The dark arts? Or a necessary evil? Public Relations
What is it? Public relations: “The PRSA 1982 National Assembly formally adopted a definition of public relations, which remains widely accepted and used today: ‘Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” Well, that’s about as clear as mud!
What is it? Brand managers Communication officers Reputation makers Image consultants Publicists It has been said that “PR has a PR problem…” I would agree.
Early Public Relations Wars
Early Public Relations Wars
Public Relations Wars
Early Public Relations Public Health
So what do they do? Anticipate, analyze and interpret public opinion Conduct focus groups to get information Counseling management at all levels in an organization with regard to policy decisions, courses of action and communication So they also broker communication within an organization, making sure everyone is “on the same page”
So what do they do? Conducting and evaluating research on a regular basis to insure communication and plans of action achieve the necessary public understanding Planning and implementing organizational efforts to influence or change public policy. http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/PublicRelationsDefined/
Things to think about - events To put this in perspective – the BP oil spill? Did they need good PR? Did PR cause problems? Hurricane Katrina was considered a PR disaster….why? LeBron James?
How can you determine PR from News? Like with advertorials – VNR or Video News Releases are an issue in the media. Many TV stations that are economically pressed to fill their time slots with content from a shrinking staff and budget, too often just air the VNR in its entirety. It’s up to the viewer to realize that is NOT NEWS. It is basically an advertisement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuo3jD22MIw
Churnalism? What is this? This is when journalists receive a news release and “churn out” an article from it without changing even a little of the wording or doing their own interviews OR providing an alternative opinion or side to what the news release is saying. News releases are just that….NEWS from within a company or organization that is released to the media for use in reports. NORMALLY – reporters FOLLOW UP on these and write an original story with all sides represented. CHURNALISM = laziness. (my opinion)
Back to BP – lessons learned MediaShift.org (part of PBS) Consider the ethics of social channels. BP makes a regular habit of turning off the comment function on social media channels and not allowing other views to be shared on its profiles. This is presumably to help control the message and avoid issues of liability -- but how should Facebook or YouTube react to this? Twitter said it wouldn't touch the satirical account mocking the oil company, but in early June it asked the author to make it clear they were not connected to BP. Are social networks simply platforms anyone can use to distribute a message, even if that message isn't 100 percent accurate or there is no room for response or debate?
Image Man http://www.economist.com/node/17722733 http://www.hulu.com/watch/149644/saturday-night-live-bp-oil-spill-cold-open
BP – cont. One vs. many spokespeople. How would a Zappos, IBM, Starbucks or Dell (to use a few oft-cited examples of more open and connected corporate cultures) handle a BP-like situation with their brands? Classic communications strategy suggests to follow BP's lead and anoint a single spokesperson. But these go-to models of crisis control are challenged when hundreds speak for a brand, even if informally. The Internet is an organizational tool. If an organization facing a crisis is socially connected and understands the networks they have created, they'll know what to do. The clearest way forward is to ask your online team members to follow some basic guidelines about when and how to respond in the specific situation at hand. The three main tasks for the formal and informal social media teams are: Thank people, correct facts, and share updated information. Remember to keep responses short, accurate and polite, and to link to a place where aggregated information about the crisis can be found. Remind your online team not to apologize for the incident, never to debate or engage in defense or explanations.
Bp- cont Tactics are not directly transferable across mediums. A common refrain from many analysts is that BP ripped pages from an old playbook to use on the new field of communications. Good communicators understand that communications strategy must be tool-agnostic, but that tactics are tool-specific. In other words, BP used classic communications methods in new mediums. This dissonance was immediately seized upon by organizations like Greenpeace and the satirical BP account on Twitter
BP – cont. The old paradigm of broadcasting to persuade is being challenged. BP's communicators took to YouTube and created what seemed like television ads. They would have been better served by attempting to stimulate a conversation, providing a realistic portrait of the work being done, or engaging in a live, viewer-centric Q&Asession. Overall, the BP website and spokespeople lacked a human or colloquial tone.
BP – cont. Sometimes you just can't win. BP has failed to realize that sometimes trying to "win" PR battles actually results in an organization losing the overall communications war. Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" suggested in his Vancouver Sun/Montreal Gazette column that perhaps BP never really had a chance. "If the basis of social media is based on trust and credibility, how can BP be expected to engage and truly connect?" he wrote. "For now, it's hopeless. But that was probably also true long before a drop of oil ever touched the Gulf of Mexico."