Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Week Ten

I found this weeks reading really quite interesting as I have always considered event management as a section of public relations that I would be fascinated by. I was also interested in it because the research I found whilst doing the annotated bibliography on sponsorship of events made me think that it is a very complex, yet rewarding tool used by public relations practitioners, and it was intriguing to learn more about it.

They key points I learnt from this weeks readings were that sponsorship is an expensive tactic, if not the most expensive. However, it can also bring in a great response if managed correctly, especially generating goodwill and an opportunity to enhance the organisations reputation. There are three different types of sponsorship, including philantric sponsorship (generally community based, donation style), corporate sponsorship (sponsorship of an event (generally high profile) outside of what the company's normal business entails), and marketing sponsorship (most popular form involving offering goods for a return of profitable results).

I found it extremely interesting to note that a sponsorship proposal, which may have taken several hours to complete, will on average only be considered for three minutes by those in the decision making position. Similar to the media release, this shows the importance of short, sharp and straight to the point proposals. I also found ambush marketing quite a scary and unethical concept, especially the point that regardless of whether the organisation takes all the neccessary precautions to 'protect' the sponsorship, it can still become a victim of ambush marketing. This once again outlines the importance of public relations pracitioners not only being aware of the practical and written requirements, but also legal requirements that could help them protect the sponsorship.

They key points I learnt about even management is that the amount of events a public relations practitioner can choose from is quite large and diverse (some include conferences, launches, openings). If carefully planned, prepared and executed, an event can achieve a number of public relations goals and objectives. The need for a public relations strategy designed specifically for the event is essential to see that these events run as smoothly as possible and the importance of a careful budget is emphasised. Events are a great opportunity to attract positive media attention, however it is important to not just plan your event around the media. The evaluation of an event is a great idea and can incorporate three primary methods; debriefing meeting, event assesment, and business activity assesment. This is a great way to discover whether your event was a success or not and how to improve it for next time.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that the knowledge of a PR practitioner must be broad and versatile; there is just so much you need to know and understand to ensusre you carry out your work effectively. This reading also re-emphasised the notion that the media are not the only targets of our work, they are only a small portion, although their coverage does aid considerably. It also outlined again the importance of PR practitioners being able to write quick and concise projects and outlines that get the message across quickly whilst still drawing in interest, as the people who read it will not spend a lot of time reviewing it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Week Nine

As I had already read and commented on chapter 7 for week 5, I am just going to blog about the readings for chapter 8. However, revising over chapter 7 allowed me a deeper understanding into tactics and it complemented the chapter 8 reading and made the information much more easier to digest.

I found the chapter 8 reading quite tedious at times as it went into great depth about many of the tactics availabe to public relations practitioners and their value. However, this information is quite useful and once again outlines the depth of knowledge a PR practitioner needs on a variety of issues and practices.

In summary, the key points I learnt from this weeks reading were that strategy and tactics are two different things, although they do work together and complement one another. It is however, important to recognise their differences. Tactics must be measurable to the strategic outcome.

There are many different tactics, but successful PR campaigns do not neccesarily mean using all of them. The two different types of tactics are controlled (such as things the PR practitoner has control over, like annual reports) and uncontrolled tactics (such as things that can be changes, like media relations.) Some of the tactics mentioned include; media relations, annual reports, direct mail, newsletters. The success of the tactics employed by the PR practitioner however, relies on their ability to utilise it correctly and most efficently for their targeted publics; there is no proven tactic that will definately produce success.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that there is a considerable amount of knowledge a public relations practitioner must have in this industry, regarding not only legal and ethical aspects of the proffession, but also different tactics and how they are best produced. With each reading, the amount of knowledge and information that we need to know becomes very daunting, yet extremely exciting as it emphasises once again that this is an industry that is so diverse and allows the involvement of so many different things.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Week Eight

I really enjoyed this weeks readings, and getting to understand some of the best ways to create media relations and to communicate with journalists. A key point I got from both readings was the usefuleness of using e-mails to communicate with, or send information to journalists. From the study in the 'To contact...or not? Investigating journalists' assesment of public relations subsidies and contact preferences' reading, an overwhelming 93% of journalists prefferred e-mails as the method of contact. Although I see the benefits of using e-mail (some of which are outlined in the 'Writing a Media Release' reading; speed of delivery, tailoring of media releases, cost effective), I think my prefferred communication would be face to face, as I think this would ensure a stronger relationship.

