Musings of a PR Professional


Chapter 4: Framing and Developing Messages

This chapter’s discussion of framing messages is particularly relevant to me at this time because we have been discussing the process of framing in my Mass Communication class. Framing is a two-part process. First, certain aspects of an issue are emphasized over others in a news story. Second, those aspects that are emphasized tap into our pre-existing cognitive schema which categorize things we come in contact with in order to help us understand the world. The ultimate result of framing is that those people who read the story about your issue are lead to interpret or understand that issue in the way that your frame suggests to them.

As we discussed in my Mass Communication class, people are cognitive misers. This means that people generally rely on a small amount of information to make judgments and decisions about things. Cognitive schema help us to do so. Therefore, the best frames will be those that tap into your target audiences’ widely shared beliefs and values (their schema) and as a result invite them to interpret your issue in a way that is meaningful and more relevant to them.

As PR professionals, I think that we must realize that letting a message, issue, or whatever speak for itself is simply not enough most of the time. Developing values-based messages by framing them in such a way that they really tap into your target audiences’ core values is essential if you would like people to respond to your issue in the way that you would like them to. The book lists seven primary values that messages should speak to:

  • Responsibility to care for one’s family
  • responsibility to care for oneself
  • Personal liberty
  • Work
  • Spirituality
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Fairness and equality

These values are widely held and so dear to us that they tend to trump other lesser held values and beliefs and can really connect with people on a deep level, according to the text. So, it is imperative than when you are developing the message(s) for your cause that at least one of these values is incorporated in some way. It will make your message much more resonating. In fact, it doesn’t take a genius to think of a great values based mission, as the book notes, it just takes a little brainstorming among the people who know a lot about your issue and what you are trying to achieve.

What are some of the best values-based messages that you have heard recently?

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Chapter Eight

  • Although there are different kinds of PR plans for different situations, it is essential that they all be based on the values- based mission statement of the company.
  • Plans should be very specific and thorough. If the planning process is followed correctly, the resulting plan will naturally acquire both of these characteristics.
  • Different publics’ behavior won’t change over night. It is important to recognize that fact and plan accordingly (i.e. “Plan for an acheivable reality” as it says on pg. 258 of the text.)

Chapter One

  • Public relations is extremely hard to define.

 

  • Elements of the profession: management, two-way communication (organization to public and public to organization), planned activity, researched-based social science (research to understand the context within which the communication occurs), socially responsible (concerned with the well being of others).
  • Theme of relationship management: Organizations that have healthy, positive and generally good relationships with the public are more successful.

 

  • Public relations as a profession has just begun to slowly gain acknowledgement that it is a valuable asset to the organization. Public relations has previously been famously under appreciated.

 

  • Hunt-Grunig models of public relations: press agentry/publicity model, public information model, two-way asymmetrical model two-way symmetrical model.
  • The public relations model used depends on the structure of the organization.

 

  • Public relations is different than advertising and marketing.

 

  • Ways of practicing public relations: PR agencies, corporations, government, nonprofit organizations or trade associations, independent PR consultants.
  • PR practitioners use a wide range of communication skills and are constantly learning new skills to keep up with newer and newer technology.

 

  • Linear four-step model of the PR process: Research -> Planning -> Communication -> Evaluation
  • However, in reality PR is not that simple. These four steps in the process should shift in order, be repeated and so on. This is known as the dynamic four-step model of the PR process
  • Values-driven public relations: The two previous models lack the necessary framework of values that organizations must work within. The organization’s and the public’s values must be considered before appropriate communication can occur between the two. “…process of uncovering not just where an organization wishes to go but also the principles the organization will observe in getting there.” (pg. 17)
  • Organizations must be more socially aware as a result.