It looks like my first official post-grad job might be with the Allen Americans. There has been talk and nudges and insinuations, but nothing official or in writing yet. I may be a paid employee in the next few months, or have to wait it out as an intern until the season is over in May or June. I think I will end up happy either way—I love this organization and everyone who works there. It is a fun environment and while much of my work will center around fun events and game nights, there will be some serious business involved where some ethical considerations could come into play.
There are several ethical issues associated with the sports world. The majority of these deal with players and officials, but as a part of the Media Relations team, I can see a few problems that could potentially arise.
A huge trend within the sports world is betting. I don’t foresee this being a personal issue because my interest in gambling is limited to Las Vegas and trivia nights in bars, but it is something I will have to watch out for. This is only the CHL, but I wouldn’t want anyone in my organization following the same moral code as Pete Rose or Michael Vick.
During games I deal with at least four or five reporters, and I will have to make sure all of my interaction with them remains ethical. Of course I want my team to be covered and described in a positive light, but in the end I will have to let the writers do what they want without any persuasion. I already know all of the regular’s names and have fun but professional rapports with each one. This is also the case with the off-ice officials. They make important decisions throughout the game, and I am the one who is responsible for supplying them with everything they need pre-game and throughout the night. I will always have to make sure what I say regarding the games and their decisions is fair and balanced, no matter what my personal feelings are.
Being fair and balanced will also come into play when I write the game stories at the end of each night. I always try to keep a positive outlook on a loss, but you can’t go so far as to fudge or misinterpret the truth. Our mission is to play good hockey and fill the seats, but if I lose the trust of those who read our stories online, we could lose them as a fan as well.
I suppose I will also have to consider my relationships with the athletes. Of course all romantic involvement is discouraged, but there is nothing permitting everyone from being friends and going out together. There are a few potential problems I can see with this, though. You can be friends with a player one day and see them traded a thousand miles away the next. You always have to remain objective when writing about these people, even if you consider them a friend. Professional athletes are required to follow a number of rules, from things like behavior in their personal lives to the medications they are allowed to take. If you find out an athlete you consider your friend has been taking steroids, I can foresee this being a big battle between your personal and professional ethics.
All of these worries and what-ifs are worst-case scenarios, in my opinion. I don’t imagine all of these things will come up in my career, but it is valuable to think about them early just in case. As long as I keep my journalist promise to always tell the truth and my public relations code of always acting in the best interest of my client and its audience, I should be okay. Hopefully these two never collide.
Before I hit double digits, one of the highlights of my weeks were the days when my new Highlights magazine would come in the mail. Highlights was the typical gift of choice for my great-aunt. A smile would instantly appear on my face when I saw its shiny cover peeking out of the mailbox. First, I would skim the crafts section to read what sort of crazy concoctions they would recommend to my young mind: foam door hangers, bird cages made from tiny milk cartons or toilet paper roll kaleidoscopes. Then I would peruse the jokes section and pass judgment on Mike Anderson, age 8 or Amanda Bradley, age 11 for their lame attempts at humor. After that let down came the hidden-picture-in-a-picture section where I tried my best to locate a fork or boot intermingled in an amazing pen sketch of a picturesque forest where two bunnies were dancing alongside elves and deer. Those were so hard, though. I never gave those more than a couple of minutes before giving up. Then came the “Goofus and Gallant” comic.
Goofus and Gallant were by far one of my favorite things ever. Goofus, with his bad boy bangs and smirk and Gallant with his prim sweater vest and kind yet pursed smile. The two lived in a kind of parallel universe, completely oblivious that somewhere out there was their twin in the EXACT same situations making the opposite choices and handling the consequences in their own way. Secretly, I preferred Goofus over Gallant. I believed he was much cuter and usually found myself sympathetic to his plights. I always figured that if we ever met when we were teenagers, he would instantly fall in love with me and I would be able to change him. Unfortunately, he was only a comic character and our paths never crossed.
