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

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.