One of the most essential qualities to have as a public relations professional is definitely the skill of crisis management. This involves many aspects, but one of the leading qualities would have to be reaction time and reaction itself. When something you’ve been working diligently on falls apart, what will you do? When something slanderous is posted about your company or firm, how will you get rid of the scar? How will you tell your employees, or those who work under you? All of these are questions that you must ask yourself when evaluating your own crisis management skills and deciding what your role will be in the public relations field.
How do you react to a crisis? What steps do you take to recover? First, you need to talk about it and be completely open, factual, and truthful (fact/truth does not always mean the same thing). The truth is that if you don’t tell all the facts about your crisis, someone else will, and it will leave you to answer about your own lies. Of course, with telling about the crisis, you also need to be open about what you’re doing to fix it. No one wants to hear that something is broken if the creator has no inclination to mend it, the same applies to crises in the work place. Finally, when the crisis is over, you of course need to notify all involved and all who are interested before you can get back to your work at hand.
Just as there are stages in life, marriage, and parenthood, there are also stages of crisis management. The four stages of a crisis are heroic, disillusionment, honeymoon, and reconstruction. You first need to come up with a swift solution to the problem, you then might have some confusion about what exactly is happening, after that you can get into a rut where you become comfortable with the problem, and then you will finally rebuild and mend whatever “broke” in the daily process of your company or organization.
Here are some of my tips and hints for writing an effective news release that I acquired from Public Relations: Strategies & Tactics (9th Edition) and Green Media Toolshed :
- Make sure that your release is newsworthy .
- Don’t release all of your information in one news release, if your story is “lengthy” you can separate it into multiple releases.
- Avoid ineffective quotes.
- Use “creative” vocabulary that will hold an editor’s attention (make sure that your release is still factual).
- Use short headlines that give the main point of your release, not a “repeat of the information in the lead-in paragraph.”
- Don’t use metaphors, unless you think they’ll help to get the story across to the reader.
- Make it obvious how your release holds relevance to your editor’s audience.
- Write “short, punchy, and easy-to-understand,” sentences.
- Don’t ask questions in your lead.
- Don’t repeat information.
This week I checked out The Creative Career, a podcast by Allie Osmar. Osmar generally writes about the changes involved in the transition from being a student to being a professional in the communications world. She also gives tips on how to prepare for that professional world of communication arts, one that is changing every day.
Osmar’s podcast interview that struck me as particularly interesting and eye-opening was the podcast on Catherine Hudson, co-founder of Shorty Clothing and advertising extraordinaire. Listening to this interview really opened my eyes to my future, as well as the futures of my fellow classmates. Hudson started off her college career majoring in classical piano performance. After an epiphany and a few panic attacks, she realized that practicing the piano for several hours a day was not what she wanted to do with her life and became a double major-adding Business. This turned out to be a pivotal decision in her life considering that throughout her college years she was a band manager, which led to being a music writer at a magazine. After that, she decided to pursue advertising, and ended up working in the film industry. Hudson even produced a television show and ended up selling it to the Travel Channel. Finally, after working at a major ad agency for six years, she and a friend decided to co-found Shorty Clothing Company, which is where she is today.
I found listening to Hudson talk about her career and experiences incredibly inspiring. It reminded me that in the communications profession, you really are capable of accomplishing anything as long as you know what you want. I hope to some day be as accomplished as she is and earn such a respected position in the communications field. Her story showed me that as long as you gain experience in the field you desire to work in, meet the right people, and really hone in on your own skills, that you can become whatever you want, and that is something that is empowering just to hear.
This week, I watched an interview done through skype done by Barbara Nixon. She spoke to Martin Waxman, president and co-founder of Palette Public Relations Inc. Watching this interview, I learned a lot about Public Relations in Canada, a subject that I had no previous knowledge on. I found it interesting that he said that public relations in Canada often trumps public relations in the United States. I know it seems naive to think that the United States reigns over all in any area since I have only lived and traveled throughout the U.S. for my entire life, but I only thought this way about public relations because Americans seem to be driven by media in every aspect of their lives.
What surprised me in this interview is that Waxman on top of being the president and co-founder of a major company, also works as an adjunct professor. We have talked in my Public Relations Applications class about the benefits of getting your masters degree in order to be able to be a college professor on the side. Having said that, I was thoroughly surprised that such an accomplished public relations professional also seek out a job as a professor.
