The Portrayal of PR

By: Meredith Erikson

veep square-2
Source: pastemagazine.com

In a thought-provoking article I read on Everything PR, I found that according to a recent survey of 1000 PR pros, 72 percent of them say their parents don’t understand what PR is and an additional 41 percent say their spouses don’t know either. This report does not surprise me at all. Whenever I tell someone who is not familiar with the world of journalism that I am majoring in Public Relations, they have no idea what it is. I’ve received the response “isn’t that just spinning stuff?”, more than once. It’s hard not to roll my eyes when I hear that, yet I don’t blame them for not knowing exactly what PR involves. It’s a variety of tasks that can be done in a multitude of ways. It’s complex. The article gives a perfect explanation of what PR professionals do and how they do it.

I often wonder where people get their impression of Public Relations from. I’m sure it’s from a variety of sources, entertainment probably being one of the largest. While studying ethics in advertising and PR, a group project of mine entailed analyzing the portrayal of these fields in popular television shows. I got the luck of being assigned Veep, as I’m a huge Julia Louis- Dryfus fan. I instantly fell in love with its hysterical wit. Even if I weren’t assigned this project I believe I’d have a hard time not catching the PR tactics their characters (attempt to) utilize.

The show portrays PR in a lot of different ways. Although the show sometimes stereotypes the PR roles, it all comes from the show’s aim at humor. For example, the Director of Communications Dan Egan will often be manipulative and stab anyone in the back in order to get what he wants. That’s not what PR professionals do, but it’s a stretch on how professionals are competent in swaying public opinion. Despite the misconceptions, the show has a lot of truth to the PR industry. Selina Meyer, Vice President, and her staff battle moral, ethical and personal dilemmas every day in which they are obligated to think on their feet. These situations especially happen in crisis situations and require protecting the VEEP’s image. Research, speeches and gathering client and media relations are among the many other tactics Selina’s staff uses.

Hollywood has quite a list of television shows that have represented PR. Scandal, Mad About You, Sex in the City and The West Wing are among a few. I’m looking forward to eventually examining each show’s portrayal of the PR world.

 

Citations:

Tannahill, J. (2015, August 20). Public Relations Survey: Understand PR? – Everything PR. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from http://everything-pr.com/public-relations-survery/59405/

 

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Diversity in the Advertising Industry

By: Meredith Erikson

With lack of diversity in the advertising industry, it’s harder for advertisers to see other points of view before making ethical agreements. When there is a more diverse group of people in a room, there’s a larger variety of moral values to influence ethical decisions. There may be norms in one person’s culture that aren’t in another person’s and without those differences among the workforce, insensitive advertisements could be produced. This a common criticism of using a non-consequentialism approach to ethical dilemmas. For example, when Intel made an ad that showed a white man folding his arms and standing while six muscular black runners were shown bowing down to him with words that read “Multiply computing performance and maximize the power of your employees,” it was seen as racially offensive. According to Karanovic, “Intel’s ad borrows the cinema’s character placement by placing the African-American men as the inferior, characters, while the white male is seemingly superior.”

Diversity in the advertising world doesn’t only have to do with race but also with gender. Although the number of women in advertising is increasing it’s important that they’re involved in all types of advertising and in higher corporate positions. With more women in the advertising field it could help prevent inappropriate and misleading ads as well, especially in the fashion industry. In another example, BIC had an advertisement that read “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.” To top it off it included the hashtag #HappyWomensDay. To a lot of women this was considered a sexist message according to CNN and if there had been more input from women this could have been avoided.

In an interesting article by the New York Times, it was found that according to a report by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People found that black employees in the industry get paid 80 cents for each dollar earned by white employees. This creates an impact of unfairness and inequality in the advertising industry. Without equal opportunity it can lead to resentment towards the industry thus leading to less diversity. There must be an encouraging environment in order to keep the number of minority employees. The lack of diversity in advertising not only impacts the industry as itself but our society as well. If we can’t incorporate diversity in this creative field, how are we going to learn to have diversity in everything else? We can’t progress as a culture if this issue is holding us back. Once the industry improves its diversity, it’ll set a great example of what other industries should be like.

