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Responding To Negative News On The Internet April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-PR Connections.
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     One of the major aspects of public relations is finding the best way to handle negative news about your client. Especially since the Internet has become such a powerful media tool, news has the ability to spread quickly, and can do a lot of harm if it points blame at an organization.  In the classroom, PR students learn about Conflict Resolution and many other helpful strategies to address this problem.

     Glen Selig, founder of PR News Channel, has posted a series of videos on YouTube that can be helpful to PR students. This particular one addresses the impact of negative news:

     In the video, Selig presents a common scenario:  Suppose you own a retail store and customers post negative reviews of your service or products on their blog, Facebook, or Twitter account. Now, whenever someone searches for your business on Google, the disgruntled customer’s blog post pops up. What can you do to combat this?

  • Use Search Engine Optimized Press Releases
  • Identify negative key words and phrases and incorporate positive ones in their place
  • A good SEO release campaign is not the cheapest option, but probably the most effective.

     Negative news can tarnish your client’s reputation quickly, so it is important to understand the strategy behind search engine optimization.  This scenario also illustrates the importance of constantly monitoring feedback on your client.

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Go Easy on the Journalists (tow-13) April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in Uncategorized.
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     An unfortunate aspect of working in public relations is having to avoid disagreements with journalists. Although both professions are very similar in practice and often work with the same types of media outlets, journalists have slightly different objectives than PR practitioners. The authors of Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques point out that much of the friction between journalists and those in PR comes from the issue of improper advertising influence, among other things. The book also cites some ways in which journalists can be rubbed the wrong way:

  1. Receiving hundreds of spam releases every day. A PR practitioner should make certain that releases are news worthy and relevant.
  2. Dodging questions or giving misleading responses in media interviews.  You should always decide if you are qualified to answer the questions given in an appropriate manner.
  3. Wasting reporters’ time by calling interviews short. Make sure that reporters get the amount of time you promised them to ask their questions.
  4. Not doing enough research or being unprepared to give useful information. Research is one of the steps in the PR process and shouldn’t be ignored.
  5. Creating an excessive amount of spin for a story. Journalists want the straight facts so they have the freedom to report on the subject their own way.
  6. Using social media to undermine or compete with journalists.  Public relations relies heavily on social media, especially blogging, which is often times mistaken for journalism.

          It’s crucial that PR practitioners learn how to get along with journalists.  Although their motives differ, they still rely on one another to get their jobs done.

Why Isn’t YouTube Profitable? April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-PR Connections.
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Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006

 It’s hard to believe that YouTube is five years old already. What’s really amazing is the impact that the website has had on the social media landscape. It has become a legitamate marketing tool for several major companies, and the online community can’t get enough of it (over 1 billion videos are viewed daily now).  I found a neat little article, The Brief But Impactful History of Youtube, that gives a timeline of events for the past 5 years. See if you remember any of these:

  • April 2005 – “Me at the Zoo,” a 19 second video of co-creator Jawed Karim is first video posted on the site.
  • October 2005 – Nike becomes first major company to embrace YouTube’s promotional potential with a video of Brazilian soccer star, Ronaldinho
  • July 2007 – YouTube and CNN host their first presidential debate, featuring citizen-submitted video questions.
  • April 2009 – Susan Boyle’s audition tape for a British TV talent show is uploaded and viewed 80 million times. In December, her first album became the best-selling debut ever for a female artist.

     So all of this seems to indicate that YouTube is doing pretty well, but the reality is that since Google acquired it for over $1.5 billion in 2006, the website has proven to be a financial failure.  Analysts estimated in 2009 that YouTube earned revenue of at least $240 million, but the costs for storing and serving the site’s massive video library is in excess of $700 million. Some experts agree that the only reason Google doen’t shut down YouTube is becasue of the hefty price it took for them to buy it.

     This came as surprising news to me (especially the $700 million for video storage) because it seems like YouTube has already become a permanent fixture in our culture. It’s something to think about, but in the meantime, check out the very first YouTube video if you’ve never seen it.

