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New Media and Public Relations

Within the late 20th century and during present times of the 21st century the ways in which we communicate with one another have dramatically changed and it is no longer necessary to be standing face to face with someone to hold an instantaneous conversation. With the field of public relations being based very much so upon communication it is then needless to so that the implications that new media is having within this field reaches endless lengths and poses not only huge opportunities put also threats (Fitch, 20009).

Whilst working in public relations I believe that it is crucial for firms to establish a presence within new media in order for them to connect with the majority of people utilising it worldwide. When talking about the phenomenon that is “new media” it is hard for me to go past the video that Prue Robson showed us in our very first “Introduction to Public Relations” lecture that outlines unbelievable statistics that the internet and social media has churned out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8

Ultimately I believe that public relations practitioners must embrace the need to understand and occupy new media in order to have a good relationship with their publics. If traditional or “old school” public relations practitioners are too naive or stubborn to understand new media’s influence on contemporary publics this could have dire consequences to the practitioners clients. As mentioned in the video linked above “34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands and 75% of people trust peer recommendations over advertisements” I think that these statistics prove that if an organisation strives to truly influence it’s publics they must have a stranglehold upon new media.

On a completely different topic I would like to allude to the aspect of managing public relations within a non western culture. When doing so and applying the public relations theories of western cultures to Asian communities a practitioner must be aware that the approach of Asian counterparts is much more holistic and that there is not one single theoretical model. A public relations consultant must ensure that they hold knowledge within the fields of politics and economics before undertaking work within these regions (Stanton, 2009).

Bibliography

Fitch, K 2009, New Media and Public Relations. An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice. South Melbourne, Oxford.

Stanton, R 2009, Focus on Asian Public Relations Management. An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice. South Melbourne, Oxford.

Effectively Managing Crisis

With the growth of citizen journalism and the rise of social media, public relations practitioners must contemporarily act much quicker towards the area of crisis management. With this being the case it should be understood that areas such as global warming, alcohol abuse, pollution etc should be encompassed and avoided by public relations workers as people who are motivated and hold passionate opinions are much more likely to utilise these new forms of media to voice their opinions and conduct major change (Howell, 2009). As we understand that this is the case it is then obvious that the constant commitment of a public relations department to identify and understand these issues whilst monitoring their growth is a crucial role within their department to ensure an organisations growth and minimal damage of these issues (Howell, 2009).

As the textbook alludes to, crises will be unpredictable events that can impact on an organisation’s viability, credibility or reputation and history also illustrates that regardless of the size of an organisation a crisis can and will happen (Howell, 2009). Tvedt and Farmer’s research in 2005 showed that approximately 27 percent of organisations that suffer a crisis will not recover although most still remain unprepared, the reaction of the publics during the crisis will determine whether or not the organisation will succeed or fail (Howell, 200).

In my opinion I believe that to ensure the lowest chance of crisis and negative feedback within an organisation that a public relations department must proverbially “cross the t’s and dot the i’s”. In saying this, the goal is really to pay attention to every detail and take into account every aspect that may have a chance to cause harm to an organisations public image. In a nutshell the more cautious and alert public relations consultants are to internal and external threats the more prepared an organisation will be if one of the aspects takes a wrong turn.

An example of how an organisation within Australia failed crisis management due to not encompassing every aspect of its success is the retail giants David Jones and their notorious sex scandal. It was announced that an employee Kristy Fraser-Kirk had been sexually abused by another executive member of their organisation Mark McInnes.  If David Jones had noted the issues with how Mark McInnes treated women within David Jones earlier and counselled him or even to a harsher extent fired him, this would have given a much more positive view for the publics regarding David Jones’ perspective upon women’s rights and they could not have been accused of turning a blind eye. Although instead of that happening David Jones’ had to suffer public humiliating as Kristy-Fraser-Kirk fronted the media and nationally named and shamed those involved.

I believe that the keys to good crisis management are adaptability, working proactively, timeliness and ensuring that every aspect that has a chance of harming your organisation is kept closely monitored.

Bibliography

Howell, G 2009. An Issues-Crisis Perspective. In: Chia, J. and Synnott, G. An introduction to Public Relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 270-299.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw-act/inside-the-david-jones-sex-scandal/story-e6freuzi-1225900260332

http://www.davidjones.com.au/

Managing PR for success

When understanding the need for management within the field of public relations in my opinion it is crucial that one must understand that management not only refers to the management of employees and people internally to the organisations. We must also consider the management of external relationships including target publics, stakeholders and any aspect of the population that will affect the ways in which the organisation operates and is viewed by the target publics.

