Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The PR of PR

I was delighted to see Tom Biro's link to Keith Jackson's post on movie portrayals of PR, for a couple of reasons.

This has been a topic of interest for me for several years now, and I published an article on it in the Journal of Public Relations Research in 1999. The student project that sparked Keith's post references it (Miller's my maiden name), and I was glad to see that movies since 1995 offer a somewhat better portrayal of the field.

More to the point, though, it's one of the topics I covered in class today. After we watched Wag the Dog, I reviewed past research on public images of PR (mainly press and network news coverage), then divided the class into groups. Each had 30 minutes research one of four areas where PR is discussed: PR monitoring groups' Web sites, blogs, cartoons and jokes, and mainstream media. What they found was that coverage of PR is more mixed than the previous studies have found--which is to say, more positives mixed in with the negatives.

The stereotypes the students reported finding (in what was, granted, not a scientific survey) were that PRs are deceptive, spin-doctors, dishonest, or dim-witted; and that public relations is cover-up, spin or lies. But there was some good, especially in the mainstream news coverage, that left both the students and me with some hope. For example, one story suggested that Louisiana needed more PR to help get information out--yes, "information" rather than spin or lies.

Interestingly, on blogs they found more criticism from people within the industry than from outside. We concluded that PR, just like many organizations, can use a little transparency.

Comments:
Look forward to reading your paper, Karen. I am presenting my own paper on representations of journlism in fiction at the University of Sunderland on Monday. I also have a blog, Scoop! that does something similar http://publicsphere.typepad.com/scoop/
 
Great idea! If I had more time right now, I'd start one up for PR. Thanks for letting me know about it.
 
I am just shocked at the portrayal of PR by some of these PR blogs. Just shocked.

Kind regards,

Amanda Chapel
Managing Editor
Strumpette.com
 
Facts speak louder than statistics." Sir Geoffrey Streatfield"
 
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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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