Wednesday, May 30, 2007

PR's reputation in 2007

Today I used a modified version of an exercise I described last spring to get students to analyze the reputation of public relations. The results were a little different from last year (just like last year, a reminder that this research is totally unscientific.)

Not surprisingly, Web sites from PR watchdog groups like PR Watch and Spinwatch continue to be negative. Mainstream media references to public relations were quite often neutral, with some positives thrown in. Blogs, however, showed the big change. Last year, the students found that of all bloggers, PR bloggers were the most negative about the industry (as Amanda Chapel commented, "shocking"). This year, they found many blogs were neutral (just mentioned the term PR, but not really about public relations, for example), many -- especially by journalists -- were negative, and the PR bloggers generally defended PR and spoke positively about it.

The stereotypes haven't changed, though: spin, deception, manipulation, and hype dominate pop culture references to public relations.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

The Week's Best, 28 May 2007

A Time of Renewal, Harold Burson
Wisdom, Jim Horton
Gas Prices Rise as Summer Arrives and (Typically) Oil Companies Don't Explain Why, Ed Moed
Social Media Today Podcast: Rohit Bhargava, Maggie K. Fox
The Top 10 Reasons Why PR Doesn't Work, Guy Kawasaki
How Special Are You?, Richard Bailey (on Forward Blog)
Connecting with Gen-Y, Eric Eggertson
World's Best Presentations, SlideShare
RSS in Plain English, The Common Craft Show

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Wal-Mart word association

I'm using Wal-Mart as a case study for my PR Administration class again this Maymester, and today two student teams debated Wal-Mart's benefit/harm to communities. To marshall support for his side, Cain Harrelson conducted an informal, overnight Facebook survey of UGA students and asked them to choose as many of the words on this list as they associated with the store.

With just over 100 responding, here's what they had to say:
Generic (66%)
Innovative (11%)
Uncaring (38%)
Customer-Oriented (8%)
Cheap (88%)
Convenient (70%)
Dirty (29%)
Charitable (9%)
Gigantic (74%)
Ugly (31%)
Trendy (1%)
Greedy (26%)
Friendly (8%)
Locally-Oriented (11%)
Responsible (4%)
High Quality (1%)
Environmentally-Minded (2%)
Respectable (8%)
Beneficial (17%)
Hurtful (27%)
Family-Friendly (32%)

Not surprisingly, 80% said they shop there. More surprising to me -- some evidence Cain chose not to use -- 52% say that overall it's beneficial to communities. Yet 97% said they wouldn't work there. Like so many Americans, these students have mixed feelings about Wal-Mart.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Bateman girls take Manhattan

After winning the Bateman competition, my team got to spend a couple of days in New York City. We saw "A Moon for the Misbegotten" (I'm not even going to get into the students' reviews of this play, except to say that I tossed the phrase "pearls before swine" into the conversation), and then had dinner with Constantin Basturea and Paull Young, both of Converseon.

This picture, taken at Converseon's offices, shows Anna, Kaitlyn and Molly with Paull, who's prepping them for an interview which is next in line for the Forward Podcast. I'll add the link when he posts it.

Paull also introduced them to Second Life, and I think he even sold 'em a few trees. You know he and Constantin are persuasive when Kaitlyn said she felt inspired to blog again.

Addition: read Nikki's comments here. And Paull sends a link to better pictures here.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

The Week's Best, 21 May 2007

I've been out of town with only sporadic Internet access this week, so this week's list is small. But good!

Characteristics of Authentic Online Participants, Elizabeth Albrycht
The Food Issue, Richard Bailey
Why Most PR Bloggers are In the Out-house, Tom Murphy
i can rite ... can u rite 2?, Tomorrow's Professor

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UGA Bateman Team Victory

Presenting Molly McFerran, Anna Harrison, Nikki Kay, Kaitlyn Bagnato, and Janna Gay -- winners of the 2007 PRSSA Bateman Team Case Study Competition.

