A Happy Ending to a Stressful Semester

Public Relations has a lot more to it than one may think. In the beginning of the semester, I thought it was just making sure your company looked good. Though this is a part of Public Relations, it isn’t the whole thing. Public Relations is also making or changing plans to make sure that the company is doing their very best. It’s analyzing every single aspect of a company to ensure that every single thing they’re doing is earning the very best possible outcome.

In my first blog I used the quote “[PR involves] anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinions, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization” (About PR). What I failed to do was dig deeper into that quote and find that along with just analyzing the current situation, PR involves researching what you can do to improve a company, making plans, and sometimes implementing said plans in changing or improving a company or situation. Later in the blog, I discussed the difference between PR and propaganda. Had I written that blog today, I would have discussed the differences between PR and advertising, marketing and journalism, though in some situations propaganda and PR could be confused.

Throughout the semester, I have been working to create a campaign book for Shefit, a small athletic wear company specializing in maximum support sports bras. Throughout this process, I have learned a lot about what it is that PR is. When starting the project, I believed that PR was primarily running social media, maintaining a good reputation, and keeping in contact with customers. Though these are all key aspects of the field, there is so much more.

I didn’t realize until I was writing the strategy part of my plansbook that as someone in PR, you could make recommendations that would change the entire company. This makes a lot of sense though. Why would you spend hours doing research and analyzing the current situation of the company, the customer bases wants and needs, and then not make company changing decisions.

I also learned that PR is hard. People (not me, obviously) often think that both advertising and PR are easy fields, and I’ve spoken to several people in the major that have told me they’re only doing this because it’s the easiest major at GV. I knew it wasn’t true going into this class, but leaving the class I am certain. Not only is it difficult to do primary and secondary research on a very specific topic, but coming up with 9 different strategies to improve their Millennial influence, and increase their sales isn’t easy. It takes someone with a lot of creativity and a lot of skill to concisely put all of their ideas into one carefully planned, 55 page plans book.

Overall, I am very pleased with how this semester went. Before class I had been told that this was the hardest class in the major, but I would come out of it feeling like I could take on any PR project, and that’s true. Having (nearly) completed my plansbook, I feel extremely proud with how it turned out and I feel ready for any task that any internship or job may throw at me.

About Public Relations. (2017, April 24). Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://apps.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/publicrelationsdefined/

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The Social Media Iceberg

Social Media is a huge part of public relations, and it’s becoming more relevant as technology interweaves itself into everybody’s day to day lives. Nicole Matejic compares social media to an iceberg (2015). The comparison between the two seemingly unrelated things, is that there is a small amount of them available for viewing to the public. An iceberg is significantly larger underwater than it is above. This is true for social media in regard to public relations as well.

Above water, or what’s easily accessible to the public, is the organizational social media channels. This includes all public social media, your Facebook, your Twitter, etc. All of the magic behind crisis communications, along with analytics, which are infinitely important, is what lies below the surface (Matejic, 2015). An analogy made in the book, says “Much like those onboard the Titanic that fateful night in 1912, crisis communicators looking at the social media landscape without the information that lies beneath the surface of all social networks — their data — are steaming toward disaster” (Matejic, 2015, pg. 6).

The data that they’re referring to includes, “the geographical locations of your audience, peak post-engagement times, age and gender aggregated data, externally referring sites (such as your blog or website), how many clicks per URL in a post (further broken down into geographical regions), your audience’s aggregated interests (both professional and personal), and which type of post they are more likely to interact with (picture, video, text and so on)” (Matejic, 2015, pg. 6). Without this very important data, a company would have no clue which types of content are succeeding, and which are sinking (pardon my pun), both during a crisis, and day to day.

This type of data didn’t always exist though, in fact, the channels that we receive this data from is fairly new as well. In the past, someone in public relations would spend more of their time writing press releases, to give on air, release in print or publish online (Boitnott, 2017). Nowadays, social media is the primary channel for a company to release official information, but this isn’t the only thing it’s used for.

Public Relations specialists also use social media to find influencers, to identify brand threads, to influence journalists stories, to swiftly react to negative press, and to make announcements (Boitnott, 2017). With a world as digital as ours is today, it’s hard to imagine how a company ever interacted with their customers as much as they can today, considering all they have to do now to show they’re seeing what someone is saying is ‘like’ their tweet.

