Musings of a PR Professional

Sugar-coating in PR

Two days ago, Lois Paul wrote a blog post analyzing the way Yahoo!’s creator and CEO stepped down from his executive position. What Paul talks about is very relevant to Tuesday’s class discussion when we talked about how sometimes it’s okay to tell the truth even when the truth is (far) less than perfect, and often it’s better to be blunt than try to spin it positively. Go check out Paul’s post, it’s a great real-life example of what we were talking about.

Libel on the Internet

The other week in my intro to journalism class, we were going over all of the legal issues regarding reporting, journalistic writing, etc. Eventually, the class got on the topic of libel. Libel is the publication of afalse statement that deliberately or carelessly damages someone’s reputation (Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower p. 140) and after some discussion we ended up on the topic of libel on the Internet.

Today, it seems that bloggers bash. They have little or no concern with the issues surrounding libel and are often unaware that what they’re saying sometimes can get them tied up in some serious legal knots. However, one saving grace for them is the ignorance of those being bashed. These people don’t understand the ramifications of libel either and don’t know that what these attackers are saying can be considered libel. They think it’s just them expressing their opinions. And while sometimes that is true, other times what’s being said is really seriously damaging stuff.

Hopefully, as the Internet and blogging continues to evolve and gain relevance, bloggers and the people bloggers are talking about will start to wise up. It will only take one well-publicized lawsuit before people start to shape up and be careful about what they’re putting on the Internet. But why wait for that? For those championing blogging, maintaining that it needs to be taken seriously, they need to realize that with more clout comes more responsibility.

Crisis Communication

Frank Shaw‘s blog, Glass House came up on my RSS feed today with a post very relevant to Tuesday’s discussion and activity concerning crisis communication. Go check it out as a little supplement, his take is concise and informative.

Chapter Fourteen

  • The new global economy effects organizations and companies in a very important way-communication with international corporations is inevitable, and can at times be difficult. However, successful public relations realizes and caters to the various differences that exist between cultures.
  • To interact with another culture appropriately one must first understand the culture. Marlene Rossman established a system for distinguishing and learning about different cultures. The system takes a look at eight attitudes toward cultural characteristics: Attitudes about time, attitudes about formality, attitudes about individualism, attitudes about rand and hierarchy, attitudes about religion, attitudes about taste and diet, attitudes about colors, numbers, and symbols, and attitudes about assimilation and acculturation.
  • “In successful cross-cultural communication, senders must understand how a message will be decoded before they can effectively encode it” (p. 467).
  • Nine-step process for achieving effective cross-cultural communication: 1. Awareness  2. Commitment  3. Research  4. Local Partnership (Bring in a member of the culture to work on organization’s own communications team)  5. Diversity (On the communication team) 6. Testing (On a trusted member of the culture beforehand)  7. Evaluation  8. Advocacy  9. Continuing Education

Chapter Fifteen

  • It is imperative that all PR practitioners know/ are at least familiar with the laws and regulations that affect their jobs.
  • PR practitioners should be familiar with the regulations of: The Federal Trade Commission, The Securities and Exchange Commission, The Federal Communications Commission, and/or The Food and Drug Administration depending on the client(s) they are working with.
  • PR practitioners must be careful about what they say. Libel and privacy laws give a lot of freedom for expression of opinions but practitioners must be sure not to violate the legal limitations.
  • Copyright laws prevent people from using others’ work in an unauthorized way. But, under the fair use concept PR practitioners can use published quotations in their PR efforts as long as its attributed (p. 512). 
  • PR as a legal strategy is extremely controversial: “On the one hand, people and companies should have every right to defend their reputations in the court of public opinion. However, many are otheres by attempts to use extrajudicial statements… to influence proceedings inside the court” (p. 516).


Today in class, Dr.V introduced us to Cheryl Harrison, a senior at Captial University in Columbus, OH. Why did Dr. V lead us to another student? Because this girl has something to say. Not only is her resume and site design very impressive, her posts contain a lot of great ideas.

But, it’s definitely not the conent that kept me at her site, perusing through blog posts. What caught my attention (and kept it) was her writting style. Cheryl Harrison has attitude and gives it to you everytime. To me, she’s an inspiration and I can sum up why in one word: Uninhibited.

Her in-your-face insights to the social media world don’t sound like those of a intimidated college student. She sounds like the most confident person in the world, and I want to sound like that too. I want to write blog posts about public relations, social media tools and current events and not worry about what everyone else will think or if I’m right or wrong (and a $125k salary right out of college wouldn’t be so bad either).

So, from this point on, I vow to start taking myself (and this blog) a lot more seriously.

Chapter Twelve

  • Crises can always be avoided. There are usually warning signs that people either don’t see or choose to ignore. As the book states, “The best crises are those that are averted” (p.403).
  • It is extremely important to have a plan for crisis communication ahead of time. This plan will help to minimize the harmful ramifications of the situation by allowing the organization to deal with what is going on effectively.
  • Crises are not all the same. Crisis communication plans should be falexible and crisis managers should be open to change if it is necessary.
  • One should always evaluate how the organization dealt with the crisis. It it essential that organizations learn from the strenghts and weaknesses of the plan and make changes to be better prepared next time.