I have always, however, maintained this feeling in the back of my mind that maybe there is another me out there in some parallel universe. This Melissa is in the exact same situations and making the opposite choices. There are times when think to myself, “Am I being a Goofus or a Gallant?” meaning “Am I being a complete idiot with awesome hair, or am I making the correct decisions to put me on a path to success?” I am graduating next week and am finding myself thinking about this a lot. Do I still love PR? Should I settle on the first job offer I receive even though I know it won’t make me happy? Looking back on my college career, while I have made some Goofus-like decisions, the Gallant in me is what shines though the brightest. I have always tried to do what is smart and was always thinking about the future and how to accomplish my goals. I will graduate in a good place, thanks to my Gallant mindset. I don’t see that changing, but it is nice to think that my Goofus is out there somewhere wreaking the havoc that I never did.
This semester in my ethics class, one of the conversations that was the most fueled and energetic was on the topic of celebrity endorsements and ads. My professor told us at the beginning of the semester the things that really got her students talking and engaged: celebrities, food and sex. This topic covered all of these things and more. I had never given much thought to the legal or moral implications of these endorsements—in my mind they really didn’t influence me in any way.
One of the newest trends for celebrities and even the FCC is endorsing a product or company over Twitter. Stars like Kim Kardashian (I cringed a bit using the word ‘star’) are getting paid $10,000 to link to videos or mention a product in a tweet. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with this, but a lot of people are bent out of shape over the fact that these messages are not labeled as endorsements. Perhaps the high-ups at Twitter could create a selection that will label a tweet as an ad, but is this really necessary? Are we really so trusting of these people we can’t recognize an ad when we see one? I don’t find anything sleazy or unethical about these endorsements. Some are even beneficial to everyone, like the recent pledge by celebrities to NOT tweet until one million dollars is raised for World AIDS day. As long as corporations are willing to pay the celebrities’ ridiculous fees, I think that this is a trend that will stick.
Last year the FTC published updates to its guide governing endorsements and testimonials. I could choose to rant over the ridiculousness of the fact that the last time the guidelines were changed was in 1980, but the real story here is the FTC is finally making sure that these product ads and endorsement claims are actually real and truthful. I had hoped that no one in America really believed that a pill would make all of us drop 100 pounds in just months or a cream would give all balding men the luscious locks they long for just because someone famous told us so. As this is not the case, thankfully the FTC is making sure that all of these claims are true to the average results and not the miracle cases. I also like that the celebrity will now be held accountable for the things that they say and not just the company. Celebrities have a lot of power and influence over their fans and they should be held accountable if they are knowingly telling lies.
Celebrity endorsements are always going to be in the forefront of advertising. The familiarity of the face makes the ad stand out, our obsessions with wealth and fame attract us to anything these people do or say and a celebrity endorsement can do wonders for a company’s credibility or popularity. Hopefully these changes in policy will make consumers think twice about taking everything Kim Kardashian says to heart.
P.S. AdWeek has a great compilation of current celebrity endorsements.
JOUR 4470 Blog - What SpongeBob taught me about ethics
Over the holiday break I finally got a chance to catch up of all of my favorite television shows. Satisfied to be in on all of the latest Grey’s Anatomy drama, I found myself flipping channels and happened to end up on an old episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. The series began when I was in 5th grade and will always make me smile, but I was shocked at the newsworthiness and relevancy of the content of the episode. Here is a video summing it up in under two minutes.
In a 2008 episode titled “The Krabby Kronicle,” SpongeBob and his boss, Mr. Krabs (who is known for being cheap and obsessed with money) begin publishing a town newspaper. When plagued by boring content and poor profits, SpongeBob is encouraged to embellish stories to pique interest, which eventually turns into twisting words and fabricating news altogether. Word gets out and trouble ensues, and of course by the end of the 15 minutes Mr. Krabs has another failed business venture and SpongeBob learns the value of truth and accuracy in journalism. As a journalism student who has been regaled with storiesandexamples involving what would happen if we made things up, I loved the simplicity of this story. I would love to see this worked into a basic news writing or introductory class.
SpongeBob’s dilemma is a real problem among journalists and PR practitioners alike. Gallup reported last year 75 percent of Americans do not have a high level of confidence in media—a statistic I imagine has a lot to do with this trend of embellishment and new standard as to what is considered newsworthy. The PR industry especially seems to be surrounded by a cloud of distrust. When discussing PR with friends, many cannot come up with a clear idea of the responsibilities involved in the profession and feel our main job is to spin bad news or find ways to keep things from the public. I understand this misconception, as the only time anyone is our profession is ever called out in the news is for a mistake.