In my opinion the systems theory is pinnacle for the management of public relations practices when approaching each campaign and the balance of an organisation’s ecology is also crucial.  As the textbook alludes to, contemporary public relations practice has adopted a need for ecology to play its role (Mehta & Xavier, 2009). Referring to public relations the practitioner should endeavour to maintain a balance between all organisms (employees, publics, stakeholders) within the ecology (organisation) to ensure success.

There is however no perfect answer that will offer a perfect solution for every managerial situation and in saying this I feel repetitive because this issue is raised in almost every topic of P.R.. With this being the case it is then obvious that a public relations practitioner most host the skill of being dynamic and within their own ecology must be able to change and adapt to situations occurring internally and externally (Mehta & Xavier, 2009).

The Intro to P.R. textbook raises the issue of the carbon footprint and global warming playing its toll on several industries ability to adapt to change and statistics reveal that ecological sustainability has become an expectation of contemporary business. If public relations departments have not already assumed that this is the case then in my opinion they are already starting from behind as environmental factors play such a large role amongst today’s business functions and have the ability to make or break a business decision.

An example that practices a good model for public relations management is the super market giants Coles. Coles have opted to go with “environmentally friendly” bags since 2008 giving the consumer a positive perception of the business. This leaves customers to believe that Coles cares more about just making a profit and in fact places emphasis on preserving the environment.

Reference List

http://www.coles.com.au/About-Coles/Sustainability.aspx#Coles_Green_Bags

Mehta, A. & Xavier, R  2009, Public Relations Management in Organisations. An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice. South Melbourne, Oxford.

Strategising to succeed

Strategy is a crucial aspect of the public relations planning process and should certainly not be overlooked. It is important that a public relations practitioner does not happen to confuse the term “strategy” with the term “tactic”. Strategy is a militaristic term that can be defined in terms of business as “a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal or set of goals or objectives”. A public relations practitioner will structure its strategy around the way it wants to achieve the desired goals and without a strategy any plan will lack direction (www.rapid-business-intelligence-success.com,).

When looking upon creating a strategy as a public relations consultant it is important to address the three key concepts that are: Contested space, intentional representation and intended meaning (James, 2009). In my opinion if the better that these three concepts are understood in relation to the organisation the larger the chance will be for success.

In terms of contested space this is the area that the organisation’s target publics will construct, deconstruct and reconstruct the meaning of the message being disseminated by the organisation (James, 2009).  The intentional representation is the decision made by the organisation that will determine how they want the target publics to view the organisation (James, 2009). The combination of these two concepts will result in how the organisation is realistically viewed amongst the target publics after they have received and understood the message; this is known as the Intended Meaning which is usually a difficult stage to succeed in.

So with all these terms in mind I think it is necessary that we look at a practical example of how an organisation has actually progressed through these three concepts of strategising in public relations and how they have succeeded.

The first thing that comes to mind in such a case is the car company Toyota. With all the contemporary environmental issues surrounding us such as global warming, an intelligent decision was made by Toyota to “go green” with their cars and endeavour to build an environmentally friendly hybrid car. The green image that Toyota has established themselves with has been done through a model called the “Toyota Prius”. Relating back to the key concepts of public relations the organisation has developed an Intentional representation of being environmentally friendly, identified and targeted their publics of people who care for the environment and then resulted in actually being taken by the community as an environmentally friendly organisation which can be determined as a successful Intended meaning.

I think that there are endless examples of organisations that have succeeded through the implementation of a strong strategy and It would be rare to find a public relations consultant that does not place a high value on the use of strategising.

References

James, M 2009, Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice (pp. 54-90). South Melbourne: Oxford.

 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24230209/ 

http://www.rapid-business-intelligence-success.com/definition-of-business-strategy.html

Engaging with the media:

 In many ways the public relations practitioner is responsible for an organisation’s reputation as viewed by the target publics. With this in mind it is then obvious that for an organisation to have the best chance as being viewed positively by its target publics the public relations practitioners must form good relationships with all forms of media (McLean & Phillipps, 2009). To me it is apparent that a good public relations practitioner should attempt to image its organisation as a superior one as often as they can, although in my opinion it is also crucial that a successful practitioner should determine where the line in the sand is between creating a positive name for the company and bombarding target publics with overwhelming information that leads to disinterest.

When looking at how to approach the media there is definitely no theory that is perfect for every situation, the key for a good practitioner is to decide and select which theories to apply to certain situations. A successful practitioner in my opinion will by dynamic in how they approach the media and achieve goals through the satisfaction of target publics and the media itself. For example, to apply an agenda setting theory to a situation where it may seem unethical or bias it will impact the organisation in a negative manner.

