Corporate PR vs Firm PR

Although the general purpose of both firm and corporate PR is the same, the means by which they do so uniquely differ between the two.

In-house pr has the distinct ability to be in constant communication with the company it represents, since it is part of said company.  The ability to quickly communicate makes information sharing much easier, since it can often occur at a face to face basis, instead of over the phone/email as one would do with a contracted firm.  Also, the additional fact that there is always an expert coworker that can assist the PR firm when necessary is an additional benefit.  This also ensures that information that is shared comes directly from the source to the PR workers, instead of it going from source –to third party- to PR firm, as it sometimes may.  Brian Adams from PR Daily explains that this ability is essential in handling a crisis.  “All of this ties together nicely when a crisis strikes. While agencies can be prepared for layoffs, facility closures, or changes in leadership, the in-house communications leader is uniquely positioned when disaster strikes.  If a crisis strikes quickly, it is extremely beneficial to be on-site. [. . .] I believe that the internal and external communications benefited greatly from time-saved and institutional knowledge” (Adams, 2013)

However, hiring a PR firm offers benefits that corporate or in house PR cannot provide.  When a business contracts a PR firm, they are hiring a group of talented individuals that have vast experiences in the field.  This allows for greater collaboration, and the ability to draw on past experiences to see what has worked.  For example, a fictional hospital in a large, urban area has recently come under fire after it was found that a large number of employees have been selling medications from the hospital on the streets.  The hospital’s in house PR firm would have a hefty work load in order to clear this up, and have never been presented this issue before.  With a PR firm, this may not be an issue.  The workers of a PR firm would be able to draw from their experiences and discuss how they have successfully handled similar issues, minimizing the damage.  Patrick Ward, the CEO of PR firm 104 West, said it best when describing this benefit, stating “when you hire an employee, you only get that individual’s personal experience. When you hire an agency, you get the whole team’s perspective and background,” (Ward, 2013)

Since both of these systems have pros and cons, the inevitable question arises: “which one is better?”  Bloggers, PR specialists, and business owners alike have all drawn their own conclusions based on their own standpoint.  From a small business firm point of view, it may be more cost efficient to go with in house Public Relations because of a limited budget.  However, there isn’t much that can top hiring a firm consisting of elite of Public Relations professionals.  PR firm workers are often highly trained in crisis management due to diverse experiences, making them an invaluable asset during times of trouble.

There is no objective way to really analyze the two and deem one superior over the other.  Since each has their own benefits and downfalls, one must make the decision based on their individual interests.  Also, a good compromise to get the best of both worlds (if you have the budget) is to hire both and reap the benefits.

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Adams, B. (2013, January 16). 5 major differences between agency and in-house pr. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/5_major_differences_between_agency_and_inhouse_PR_13582.aspx

Ward, P. (2013, May 10). Here we go again: 5 reasons hiring a good pr firm is smart business. Retrieved from http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/10/5-reasons-why-hiring-a-good-pr-firm-is-smart-business/

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The Role of Social Media in PR

In my latest blog post, I discussed my personal opinion on how I use social media and my interpreted uses within today’s society.  In this post, I am going to take the opportunity to discuss an aspect of social media that I haven’t yet covered, and that is its role in the Public Relations field.  Social media has created a new public platform for users to state their opinion of a brand or product.

The social media platform is one that has various benefits to anyone that is interested in boosting the public presence of any product, organization, or movement.  First of all, maintaining an account that promotes something at the most basic level is free of charge.  Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter offer free pages that make spreading brand related content as easy as a clicking ‘retweet’ or ‘like.’  This is very useful to organizations with a small advertising/Public Relations budget.

They also have a unique ability of garnering a very specific audience.  Other users that follow or like a brand can be easily exposed to promotions or brand related information.  Since the users have already decided to like or follow the page, they obviously have some sort of interest in what is being promoted.  This essentially means that any information that this organization puts out via social media will reach who it is intended for.