 

Citations:

Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014. (2014, May 12). Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.karanovic.org/courses/mca008/archives/1613

Payne, E. (2015, August 12). Bic offends with women’s day salute in South Africa. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/12/africa/feat-bic-sexist-pens/

Vega, T. (2012, September 03). With Diversity Still Lacking, Industry Focuses on Retention. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/business/media/with-diversity-still-lacking-industry-focuses-on-retention.html?_r=0

 

TED Talks Taught Me

By:Meredith Erikson

ted talks
Source: ted.com

As Public Relations professionals (or aspiring ones), we are strategic communicators. Whether it’s during school, my job, or just talking with friends, I can’t help but to analyze the way we communicate for ourselves and with one another. When I started my first job at a restaurant I refused to take the position of a server. Being only 18, I didn’t think I could handle talking to all the types of people I knew I’d have to encounter. I pleaded for the job of the hostess because I assumed conversing with customers would be minimal. I was completely wrong. I didn’t know I wasn’t going to have the job of a traditional, let me just take you to your table, hostess. I was there to help the servers, take to-go orders, and most of all communicate with the customers. Unexpectedly, after several months of working there I began to realize how thankful I was to have the opportunity to work somewhere that forced me to improve how I communicate. When I moved to Denton I had a chance to be a server, which necessitated effectual and convincing communication. I can now say I enjoy that I’m challenged to practice talking to new people every day.

Communication is not only so crucial in Public Relations but in our everyday lives. I find it fascinating and I constantly want to know how I can improve the way I converse even more. I decided to reference my shameless love for Netflix and thought of an entertaining way to learn about enhancing my communications skills. After being introduced to TED Talks by a friend, I began watching them on my own and tried my best to apply their tips and ideas to my life. TED Talks always pleases my curiosity and are taught in a way that’s easily understandable. Luckily for me PR News already had a list of their favorite talks they believed catered to PR professionals. One that stood out to me was called “5 ways to listen better” by Julian Treasure. In order to communicate effectively you first have to know how to really listen. Treasure defines listening as making meaning from sound. He claims that we spend 60 percent of our communication time listening but we only retain 25 percent of what we hear. It’s important that we improve our listening so as a result we can improve the way we convey ourselves to the world and also to one another. He says most of us unconsciously listen yet the only way we can create understanding is through conscious listening.

His first tip on how to consciously listen was to allow silence in your life, for at least three minutes a day. This can be more difficult to some than it sounds. There’s so much noise both visually and auditorily that it’s hard to have everything be still for a moment. Especially with social media, for me it’d be hard to resist the temptation of checking my updates. His second step of advice was called the mixer; to see how many individual sounds you can hear at one time. This is designed to improve the quality of your listening. His third idea was called savoring. By this he means to enjoy mundane sounds. We often ignore anything we find to be bland but we can really start to understand if we begin listening to what we normally don’t pay attention to. His next and most important suggestion was about listening positions. The idea of moving your listening position to what’s appropriate. For example, from active to passive. Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused but with practice it’s possible. His last tip happened to be the acronym RASA, which stood for receive, appreciate, summarize and ask. We have to analyze our communication. If we can improve listening, Treasure believes we can improve connection and understanding. I absolutely agree with him and plan to take his advice and utilize it with my Public Relations abilities.

There are many more TED Talks that can help with communication, leadership or almost anything you want to know about so check them out!

 

 

Works Cited:

Greene, B. (2104, September 9). 6 Best TED Talks for Communicators. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/2014/09/19/6-best-ted-talks-for-communicators

Obligations of a Strategic Communicator

By: Meredith Erikson

Ethics is by default always a controversial topic. Not one person has the exact same set of morals and beliefs as another person. This is why there will always be mixed opinions on particular advertisements or public relations tactics. Advertising is a great expression of opinion and art. It is a great freedom that artists and corporations have to be able to express their creativity. However, there are social responsibilities advertisers should respect when they present their work to the world. To answer the question, “what obligation do strategic communicators have in terms of goodwill toward the audience,” it is to be as truthful as possible and to not to deceive the public. Lying can create distrust from the public towards the company or brand of the advertisement.

