Thursday, November 30, 2006

Top 5 PR history books (twice)

Inspired by Constantin Basturea, I decided to come up with my all-time top 5 PR books. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't even do my top 5 PR history books. So, instead, I present Two Top 5 PR History Book lists.

Books by Practitioners
George Creel, How We Advertised America (1920)
Edward Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923)
Ivy Lee, Publicity (1925)
Arthur Page, The Bell Telephone System (1941)
John Hill, The Making of a Public Relations Man (1963)

Books by PR Historians
Alan R. Raucher, Public Relations and Business, 1900-1929 (1968)
Richard Tedlow, Keeping the Corporate Image (1979)
Scott Cutlip, The Unseen Power (1994) [disclosure: I served as research assistant for some chapters]
Roland Marchand, Creating the Corporate Soul (1998)
Jacquie L’Etang, Public Relations in Britain (2004)

All of these books have been significant in shaping my thinking for my own scholarship on PR history. If I had to pick only one to take to the desert island, it would be Marchand's.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Diversity excuses debunked

I'm a bit behind on my reading, but I just finished an article that I think is very worthwhile. It's a book excerpt from Joe Watson, Without Excuses: Unleash the Power of Diversity to Build Your Business, published in Black Enterprise's November 2006 issue (for some reason it's not in their archive yet).

Here are some of the common "excuses for diversity failures":
1. "We can't find any."
2. "Our search firms didn't bring us a diverse slate."
3. "Diversity candidates just don't make it through the hiring process."
4. "Diversity doesn't affect us."
5. "Diverse professionals don't want to work here--there is no one here like them."
6. "We don't have the resources."
7. "We hired a diverse senior executive, but that hasn't moved the numbers at all."
8. "Our hiring managers won't cooperate."
9. "We only promote from within."
10. "We made a mistake by promoting a lot of minorities too soon, before they were ready."
11. "We did diversity training and nothing happened."
12. "We don't have the time or resources to train a bunch of new people."

Neither Watson nor I have any patience for these statements. Do more and better research. Fire the search firm and hire a more effective one. Offer the candidate more money. Tie hiring managers' compensation to achievements in diversity hiring. And so forth. "Once you've stripped away your disabling excuses," Watson writes, "you'll be ready to move on to building a productive, successful diversity recruiting program, and growing your business." Good advice for anyone, whether in academics or in the practice.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A challenge for PR grad students

Last week I confirmed with the second client for next semester's PR Campaigns class: I have seven graduate students enrolled so I have decided to challenge them with working on the always controversial issue of intercultural communications. The team will work with UGA's Office of Intercultural Affairs to develop a campaign along the line of this one from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (my alma mater) and this one from the University of Michigan (not my alma mater, but vastly preferred over Ohio State when it comes to football).

I came across the two campaigns in my research for UGA's Task Force on Graduate Education -- I am chairing the Inclusiveness work group -- during the benchmarking phase of our work. I can't wait to see what my students come up with.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Choosing campaigns clients

Today I had a meeting with the first of next semester's three (plus the Bateman team) Campaigns class clients, the Athens Symphony Orchestra. It's a volunteer group, does six performances a year, and recently added a chorus. They've been around for almost 30 years, and I've been in Athens for 14, but I knew next to nothing about them--making them, of course, a perfect candidate for the class. The students will be involved with recruitment (members for both the orchestra and the chorus), fundraising, media relations, and whatever else comes up in the research phase.

Client choice is one of my favorite things about Campaigns. Local organizations and UGA departments pretty much line up to participate, and I get to choose whatever interests me and will benefit the students. In the past I've chosen two clients with competing teams on each account, but I decided to go with three this year as an experiment. It will undoubtedly be more work for me, but since I have a personal interest in the ones I choose, it should be fun.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Josh Hallett explains ILPL

The Grady College, or more specifically our PR sequence, was fortunate today to host Josh Hallett, who spoke to a few classes today, including my section of PR Communication, which combined with Kaye Trammell's section and Ruthann Lariscy's massive Intro class filled a 300-plus person room to the rafters.

Josh spoke via Webcast to another group of my students earlier this year, and I read his blog regularly, but nonetheless I learned something new in his ugly (he said it first) acronym: ILPL.

Organizations, he says, can Ignore, Listen, Participate or Lead. When it comes to social media, I would give the same advice to my students!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The home of the brave

One of the benefits of being a professor is that you get to work with and hear from really smart and interesting people. On Wednesday, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald (best known for his Sept. 12 column "We'll Go Forward from This Moment"--I bet you saw it at the time, even if you don't remember it now) gave Grady's annual McGill Lecture and took us all to task for not being brave enough in the wake of 9/11. It was gutsy and inspiring, and I was disappointed that so few students were there to hear it. (Of well over 200 in attendance, I would estimate that only a few dozen were under 21.) Grady hosted another speaker earlier this semester, Dr. David Mindich of St. Michael's University, who similarly took us all (but especially young people) to task for not following the news, being alert to threats to civil liberties, or defending our rights. He went so far as to drop the f-bomb (that would be fascism) into the conversation.

Taking advantage of opportunities to hear from interesting speakers, and being challenged by their words, seems so important to me now that it's hard not to get mad at students for not seeing it the same way. But then, when I was 20, I didn't pay attention to lectures unless some professor attached a grade to it. I wish that had not been the case. I wish my students could learn from my experience. And I really wish I could come up with a way to teach them to see that it matters more than football, parties, and even grades.

"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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