Musings of a PR Professional


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the PR Connections category.

PROpenMic

This semester on PROpenMic, my personal goal was to get my feet wet and understand basically how the networking site works. In that respect, I think I accomplished my goal and did well to interact with others on the site. Mostly, I explored and listened to determine the appropriate topics to be addressed and way of expressing myself on the site. Also, listening ended up helping me determine what PROpenMic can actually do for me.

Overall, I like the site a lot because it is geared very much toward students. The atmosphere of the site is relaxed in that I feel that fellow students are the most common people with accounts on the site. Also, it feels as though I can ask questions to whomever, and not have to worry about being judged in some way but also get an answer that is valuable. For instance, I think my biggest contribution this semester on PROpenMic is also the most helpful thing I have gained from it. About two months ago at the end of February, I started a discussion by asking the question: What do you think makes a good blog comment? I got a lot of great feedback from all different types of people. All of it was very nice and reassuring, one woman even provided a helpful link. I think the most helpful response however, was from a man named Phil Gomes who said that a good comment should always add to the conversation.

Additionally, I absolutely love the fact that Robert French, the creator of PROpenMic, is extremely active with the site. On my discussion post alone, he commented twice, one of which was a response to a student who had replied. His involvement  makes me believe that PROpenMic has the potential to be a a great place where PR professionals, students, and professors can all come together and engage in an open and informative conversation. I know that already I have learned a lot from the site, just reading and following different groups’ discourse and different discussions I find interesting.

In the coming months, I hope to continue to cross-post from my main blog. Although I have been doing that this semester, continuing to do so would definitely help me get my ideas out there and also learn from people’s responses to the  posts. I would also like to continue to expand my presence on PROpenMic. I would like to become friends and network with more people on the site. I believe I can learn from the professionals and professors and I believe I can find a great support group in the students on the site who share my perspective on PR.

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Domino’s PR Crisis

It really shocks me how much damage two employees and a 2 minute and 27 second video can do. But, I guess that’s the nature of the game now that the Internet is so integrated into our lives.

Yesterday, Brian Solis added the post The Domino’s Effectthat tracked the way Domino’s has been handling an extremely inappropriate and down right disgusting viral video. The video was made by two employees and it shows them tampering with customers’ food. In the post he includes emails from the president of Domino’s as well as their official response to the issue. Solis gives his opinion on the subject, and believes that so far, Domino’s has been handling the situation in the most appropriate way. I have to concur, they responded immediatelywith a statement (from the president no less) and by removing the videos off the web. This way, Domino’s’ publics are reassured that important people in the Domino’s corporation are not only aware of it, but that they are sorry. Also, by taking the original videos down, they will receive less exposure and hopefully allow the crisis to blow over quickly.

Go check out the post (and honestly, I wouldn’t watch the video if you have a weak stomach) for the rest of his advice on how Domino’s should handle the crisis.


Colbert Interview with Twitter Co-Founder

Via the High Tech PR Blog’s post No Twit Here: Twitter Co-Founder vs Colbert a Win for Biz Stone, I was pointed in the direction of the interview that occurred last Thursday, April 2nd on the Colbert report between Stephen Colbert and Biz Stone (the Twitter co-founder). Before reading Lois Paul’s reflection on the interview, I clicked the link to watch a video of it myself.

Facts I found interesting:

  • Twitter was a side project they worked on while working for another company.
  • Began with the idea that Twitter would be connected to mobile messaging (wasn’t just an application after-thought)
  • The reason they picked 140 characters (rather than the 160 character limit of text messaging) was to leave room for a username.
  • Twitter will eventually generate revenue.

