PR and Journalism: It’s A Long-term Relationship

By: Sarah Copeland

I have to admit, when I decided on public relations I came into the major rather clueless. What I mean is I had no prior knowledge of this field and still made the choice. I had turned down every other major listed in the UNT course options. I came across public relations, read the description, said, “yeah, that sounds like something I could do” and basically decided my future with that thought. Since then I have constantly been amazed with how many different areas of PR exist.

One subset of PR that I’ve talked about often this week is Media Relations. This career isn’t really my intended PR focus and it’s not what I am most interested in, but I will admit that I hadn’t viewed in very seriously until this semester. The perception of media relations is far from accurate. Many difficulties occur between PR specialists and the journalists they communicate with. Without trust and respect for each other’s work, communicating isn’t easy.

Probably the number one thing media relations is NOT is constantly writing press releases and emailing them to journalists with the expectation that it will get media coverage. Communicating with journalists takes much more than sending out press releases or media kits. It’s called media RELATIONS for a reason. Building relationships takes time and effort and even more to be on good terms with journalists.

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What stands out to me is that, at the college level, both public relations students and journalism students start out taking the same courses. I had to take news writing courses and other journalism courses because both majors are considered journalism courses, at least at my college. Here’s what is incredible to me: even though we both have the same start line, journalists don’t trust PR people and PR people don’t trust journalists. PR specialists fear what the journalists will chose to report and journalists fear that the PR specialists will either hide information or be dishonest.

I can’t say how journalists can help make this necessary relationship easier, but I can give a few tips for the other future PR pros out there. First, don’t waste their time. In media relations you should always be aware that journalists have deadlines and those time limits should be respected. This is also relevant to emails or phone calls. Make the point and then follow up with them later, they have other news sources as well. Next, don’t become frustrated if they write a negative story about something you pitched to them, even if the information is false. Finally, be honest and available. As PR practitioners we should always be honest and we should also be able to get in contact with.

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All of these tips can be taken as ways to maintain good relationships with the media and they are best practices for PR anyways so take note.

 

References: 

Dougherty, J. (2015, February 23). 7 Ways to Build Better Relationships With Journalists | Cision. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.cision.com/us/2015/02/7-ways-to-build-better-relationships-with-journalists/

Himler, P. (2013, March 14). The Journalist And The PR Pro: A Broken Marriage? Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhimler/2013/03/14/the-journalist-the-pr-pro-a-broken-marriage/#762b8134e42e

Media Relations – SHIFT Communications PR Agency – Boston | New York | San Francisco | Austin. (2015). Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.shiftcomm.com/what-we-do/services/media-relations/

Obrien, A. (2014, September 19). Public Relations Vs. Media Relations – What’s the Difference? Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://everything-pr.com/public-relations-media-relations/52598/

Reed, V. M. (2014, June 6). 5 Media Relations Challenges PR Pros Face. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://mavenagency.com/blog/2014/06/media-relations-challenges/

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An Around the Clock Gig

By: Sarah Copeland

My mom was always a hard working teacher. I remember seeing her at the kitchen table every night grading papers. She still, to this day, sits at the kitchen table and grades papers. She never took a break. Even on vacations, over spring or winter break, she would bring a pile of papers to grade with her. One thing she told me was to never, ever, become a teacher. Her reasoning? She wanted me to be able to come home and sit on the couch like my dad could.

Well, that didn’t exactly happen. I didn’t become a teacher, but I did choose a career path that has no guarantee of relaxation at the end of the work day.

PR work hoursImage Source

Any professional in the field of PR will tell you that thing have changed. PR cannot be done the way it used to be, it is simply not the same. Now, it’s an around the clock gig.

With the rise in social media, and honestly technology in general, news never stops. That means problems always happen and therefore, somebody always needs to be aware of those issues. PR professionals need to know what is going on, all the time. It’s a 24/7 job, plain and simple.

As part of my classes my professor wanted all of us to be ready for crises at any moment. She told us that, as part of this career, we may have to work weekends with no forewarning. She prompted us with a crisis drill. All of us who were aware (aka had our emails linked to our phones) saw that she had posted a drill and we had to solve it within 24 hours. Lucky me, I have work that day. Of course, at least hopefully, I won’t have another job when I go into the field of PR.

