Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The final chapter is about asian perspective of pr. It is interesting to read and learn about the development of pr in other countries including my own, Singapore. This information is useful especially since this class is made up of differing groups of people from all over Asia. It is even more surprising to read a review of Singapore's pr climate and how press agency is still very much active here. It is true our definition of pr is very different from the 'model' definition or from the most developed. However I would like to point out that not all pr industry go through the same development and end up being the 'model' type at the end of the day. In different cultures, because pr is an adaptive and highly volatile career, practitioners take on what is needed. Hence, if there is a need for pr practitioners to work with, and indeed sometimes as, marketing or advertisers, then they will. And even though somehow a cross-boundary results, jobs get done in the best possible way. Even if it is not in the 'model' way.

New media (internet) is increasingly and extensively used by people all over the world, especially in developed countries. Statistics have shown high rates of internet usage in Singapore (66% in 2005). New media is more popular with the younger generation.

Some of the new media applications pr practitioners can use include blogs, podcasting, second life, social networking and twitter. They reach out to a greater audience and in applications like blogs and twitter (micro-blogging), audience feedback can be obtained. However, ethical issues must be considered (astroturfing or flogging). A well-known case for example is when the pr practitioner for Wal-Mart started a blog promoting itself as a grassroots organisation.

At the same time, new media is different and therefore captures the attention of the younger generation who have grown tolerant of ubiquitous adverts and billboards (conventional marketing). Two examples of how new media can engage people are shown below:

1) ImSocial campaign (a facebook page set up to promote Motorola Dext through a competition)

2) MGMT concerts (location of concerts are revealed online, tickets obtained through a game)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A very good example of crisis management would be the SARS case study we did in class.

In situations of emergency, pr practitioners must be able to think on their feet, act quickly, but also carry out correct measures. In this case, Tan Tock Seng Hospital were alert and appropriate actions were duly taken. To build trust with the public, information was made available and nothing was concealed. A doctor was also made the spokesperson. Information coming from a person of authority is more credible. It was also a good platform to disseminate info about how to prevent SARS.

Another example of how a crisis was handled. This is about the recent recall of Toyota cars.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Systems theory is a framework in which pr practitioners view organised groups of people in a company or organisation. Within an organisation there are systems, which are further broken into subsystems. For example:

- production or technical (concerned with the production line)
- supportive (ensure availability of inputs)
- maintenance (maintain social relations)
- adaptive (monitor and respond to environment, crisis-management)
- managerial (coordinate and control other subsystems)

This classification helps us understand what each department's roles and responsibilities are and how they interact and work together to run the whole organisation. This is important to a pr practitioner because of the nature of our job. We are required to communicate to people from all over, hence, knowing the situation would be advantageous in communication.

Friday, March 12, 2010

To come up with an excellent pr plan, personally, I would start with tactics. Smart clever tactics that initiate actions from the audience is the most difficult to come up with. Once a feasible idea comes up, everything else (strategy, objectives, target audience) will fall into place. Of course, the tactic must first be able to meet the goal.

Personally, tactics are most important to me because Singapore is a metropolitan city. Every single day, people are spammed with adverts, promotional articles etc. I find myself ignoring since they are all useless to me in some way (if I want something, I know where to get it, hence, I dont need adverts). So when I see something clever that is able to grab my attention, I am impressed. Here are a few more examples that I grin at: (many videos under case studies that show what was done) (Pervert Designs case studies under archives)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In dealing with the media, the skill of writing a press release was learnt in journalism module. For example, how to write articles using the inverted pyramid model, how not to write it in a promotional style as journalists often re-write it anyway, and to pitch a press release using a certain angle that is interesting to the reader etc. The picture on the left actually reveals how the public/journalists views pr practitioners through press releases. Due to its promotional nature, press releases are often exaggerated and unbelievable, hence, pr practitioners must often keep in mind ethics while at work.

Something else that interest me was media kits and case histories. I think it is a smart all-in-one package that is useful for a journalist. However, care must be taken to ensure it is not packaged too much like a 'bribery kit' instead.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Public Relations research is probably one of the more boring topic or activity pr practitioners carry out. However, it is very much needed in every stage of a pr campaign. Before anything, research is done for situational analysis. During an event, research is still being carried to monitor progress. At the end, research is done to determine if target is achieved.

An area of interest would be the links between attitudes, opinions and behaviour. Attitude is described as having 3 components: cognitive (thinking), affective (feeling) and behavioural (doing). A pr campaign is aimed to change either one, two or all three components. To result in attitude change, occurrences in chronological order ususally starts with audience understanding of case facts, then feeling or believing before they start doing. However, behaviour may also be influenced by other factors (situational, motivational etc) and constraints. The cognitive element will then come in later to justify the action.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

a youtube video to promote NCAA and CapitalOne

Ethical issues usually consist of decisions that may be acceptable in one culture but not in another. Good intent of one pr practitioner may not be enough to ensure ethical behaviours, and may affect reputation of the organization or company. If pr practitioners do not take a proactive role in upholding ethics, the organization may be seen as incompetent.

As already mentioned, ethical behaviour means different things for each individual. Hence, a grading system of some sort is needed for everyone to follow. Examples are deontology, consequentialism, inclusion and proactive ethics. These are ideas or school of thoughts that help pr pratitioners carry out their duties ethically.

I personally relate most to is consequentialism. This enables one to see the big picture and to do what is best in the interest of the masses. This is similar to utilitarianism. However, a major disadvantage is that the ethics of the means of achieving goals is not considered. This can result in disastrous outcomes. Take for example, Ford Motor Company, which ignored a design flaw of the Ford Pinto due to economical reasons. Analysts calculated that the amount to correct this design flaw would cost more than the insurance pay-out derived from the probability of accidents and deaths occurring. Although it is economically beneficial, Ford's decision to ignore flaws was undoubtedly unethical.