In school we take ethics classes and learn PR is so much more than dealing with bad news. Regardless, people still make stupid mistakes making everyone involved look bad. Lying is the easy, quick way out. Every code of ethics out there tells us our number one mission is to stick to the truth, but there are somanyinstancesoutthere where someone has taken a misstep. At one point I felt focusing so much on negative case studies and other people’s mistakes was a waste of time, but the simple fact that there are so many examples available to choose from is proof this needs to be drilled into our brains.
CNN Money reported this week 59 percent of Americans will check their work emails over the holidays this year. This statistic didn’t shock me, as this is the norm in my family with my dad and sister who work in computer engineering and marketing, respectively. What was different about this year however is it was me doing the most work over the holidays. From assignments and projects for school to keeping up with coverage reports for my agency job (when you work with international clients, you have to remember not everyone celebrates the same holidays), a lot of my holiday will be spent working instead of relaxing.
This trend is high among Americans, but seems to be an American problem alone. There are dozensofarticles telling us much of Europe shuts down in August. Shops are closed and beaches are full of vacationers who are getting paid to take a whole month off of work. In America, unless you are a student, CEO or fabulously rich and famous, this is vastly unheard of. With the pressures of high unemployment on everyone’s mind, even small vacations can be stressful. I have friends and family members in the work force who say taking a week off is not worth it in the end because of the massive work load that would greet them upon their return. It is cheaper for employers to have us work more hours than to hire someone new, so we are stuck working overtime and during holidays meant to be spent with family and friends.
Although the constant barrage of responsibilities and emails is frustrating, sometimes I feel it is all worth it when I deposit my hard-earned money into my bank account. Social status in America is largely reliant on earnings and spending. We generally own more things and it is common to judge other based on the type of car they drive or the neighborhood they call home. Is this why we accept the demanding hours and seemingly endless stress? Do Europeans just place more value on leisure? In many countries, companies are legally required to offer paid annual leave. In some cases, unions have taken the charge to force more vacation time instead of higher pay. To me this sounds crazy, but taxes could play a big part in all of this. Europeans in general have higher marginal tax rates than Americans, which would definitely give them less incentive to work. Floundering economies in Europe, though, may change the way they do business. I don’t see this on the horizon for America. Our values are not going to change any time soon and, at least in my case, I don’t see the PRSA or any PR unions (are there any?) standing up for this issue. I will just keep cherishing my weekends and mourning the loss of summer vacation. Being a grown-up will suck.
JOUR 4460 Blog - Pitching journalists (and how to avoid pissing them off)
In his blog, Charles Arthur (Technology Editor for The Guardian) discusses his frustrations with the overabundance of emails he receives from PR practitioners. From pitches to press releases, Arthur finds himself deleting the majority of mail that winds up in his inbox. I get frustrated when UNT sends me just five emails in an afternoon, so I completely understand his complaints.
During the course of my internships I have been tasked with sending out blast emails containing media advisories and press releases. I always felt a bit uneasy about it, especially when using a media list that I had not created or updated. The ratio of responses to replies or coverage that I received would probably be in the ballpark of 50:1—a result that obviously proves that I was wasting not only my time, but the client’s and the journalist’s. I feel that I have remedied this practice a bit (at least in my case) by really taking the time to tailor my media lists. Arthur knocks companies such as Cision and their over-encompassing media lists, but for me it is an invaluable tool. The key word here, however, is tool. Cision provides me with publications and reporters under the blanket topics that I am searching for, but I do not stop there. Taking the time—two or three minutes for each publication or reporter—to see what they cover and who their audience is can really pay off in the end. You may have a shorter media list, but your chances of getting the interest level you are seeking are much higher. I have also been told that sending blast emails is okay, but to always use the “blind copy” tool. If a reporter can see that you have sent your pitch to 20 other sources, I would imagine that they would be a bit put off.