The point is, in PR, you never know when something is going to happen and require your attention and work. This isn’t something you can leave at the office. This isn’t something you can forget about when the weekend arrives. It is truly a 24/7 job that never stops.

At least I’ll never be bored!

References

Public Relations Graduate Working Hours. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.thejobcrowd.com/careers/advertising-marketing-and-pr/public-relations-0/working-hours

Public Relations is a 24/7 Task. (2010). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/public-relations-247-task/

Rebeck, G. (2015, November 25). 24/7 Public Relations. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://tcbmag.com/Industries/Marketing,-Advertising,-PR-and-Media/24-7-Public-Relations

Transparency and Truth, Not Spin

JOUR 4460 Blog #3

By: Sarah Copeland

 

As a college student, meeting new people comes with rather repetitious small talk. The conversation that contains that one question everyone always asks: What’s your major?

My answer for the past two years has been public relations. The slightly surprising part is that a majority of people don’t know what PR is all about. Several encounters have ended with me trying to explain, to the best of my ability, all the things PR includes. Other people, about five actually, have interrupted my explanations to say something along the lines of, “oh, you mean the people who defend bad things by spinning the information” or “so you must be really good at lying and getting out of trouble.”

No.

First let me say that I was always a good kid. I followed the rules and I honestly don’t think I ever rebelled against my parents. There was one time I accidentally burned a hole in the carpet. I was playing around with a candle lighter and I was being stupid. But I was a kid and I made a mistake, it happens. I didn’t try and talk my way out of it. I didn’t make a big fuss or say someone else was to blame. I ended up telling my dad exactly what happened, apologized for it and said I would never use the lighter again for anything but lighting candles.  I was terrified that my dad would be super angry, but he wasn’t.

This is a good analogy for what PR should be like. If something goes wrong, be honest, apologize and clear the air. But, people don’t realize this. For the amount of people I’ve met who have known nothing about PR, there seem to be many clichés about what PR professionals do. The idea of studying a skill in order to lie and cheat your way out of trouble, along with some other things, is exactly what I hope PR isn’t and the complete opposite of what I’m being taught.

Two of my classes this semester, more than the others, are teaching me how to prepare for my future career in the best way possible. Crisis communication is one of the courses, PR communications is the other. Both teach respectable values: know what needs to be done to reach your goals, and, if something goes wrong, be honest and solve the problem to repair the damage.

My goal as a PR professional is to maintain respectable and long-lasting relationships. I am passionate about my career choice because I will have the ability to influence publics in a positive way through discussion and engagement, not lies and spin. If there is anything I’ve learned from my studies it’s that transparency and honesty are vital to maintaining a good reputation and loyal supporters.

I hope someday everyone will stop associating PR with spin and instead recognize PR as an honest industry. At least it should be.

References:

Barrett, S. (2014, October 24). How to persuade The New York Times that PR is not about spin. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://www.prweek.com/article/1318959/persuade-new-york-times-pr-not-spin

To Spin Or Not To Spin | PRWeb. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://service.prweb.com/resources/article/to-spin-or-not-to-spin-a-pr-and-social-media-question/

Wightman, J. (2011, April). 20 things PR is NOT. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/20_things_PR_is_NOT_12327.aspx

The Time Before and the Time of Social Media

JOUR 4460 Blog #2

By: Sarah Copeland

Back when I was in elementary school I remember always being jealous of my older sister. One day every year my dad would take her to work with him. It wasn’t until second or third grade that my dad finally took me to work with him instead of my sister. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I thought it was boring. My dad is an electrical engineer. Now I don’t know much about engineering but as a kid I would probably have told you all they do is sit at a desk and work on computers all day in a cubicle.

I didn’t want to disturb my dad while he was working so I decided to amuse myself by drawing on his whiteboard. Another thing to know about me is that I’m not a talented artist in the slightest. However, I managed to draw a rather impressive troll head. I can’t say what made me want to draw something like that but I was very proud of my troll. At that point my memory starts to fade and I’m not quite sure what happened after. I’d like to think that my dad snapped a picture of the troll for me before he erased it. Or even that he kept it up for a few days after I came to work with him.

