This past Friday I was given the opportunity to attend the Real World PR conference at the Loudermilk Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was put on my PRSSA-GA and had attendees from all over the country who came out to learn valuable lessons and tips from public relations professionals around Atlanta. Several members of Clemson’s chapter of PRSSA piled into three cars at 5 o’clock in the morning to make the sleepy drive down I-85 to Atlanta.
After a few wrong turns, we arrived at the center in time for registration and breakfast. The opening session featured a speaker who talked about the value of networking. Ellen Hartman from Fitzgerald+CO Public Relations gave same valuable tips on networking that included preparing a great elevator speech that includes our name, school, major, number of internships, and skill sets.
My first seminar was called Agency or Corporate. Mike Neumeier from Arketi Group , Ellen Hartman, and Ray Crockett from the Coca-Cola Company discussed similarities and differences between corporate and agency public relations positions. Some bonuses of agency public relations were variety and global accounts. The differences between agency and corporate PR can include pace, pay, and security. It was a very insightful presentation that gave me a lot to think about in terms of my future job search because I currently have experience with corporate public relations with my internship at Skyline Exhibits & Design . I’m also interested in agency experience so this seminar definitely gave me something to think about for my future.
The second seminar I attended was “Seal the Deal: What You Need to Know to Land the Job.” Sharon Jones from Ketchum and Tia Jackson from Porter Novelli were there to give us the scoop on what human resources is looking for in terms of resumes, interviews, and follow ups. They stressed the importance of networking whether it’s online or face-to-face. They recommended using LinkedIn for social networking especially. They stressed the importance of having no typos and consistent fonts throughout your resume. Your resume can catch the attention of employers if it has keywords that are included in the job description. You have 15 seconds to engage the employer, so you better make sure your resume is perfect! A helpful tip they gave us in terms of phone interviews was to put a mirror in front of you during it to help show your emotions.
The conference also included a presenter on celebrity PR from DKC Public Relations & Marketing in New York City. Sean Cassidy discussed how celebrity and entertainment public relations has evolved from focusing on publicity to brand building. It definitely sparked my interest in entertainment public relations!
My favorite part of the day was the resume critique and career expo. HR experts from various PR companies around Atlanta gave one-on-one critiques and tips on how to make our resumes better. I went home and completely redid my resume and I am so thankful I was able to get that feedback. I feel ten times more confident about my job search because of this conference and PRSSA-GA and everyone involved has my complete appreciation for putting the event on! I encourage everyone to attend next year or find similar events coming up!
College’s Too-Fat-To-Graduate Rule Under Fire
November 30, 2009
Lincoln University has caused quite a controversy among its students after they have established a requirement that can keep certain students from graduating. That is, students with a body mass index of 30 or above. The University has implemented a course requirement for students with an increased body mass index that is called “Fitness for Life.” The class includes water aerobics, Tae Bo, and dancing. If students do not complete this course, they will be kept from graduating.
One of the university’s philosophy statements says “The students highest good is our paramount concern.” James Deboy, the head of the school’s Department for Health and Physical Fitness says that this course is just like any other mathematics or english proficiency requirement. He also says that they have a responsibility to be honest with their students and tell them when certain factors are going to hinder them from future achievements.
Some students at the university are outraged by this requirement and believe it’s unfair. Tiana Lawson is graduating this year and has written an editorial for the school’s newspaper to voice her opinion on the issue. She has an elevated BMI but she also has received the honor role three years in a row. She states she did not come here to be told she was unhealthy and obviously her weight hasn’t affected her intellect.
I think this is an example of bad public relations by the university. These students are giving them large amounts of money to attend their university to earn an education, not a health assessment. This type of treatment by the staff could affect whether or not prospective students consider coming in the future. I don’t believe it is a good representation to the public that they are keeping students from graduating because they have to take a fitness course because their BMI is too high. Although they are in a good place by doing so, not everyone believes it is their place.
United Airlines works to reconnect with customers and restore battered reputation
United Airlines is doing major PR cleanup and damage control after becoming a total disappointment in the eyes of their customers and other airline travelers. After practicing bad public relations techniques and poor customer service for the past few years, United is finally trying to change their image and that’s going to start with changing their planes.
In the past ten years, United Airlines has let their image and customer service expectations slip drastically after focusing more attention on dealing with a slew of various crises that includede 9/11, SARS, and the continiously growing economic recession. United let their treatment of their customers become a past thought which isn’t a smart public relations decision. Customers are what keeps your business going and if they are unhappy, they can have a very strong effect on your business through negative word of mouth. One customer even referred to United Airlines customer service as an “oxymoron.”
The airline had to do a complete damage control of the company by establishing a plan to mend all the bridges burned. The company decided to focus on having updated aircrafts, punctual flights, courteous employees, and an airline that lead the industry in revenue. Their steps taken to repair their tarnished image and ill-treatment of travelers is an example of good public relations practices.
