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Archive for June, 2010

T.O.W #6

   

*Public Relations during Times of Crisis*

The conflict management process in public relations includes ongoing issues management and risk communication efforts and is highly tested in crisis situations where a large amount of uncertainty exists.

Based on the readings I did from Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics 9th Edition, I learned that in time of a crisis, no matter how prepared the PR professional is, something can go wrong at any point in time and the event or whatever it may be could fall apart before your very eyes.

Crisis situations are said to put a great deal of pressure on organizations to respond with accurate, complete information as quickly as possible. Depending on how the organization responds within the first 24 hours determines the severity of the situation and whether it would be categorized as an “incident” or a full-blown crisis.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when handling a crisis:

-Put the public first

-Take responsibility

-Be honest

-Never say, “No comment”

-Designate a single spokesperson

-Set up a central information center

-Provide a constant flow of information

-Be familiar with media needs and deadlines

-Be accessible

-Monitor news coverage and telephone inquiries

-Communicate with key publics

Public Relations professionals have to deal with high-profile events such as accidents, terrorist attacks, disease pandemics, and natural disasters. Crisis management takes places when such events occur.

A very recent crisis that PR professionals have had to deal with has been the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill causing devastating set-backs for fishermen in the area. There has been a recent suicide correlated with the recent disaster. You can read more about it in the article at the LaTimes.com.

Some strategies for responding to Crises are: attack the accuser, denial, excuse, justification, ingratiation, corrective action and full apology.

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Chapter 9: Public Opinion and Persuasion

  • Engaging in the interest of a public involves affecting its self-interest
  • Public discussion is the primary catalyst in the formation of public opinion
  • Persuasive communications on behalf of clients is the dominant view of public relations
  • Factors such as audience analysis, source credibility, appeal to self-interest, message clarity, timing and context, audience participation, suggestions for action, content and structure of messages, and persuasive speaking are involved in persuasion
  • Propaganda is now used to refer to political or ideological persuasion with emphasis on deceit and duplicity
  • Lack of message penetration, competing messages, self-selection and self-perception are limitations on effective persuasion

 

Chapter 10: Conflict Management: Dealing with Issues, Risks, and Crises

  • Public relations is positioned to earn influence within organizations by focusing on achieving objectives
  • The contingency theory argues for a dynamic and multifaceted approach to dealing with conflict in the field
  • The five steps in the issues management process are issue identification, issue analysis, strategy options, an action plan, and the evaluation of results
  • Risk communication attempts to convey information regarding risk to public health and safety and the environment
  • Corporate culture and other constraints may prevent adoption of an appropriate strategy for crisis situations
  • One of an organizations most valuable assets is it’s reputation

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Last week I was required to create a Twitter account for my Public Relations introductory course. I have never experienced Twitter before, never even looked at somebody else’s account. So as you could guess, it was like a new world to me. The only networking websites I have ever used before have been MySpace and Facebook. I only use Facebook now, and I have noticed that there is a growing trend towards Twitter. I hear about a lot of the stars using Twitter and constantly updating their statuses, however I have noticed that a lot of companies and enterprises use Twitter as well as way of enhancing their business communications.

For one week I was required to send out 20 tweets and at least 5 comments to other classmates and/or PR professional’s tweets. This week was challenging for me in that I have never tweeted before. It was hard to keep what I had to say down to 160 characters and it was also hard veering away from my usual Facebook status ways. I couldn’t simply tweet “going to lunch” or “going to the gym”. I learned that tweeting, at least for our class, is supposed to be more informational and less casual. I found myself tweeting links to other websites with articles about recent news or going in depth about something interesting that I had planned for that day. My experience with Twitter has certainly stimulated my mind more than Facebook has.

I currently follow 22 people on twitter and have 21 followers. I have posted 28 posts thus far, most of which have transferred from this blog. I have left replies to other classmate’s tweets that I found interesting and they have commented on my tweets. One girl commented on a tweet about a class I am currently taking that she is taking in the fall and I was able to inform her about the class.

You can view my Twitter at twitter.com/alliearonson.

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Chapter 7: Communication

  • Communications, or execution, is the third step in the public relations process
  • The five possible objectives at this stage are: message exposure, accurate dissemination of the message, acceptance of the message, attitude change and change in overt behavior
  • Messages for passive audiences must have style and creativity, whereas messages for an audience actively seeking information must have more sophisticated content
  • The most basic element of understanding between communicator and audience is a common language
  • Five steps in acceptance of new ideas or products are awareness, interest, evaluation, trial and adoption

 

Chapter 8: Evaluation

  • Evaluation is the measurement of results against objectives that enhances future performance and establishes whether the goals of management by objective have been met
  • Studies indicate that 4 or 5 % of a typical public relations budget is allocated to evaluations and measurement
  • The most elementary form of measurement is a tabulation of how many news releases, brochures, annual reports etc are distributed in one year
  • Several criteria can be used to measure message exposure, including the compilation of media placements in print, broadcast, and internet media
  • Audience awareness can be measure through survey research that often uses unaided recall to determine whether the audience understood and remembers the message
  • A yearly communication audit helps ensure that all publics are receiving appropriate messages

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TOW #4

Interviews with Martin Waxman and Kneale Mann

For this week’s Topic of the Week I had to watch two short interviews between my professor Barbara Nixon and PR professionals Martin Waxman and Kneale Mann.  While watching these interviews being conducted I was asked to take a three-pronged approach in my reaction.

