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week12O Journalism & Public Relations: The Love/Hate Relationship

I_Love_hate_You_by_stephen0493By Kenneth Bowen

Two introduction classes at Eastern Michigan University drastically influenced my decision regarding what to study as a major. The first class was an intro to journalism class my second semester, and the other was an intro to PR class I took this past fall. After a long internal debate, I was still undecided. So, I am double-majoring in both journalism and public relations. But, is it possible to be passionate about both?

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke gives very solid definitions of both fields. It explains journalism as, “The main intention of those working in the journalism profession is to provide their readers and audiences with accurate, reliable information they need to function in society.”

It describes a public relations practitioner as, “intended to influence public opinion and are designed to promote and protect an individual or organization’s image and products.”

There are different tasks and responsibilities within both careers, but the main goals of each profession could obviously provide a conflict if a passionate journalist and a fervent PR practitioner crossed paths.

However, both professions have a code of ethics written by highly respected and professional organizations. Public Relations Society of America and the Society of Professioanl Journalists both provide a way to navigate through their respected industries with a moral compass, ensuring a guideline to follow so the reputations of these important services is not tarnished. If the majority of individuals working in these fields abide by these organizations’ ethical codes, the relationship between journalists and public relations should have a solid relationship built on trust, understanding and a mutual respect.

So, is it wise to try to love both? I would say it is a challenging balancing act to stay completely impartial between these two different careers, but I understand the necessity for both. Also, I see where my services and creativity could flourish with each job, and both excite me. I’m really not sure where my studies will lead as far as a career goes, but I enjoy every PR and journalism class. I think that’s a good place to start.

week12O Marines graduate Social Media bootcamp

By Kenneth Bowen

PR is everywhere you look. Every business and organization involves themselves with the process in one way or another. Celebrities and athletes are usually in the press for a PR campaign or event. Journalists admit a large portion of their stories evolve from press releases, and it is a career field showing promising growth despite a dismal economic climate. So, it doesn’t even seem absurd when I receive digital updates and notifications from a group that claims the title “Devil Dogs,” which it earned on a battlefield in WW1. Yes it’s true, social media and PR have reached the United States Marine Corps’ AO (area of operations).

The Marines have a rich history that dates back to 1775. Founded in a tavern, they have been documented throughout American military history with a long list of bloody battles and campaigns, earning a global reputation as a determined and formidable foe. Major conflicts in our country’s history have been drastically influenced by the Corps, and today the USMC is still at the forefront of our combat operations in Afghanistan. Thanks to Twitter, I can stay updated while sitting in class thousands of miles away from the front lines.

Active duty Marines monitor and update their social media sites. The Twitter page relays snippets of information regarding what’s going on daily within the Corps. It also provides pictures, news, links to blogs and other relevant information. It provides a glimpse of the different Marines and their duties across the world and does so quite effectively. I recently read about tainted drinking water on Camp Lejeune, NC, an issue that could have repercussions for myself and friends that were stationed there for years. They also post casualties. It’s a solemn reminder that America is still at war, and there are still young men and women fighting.

The Facebook site also proved to be well maintained and engaging. I found it interesting how the sites seemed to be coordinated. I saw the same blog link several times throughout different sites, which seemed to be a well planned strategy to gain readers. There was a lot of interaction, and their content was interesting and well written. The Marines pride themselves on their professionalism, and their social media sites do not disappoint.

Marines have a very proud and loyal network of veterans. The social media sites are watched with vigilance by a community that cares for the branch of defense as if it were a family member. These sites, for many, are a window to a life they used to live. The pictures, stories, quotes, etc. provide a well-maintained platform for Marines of all generations to interact.

week11O Everyone loves Archie.

By Kenneth Bowen

Archie, a local celebrity, could be on campus helping spread the word about PR

Archie, a local celebrity, could be on campus helping spread the word about PR

I recently put my name in the hat for a position on the PRSSA executive board at Eastern Michigan University. To be honest, I have only attended roughly a half dozen meetings, but I am enticed at the opportunity to make a difference within a student group that has so much to offer.

The industry of public relations seems to be trending in the job market these days, and that is enough to turn the heads of most college students that aren’t just worried about grades, but finding a job after their student loans run out, also. Public relations is needed more than ever, and this could possibly sway many undecided college students into the PRSSA chapter on EMU’s campus.

I would honestly look at the position on the PRSSA executive board as a challenge to influence the student body that doesn’t have a clue what they want to do in college. I think this would be a task I could manage, simply because I was in their position when I was a freshman many moons ago.

I thought about going into the nursing program when I first enrolled, and attended the nursing informational meeting on campus before I even applied to EMU. A semester later one thing was certain, I did not want to be a nurse, and I had no idea what else to do. After an intro to journalism class, I had direction with my studies.

An intro to PR course last semester showed me the possibility of another outlet for my writing, one that could possibly provide a voice for the public to hear. A veterans group perhaps, or possibly a non-profit, could benefit from my writing, and that excites me more than any other aspect of this job. One step at a time however, so first I need to learn and master the basics.

My first idea is for a project in a PR related class. It involves spreading the word on campus about new PR courses offered in the Fall. To give this campaign an attention-grabbing look, I may have to enroll Archibald “Danger” Bowen, my English bulldog. I’ve learned in my classes a crucial aspect of PR is research, and research definitely shows everyone loves Archie.

week11r Measuring Social Media’s Influence is PR Gold

Hand holding a Social Media 3d SphereBy Kenneth Bowen

The need to receive accurate data from social media sites is crucial when explaining the success of PR’s social media campaigns. Through the revolution of the internet over the last two decades, PR can now show direct results of their efforts to directly influence their target audience. Campaigns can be measured and their success can be shown with real numbers and results, a tool that is vitally important for anyone trying to judge how their audience is receiving their message.