UGA's team presented to the client in New Jersey on Friday and won the competition. (This picture was taken just before their presentation.) The students and I had a great time and enjoyed meeting the team members and advisers from Cal State-Fullerton (2nd place) and Elon University (3rd place), as well as Janeen and Brent from PRSSA and representatives of the various organizations that support FC101.

I can't say enough about these young women, but then again I guess the judges have said it for me: they are the best!

Addition: here's the PRSSA news release.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

The Week's Best, 14 May 2007

In Defense of PowerPointism, Christopher Fahey
Is Blog a Four-Letter Word?, Seana Mulcahey
The Hallmark of Marketing, Todd Andrlick
It's Funny, I Was Able to Find the "Contact Us" Link..., Chris Thilk
Ways of Working with Journalists, Guy Clapperton

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Confession: I hate the end of the school year

Students love the end of the school year; me, not so much.

In the past two weeks I've been to two luncheons, a senior banquet, an award presentation and reception, an awards ceremony and reception, and our faculty/staff end-of-the-year celebration. I skipped an open house and probably some other event I've forgotten by now. Today we have Convocation, our College graduation ceremony. Thank heaven it's not my turn to attend the University graduation in the football stadium -- nothing like wearing a black robe in the glaring sun for 3+ hours (although come to think of it, my gown will be there, courtesy of Kaye Sweetser).

Individually, these events are lovely; since I'm in confession mode I'll even admit that sometimes I get weepy. Every single person honored or program celebrated undoubtedly deserved it. But the end of the semester just can't get here soon enough! (I'm in complete denial about Maymester starting on Tuesday.)


Monday, May 07, 2007

The Week's Best, 7 May 2007

Congratulations to all graduating seniors! I know you're finished with school, but learning never ends. :-) Here are some good links for lifelong PR learners:

Corporate Press Release/Statement Translation Tool, Josh Hallet
Anatomy of a Social Media Campaign: Journey to Atlantis, Kami Huyse
What a Journalist Wants PR People to Do (or Not to Do), IndiaPRBlog!
12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Should Know
Social Media Releases: Everything You Ever Wanted to (or Should) Know, Brian Solis
How to Clean Up Your Digital Dirt Before It Trashes Your Job Search, Jared Flesher
Is Failure Good for PR Students?, Heather Yaxley

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Student blogging assignment wrap-up

Today's the last day my students can post on their blogs for their class grade. I told them in all sincerity that I have enjoyed reading their posts and feel like I got to know them a little better because of it.

Quite a few have commented on the assignment, and the results on this experiment are mixed. Meghan, Mezelle, and Elyse confess to liking it, even after some initial reluctance. They, along with Kristina and Kelly, are thinking about continuing their blogs. Meanwhile, P.R. Student and Chad say they just never took to it; J.L.C. summarizes what she's learned about blogs from a PR perspective; and Allie is disappointed that she didn't have time to do more with hers. Additions: Nicole now admits it's important to know about social media; Nikki offers me some constructive criticism; Crystal didn't like posting her opinions for all the world to see; Ben says it helped him polish his writing skills; another Nikki has decided to keep posting on her blog; and Lauren says it was harder than she expected.

Another faculty member asked me if I'm going to make the same assignment when I teach campaigns in the fall. In all honesty, I haven't decided yet. Did my students learn something from it? Did the blogosphere benefit from their contributions? Was it worth my time and energy? I welcome your thoughts.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Campaigns presentation #3

On Monday, my third team presented to their client, the UGA Department of Intercultural Affairs. This client presented quite a challenge in that they asked the team to come up with a way to get more students, especially white students, involved in ICA events. The team struggled at times -- among other things they had to completely redesign their logo after both the client and a student focus group disliked their first attempt -- but came on strong at the end. The client liked not only the new logo, but also the 3-day event the team planned and their theme, "I Am Intercultural," which points out that everyone is intercultural in some way and therefore can and should be involved in ICA events.

Anyone who knows me knows that diversity is an issue near and dear to my heart, so I really wanted the team to come up with something the department would want to use. And they did. Great job, ICA team!

You can also read what Charlotte and Mezelle had to say about it.

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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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