In addition to all of the ways that PR can use social media, it’s important to realize that the goal of the two are nearly identical: to create a two-way conversation between an organization and the people it wants to influence. When a company uses social media, it becomes a lot easier for them to interact with their audience, and also to tell their story. Posting on facebook is free, whereas a commercial can cost thousands of dollars, but the one thing to remember is that “Storytelling is a constant effort. Be strategic and plan your stories and the mediums you will use to tell them” (Pollard, 2016, para 9).

As a person working in public relations, it is essential to remember the iceberg analogy. Some things are going to work better than others, and it’s all going to depend on what you’re promoting, and who you’re promoting it to. In order to figure out what is going to work the best for your specific situation, it’s necessary to be checking the analytics of your social media, and adjusting your plans accordingly.

Boitnott, J. (2017). 5 Ways You Should Be Using Social Media as Your Top PR Platform. Inc., Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/john-boitnott/bhow-social-media-is-now-your-primary-public-rel.html

Pollard, C. (2016). Why You Should Combine Your PR And Social Media. Huffpost. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/catriona-pollard/why-pr-and-social-media-i_b_12568802.html

Matejic, N. (2015). Social media rules of engagement: Why your online narrative is the best weapon during a crisis. Milton, Qld: John Wiley & Sons Australia.

(PR)esident Eisenhower

The words “public relations” (PR) are pretty self-explanatory. It’s easy to figure out that it has something to do with relating to the public. The deeper you dig into what exactly PR is, the more clear the idea becomes. Before this class started, I thought PR was just how a company presented themselves to the public, and how they interacted with their clients. After doing some research, I know that along with that, it is also about building and maintaining relationships between a company and the public (About PR). PR is ever changing as technology advances, and it dates back to the early 20th century (Public Relations).

Public Relations is all about “anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinions, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization” (About PR). This means that they don’t often create new news, they work with what is already going on in the world and spin it for the benefit of their organization. This is done through research, planning and implementing the specific organization’s efforts.

Since the beginning, PR has been closely associated with propaganda, which is an association that people in the field have been trying to get rid of. Propaganda is much more manipulative than PR. PR isn’t so much about persuading people one way or the other, but about making sure that the company or person is showing their best side, and putting their best foot forward.

The difference between propaganda and PR becomes especially confusing when it comes to politics. The idea of public relations seems like something that would only be necessary for big companies with lots of customers, but that couldn’t be further from true. One singular person could need a PR team, such as President Eisenhower. Eisenhower knew that one of his biggest obstacles was going to be making sure the people understood why he was doing what he was doing (Parry 12). People on his team often got frustrated with how much he worried about PR, however, “It is not that Eisenhower viewed public relations as more serious than the development of the H-bomb, but rather, he saw public relations as one weapon that could eliminate its use” (Parry 12).

Eisenhower knew that putting the right foot forward, and getting the information out to the public, could be just as beneficial as creating a bomb. Because of this, he created the United States Information Agency (USIA). This was made because Eisenhower believed he could “end the cold war ‘without bloodshed’” (Parry 12). The USIA was created to essentially handle Eisenhower’s PR efforts.

It is obvious that PR is important. Without it, companies would struggle to connect with their customers, and would not be as equipped to get themselves out of sticky situations. If one of the most loved presidents in American history knew the importance of PR, it isn’t hard to believe that it’s a necessary part of any company.

 

About Public Relations. (2017, April 24). Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://apps.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/publicrelationsdefined/

Parry, P. (2014). Eisenhower: the public relations president. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu

Public Relations Through Time. (2012). Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://www.ipr.org.uk/public-relations-through-time.html

Collaboration with Technology

Collaboration is a part of everyday life for almost everyone, no matter their occupation. If you’re a doctor, you collaborate with other doctors to figure out the best way to treat a patient, as someone in Business, you collaborate with others to make sure you have the best plan, and the most efficient way to solve a problem. Some people love that collaboration is a part of their day to day life, and some people hate it. In this article, they talk about how collaboration can actually hinder someone’s efficiency because it requires them to constantly be reporting back to a supervisor, or another employee about what they’re getting done.