Another infamous case study> Enron

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A major trend observed in most cultures is that pr practitioners are predominantly women. It is reported that 80% of communication students in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong are female.

However, Wilcox et al. (2007) reported that although the number of female practitioners are rising, the difference in the salaries of male and female practitioners are not decreasing. They note that women are usually assigned technical positions that attract lower salaries and men are assigned managerial positions that attract higher salaries. Women are probably put at the front line (in a technical position) as they relate and communicate better with clients.

The gap can be narrowed by understanding feminization through research. If women are open to opportunities to progress, to learn how to lead and develop skills necessary to manage people, there is more possibility for equality between genders that is relative to the ratio of practitioners.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The introduction chapter to the textbook acquaints students well with historical origins, values and different perceptions of public relations.

Learning about PR pioneers like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays opens up my mind to psychological elements of consciousness and social sciences used as persuasive techniques in PR. In early stages of PR history, mainly press agentry, propaganda and news were considered important in the workings of PR. It moved into:

- communicating and initiating
- reacting and responding
- planning and prevention
- status of professionalism development

compare it with Grunig and Hunt's 4 model:

- press agentry
- public information
- two-way asymmetrical
- two-way symmetrical

Grunig and Hunt's 4 model gives a better historical viewpoint taking into account historical events like WW2. (reference)

Chapter 1 also outlines the roles of modern Public Relations very clearly. These include internal and external communication management, crisis management, research, public affairs, financial relations and developing public relations position for the organisation. These 6 functions are meant to generalise the wide job scope of a PR person and not to limit their extend that they can reach out to. As the occupation is a highly volatile one, always changing and adapting to its environment and what is needed, PR persons must learn not to limit themselves but to effectively identify missing links in communication between any party and to fill those gaps in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just a look into one of the many PR campaigns that caught my eye. I remembered this from long ago and googled it. Pretty difficult to find actually.

This is a little experiment done to promote ST701, which is an e-marketplace by SPH's CATS Classified. A beauty queen was invited to live in a glass house for a week. She slept, ate, 'shat' and did not leave her glass house for that whole duration. The aim was to show the public (through 'transparency' of the glass house) that one did not need to leave the house as long as you have access to ST701. I thought it was a good concept. Cool idea, with good publicity, especially since it was in the heart of Central Business District (CBD). But the competition (The Ultimate Date) was a tad cheesy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Right. So I'm way behind time on my readings and hence blogging since the bookshop has decided 'not to carry our textbook' and then decided 'to bring in it but late'. Seriously inane but okay, rant will stop here.

In my first post, I have already expressed my interest in the theoretical, so chapter 3 was fairly easy to get by. There were a lot of familiar topics in communication theories like the Shannon-Weaver model, framing and cultural theories. I could also identify tactics mentioned in the readings in tutorial case studies. For example, source credibility was a tactic used in the SARS case study, when they used a doctor as a spokesperson.

Moving on to PR theories, the one that caught my attention the most would be Grunig and Hunt's four models. (also probably because that is my debate topic haha) It explains the ways and intent of each model. That was more than 2 decades ago and since then, there have been variations to the four models. The models were meant to categorise PR practice then, which was more than 2 decades ago. Now that the modern world is moving towards new media, one can only question if the models are still applicable. Refer to an article below raising this very concern.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So this week was spent learning about the basic general framework and elements of a campaign. That being research, analysis, goals, objectives, target audience, strategies, tactics, monitoring and evaluation. I've held a CCA when I was in Temasek Polytechnic, organising large-scale events so these terms and structure are not new to me. In fact, I am surprised and in addition, motivated by this familiarity.

I think one of the reasons why practicing PR is so difficult is because a PR person must always have fresh ideas in strategies and (more specifically) tactics, especially when doing advertising. Once an innovative idea has been used, it will keep being repeated by other companies and advertisements. So much so that audience/consumers might become 'immune' to it. That is why PR strategies and tactics evolve. There are now things like flash mobs and viral videos. The fact that new ways are being explored using new media is actually advantageous. That would be the most challenging factor personally, and I hope to keep surpassing my own expectations.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

click here Droga5 > CASE STUDIES > ecko unItd

then compare it with these:
Straits Times
Channel News Asia

same concept. but why didnt it work over here in Singapore? (note: use of the word 'graffiti' vs use of the word 'vandalism')

different target crowd/audience? different culture? (we are apparently still very conservative, from the comments given in the articles)

or maybe the stunt was pulled off a little too shoddily. Singapore youths are very much influenced by American culture, hence graffiti as an art form is not new. if this is publicity for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games, why arent youths involved? if vandalism is a punishable offence in Singapore, why werent the police properly notified? (there is a thin line between art and vandalism you know)

Singpost has had a lot to explain. but perhaps it is because of improper planning on the company's part that the publicity stunt was not well-received.

tsk. consequence of a poorly managed publicity stunt can be heavy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I've always understood the technical jobscope of a public relations person. My Godmother used to work for Burson-Marsteller, which was then the most recognised and established PR agency, and she used to tell me stories of her work life. I knew being a PR person means being the link between companies offering products and services, and customers/consumers. It involves consultation from many different departments of the company and carrying out of publicity that can sometimes become overwhelming.

After today's lesson however, I am dissatisfied with my shallow understanding of Public Relations. Many new terms and concepts have made me a little more curious about the underlying works of PR. For example, models and strategies, and the topic of ethics in PR etc.

I think that it is important to develop skills that enable one to handle the pressure and competition of being a PR person. But to know techniques and theories that can be put into practice might just give one an edge over many who simply concentrate on technicalities.