Principles of Public Relations Reflection

I haven’t always been sure that a public relations career was the right choice for me. I spent my first two years of undergraduate education at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. I studied hospitality management and I was aspiring to be a hotel manager. After moving home and transferring to the University of South Florida, I switched my major to public relations. In my mind, I thought that with a public relations degree, I could pretty much work anywhere. I had a basic understanding of the career field and decided to give it a shot.

Principles of Public Relations has increased my knowledge of the field. It taught me the good and the bad aspects of the career, including salary figures, types of public relations jobs, and how to successfully serve as a public relations practitioner working in various aspects of the field.

One of the best things this course required was a social media campaign assignment, where we had to analyze and evaluate an actual campaign a company initiated. The assignment really showed me that sometimes public relations efforts and tactics fall short of the organization’s expectations. When that happens, it’s up to the public relations professional to adjust the communications efforts and try again.

This course was highly dependent on social media. I was always a Facebook junkie, but I was oblivious to all other components of social media, such as Twitter and Linked In. I’m now happy to say that I do have a Twitter and Linked In account! I know that these applications and sites will help me to better market myself as a public relations student and offer me more opportunities to network with people in my field.

I loved this course. I want to learn everything and anything about the public relations field. This class is just the beginning.

My First Twitter Chat Experience!

Twitter Chat

Picture found at Google.com

On Oct. 19, 2011, I participated in my very first Twitter chat! I was surprisingly very nervous about it. Before this class I never even thought to join Twitter. I was more interested in Facebook. I didn’t see why it was necessary to join multiple social networking sites. I was also very confused on the concepts of “re-tweets” and “hash tags.” With the guidance of some of my peers, I decided that night would be the night to experience what all of the fuss was about. I logged in and entered the “#prstudchat.”

After logging into Twitter and going to the profile page for #prstudchat, I couldn’t figure out how the chat was supposed to work. So, I went to Google and typed in “how to Twitter chat.” It then brought me to TweetChat.com, which was extremely easy to work with. I was able to go into the chat room and follow what everyone was saying.

I really liked how #prstudchat worked. The mediators would ask 10 questions throughout the hour and give everyone an opportunity to comment and gain insight from the other people participating in the chat. The questions were very generic and allowed everyone the ability to reply, which I really liked.

Screenshot of my first Twitter chat

 

The hardest thing during the chat was keeping up with what everyone was say ing. There were so many participants so it was hard to comment on something someone said without becoming backed up with tweets.

All in all, I really enjoyed the chat experience. I was able to network and make connections with some of the people in there. I was required to participate in the chat for my class, but I will definitely participate in others. In just one hour you can gain insight from people who have experience in my future career field. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to do this.

My Volunteer Experience

I volunteered at Weeki Wachee Springs’ Halloween “Wild and Wicked Nights” carnival on Oct. 28, 2011 in Brooksville, Fl. When I arrived at the event, I was told I would be working the “games” section. Without checking my I.D., the employees at the guest services counter told me to head on back.
My assigned area was complete chaos. None of the volunteers knew where to go and the woman running to section was very rude. As a volunteer, I felt discouraged and I was upset that employees would treat volunteers so badly. It was clear that the event’s supervisors were ineffectively communicating with the volunteers. Safety issues were also raised when the organization didn’t find it necessary to check proper identification of those volunteering at an event where children would be present.
There were a bunch of local vendors taking part in the event. International House of Pancakes (IHOP) held a competition for the scariest decorated pancakes and the Kiwanis Club set up a booth selling crafts and candy. The vendors were happy with the turnout of the event and all those attending seemed to be enjoying themselves. The volunteers, however, were still trying to figure out where to assemble and had a hard time shaking off the attitudes they were given by the employees.
Weeki Wachee’s public relations department did an extraordinary job of getting the word out about the event. PR director John Athanason issued press releases to the major newspapers in the area and participated in radio call-ins. He took video clips of the practice sessions for the shows and posted them on the organization’s Facebook page and website. Athanason said that the organization has gained over 12,000 likes since its creation. He said that there was also an increase in the website’s traffic after posting the videos.