An article by The Economist makes the point that “Whereas managers may notice the benefits of collaboration, they fail to measure its costs.” They argue that “workers spend 70-85% of their time attending meetings (virtual or face-to-face), dealing with e-mail, talking on the phone or otherwise dealing with an avalanche of requests for input or advice,” this leaves them almost no time to actually get work done. They say that with all of the other stuff going on, it leaves a lot of them with work to bring home, which doesn’t make for a happy employee.

Collaboration can be stressful, especially if you can’t trust all of the people you’re working with. An article I found talked about how important a company’s culture is. When a company’s culture is good, that means you know you can trust everyone to get the job done, and to get it done the right way. One example they gave was the company Airbnb, a quote from their CEO Brian Chesky, “The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous. They can be entrepreneurial. And if we have a company that is entrepreneurial in spirit, we will be able to take our next “(wo)man on the moon” leap.” If every collaborative project was done by people who could trust each other, collaboration would be a looked higher upon between employees.

To really make sure a company is putting forth its utmost effort, it is important that each employee feels appreciated. According to Lifewire, “Empowerment is a form of approval for individuals and teams to make decisions. Starting with executive collaboration, key leaders of your organization may need to support shared goals for empowering people if they don’t already, through communication and collaboration.” They also talk about how important it is to create value in a collaborative environment, “In Bloomberg Businessweek, Evan Rosen emphasizes every worker contributes knowledge to the business. Using an example at Dow Chemical, he writes, “The day’s sales and inventory numbers are shared with everybody in the company, including the people doing the heaving lifting on the front lines… People will do a better job when they know their actions contribute or detract from business results” If each employee knows that what they are doing is appreciated, and that they’re working together towards a much bigger goal, they’ll be much more motivated to work and to get their jobs done.

To make collaboration easier, a variety of tools for collaboration have been created. Microsoft Corp. launched a workplace collaboration service, dubbed Microsoft Teams, that weaves in various pieces of its Office productivity software franchise to compete with Slack Technologies Inc.” This product will be available in early 2017. There are many features to their new product, including but not limited to, digital chats and Skype videoconferencing. Microsoft is not the first company to release a product like this, as mentioned earlier, one of their biggest competitors will be Slack. Slack is a company that makes communicating between employees simpler, and makes it easier to get in contact with only the people that you need, and not the people that you don’t, which in return means every person will get fewer emails.

Overall I think that technology will greatly improve the collaboration between employees. Instead of sitting in a couple hour long meeting that you need to travel to, you can quickly get ahold of someone and share the project with them and solve the issue much faster. Along with this, the software that is being developed to help with collaboration has so many features that will make life a lot easier for employers, and employees.

Virtual Reality Could Take Over

Before this class began I knew technology would have a major impact on my career, and my life in the future in general, but after this class, and after going on the virtual reality field trip it sunk in how huge of an impact technology is really going to have, and how major the changes coming in the next couple years are. Virtual Reality is on the rise, it’s a compelling system where you can literally get lost in another world for hours on end. In an article for The Atlantic, Mark Zuckerberg said, “One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people” (The Good and Bad). In the article they talked about how it’s basically a race to see who can make the best VR equipment that will make its way into the homes of the general public. Currently Google, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, and Facebook are some of the major players.

Along with the future of VR, other technology is everywhere. Technology is in the workplace, in the schools, and even in the presidential election. President-Elect Donald Trump ran a very abnormal campaign, in the sense that he had almost no traditional advertisements. “An unprecedented feature of Donald Trump’s successful campaign for president was his personal use of Twitter” (Trump’s use of Twitter). Current President, Barack Obama, has a twitter but it usually isn’t run by him, and it isn’t used to be the primary sharer of new political information. “Trump hasn’t held a press conference since July, instead opting for the more controlled setting of interviews and of course Twitter, over which he has total control” (Trump’s use of Twitter). These days control is very important to people, and technology lets them have as much of it as possible.

Along with keeping everyone up to date with everything Donald Trump, Twitter has recently started live streaming major football games, although this is fairly unrelated to the future of Advertising and PR, it is breaking the ground for other live streams in the future. “In the next decade, we will see a growing overlap between the physical and digital worlds” (Twitter is Transforming). I take this as meaning that if you want to be at a certain event, you won’t actually have to be there. This is already some what a reality, you can watch sports on TV, you can live stream events on FaceBook, or other networks, but this article takes it further, they believe that in the near future you will be able to use Virtual Reality to actually feel like you are attending these events. “Virtual reality is one element that social networks and streaming services could use to completely change how fans watch sports” (Twitter is Transforming). But it doesn’t stop at sports, you could experience anything from a concert, a speech, your class, or an important meeting.