However, social media websites can often times harm an organizations image if said organization handles it wrong.  This is an easy trap to fall into because the PR field is still trying to perfect the science of PR in the new field social media.  There is no decorum that has been set in stone when it comes to handling PR related issues on the web, and everything must be well planned, or disaster may ensue.  Deirdre Breakenridge from PRNews says it best by emphasizing that, “Like anything else in PR, strategic planning is necessary to create a communication program with the required elements for success; it’s the planning process that allows you to reach your goals and objectives. Planning creates the road map for you to achieve a winning initiative,” (Breakenridge, 2013)

For instance, a recent example of poor PR planning was the Chick-Fil-A disaster that occurred in the summer of 2010.  Chick-Fil-A had then come out stating that they were a ‘family’ business that opposed the idea of gay marriage.  Needless to say, this warranted a barrage of unhappy tweets and Facebook messages; as eating a chicken sandwich had become a political statement of some sorts.  For some reason, the PR firm that managed this crisis found it to be a good idea to create Facebook profiles defending the company (granted, this is speculation — Chick-Fil-A has publicly denied using any fake profiles).  One profile was a teenage girl who seemed just a little bit too enthusiastic in her defense of Chik-Fil-A to not be affiliated with the cooperation.  As the internet has proven to us over and over again, never underestimate the power and intelligence of its users.  One user uncovered that the profile had been created a mere eight hours prior to a post defending the brand, and that her profile picture was a stock photograph.  Melissa Agnes, a digital crisis manager, had a lot to say about this issue.  On her website she states that, “Social media is based on truth and transparency, and when it comes to the Internet nothing stays buried long. When you’re caught in such an attempt – and odds are you most definitely will get caught – you will pay for your schemes ten fold” (Agnes).

Works Cited

Breakenridge, D. (2013). Social media and public relations begin with strategic planning. PRNews, Retrieved from http://www.prnewsonline.com/topics/pr-insiders/2013/08/22/social-media-and-public-relations-begin-with-strategic-planning/

Agnes, M. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.melissaagnescrisismanagement.com/5-lessons-to-learn-from-chick-fil-as-social-media-crisis/

Crisis Analysis: BP Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon accident released an estimated 4.1 million barrels worth of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico during an 87 day period, making it the worst oil spill and environmental disaster the petroleum industry has seen (BP leak, 2013).  Needless to say, the BP public relations team had a massive job of getting their company back into good standing as soon as possible.  It’s no easy job getting an oil company that prided itself on being “beyond Petroleum” and environmentally friendly back on the right track after a colossal oil spill.

The PR team at BP had more than a few missteps on their way to try and clear their reputation.  One big issue that they faced regarded whose responsibility it was.  BP emphasized that the oil rig belonged to Transocean LTD (Beam, 2010).  BP then put out a series of advertisements apologizing for the spill, promising compensation, and ensuring that full responsibility was to be taken by the company in question.

It was later revealed how much that BP spent on their image bolstering campaign.  According to the Huffington Post, BP spent a whopping 100 million during the first four months of the spill alone.  (“BP Oil Spill”, 2013). The campaign primarily consisted of a series of nationwide TV commercials featuring CEO Tony Hayward.  The campaign was seen as a miss by the general public.

Over the past year or two, BP has been stabilizing in terms of stock value, which demonstrates shareholder confidence and public market opinion.  After the Deepwater Horizon accident, BP stock went down from trading at around fifty six dollars a share to twenty nine dollars a share, almost diminishing its value in half.  As of this month it is trading around forty dollars a share; a steep increase compared to twenty nine dollars a share (CNN Money, BP PLC).  However, Emily Swanson from Huffington Post report shares statistics that paint a much darker picture.  According to a survey given in April 2013, Forty three percent of those surveyed still have a negative perception of BP oil, and forty one percent of Americans surveyed felt like BP did not do a sufficient job cleaning up the goal (Swanson, 2013).

At this point in time, I feel that it is time for BP to take a step back from the situation and asses where they stand in the public’s opinion on a regional level.  Although it is clear many Americans are still unhappy about the spill three years later, the advertising and PR campaign should be more focused.  At their first go, the company seemed to take a “shotgun approach” to the incident by spraying advertisements all over the nation with hopes that a few ads would hit the mark.  Now, I feel that it is time for them to take more precise measures with their campaign in order to save money and reputation.  For instance, an ad campaign that was displayed in areas of America unaffected by the spill would only remind people of the oil spill, and do little for public image.  An ad campaign in the south/Gulf area may have more of an effect.  These people are constantly reminded of the spills damage because it hit closer to home.  A reputation campaign involving the full extent of the PR budget may maximize potential.  TV ads, interviews, events, and cleanup efforts could be turned into full gear and broadcasted on an anniversary on the spill, then subsided to a maintainable level until the issue is manageable.