Having done the 'ethics' topic of the debate last week, my mind was still buzzing over public relations and ethics, so I found the fact that from the study 69% of journalists think PR practitioners lack ethics really interesting. What was more interesting was that the study went on to say that some journalists stated that those PR practitioners who had experience in journalism were more 'skilled and ethical' than those who had no experience in journalism. I can understand this statement from the fact that public relations practitioners need to understand the media and how it works; however I'm unaware how having experience in journalism would help PR practitioners become more ethical?

A key point I discovered from the 'Writing a Media Release' reading was that there can be 'hard' news (breaking news/serious news) or 'soft' news (human interest news/entertaining news). I understand the differentiation between the two but had never heard them explained in those terms before. These two different types of news attract different audiences and different media outlets, so the importance of writing a media release specifically for the type of media outlet you want it important. The task of making it appealing to that type of media is also important, and the various suggestions in the reading to do so were quite fascinating (eg have a celebrity participate, create good photo opportunities, localise the information etc).

My learning this week builds upon previous learning about public relations in that the media release is the most popular method of communicating with the media. In the proffesional writing course last semester, they focused very much on the media release as a vital tool in creating media relations and getting your story across to the media, and in turn, the publics. This weeks reading also accentuated what was outlined last week in that public relations practitioners must become aware of the styles and formats of different media outlets, how they operate and who is in charge of what.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Week Seven

I found chapter ten really interesting, for several reasons. A key point it highlighted was how much the public views public relations to rely on the media, and vice versa, and how correct that assumption is. It also highlighted the changing nature of media relations in present society and how, like public relations, it has become much more complex. The power of the media was also emphasised, although I think that is something that we have already come to recognise.

The history of various aspects of the Australian media that were outlined was also quite interesting as well as the summation of points of newsworthiness. Something I took out of the reading which I had previously not considered was how public relations practitioners must become familiar with all the styles of the media, as well as the people who work in it and the way the work is completed.

The two readings about presentations and group work were very helpful, especially as my debate is the first week. There were several great pointers that I picked up and have used in preparation for my presentation. Although the two texts repeated each other several times, it was fascinating to note how important group work and oral presentations are beyond the education system. A key point was that in almost every job, you will need to work well in a group to achieve results and you must be able to confidentally speak, or present your case in front of groups of people. It was also a great point that no matter how many people in your group, everyone brings a different ability, strength or knowledge to the table that allows positive diversity to the presentation.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that the job is so complex and there is so much a public relations practitioner needs to know. The importance of media relations to public relations just heightens how vital it is to understand all the aspects of the media and how different publics relate to different media organisations. I have begun to wonder whether there is anything a public relations practitioner doesn't need know in order to be successful at what they do?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Week Six

I found the first reading this week very hard to take in. There was a lot of legal aspects that I found difficult to understand and had to read the text twice to make more sense of it. It made me realise how important it is to understand all the legal aspects associated with public relations and to not only recognise such aspects but also advise and manage legal situations that arise. There were many key points in this reading, including the importance of public relations practitioners having a good relationship with their legal advisers; public relations practitioners can easily fall prey to acts of defamation, sometimes without even realising it; public relations practitioners, therefore, need to be mindful of the way they communicate and what they communicate ensuring that they are not being misleading or deceptive. The diversity of legal aspects related to public relations was quite daunting, and made me realise how much we need to be aware of before embarking into the PR workplace.

They key points I learnt from the chapter 5 reading was the importance of being ethical in public relations and the need to move towards 'genuine professionalism.' It states that since public relations can create an influence over people, then what they do needs to be ethical. I found the Potter Box quite an interesting analytical tool for looking at four factors that individuals base ethical decisions on; the situation and the person's values, principles and loyalties. It also highlighted the importance of building honest relationships between practitioners and organisations that they work for. This then gives a good impression to society of the honesty, and
reliability of public relations and their organisations.

