Integrity is Everything

By: Sarah Copeland

It’s no secret. Going into the field of PR is going to be tough. Of course, many of our friends and family won’t exactly understand what we do for a living, but hopefully, they can also understand the difficulties we face. There will be many choices to make, and the hardest one will be a personal choice. Do I want to keep a job at a company who has policies and practices I don’t agree with? Or should I go with honesty and integrity?

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I’ve always been a person with high integrity. My peers would probably say the same thing if asked about me. Integrity has just been a characteristic I could never ignore. I always had to do my best no matter what. And now, in several of my courses actually, I hear how, at some point in PR, I may be asked to do my job but not agree with the methods asked of me.

Of course, this does not describe every PR career. I spent an entire blog talking about how PR is NOT spin and how it can be a very respectable field. And it can be. So, as my last blog for my PR communications course, I want to talk about how, in my future, I’ll hold on to my values and keep my integrity throughout my career.

 

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Remaining honest and maintaining integrity has a lot to do with ethics. I’m not going to be too detailed about ethics and PR mainly because I already have a blog about that topic. But they are extremely well-connected topics.

In the end, it’s all about credibility and staying true to your own values. And this doesn’t just concern PR specialists. Being transparent and trustworthy are important qualities for companies to possess in order to be trusted by publics. Trust is so important in PR that even Edelman has a whole PowerPoint dedicated to measuring trust.

It’s incredibly difficult to express how important all of this is in the long run. Integrity and trust build or break relationships. There is so much that our career demands from those of us going into the PR field. There are plenty of individuals who have left companies and started their own business so that they can keep their integrity. Honestly, I’m glad that is an option.

I’ll end with a lesson that has been taught to me this entire semester: You should love what you do and if you don’t you need to make a change. Keep your honor and your integrity in your career because it’s up to you to decide how you want to do things.

 

References:

Duren, M. (2014, February 04). Is Integrity A Lost Currency in Public Relations? | Fashion PR Public Relations | PR Couture. Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.prcouture.com/2014/02/integrity-a-lost-currency-in-public-relations/

Edleman. (2016, January 17). 2016 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER – Global Results. Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanInsights/2016-edelman-trust-barometer-global-results

Fisherhouse. (n.d.). Honesty, Integrity and Ethics in Public Relations. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from http://www.fisherhouse.com/courses/honesty.pdf

Jack, S. (n.d.). Public Relations. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from https://www.pinterest.com/shebejack/public-relations/

Minton-Taylor, R. (2015, April 28). Integrity and trust (part one). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.behindthespin.com/features/integrity-and-trust-part-one

Minton-Taylor, R. (2015, May 04). Integrity and trust (part two). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.behindthespin.com/news/integrity-and-trust-part-two

Minton-Taylor, R. (2015, May 08). Integrity and trust (part three). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.behindthespin.com/features/integrity-and-trust-part-three

Print Consultancy. (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://pr-int.net/

 

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PR and Reputation Management

By: Sarah Copeland

Throughout this past semester, many of my classes have brought in guest speakers that talked about reputation management. After about the third speaker, I got the message: reputation is incredibly important. But whose reputation? Well, the reputation of just about anything and everything.

If a company does not have a good reputation then its business will be damaged. Anything from the quality of a product to the quality of a service is judged by the public. No matter where you work, your company or your brand needs reputation management.

A successful company is a familiar and popular company with loyal customers. Have you ever heard of top-of-mind awareness? Top-of-mind awareness is like asking what smartphone is the best and having someone respond with iPhone. It may not be true but it’s what most people would say because everyone knows about Apple products and its reputation.

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So how do you control a company, a product or a brand’s reputation? Recently, my PR courses have been working on communication plans to enhance the success of certain clients. The main issue with both these clients has been awareness. Not enough people care about what our clients do and that is a problem. Our challenge? Raise the brand familiarity and positive reputation among customers through PR methods.

The public relations aspect of reputation is important during the campaign. Key messages are created and an end goal is established all in the effort to reach internal and external audiences. The goal? Enhancing the awareness and understanding of a brand to increase its credibility and top-of-mind awareness.

There are two main broad-reach platforms that can be used in PR campaigns to help build and maintain reputation. They are media and social media. Social media is now customer service central. Why call a customer service line when social media is available to post all your disgruntled feelings about a product? Ever notice how fast companies respond when you post something negative about their services? It’s uber-fast or at least it should be.

