Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Big news in a college town

So, you work in PR for Chick-fil-A. Does this story actually make you happy?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A brush with the (PR) law

Spent some time preparing a massive lecture on law this week for my PR writing class. Copyright, privacy, insider trading, and trademarks, just to name a few areas of concern.

Then there's working with lawyers. My UGA colleague, Bryan Reber, contributed to some research on the relationship between PRs and attorneys and found that "they" appreciate "us" more than you might think. In fact, the attorneys more accurately predicted PR responses than vice versa.

Would love to hear from the real world about how PRs and lawyers work together (or don't), in the comments or by e-mail. Just try not to defame anybody in the process....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The "R" word... again?

Once again, the issue of PR's reputation rears its ugly head. Astoria Communications posted on it yesterday, and several AEJMC convention papers (check out the titles of papers 58 and 59 in the session 109 here for two examples) looked at it earlier this month.

My questions: Why should anyone hold PR in high regard when industry news is all about astroturfing, pay for play, fake news, and overbilling? And, how could an outsider understand PR as anything but "sales" or "spin" when that's how it's consistently reported on (another AEJMC paper on New York Times coverage, session O52, here)? The people involved may be industry outliers, but it's a rare news story that covers the wonderful pro bono work someone did for a good cause. Media effects research demonstrates pretty clearly that news impacts public perceptions especially strongly when audiences have no personal experience with the issue or people being covered. The average person doesn't have counsel. So what they know is what they see in news coverage.

The way to clean up PR's image is not to run a PR campaign--who would believe it? It's to clean up the industry, outliers and all.

Update: Trevor Cook says here what I was trying to say, only much better.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Survivor: University

Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.

I'm not a reality show fan. Correction: I actively dislike reality shows. Nonetheless, I can't help but see the parallels between Survivor's tagline and the first week of class. You have to outwit the system. The students are all out playing. And my entire focus is on lasting out the week.

Well, I made it. What do I win?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Silence in PR land?

Was I the only one who found this interesting? It's been a month now, with no comment from the PR corner of the blogosphere. Or maybe I just missed it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What should students know?

I'm prepping for the first day of PR Foundations and decided to start off with a quick review of some of the big issues confronting the field. Obviously, expansion of the blogosphere is one. I've also got overbilling, pay-to-play, the anti-astroturfing campaign, and the rapid growth of the industry.

Anything else new PR students should know about?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The party's over; let the research begin

Grad student orientation yesterday, classes start tomorrow. I'm sad to say my summer is over.

I found out I will have 10 students in my graduate seminar, PR Foundations, students who were not PR majors as undergraduates-- we think of it as a "boot camp" to get them up to speed on the field. They'll be doing some writing, reviewing PR history, law and ethics, and learning the basics of strategic planning.

The good news is that I already have a thesis topic for someone, thanks to Kami Huyse. (Kami, we've got a spot for you if you decide to come back to school.) Actually, I keep a file of research ideas for students, so don't hesitate to send them my way.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New textbook, new class

You wouldn't think it would be such a big deal. But changing textbooks is a pain in the [insert body part here].

Publishers send us free copies of new textbooks in hopes that we'll adopt them for our classes. There's something about a new book that just gets to me--all the examples are updated, there's no writing in the margins, it represents a change of pace from whatever book I was using before. So here I am, prepping for two classes and using new books in each.

It's a domino effect. I go through old syllabi and realize the order of course content will have to change because the new books organize the material differently. My old PR writing text had a chapter on photos and captions, which was a great topic, but it's not in the new one. And the new one has a section on design that was lacking in the old. So I need new lectures to handle each of those areas in different ways than before. Then I'll need lab assignments. Next thing I know, it's not a new book but a redesigned class.

So, is it the publishers' conspiracy to get us to force students to spend more money? Or a sneaky way to improve teaching?

"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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