Quotes I found informative/interesting:

  • “Messaging service we didn’t know we needed until we had it.”
  • “We’ve got to keep pushing.” Stone brings the audience’s attention to the fact that methods of communication are constantly evolving and with the birth of technology and the Internet, that growth is occurring at exponential rates. It is his belief that we shouldn’t just rely on our current methods of communication, but we need to keep discovering and trying new things that improve the communication effectiveness and the connections effective communication can foster.
  • “140 characters is actually a lot more than you think it is and creativity is definitely inspired by that constraint.” Twitter isn’t just another communication medium. It challenges people to actually think about and craft what they want to say to an audience. It encourages new ways of talking (and thinking) about things.

Overall, I think Stone does a great job of getting his points across. Obviously when dealing with an interviewer such as Stephen Colbert, making good points you want to be taken seriously can be hard with a comedian constantly making jabs at them. However, Stone does a great job by laughing along with the jokes. Also, he kept the number of his points to a minimum and they were concise enough so that he could state his claim before the next question or joke was fired at him.

Additionally, I think it was a good choice for Stone to do the interview. By speaking with Colbert, he acquainted the viewers of the Colbert Report, who many of which may not be aware of what Twitter is or may have even never heard of it before, with Twitter. It gave him a chance to his piece on something that is new and unfamiliar to a lot of people to increase exposure and ultimately communicators on Twitter.

What do you think?


Bad PR Example: Killer Coke

On Google.com, a search for the term “coke” brings up about 38,400,000 results. However, sixth from the top, the site Killer Coke sits glaringly as one of the first search results reflecting the Coca-Cola company. Proceeding to click on Killer Coke brings you to a black and red sitewhere the first thing one sees is a picture of a corpse with the words “MURDER… IT’S THE REAL THING.” superimposed over the image. It is the site’s goal to stop the violence that is going on against union leaders who work at bottling plants in Colombia, South America.

The site is doing everything in its power to make people aware of the violent labor practices going on in Colombia. It offers everything from merchandise such as T-shirts with the slogans “Unthinkable! Undrinkable! Ban Killer Coke” to and archived news stories that reflect Coca-Cola in a negative way. Also on the site is a collection of the petitions againstthe Coca-Cola company as well as a list of international drinking alternatives to Coca-Cola.

This site is very bad PR for the Coca-Cola company for two main reasons.

First, being the sixth search result on Google, this site gets a lot of exposure. Coca-Cola is certainly not the word most people use today when they’re talking about this soft-drink, it is “coke.” As a result, it is most likely this is the word that is used by consumers of Coca-Cola to find things on the Internet about the company. Being the sixth search result down then makes Killer Coke very visible to consumers of Coca-Cola. The violent, in-your-face titled draws attention to itself and warrants a click. Because this site is so easy to find on the Internet, many people have probably visited it and at the very least been exposed to the negative things it has to say about the Coca-Cola company.

Second, the content on the website is extremely damaging. The first image the visitor sees is fear-inducing and draws one in making them want to know more about why Coca-Cola is connected to murder. Since the mission statement of the site is directly beneath that first image, the visitor is immediately exposed to the violent labor practices Coca-Cola is engaging in in Colombia. As the person scrolls down the content continues to become more and more supportive of a negative portrayal of the company. The archive of “Breaking News” is well over 100 stoires long, and almost all, if not all are from credible sources detailing inappropriate practices and the troubles of Coca-Cola. Finally, the list of petitions against varying practices of the Coca-Cola company adds people power to the negative PR surrounding the Coca-Cola company. The sheer fact that many people have actively rallied against this company makes this bad, violent image more relevant.


PR writing and the Internet

The most recent chapter that I read for my current PR class was all about public relations writing for the Internet. The author, Thomas Bivins, took a look at many different things regarding public relations and the Internet in this chapter, everything from web design and formatting Intranet websites. When he specifically focused on writing, however, he had two main points that I think are very useful in their respective ways.