My learning from both readings this week builds upon previous learnings about public relations in that public relations practitioners need to be in constant communication with CEO's and senior management to not only ensure the organisation runs smoothly, but to create effective legal and ethical strategies to adopt to the organisation. It also highlighted how public relations practitioners are continuously accused of being 'spin doctors' and twisting meaning for their own intentions. Hopefully in time, public relations will be able to develop strategic ethical considerations to adopt to their work and improve the negative impression that some are still associating with them.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Week Five

In summary, a key point I learnt from both readings this week was the importance of objectives in public relations programs and strategies. In Chapter 4- 'A Typical Public Relations Program', it goes as far as to state that 'agreed specific objectives really is the key to successful public relations work.' I think acknowledging a number of objectives is vital in any organiation, but especially in Public Relations as the work needs to be consistent and done correctly. It is important that the objectives are achievable and continuously updated.

I found the two models of public relations programs at the begginning of the Chapter 4 reading very interesting. A model is an excellent way to visualise how something should be done and allows an easier and quicker understanding of the process. I found that the outline for the 'Four images of your client' is also a key point and a useful and quick way to understanding your 'client'- i especially agree with the 'Optimum Image' which looks at the most desirable image. This is similar to setting an organisations objectives, looking at the most desirable (yet still achievable) goal, and setting yourself up to attain it. It parrallels the idea that Public Relations can 'lay the communication groundwork to assist in effecting change' (Chapter 4 - A Typical Public Relations Program. In C. Tymson, P. Lazar, P and R. Lazar, 2006, Page 77.)

From Chapter 7 of Public Relations Theory and Practice, a key point I took from the reading was the importance of planning in strategic public relations management. The information on vision and mission statements was also worthy of noting. I was interested to see how they had explained the importance of vision and mission statements in relation to PR rather than just as essential components neccessary for all organisations. The charts towards the back of the reading were also extremely interesting, especially the Gantt chart which I had never heard of before but which seems very useful.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that it is essential for public relations practitioners to be in close communication with senior management. Both readings again emphasised the extreme importance of PR's continual exchange and updating of information with management to ensure that the organisation continues to evolve and move along productively. The senior management 'sets the tone' for the organisations communication systems and it is therefore vital (as we have come to read over the past two weeks) for a PR practitioner to be in constant interaction with them to ensure communcation is at its potential.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Week 4

In summary, the key points I learnt from this weeks reading from 'Public Relations FAQs' was that to get a job in the public relations industry, it is quite vital to do some form of work experience in the area you wish to work in, as getting a degree only offers you so much knowledge. On the job experience allows you to learn skills and information that may set you aside from others and gives you a 'leg up' into the industry before you even get there. I agree with this, and also think it helps the other wat around as well, as I have just begun a job that involves PR skills and knowledge and am finding that this on the job experience is helping me with learning the 'theory' and background knowledge in this degree.

A key point outlined was also about the preciseness and simplicity of job applications. I previously have tried to make applications as long as possible as I thought the more information I divulged, the smarter I would come across as. Therefore, this fact has helped me realise how wrong I was.

I found Chapter 11 'Internal Communication' quite an interesting read. It brought to light a lot of interesting facts and is something a lot of organisations should read. Its research and findings demonstrate a lot about the internal communications process and what works, doesn't work and what needs to be built on. I agreed with the statement that 'we communicate "with" employees, not "to" them, as communication is a two-way process' (Internal Communication, C. Tymson, P. Lazar, P and R. Lazar, p 314). I think this is probably one of the most important points from the reading and is something that should be illustrated to all organisations as the communication process is such an important one and should be done correctly and with some sufficient knowledge of the process.

