester, I still think of PR this way. However, getting to work with the client on campus and putting together the plan book from beginning to end is a good glimpse into what I could be doing once I graduate from school.

After the first class, even while writing the first blog post, I did not know what to expect. I had heard from other people about the plan book project, but it didn’t really dawn on me that I would have been working on the same project. Even when the client came in and elaborated on the issue they were having, I didn’t expect something like this to be so elaborate.

I have actually enjoyed working on the plan book because, as I stated in my blog for my CAP 105: Tech in Advertising and Public Relations class, I am not the type of person to be interested in reading from a textbook, understanding concepts, and then regurgitating them for an exam. I think that having a textbook with concepts is important, but there are other ways to show that I have an understanding of the material. The ‘Tech in Ad and PR class’ was set up this way, having in class lectures on programs we would be using and then giving us opportunities to use Final Cut Pro and Photoshop to put together a two minute video or edit a photo.

‘Fundamentals of Public Relations’ is the same way; there were lectures, but they were lectures about topics that could be used in the formation of our plan book. Also, having the opportunity to conduct a focus group and put together a survey (even though this was something also done in CAP 115: Research Basics for Advertising and Public Relations), was a good opportunity to have because it allowed me to see the process from beginning to end, planning, conducting, and analyzing the data.

Overall, this class has been a great experience, both in working with a group to accomplish a part of the plan book as well as gaining the experience in putting together a campaign for a client. I feel like, looking back at what I have done for this project so far, that there is no wrong answer necessarily. Even if anything listed in the plan book is not effective, it is worth giving it a try to see if has any effect on the goals of the client before dismissing it and trying something else.

I will be able to take the skills that I have learned from this class, as well as my other advertising and public relations classes, and apply them towards not only future classes I will be taking, but also towards my career after graduation. I can also take the plan book and give copies of it to future employers as an example of what my skills include and what I am capable of doing. I have enjoyed everything that I have done with this class and look forward to seeing where my newly learned skills will take me.

 

How Social Media is changing Public Relations

Social media is a big part of the world today. Everyone who’s everyone has some form of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. PR practitioners are even exposed to social media and it is only them who can decide how to properly utilize it in the work that they do. Timothy Morton, Natalie Tindall, and Richard Waters (2010) conducted a study that found that public relations practitioners must be able to adapt and become familiar with media catching in order to engage journalists.

It is important to be able to adapt because journalism, such as mentioned above, is also a changing field and moving from a physical, paper, world, to an online world. Less and less people pick up a paper at the news stand and read it. In a world where they can get everything online, they are more likely to move to getting their news from websites and other online sources. PR practitioners need to be able to do the same, adjusting to the fact that everything is online now and they need to gear their work towards that audience.

Also, public relations practitioners should consider including the various social media forms into campaigns that are geared towards connecting with the public. Public relations practitioners who embrace technology such as blogging, podcasting, and other forms of social media must be able to know when to abandon it when it comes to maintaining and establishing relationships with publics (Morton, Tindall, and Waters, 2010). Embracing this technology not only provides another tool to add to the arsenal, but it allows public relations practitioners to give their client a new way to connect with their audience. This could be as simple as replying back on a post that a member of the audience posted on their Facebook page.

However, social media should not be seen as a new channel that will replace everything that public relations practitioners already know. This does not mean that practitioners should not utilize social media because they think it will fade and make a new communication channel. They should embrace social media because it enables conversation (Morton, Tindall, and Waters, 2010). Social media is not here to replace all the old tools that public relations practitioners use. It is, in fact, another tool that will help further what the company is hoping to achieve as well as provide another channel to reach out to their audience with.

Social media also changes how the company in question views their audience. Social media makes PR seem less like a way to blast information at an audience and more a way to bring an audience closer to a brand and soften the barrier that exists when people feel like they are talking a company that sees them as a sale rather than a customer (Folkens, n.d.). When there was just the company’s website, it was a lot easier for the company to see the customer as a sale because, if they were coming to the website, they were most likely buying a product. Now, the company can utilize their Facebook or Twitter page to interact with the customers and hear more about what they actually like about the product versus trying to encourage them to buy something.

Public relations is also crisis management, dealing with the public to reach a solution about an issue. Folkens (n.d.) also talks about social media has turned dealing with consumers into a 24/7 personal service. Public relations practitioners, when dealing with this, take time to evaluate what is the crisis and measure how to respond. This is important to understand because public relations is not just promoting products or services. They also have to help a company deal with the public when a crisis surfaces. In this instance, social media can provide a company with the opportunity to get news out to the public in a timely manner so that they don’t overanalyze and think that the company does not care about the situation at hand.