Tapping the Web and New Media (week 14 notes) April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Reading Notes.
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     Chapter 12 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques addresses the ways in which the Internet has become a part of our everyday lives.  The widespread adoption of the World Wide Web has led to several key distinctions between traditional and new mass media.

  • New media is spread horizontally, rather than the traditional way of passing through gatekeepers
  • New media is more interactive
  • The costs of broadcasting on the Internet is much more affordable than running a print publication or radio station
  • New media gets instantaneous feedback online
  • New media has a more flexible format

Writing for the Web:

  • Design the site with the audience in mind
  • Redesign material for a more graphic presentation
  • Update constantly
  • Make the site interactive and pay attention to feedback

Distributing News to the Media and Journalists (week 13 notes) April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Reading Notes.
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     PR practitioners should always make sure that their writing is accurate and in the correct format.  Persuasive writing needs to be clear and easily accessible to a wide audience.  However, once you get your writing technique down, it is just as important to understand the best ways to get your message to the right kind of audience.  The authors of Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques offer several important guidelines for achieving this objective:

  • Regularly check media databases for names of publications and contact info
  • Familiarize yourself with the editorial calendars for trade publications and business periodicals

Distributing Via Email:

  • Don’t send attachments unless requested (they may contain viruses)
  • Provide links for additional information
  • Use bullets for key points
  • Don’t mass distribute releases (it’s called spam!)
  • Always provide contact email and phone numbers

Areas of Friction to Avoid With Journalists:

  • Avoid hype and news release spam
  • Avoid sloppy or biased reporting
  • Understand the demand of advertising influence on journalists

Podcasts: Inside PR (tow-12) April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Topic of the Week.
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     One way to keep up with current events in the field of public relations is to subscribe and listen to PR podcasts. These are usually weekly broadcasts on the internet that address virtually any topic related to public relations and marketing.

     Like most Web 2.0 applications, podcasts have the advantage of being fully interactive for the producer and audience.  Comments are encouraged, as they can give the creator of the podcast direct feedback.  Most podcasts also have Twitter or Facebook accounts, so the networking possibilities are vast.

     There are several websites that regularly post PR/marketing podcasts. I chose to listen to  Inside PR’s March 31st broadcast to get a feel for what they have to offer PR students.  This week’s topic was “online reputation management,” hosted by Terry Fallis and David Jones.

     The first thing I noticed about the podcast was the familiarity of the format.  It is very similar to a regular radio broadcast, featuring theme music, soundbites, and listener comments.  Overall, the presentation sounded very professional.

     Terry and Dave began the podcast with a discussion of the increasing popularity of Twitter and Facebook.  They both stated that they are optomistic about the growth of social networking sites and remarked how mainstream media has come to adopt them as permanent fixtures in our culture.  One interesting point they brought up however was the question of whether or not the majority of the 19 million registered users are active.  This is an important thought to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of Twitter as a communication tool.

     Listening to podcasts such as those produced by Inside PR, Trafcom News, or Marketing Over Coffee can be very beneficial for students as well as PR practitioners.  They provide a hassle-free way for keeping up with current trends.  You can listen to a podcast at your desk, while walking to class, or pretty much anywhere.  It’s also a great opportunity to get accustomed to a professional broadcast format.

Writing for TV and Radio (week 12 notes) April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Reading Notes.
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     In today’s mass media environment, public relations practitioners need to be able to produce writing for several different platforms. Writing for television and radio calls for professionals to adopt a versatile writing style.

Writing for the radio:

  • Radio News Releases use a more conversational tone
  • Incomplete or partial sentences may be used
  • Timing is vital, so releases must get to the point quickly.
  • Announcers punctuate with their voices, so not all sentences need verbs or subjects
  • Never start a story with a name as this can confuse listeners

Writing for TV:

  • Video News Releases (VNR’s) are perfect for national distribution or can be posted on company websites
  • VNR’s should contain clear identification of the video source
  • Try to include extra soundbites and b-roll

     Sattelite Media tours are a series of prebooked, one-on-one interviews from a fixed location. This provides busy CEOs with a time-efficient way of giving interviews. The SMT is becoming a staple of public relations and the television industry.

All information is paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques.