The research finding that senior management is where most empoyees want to be communicated from was also important. And the fact that most employees find that senior management communication is not as adequate as it should be reveals the importance of senior people getting help from communicators. They are, after all, at the head of their industry and should be communication experts as the process is so vital in all organisational areas.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that the areas of PR that you can become involved in are so diverse and continuously changing. Many interviewees stated that an apect of PR that they enjoyed was the fact that every day brought something different. Many also stated that you have to be passionate about the job, and I think that that is an important aspect, not only in the Public Relations industry but when looking at getting any job. Perhaps work experience can also be a way to see if PR is an area we really are passionate about before we take the plunge of getting a full time job in the industry?

It also built upon my previous knowledge about the importance of communication in organisations, but allowed me to further comprehend the fact the communicating isn't just about getting a message across, but also relies on relationships.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Week 3

Public Relations Theory and Practice Chapter 3.
Public Relations Research at the Crossroads.

This week I found it essential to have to read through these texts twice to begin to grasp an understanding of the theories and ideas that they communicate. My learning this week builds upon previous learnings of public relations in that it is a 'proffession' that is so hard to define and structure. As I stated in my blog last week, it is deeply hard to critically grasp a holistic understanding of PR and its functions, and this weeks readings into the varied theoretical approaches and research theories of PR emphasised that statement once more.

The way the reading from 'Public Relations Theory and Practice' was set out with bi-headings and segments allowed me to absorb the information much clearer than 'Public Relations Research at the Crossroads.' However, I liked the second texts' affirmation that PR theoretical research is at a 'crossroads' and that this can be an opportunity to incorporate 'the new' ('new ideas, new methodologies, new theotrical approaches' (Public Relations Research at the Crossroads, Karla K. Gower, p186.)) For us as students of PR (and maybe one day practitioners), this idea is an exciting suggestion that we can learn from past ideas, theories and functions of PR and help to shape its future.

In summary, the key points I learnt from this weeks readings were that there are many different theoretical theories and approaches to PR, including; agenda setting, general systems theory, semiotics, Habermas's critical theories, the 'four models' looked at by Grunig and Hunt, the rhetorical theory and the relationship management approach. The theories are all diverse in structure and meaning and I think one of the most important factors mentioned or suggested in both texts were to adopt several theories, rather than merely one, as this allows a contrast and deeper understanding into different theories and, consequently, a deeper understanding of aspects PR.

'Public Relations Research at the Crossroads' emphasised to me the strength of the various formulated two-way symmetrical communication model. They key ideas I also felt it portrayed were that in a new era, a new variation of theories are needed and that to discover these we need to understand the functions of the older models and generate an adoption for some new ones.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kelly-PR Blog Week 2

Public Relations FAQs
Chapter 2: Public Relations Theory and Practice

In summary, the key points I learnt from this weeks reading from 'Public Relations Theory and Practice' were about the history and development of Public Relations. What I found especially interesting (having no previous knowledge in the development of PR) was that the first degree course in Public Relations was offered at Bathurst in the University now known as Charles Sturt, a place where I considered studying myself. I think reading about the history and development not only enables us as PR students to recognise where and how the practice of PR surfaced but to also appreciate how much it has changed and advanced throughout the years to proivide such opportunities that it does in Australia today.

This idea of advancement over time is another key point made in the reading, as it outlines that the development and growth of businesses in Australia, the growth of the Australian media and the development of the constructions of our society have allowed PR to 'spread its wings' in a sense, enabling PR practitioners to work in such a diverse number of areas (including media relations, marketing, crisis management.) This is an exciting fact for those like myself who are interested in finding a job in PR as it illustrates how many different areas of work we can get involved in.

The key points I learnt from 'Public Relations FAQs' was, once again, about the range of areas of PR that are available and where and how to get involved in it. I found this chapter extremely helpful in articulating a definition and image of PR in my mind that goes beyond the 'small minded' notion I had that PR merely involved advertising and communicating. I'm sure the interview answers will become a source to which I will continuously refer back to as job interviews in PR come my way.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that it is a difficult occupation to define and deeply grasp, but the work is "very interesting and fulfilling" (Danielle Morris, 'Public Relations FAQs, Page 27.)