His first main point is, that when writing professionally on the Internet, one should avoid becoming too conversational. He advises to stick to the format and the styles of writing that are customary for the type of document you are creating and write it as though you were sending it out into the world in the conventional way. “A news release is still a news release. A feature is still a feature. Ad copy is still ad copy,” Bivins writes. I think this is great advice to give to PR professionals that deal with the Internet often and in more than one way. Since it is so simple to publish, edit, and update an infinite number of times on the Internet, I think it is very easy to view this medium of communication as much less professional. In my opinion, the simple fact that what you are writing is not on paper makes if feel as if the document is much less permanent, and therefore less important and professional. Also, I think it is much easier for PR professionals who blog as well as work professionally on the Internet to slip into “chatter” writing, as Bivins refers to it. I know that I am the kind of person that will need to make the conscious effort to keep in mind my purpose for writing and make sure that my blogging style does not bleed into mh professional style.

Bivins’ second main point, that he echos throughout the entire text book, is quite simple. He claims that good writing is good in it of itself. Flashy images or exotic layouts you encase your writing in will not improve a poorly written document. I think this is especially applicable to blogging.  Anyone can start a blog, say what they want to say and make it look pretty of professional with the right theme or site design. But, the most well-renowned and valid blogs that are out there on the Internet today are followed by so many for one reason: Their content. They write about relevant issues in an articulate way that exemplifies their unique and interesting perspectives. Through writing well then, well-renowned bloggers draw readers in and gain followers because they can shed new light on topics, they can provide readers with “Ah ha” moments that make reading their blogs worth while.


Bye-bye writer’s block

I am sitting here a week after spring break trying to go through the 100 or so blog posts I missed while I was away. Simultaneously I am actively thinking about them to see if I have anything to say in response. I am in the mood to blog, but as we all know, being in the mood to write doesn’t necessarily warrant a blog post. Since I take a lot of pride in my blog, I like to take my time and think through what I want to write about before I sit down and actually post. A goal I have: No verbal spew.

So, as I was perusing the posts, I came across (yet another) really great post from Chris Brogan indicative of my mood called 20 Blog Topics to Get You Unstuck. In the post, he gives 10 questions and then 10 fill in the blank statements that could serve to get the writing ball rolling. Most of the questions and fill in the blanks are geared more towards people in the professional world but there are definitely a few that are applicable to PR students and their blogging.
For example, I find number 1 question What have I read lately? What points were interesting? Can I add more to it?  and number 2 question What bugs me? Can I write about another way to approach it? especially intriguing. I also like number 4 fill in the blank Here are some new ways to ________. because it potentially encourages one to think about things in new ways and really expand their minds.
There are tons more pertinent (to the PR student blogger) questions and fill in the blanks that Brogan offers so you should definitely look to his post if you ever, like I do from time to time, suffer from writer’s block.

The Book: Age specific?

After reading this post from PR 2.0 on the ever-growing popularity of Facebook, about a million and a half “why?” and “how come?” questions popped into my mind. I read blog posts about Facebook all the time, and for a social network that I’m so intensely engaged in myself, I have never written a blog post about it. This strikes me as very odd for two reasons:

  1. Since I use it so much and know so much about it, shouldn’t I naturally have a lot to say about it? And
  2. Since I use it so much and since  it is constantly changing, shouldn’t it at least sometimes effect me in such a way that I would have an opinion on these changes?

Well today is the day that I change the fact that I’ve never blogged about Facebook, but the topic of this post has little to do with answering the above to questions. What I am going to do with this post though, is ask more questions.

In his post, Solis provides the statistic that about 1/3 Facebook users is 35 to 49 years old and almost 1/4 is over 50 years old. As most people know, Facebook started out as a social network for only college students but that has ultimately changed and is now connecting people of all ages. So what’s with the age shift? 

I can understand the desire for adults to stay connected to their “long-lost” and current friends and family who may not live in a very close proximity to one another (and even those that do live close), but it seems to me that it is the younger demographic that really knows Facebook intimately and is more actively engaged in what the social network has to offer. It seems that a majority of Facebook’s appeal revolves around sharing pictures and the many different applications offered on the site and these are things I don’t see most adult users getting involved with for whatever reason.