Some uneducated people may argue that there is little difference between promotions and public relations? In my opinion the cornerstone that separates one from the other is the way each engages with the media. Public relations usually have little control over the messages that the media conveys of their organisation as opposed to a promotions or advertisement campaign which will overload the target audience with information about their product (http://managementhelp.org, 2009). It is crucial that a public relations practitioner interacts with media outlets such as newspapers, television, radio etc in a way that separates them from promotional ventures.

An example of public relations practice gone wrong in the form of trying to beat the media is the B.P. oil disaster.  In an attempt to agenda set and fool the media/targtet publics in an unethical way, the oil giants photo shopped images regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and were caught red handed. When public relations practitioners try to unfairly deceive the media they usually come off looking worse for wear. This example shows exactly why it is important to be as honest with the media as possible.

In conclusion the way I see it, when dealing with media relations as a public relations consultant the key is to select an appropriate communication theory to apply (this may happen consciously or subconsciously), find a balance between good dissemination and bombardment whilst forming networking relationships within the media so they can assist in forming the organisations positive face value amongst the target publics.

Reference List

http://managementhelp.org/pblc_rel/pblc_rel.htm

McLean, H., & Phillipps, R 2009, Engaging With The Media An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice (pp. 54-90). South Melbourne: Oxford

http://prdisasters.com/category/pr-disasters/

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AzecF7UaMg&feature=search

PR research + practice

Public Relations Research

For public relations practitioners the basis of research is fundamental to success and is crucial for an organisation to understand how one must approach certain situations or even how to approach a situation differently if fails in the first instance. Before undertaking any actions towards a plan for a public relations practitioner, research should be the first port of call and is viewed by some as a helpful hint that can be used to solve where pieces fit within a jigsaw puzzle (Synnott, 2009).

In my opinion research for public relations consultants does not always have to be as formal as the word “research” suggests, although it can arise in the form of something as basic as proposing a variety of questions and direct these questions at target publics to gain a scope of the circumstances. Regardless of the form in which it is carried out, the aim should remain constant which is ultimately to understand the environment that you are dealing in before you begin to deal within it.

I’m sure in the business world there are endless amounts of situations where public relations practitioners have been guilty of throwing themselves in the deep end (and by this I mean neglecting research). Although the first thought that comes to mind in terms of organisations not utilising research correctly is the wide range of public relations firms misusing social networking, regardless of the fact they think they have an edge by being a part of it.

Information week research shows that “9 out of 10 companies in wildfire’s PR report had a presence on at least two social networks” (informationweek.com, 2010). Due to lack of research the majority of these companies only used social networking sites as one way tools of communication rather than sourcing feedback and utilising target publics suggestions through social media. Ultimately this leads to the vast range of companies sourcing social media for all the wrong reasons when the smallest amount of research would reveal the opportunities that social media has on offer.

Public Relations Practice

The role and practices of a contemporary practitioner has changed considerably over the past two decades and a major shift has been from a role of positive branding to a merchant of mutually gaining relationships (Synnott, 2009).

In my opinion the modern public relations consultant must work as an advocate for the organisation to plan/predict the future in the aim to brand the organisation as a positive name on society whilst also asking questions like “what if?”, practitioners are big time problem solvers and I see the contemporary inhouse consultant as the proverbial “go-to guy” (Synnott, 2009).

The way I see it, if a public relations consultant chooses to ignore the shift of contemporary public relations practice and proceeds to do things that have been out dated it will have negative impacts to the business and may even proof dire to the organisation’s future.

If organisation’s public relations firms work as one way communicators along the press agency model rather than trying to achieve two way symmetrical bonds with target publics, the majority of the target publics will not be interested in the organisation and see the transparency of the organisation’s actions.

To put into practice an example of an organisation that has taken on board the contemporary public relations practice and reaped the benefits from such guidelines is the Arnott’s Biscuits organisation.  The organisation of Arnott’s released alcoholic biscuits in early 2004 and made all the right moves in doing so, the end result being “in the launch week, sales of Tim Tam Tia Maria totalled nearly $600,000 and sales of Kahlua Slice totalled more than $500,000, with total launch week sales of more than $1 million” (www.lib.uts.edu.au, 2004).

Keeping this is mind and with reference to my Arnott’s link in my eyes it is obvious that if a public relations firm does sufficient amounts of research and operates under the basic guidelines of a contemporary practitioner they are creating a much great probability of success.

 

 

 

 

Reference list

 

http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/web_services/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=226600052

http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/gta/?page=show&id=472

Synnott, G 2009, Public Relations Research An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice (pp. 54-90). South Melbourne: Oxford.

As I continue to move through my university studies the word “ethics” seems to be a recurring theme and an aspect of everything that I am studying. In relation to public relations I see ethics as a central component of what public relations is all about in contemporary practice and a strong argument will show that this has not always been the case (Tilley, 2009). Touching back on Grunig and Hunt’s four models of public relations I think this can also be viewed as a basic template as to how ethics has grown to be prominent in this field of work adapting from the deceit and con of the press agency model to a mutual understanding and utilisation of feedback of the two way symmetrical model.