Jim Dougherty (2014) wrote an article for Cision.com about six ways that social media has changed public relations. He brings up four questions that connect social media and public relations: how can I listen best using social media, how can I engage people best using social media, how can I energize people best using social media, and how can I support people best using social media? Thinking about these questions and answering them can allow a PR practitioner to determine whether or not social media is the best thing to use in a campaign.

Overall, social media can be beneficial, but only after weighing the pros and cons of using social media. It can definitely help with reaching out to the target audience and getting their message out, for example. But there are plenty of other reasons as to why social media is used in public relations.

 

References

Dougherty, J. (2014, September 8). 6 Ways Social Media Has Changed Public Relations. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from http://www.cision.com/us/2014/09/6-ways-social-media-changed-public-relations/

 

Folkens, D. (n.d.). Social Media PR – 3 Ways Public Relations Has Been Changed by Social Media. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/02/social-media-changing-pr/

 

Waters, R., Tindall, N., & Morton, T. (2010). Media catching and the journalist-public relations practitioner relationship: How social media are changing the practice of media relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 22(3), 241-264. doi:10.1080/10627261003799202

Understanding the similarities and differences of Advertising and Public Relations

There are many differences between advertising and public relations. It is important to understand the differences, especially if one is a public relations practitioner and beginning to work on a project for a company. Public relations consists of the use of multiple tactics whereas advertising is a tactic that is often employed in public relations.

According to Reginald Moody (2012), public relations strength is the ability to manage communications, create relationships, to inform and influence attitude and behavior, and to build greater understanding and trust. This is all done through effective communication. PR is used to communicate with the public and ensure that they are being properly informed about something that is occurring within a company whether it is positive or negative.

Public relations is not something that you see. Public relations is more of the behind the scenes work whereas advertising is where what the people see. According to the website prinyourpajamas.com, PR involves free placement, but there is less control over what is created or written. Advertising, on the other hand, is paid placement, but there is complete control over what is created or written (What is the difference, n.d.).

Robert Wynne put together a chart that illustrates differences between advertising and public relations. According to him, advertising is a paid experience, builds exposure, gives complete creative control and guarantees placement. However, when it comes to advertising, the ads are mostly visual that says “buy this product”, the audience may be skeptical, and it is more expensive (Wynne, 2014).

Public relations is an earned experience that builds trust. PR is less expensive and uses language that says “this is important,” usually referring to something that company is hoping to get out to their audience. However, in PR, the audience is not the one to give validation. The media gives third-party validation, controls the final version that goes out to the public, and there is no guarantee that the item will be even be placed. The PR team has to persuade media to place their ad or work (Wynne, 2014).

I think that it is important for people who are studying advertising and public relations to have a basic idea of what both mean, how they differ, and how they are similar when they go into the working world. Having taken a fundamentals of advertising and currently taking a fundamentals of public relations class, I am able to see the differences between these two similar, but very different parts of communications. By having that understanding, it adds to one’s arsenal of tools that they can use once they graduate from college and have a job. Even if they don’t work in a PR firm, having the ability to see everything from a PR point of view may be able to help when it comes to planning an advertising campaign. I see having that background as a way to understand what the company is aiming to achieve. I also feel that it go both ways, the PR practitioner having the advertising background. If they at least had a basic background in some topics in advertising, they could have some ideas that helps move the campaign along and have some ideas prepared for the advertising department.

Overall, I find that it is important to understand where advertising and PR may overlap and when it is necessary to be able to distinguish between the two. By creating that understanding, it can set a person up for a career outside of school as well as allow for overlap when planning a campaign for a client.

 

 

References

Moody, R. (2012). Integrating public relations with advertising: An exercise for students in the college public relations campaigns course. Communication Teacher, 26(4), 203. doi:10.1080/17404622.2012.668201

What is the Difference Between PR and Advertising. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://prinyourpajamas.com/what-is-the-difference-between-pr-and-advertising/

Wynne, R. (2014). The real difference between PR and advertising. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from
http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2014/07/08/the-real-difference-between-pr-and-advertising-credibility/

 

 

Current Crisis in PR

CocaCola recently began running a new campaign with the slogan “You’re On.” According to an article written by Mitchell Hartman (2014) for marketplace.org, Coca-Cola pulled this campaign due to the negative attention it was receiving. The advertisements Coca-Cola released involved people doing things that were outside their comfort zone, such as giving a speech, etc. Then, Taylor Swift is shown drinking a diet coke and her manager comes in to her dressing room, saying the campaign slogan “You’re On.”

