Archive for the ‘Chapter Summaries’ Category

Chapter 14: News Release, Media Alerts, and Pitch Letters

April 29, 2009

The news release is the most popular way for businesses to communicate with the press that are covering the story.  The reporters that receive these press releases use this information to write up most of the stories that appear in the newspapers and websites across the country.  The news release is typically written in formal journalistic form so this makes it easier fo the reprters to translate into their stories.  Something that often is receives with the press release is pubicity photos.  These pictures are professionally taken with high resolution and proper lighting so that they can be put directly into whatever publication that receives them.  News letters are typically given when some major news occurs and the world is waiting on a response, a mat release on the other hand, is typically released when someone wants a predetermined opinion in place on a specific topic.  These are typically written in a biased manner as to sway public opinion in their direction.  Advisories are similar to a press release, alerting the press when something important is coming up.  They typically are about upcoming news conferences, photo opportunities, or interview opportunites.  These things usually give the 5 w’s and h of the upcoming event, giving the reporters all that they need to properly cover the story.   Media kits are something else that are given out to reporters.  These typically are the same information as the rest, but this is in a more high tech format, typically on a cd to save costs.

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Chapter 11 Summary: Reaching a Diverse Audience

April 29, 2009

There are several ways that an audience can be diverse, so this means that there are several messages that must be given in order to reach everyone that is being targetted.  Age is the most obvious diversity.  Generations of today have different moral and cultural values than those of previous generations, even one or two back into the past.  These groups coexist in the world be there wants and needs are greatly different. Older generations tend to care more about travel and leisure.  Younger ones tend to be more concerned about new advances in technology and ways in which they can make their lives better.  These things must be addressed if these groups are to reached.  Another diversity that is present is the different racial and ethnic groups.  Spanish speaking people are becoming the largest minority in this country and there are several new opportunities that are arising  to reach these people.  When trying to reach these audiences, the first thing that must be done is to make sure that the targetted people can relate to the message. If they believe that the message being put out to them is false and superficial, they will immediately reject the attempt and all of the time, money and energy that was put into the campaign is all lost.  Other emerging groups that bring potential for future audiences are those of religious groups, the gay/lesbian community, the disabled and women.  Different forms of PR are used to reach each group, each designed specifically for the targetted audience.

Chapter 10 Summary: Conflict management

April 29, 2009

The world of public relations is not always trying to get people to buy what you are trying to sell, sometimes it requires that the PR professional be the mediator in a conflict.  There are typically four types of conflicts, strategic, management, competition, and conflict, with each being different and requiring a certain skill set in order to be successful.  Strategic conflicts are for purposes of achieving particular objectives.  Management conflict requires planned, deliberate action.  Competition conflict occurs when people are striving for the same object, position or prize.  In order for success to occur in any of these situations, several things are required, but the one that must be present in every situation is that their must be a good relatioship between both sides.  It is the job of the PR professional to make sure that all sides involved are on good terms, confident that one side is not trying to take advantage of the other.  The business world is cut throat and trust is something that comes few and far between, but it must be present if there is to be any conflict resolution.  Something that must also go into consideration when managing a conflict is proper crisis planning.  These are things that are going to happen and a reaction must be in place before it does so that the response is believeable while at the same time, achieving what it is they set out to.  Lots of things are required if this is to be successful, including being honest, being accessable, and communicating with the publics that are directly effected.  Things things along with many more go into proper conflict management.

Chapter 9 Summary: Public Opinion

April 29, 2009

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann defines public opinion as “opinions on controversial issues that one can express in public without isolating oneself.”  This is something that public relations professionals think about on a daily basis because it is what they strive for achieve, a solid public opinion of their company or organization.  How comsumers view a company or product is the most important thing because it will determine how they will respond to future advertising and marketing ploys, and in turn it will determine how the PR firms will spend their funds trying to attract future customers.  Several things habe to be considered when public opinion is calculated though.  The first of these things is that the “public opinion” may not be the opinion of the entire public.  Most people that speak out on a certain issue have some sort of connection to the topic so their opinion will be biased.  The people that do not have anything to do with the issue will remain silent on the issue, even though they are by far the majority.  Another thing that has to be considered is that the population as a whole is typically segmented, divided into sections that care about things that only apply to them.  The key to swaying public opinion is to convince the leader of the targetted group that what you are trying to seel is right.  The typical leader of  a group is a highly educated, communially active, well informed on recent events and issues and earn a relatively high income.  All of these things together make the leader a well respected person and if they are on your side, their following will not be long after.

