Author: khudhara

PR (BEFORE AND AFTER)

When I first started learning about public relations all I could think about is marketing… journalism… advertising, and every time I want to explain it I can’t come up with a definition that can describe what public relations really is. But again, learning about something by reading is not the same as going through it and experiencing it and applying it in real-life situations. You would ask why are you saying “again”? I said again because the first time I start learning English I learned the alphabet, memorized it and learned how to sing it, but I could not put them together and speak the language. Then I moved to the States and learned the right combinations of the alphabet in the right order and I started speaking it; so is PR; I can’t say that I know a lot about PR, but at least I can talk about it now without linking it to something else.

Being part of a PR campaign gave me the chance to gain an understanding of different aspects of the PR process. Getting introduced to the issue is what triggers the PR process. Whether it’s coming from a client or coming from an external event, it’s still an issue that needs a solution or an action. In Public relations, this solution is a process that starts with researching and understanding the issue and ends with evaluating and measuring the results.

Between research and evaluation action and communication takes place. The research is so important because we can identify what needs to be done and what have been done in similar situations. In order to execute these actions we need to know what communication methods we need to use. Then the evaluation comes at the end to know if the actions and communication technic we have done are effective or not. Each step in the PR process has its importance and we cannot ignore any of them.

In other words, the research let us come up with strategies. Those strategies have tactics that point us to what we are going to do and how we are doing it. Executing those tactics could involve marketing, advertising, and journalism, but not necessary any of them. It could be one of them or a couple or in some situations all of them. It all depends on what the issue is. It could be getting an organization out of a crisis, or maybe bringing more customers to a company, or even influencing a society to go in favor of an advocacy group or a politician. I believe all the big companies and organizations are not only where they are because of what they provide but also because of how they tell people about it and how they keep people’s attention toward it, and that’s all involve public relations in one way or another.

To sum up, pubic relations is a problem-solving process operates by delivering a message from a source to an audience, in order for this message to be effective the message needs to reach the right publics, with the right contents, at the right time, by the right media.

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Does social media replace press releases?

Press releases have been a major communication tool in the public relations world. Since social media became heavily used by the public, many companies started using social media for the distribution of their news. So the question rises: is social media replacing press releases. Before answering this question, what is a press release? Press releases can be written or recorded targeting the public using mass media (newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, …etc).

“While I don’t believe the press release is dead, it has been transformed, to become this living, breathing thing. If a release doesn’t have a social element — that is, a way for viewers to comment or share to their social networks — it doesn’t have legs.” – Amanda Miller Littlejohn (As cited in Swallow, 2010)

In fact, social media does not replace press releases; it is just another way of communicating the message of a press release to the audience in a more narrow and personalized way. PR practitioners used this in their advantage where they can reach their audience targets in no time and with minimum costs. According to Swallow (2010), “The social media platforms with the most value must be used by a client’s target audience and be a meaningful place for brands to connect with consumers and journalists” (Para. 20).

Social media has many advantages; PR professionals aim to establish a relationship between their employers/clients and their publics. Using social media they can make this happens faster and easier where communicating with customers through social media is a two-way communication. Social media give the audience target the option to give feed back instantly. For example, customers now can tweet about their experience of using a product or a service, in return, companies can respond to fix problems or to correct misunderstandings and rumors. Also, social media can be so helpful in raising awareness, spreading the word, gaining understanding, motivating customer acceptance, and building trust. (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2012).

“By maintaining this new form of public relations, audiences are going to be more inclined to not only give the brand a chance, but remain loyal. A whopping 71 percent who have a positive customer service experience via social media would recommend that brand to their friends” (Boyd, 2013).

Social media is not only a way for PR pros to communicate with the audience targets; it is also a way PR pros can use to communicate with each other’s. Social media gives independent PR professionals the option to share their views and consultancies with individuals seeking advices. According to Swallow (2010), “LuAnn Glowacz, an independent PR strategist and founder of PR firm WordCove PR notes, “My most valuable business connections are other independent PR and related professionals in Austin, who I connect with daily on Twitter and Facebook”.

So, social media does not replace press releases, instead, social media promotes press releases. It makes them customizable and more controllable since feedback can be generated, which gives PR practitioners the ability to understand the publics more.

