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What is Public Relations?

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.

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Blog, Public Relations

 

The Future of Interactive Technology

I’m a complete nerd when it comes to reading and learning about futuristic computer technology. When I watched the movie Iron Man, I was more impressed with the holographic computer system than his lame tin suit. I’ve also been known to daydream about having the interactive computer system from Minority Report. So, when I read about this news presentation through Poynter, I was definitely interested. The video is called “The Storm Collection”, and it comes from Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan.

According to the Poynter article, Robin and Matt presented this video at the annual convention of the Society of News Design in St. Louis. The subject of the article and the video fascinate me, because of the predictions they make on how news will be presented in the future. I created my own iGoogle homepage this semester, and I can’t believe the amount of time it saves me to look up news information. The way technology is becoming integrated though, that’s no longer efficient enough. It reminds me of the presentation in my COM 509 class, when a KSPR news reporter discussed tweeting a news story as new information became available. The reporter was tweeting updates, while simultaneously uploading photos of the news story. That story shows where our news system is headed.

The article discusses how our news could be moving towards a more personalized system. People will no longer read the news, rather the news will be explained to them, in context of what they’re reading. Because of the technological advancements in news, a explanation will be necessary, due to the speed and amount of information being presented.

The video also touches on the idea of augmented reality. According to Dictionary.com, augmented reality is “an artificial environment created through the combination of real-world and computer-generated data”. Some magazines, such as Esquire, have already made moves into augmented reality with their publications.

I’m more interested though, in how augmented reality will affect technology the public doesn’t use yet. For example, will there one day be augmented reality glasses, which can be tailored to keep us connected to the Internet at all times? There is a slightly eerie line at the end of the “The Storm Collection” video. Thompson describes not being able to turn off the flow of information. Sloan responds “Well, you never could”.

 

Taking a Tour of Downtown Ozark

I wasn’t sure where to start on our required blog post for this week to take pictures of a subject. As I was driving home from class and thinking about the post, I decided to stop and explore downtown Ozark. I’ve been living in Ozark for the past year and hadn’t really taken the time to see what the town had to offer. I parked in the square and started walking around, looking at the different buildings. I soon realized that downtown Ozark is quite small. I enjoyed that aspect, as it was easy to walk around the entirety of downtown snapping pictures. As I was exploring, I noticed a strange monument by the town center. According to this article, a group of vigilantes, known as the Bald Knobbers, were hanged in the square after three of their group assaulted and killed two men in the region.I didn’t realize until writing this that the Bald Knobbers are featured on the Silver Dollar City Ride, Fire in the Hole.

www.flickr.com

A building I wish I could have explored more was the Ozark Mill. I’ve seen many people having their senior photos taken by it, but I’ve never stopped to take a look. The building resides beside the Finley river and has an interesting layout. I would’ve taken more pictures, but many of the sections were blocked off by no trespassing signs. I considered ignoring them, but barb wire convinced me otherwise. I peeked in through windows and there was construction equipment inside. I wonder if someone is planning to renovate the building.

My favorite picture is of the orange Volkswagen. When I look at it, I get this Fall feeling inside. I also like the pictures of the building with the flower garden, but I can’t seem to remember what the building was for. I’m a sucker for old mills and exploring abandoned buildings.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Blog

 

Review of Audacity

After the presentation in my social media class on podcasts, I decided to download the program Audacity to see if I could teach myself a few things with the audio editing program. I’ve used the video-editing program, Final Cut Pro, in the past, so I assumed the learning curve for using an audio-editing program wouldn’t be too dreadfully steep.

The installation process is easy, along with knowing how to access the different areas of the program. I read through the FAQ on the Audacity website to get a grasp on what exactly the entire system is. At first glance, the system reminds me of the other freeware program Gimp. Gimp is a photo-editing tool, similar to Photoshop, that is unique for offering an intricate program that rivals high dollar photo programs. Audacity strikes me as having that same high quality at no cost.

A simple Google search for Audacity tutorials provided me with a great how-to video on Audacity for recording podcasts. My MacBook has also made a recording setup easy, as it already features a built-in microphone. Here is an example of what the main screen looks like after I uploaded an MP3 file from my iTunes.

After fiddling around for an hour or so, I found the system easy to use. I can’t do any complex tasks yet, but tasks, such as cutting audio files and restructuring, are simple to learn. Using Audacity is much easier to learn than using Final Cut Pro, simply because I don’t have to make sure the audio syncs with any other data information.  I would include an example of my audio work, but I don’t think my skills are good enough yet for it to be worth anyone’s time to listen. For anyone looking for more information on the tutorial, I would examine this website and download the Audacity program. I highly recommend at least giving the program a try. It costs nothing, is easy to learn and you will learn a beneficial skill to add to your public relations toolbox.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Blog, News, Public Relations, ROI

 

Offering Value to the Customer

Offering value to the customer, through social media, is of the utmost importance in today’s fast click society. Brian Solis discussed an interesting topic in his latest blog post related to the subject. I touched on a similar topic in my previous blog post, which discussed that people should question why they use certain social media technology. In his post, Brian discusses an idea called social “stream fatigue”. The idea is if a company or organization posts on social media networks consistently without offering value, people will stop listening or unfollow them on their social media account. I completely agree with this consensus. Many times on my Facebook account, I’ve found organizations that I follow, don’t offer a good reason for me to continue to subscribe to their page. Or their posts are so infrequent; I often forget I was following them in the first place.