Chapter 8 Summary: Evalution

April 28, 2009

The final step in the plan is to evalute the success of the plan.  Several things can be learned from the evaluations, such as:

  • Was the program adequately planned?
  • Did the recipients of the message understand it?
  • How could the program stradegy have been more effective?
  • Were all primary and secondary audiences reached?
  • Was the desired organizational objectives achieved?
  • What unforeseen circumstances affected the success of the program?
  • Did the program fall within the budget set for it?
  • What steps can be taken to improve the success of similar future activities?

As a major company or firm, you not only have to gauge the reception of the message by the audience, but also the recaption by the media.  The media controls the fate of a company’s product, and if they do not like what it is you are trying to sell them, they will tell the world why it is that they do not like the product, but also why they should not like it as well.  One way that this can be done that has just began to come into prominence in only the past few years is that of internet hits.  When a company searches themsleves on the internet, they not only search for the positive things that are out there, but also for the negative things that are floating around in cyber space.  While the media is important, the target audience is the main group being evaluated, because they are the ones who in the end make the final decision.  Several things are measured, with the main things being their awareness of the product, their attitudes about the product, and also their actions.  All of these things put together can tell the PR team how effective their message was and how they can improve on it next time.

Chapter 7 Summary: Communication

April 28, 2009

Communication is essential to a PR proffessional.  It is the tool which is used to impliment the plan that was put into place, what ever the goal may be.  It achieves several things when it is performed properly; these things are persuade, inform, motivate and achieve a mutual understanding.  In the communication process, regardless to how the message is delievered, the most inportant thing is the message.  Even if the audience listens to the message, this does not mean that the retaiin it.  In order for the message to be properly received, Patrick Jackson composed a list of requirements that must be met. 

  • Appropriate
  • Meaningful
  • Memorable
  • Understandable
  • Believable

Once the proper message is prepared, it must then be delievered properly.  A professor at the University of Maryland, James Grunig, created a list of things that the message must meet if is to be properly received:

  • Message exposure: The message can either be delievered to a mass audience or a target audience.  The message will differ depending on the targeted market.
  • Accurate dissemination of the message: After the message is passed through several mediums, the desired message is still in tact.
  • Acceptance of the message: The audience not only remembers the message, but also believes it.
  • Attitude change: The message is accepted so much that the audience makes a point to change their behavior because of it.
  • Change in overt behavior: They actually change because of the message.

On the other side of the communication process is the receiver.  As a PR professional, a key to the communication process is that there is two-way communication.  This is where the research techniques come into play.  Surveys and focus groups are valuable in this area, especially when it can be done face to face, when a true reaction can be seen.

Chapter 6 Summary: Program Planning

April 27, 2009

Program palnning is the next step in the PR process, following research.  This is extremely important because this is the step of the plan when the team decides how they are to attack the situation that they are currently facing.  Each situation is different and requires a different plan is maximum success is goin to be achieved.  The team must realize that everyone that they are trying to reach must be approached in a separete way, depending upon their involvment in the situtaion.  This is referred to as Management by Objective (MBO).  A stratigic plannign model is typically put into place.  This consists of four separate sections:

1. Facts

  • Category facts: What are recent industry trends?
  • Product/service issues: What are the signifigant characteristics of the product, service or issue?
  • Competitive facts: Who are the competitors, and what are their competitive strengths, similarities and differneces?
  • Customer facts: Who uses the product and why?

2. Goals

  • Business objectives: What are the company’s business objectives? What is the time frame?
  • Role of public relations: How does public relations fit into the marketing mix?
  • Sources of new business: What sectors will produce growth?

3. Audience

  • Target audiences: What are the target audiences? What are their hot bottoms?
  • Current mind-set: How do the audiences feel about the product service, or issue?
  • Desired mind-set: How do we want them to feel?

4. Key message

  • Main point: What one key message must be conveyed to change or reinforce mind-sets?