Social media is a hotspot for companies to build their reputation. They can increase engagement with their customers and also manage disappointed customers at the same time. All they have to do is post a helpful comment to a disgruntled customer to help fix the problem. If they do it well then they have one more loyal customer to spread positive WOM about that company.

Next time a product lets you down, go to social media and complain and see how long it takes the company to reply to try and fix the problem. It’s all about reputation management in order to maintain loyal customers and a positive top-of-mind awareness.

 

 

 

References:

Leibowitz, C. (2014, June 02). Branding & Public Relations Go Hand-in-Hand – Branding & PR. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://www.5wpr.com/new/branding-and-public-relations/

Mikacova, L., & Gavlakova, P. (2014, January 24). The Role of Public Relations in Branding. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813055687

Pearce, C. (2011, May 11). Why PR is good for branding. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://craigpearce.info/pr-good-branding/

Walkden, L. (2013, June 19). Brand Reputation Management: Your Seven-Point Game Plan. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2013/11004/brand-reputation-management-your-seven-point-game-plan

 

 

Tweet, Tweet, Twitter Chats

By: Sarah Copeland

I always thought that the best thing about going to school was getting to learn new things. Of course, I loved school a lot more when I was younger. As you get older school stops being so awesome. Maybe that’s because it also gets a lot more difficult. I’m sure a lot of my peers will agree with me that this semester is definitely a difficult semester. I can easily say that this is the most difficult semester that I’ve had in college yet. But, I’ve also enjoyed many of the things that have been new to me. An example of assignments I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy was Tweet Chats.

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Each of my peers and I was asked to complete four Tweet Chats throughout this semester. I can honestly say, I will be continuing to use chats for the rest of my career.

Tweet Chats are incredibly useful to individuals as well as businesses. Chats give users an opportunity to engage with more people, earn new followers, receive valuable tips and have a great learning experience. There are even more opportunities for businesses.

As a business, Tweet Chats can help bring together all audiences that are targeted into one space. Chats give businesses the advantage of engaging directly with customers and the ability to increase their brand awareness. This type of conversation is meaningful and also increases a business’ authority.

Obviously, Tweet Chats should be part of the game plan for several businesses. But, as a student, I feel like the benefits are endless, especially being a PR student. Of course, chats are a sure-fire way to build connections and relationships (a must for anyone in PR). Plus, there is no lack of chats devoted to discussions on public relations, communications, marketing and social media.  The amount of tips and other educational value that comes from participating in these chats is priceless.

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It is always gratifying, especially during tough semesters, to be introduced to such a valuable tool. Though I only have one more chat to complete for assignment purposes, I will be committed to joining PR based chats as often as possible in the future.

 

 

References:

Hines, K. (2013, November 27). 5 Ways Twitter Chats Can Help Your Business : Social Media Examiner. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/twitter-chats-for-business/

Kennedy, M. E. (2014, May 8). Twitter Chats Every PR Pro Should Participate In. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.business2community.com/public-relations/twitter-chats-every-pr-pro-participate-0877086#U52hMXOd4hRPvA4O.97

Rusine, R. (2015, January 9). 10 Benefits of Twitter Chats for Your Business. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.business2community.com/twitter/10-benefits-twitter-chats-business-01119853#kuCojvLQi1Fl1u6U.97

Wright, I. J. (2016, January 20). Should You Host a CSR Twitter Chat? Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.prnewsonline.com/csr-twitter-chat

 

 

 

There’s an App for That

By: Sarah Copeland

I’ve never been a very tech-savvy girl. I honestly think I was put in the wrong decade. I grew up through all the big technological leaps. I’ve watched the progression of cell phones and computers, the invention of tablets and super-thin televisions. Sometimes, when I’m faced with an obstacle, I find myself saying, “thank goodness, there’s an app I can use” because there is always an app.

For instance, there are plenty of pages on the Internet devoted to critiquing and recommending a vast assortment of different apps. I’m not talking about gaming apps, but the actual tasking apps. I recently looked at a website that suggested it had listed the best eight most useful mobile applications. I hadn’t heard of over half of them. Another site lists 25 apps that are directly targeted to college students.

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It’s not hard to understand why there are so many apps. They are helpful, that pretty much sums it up. One interesting thing I learned in a marketing class I took was that there will never be an end to people’s wants and needs. I can only assume, since apps are shortcuts to solving wants and needs, that there will be an endless supply of apps created to help us.

But there’s more to apps than just helping college students organize their schedules. Apps can help businesses too, and they should certainly take advantage of that. Mobile applications create a direct communication channel from the business to their customers, twenty-four-seven. With this type of connection, a business can build its brand awareness and improve its engagement with audiences.

