Public relations campaigns are everywhere and everyone seems to be a part of them. Whether for a political campaign, club opening or even a new product line, they seem to surround us and remain an integral part of the public relations world. While PR campaigns seem to play a vital role in the futures of politicians, celebrities and even Fortune 500 companies, maybe the one most in need of a PR campaign and image overhaul is a significant global power and world leader that we are all-too-familiar with. It may be considered a substantial undertaking and even unnecessary to some, but perhaps the “one” in need of a new image is our own country- the United States of America.
Monthly Archives: November 2008
Throughout my years as a student, I’ve heard teachers and practitioners alike ask students why they want to enter the field of public relations. And much to my dismay, the answer usually involves the term “people person.” Why do people believe that in order to be successful in the realm of public relations, they must describe themselves using this vague and unimpressive term?
Urban dictionary defines a “people person” as “someone who has no discernable skills.” While Urban dictionary may not be the definitive source for word meanings, no one wants to use a word with this connotation to describe themselves, especially when seeking a job within the field of public relations.
According to Patricia Zonta’s article, there are many character and personality qualities that make a person well-suited for a career in public relations. Anyone who is creative, tactful, energetic, optimistic, respectful, ethical, or honest possesses qualities that would be an asset in the public relations field. It takes all types of people to make this world work, but some personality types are found to be more beneficial for work in public relations.
The Myers-Briggs Personality-Type Indicator shows that the following types of people are very well-suited for a public relations career:
- ENFJ also known as The Giver
- INTJ also known as The Scientist
- INFJ also known as The Protector
The U.S. Department of Labor–Bureau of Statistics notes, “Public relations specialists must show creativity, initiative, and good judgment and have the ability to communicate thoughts clearly and simply. Decision-making, problem-solving, and research skills also are important. People who choose public relations as a career need an outgoing personality, self-confidence, an understanding of human psychology, and an enthusiasm for motivating people. They should be competitive, yet able to function as part of a team and be open to new ideas.”
It takes a person with a variety of “discernable” skills to be successful in public relations, so don’t sell yourself short. You can do more than just talk to people, so make sure that people know how valuable your skills are. The most important thing to remember is to choose the skills that come most naturally to you and begin further developing them. The more skills you develop, the more desirable job candidate you will be. Quit being a “people person” and start becoming a person that people want to employ.
Earlier this year, when reading a colleague’s blog post, it occurred to me that there are some very real threats facing us as PR Practitioners, both in terms of detriment to the field and harm to third party participants.
I am accustomed to thinking that there are no real threats, just challenges that are in need of adaptive approaches or strategies. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade… if life gives you oranges, make orange juice… and so forth and so on through the list of palatable fruits.
But the article about the danger of the site juicycampus.com made me think about the very real impacts of making sites available that destroy the efforts of PR. At first, you might think that putting the power in the hands of regular media consumers would be good- that it might help keep things accountable, and if something horrible happens, we simply do our jobs as usual and get things back on track.
No, sites like these have proven records of direct physical harm to the users and their families/friends. Juicy Campus has led to depression and suicidal tendencies. YouTube has fostered a subculture of users who record children beating each other up. Facebook has developed a generation of users who stalk long lost acquaintances down.
The point is not that the users themselves or the tools they use are the sole threats. The threat is that together, unchecked, unmediated, without that set of risk and strategic management skills that PR fosters, not only will we suffer as PR practitioners, but society will begin to see a degradation in moral fiber.
However, this will also hurt us directly—in the same way that the media is and has been hurting us as well through lack of proper and adequate representation or understanding of what it is we do.
In the movie “Phonebooth,” a moderately entertaining psychological thriller about a man trapped in a phone booth by a terrorist, the man claims to practice PR as a “publicist.” This man’s daily routines involve twisting the truth, bribing, manipulation and complete dishonesty in order to only be considered “small time.” He uses the words “public relations” and “publicist” very clearly.
This stereotype is reinforced in shows like “Spin City” and movies like “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days,” often mistakenly combining the field with the field of advertising. While these are usually light-hearted and acceptable, we all know the dangers of mistaking the definition of PR from impressions on the silver screen and that PR is not “evil,” as the media may portray it. What we do not realize is its very real effect on those who don’t realize its falsity, and whom are now looking for revenge – a power put in their hands by the social networks, the online media platforms and the many blog sites available online.
We are in danger of being replaced by a subculture that does not believe we are necessary, but who do not have the facts, the training or the mindset to argue back effectively. They don’t need their facts checked, and they don’t have to care for another human being – they just have to have an agenda.
Who doesn’t love freebies?! We all do, whether it’s a pencil, bumper sticker or food. There is no better way to win over people than with free stuff. Offering anything free is a sure fire way to draw attention too. That’s what several companies did for this year’s Presidential Election.
The 2008 Presidential Election was one of the most historic elections ever. There has been so much excitement and interest in this election. Possibly, one of the more exciting parts of voting this year is the free stuff.
In conjunction with the historical significance of this year’s election, several companies offered free items for those who voted. For simply voting, Starbucks offered its customers a free cup of coffee. Krispy Kreme stores rewarded voters with one star-shaped doughnut. Ben and Jerry’s gave away a free scoop of ice cream between the hours of 5-6 p.m.
The concept of freebies is nothing new, of course. However, more companies are utilizing this method as means to promote the company, to engage customers and to show social responsibility. Starbucks’ idea for offering free coffee was suggested on their online forum site, MyStarbucksIdea.com. The move by Starbucks demonstrates their move to actively engage their customers, as well as form lasting relationships with their customers.
Another company, Taco Bell, launched the campaign, Steal a Base, Steal a Taco, recently offering their customers free tacos. Taco Bell’s promotion coincided with the Major League Baseball World Series. This effort helped to promote the MLB World Series, whose viewing numbers were down, and promote Taco Bell. Collaborative campaigns such as Steal a Base, Steal a Taco often brings together two unlikely forces to meet a common goal. In addition, Dr Pepper will give away a free can of Dr Pepper to everyone in American when Gun’s N Roses releases their “Chinese Democracy” album. Dr Pepper also launched a blog in conjunction with its offer. Like Starbucks, Dr Pepper is employing social media to connect with their customers.
Freebies and giveaways provide a simple yet efficient method to increase awareness of a company. Freebies can also have a positive reflection on the company by showing social responsibility, like Ben and Jerry’s, Krispy Kreme and Starbucks. By offering free items for voters, Ben and Jerry’s, Krispy Kreme and Starbucks come across as being involved in the issues in America and show social responsibility. Furthermore, freebies can positively promote a company, and bring in new customers. Overall, freebies are a win-win situation. Everyone involved has the chance to benefit.