It is a common theme among the Fortune 500 companies to have large advertising budgets and small Public Relations budgets.
I’m sure I’m not the only American sick and tired of hearing the phrase “bailout” repeatedly throughout the day. In these harsh economic times, it’s nearly impossible to escape it. For lack of a better way to describe it, I don’t get along with numbers well (I’m a journalism student, I can’t help it). In an effort to better understand the whole “bailout” issue, I went googling and came across an article on PRWeek.com about the automobile industry and the bailout they are trying to convince the government they need. “Big Three can learn from comms mistakes” talks about Ford, GM, and Chrysler and their economic issues.
The issue seems to be that while the “Big Three” is asking for an enormous amount of money to fix the problems they are facing, the companies are lacking in communication with their most important customers, those living in Middle America. Instead of communicating with the public as to what they need the money for and how it will be used to their advantage, the Big Three has avoided communication and instead the CEOs are traveling by private planes to meetings. If you are in such deep economic trouble, why would you choose to fly private instead of commercial like the rest of the country?
For someone who doesn’t understand money in the greatest sense (I’m not naive, I just don’t do economics), this makes less sense than calculating supply and demand curves. If you want to entrust the people of the country as well as the government with saving the financial well-being of your corporation, why would you not communicate those goals? I am a Ford driver, I have heard nothing of the issues they face. I’m not about to support a bailout that is going to drive our economy further into oblivion if I don’t know why it’s happening. I’m usually quite satisfied with Ford, but after reading this article, I’m more than a little annoyed.
I think this is definitely a PR issue considering communication is at the forefront of it. What do you think? Should corporations be asking for help without going into detail about their troubles? Should we just assume that they will be doing the right thing with our money? I find it difficult to believe anyone would think that, but I’m interested to hear what others think.
The Internet is clearly something that has evolved drastically over the past decade. All professions must deal with the adjustments that the Internet brings. It makes me wonder what life in an office was like before everyone had their own computers and spent the entire day engrossed in emails and documents on their computer. While newspapers are transitioning from print to primarily online, the PR industry is utilizing social media and learning how to pitch different forms of media in a new way.
This transition made me wonder if PR is harder now because of all of the information online and the instantaneous transfer of information through websites and emails. In James L. Horton’s PR in a “Closed Open” World, he suggests that the Internet provides a false sense of openness because anyone can look up information about a company. Horton identifies that it is more of a false than true openness because the company only shares what it wants to and what it is working on but the company never shows what it does on a day to day basis. He uses the Enron scandal as an example. How could this sort of thing happen with so much information online? Further, with the “watchful eye” of stakeholders and the media, how could the company be worth so much more that it showed? His examples are very interesting and things that I would not have thought that companies could get away with.
There is definitely a false sense of security in seeing what a business produces and believing that you know what is going on but you don’t really know what the company is doing or what its employees are thinking. Even though the Internet provides information, is it enough? Do you think that in the next decade the Internet will change the closed-open model of communication? What should we in the PR profession do about this? Should we pretend that we can share everything with the public or just ensure that our clients just don’t do anything that they wouldn’t mind ending up online?
For many of us, technology allows faster means of communication and greater job efficiency. With new developments being released every day it’s easy to get carried away with everything. I came across a post from A Shel of My Former Self blog, which describes how all forms of technology should be taken advantage of to the fullest extent in business, particularly public relations without feeling guilty about neglecting older forms of communication. This post is a response by blogger Shel Holtz, ABC, principal Holtz Communication and Technology, who recently read another blog asking public relations practitioners to return to more personal means of communication like the telephone. But with deals and other forms of business taking place online, is it necessary to lay off the e-mail?
Holtz argues that PR practitioners shouldn’t have to sacrifice internet-based communication tools, but should incorporate them with face-to-face meetings and phone calls. It’s important to remember that the telephone is technology too. And while some people are overly-dependent on technology in the workplace, the power of in-person communication should not be underestimated especially when it’s most appropriate. The post cites an example of employees being fired over e-mail, which I believe takes technology too far. It’s important to utilize channels of communication that are professional for the situation.
I believe we shouldn’t fear our dependency on technology as long as we don’t abuse it. There is no reason to limit ourselves if we’re able to effectively reach the client, stakeholders and remain within the realm of professionalism. E-mail isn’t unconventional anymore, in fact, it’s widely accepted for numerous tasks. And having interned at a local public relations firm I know that the telephone is alive and well. Voice tone can express sincerity and reassurance much more naturally than text. For this reason, I believe phone calls will remain an important part of PR. Each form of communication should be used to its strength.