This could even be used as an advertising tactic. Say you’re working for a hotel in Mexico, and they’ve hired you to try and recruit more customers, with VR you can create a online “reality” of the hotel and the beaches, and use that to try and lure in new customers. Anyone can look at a picture of a beach and wish they were there, but if you put on a pair of goggles and are transported to the beach, you’re going to have a harder time taking them off and going back to reality. “Digital advertising has become a key part of most marketing campaigns” (Social Media Advertising). This would be yet another new aspect of social media advertising.

Since it is so new, VR is constantly improving. Currently they’re working on making it a more physical experience, “Headsets today are doing an excellent job at catering to your visual senses, and a little bit of audio as well, [but] that’s just two of the senses. Once you begin catering to the rest of the senses, like what we feel body-wise, temperature-wise, and smell, the reality factor of virtual reality [becomes] stronger and the virtual piece begins to fade” (3 Things to Know). You can already quickly get lost in the virtual reality world, and adding on the other senses would make it so much easier.

Overall, I think that it is going to be very important to keep up with what is going on in the technological world. Everything is so constantly changing, that according to Social Media Advertising, four years becomes “a lifetime in the digital world.” A lot can happen in a lifetime and you’re going to want to stay on top of it so you don’t miss anything.

Generation Like

“When I was a kid, we were outside from when the sun went up until the sun went down” and “Why don’t you kids ever put those electric boxes down and go out and make some friends” are two phrases I heard from my grandparents weekly while I was growing up. And they make some good points. WHY does this generation insist on being glued to their phones 24/7? As silly as it sounds, there are entire worlds on their phones.

When my parents and my grandparents were young they would come up with imaginary worlds, or pretend games to play, but this generation doesn’t have to. Everything they could ever imagine is already on their phone. And before anyone gets mad at me for this – I’m not saying kids shouldn’t go outside, and I’m not saying they should be glued to their phones 24/7, I’m just saying it the way this generation sees it.

Growing up with the internet as such a massive part of day to day life has definitely made my life great at times, but it has also made it terrible. Being a part of a tech-savvy generation I can’t imagine trying to drive more than 30 minutes out of my town without the GPS on my phone. Along with the technology that is useful in our day to day life, it’s incredible how quickly the whole world can know about something seconds after it happens. There are some perks to this, but there are definitely some losses. It’s great to be able to keep up with friends and family you haven’t seen in years, or celebs that you’ll never meet, but there were definitely some days in high school where I wished I couldn’t see all of the parties I didn’t get invited to broadcasted live on everyones snapchat stories.

In the documentary, Generation Like (2014) they interviewed various celebrities, and talked about how the internet has impacted where they are today. One of the people they talked to was YouTuber Tyler Oakley. I have been following Tyler for probably 5 years now. He was born and raised in Michigan, he went to Michigan State University, and we have a lot of the same interests – the most major one being Pop Culture.

Tyler Oakley got famous on accident. He went off to college and was no longer with his family and his high school best friends everyday. To make this a little easier for him and for them he started making random, low quality videos about anything and everything. As he continued to make these videos he started getting a following, and today he has over 8 million subscribers on YouTube.

Tyler is one of many internet stars, and one of few who are using their power and their voice for good. From reminding all of his followers to vote, to advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, it is incredibly important for people with a following as massive as his, to use their voice for good. What is the point of having 8 million followers if all you’re going to talk about is Justin Bieber and Grey’s Anatomy?

Social media has become a crucial part of day to day life, especially right now. With the election just a few weeks away, I feel like every time I log onto anything all I see is Donald Trump this, or Hillary Clinton that, and I’m still not sure if this is good or bad. Although I do believe that everyone has a right to share their opinion, are some of the opinions being shared taking it too far? I have many friends who will try and talk politics to me and all they can talk about is some article they saw on FaceBook that said this or that about one candidate so now they’re voting for the other.

