Tactics and Traditional Publics

After reading chapter 9 in our public relations book, I learned the differences between controlled and uncontrolled media.  I liked that our authors spelled out the advantages and disadvantages of controlled and uncontrolled media.  The fact that organizations control what text and images are being sent to the media is an advantage of controlled media.  A couple disadvantages of controlled media include: the loss of credibility and it may cost the organization money.  An advantage of uncontrolled media is that it costs less.  A disadvantage of uncontrolled media is that it is not controllable.  Organizations that have public relations departments have little to do with the information that is leaked through uncontrolled media.  I read a blog post by Heather Smith about controlled and uncontrolled communications.  In her post, she explains more in depth the advantages and disadvantages of controlled and uncontrolled media.

When our book talked about tactics and traditional publics in news media, many of the ideas that they talked about rang a bell for me.  While working at Jeff Dezen Public Relations, I was given the chance to help draft and distribute news releases, put together media kits, and draft and distribute media advisories.  Although I didn’t personally contribute to interviews, news conferences, or actualities, I’m familiar with these terms because I was around PR professionals.  I was lucky to learn these terms from PRo’s who constantly participated in these activities along with social media. Professor Vargas provided us with a Web site that explains social media terms that may be unfamiliar.  Check it out!

Planning in Public Relations

In order to reach goals that are planned for organizations by their public relations department or agency, the PRo’s must have some sort of plan.  Three different types of plans are an ad hoc plan (a plan for a temporary situation), a standing plan (a long-term plan used to help strengthen an organization’s relationships), a contingency plan (a plan used for “what if” scenarios). 

On Entrepreneur.com, a PR writer, Rachel Meranus wrote about the correct ways to develop a PR plan.  She explained that a general PR plan rule is to “consider a year ahead, plan six months ahead, and expect to revise after three months.”  I think the key point is that you  never know when something is going to change or go awry.  One point of Rachel’s article that I thought was interesting was her view on crisis planning.  She said that in order for a PR plan to be complete, a PRo should look at the different possibilities and scenarios that could go wrong.  I think this would be considered a type of contingency plan because it is a “what if” type of plan.

I think it’s interesting to learn the different types of plans and their technical terms.  While interning at Jeff Dezen Public Relations, I was able to sit in on their staff meetings and in a few of their meetings with one specific client.  I enjoyed hearing the plans and ideas that they developed for new products and services for that client.  I would consider those types of plans ad hoc plans because they were temporary and had an end date in sight.

Research and Evaluation: Surveys

While reading about the public relations process, our book states that the steps include: research, analyze, communicate, and evaluate.  Chapter 7 of our book focuses mainly on step one of the public relations process: research.

Research is a main part of public relations because it helps gather information about an organizations’ publics before beginning a campaign.  One type of research that I believe works time and time again, is survey research.  Surveys provide organizations with what a minor part of the major portion of their publics think.  There are many types of surveys that can be distributed to an organizations’ publics.  Research Methods Knowledge Base lists and explains most of the different types of surveys that public relations professionals can use to research what interests their publics.

As technology increases and more social media sites are created, distributing and conducting surveys is becoming easier and easier.  With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, surveys can be distributed within seconds.  A specific survey site that I’ve used is SurveyMonkey.com.   This site allows you to conduct surveys and gives quick responses.  Another advantage of this survey service is that it gives the conductor a breakdown of the answers that are given in charts and graphs.  I recommend this site to any PRo’s who are planning on conducting a survey.

The Publics in Public Relations

Publics, according to Public Relations: a value-driven approach, is any group whose members have a common interest or common values in a particular situation.  While reading about the categories of different types of publics in public relations, I learned that some groups of people can be categorized in more than one way.  For example, people who are unfamiliar with your organization yet participate in conversations and comment on your organization are part of both the nontraditional public and the active public. 

One of my fellow communication studies majors, Cara Mitchell, wrote a blog post explaining the different categories of publics and the questions that we, as PR practitioners, should ask ourselves about these publics.   