Microblogging, community management, and online communities

Using Twitter for PR

In using twitter for PR, it is a great way for a company or organization to get even more personal and in touch with their publics. While blogs are great, that are only updated once a day, once a week, and maybe even once a month so while you are hearing things about the inside of a company or organization, you’re still largely disconnected. Twitter does away with that. On twitter, the slow-pokes are tweeting once an hour. Through microblogging, the conversations that need to happen to create relationships between companies/organizationsand their publics are occurring in real-time. People are more genuine, more off-the-cuff, and more tangible. As a result, the organization or company becomes more transparent, in a good way. The publics will feel like they matter, that they’re heard, and that they can trust you. It’s less Wizard of Oz and more .

Community Management

The beauty of Twitter and all other social media sites is  the fact that relationships over the Web are becoming more and increasingly more real and genuine. At the same time though, community managers should be aware that being completely yourself all the time is not appropriate. It is important to be professional and keep your personal life personal.

It is interesting to me that I have never thought about social media in this light- that things can possibly get a little to interconnected. I always assumed the more personable the better, but after reading Jeremiah Owyang‘s post Job Hazards of the Community Manager, the risks seem glaring. There is a very fine line between professional-personal and just someone’s friend they get advice from. PR practitioners on the Web now are walking that line everyday. Clearly, community managers are a necessary bridge between organizations/corporations and their publics, but how connected is too connected?

Online Communities: Second Life

We’ve mentioned Second Life a couple of times in class, but have never talked about it in detail. Second Life is an online community in which people create 3-D avatars of themselves and interact with the other player’s avatars in a virtual world. People can be whoever they want, create whatever they want, and do whatever they want. Participants have free reign, though they must abide by a few rules and they do function under an economy.  The entire community is brought to the public by Linden Lab, Inc. which specializes in streaming media technologies.

Second Life seems to be primarily a source of entertainment. However, according to the site there are the same business opportunities available in Second Life as their are in the real world. in that vein, it is very possible for companies to build the companies they have in the real world on Second Life and therefore get a lot of exposure to their brand/product to those participating in the game. Also, it is probably possible for the avatar of a company or organization to network with people via Second Life and promote their organization or company.

Twitter, online communities, and community managers serve to keep organizations and companies connected to their publics in a less obtrusive way that the typical media relations tactics. Here, conversations form because a back and forth exchange of information is facilitated.

Engaging in the Blogoshpere: Responses

Local Yoga Studio

I would advise the local yoga studio to blog about the benefits of doing yoga. The appropriate place for the essential who, what,where, and when for the yoga studio should be included in the about me page so it is not necessary to include this information in the regular blog posts. The angle they take should be that yoga is extremely beneficial to health. Each of the individual blogs posts could be about different ways in which it is beneficial and supplemented by blog posts about special events or new classes the studio is offering. So, the niche should be that of health, leisure, relaxation, and entertainment.

They should blog about not only the benefits, but explain how those benefits of doing yoga are applicable to their reader’s lives. The blog posts should make their readers understand that the benefits are extremely necessary in their readers lives and that taking a yoga class is a very easy way to reap those benefits. Also, they should blog in such a way that encourages feedback. Asking questions at the end of blog posts such as, “What do you know about yoga” would tell them how much or how little their audience understands about yoga. Or, they could ask, “How do you relax?” and later find a way to tie in the way they relax normally to a yoga class.

Edelman Autheniticities Engagement Exercise

  • Justin: I would engage Justin by asking him first how often he goes hiking and camping, to get an idea of how active he is and how strenuous his activities are. I want him to know I’m interested in his hobbies. Then I would ask him if he’s ever considered doing yoga- it is exercise and keeps you fit like hiking and it relaxes you like a good glass of wine. I would be concerned that he would not care about it because it does not have to do with video games, but I could address this issue by bringing up the point that yoga expands and strengthens your mind and could lead to better thinking processes that could get him ahead in his games.
  • Victoria: Since Victoria writes about the happenings in her city, I would begin by asking her if she’s ever heard of or seen the local yoga studio. It’s the only one in the city and it has a great location so its easily accessible to many people. I would then ask her if she’s ever tried yoga, and even if she has or has not, should come by and try out a class- it’ll relieve some stress  she may have from that Tory mayoral candidate winning the election.
  • Cindy: For Cindy, I would definitely highlight the benefits and therapeutic values of yoga. Cindy blogs about domestic violence issues, so her content is very intense. However, I first ask her if she’s ever considered giving advice on her blog about how to cope with domestic violence. If she would like to do that I would tell her that yoga is very relaxing and therapeutic and could do wonders for victims.