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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PR is Not Always Glamorous!

On Facebook I posted an article from PR Daily about how Public Relations is a one of the most stressful jobs there is. I believe this article because right now I am stressed just with school. And the scary part is: we are not even in the “real world” yet. I am not second guessing my career choice or changing my mind, but I will say that it is a little intimidating after reading this article. The article even says that one study named it the seventh most stressful job.  Out of all of the possible career choices, doctor, lawyer, police, etc. public relations is seventh. Wow. It amazes me and frightens me at the same time.

Fortunately, I work well under pressure. I am very good at not procrastinating, like many other college students, but I will not have control over everything when I start my career. Part of public relations is reacting. A lot of the work public relations professionals do is repairing damages and reconstructing plans in the aftermath of an unfortunate event. Public relations professionals do just clean up messes all the time, but that is the kind of stuff that you need to prepare yourself for. Everyone loves being surprised with good new, but no one wants to suddenly find out bad news and then have to go into crisis mode to fix whatever the damages were done.

That is the “real world,” of public relations, but what about the students that aspire to be public relations professionals? I know that I am stressed and I know that many students would agree with me. We have your typical homework; papers and projects, but we also have to worry about finding internships or jobs, keeping up with social media, networking and much more. In the end, it will all be great experience for us, but right now we are on overload and reading an article like this is not very optimistic. Although, personally, I want to know the truth. If this is my chosen career path, I want to have an idea of what I am getting myself into. I do not want to find out that public relations is not for me after I spend four years in college studying for it. If it is a stressful job, I need to know so this article was a reality check for me. Like I said, I am not considering changing my major or career path, but this article gave me and idea of what to expect from the field.

There are many of great things about the field so don’t get me wrong. I know that it will be overwhelming at times, but I believe that it can also be very rewarding. Public relations professionals put a lot of time and effort into their projects and tasks and seeing the results is a tremendously rewarding thing.

Source: 6 Reason PR is so Stressful

Communication Can Define an Organization

The “protester” is someone that we hear about on the news and read about online and in the paper, but a majority of us would never label ourselves as a protester. We are a country that is fortunate enough to have the freedom of speech. We have the right to assemble and protest a cause that we hold close to our heart, but some people do get out of control. This is why many protesters have a bad reputation. Many non-protesters critictize the behavior of protesters, but TIME Magazine did the exact opposite. TIME named the protester their 2011 Person of the Year. TIME magazine was trying to tell the world something and I think that there are some people that are gradually catching on. Communication is the key to success and everyone knows this, but the way that we communicate is what defines us as people or organizations.

It is predicted that in 2012 one of the biggest trends will be the way communication defines an organization. This means that if an organization is bad at communicating with the public, their clients and any other stakeholders their reputation will suffer. I believe that this has been true all along, but people are just now realizing the effects of good and bad communication. The “protester” is the just a normal man or woman and if they can effectively share their message so can any organization. The protester is TIME’s person of the year because he or she utilized the communication tools her she has, phone, internet, T.V., to spread their message and to get people talking about them and their cause.

Communication is not always about selling and making a profit. An organization needs a stable foundation to have a great reputation and a stable foundations starts with good solid relationships. Relationships can be made by conversation. If an organization communicates effectively, that organization can form lasting relationships with clients, vendors, the public, etc. The relationships make a stable foundation. As an organization, you want people to be talking about you and you want that chatter to be positive. For example, on a Facebook page, instead of advertising a product, ask fans a questions and the person with the best answer wins a prize. It may be small, but almost half the people that only participated will go tell a friend. The quality of communication does matter. With their being so many media outlets out there and the fact that anyone can create news and start a conversations makes it hard to stand out, but an organization should know their target audience and have a meaningful purpose. It may take practice and advice, but quality communication is up to the communication generator.

It is not only about quality, quantity matters too. An organization should have a consistent communication plan and follow it, but the plan should not be consistently annoying. If an organization is constantly pushing their name and saying all the wrong things, it will make the public mad.  The public will just tune out there messages or complain. An organization should communicate enough so that people do not forget their name, but never too much.  Part of maintaining a good relationship is letting people know that you are always there for them, but you should never smother anyone either.

Communication comes down to quality and quantity. Both matter equally, but if both are done right and organization can have a great reputation.