References

Boyd, M. (2013, August 16). Social media’s role in modern public relations. In PRDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2014, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Social_medias_role_in_modern_public_relations_15017.aspx

Papasolomou, I., & Melanthiou, Y. (2012). Social media: Marketing public relations’ new best friend. Journal of Promotion Management, 18(3), 319-328. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1240208254?accountid=39473

Swallow, E. (2010, August 16). The Future of Public Relations and Social Media. In mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/

Crisis Management in PR

The delivery guy approaches the house; He does not even knock: the delivery guy throws the package over the fence and leaves; there is a surveillance camera at the door; the customer comes back home and sees the package on the floor; he wonders why it is there; he goes and checks the records and sees what the delivery guy did; he uploads the video on Youtube.com; five days later the video has around 5 millions views, then the crisis began (Dietrich, 2012).

The previous story describes what happened with one of FedEx’s customers. I started with this story to show how an individual’s actions can affect a whole company or an organization. A crisis could happen to any publically known organization, it could happen for two main reasons: Either by an exterior factor, which probably is a competitor of the organization, or by the actions of an interior entity of the organization. In addition, this crisis will cause the organization so many losses, either a decrease in their profit or less people believing in their cause or even a damage to the organization’s reputation. In some cases companies don’t even realize that they are going through a crisis. However, those crises could be managed and solved. Here a PR professional’s work is critical. Because the public’s eyes are pointing toward the organization since the crisis is still happening and any new information added to the subject could have an enormous effects on the organization’s image (Sun, 2010).

“An organization’s reputation is as important as any other corporate asset, and many organizations have some kind of crisis plan intended to protect that reputation should something go wrong. This is when effective management of information (controlling communications) is so vital – and always difficult” (Ashcroft, 1997)

“The public relation crisis means the crisis related to the enterprise because of poor quality, labor dispute, legal wrangling and catastrophic failure exposed by the medias, and it will seriously affect the reputation of the enterprise” (Sun, 2010). In FedEx case, the crisis was a customer service crisis until the customer uploaded the video on Youtube. According to Miltenberg (2013), developing a clear effective message on the same platform the crisis started or happened on is a successful crisis management technique. Also, Miltenberg mentioned that people like to hear responds from people not just a voice talking with the logo of the brand (Miltenberg, 2013). That is exactly what FedEx did. They created and uploaded a video on Youtube of Matthew Thornton, senior VP of FedEx Express, apologizing and talking about the incident and how much he is disappointed of the actions of their employee. Furthermore, he assures the public that these actions will not happening again and they are using this incident of the training of the company’s employee (Dietrich, 2012).

“As the leader of our pickup and delivery operations across America, I want you to know that I was upset, embarrassed, and very sorry for our customer’s poor experience. This goes directly against everything we have always taught our people and expect of them. It was just very disappointing” (as cited in Dietrich).

References

 

Ashcroft, L. S. (1997). Crisis management – public relations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 12(5), 325-332. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/215863770?accountid=39473

Dietrich, G. (2012, January 11). FedEx Customer Video Turned Good PR. In spinsucks. Retrieved October 18, 2014, from http://spinsucks.com/communication/fedex-customer-video-turned-good-pr/

 

Miltenberg, B. (2013, March 19). 13 Tips for Effective Crisis Management. In prnewsonline. Retrieved October 19, 2014, from http://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/2013/03/19/13-tips-for-crisis-management/

Sun, L. (2010). Analysis of management strategies of corporate public relation crisis. International Journal of Business and Management, 5(3), 171-174. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/821544142?accountid=39473

 

The Role of Research in PR

Information is a big word in the Public relations world; interpersonal communication, creativity, negotiation, and problem solving are some of the skills a PR professional must have; in order to apply all of those skills, accurate and up to date information is needed. To obtain these information a well done research needs to be conducted.

“A little bit of effort and research can go a long way in PR” (Sanchez, 2013).

Decision-making is not an easy task especially if the person is in a high position and the decision he or she has to take will affect a group of people or a whole organization. However, this task could be easier by doing a good research. Sanchez (2013) explained that research is critical in making informed decisions, where the person will be able to support his or her argument with solid evidence instead of a personal opinion or a hunch. For young professionals and recently college graduates research could be a very effective tool to support the ideas they share with their teams, superiors, or even their clients (Sanchez, 2013).

As Bowen et al. (2010) stated, “Research makes communication two-way by collecting information from publics rather than one-way, which is a simple dissemination of information.” A two-way communication occurs in primary research, where more interaction and engaging with the public are needed. Furthermore, by communicating with the public and understanding them and their thoughts and believes, researchers could gather rich information and specifics that could be very helpful in the PR plan.

Another benefit from conducting research is saving capital and time by showing results that could change the course of action the team or the organization is going to take. For example, the results might show that the communication method the organization is using has a small rate of effectiveness; on the other hand, the research result could lead to a new way the organization might consider (Bowen et al., 2010).

