Pulitzer Prize Winners (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

I recently attended an event held at my university to recognize Pulitzer prize winners who are alumnae of the university. There were ten participants who came to sit on panels during the event and answer questions about their experiences. The event was divided into two segments. The first half featured the first panel of five Pulitzer finalists. The second half featured five alumni Pulitzer prize winners: Leana Allen, Kerry Gunnels, Dan Malone, Gayle Reaves and David Klement.

Pulitzer Winners Dan Malone, David Klement, Gayle Reaves, Kerry Gunnels and Leona Allen (from left to right)

All ten of these journalists had incredible experiences to share. They dealt with stories that center around the main issues within our culture as well as cultures around the world. One of the alumni described their role as an “act of bearing witness.” This description really resonated with me personally. The role of a journalist is indeed to witness and retell to the public, and these specific journalists have had the job of retelling very difficult stories. Some of the main topics centered around the Black Lives Matter movement, sex trafficking in Thailand and other racist or sexist topics.

“Everyone is different and has a different story,” Finalist Melissa Boughton said. “Never go into a story with a preconceived notion.” This piece of advice means so much more coming from this journalist. She, like several other alumni present at the event, have worked on stories centered on the current racial issues occurring in America. Her job is to get both sides of the story and report the truth told by her source.

Why do these journalists take up such difficult beats? Why do they follow such controversial, emotional topics? Because they have a responsibility to public service. They report the truth and tell these stories in order to get the response the stories deserve. These journalists hope to get responses like, “That’s just wrong!” or, “That’s not right.” If they induce those types of responses then they have done their job well.

These journalists won the Pulitzer prize because they publicized issues that need attention. They didn’t shy away from difficult subjects but fully embraced them in order to retell the difficult stories to others. These journalists call attention to the bad things going on in the world, not to highlight negativity, but to encourage change. Because of these journalists, wrongs that occur in society don’t go unnoticed.




Domestic Violence and Perceptions (JOUR RGM 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

My last blog for my Race, Gender and the Media course discussed women’s misrepresentation in the media. Many women, including myself, can start heated arguments concerning the topic of gender equality and I won’t say that writing the previous blog wasn’t extremely easy. I have a lot to say, and many examples to bring up, when discussing sexism. However, for this blog, I’m on the other side. This time, I’ll be writing about domestic violence.

Did you know that the number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse has more than quadrupled in the past ten years from 806 (2004/05) to 4,866 (2014/15)? And male victims are over twice as likely than women to keep their domestic suffering a secret? This is based on a March 2016 Mankind Initiative key facts document.

Here’s another wow-factor: There are only 18 organisations that offer refuge/safe house provision for male victims (in the UK) while there are nearly 400 specialist domestic violence organisations for women. (Stats provided by Male Initiative based in the UK). Why is this not more equal?  According to more statistics, for every three victims of partner abuse, two will be women and one will be male. With that data, to be helpful to their customer population, there should be nearly 200 organisations equipt to help male victims. And they only have 18 available.

I stumbled across this video (linked/posted below) a while ago and still find it relevant. It was published in 2014, so the data may be slightly off. This video shows how people are more likely to believe that women are in an abusive relationship than they can believe a man is in an abusive relationship. Actors, plus hidden cameras, show that people will come to the woman’s defense if they see a man is abusive. However, people think it’s funny when the situation is reversed. You can see people on the sidelines smiling while the female actor beats up on the male actor.

I’m not at all saying that women do not get abused because I know that they do and that it is a terrible thing to endure. However, I do believe that not enough attention goes to men that experience the same violence. Bystanders could easily assume that a man is abusive based on his remarks and physical conduct with his partner. But, when the situation is reversed, bystanders have thoughts along the lines of “he probably deserves it.” But they would never say that about a woman being abused.

There is a difference between a person, male or female, standing up for themselves and a person causing mental and physical abuse. The Mankind Initiative makes a good point: violence is violence. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. No one deserves to be the subject of domestic abuse.


ElRhoul, A. (2014, June 03). Domestic Violence Video Against Men Abuse advert Mankind Woman attacking man in street. Retrieved October, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzfLVyNHJgQ

Mankind Initiative. (2016, March). Male victims of domestic and partner abuse 30 key facts. Retrieved October, 2016, from http://new.mankind.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/30-Key-Facts-Male-Victims-Mar-2016.pdf

Last Semester, New Concepts (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

Hello! It’s been a while since my last blog post, but for good reason! This past summer I have been very busy at my very first internship.I had a great experience and learned so much. Now I’m back in classes and writing more blogs for a Race, Gender and the Media course I’m currently taking.

Over these past few weeks, we have discussed a series of difficult topics and addressed issues we see  in the media and throughout society. WARNING: some topics are incredibly difficult to discuss and I will only be sharing my personal opinion on these matters. I completely understand if those reading this will disagree. I’m only a student, and this is only my opinion.

This first blog will be about the representation of women.

Women have come a long way since the 1950s. Instead of being housewives, women are now front and center in the business world and politics. Roles for women have extended. And yet, there are still ways that women are held back through real life limitations as well as representations  in the media. Here are some examples of clear sexism in our society.

The Rio Olympics ended months ago, however, we can still use the games to represent the “gold ceiling” that women are subject to when it comes to athletic ability. It’s hard to find women competing at the same level as men in several sports. Tennis seems to be the big exception to that, but there is still sexism present in that sport which I will discuss shortly. A Wall Street Journal article (linked above) describes how women cannot compete in certain events because they are not men. The best example is Katie Ledecky, the gold medalist swimmer.