Weeki Wachee Mermaid performs during the organization's Wild and Wicked Nights festival.

In addition to capturing the social media component of media kits, the event was also advertised on the large marquee located at the intersection of US 19 and SR50, a very busy intersection in Brooksville. Weeki Wachee is a state park and is given a very small budget. All public relations efforts needed to be inexpensive and effective in order to make a profit.
The main benefit of holding this event was to make a profit. Admissions were $5 for adults/$3 for children. The organization’s target market includes every age group. Members from the target market were present. The organization’s presence in the community has increased due to the event.

Putting career goals in action takes work

With so many different job types in the public relations career track, it is common knowledge that landing a most sought after job title will take time, work, effort and money.

According to About.com, publicists are the “media world’s version of cheerleaders.” Public relations professionals spend a large majority of their time composing press releases for clients. Public relations professionals are also paid to maintain relationships with the public on behalf of these clients.

In a U.S. National Averages poll, a public relations specialist, an entry-level job title, is expected to make $45,843 per year. This number is based on the expected amount of experience in the field (1-2 years) and the completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Krystie West, a worker for Ehow, offers tips for individuals who dream of scoring the career goal of an entertainment publicist. These tips are:
• Enroll in a bachelor’s program and choose to study either English or journalism. It would be a good idea to take classes in both subjects, as well as classes in computers.
• Obtain an internship with a public relations firm, preferably one that has a high list of entertainment clients. The No.1 piece of advice for interns: “Do exactly as you’re told with a smile on your face.”
• Begin to network with professionals around you. If at the very least, join the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) organization. Joining networks will open many doors in the future.
• Create a professional cover letter and resume accentuating your positives.

West notes how difficult the market for entertainment publicity can be. Starting at the lowest paying job will pay off in the end. Most companies promote from within and offer perks, such as promotional gifts, travel experiences and invitations to major invents.

Ethics is always No. 1 concern

Individuals working as public relations representatives have often found it difficult to handle situations by truly following his or her company’s (or client’s) public relations code of ethics.

According to Dictionary.com, ethics is defined as “that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.”

The definition of ethics from Dictonary.com is just one of the many definitions of the word that people live by. The vast amount of meanings behind “ethics” causes a great deal of problems in public relations if situations are not handled properly. What one person sees as ethical may vary from what another sees as ethical.

Winifred Mburu, a post-graduate student at the University of Westminster in London, says: “Ethics in PR must begin with the individual. They must be true to themselves and adhere to their own morals and principles. Only then will the industry be in a position for regulation.”

There are many challenges that public relations professionals will come across in the field of work. PR Ideas lists some of these potential challenges as: misleading or incorrect information, influence of executives, product promotions, environmental concerns and bribery and influence.

In order to ensure that public relations professionals can handle any of the above challenges, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) offers guidelines for all individuals working in public relations careers.

The PRSA guidelines are:
• Preserve the integrity of the process of communication.
• Be honest and accurate in all communications.
• Act promptly to correct erroneous communications for which the practitioner is responsible.
• Preserve the free flow of unprejudiced information when giving or receiving gifts by ensuring that gifts are nominal, legal, and infrequent.

As time goes on, the challenges in public relations will only become more complicated. No matter how deep a problem goes, however, the PRSA’s guidelines will offer wisdom to the individual.

Reputation management is essential to public relations careers

Actor Charlie Sheen

Recent events involving actor Charlie Sheen demonstrate vividly how stressful public relations careers can be and how resigning as a public figure’s publicist can be the smartest career move.

Stan Rosenfield is president of Stan Rosenfield & Associates, an entertainment public relations firm that represents vast amounts of celebrities. Rosenfield works on behalf of George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Kelly Ripa, Helen Mirren and many other famous actors in Hollywood. Until recently, Rosenfield also represented Two and a Half Men television icon Charlie Sheen.