I love writing pitches. One of the things I enjoy most about PR is that almost all of the work that you do is measurable. This is definitely the case when pitching. Having an appropriately targeted list here is even more important than when sending out a press release. I was taught to always target pitches individually to the reporter or publication. In August I was asked to pitch an article written by the assistant dean of communications for the SMU Cox School of business. After reading the article, which was about rebranding, I searched long and hard for publications I thought would be interested. A great tip I received was to find the publication’s editorial calendar and tailor your pitch to a specific issue, column or special. Tell them why their readers would be interested and make it known that you are more than willing to work with them to make edits. I sent out four pitches for the Cox article and ended up getting one hit. Here is the initial email I sent:
Subject: Potential Article: SMU Cox Shares Steps for Successful Rebranding
A brand is one of the most valuable assets a company has. A successful and well planned brand is an investment that will keep a company relevant and provide a long-term strategic and competitive advantage. In 2009 the SMU Cox School of Business revamped its brand positioning in an effort to coincide with the school’s achievements, including a top-20 ranking in BusinessWeek and 50% increase in applications. Working with the leading Dallas-based advertising agency The Richards Group, Cox devised a rebranding plan and successfully realized a way to make them stand out among other regional business schools.
As you plan for the rest of the year, please consider including a contributed article in an upcoming issue by Lynda Oliver, SMU Cox School of Business assistant dean of marketing and communications that details this success story.
The topic is timely and would be of interest to Marketing News readers, many considering a brand overhaul during this time of changing markets and economic hardship. SMU Cox’s strategy would be a good fit in either your October “Build Your Brand” or November “Careers and Executive Education” issue. The article covers the following branding topics:
Signs that it may be time for rebranding
Choosing an experienced agency partner
Five steps to rebranding: Research, Brand Workshop, Identification, Unification and Implementation.
I would like the chance to discuss the article with you in greater detail. I will give you a call next week to gauge your interest, but please email or call if you would like to discuss sooner.
For SMU Cox School of Business
Elisabeth and I emailed back and forth for a few months making edits to the article, which was published in this month’s issue of Marketing News.
Journalists and bloggers alike were blown away earlier this month when writer Monica Guardino exposed an undeniable case of plagiarism against Cooks Source magazine on her blog. The magazine lifted an article written five years ago by Guardino from her website and published an edited version in their latest issue. This case produced a plethora of attention, with coverage from popular sources logging hundreds of comments. Guardino’s predicament brings to the surface several issues both ethical and legal.
The glaringly obvious mistake plaguing Cooks Source (I absolutely hate that there isn’t an apostrophe, by the way) is the fact that they plagiarized. Guardino’s website displays the ever important copyright symbols on every page. A blog may not be considered a traditional form of media yet, but the article is still an original work. The Internet is not a free-for-all public domain. Cooks Source had the courtesy to give her a proper byline, but not asking the writer’s permission to reprint their work gives them a perfectly good case to sue for copyright claim. Edward Champion reports that while Guardino is aware that she has a potentially winning case, she is reluctant to spend the money it would take to sue. I hope that someone with more extensive funds will come out and support her to set a precedent to protect bloggers and other writers who publish on the Internet.
Editing someone else’s work, even if your version is 100 percent better, does not make it your own. This is kind of a no-brainer, but Cooks Source editor Judith Griggs seems to truly believe that producing editorial content in this way is acceptable. How does someone make it into an editor position without at least a basic understand of plagiarism and copyright? To make matters worse for the magazine, journalists did as journalists do and the background research is startling. Champion explains in his blog that there have been six instances of plagiarism uncovered so far inside the pages of the publication including stories like Guardino’s and even photography. I am in no way condoning the magazine’s actions, but Griggs should have responded with an initial sincere apology and met Guardino’s more than fair requests while all of this was still contained within private emails. Griggs could have potentially satisfied Guardino’s anger and Cooks Source would not be in this PR nightmare.
Here is something that I am not so sure about:
A major reason why this case counts as copyright infringement and plagiarism is because Cooks Source is an official for-profit publication that is supported by paid advertisements. What if, instead of Cooks Source, the article had been repurposed the same way on a well known blog or website? What would the legal guidelines be there?
I know that this story may fizzle out by the end of the month, but I think the principles and legal ramifications involved will definitely be seen again in later cases. I wonder if we will ever see any additional federal laws or regulations when it comes to content exclusively online. The Internet is by far the easiest go-to source of information for students, business practitioners and journalists alike. Because we have all of this information at our fingertips for no cost, are we becoming desensitized to creative/thought ownership? Will this problem become even worse for children growing up in a world of smart phones and e-books? I am insanely interested to see how all of this will turn out.
