Monday, August 25, 2008

Reading Response Week 6

In summary, the key points that I have learned from this week’s readings are that public relations practitioners must always be mindful of their decisions, those of their colleagues and the person(s) or organisation(s) they represent when planning and carrying out a public relations campaign so as to adhere to the bodies of law and ethics that have been set in place by lawmakers and the collective of practicing public relations professionals in order to govern their actions and protect the public.

According to Johnston and Zawawi (2004) it is wise for public relations practitioners to not only remain vigilant but also proactive in creating stratagem that serve to diminish the probability of legal repercussions that may arise as a result of actions they have carried out. Four important bodies of law that public relations practitioners should familiarise themselves with are the tort of defamation, the tort of negligence, intellectual property law and contract law.

The tort of defamation prohibits any publication that may adversely affect the reputation of an individual or organization. The tort of negligence stipulates the responsibilities of professionals to their clients and to the general public. Unlike real, personal property law, intellectual property law aims to protect the creative ideas of an individual or organisation rather than ownership of land and things considered a part of that land such as a home. Contract law plays an integral part in the field of public relations as contracts delineate the roles and obligations of each party in a public relations campaign that generally adhere to predetermined time constraints.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that I knew public relations practitioners were subject to bodies of law and codes of ethics just like everybody else however I had not been previously educated on the particular bodies of law that professionals must pay the most attention to.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reading Response Week 5

I found this weeks reading to be very informative and it actually began to change my perspective about public relations. In the past, I have not taken public relations as a serious an important part of an organisations success. I viewed Public Relations Practitioners as people who merely put together cocktail parties, fancy luncheons and put together biased information to release to the media. This reading immediately began by changing how I perceived Public Relations Practitioners by stating that a "typical public relations department" provides an 185 per cent return on investment. Even more significantly, when the CEO of an organisation supports a "well-performing public relations department" there was a 300% return on investment (Johnston, Zawawi 172).
The chapter continued to say that the amount of return on investment is a function of strategic communication strategies. I had never before seen PR as necessarily a strategic profession, but the steps and outlines of a quality PR strategic plan were not only in depth but quite complicated. For example, key performance indicators (KPI's) are used as measurable indicators of progress (Johnston, Zawawi 177). This quantitative side of PR is far different from the party planning and cocktail hour planners I had previously envisioned. While KPI's may not be the best measurement, PR practitioners recognise this and seek to constantly evaluate the value of their work (Johnston, Zawawi 177).
Other parts of PR strategic planning that surprised me was Lester Potter's "ten-step strategic communication plan" (Johnston, Zawawi 178). This ten-step system is not only involved, but quite complicated and would require a number of skilled and experienced personnel to successfully complete a PR plan. Detailed strategy is clearly a huge part of PR success and it proved to be much more complicated than I originally expected.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reading Response Week 4

I would not be writing in earnest if I were to claim that this week’s readings have bestowed upon me any information that I was not already privy to or that is not merely common sense. Be that as it may, I am in wholehearted agreement with the author’s stance on internal relations. Communication with the public set aside, healthy internal communication is vital to an organization’s success. In many of my past jobs, I have witnessed firsthand the follies of a breakdown in communication between management and staff and communication between fellow employees. For example, when I was employed as a call center representative with a company that facilitated proxy voting for mutual fund shareholders, I felt that my supervisor and those of my colleagues lacked sufficient communication skills to oversee a large group of people for when performance was less than par their tone of voice, their body language and the actual choice of words they used when addressing subordinates was extremely brash and condescending. This poor communication immediately translated into embarrassment and resentment within the hearts and minds of my colleagues and I, neither of which aid in group cohesiveness or productivity. Having participated in many courses that focus on the power of positive affirmation and the importance of consistently working to build the self-esteem of those around you as well as your own, what I was witnessing and experiencing in this job was in direct conflict with an approach that I knew was optimal in achieving success whether it be at the individual or group level. In this week’s reading the author provides examples of communication and acknowledgement of achievement such as informational or congratulatory memorandums, organized and up to date notice boards, announcements via intranet, awards and company dinners et al that serve to boost morale and in turn give employees cause to believe in and work hard for their organization (Johnston and Zawawi 294-295). I believe that if my past jobs such as the one I have above described had employed more of these types of communication, this would have improved understanding and cooperation between all parties and as a result productivity would have also increased.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Reading Response Week 3

I found the reading’s discussion of Grunig’s models to be the most interesting and the most influential in altering my perspective on public relations. I have always believed and to some extent still do believe that the function of mainstream public relations is to operate asymmetrically, propagating the biased information of organisations to the greater public. I did not really take into consideration that there were other models that operate in Public Relations. For example, simply just doing “anything to get attention for [an] organisation” seems not only simplistic but inefficient. I think that a company could lose a lot of respect if they were to just do whatever it takes to get a story or information out to the public (53 Johnston & Zawawi). Grunig’s model describes Public Relations model’s development, so it makes sense that it would move from the more primitive press agentry, to public information the second model. Public information is more accurate information given to the public. There is certainly less desperation in the attempt to get information out in the way Grunig describes it.

The last two model’s are more modern to me. While Grunig suggests that the two-way semmetric approach is the better, I believe that most of the public relations sectors still handle PR in a more asymmetric fashion. I feel bombarded with information everywhere I turn, and I feel I rarely if ever give back my personal opinion on a PR matter. Though Ideal I believe that PR has a long way to go to truly reach a symmetric approach.