PR campaigns need strategic planning, and strategic planning needs research. I mentioned in my last post that PR is part of the marketing mix, and very important in identifying the target market, and that where research takes place. Symes (n.d.) pointed out that research could eliminate bias information about the organization itself, and provide neutral information so the top management can see a clear image of the public’s opinion about the company.

In addition, Symes noted that research could show the strength and weaknesses of the organization. The research outlines the available resources the organization can use in implementing a PR plan. In contrast, it could show the resources that the company do not have and still need to obtain. Getting feedback from the public is another reason why research is such a useful tool to PR campaigns. Feedback could highly affect the organization and the PR plan, where it shows if the objectives of the PR plan are accomplished, how well are they accomplished, and how effective are they.

“Without research, public relations would not be a true management function” (Bowen et al., 2010).

References

Bowen, S., Rawlins, B., & Martin, T. (2010). Public Relations Research: The Key to Strategy. In An Overview of the Public Relations Function (Vol. 1). New York [N.Y.: Business Expert Press.

Sanchez, C. (2013, September 24). 3 Reasons Why Research Is Crucial to Effective Public Relations. In Weber Shandwick. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from http://www.webershandwickseattle.com/2013/09/3-reasons-why-research-is-crucial-to-effective-public-relations/

Symes, S. (n.d.). How Is Research Important to Strategic Public Relations Plans?. In Chron. Retrieved September 15, 2014, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/research-important-strategic-public-relations-plans-15586.html

Public Relations? … OH, you mean Marketing.

PR vs. Marketing

Of course any PR practitioner or PR student would not like the title of this post, because usually PR is misunderstood as a synonym to marketing or advertising, which is not true. Public Relations is the behind the scene work that will make the image of the organization (the leading start) have a good impact on the public (the audience). Additionally, it helps the marketing strategy to be more successful. Ilagan (2012) pointed out that PR is a branch falling from “the large umbrella of marketing.” Its goal is to feed the media channels with information that helps build and maintain a positive appearance of the organization in public’s minds (PR is not marketing or advertising).

 

“PR is more than just press releases, spin and schmooze; it takes time and investment to get it right” (Beesley, 2012).

 

After clarifying the distinction of PR from marketing, a question rises: How does PR help the organization? According to Ilagan, “Public relations is the business of creating public opinion for private advantage. PR practitioners persuade the media to publish and distribute stories, articles, news, and information that promotes our clients’ goals” (What PR do?). In order to successfully accomplishing this information spreading, many relationships have to be built internally and externally of the organization. In other words, publicists need to have some good relationships with the marketing department, governmental sectors, investors, community, media organizations, …etc.

 

PR In The Marketing Mix

“Public Relations are still out of the Marketing Mix. But can we continue with this kind of organization?” (Baron, 2013).

 

As mentioned before, a strong and good relationship between the PR department and marketing department will result in a more successful marketing strategy. Baron (2013) noted that the cooperation between Marketing and Public Relations is important in maintaining long relationship with customers, “To establish process to sell companies products, based on the traditionnals “4P” … is not the main objective of Marketing anymore, which is now to build long-lasting relationships with consumers. Here we see the necessity of the collaboration between Marketing and Public Relations.”

PR can improve the marketing mix and make it more effective in several ways. Two of those ways are: First, identifying the target market. Since good publicists have a good relationship with the community, identifying the target market will be easier and more accurate. By identifying the target market it will lead to the second way PR can improve the Marketing mix, which is identifying the appropriate media channels. Choosing the media channels depends on the target market the organization choose. In other words, picking the right form of media will play a big role in delivering the message to the right target market (Beesley, 2012). For example, if the target market was local young professionals, cable TV companies would be a good choice because they will play the ad in the requested areas and it could be presented between shows that is viewed the most by people between the age of 20 and 30.

 

 

References:

 

Baron, C. (2013, July 18). Why Public Relations should be a central component of (Baron, 2013) (Baron, 2013)the Marketing Mix ?. In Augure. Retrieved September 5, 2014, from http://www.augure.com/blog/public-relations-marketing-mix-20130718

 

Beesley, C. (2012, March 8). 8 Tips for Adding Public Relations to Your Marketing Mix. In SBA.gov. Retrieved September 5, 2014, from http://www.sba.gov/blogs/8-tips-adding-public-relations-your-marketing-mix

 

Ilagan, M. (2012, September 10). Changing Role of PR in the Marketing Mix Today. In East West Public Relations. Retrieved September 5, 2014, from http://www.eastwestpr.com/2012/09/changing-role-of-pr-in-the-marketing-mix-today