 

The first interview was of a man by the name of Martin Waxman from Canada who cofounded his own PR firm in Toronto.  He talks about consumer marketing and working with different companies like O’lay, Herbal Essences, and even a comedian “Laugh Off”. He explained that the three pillars of his agency are 1) simplicity 2) energy 3) integrity.  When he first started his agency the core value was media.  Mr. Waxman also uses a weekly podcast which he prefers over blogging. He stated that you are more likely to conduct errors in writing blogs, which require a stronger emphasis on great writing skills.  The biggest challenge with social media is to master social media tools and then integrate those tools into a strategy, which I found interesting.  He gave a few insights to what agencies like to see in future employees including understanding traditional media relations, having an understanding of social media, and having knowledge who some of the major communication people are on twitter and blogging networks. Mr. Waxman’s interview was very informational, however, I would like to know more about are who some of the main communication people he talked about are and their contact information.

The second interview I viewed was of PR professional Kneale Mann, also from Canada. He noted that there is an overlap of public relations, comm and marketing and that one needs to have an appreciation and understanding of these individuals. He is very involved in both the private and public sectors of public relations, explaining that there are a few things different between private and public sectors. One example was that private sectors allow him to have the opportunity to conduct overall business strategy of the company and public sectors deal more with just marketing and social media. He had a lot to say about blogging and I found the advice helpful and surprising.  For instance I never knew that twitter was considered to be called micro blogging.  He also explained that all you have to do is jump in and write in order to evolve when getting started in blogging. He notes that when you do not know what to talk about in your blog find something that interests you and make that your main focus. Towards the end Mr. Mann discussed a conference called South by Southwest (SXSW). If I could ask him any question it would be to go into further detail about what the conference SXSW is about and why it is so popular with today’s PR professionals.

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In an article I retrieved from Ragans PR Daily, “Don’t Punish the Paparazzi, It’s the Publicists,” written by Frankie Stone, I was surprised to see that California had recently passed a new law restricting the rights of the paparazzi. AB2479 was approved with a vote of 41-12 and includes language about “false imprisonment” for the purposes of getting photos, audio or video (whether they’re secured or not), trespass into “personal or familial activity” for such purposes and “physical invasion of privacy…in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.” The need for this law was called upon by many celebrities who feel ambushed by the paps.

One huge celebrity that couldn’t escape the spotlight in 2008 during tough times is Britney Spears, who I have posted a picture of. These celebrities are apparently being outted by their publicists or mangers regarding their whereabouts. I think the law is a positive step for the celebs, however I do find that it restricts the rights of the paparazzi as well and invades the freedom of the press. Read the full article for more information.

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I conducted a face-to-face interview with PR professional John Potesta on Tuesday, June 8th. Potesta works for E&J Gallo Winery as the Field Marketing Manager for the state of Georgia. He does public relations work across the world marketing his company’s wines. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Georgia and has been a good friend of my family’s for many years.

Q 1: What’s a typical week like in your career?

A: I do a lot of traveling to the distributors that carry my product in Georgia. I am a liaison between the winery in California and the distributors in Georgia that carry my products. I meet with management and sales reps of distributors weekly to pass on necessary information about my brands, setting up pricing, deals, and revenue and profit goals. I work directly with the distributor to insure that necessary communication has been made and both the winery’s business and their business are growing.

Q 2: Tell me about a project you worked on that you are specifically proud of.

A: Our Premium Business, which is our premium wines, volume was way down at -10% within a 3 month period. I put together a group of brands with special deals implemented in order to increase the volume of my markets with my distributors. The -10% went to +30% within a month.

Q 3: What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

A: My Company (E&J Gallo Winery) is one of the top 5 technologically advanced companies in the world, which provides me with many programs relaying current information to me, keeping me updated in the industry. I use these programs sufficiently and maintain constant communication with the people I work with and for.

Q 4: What do you wish you would have known before starting a career in PR?

A: I wish I had a greater understanding of the importance in being able to adapt to all personalities. I learned to respect everybody, because good or bad, you can learn something from everyone.

Q 5: How important is writing in your career?

A: E-mailing and electronic communication is extremely important! I use my blackberry to access my e-mails primarily and it is very important to me. It keeps me from having to make phone calls.

Q 6: What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?

A: Listen and learn from everybody you talk to. Smile when speaking to people because it makes them feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer, but make sure that you follow up and find out; as opposed to making something up you don’t know to be true.

Q 7: Did your education prepare you for PR?

A: No, I don’t believe that anything directly prepares you for the corporate world. College just makes you a more well rounded person and teaches you responsibility and time management. I found my career at a job fair that was being held at UGA my senior year. Majoring in economics did not prepare me for the work I do in public relations, however, it did provide me with a stronger business sense.

Q 8: How does technology affect your daily work?

A: Technology affects my daily work in a major way. It seems that everything I do is done electronically now.

Q 9: When your company is hiring an entry level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?

A: A good communicator, confidence, a quick thinker and competitive.

After conducting this interview, I am more confident that a career in public relations is the path I wish to take. Potesta expressed to me that he enjoys his job and that he does well for himself. I would love to travel as much as he does and do something that I truly enjoy.

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