What is ethics?

In different fields of study it is obvious that ethics will have various meanings.  Although even within the same fields of study ethics is going to mean a range of different things to different people and organisations. In a nutshell I look as ethics as basically “the way things ought to be done” not only reflecting on ourselves individually but how our actions will affect others within society either positively or negatively.  In a perfect world ethics should find a balanced compromise between all parties involved so that everyone is happy and no one is overlooked.

Mindfulness

Is a concept with a Buddhist background that refers to alertness and awareness that involves an ongoing level of mental concentration to three key aspects, this model can be effectively adapted for the field of public relations outlining basic roles that an ethical public relations practitioner will always follow including willingness, knowledge and skill (Tilley, 2009). In my opinion if the three aspects of mindfulness practice are overlooked in public relations practician the organisation will be highly susceptible to making unethical decisions.

General  

When looking into the area of ethics regarding public relations there are numerous amounts of aspects that can be followed or even overlooked. In certain situations these guidelines can be overlooked at the peril of the organisation or individual. The bottom line remains, if people are not satisfied with the activities that you or your organisation are carrying out people will not want to deal with you and therefore you will cease to exist, hence the importance of ethics in today’s society although more specifically public relations.

An example of ethical public relations practice in today’s society is the abundance of corporations choosing to use ecological sustainable products within their business. The initial financial output may be great however, when the target publics realise that the corporation is making an effort to conserve the environment this will result in increased consumer attention and ultimately sales.

An example of unethical public relations practice would be the overwhelming boycott campaign against Nike and its use of offshore sweatshops for cheap production of shoes and other athletic products. Although Nike still remains one of the most profitable sporting labels internationally the corporation has taken a massive blow through losing a percentage of their target publics as it has been made aware that the company has exploited cheap labour. A stereotypically unethical decision will seem like an advantageous idea at the time however this will usually lead to dire consequences in the long term as seen here in the Nike campaign.

 

Reference List

http://www.coles.com.au/Products/Our-Brands/Coles-Green-Choice.aspx

http://labornotes.org/blogs/2010/04/nikes-love-affair-sweatshops-still-doing-it

Tilley, E 2009, Public Relations Ethics An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice (pp. 54-90). South Melbourne: Oxford.

Why is it important that we understand theory?

In terms of the texts I have looked upon regarding the use of theoretical practices within the field of Public Relations I have been able to draw many conclusions as to why it is an important building block for any prospective practitioner. A strong argument will suggest that before undertaking any practical work amongst the public relations field there must be pre-requisite knowledge of the theoretical views of public relations, I believe the following are the main reasons; Adds context, gains information about previously held assumptions, discover what/what not to do and ultimately explains the why factor (Sison, 2009).

Trends and Theories:
From my readings of the textbook and various blogs the main shift in trends amongst public relations theories that I can gather  is from a fundamental standpoint to a co-creational standpoint . I believe that this is so because business’s and more importantly public relation practitioners have made the valuable observation that the target publics should not be viewed as tools although, target publics can be utilised as a mutual group or parties that may reveal a differing and significant viewpoint that may be crucial towards achieving the organisation’s goals. I believe that the modern outlook on public relations as a two way communication process is a very valuable find and to be overlooked at managements own peril.

Grunig & Hunt’s Work:

I found the 4 models of public relations practice concocted by Grunig & Hunt a really interesting concept that gave me a basic understanding of the different approaches to working within public relations. I realise that although the two way symmetrical is a utopian approach to public relations that this is rare amongst the industry and that the 4 models are not separate although they work in tandem and each aspect of the model may play a role in differing situations. A strong argument may reveal that stereotypically public relations practitioners have moved from liars and con artists to merchants of negotiation and mutual understanding even though I admit that this is a mere generalisation (sledzik, 2008).

Application:

A recent example of the public relations theoretical practices in use is the Apple Iphone4 situation. In response to the faulty Iphone4, Apple’s C.E.O. Steve Jobs has announced that each owner of the product will receive a free case for the phone or a complete refund. This example conveys the use of Grunig & Hunt’s 4 models from stage by stage ending in Apple making a decision that is symmetrical where both the organisation and target publics make a compromise.

Video regarding Apple’s new Iphone4

 

 

 

 

Reference List

Sison, M. D. (2009), Theoretical Contexts An Introduction to Public Relations From Theory to Practice (pp. 54-90). South Melbourne: Oxford.

The ’4 Models’ of public relations practice: How far have you evolved?

YouTube – Apple offers free case for iPhone 4

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