However, as Hartman (2014) points out, the print ads are what gives the campaign the negative connotation. In the billboard, for example, the slogan is clearly seen. Behind the slogan, there is the faint outline of a diet coke can and the word ‘diet’ in small, faint red font.

The campaign was receiving a negative connotation as the slogan “you’re on” could reference drugs, which is why the campaign was shut down. Kevin Allen, a reporter for PRDaily, wrote an article about Coca-Cola denied that there was any association with drugs in their new campaign. Allen (2014) mentions how even though the company has denied this, the ads lead observers to think that the slogan is referring to cocaine. Allen also includes a few examples of pictures that people had tweeted about print ads they saw.

I think that Coca-Cola handled the crisis with this campaign as best as they could. In reading some of the comments on the article written by Allen, it seems that the placement of the slogan could be what led to the confusion of the message Coca-Cola was trying to promote.

Overall, in any public relations crisis, social media is very much a part of dealng with said crisis. According to Kalthom Husain, Aida Nasirah, Mastura Ishak, Mohd Fauzi Kamarudin, Anidah Robani, Mohaida Mohin, and Syed Najmuddin Syed Hassan (2014), social media is a medium that shouldn’t be ignored as millions of people use it and are comfortable with their social media presence. Social media has allowed for a person to be able to share a picture or post a status in a matter of minutes. In the case of Coca-Cola, anyone who sees the poster or billboard that they shared in the “You’re On” campaign can share it with the snap of a picture and click of a button.

Social media can have positive or negative effects on a PR crisis. It can be positive because companies can use it to get a press release out or a message to the public in order to correct any damage done through a campaign. However, it can also be negative because, as indicated in the article by Allen, people were able to post on social media in a matter of seconds as they walked past and looked at a poster or a billboard on the street.

Lisa Furgison (2014) wrote a blog post for verticalresponse.com and, in this post, she quoted a social media specialist. This specialist talked about how having a plan in place, responding quickly, being honest and taking responsibility when necessary, and to not argue or delete comments are essential when it comes to dealing with a PR crisis. I agree that these are all things to keep in mind when preparing to do damage control and decide what is the best in dealing with the crisis at hand in order to prevent damage to a company’s reputation and credibility. We always talk about credibility and how important it is to have credible sources. But, credibility can also involve a company that is a prominent figure in the advertising world.

In the PR world, it’s not only the other parts of the company that one has to maintain relations with, it’s also the public as they are the ones buying a product or using a service. Tegan Ford (2013), in her blog post for prconversations.com, that there are a few practices that are crucial in effective crisis management in the social media era. These consist of responding to public at the onset of a crisis, maintaining two-way dialogue, being honest, and listening to the audience, to name a few (Ford 2013.) All ten of the tips for effective crisis management, in my opinion, are good tips to remember because, as stated above, it’s important to remain in touch with the public and listening to what they are talking about and saying about a service or product offered.

Overall, social media is prevalent in today’s society and can be powerful, if used properly. When it comes to dealing with a crisis, PR practitioners should look into utilizing social media more. Social media provides PR practitioners and companies a simple and quick way to reach their audience in order to make them understand that a campaign may not have gone the way they planned and what they will be doing to correct the situation.

 

References

Allen, K. (2014). Diet Coke denies new ads include drug references. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.prdaily.com/crisiscommunications/Articles/16227.aspx

Ford, T. (2013). Making sense of the impact of social media on crisis communication. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.prconversations.com/index.php/2013/11/making-sense-of-the-impact-of-social-media-on-crisis-communication/

Furgison, L. (2014). How to Handle a Crisis on Social Media | VR Marketing Blog. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/handling-crisis-on-social-media/

Hartman, M. (2014). Coca-Cola cancels its ‘You’re on. Diet Coke.’ campaign. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/coca-cola-cancels-its-youre-diet-coke-campaign

Husain, K., Abdullah, A. N., Ishak, M., Kamarudin, M. F., Robani, A., Mohin, M., & Hassan, S. N. S. (2014). A preliminary study on effects of social media in crisis communication from public relations practitioners’ views. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 155, 223-227. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.10.283

Why is research important in PR

Research also fits in with a strategic public relations plan. According to Steven Symes (2015), research for public is important for four reasons: it provides unbiased information, allows a PR practitioner to look at the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, provides information on how to properly prepare a public relations message, and to be able to gain feedback about a public relations plan.