A Wall Street Journal article (linked above) describes how women cannot compete in certain events because they are not men. The best example is Katie Ledecky, the gold medalist swimmer. Though Ledecky is faster than other swimmers in the 1500-meter swim, she is not allowed to race in that event since women are not included in that race. The longest race for women is 800 meters while men can race the 1500 meters. Sports, including the Olympics, should not be divided by sex, it should be divided by ability.

Another swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, was also misrepresented and outshined by her husband/coach. Hosszu made monumental accomplishments during the Rio Olympics. She set world records and won several gold medals. However, each of her victories was credited to her husband/coach when reported in the media.  This Odyssey article makes strong points about how women in sports are clearly undervalued while men are simply given full credit. When compared, reporting of sports coverage for men is simply that, coverage. However, reports on women focus on their “sexuality instead of their skill.” Why does it matter what makeup a female athlete is wearing when a male athlete is only asked about his career?

Like I said above, tennis is not excluded from this sexist representation. BBC interviewer,  John Inverdale provides multiple examples of how every sport can be sexist. After Andy Murray won a gold medal for the second time in a row in men’s singles, Inverdale congratulates him. Inverdale is quoted as saying: “You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?” But Murray isn’t actually the first, and Murray points out the interviewer’s flaw. Actually, the Williams sisters (*female athletes) have won four gold medals. But this interviewer didn’t care to think about the accomplishments of women.

There are endless examples of women misrepresentation, especially throughout the Olympics. I only mentioned a couple of examples, though there are plenty more. Sexism is huge in the media and not only toward women. The LGBTQ community (and even men, really) are also heavily misrepresented at times. Why is gender so important when it comes to reporting information? Coverage shouldn’t be sexist, it should be factual and informative.


Helliker, K., & Futterman, M. (2016, August 05). At the Rio Olympics, Women Athletes Bump Against a Gold Ceiling. Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/at-the-rio-olympics-women-athletes-bump-against-a-gold-ceiling-1470425132

Moxley, C. (2016, August 8). Misrepresentation of Olympic Proportions. Retrieved October 3, 2016, from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/misrepresentation-olympic-proportions

WATCH: Andy Murray Reminds Interviewer That Women Win Gold, Too. (2016, August 15). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetorch/2016/08/15/490056480/watch-andy-murray-reminds-interviewer-that-women-win-gold-too



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.



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/


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.





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



Social Media Just Got (More) Personal

By: Sarah Copeland

How controlling do you think social media is over us as we get online? I am sure most of the population does not know or simply does not care. As long as we get to use social media and stay in contact it really does not matter, right? I wouldn’t be so sure. Social media has gotten pretty creepy over the past few years.

Let’s use Facebook as an example. Have you ever noticed that you only usually see the posts from certain groups of people, groups or pages all the time? Even with well over a hundred friends, you still rarely see their posts. But that isn’t because they aren’t posting anything. It’s because of something called algorithms.

Facebook Creep
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Facebook, back when it first started out, used to be timeline based as it moved chronologically through posts as you scrolled down. Users got to choose whose posts they paid attention to and who they replied to with comments. Now, Facebook is deciding for us what we want to read.

If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that the advertisements that have taken over your news feed have gotten more and more accurate and aligned to your preferences. God forbid you look up apartment complexes to help a friend find a new place because you will get an endless stream of real estate on your feed. (Yes, this did happen and it lasted for a month.) How creepy is that? Facebook can track what you look up on the Internet!

Facebook’s algorithm is designed to analyze you. Even though it does this to provide you with content that you may be more interested in, no one can deny that this may be just a little too personal. Facebook is technically controlling your Facebook feed.

This is how it works: engagement. If you have been interacting with specific friends, groups, pages, Facebook’s algorithm will track those actions. The more you interact, the more posts from those locations will show up on your feed. This is all about Facebook trying to find out what is most important to you and giving it to you. (Totally creepy)

And we can’t forget about the other creepy Facebook qualities that exist. Yes, I’m talking about the poke suggestions, the advertisement monitoring, the consistent plea for users to update their info and, above all else, the face recognition and tagging abilities. Facebook no longer needs to ask, it just knows.

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If you think that this is way too creepy, here are a couple ways you can try and fight the algorithm robot. I think it’s time we review how much social media knows about us and how willing we are to hand over our personal information. It can’t get more personal than it is now.





Baer, J. (n.d.). 3 Ways to Fight Facebook’s Algorithm and Customize Your Feed. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-tools/3-ways-to-fight-facebooks-algorithm-and-customize-your-feed/

Kamps, H. J., & Constine, J. (2016, April 21). Facebook’s News Feed is changing again to prioritize sites you actually read. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://techcrunch.com/2016/04/21/facebook-news-is-new/

McHugh, M. (2013, October 04). 6 creepy things you might not know Facebook is doing. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/6-creepy-things-you-might-not-know-facebook-is-doing/

Oremus, W. (2016, January 03). Who Really Controls What You See in Your Facebook Feed—and Why They Keep Changing It   . Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/cover_story/2016/01/how_facebook_s_news_feed_algorithm_works.html

Wallaroo Media. (2015, January 22). Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm Change History. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://wallaroomedia.com/facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-change-history/

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.




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