The big question now is: how does an organization engage its audience, while offering value? A suggestion, offered by Solis, is that organizations simply ask consumers what they would like to see.  This could be done through surveys or by simply posing the question on the respective organizations Facebook page.

After I read Solis’s article, I looked around on Facebook to find an organization that does a good job offering value to the customer using social media. I’ve noticed clothing companies do very well with offering value to their customers, especially on Facebook. They do so by offering sales promotions and giveaways through their social media networks.  I understand not every organization can follow the same business model, but I do think it provides a good example of how to use social media. I specifically looked at Lands’ End Canvas Facebook account and found they have a fantastic system of providing customer interaction.

A unique customer service they employ is hand-written thank-you letters to customers for Internet purchases.

Lands’ End Canvas shows a great approach, in my opinion, of how to generate awareness and maintain a loyal customer base through social media. They also avoid overexposure to their audience by only posting information once a day. As marketing and public relations activities move into the online world, companies will have to adapt to prove themselves to their customers. It’s not enough to simply have an online presence. Organizations have to make it worthwhile to visit their online persona.

 

Home Security Issues with Social Media

A report on Time.com says burglars are now regularly checking Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to scope out potential houses to vandalize. There’s no need to immediately panic though, only 50 former burglars took part in the British survey. The author, Grame McMillian, says that many burglars also utilize Google Maps to get a better visual description of the house they would like to burglarize. The article does raise some interesting questions about the current use of social media in updating our location and giving out information.

This may sound like an old man talking, but it seems the general public use to worry about Big Brother constantly peeking over their shoulder. Now, people willingly give away their information over social media platforms without a second thought. I’m not saying that using social media means you no longer want privacy in your life or that I’m pointing fingers.  I’m as guilty as anyone of updating my location or personal information into the social media world. I also realize technology that shows our housing location or gives away personal information, such as Google Maps, is out of our control. I’m simply pointing out that this article draws attention to a fact about social media along with ideas about security.

We need to think about why we do things on social media platforms before we do them. I know this sounds simple, but many students and adults have yet to grasp how permanent information posted in the social media world is. In my opinion, I think people sometimes become so preoccupied with what we can do, with new social media technology, that we don’t take the time to stop and ask if we should.  In the PR field though, I understand  if you’re not on top of new and upcoming technology, you will be left in the dust. We need to find a way to strike a balance between utilizing the social media we know and experimenting with new technology.

Source: http://techland.time.com/2011/09/27/burglars-now-using-twitter-facebook-against-you/

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Blog, Facebook, News, Social Media, Twitter

 

The KY3/KSPR Social Media Presentation

In Monday night’s class, Brad Belote, Director of Digital Content at KY3, and Lauren Matter, Anchor/Reporter at KSPR gave a presentation on social media as it relates to their career field of news. I’d like to thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedules to come talk to our class.

The topic they discussed that I found particularly interesting, was the different uses of Facebook and Twitter from a news perspective. In class, we’ve discussed how Facebook, in a college setting, is typically used as a means of entertainment or social engagement, while Twitter is used to update friends about our day or to post interesting links. I hadn’t considered until the presentation that Twitter serves as a news feed system for reporters, while Facebook serves as a means of directly communicating with news reporters or the station.

I participated in broadcast journalism in high school and I remember the difficulty of finding news worthy stories on short notice. This idea of now having a direct communication with the public, to be pitched story ideas or the ability to establish immediate contact for an interview, appears to make life much simpler for a journalist. At the same time though, it is more challenging to be a journalist with the invention of social media because of the constant stream of information needed to keep the public updated about current events. It’s no longer enough to report a story at ten, but now reporters have to tweet the moment they find out about an event and continuously release information as it becomes available. Lauren discussed how she reported on a car wreck and was tweeting new information as it became available, while also uploading pictures of the event. Brad also discussed how he must keep an open communication between the public and KY3 through Facebook, to have a successful and accessible social media side to the news. To be successful, you now almost have to be constantly reporting or be on your toes about what it is coming up next.

I’ve always known journalism to be a stressful occupation, but it appears to be even more time-consuming when all the pieces are put together to make an effective news broadcast. It seems with new technologies were given great opportunities, but also more responsibility in order to utilize it effectively.