Unbiased information is key in a situation of planning a public relations campaign because, no matter which employees in the company one talks to, they are all going include some sort of bias in their responses. Research removes that and allows for the public relations practitioner to get a clear idea of what the company stands for and what they are looking for. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of an organization can help because it could determine where the organization needs to work and change in order to better reach their consumers. If it is something beyond their control, then it is understandable that they are unable to change that particular factor. However, if it is something that is in their control, then the PR practitioner can suggest ways or ideas on how to make improvements.

When properly preparing a public relations message, research is important so that the facts being presented are correct and the information makes sense in terms of relating to the task at hand. The information being presented should also be from credible sources, otherwise the executives of the company who need a PR practitioners help may not have the confidence if the sources used for research are not credible. Gaining feedback is also important because it can let a PR practitioner and the company know what strategies or tactics that are currently being utilized are actually working or not. If they do not work, then they can take the information provided from feedback to either completely change the tactic or tweak it just enough that it actually does prove useful and provides adequate results.

Research also allows the PR practitioner to be able to provide adequate rational as to why something was done. PrFriend (n.d) lists three things to keep in mind when either researching a topic or getting ready to present to a company: know the client, find the market, and choose the media. It can be almost guaranteed that a client will be asking why the PR practitioner suggested to reach out to this particular audience instead of that particular audience. I think of the ‘who, what, when, where, and why” that has always been mentioned in school. Be prepared to answer the why…and this is where research in PR can come into play. Once again, credibility is also important here. Being able to answer the ‘why’ through the use of research can add to the credibility of a PR firm or practitioner.

Research can also be used to look at the consumer. Frank Lang (1951) states in his article that questions asked about customer attitudes fell into four categories: attitude toward the service provided by the company, attitude toward cost of service, attitude toward the company in particular, and recall of company advertising in the press and radio. It can be beneficial to understand what the customer thinks because they are, after all, the person who is purchasing the product or service. The company can learn what tactics are working and what may not be working from the eyes of the person who has seen the efforts of the company to reach them. Overall, research has many uses in PR and learning how to not only properly research but utilize the information can be valuable.

Lang, F. (1951). The role of research in public relations. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 15(1), 54-64. doi:10.1086/266278

PR Friend. (n.d.) The Importance of Research in Public Relations http://www.prfriend.com/research-in-public-relations

Symes, S. (2015). How is Research Important to Strategic Public Relations Plans? http://smallbusiness.chron.com/research-important-strategic-public-relations-plans-15586.html

Pre-PR thoughts

When I think public relations, I think of something a company does to reach the public and inform them of something that is occurring within the company. I also think of the use of social media as a big part of it, since everyone seems to use some form of social media today. Seeing companies use Facebook or Twitter to promote themselves and reach out to their target audience is probably the most effective way to reach their target audience, if executed properly that is.

Why PR? We, as human beings, are always communicating with people, whether it is when we are at a coffee shop ordering something or getting ready to present on a topic for a class or a big meeting. PR is everywhere and we come into contact with it on a daily basis. We see public relations campaigns when government elections occur, for example.

I think taking this class will help me have a better understanding of public relations as well as be able to take what I have learned and incorporate into my future career. I am going into health communications and I will be communicating with people on a daily basis, most likely in a medical setting (or something similar to a medical setting.) Any of the skills I learn will not only help me in the rest of my studies, but in my career as well. I don’t know a lot about public relations or what it entails and taking this class is going to be helpful.

I’m not sure what I want to do with PR, but, as I said up above, it will be helpful in my future career. I could end up working in a hospital, county health departments, or pharmaceutical sales. I would be communicating with the public and, in order to accomplish this in a timely manner, be able to present the information in a way that gets the message of whatever organization I am working with in a simple, easy to understand way. Also, I would be ensuring that the message is released in a timely manner as it could go along with something that the organization is releasing. For example, if a pharmaceutical company was releasing a new drug onto the market, they would want to inform the public about it.

On top of learning skills needed to be successful in PR, I am also building up my profile. So far I have taken a couple of advertising and public relations classes, all which have included some project for a client (or mock client.) Not only have I learned so much about how to put together a campaign and presentation for a client, I have gained physical examples of my work to hold onto and potentially be able to show a future employer one day.

Every other advertising or PR class I’ve had so far has been enjoyable and I am looking forward to really getting into the material for this class and starting the plan book.