This week the PR team at Amazon has come under fire for one of its Kindle books written by Phillip Greaves that has now been pulled from the database. After widespread complaints and media attention, Amazon announced that they stand behind their decision to sell the book and that they believe that choosing not to sell it is censorship. Normally I might agree with Amazon’s point of view here, but that changed when I read the title of the book surrounding the controversy: “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct.”
I can definitely understand why this has resulted in such a storm. Regardless of the content, however, I think that Amazon’s defense for selling it is weak. This is their statement:
“Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”
Greaves has the right to write whatever he wants under the first amendment, but no one has to publish it or sell it. There is no rule stating that Amazon is required to carry every published title and I think that claiming censorship on their part is ridiculous. I am very much in favor of free speech, but the fact that Amazon is making profits off of this material is very upsetting. No one is doing anything illegal here, but why is Amazon jumping at the chance to defend this author’s work? If I were in their shoes I would have aligned myself with the public and taken the book out of the database immediately. Deleting comments from your website and going against the general consensus of your customers is, in my opinion, always the wrong choice.
Late October was a messy time for Chevron’s Public Relations department. Hours before the launch of their nation-wide “We Agree” campaign, The Yes Men, an environmental activist group, made a preemptive strike with a campaign of their own. The group targeted Chevron’s campaign because of an ongoing lawsuit over the company’s activity in Ecuador. Some speculate that Chevron knowingly put lives in danger for the sake of oil, but Chevron claims that the allegations are false. The fake campaign mocked Chevron’s attempt at connecting with its publics and suggested that the company was taking a shockingly honest approach. The fake ads were quickly exposed, but the damage to Chevron’s reputation had already been cemented.
While I do not feel that there should be any legal ramifications as a result of this case, I think that there are a number of ethical issues involved:
The Yes Men were well within legal bounds to post the altered ads, but is it really ethical to create fake press releases and use the signatures of top Chevron executives? All of the information, including the signatures, were out there, but is it okay to use them? I don’t think that this can be viewed as libel—it is more damaging to the company than the individuals—but I think that using these specific names is wrong. To me, sending out the fraudulent press release and creating a fake article is where the real issue is rooted. Reporters already seem to have a negative opinion of Public Relations practitioners. Stunts like this will only make it worse.
Speaking of making things worse, this issue is in no way doing any favors for the advertising industry. It is common knowledge in the journalism world that the public’s trust in advertising is very low and hearing about fake campaigns and duped reporters will not help gain it back.
How The Yes Men got a hold of Chevron’s campaign before it went out is an interesting story. An environmental blogger received a casting call to appear in a commercial for the company and passed off the information until it reached The Yes Men. Even better, an artist hired by Chevron was given files of all of the campaign’s signage to print and display. Instead, the artist handed the information over and was instrumental in displaying the new campaign. Despite Chevron’s mistakes and injustices, I believe that these individuals, especially the artist, made the biggest ethical mistakes when it comes to the campaigns themselves. I assume that the artist was under contract, and despite his personal feelings, breaking it and handing over files given to him by a client was completely unethical and potentially illegal.
Probably the thing that affects me the most is the whole underlying issue that sparked The Yes Men to react in the first place: Chevron’s activity in Ecuador. The evidence seems compelling and The Yes Men are completely in the right to express their opinions and expose the matter to the public. Chevron’s campaign was misleading and this group is making sure that they are accountable for their mistakes. Corporate responsibility is an ethical issue that I feel very strongly about and I think that as a whole, I do not have any objections against The Yes Men’s campaign and actions.
Regardless of ethics, The Yes Men were successful in exposing an issue that Americans seem to be responding to. I believe that this kind of activism, as long as it is legal, is important as long as powerful companies choose to keep information like this from the public.
One of my responsibilities as a media relations intern for the Allen Americans is controlling social media. The team has twitter and Facebook accounts and recently I have been trying to think of ways to utilize them to their full potential. Sports teams have been on the ball (See what I did there? Totally not on purpose.) concerning social media from its beginning. With a built-in fan base already in place, leagues and teams alike quickly gained tens of thousands of followers and are using social media to promote their brand, products and events. A team’s relationship with its fans is extremely important, and social media is a great way to improve if used correctly.