It is also necessary that strategic communicators respect the dignity of humans. Communication must be mindful of all human beings because nobody is made the same way and people have insecurities and disabilities that are sensitive to themselves. The public can so easily be offended by advertisements that portray a person in an inappropriate way. I believe strategic communicators fulfill this obligation for the most part however there are instances where this is not always the case. For example, Kylie Jenner posed on the cover of Interview magazine in a wheelchair, positioned like a mannequin. This sparked a lot of controversy because Ophelia Brown, a young girl who uses a wheelchair, was extremely offended by the photo and started firing back at Jenner on Twitter. Brown thought the photo was disrespectful to those who are disabled. The publication stated that their intention was not to offend anyone. Even though both Jenner and the magazine have the freedom to express their creativity, from a PR standpoint it was not the best way for them to represent themselves because it gave the opportunity for the public to question their values.

When it comes to the balance of working for a client’s best interest and keeping in mind the public’s best interest, it can be a difficult decision. If a client wants to do something that seems like an unethical idea, it’s best to remind them what the outcome of that decision can be. It is important to be honest with your client but overall, strategic communicators are creating public messages so it’s an obligation do what’s best in the public’s interest. If a client’s interest defies your personal set of beliefs, it’s up to you to make the decision and to use your best judgement whether you want to continue representing them.

 

 

Citations:

Fisher, K. (2015, December 1). Kylie Jenner’s Wheelchair Sparks Major Backlash. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.eonline.com/news/720262/kylie-jenner-sparks-backlash-for-wheelchair-in-interview-magazine-defends-against-media-scrutiny

Moore, C. (2004). Ethics in Advertising. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.aef.com/on_campus/classroom/speaker_pres/data/3001

Ethics codes for PR. (2006). Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.nku.edu/~turney/prclass/ethics.html

The Don’ts of Journalism

By: Meredith Erikson

shattered glass
Source: prssausf.org

I haven’t forgotten the first time I ever saw “Shattered Glass,” the movie about the infamous Stephen Glass. It was in the first journalism class I ever took in high school. Glass was, and still is the textbook example of what not to do in journalism. He was the ethical lesson every teacher taught us about. The social responsibility of a journalist is to deliver the truth. I wondered how any writer could ever think to get away with fabricating the truth after an incident like this.

I participated in my first tweet chat this week and the first question asked what our thoughts were about Juan Thompson, ex-reporter for “The Intercept” fabricating his stories and creating false quotes from people he had never even talked to. According to an article on Gawker,” the editor-in-chief Betsy Reed claimed that he went to the extent of creating fake email addresses to further deceive his editors. Surely Thompson has seen “Shattered Glass!” Did he not learn anything from it? That moment was my first time hearing about the situation but I didn’t even believe it. I couldn’t fathom the idea of him thinking he could get away with it.

I couldn’t help but relate this situation to my crisis communications class and think about how the event should have been handled. In his statement, Thompson had the audacity to blame “The Intercept” for not providing him with an editor to guide him. If Thompson wanted to protect his own image, it wouldn’t be to blame the company he works for. He continued to change the initial unapologetic email he sent to Betsy Reed each time it was sent to a new reporter. His unclearness of his actions make him the example of what not to do in a crisis communication situation. On the other hand, “The Intercept” took responsibility for what happened. First of all, they fired Thompson. Second, Betsy Reed apologized for the mistakes by posting a statement on The Intercept’s website. Not only did she apologize to her readers but also to those who were falsely quoted. Her and her staff made sure to contact all other news outlets that had used his inaccurate stories and made sure they were aware of the problem. What I noted was that she said she will continue to publish further corrections if they find additional problems. It’s important to let your audience know you are taking follow-up measures, not just apologizing.  According to PR Daily,” Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology said “The Intercept” took the best possible course of action. “It demonstrates that they stand by journalistic principles and standards,” Holtz said.

I can almost guarantee we’ll be talking about this in class next week and how we would’ve handled it. Now if only we could have a movie day.

 

 

Citations:

Reed, B. (2016, February 2). A Note to Readers. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from https://theintercept.com/2016/02/02/a-note-to-readers/

Trotter, J. (2016, February 2). Reporter Fabricated Quotes, Invented Sources at The Intercept. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://gawker.com/reporter-fabricated-quotes-invented-sources-at-the-int-1756672849

Working, R. (2016, February 4). Journalist out after tainted reporting. What’s the PR damage? Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/20102.aspx