When technology advanced, so did the world and so did businesses. Businesses and their communications have evolved from television to the World Wide Web and now to the individual little icons on our personal screens. It’s true that sometimes apps seem like a hindrance in the personal world, but it is very helpful for businesses that want to get ahead of their competition.

Technology will keep moving forward and businesses will constantly need to evolve to keep up. For now, the important part is to keep up with the immediacy of the flow of information in the form of apps. I’m sure, no matter what a customer is looking for, there will be an app designed especially for that task.

 

References:

Gohel, J. (n.d.). 8 Useful Mobile Applications to Simplify Your Daily Life. Retrieved April 08, 2016, from https://www.digifloor.com/8-useful-mobile-applications-to-simplify-your-daily-life-19

Haselmayr, M. (2014, November 17). Here’s Why Your Business Needs Its Own Mobile App. Retrieved April 08, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2014/11/17/heres-why-your-business-needs-its-own-mobile-app/#2e38fdb15c76

Strike, A. (n.d.). 25 Apps College Students Shouldn’t Live Without. Retrieved April 08, 2016, from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/25-apps-college-students-shouldnt-live-without.html

 

 

To Firm or Not to Firm, That is the Question

By: Sarah Copeland

I admit, I already have a bias opinion about this topic. But I promise to remain objective so that I can put forth the facts. This blog is for the purpose of providing the pros and cons of working in a PR firm or for an in-house position. And just basically, the overall differences between the two options.

Decided between a firm or a corporation is a question that all PR majors come to eventually. Do we want to apply to work in a firm or would we rather try and find a job in-house? However, it isn’t something addressed in our classes. So I went out to find my own answers.

Obviously, there are major differences between agencies and in-house roles. And there are several questions  to address before making a decision. These include: Where would it be better to work for future career opportunities? Which option has a higher paycheck? But the most important question should be: What would be a better fit for my work preferences? Hopefully, these pros and cons can help answer that.

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Corporate Organizations (in-house)

Pros:

  • -Can become experts on the industry
  • -Sense of true dedication
  • -More responsibility to promote that one brand
  • -You can market something you really believe in
  • -Better to be on site during a crisis (more info available)
  • -Traditional job with (possibly) higher paychecks

Cons:

  • -Harder to advance (to get promotions)
  • -If you don’t like a niche focus
  • -Co-workers (outside PR) don’t understand what you do

Agency (firms)

Pros:

  • -Wide range and variety of clients
  • -On-the-job learning
  • -More frequent opportunities for promotions
  • -Lively and creative culture
  • -Comradery
  • -Good training ground to exposed to everything PR

Cons:

  • -Fast-paced environment
  • -Have to take the accounts you are assigned to
  • -Juggling responsibilities of multiple clients
  • -Expensive for small businesses to afford
  • -Until you move up, limited income

From my research, it looks like the debate about which is better could go either way. So, to put it simply, the decision is yours. And the bright side is, PR professionals switch sides all the time. Therefore, the decision isn’t always final.

 

 

References:

Adams, B. (2013, January 16). 5 major differences between agency and in-house PR. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/5_major_differences_between_agency_and_inhouse_PR_13582.aspx

Dale, E. (2014, September 2). PR agency vs. in-house? Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://www.prweek.com/article/1309975/pr-agency-vs-in-house

Edwards, I. (2012, March 24). What are the differences between working in-house and at an agency? Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-between-working-in-house-and-at-an-agency

Johnston, S. (n.d.). Advertising, PR — Blogs, Articles and Jobs – Experience.com. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://www.experience.com/alumnus/article?channel_id=advertising_marketing_pr

Nazar, M. (2016, January 26). Here’s the definitive answer to picking agency vs. in-house life – Corporate Ink. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://www.corporateink.com/heres-the-definitive-answer-to-picking-agency-vs-in-house-life/

Winchel, B. (2015, December 30). 5 differences between in-house and agency PR. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/5_differences_between_inhouse_and_agency_PR__18683.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

PReventable Errors

By: Sarah Copeland

Here’s a fact: PR is always changing. Just like all the apps on your phone, PR is always updating and, hopefully, becoming more useful. As a PR professional, there are several things to be aware of so that you continue to be successful. There are plenty of mistakes to be made. Luckily, those mistakes have already, and are constantly being made so that you can learn from them without having to actually experience them.