Although it’s hard to be bombarded with so much information every time you log on, something my parents always taught me, and something that I think everyone should do, is take EVERYTHING you read with a grain of salt. Just because your second grade teacher shared an article on FaceBook does NOT mean that it’s true. Overall I think that the presence of social media in everyones lives, although it does have its consequences, is for the better. It’s a quick, easy way to share a photo with your grandma, or connect with your best friend from 4th grade. Maybe we should all just humor the grandparents who tell us to go outside, and bring our laptops outside from time to time, and surf the internet from there.

Koughan, F., and Rushkoff, D. Generation Like. (2014). United States: Public Broadcasting Station.

Technology at ArtPrize Through the Years

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Technology is everywhere. It’s a part of our education system, it’s making its way into the workplace, so obviously, it has made its way into ArtPrize. ArtPrize is the largest juried art contest in the world and it takes place in Grand Rapids. It generates a massive turn out every year, and everyone has a favorite piece of art that they want to win. When ArtPrize began, there were physical voting sites you would need to visit, and wait in line at, to cast your votes. In 2014 they launched an app that could be used to vote. This really simplified the process, and in return, more people began voting. Every entry had a different code, and with that code you could easily vote for that piece of art in the app. The only way they could really simplify the process is if they added a QR code to each voting block so voters could just scan a code to submit a vote.

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                                                                                   The man who created this piece, made it out of literal garbage, and other recycled items, and lived in it for the entire duration of ArtPrize.

To learn more about the voting process click here.

When they launched the app in 2014, they called it a “Technology Suite” and it truly is. The app that they released had a collection of impressive features. One of the major features they released was a “list” feature. Essentially, visitors could create their own lists of pieces of art. This was used one of two ways. People could either get on the app before they went and create lists of art they wanted to see, or they could make lists as they walked around, for friends or family to view. There were also lists created by ArtPrize jurors that contain pieces that they were excited about, or pieces that are trending in the public vote (Woods 2014). 

Every year since the app came out, they have released an updated version of their app. This year, the app included a “Discover View,” which “delivers ArtPrize blog and event calendar integration — continuously updated with important ArtPrize announcements, special events and on-the-fly happenings” (Woods 2016). Along with this, they updated their map. The map was extremely helpful when walking around Grand Rapids. It made it easier to find the art that you’re looking for, or anything else you may be searching for, the map “help[ed] visitors easily navigate to accessible venues, public restrooms, and public parking options” (Woods 2016).

Along with technology coming from the management of ArtPrize, it is becoming more prominent in the actual art. For the past couple years Honda has been doing a “Design & Drive” competition. Not only is this a good way to advertise their company, but bringing cars into the competition is adding yet another aspect of technology. Although they’re painting on the technology, it is interesting to see how Honda is making ArtPrize a bit more modern each year.

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As the years go on, people are also trying to make more of a statement about the impact of technology on the world. This year one of the pieces that stood out to me was a piece by Douglas Rogge, called Cityscapes Around the Lake. In his piece he used old circuit boards to create a cityscape, and he attached them to a background that he painted to look like a lake. I think it’s interesting how artists are letting technology influence them. Whether they’re making art with technology, or in his case, making art out of technology.unnamed-2.jpg

They have also greatly increased their Internet presence in the past eight years. ArtPrize has a FaceBook, a Twitter, and Instagram, a Tumblr, and various other social media platforms. This year ArtPrize even had a SnapChat filter, or GeoTag. This not only helps them reach out to other audiences, but it extends the ArtPrize magic to places much further than West Michigan. Overall it is clear that ArtPrize has been greatly improving their technologies each year, it’ll be interesting to see what they do next.

References

Design & Drive Art Competition | West Michigan Honda Dealers. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2016, from http://www.westmichiganhondadealers.com/design-drive/

How To Vote. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2016, from https://www.artprize.org/vote

Kaczmarczyk, J. (2014). ArtPrize 2014: New tech tools will change how you experience the sixth event in Grand Rapids. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from http://www.mlive.com/artprize/index.ssf/2014/09/artprize_2014_new_tools_will_change_how_you_experience_the_sixth_event_in_grand_rapids.html

Woods, J. (2014, September 4). ArtPrize Launches 2014 Technology Suite. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from https://www.artprize.org/blog/2014-technology-suite

Woods, J. (2016, July 26). ArtPrize Launches New Mobile Experience. ArtPrize. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from https://www.artprize.org/blog/artprize-introduces-new-mobile-experience