According to TMZ.com, Rosenfield resigned moments after Sheen appeared on a live taping of a TMZ news update. Sheen implied on the show that his publicist (Rosenfield) lied to the media about allegations of the actor trashing a hotel room last year.

Rosenfield issued a public statement saying that Sheen had been taken to the hospital the night of the hotel trashing because of an “allergic reaction”. On TMZ, Sheen said: “”I respect Stan … he was doing the best he could in that moment … had I confirmed with him, I probably would have come up with something better.”

In return, Rosenfield publically announced his resignation, saying, “At this time, I’m unable to work effectively as his publicist and have respectfully resigned.”

The Charlie Sheen events are perfect examples of how sometimes someone’s positive image cannot be maintain ed no matter how effective his or her publicist is. Sometimes unexpected road blocks are thrown into a public figure’s career. It is then that the public relations correspondent needs to initiate a plan of action, whether it is to implement a crisis management strategy or to respectfully resign from the job.

Rourk Public Relations offers strategies surrounding reputation management.

Some of these tips include:
• Think through your strategy and make sure there are no unintended consequences.
• Just because you can generate a story, doesn’t mean you should.
• Build allies not enemies with your public relations strategy.
• Reputation management is a day-by-day, methodical process to continually gain and retain inches.

Businesses that maintain their ground do so because they avoid reckless public relations plans.
Public relations is a stressful career. Working as a publicist is more difficult when the client is constantly immersed in negative attention. These tips will offer guidance to public relations professionals in dire need of reputation management tactics.

Social networking is a gateway for public relations

Social networking serves as the perfect gateway for relaying the information that would normally be lost in space.

A large portion of the world checking out Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and blog sites rather than checking a company’s website or tuning into the evening news. Because of this high-demand trend, public relations professionals are learning to embrace the new ways of doing business.

Public relations is all about representation, and public relations representatives need to ensure that his or her clients are being portrayed in a positive lime-light.

Dustin Heath, a journalist for Ezine @rticles, says, “social networking is the public relations of the future.” Heath says that public relations strategies should work hand-in-hand with networking agencies because networking has become a major influence on the media.

Christina Warren, a blogger on Mashable.com, says that public relations professionals are continuing to use these social networking sites as “platforms to help clients connect.” They do not try to re-create a system of social networking, but apply the basics to existing public relations strategies.

It is not uncommon for almost all businesses to be taking advantage of this up-and-rising movement. Most celebrities, and even the White House, have blogs and subscriptions to social networking sites. If a public relations representative is not engaging in social networking activities, his or her client(s) may be negatively affected.

People are not tuning to the news on television or in newspapers anymore. They are subscribing to RSS feeds, “following” others on Twitter and focusing attention on the actions of bloggers world-wide. These networking activities are especially important to maintain when representing a public figure or organization.

Celebrities are continuing to express themselves via Twitter and Facebook updates. Public relations executives are making an effort to try to control the updates made by clients. Jackie, a blogger for Entertainment PR Blog, says she can assure that “most celebrity pages are maintained by someone on payroll.”

Beth Harte, a strategic marketer and planner, mentions seven deadly sins of public relations that are keeping public relations representatives from totally engaging in social networking. The seven deadly sins are as follows:
1. Becoming too involved in relationships
2. Only focusing on media and blogger reactions
3. Not understanding technology [Christopher Pollock]
4. Thinking you can still control the message [Christopher Pollock, Susan Getgood]
5. Approaching social media as a channel [Jason Kintzler]
6. Not understanding group dynamics, sociology and anthropology [Giles Crouch, Brian Solis]
7. Not integrations communications efforts

Public relations professionals will adopt strategies that work one-on-one with these networking sites. In order to make sure the right people get the right information, social networking needs to be incorporated in some way, shape or form.

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