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After reading through different errors past professionals had made I have come up with the top 5 mistakes for PR pros to be aware of. I’m not saying knowing these will keep you from making the same mistake, but they might.

Here are my PR preventable errors:

  1. Bad Timing– It is very important in the field of PR not to procrastinate. Many of your tasks involve heavy amounts of research and then additional time consuming work. Time is also important to consider when working with the media. Journalists have deadlines. No matter how important your press release is, journalists can’t accept a story with limited time for its completion. However, stories can be equally bad if given too early when the story has no timeliness for the journalist. Time is a tricky matter, be aware of the limits.
  1. Bad Press Releases Press releases have a lot of room for error. First the press release must have a purpose. The information presented must have worth or it will be marked unimportant. Also, if the release is poorly written or is written with too much hype, the media is not going to use it. A press release needs to grab the journalist’s attention quickly and it has to get to the point fast.
  1. Bad Follow-ups As for follow-ups, journalists don’t want calls asking if they received your press release. You must have additional information so that your call is useful to them as well. PR is a two-way communicative field and both sides must benefit.
  1. No Research- PR professionals should always know about what they are pitching. This is a research heavy profession, especially when it comes to media relations. One big mistake is sending out press releases to journalists with a beat that has nothing in common with the subject of the release. Research so you know who is best to pitch to.
  1. Bad Planning– Hopefully you, or at least I, will never make this mistake. PR professionals should always have a plan formed. There is no way to be successful in PR by improvising or doing it as you go along. Have a plan and a backup plan to be successful.

Of course there are plenty more mistakes to review. I’m not sure it is possible to never make mistakes. I actually think that mistakes are what keeps PR relevant. Remember that it is okay to make mistakes. I’m just hoping that this will help you stay free from making these common ones.

 

References:

AllBusiness. (n.d.). Top 10 Public Relations Mistakes. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from http://www.allbusiness.com/top-10-public-relations-mistakes-3988-1.html

New Harbor Group. (2015). 10 Common PR Mistakes. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from http://www.nharbor.com/why-public-relations/10-common-pr-mistakes/

Wood, A. (2015, December 16). The Top 10 PR Mistakes Journalists Hate Most. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/the-top-10-pr-mistakes-journalists-hate-most-2/120064

 

 

 

 

 

One BIG Crisis

By: Sarah Copeland

Last night I watched The Martian for the first time. It was a very interesting movie but the whole time I kept thinking: Dang that PR team must have been working REALLY hard. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, and without me spoiling anything, all you really need to know is that there was a really bad storm on Mars and during the evacuation NASA basically left an astronaut stranded on a desolate planet. That accident is hard to explain to the public because that is one BIG “whoops”.

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So NASA basically had to do two things. First, they had to find a way to rescue their abandoned astronaut. Second, they had to handle the press asking a range of question about NASA procedures and missions. Originally NASA and the media thought that the astronaut was dead and therefore NASA was dealing with giving a statement about how awful it was to lose a member of their team but it is a well-known risk of space travel. It became a worse situation when they found out he was alive.

So why was this a crisis? Well, when you accidentally leave an astronaut on another planet with limit resources and no plans to go back to the planet for another four years, you have a big problem. The first best practice of PR I saw was when they found out he was alive. NASA did not try and hide the fact they mistakenly announced the death of their astronaut. Instead, NASA released the information within 24 hours along with a statement. Then they worked on a rescue mission. This shows basic crisis communication stages of identifying a crisis and working out ways to fix the crisis while staying transparent.

I know this is more of a sci-fi film but I honestly think it would be great for PR students who are especially interested in crisis communication. There are plenty of instances where the NASA director didn’t use his best judgement and had to take the fall when it came to informing the public of failures. This movie didn’t always show the backlash from the public but you definitely saw the difficulties NASA went through when deciding how to handle their crisis.

Of course, there are ranges of difficulty when it comes to handling crises. This one just so happened to be massive and in the form of an interesting movie. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use a good movie to talk about PR.

References:

Bernstein, J. (2015). The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications | Bernstein Crisis Management. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com/the-10-steps-of-crisis-communications/

Clawson Freeo, S. K. (n.d.). Crisis Communication Plan. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.niu.edu/newsplace/crisis.html

The Martian – Zone 6. (2016). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.zone-six.net/2016/02/01/the-martian/

What is crisis communications? – SHIFT Communications PR Agency – Boston | New York | San Francisco | Austin. (2013, April 02). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.shiftcomm.com/blog/what-is-crisis-communications/