Jenny Sanford Endorses Candidate To Succeed Husband
The Associated Press
Everyone is familiar with the public relations scandal that is revolving around Mark Sanford and his questionable behavior over the past few months. In my opinion and I’m sure the opinions of many others, Jenny Sanford should be commended by her professional and respectful behavior about the whole situation. She could have the chance to bad-mouth her husband and undermine him after his affair, but she has chosen a different road. She has chosen a different candidate.
Jenny Sanford released a letter several weeks ago publicly endorsing Republican candidate Nikki Haley who is set to succeed her husband in 2011. Her endorsement of the candidate brings a lot of attention to the campaign because it’s not common for First Lady’s to endorse a candidate, especially one that is set to succeed her husband. Sanford is using positive PR through the letter and endorsement of Haley to gain positive publicity for her campaign.
Sanford is also using positive public relations practice by not taking this opportunity to spite her husband. She mentions in the letter that she is proud of the work her husband and his administration has done, but that is the only mention of Mark Sanford in the letter. She is behaving positively by not presenting him in a bad light as well as not presenting herself as the scorned ex-wife. She has used positive public relations practices throughout the entire situation with her husband. She choose to stand by him for part of the time but ended up moving out of the mansion and back to Sullivan’s Island. She released a statement that said she was leaving and was going to focus on being a Mom. She behaved with dignity and respect for her ending relationship with her husband and her desire to move on with her life.
I’ve talked about several things that public relations practitioners can do to maintain proper and successful internal communications within a company. Adrian Maguire discusses Do’s and Don’ts of internal communications in his blog, “Don’t PR Spin Your Workforce.” While he does focus on some positive aspects PR can bring to internal communications within this blog with examples such as using relevant channels and engaging and involving the employees, he also discusses some negative Don’ts that can occur when public relations professionals make mistakes within employee/internal communications.
One of the first Don’ts he gives is “”Don’t Keep People in the Dark.” It’s very difficult for employees to be successful within the company if they aren’t kept well-informed of the goings-on inside as well as outside. If information is not distributed within the company properly, employees are given the opportunities to create their own opinions and beliefs of what’s going on in the organization. If you are distributing information among your employees, you need to make sure it is the complete truth. Don’t spin information given to your employees because that doesn’t illustrate a feeing of trust within the company. If you trust your employees enough to allow them to represent the company, you should trust them enough to give them the honest truth about situations and issues that can affect them and the company.
Another important Don’t that he discusses is “Don’t forget feedback.” It’s sometimes easier for an employee who is not directly involved in the situation to see things from a different perspective and provide valuable insight that can be beneficial for the company. It also builds morale among the employees because they feel that they are contributing to the company and that their ideas are appreciated and taken seriously.
Employees are a vital aspect to the success of an organization. Without dedicated and professional employees, a company cannot stand on its own. An important part of the public relations practitioner’s job is making sure that the other employees are kept well-informed within the company as well as happy and treated equally. It’s important that employees are given equal opportunities to stay informed about the company as well as interact within the company on social media sites and innovative learning tools.
Public relations practitioners can have successful employee/internal communications using a variety of tools. The presentation from the Social Media Conference talks about several different tools that can be used to maintain successful internal communication within a company. Many organizations provide an intranet that has sole access for employees only. A company’s intranet can feature various training tools, product information, and marketing materials. These tools give employees the opportunity to constantly expand their knowledge of their organization.
Intranet gives employees an opportunity to expand their knowledge. There are other tools that allow them to interact with people within the company as well as publics involved outside of the company. Company’s such as Dell and Starbucks allow their employees to use social media sites to submit suggestions and ideas for the company. Other sites allow employees as well as consumers to post criticisms about the company that organizations can use to correct their mistakes and work into their crisis communications plans and reports.
The use of social media tools also allow employees to voice their opinions and spread their knowledge to the public. Various online tools such as blogs or Twitter accounts give employees a chance to have their say and represent the company in a positive way. It gives them the opportunity to feel like they are contributing something extra to the company on top of their positions.
Good PR or significant shift? Mormons throw support behind a gay-rights cause
By Eric Gorski
In an article featured in The Canadian Press, they discuss whether or not the Mormon church was practicing good PR practices by supporting city laws the prohibit the discrimination of homosexuals in housing and employment. The question of public relations tactics came up because the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints dealt with a lot of controversy over their support of Opposition 8 which banned same sex marriage in California.
The Mormon church is continuing to emphasize that their support of this law does not contradict their religious beliefs and teachings of homosexuality. They are trying to explain their support of this legislation by saying they support basic civil right. By denying gays fair housing or employment, they are taking away their rights as a human being.
The church’s support of this legislation has mixed messages among the public. Some conservative publics feel that the church is merely practicing PR to relieve some of the stress and bad reputation put on them from the Opposition 8 legislation. They feel it does not accurately represent the beliefs of the church and could lead to approval of more laws involving same-sex marriage and homosexuality in general. However, some people think it’s a good idea because it shows their dedication to the protection of civil rights regardless of sexual preference. The church released a statement explaining their position further explaining their support because it related to housing, healthcare, and employment. This helps further illustrate that this is an example of PR because the situation involved strategies that helped leave an impression on the publics related to the church.