Category Archives: Public Relations
I recently conducted research for one of my PR classes, and it made me think about my future in the public relations field. The question asked was, “What are the key elements of a research campaign?” I thought it would be a simple question, but I stopped to think about how I would do this in a real setting.
The key elements of a research program for a public relations campaign are the examination of the client, examination of the stakeholder and problem opportunity research.
1. Examination of Client
Client research, according to “Public Relations: A Values-Driven Approach”, should be focused on “discovering an organization’s size; the nature of the products or services it offers; and its history, staffing requirements, market and customers, budget legal environment, reputation and beliefs about the issue in question.” Extensive research is necessary to ensure a public relations campaign aligns with the client’s strengths and reputation. In my opinion, the more a public relations practitioner knows about their client, the better the campaign will be and crisis events will dramatically decrease.
2. Examination of Stakeholder
Stakeholder research concentrates on any public’s who are important to the success of the client. This is an important step because many public relations campaigns have been discredited due to poor examination of their stakeholders. An example of this is the Nestle baby food controversy, which occurred in the 1970’s. Many children in non-English speaking countries were given Nestle baby formula by their parents, who were not able to read the instructions properly and were unintentionally providing inadequate nutrition to their children. The lack of stakeholder research for non-English speaking countries, in relation to Nestle, has made the organization suffer from negative publicity in the present day.
3. Problem-Opportunity Research
Problem-opportunity research focuses on what stake does the client’s organization have on a particular issue. It essentially looks for the reason that a client should act or react in a certain scenario. Its like if an animal spots a predator. It has to decide whether the best course of action is to run, fight, or do nothing in hopes the predator will allow the animal to go unnoticed. An organization examines its course of action in a similar way, by determining what it stands to lose or gain by participating on an issue.
Suffering from writer’s block, while maintaining a blog for a class, is a bad thing for a PR student. Sadly, this happened to me last week. I stared at the screen for a half hour and had nothing. Zilch, nada, not one thing to say about PR or blogging. You can see on from this post, I eventually overcame my writer’s block and assembled my required posts on schedule. I can tell you though, at the time, I felt like I was trying to dig my way to China with my bare hands.
To avoid this in future, I decided I would write this post for those suffering from writer’s block and as a reminder to myself.
1. Don’t Stare at the Screen.
I’m horribly guilty of this. My mindset becomes, “I’m writing this post even it takes me all night!” Unfortunately, this is not a healthy mindset to take before trying to write an essay or blog post. I realize we all have deadlines, but I feel the most important thing to do when faced with this dilemma, is to walk away from the screen. I’m not recommending that you give up responsibility of writing the paper or post, but rather to take at least ten minutes to clear your head.
2. Free Write
I know this is lame, but I picked up this hint from the film “Finding Forrester”. When I feel stuck, I just start writing whatever is in my head. Even if it comes out gibberish, I at least know that it possible for me to still write. Doing this, typically, helps to clear my head of whatever I’m thinking about. I also see it as a means of stretching my mind for the process of writing.
3. Write in something else besides your laptop.
Writing an entire draft of work on paper has become something of a lost art to me. I don’t like it because I can’t immediately go back or erase what I’ve written. I’ve noticed though, by writing on paper or in a different location, it’s easier to get the words out . The writing may not be organized or neat, but it gives me something. I imagine this is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy.
I don’t mean for these tips to be an end all to your writer’s block problems. As with everything, the important step is finding what works best for you and moving forward.
I’m often asked by friends who have a different major, “What is public relations?” Usually the film,”Thank You for Smoking” (which I love by the way) pops into their head before I can give a proper explanation. Then, the conversation diverts to something about me being a spin doctor in training, and I wake up several hours later covered in nicotine patches with the song “Two Princes” playing in the background. My definition of public relations changes depending on the capacity an individual serves in, but I typically define it as managing relationships between an organization and its public’s.
An agreed upon definition of public relations is often hard to find, but most have common themes. Rex Harlow, a public relations pioneer, researched 472 different definitions of public relations before he decided on his own definition. I believe Harlow’s definition encompasses many of the facets, which make up public relations. Harlow defined public relations as a management function that “helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation between an organization and its public’s”.
We need to change the general consensus of what public relations is in the public’s eye, or get some better representations in film. I researched to see how movies have presented the PR industry and the results were interesting. I can’t say the profession is generally viewed in a positive light, as far as Hollywood is concerned. The closest I came to a positive representation of public relations was “Jerry Maguire” and possibly, “Hancock”. Then we have our other films, such as “Wag the Dog” and “Network”, which don’t necessarily paint the prettiest picture of what the public relations profession can be.
The picture I think people need to put in their heads for this profession, is most of us are not the bad people represented in the media. Most PR professionals are normal, stressed, employees. Public relations practitioners are trying to represent themselves or an organization as accurately as possible to the public. Moral of the story: don’t let a few bad PR media representations make you distrust an entire profession.