But this begs the question that maybe adult users simply use the social networking site for different reasons than their younger counterparts do? I would say that they do use the site for more practical (for lack of a better term) purposes such as chatting on one another’s walls or creating groups to promote their professional interests.

So, will the older demographic, as they begin to become more immersed in the site, start to learn and use all the features Facebook has to offer more fully? Or is there simply a generation laps that can’t be overcome? Personally, I think it’s way too soon to tell, but Facebook certainly isn’t going anywhere and I can’t wait to see. What do you think?


A grim look at PR refuted

Whew! It’s been a busy week this week, and although this post is pretty delayed, I certainly didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to share my thoughts with you on USA Today‘s article, How public relations helps steer opinion and the news. The article is labeled by USA Today as a “Special” and is supposedly a review of the book PR: A Persuasive Industry: Spin, Public Relations, and the Shaping of the Modern Media. However, the article is more like an animal than it is a book review. What the author, Seth Brown, focuses on is essentially ragging on the PR field and its practitioners.

There are a number of reasons as to why I am simply not a fan at all of this article, but I would like to focus on two topics discussed by Brown in particular:

  • Lying is OK in PR: “A poll of insiders revealed that most don’t feel telling the truth is a duty of PR,” is a direct quote from the article. First, who are these “insiders”? And second, what poll? It is my firm belief, and also something that has been ingrained into my mind in the PR classes I have taken thus far, that lying is the biggest DON’T in PR there is.  Public relations is about establishing fruitful, long-term relationships with people, so what PR practitioner in their right mind thinks that it would be okay to lie to the people they depend upon so fiercely? This paragraph casts a horrible light on PR and its practitioners- that they are liars of no conscience.
  • Anyone can do PR: Brown writes, “Perhaps the most alluring thing about being a PR consultant is that no formal training is required: no certification, no universally acknowledged test, no courses offered at many prestigious universities (although some colleges offer PR studies). ” While this fact is largely true, the implications of this statement is not. Essentially, the article makes it sound as if every PR practitioner out there is a hack who has no idea about a. What they’re doing or b. What their purpose is. This is simply not the case. I read enough blogs and have been presented with actual PR examples to know that PR is done well everyday.

In conclusion:

I think it’s pretty ludicrous to make the sweeping generalizations about public relations that this article does. Granted, there are PR practitioners out there who are not necessarily beacons of ethics or integrity, but those people are the minority. Most practitioners genuinely care about their job and clients and work extremely hard and are very good at what they do. So what if it’s harder to measure PR efforts than it is to measure advertising or marketing ones? That doesn’t mean PR is any less legitimate, it simply means that good public relations works without people realizing anything has happened at all.

 

(Not to mention the barrage of angry comments left by people at the bottom of the page after the end of the article- you should take a look at them, most of them have very positive, valid and true points about PR.)


Trying too hard to be newsworthy

Finding a relevant news angle gone wrong: check out this post from the Bad Pitch Blog. It shows how finding something newsworthy about your product, organization, etc. is an art form that can be (and is) butchered.


Looks for Life Fundraiser

On Thursday, January 29th, I lost one of my good friends from my hometown, Casey, to suicide. While the circumstances are tragic, I have found an example of good PR that has really touched me and the members of the community who knew her. I was invited by one of my friends who was also very close to Casey on Facebook to join the event page for Looks for Life. Looks for Life is an all-day fundraiser in which LOOKS Salon and Spa is offering its services for half price and then donating all of their profits to support Grassroots for Suicide Prevention. There will be free food, music, and and a silent auction and raffle as well to raise money.

This is absolutely wonderful PR for LOOKS Salon and Spa. Employees of LOOKS have been touched by suicide and for seven years now have banded together to support one another and others who have been effected too. The business holds a position in which it can do something to help decrease instances of suicide and has shown its compassion and caring for the community by putting together this event. This company does not have to take a day out of the year to cut their profits for a good cause, but they do which establishes impeccable credibility (through goodwill) and shows that there is an important and valued link between them and the members of  their publics.