Once all of these things are considered, the proper program plan can be formulated so the the goals of the team can be achieved.  Each goal has a different way that it must be reached and the team must be dedicated to stick to the plan which they have set.  The last key to having a successful program plan is having an attainable time table in place, so the team will stayed motivated.  They also must have set, clear objectives and goals which they are trying to reach.  If the team stays dedicated, they will succeed.

Chapter 5 Summary: Research

April 27, 2009

The role of research is essential in the PR field.  The people which we are trying to reach all differs in how they think and feel, and if we plan to reach them as effectively as we can, we must know all that we can about them.  According to Broom and Dozier, in their book Using Research in Public Relations, research is “the controlled, objective, and systematic gathering of information for the purpose of describing and understanding.”  There are different types of research techniques and in oder to choose the correct one a team must ask a series of questions to ensure that the will receive the information fo which they are looking for:

  • What is the problem?
  • Wht kind of information is needed?
  • How will the results of the research be used?
  • What specific publics should be researched?
  • Should the company do the research in house or hire an outside consultant?
  • How will the data be analyzed, reported and applied?
  • How much will the research cost?

This may seem like alot of work going into something, but the overall benefits of the research can help the company succeed for years to come.  the information gathered can help the company do several things:

  • Achieve credibility with management
  • Define audiences and segment publics
  • Formulate strategy
  • Test messages
  • Help keep management in touch
  • Prevent crisis
  • Monitor competition
  • Sway public opinion
  • Generate publicity
  • Measure success

There is two types of research that can be conducted, qualitative and quanitative.  Qualitative consists of content analysis (minutes of airtime and length of column space in the news paper) interviews and focus groups.  This is more of the personal technique.  Quanitative is the more informal of the two, consisting of mainly questionaires and surveys.  Both can be successful depending upon the situation and both are important to the overall success of the PR department or firm.

Chapter 4 Summary: PR Departments and Firms

April 27, 2009

The importance to divide up the work in a PR firm is growing on a daily basis due to the complexity of today’s business environment. There are so many different things that must be done if a PR campaign is to be successful that not one person, or team at that, can do everything that is necessary. In order to make sure that everything goes as seamlessly as it should, a division of power is put into place. at the top of the chain sits the manager, sometimes called the director or vice president. This person is the overseer of the entire project, putting people in charge of certain teams. This job may seem easy but many years of dedication and hard work was put into achieving this position. If the team succeeds the manager will receive credit, but if one piece of the plan goes wrong, all of the responsibility falls on his shoulders. Under the manager sits the line managers, the leaders of the various teams that is in charge of each piece of the plan. Each of these line managers has a team under him who is at his disposal to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Public relations is a staff functions due to the deep complexities of the field so every member of the team is essential to the success of the overall success of the project. Another thing that businesses can do instead of having an inhouse PR department is to outsouce the job to a PR firm. Firms manage the entire PR side of the businesses which they represent, handling such things as

  • executive speech training
  •  research and evalutions
  •  crisis communication
  • media analysis
  •  public affairs
  •  event management

along with a slew of other things. This is becoming the more common trend in the business arena today but there are some flaws, such as only having an overview of the business they are representing and costs, but typically the pros outweigh the cons, explaining the new trend.

Chapter 3 summary: Ethics

April 27, 2009

Chapter three focuses on the hottly debated topic of ethics. This is such a sensitive subject because it differs from person to person, depending upon what they feel is ethical and what is not. There are stadards out there, such as the Rotary International Four-Way test for ethical decision making: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? and Will it be beneficitial to all concerened? These things are in place, but once agian, it all depends on the person is is making the final decision. There are three specific situations when ethical decisions come into play, these things being absolute, existnetial and situational. Absoluteist believe that the decision is either right or wrong, with no grey areas. Existentialists make their decisions based on the right now, choosing whatever they feel will be the most beneficial at that very moment. The final type, situationalist, live by the John Stuart Mill quote saying that if the end justifies the means then it was a success. They usually choose the path the will bring the most good, or the least bad, depending upon the situation. All decisions that are made most be taken as a brand new one, depending on the situations and current conditions that the decision is being made. In the end, the issue of ethics comes down to personal decisions, whether or not someone is willing to sacrifice someone else for their personal benefit, or they will make the decision for the greater good.