Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Public Relations: Seeing The World With New Eyes

Before starting the Public Relations program at Mohawk, i did not think too deeply about the news i was reading. Whether it be pop culture, a political story, or a tragedy. I would read or hear about the story and take the surface value of the message without thinking twice. Now, i realize that there is a lot of thinking required when creating the surface message that it being conveyed to the general public.

The class discussion every morning that lays out all of the current news is an interesting one. We dissect  how things are phrased, the timing of the story, and what we think the next move will be. It is now impossible for me to see, for example, a scandal like Bill Cosby's abuse allegations and not wonder what his crisis management plan is to defeat the bad press. Due to the allegations, Bill Cosby has stepped down from the Board of Trustees at Temple University out of respect for his alma mater. Putting my PR thinking cap on, i begin to wonder if he was told to do this as a way to gain back the trust of the public, or if he was asked to leave from Temple University and is trying to downplay the cutting of ties.

In the past when someone would come out and release a scandal about themselves, i did not understand. Why would you give yourself bad press? Why would you openly admit to frowned upon behaviour? This was quickly addressed in class. If a scandal is about to hit the headlines, it is better for the public to hear about it from the primary source rather than hearing about it from a second hand source. This minimizes the scandal firstly because you are openly admitting to your actions (which in most cases, wins you brownie points and sympathy), and also because you can provide the correct facts without a second hand source embellishing the details. 

This strategy was used by the scandal-of-the-moment, Jion Ghomeshi. As soon as sexual abuse allegations, and subsequent legal charges were filed, Ghomeshi hired a public relations firm to handle his crisis management. In order to minimize the back lash from the allegations, Ghomeshi was on the offensive and openly admitted to what was going on his bedroom, rather than have rampant speculation. This was a bold and proactive move.

While crisis management is a large part of public relations, there are also parts of PR that shows the creativity in the profession. When a new organization or product enters the market, i can now distinguish what the communications experts strategies and tactics were when marketing it to the public. I can see their objective and their incentive for getting consumers to engage. I can understand why they chose a certain image. I can appreciate the hashtags and social media presence put forth. I now understand that nothing is by accident in the world of public relations. Everything is thoroughly thought out, every possible crisis is planned for, and every success is owed to the creativity put forth behind the scenes.

The world of media has opened up for me. This is what i have learned in one semester, and i cannot wait to see what lies ahead.

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