I would have liked to learn more about Waxman’s passion for public relations. In my recent interview with Jennifer Villamil, one of the most rewarding things about interviewing her was listening to her talk about her passion for public relations. Obviously, Waxman also has a passion for it, considering the fact that on top of all of the work he tackles in his own company that he also has a desire to teach public relations to students. I think that it’s necessary to have a passion for public relations no matter what you’re doing in the field, because the profession is so demanding.
Here are some notes from Chapter 7 of Public Relations: Strategies & Tactics (9th Edition):
- After research and planning, the third step in the public relations process is communication (or execution), also known as the “most visible part of public relations work.”
- Five possible objectives for a communicator are: (1) message exposure, (2) accurate dissemination of the message, (3) acceptance of the message, (4) attitude change, and (5) change in overt behavior.
- There are two kinds of audiences, passive and active. Passive audiences pay attention to a message solely because of its level of entertainment and the fact that it gives a diversion. Active audiences seek information, which means they already have interest in the subject.
- The adoption process, or the process of a person accepting a new idea, is composed of five stages: (1) awareness, (2) interest, (3)evaluation, (4) trial, and (5) adoption. Factors that affect the adoption process according to Everett Rogers, are (1) relative advantage, (2) compatibility, (3) complexity, (4) trialability, and (5) observability.
- Decisions audiences make are influenced by three different stages: (1) awareness stage, (2) interest stage, and (3) evaluation, trial, and adoption stages.
I recently completed another course from Poynter’s News University, this course is entitled “Religion, Culture, & Society: Getting Beyond the Cliches.” From this course, I learned how to write about certain situations when religion is involved. I also learned that sometimes you need to keep digging through a story to get to the religious angle. A story may not seem all that religious from the outside, but as you find out more imformation about the key elements, it may turn out to be surprisingly so. This course offers a few topics to ask questions on to “unearth the religious angle,” in your story. Questions having to do with references, stereotypes, faith, motivation, everyday perspective, literal or spiritual concerns, aspects of individual v. community, or cultural influences. In this way, you might find that you can make a statement about religion in a story that has to do with something that seems unrelated to religion, or vise versa.
I would definitely recommend this course to other Journalism/Public Relations students at Southeastern University. In going to a Christian University, we all get caught up in the “spiritual bubble” that Southeastern offers us, and sometimes forget that there is a real world out there filled with jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with our faith. Of course, we carry our faith with us daily and hopefully always display it to others through our actions, but at the same time we all may not be fortunate enough to work at a Christian magazine, newspaper, or Public Relations organization. We need to learn how to approach topics that have to deal with faith and religion from an objective point-of-view in order to keep our jobs. Of course, this may interfere with our ethics at times and hopefully we will make the right choices, but I think that we need someone from the outside looking in to teach us about these kinds of topics.
Last month, I completed a course on Poynter: News University, entitled “Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Publishers.” In the course, I learned a lot about the lay of the land when it comes to blogging, and what is considered legal and illegal. Much of the information had to do with defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement. Defamation is “injury to reputation caused by the publication of falsehoods,” and there are two different kinds: Libel (written) and slander (spoken). I also learned that publishing information about someone, albeit accurate information, can be considered illegal depending on whether or not the information is private or public. I also gained insights on copyright infringement and what lengths certain publishers go to in order to have their work protected. More importantly, I learned how all of these laws affect me as a writer and blogger.
A particularly interesting portion of this course to me was the section on defamation. Particularly, the statement that in a defamation case the plaintiff can be “libel-proof,” in other words, he or she can “have a reputation so tarnished that it [can’t] be brought any lower, even by the publication of false statements of fact.” It made me think about what kind of situations one would have to find themself in in order to reach this point. A point at which anyone on this earth could say whatever they want about you without bringing your reputation down at all. This is definitely not an aspiration of any public figure, but to me it seems like an interesting “accomplishment,” in the sense that it is nearly impossible to achieve.
After completing this course, I think I would like to know more about how to protect myself from not following media law for any reason. Obviously, there are certain things that we all know to avoid, but then there are others that don’t come so clearly. I would like more information on this in order to protect myself from ever accidentally breaking the law.