The book “Share This,” by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations based out of the UK, said in the closing paragraph of chapter 19, “No amount of numbers, scores and indexes are going to tell you whether you are achieving you specific objectives. That takes some thought, a tailored approach and human brain power.”

This is a very interesting observation and one that I found to be a very good summary of what the chapter encompassed. No amount of data will ever make important decisions, or decipher itself as to what those decisions should be.

Newspaper clippings used to be the only way to show the success of a PR pitch. The number of articles written by journalists may have been a way to show corporate bosses how well their press release was received, but it couldn’t necessarily be translated into a direct correlation of influencing the public.

Focusing on what viewer’s found relevant versus simply reaching a mass audience was also discussed. Usually, when the mass audience is reached the message is usually overlooked and not very engaging. It seemed like a well-focused, well-delivered message aimed at a specific target audience always resulted in more positive feedback and interaction from the public.

There are still bugs to be worked out for systems and platforms that measure social media’s influence for companies or corporations. As the books states, “The unsustainability of automated systems for measuring social media in a meaningful manner has meant that there is a now a concerted drive to look at setting standards and best practice.”

Topics that needed further clarity from these systems included influence, sentiment, engagement, monitoring, and reaching the desired target audience. Once there is a definite system that can accurately translate these key areas, PR will be able to provide a much more influential message through research and refined delivery tactics.

week10r Press Releases get dolled up for Social Media

technology2By Kenneth Bowen

It has been over a hundred years since Ivy Lee issued the first press release, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the “bread and butter” of PR needed to get revamped. The same format has been used for decades, but new technology has spurred innovative ideas and guidelines to make press releases more effective for the modern day journalist. Social media has become its own beast that many PR practitioners hope to corral for their company or client’s benefit. Therefore, it would make sense to update the press release in order to fit into today’s new channels of media.

The book “Share This” mentions many aspects of online press releases that do not differ much from the original format that’s been in use for a century. There still needs to be a headline, quotes, introductory paragraph, etc. Basically, the essentials are required. However, there are updated tips to ensure an online press release gets a boost that will set it apart from others.

The main point that I took away from the concepts of Ch. 12 was to use the technology that is accessible and effective. If it is available for everyone and entices readers, why not use it? A photo gallery that is attached to the release could give a visual understanding and be more engaging. Videos are a feature that can allow more content, but not boring content. Bookmarking and social “share” buttons are easy ways to help spread releases. There are many ways to implement technology into a press release today that can do nothing but assist with its intended message.

Press releases are meant to catch a journalist’s attention. Within social media, everyone is a grassroots journalist. Press releases that enter into this realm still need to ensure there is newsworthy content, but now it also needs to catch the eyes of readers. Because, anyone scrolling through their newsfeed or searching for a related topic could stumble upon the release, and they may become a supporter or a skeptic.

week6r Social Media and etiquette are like peas and carrots

By Kenneth Bowen

The sixth chapter of “Share This” by The Chartered Institute of Public Relations focuses on the psychology, ethics and etiquette involving social media.
The most interesting aspect was the ideas surrounding proper etiquette when interacting online. Being a novice to twitter, I found it quite interesting when “Share This” said, “Re-Tweeting praise about yourself makes people hate you-fact.” It seemed obvious when the book said not to overly praise one’s self, but it didn’t dawn on me that some might view it as uppity to spread the tweets that mention one’s praises.

Some ideas are broad like “have a strategy for handling mistakes,” but others give a better defined plan for handling blunders. “Duplicate the apology across relevant properties (the website, the FB Page, the company magazine, the Twitter Page),” provides more a more detailed approach when handling a crisis. Providing different solutions is one reason why this book is effective.

One aspect I found quite relevant was the quote from the book “Don’t delete content.” Companies that have taken a social media beating, like Applebee’s recently, make the problem much worse when they don’t acknowledge the situation. Transparency is an important feature when dealing with the general public via social media.

The last heading “People are not like you,” provides some great content that many PR practitioners should live by. Using common sense and conducting research are both highlighted, as well striving to be open and honest. If you can achieve these simple principles, “You’ll always be afforded the odd genuine mistake.”

week5r Guidelines could have helped Applebee’s

applebeesBy Kenneth Bowen

Companies that don’t have a clear set of rules for their employees’ behavior on social media sites are running the chances of a PR fiasco. Educating the workforce about the do’s/don’ts of representing their employers should be a top priority in this day and age. As the book “Share This” explains,”The guidelines typically cover how to engage with social media on behalf of an organisation.” This is an invaluable lesson that could prove to be very important during times of crisis.

Applebee’s could have avoided their recent PR disaster if they had a strict set of employee guidelines to fall back on. By not stating their concrete outlook on how their workers are required to behave while using social media, it opened the floodgates for their customers to side with the waitress who was fired. The book says “It is essential to differentiate a personal social media account from a professional one -organizations should make it clear that posts through personal accounts that are public can be seen and may breach organisational policy if they bring the company into disrepute.” The chain-owned restaurant has definitely been brought into disrepute, and thousands of angry posts can verify that fact.

The book says guidelines and resources can provide employees with the knowledge to make the right decisions when interacting on social media sites. It also states that there must be a trust for “them to do the right thing.” If employees turn to social media to vent about a customer, the company should have a very detailed contract stating what will happen if they do so. It would come across as a more suitable explanation to the general public than utter silence or run-around answers. Applebee’s didn’t use their company’s stance on social media to give their customers, or the mass media, a just reason for the waitress being fired, instead they dodged the issue and deleted posts from customers.