Another part of this chapter that interested me was the amount of time that they took to talk about employee satisfaction with an organization.  In the lecture given by professor Vargas, we had to answer the question, “Are employees the most important publics in an organization?”  I thought that although employees are an integral part of an organization’s publics, they aren’t the MOST important part.  Our book argued that employees are the most important publics to consider in an organization.  If employees are not satisfied with the organization in which they participate, they may not stick up for the organization if it is under attack.  I came across an article from InsightLink Communications that explained the importance of employee satisfaction.  Check it out!

“What is past is prologue.”- William Shakespeare

Our public relations book shares a quote by William Shakespeare in the chapter about the history of public relations: “What is past is prologue.”  I interpret this to mean that what happened in the past is something that may again happen in the future… or more cliche, “History repeats itself.”  While it was interesting reading about the fathers of public relations, Ivy Ledbetter Lee and Edward Bernays, the repetition of history was probably the most important information that I took away from Chapter 3.  I enjoyed reading about the different practices that were used in public relations in the past and relating them to present day public relations practices. 

For example, Christianity was spread by word of mouth in the middle ages.  Even though public relations has evolved and matured while using different channels, word of mouth is a way that is still used to help relate your organization to its publics.  Brains on Fire, is a marketing agency in Greenville, S.C. that prides itself on helping organizations build movements.  This quote comes directly from their web site: “Born out of the bone between word of mouth marketing and identity development, we are devoted to helping organizations discover and sustain excitement about who they are and why they exist.”  This company constantly blogs about WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing).  The Brains on Fire Blog has a category specifically for Word of Mouth.  Take a look at their recent posts about WOMM.

Can you think of other ways that public relations practices from the past are still used by today’s public relations practitioners?

Public Relations Current Jobs

In my public relations class, we were given an assignment to look up the job descriptions for some current PR available jobs.  I chose to look through the job search on the PRSA site first.  I found a job as a Public Relations Director at FOLIOfn which required that the applicant have strong teamwork skills, a track record in dealing with the media, blogger outreach, and the ability to work with senior management.  If hired, the director would write press releases, initiate media relations and social media outreach, and other efforts to raise awareness of FOLIOfn.

I also found a position as the Manager of Public Relations for Staples.  The qualities of the applicant is required to have high energy, excited about working on creative PR programs, and confident with counseling executive team members.  The applicant must have good oral and written skills and experience with dealing with crisis management and communicaiton.  The applicant’s main job description included developing PR initiatives, managing the media and provide PR couseling to the business team.

 The other open positions that I found had similar job duties as well as certain charactersitics that applicants had to have.  They all had to be organized, team working skills, and a bachelors degree in communicaitons.  I thought it was interesting that although the job descriptions differed, they were all very much alike.  I’m sure with each job, there are specific duties that are learned after an applicant is chosen, but those specifics were not listed.

Public Relations and Marketing- IMC

After reading chapter 13, I better understood the major differences between public relations and marketing. It was helpful because currently, I work as the marketing director at Toussaint Law Firm and sometimes I feel as though the things I do could be put into a public relations category.  While public relations, advertising, and marketing all follow the same process of researching, planning, communication, and evaluation, they are focused on different things.  The specific way that our book describes the differences in public relations is that it is focused on many publics instead of just on consumers.  I found this series of photos on The Ads of the World that shows the difference between marketing, PR and advertising.  While this series of photos comically describes differences, it is very precise in its quick descriptions.

While marketing consists of the four P’s (product, price, place, and promotion), public relations focuses on the promotion.  Through IMC (integrated marketing communications)  strategies, companies develop plans to market different products in different ways.  IMC differs from mass marketing in that it focuses on individual consumers, practitioners use databases to target consumers, practitioners send out well-focused messages, use consumer-preferred media to send their marketing messages, and favor interactive media. 

After reading this chapter, I’ve realized that I do a little bit of public relations as well as marketing work at TLF.  Maybe I should change my title. 🙂