I wanted to take a look at how the major leagues in the US were handling social media, as well as their Dallas counterparts. Here is some research on follower amounts:
These numbers show that while sports fans are definitely present on Twitter, a team may have more luck focusing its efforts on Facebook. The Americans’ followers reiterate this trend with 3,464 Facebook followers and only 394 on Twitter.
The way these teams and leagues are utilizing social media is so effective and fun. There are so many ways to enhance a fan’s experience and build your brand. The NHL and NBA hold contests and give out prizes and giveavays through trivia contests and several other methods. You can set up stores on Facebook to sell merchandise or tickets. Simply linking to or tweeting news and feature stories on your website will draw a lot more viewership. Several athletes have created personal twitters as well. These can cause controversy in some cases (hello, TO and Ochocinco), it can definitely be played to their advantage. The NHL has started using a Foursquare account to keep up with all of its venues. Fans who check in will receive tips on places to eat/drink before and after the game, as well as an interesting fact about the team or arena. Although social media may not amass a direct revenue stream, it does wonders to gain exposure, engage fans and direct them to places where you can make money.
Every team, no matter how small, has interesting and fun stories to tell. Minor league teams are definitely at a disadvantage when it comes to marketing and promotions budgets, but social media is a great way to overcome it. The Americans are only in their second season and have a rapidly growing fan base. I plan to help them model their social media strategy after the professional teams who have found a way to maximize the advantages that this simple technology has to offer.
Today I attended the Dallas Public Relations Society of America’s 2010 Communication Summit. I have been to several journalism conferences over the years, but this was my first in Public Relations. The information was great and I am excited about many of the connections that I made. My favorite session of the day was presented by Simon Salt, who spoke about how to utilize location-based social media applications in PR and marketing.
Salt began by explaining the function of the various applications currently out there. I am an occasional Foursquare user, so I was vaguely familiar with how the programs work. His use of case studies to drive home his point was great—I have always been intrigued by these programs but unsure of how to include them into a social media strategy. Salt demonstrated that Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and similar applications can boost business and customers exponentially in a short amount of time. Contests, freebies and other incentives drive people to act and these location-based programs are a perfect way to get the word out about your business or product. My favorite suggestion was to use your employees to really drive participation by teaching them how to use the applications and pass the information on to customers.
I believe that these tools are here to stay and that they can really be a great asset to PR practitioners when monitored and dealt with correctly. Currently I am a media relations intern for the CHL’s Allen Americans. I run the social media and think that location-based applications could be a great thing to bring into the mix. Salt presented a case study in which the New Jersey Nets worked with Gowalla to bring in a ton of new business on regularly slow nights by giving away free tickets. This could be a great strategy to utilize along with mayorships and other badges on Foursquare. Maybe we could run contests on game nights—the 50th person to check in wins a signed jersey or skating passes? I have been thinking a lot about how to expand the team’s reach in the realm of social media since the fans seem to respond really well and in great numbers on Twitter and Facebook. Salt’s lecture has given me a lot of ideas and has shed brand new light on applications that I did not think were relevant to PR.
In his article titled “Three sides to every story,” Don Ohlmeyer presents a case study of a 2009 football broadcast between Texas Tech and Michigan State and its aftermath. The controversial portions of the broadcast concerned the coverage of Tech’s recently fired head coach Mike Leach. There were accusations of unfairness from both sides, but I believe that ESPN was in the wrong, at least ethically, in the way they allowed its broadcasters to behave.
ESPN should have never allowed Adam James’ father to call the game. This decision ensured from the beginning that the broadcast had no chance of being completely fair and balanced, as only one side included a party with a truly vested interest. The coverage on ESPN’s end was clearly affected by the emotions and personal relationships involved.
The network received thousands of complaints about the broadcasters ignoring important parts of the game to continue discussing Mike Leach. The pair’s coverage on the incident was incomplete and biased. Viewers who were not familiar with the topic were not given any variation of a back story. Also troubling was the absence of Leach’s side of the story. The broadcasters painted a horrible picture of the coach and the comments questioning the coach’s character should have been counterbalanced by Adam Jones’ behavior. Regardless of whether Leach deserved it or not, he should have been given the chance to tell his version of how things went down.