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BP leak the world’s worst accidental oil spill. (2010, August 03). The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7924009/BP-leak-the-worlds-worst-accidental-oil-spill.html

Beam, C. (2010, May 05). Oil slick: How bp is handling its p.r. disaster. Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2010/05/oil_slick.html

BP oil spill advertisements since the Deepwater horizon disaster three years ago. (2013, April 19). Huffington Post

CNN Money. (Designer). (2013, September 25). BC PLC [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=BP

Swanson, E. (2013, April 20). Poll finds bp public image still tarnished 3 years after gulf spill. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/20/bp-poll_n_3111551.html

Technology and ArtPrize

Every fall, The City of Grand Rapids hosts an art gallery at an incredible scale.  This event, known as ArtPrize, is made up of hundreds of artists displaying their works throughout the city.  The event is promoted through various local news stations, some of which offer coverage during every news hour and even have stations surrounded by exhibitions.  To give you an idea of how large this event is, 37,500 votes were cast electronically for exhibitions within the first twenty four hours, and as of 3pm on September 25th, almost 250,000 votes had been submitted (ArtPrize Grand Rapids).

This year there is an interesting and new technological dynamic of ArtPrize that hasn’t been utilized before.  A new app called Epic Events that, “automatically stitches together short video clips to create “epic” videos of life moments and events,” Is new on the market for ArtPrize 2013 (Kaczmarczyk, 2013).  This app is intended to showcase bits and pieces of ArtPrize and promote the event as a whole.

However, there were very little opportunities for guests to promote individual pieces of artwork through the means of social networking.  When I visited ArtPrize on opening day this past Wednesday, all of the exhibitions I viewed did not have any pre-established FourSquare check ins.  There was a general ‘ArtPrize’ check in that was set up, and even trending for that matter, but no individual pieces.  As I continued to see incredible pieces of art that individuals had dedicated a large portion of their lives creating, I couldn’t help but think that the artists weren’t fully promoting their efforts in the most effective ways.  If I was in their position, I would utilize every social media outlet that I could in order to promote my artwork in order to increase voter/viewer turnout.  For instance, if artists had established FourSquare check ins prior to the event happening, they would have been able to establish themselves quicker on Foursquare and maybe even get the location of their piece to trend in Grand Rapids, which would surely help generate viewers and votes for the artists.  Not all of the exhibits lacked a social media presence, however.  Two of the art pieces that I looked at offered flyers with a ‘like’ page on Facebook, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

So, after observing all of this I was curious as to why there artists did not seem to utilize social media outlets to the fullest extent.  Being a Public Relations major myself, I like analyzing campaigns and seeing the means in which companies, nonprofits, and other public/consumer driven organizations utilize in order to maximize their potential publicity or sales.  After doing some research and reading excerpts from Ariel Hyatt’s book Cyber PR for Musicians: Tools, Tricks, And Tactics For Building Your Social Media House, I came to a conclusion.  Hyatt speaks about a sort of stigma that lies rooted within the art and music community regarding social media.  This stigma ranges from artists feeling that they “don’t want to be pushy or over-hype-y,” to artists that feel social media is a “waste of time” and there is “no return on investment (Hyatt, 2012).  However, artists must take full advantage of modern technological assets such as social media outlets in order to garner public votes and potentially win the cash prize at the end.  Hyatt discusses potential ways for artists to remove that stigma by providing evidence that yes; promoting yourself via social media may seem conceited and make you feel uncomfortable, it is a great way to be a step ahead of the competition (Hyatt, 2012).

 

ArtPrize Grand Rapids. (n.d.). Artprize.org.

Kaczmarczyk, J. (2013, September 22). Check out epic videos of ArtPrize, thanks to new epic events app. MLive

Hyatt, A. (2012). Cyber pr for musicians: Tools, tricks, and tactics for building your social media house. (2 ed.). Brooklyn : Huntercat Press. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Cyber-PR-Musicians-Building-ebook/dp/B00CZSI1L0/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1371054741&sr=8-8&keywords=ariel hyatt