Getting Acquainted With Infographics (tow-11) April 26, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Topic of the Week.
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Example of an Infographic

     What better way is there to call attention to your news release or feature story than using a captivating graphic?  They are extremely effective, and give publications a much-needed visual appeal.  In addition to standard photos and graphs, many PR practitioners are using infographics in their publications.

     The authors of Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques define an infographic as a computer-generated artwork that attractively displays tables and charts.  Infographics were most likely popularized by USA Today.  Many different newspapers and other publications have since followed suit.

     A good infographic should appear as a simplified version of a chart or graph. The key is to make it as visually appealing as possible, while at the same time providing enough information to neccesitate a chart or table.  It needs to be simple, so any excess information will just look cluttered.

     Creating an effective infographic is actually quite simple.  They can be prepared in standard applications such as Microsoft Office Publisher.  Some practitioners however may find that Publisher’s features are limited in comparison to other programs.  Adobe provides much more sophisticated graphic design software, such as InDesign and Illustrator.  Keep in mind however that the idea behind creating an infographic is to keep it simple, so Microsoft Publisher will suffice for those just getting started.

     Infographics are useful in many ways. Feature stories can be better illustrated with the use of catchy graphics, especially if the client wishes to compare and contrast a certain point.  Another common scenario is a firm that needs to produce a release about financial issues.  Stockhoders and investors usually want to get down to the “dollars and cents” part of a story, so an infographic is a great way to present this type of information.

     Check out spyrestudios for the 5 steps to creating a powerful infographic:

  1. Skeleton & Flowcharts
  2. Devising a Color Scheme
  3. Graphics
  4. Research and Data
  5. Knowledge

     These tips will get you started at creating appealing and informative visuals.

PR OpenMic (tow-10) April 26, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Topic of the Week.
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     It seems like there is a social network for pretty much everything under the sun recently, and as any student or teacher of public relations knows, these sites are essential to creating an online presence. The popularity of sites like Facebook and Youtube have put new, Web 2.0 technologies on the map. So it is fitting that Robert French, from Auburn University created one specifically for PR students, teachers, and practitioners:  PR OpenMic, “your worldwide network for connections and learning.”

     At first glance, the interface that Robert French created seems very similar to other social networks. Members can create their own profile page, add content such as blog posts and videos, and hold discussions in various forums. The site is also a good place to catch up on breaking news stories.  If you want, you can even download the PR OpenMic Toolbar, which has easy to follow links to the major news sites that they check daily.  Another useful feature of the site is the inclusion of instructional videos.  Here, a PR student can get tips on improving their blogs, proper etiquette in online discussions, how to pitch the media, and much more.

     So all of these features sound great, but can PR OpenMic help students with their job searches? The answer is yes.  The Jobs/Internships  page provides links to several employers seeking applicants with expertise in public relations.  I was surprised at how many postings there were in this section. The job postitions up for grabs include:

  • Group Account Director
  • Social Media Intern (paid)
  • Media Relations Manager
  • Sr. Communications Manager
  • Product Communications Specialist

     The job listings range from entry level to management postitions, which illustrates that PR OpenMic is a great site to be a member of throughout your career.

     Members of PR OpenMic can also post resumes, review current listings, and get pointers on navigating tough job interviews. If you are in college right now, this is a great social network to be a member of.

Selecting Publicity Photos & Graphics (week 11 notes) April 26, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Reading Notes, Uncategorized.
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     If a picture is worth a thousand words, then photos and graphics should be a vital component to public relations activity.  A good photo and caption could be what makes a story stand out and be selected by editors. Chapter 8 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques offers several great pointers for selecting publicity photos and graphics.

Components of a Good Photo:

  • Technical Quality: Make sure the resolution is acceptable
  • Subject Matter: Whenever possible, show action
  • Composition and Scale: The photo should contain some element of known size
  • Camera Angle, Lighting, and Timing

Ethical Considerations:

  • Avoid images that alter reality
  • Make sure the image is not deceiving in any way
  • Don’t violate copyright laws

Other Graphics to Consider Using:

  • Charts (pie, bar, or line graphs)
  • Diagrams showing how something works
  • Scale models

All information is paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, 6th edition.