The team of broadcasters made a major ethical mistake when they read portions of affidavits released by Tech covering the incident. First of all, you should not pick and choose quotes to fit the angle that you are trying to sell. You need to tell the whole story and attribute quotes under the correct context in which they were given. The announcers also made it sound as if all of Jones’ teammates were on his side, when it had already been released that this was not the case. This show was full of accusations and judgments that did not give the audience a chance to form its own opinion.
ESPN came out and said that they believed that their broadcast was balanced and fair. You could say that the announcers acted in a utilitarian-like manner; they did whatever they had to in order to paint the picture that they wanted. Broadcasters are trusted with the responsibility of representing their network on live television, and on that day ESPN put the wrong team in charge.
A few weeks ago I tweeted a blog submission called “Working With a Public Relations Firm.” In the blog, Jennifer Walzer, the CEO of a business in New York, describes how she deals with the PR firm she has hired for her company.
Her first piece of advice is to “designate an internal champion” within your company to be the main contact with the agency. I couldn’t agree more. From my internship experiences, having a specific person in the company who you can rely on to get information when you are trying to work with deadlines is so important. Making sure that the person understands that sticking to said deadlines is imperative to the success of the plan is also key.
She also suggests making sure that you are aware of your company’s key messages and mission. In my opinion, it is just as important for the PR agency that you are working with to completely understand key messages. Many firms end up writing this kind of messaging for their clients and they need to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
The most important piece of advice that she gives is to schedule frequent meetings to evaluate the status of the PR plan and work that is being done. Collaboration is huge when trying to get work done for a client and making sure that, once again, everyone is on the same page, is significant.
It was interesting to think about how PR works from the client side. From what I have seen, the start to a good relationship is making sure that your plan is cohesive and includes a detailed timeline. Anything can go wrong to change your circumstances, but I think that establishing and maintain this foundation is a good start.
This morning I shadowed at Lewis Public Relations in Dallas. Blake Lewis and I had a long conversation about why I am interested in PR and what I can do to achieve all of my goals. My number one objective is obviously to have a job secured by the time graduation rolls around in December. This is always on my mind and a constant weight on my shoulders. I told him of my aspirations to do sports PR and received the expected response of, “So does everyone else.”
I started out at UNT as a News-Ed major. It was what I excelled at in high school, so I stayed on the path that everyone told me I should be on. At the beginning of my second news writing class, my professor gave us a look into our futures as entry-level reporters: low pay, assigned to uninteresting beats, working crazy hours, competing for stories and basically being a bit miserable for a few years. But hey, we love news writing, so it’s okay, right? Wrong. As everyone around me discussed how it would all be worth it, I realized that I was not willing to work and sacrifice so much for something that I really didn’t enjoy doing very much. The same semester I was taking the introductory PR class merely because it fit into my schedule, and after only a few weeks I discovered what I wanted to do with my life.
Blake told me that he always asks his interviewees why they want to work in PR. He says that dozens and dozens of new grads have told him that they chose Public Relations simply because they are a people person. This turns him off immediately, and he said that he pretty much tunes the rest of the interview out. I agree with him. Just being personable will not get you far enough in this field. I love PR because it took something that I liked doing—writing—and tacked on so much more. Sure we write a lot, but you also get the communications aspect of dealing with clients and your audiences, as well as a mix of marketing and advertising. In my opinion, Public Relations is the perfect blend of all things communication and journalistic. During my internships I had daily, repetitive duties, but there were also parts of my week where I got to work on something new and exciting. I love the thought of having completely different experiences every work day.
I have loved sports for as long as I can remember. My family is nuts about hockey, so naturally I turned out the same way. When I learned that most sports teams have some sort of Public Relations presence, I knew that it was for me. Why not take a sport that I love and mix it with a job that I love? Luckily Blake thought that I had a good answer.
A few weeks ago I started an internship with the Allen Americans, a CHL professional hockey team. I am their media relations intern. During games I will be in the press box, tending to reporters, photographers and off-ice officials. I have already begun writing press releases and stories for the website, and when the season starts will also do weekly features on the players. When I met with the head of broadcasting for the team, my intention was to simply work a few games to count for shadowing hours, but ended up walking out with an internship. I absolutely love it so far, and am so excited to have my foot in the door. As long as I keep working hard and managing my time correctly, I think that my last semester at UNT is going to be my best.
P.S. Later tonight I will be making edits to my previous blogs.