Don’t Hate, Appreciate!

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Have you ever noticed when you tell someone your major they do not take you seriously? I deal with this all the time and it is constantly on my mind. Public relations is hard to explain to people if they are not familiar with it, but those people out there that already THINK they know what public relations is are using wrong. Public relations people have a tainted reputation and I am sure that there is some history involved, but it does not seem fair. Society will always remember the bad and rarely the good, but that is the case for everything, not just public relations. Part of the problem is television and the media in general. The media does not create a great image for Public relations professionals and that is why our field is often times considered a joke.

Let’s start with what Public relations professionals really do. Their title says it all; they are responsible for creating and maintain good relations with the public. They must uphold a good reputation for their organization and defend it if it be in jeopardy.  A public relations professional has many roles depending the size of their organization. This doesn’t sound so bad, right?

So now we must ask ourselves, why does PR have such a bad reputation?     It’s because society has preconceived views on PR and just like every other stereotype, it’s not going to change overnight. Thanks to a blog on Social Realist I was able to break down the stereotypes of PR into four categories and here they are:

  • Lie- All Public relations people are liars. There are secrets and scandals and PR is all about covering them up by creating more secrets and scandals. Yes, there may be cover-ups every now and again, but that is not only true in PR that can happen in any industry. And let’s not forget, all the time that PR people get up there in front of the media and tell the truth, but because someone screwed up and lied, apparently they are all liars.
  • Manipulate- Lie and Manipulate do go hand in hand, but manipulate is such a negative word. Am I learning how to manipulate people in my PR classes? No, of course not, but society thinks so. There are times when PR people get in front of the public to address an issue and they may not tell the whole truth, but it is probably because they do not have all the answers. And yes, there are disasters where PR people are shady, but that does not happen all the time. For example, not all companies will be like BP when they screw up. Most will at least try to explain themselves.
  • Schmoozers- I already stated that PR is about making relationships with the public and we all know that you cannot survive in the business world without creating ties with someone else. It’s a support system and PR people who team up with other companies strategically are only doing their job.
  • Girls- A majority of the people in my classes are female, but that does not mean that PR is only for girls. This should be said for any profession. PR involves individual personality, not gender.
  • Partying all the time. Its part of the job- Now, this is a lie. Yes, there are special events and promotions that they get to be a part of. And those are nice perks. They are even nicer when you just got done solving a crisis that determined your company or clients fate.

Society is ignorant to the actual profession of Public Relations. People who have no idea what PR actually is, are the ones creating these stereotypes and feeding into them. It’s hard to defend a profession that is so hated, but I think that society is evolving and one day everyone will understand. But we shouldn’t let it get to us because we know how important our field is to the success of many organizations. One day they will come around!

Sources: Mistaken Stereotype of PR, A Bunch of Sex-Crazed Skirts

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Find Your Peeps. These are Your New Influencers

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When you ask someone who is the greatest influence in their life, he or she often names family members, friends, celebrities or athletes, just to name a few. But what companies and public relations professionals must realize is that anyone can be of influence to them. According to an article on the Mashable Business website, the internet and digital media make it possible for people to showcase themselves, their abilities, beliefs and passions. Yes, companies, advertisements and mainstream media still have an effect on society, but one person can make a difference also.

Many organizations and PR personnel are worried about gaining follower and likes, but did they ever think about following or liking other people’s pages or posts? Social and digital media is a two way relationship.  What PR professionals should do is find digital media users who are talking about things that are relevant to their client or organization. Public relations professionals do not have to create the trends, they just have to find them and then use those to reach out to the people in the digital media world.

I know that this has been said over and over, but social media is nothing but an ongoing conversation.  The organizations that realize that will be the most successful. A company’s social media outlets cannot be an ongoing advertisement or consumers will ignore it, like they do T.V. commercial and internet ads. Organizations need to do their research; see what people in the industry are talking about. What do consumers want to know? What is trending right now and how can it be incorporated into our personal brand? These are just a few questions that an organization should ask itself before publishing on social media. Then use the information they find to start up a conversation on sites like Twitter or Facebook. Ask a question in status update or a tweet, instead of just sharing information or ask for feedback.

Another tactic to consider is to give consumers a reason to talk about your organization or client. For example, social media users are more likely to say something about a product if they are given free samples. An organization may have a great product, but the idea of the product must be accepted first. Victoria Secret realized this and used Pinterest to reach out to fans. The company is running a contest that calls for anyone to pin pictures of themselves in PINK summer apparel. The lady with the best photo gets a $500 shopping spree. This has two advantages; one, it is free modeling. Victoria’s Secret does not have to pay these girls to model their clothes and two; the interactivity between Victoria’s secret and their customers is always a solid foundation for customer service.

In today’s society anyone can be an influence. We just have to be open-minded and use our imagination. An organization should use what their “peeps” are talking about to reach out to consumers. By doing this they will create a more personal an interactive relationship with consumers.

Source: 5 key trends supercharging today’s digital PR

Need a vacation from social media?

Social media is not just a trend. It is here to stay and for a long time. Social media has changed communication all around the world. For many people social media is a part of their daily lives. Social media has become a part of journalism, advertising, politics and even every day conversation. It has evolved rapidly and before we even knew it, we were consumed. Many people think that our society is too caught up in technology and social media gets caught up in that assumption. Social media does not necessarily have a negative effect on people or organizations, but social media is a full-time job. Now the question is:  how do you get away from social media? It is not like other jobs where you can take a weeklong vacation, that’s for sure.  But there is hope! According to PR Daily, there are four things you can do to make taking time off and managing social media possible.

First, let’s start with a no-brainer; multiple people should have access to all of an organization’s accounts. This means that you should not be the only one with the Login ID and passwords. This sounds like common sense, but some people may not think of this when only one person manages a social media account or even all social media accounts. The article suggested that the head of social media should make a chart listing each social media outlet; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, just to name a few, and then specify the Login ID and password for each. It is a very simple idea, but it will be very useful.

Next, PR Daily suggests that we “Set Expectations.” The article simply states that whether you are going on vacation or only going to be out of town for long weekend you should let the social media followers know. Followers and fans are human too so they will understand. Everyone needs to get away every once in a while. Compose a tweet or create a status stating when you leave, when you return and if you will be replying at all while you are away. Details are not necessary. You’re followers and fans will respect the fact that you took the time to notify them of your absence. This tip is probably my favorite of the four because I believe that it is truly effective. Social media is all about conversation and the reason social media is so effective is because it gives organizations the opportunity to interact with fans and customers on a new personal level. You will tell the people in your office that you are going to be on vacation, so why not tell the fans and followers on social media? You interact with these people on a daily basis so they deserve to know what is going on. And it keeps the conversation going at a somewhat personal level.

“Find a backup” is the third tip. The title is self-explanatory; find someone to do your job while you are gone. This is probably what most organizations will do and it is a good idea because it is not really a vacation if you have to check your smartphone or laptop the entire time you are on vacation. Personally, I would not like this because I am a bit of a control freak. It would have to be someone that I really trusted and I knew was capable of representing the organization in the same way that I would.

PR Daily’s last tip is “Have a plan for monitoring.” You can let people know that you will be gone for a few days, but what happens if a crisis occurs? You have to be able to communicate with fans and followers yourself or allow someone else in the organization to do that job. This is a great idea because you never know what is going to happen and in the case of a crisis people want a response and answers immediately.

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Source: How to take a vacation in the age of social media