Times have changed so much since I was a little kid. I grew up during a time when my family only owned one television, had one phone that ,yes, was up on the wall, hooked up to a landline. I grew up when cell phones went from looking like a giant brick to being smaller than your hand. I was in high school before I got my first cell phone. That was about the same time Facebook became popular and social media started to boom.

This week my communications class began setting up all the social media sites we’d need for this semester. I was never quite into Twitter or following what people posted, but social networks have become increasingly important, especially in the PR field. Consider how news is actually breaking on Twitter before major news networks. And all presidential candidates are represented on Twitter, a helpful tool during election years like this one. Communication has never been more accessible or helpful. Either you use social media to your full advantage or you don’t. From what I’m learning I’d suggest the former.

social-media-and-society-01_zpsd105a974Photo Taken from Seochat

With all the technology available today, I wonder how different my childhood would have been if the same advances were available then. For instance, would my dad have taken a picture of my drawing and posted it to Facebook or Instagram? Or maybe even have sent my mother a Snapchat of it? Would he have tweeted about take your daughter to work day with a reasonable hashtag? How many different ways would I have been able to save and share that memory? I’m happy I can still remember the days without social media. Now I just have to get used to every day with it.

 

References:

ASAE ® The Center for Association Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.asaecenter.org/Education/trends.cfm?ItemNumber=53823

Social Media and Society: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. (2013). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.seochat.com/c/a/social/social-media-and-society-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

The Impact of Social Media on Society – Business Opportunities. (2015). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.business-opportunities.biz/2015/02/19/impact-social-media-society/

 

Finding My Passion and Sticking to It

By: Sarah Copeland

 

One thing my mother always taught me while I was growing up was to think before you speak and, if you are going to speak, make sure it comes out right. Now, as a college student trying to graduate with a major in public relations, I realize how important that lesson really was.

Honestly, I would never have pictured myself where I am now. Math was always my strong suit. Unlike English classes, where there was an essay for every exam asking to analyze a certain poem or ancient novel by a famous author, math never had to be interpreted. It was what it was and I liked that. Find the value of X. Easy. I flew through calculus two in high school with a solid A and thought I was better at math than any other subject. There was only one problem: there was absolutely no career of interest for me that had to do with math. No way was I going to be an accountant or a mathematician. I liked math but not that much. So, I ignored deciding on a major, figuring I would find out when I got to college.

It wasn’t until the Dean of Honors College talked to me at an introductory meeting that things really changed. She was impressed with my SAT scores in the math section and promptly told me how I would make a good engineer. I burst into tears. This was not the career path I wanted at all. Actually, it would take another year for me to find out what I wanted.

I learned about public relations some time before my sophomore year. Because of my mother, I had always known when people had said the wrong thing. I also knew when they made mistakes and even noticed how well of a job they did when they apologized. For instance, we may not all remember what happened with Johnson& Johnson Tylenol but I’m sure all of us know about what happened with Blue Bell. What I didn’t know was that there was a career that handled those situations. Of course, public relations is such a broad subject that I really didn’t know much about it when I decided to claim PR as my major. But I took the plunge anyways.

All I can say is that it is a good thing that I am a decent student. The Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT doesn’t make it easy. If you don’t love what you are studying you won’t make it through. I powered through the media writing courses, hating every second I had to write a news story. But they were required before I could reach PR courses. I can’t say it got any easier once I finally took the classes I was working so hard to reach. One thing I learned, though, is that public relations is different for everyone. PR may be all about social media for one person and all about nonprofits for another. For me, my public relations goal is about maintaining relationships through how you verbally communicate (aka: External Affairs maybe even leaning towards HR work). This again comes from what my mother taught me and partially from the part of my personality that wants everyone to be happy.

I now find myself, as a junior, taking a capstone course in PR. According to the professor, this is a challenging choice. My professor’s knowledge of the course, and of public relations in general, makes me anxious. I’m currently trying not to drown from “drinking from the fire hose”, a phrase used by my professor which relates to another class but is still relevant for her communications course. All I can say is that, after two years of study, I still love public relations and eagerly await going out into the real world.

drinking20from20the20firehosePhoto By: InvetorSpot

We’ll see how it goes.

Bye for now,

Sarah