PR Campaigns – The blog

March 9, 2009

To ghost, or not to ghost: that is the question

Filed under: Fidelis — mlmyers @ 6:33 pm
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Our last day of class before spring break was partially spent on the discussion of ghostwriters’ blogging for a company and where it falls on the moral spectrum. I thought this topic was just being addressed as a segue into our next case study, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across a blog discussing this same topic.   Bill Sledzik,  an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kent State University, spent his long post defending the idea of ghostwriting when done in a professional and responsible manner.

Like many students and professionals alike, I am on the fence. Both sides can make solid arguments. Both are persuasive. Both can make you test your own personal morals. I feel like this is a common trend, not only in PR, but in life in general. There are always two sides to an issue (sometimes more) and when deciding ethically, unfortunately you are the only one who can help yourself.

It’s a scary thought. Knowing that we are soon going to be the little fish in a ginormous pond and realizing that there is no survival guide to help us along. From what I’ve gathered from the handful of people I know already in that pond, is our morals and ethics will be tested continuously throughout our profession. There will always be people to give advice and try to help along the way, but when it comes down to it, you are in charge of your decisions and your future. 

I honestly don’t know what I will do when I am faced with one of these ethical dilemmas, but I would like to hope that I will do what I feel is best without any outside influences. Unfortunately, there will  never be a decision every single person will agree on, but by staying true to ourselves, hopefully we will be able to get through these bumps in the road.


November 21, 2008

Let’s Talk About Ethics, Baby

Filed under: The Agency — agilliam @ 8:01 am
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So, I stumbled upon an interesting blog this week about journalists giving public relations advice to paying clients. This practice has been brought to the forefront of ethical issues as of late due to Dan Abrams leaving broadcast journalism behind to start a consulting firm. He will continue to stay on the NBC payroll, however, as an outside contributor.

Is it right for an Arizona Republic writer to tell a business how to get covered by the Arizona Republic, and then be paid for it? Doesn’t that feel like insider trading or something? At the same time, I have heard journalist tell PR people what works at their media outlet. Channel 3 here in Phoenix even sends out a tip sheet to PR professionals on how to get your story covered. I think what sends the situation of them giving this information out into sticky territory is that they are getting paid for it and are specifically catering to a clients needs. This is in contrast to telling general PR practitioners who may have a number of clients. As a client in Phoenix, wouldn’t you prefer to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of the Arizona Republic and may be able to affect its coverage?

This is a hot topic among professionals, some of whom are particularly vocal in their outright disagreement with the practice. But, before quickly writing it off as unethical, there is another side. We are in a journalism school, taking journalism classes and some would argue that we are journalists. I attend Society of Professional Journalist functions and professionals act like I am trying to steal their secrets.

Maybe I am.

September 29, 2008

Weekly roundup

JMC417 students are, understandably, very concerned with the public perceptions of the profession they are entering. Following on posts from the previous week, such as ABC PR’s discussion of the “PR lady” in the Mac vs. PC commercials, this week Sparkle Media points out that in some cases breaches of PR ethics lead practitioners to create crises, rather than manage them. These instances, though relatively uncommon, serve to reinforce popular negative views of public relations. ABC PR countered by highlighting the Radical PR trend in public relations scholarship and practice, which aims to critically analyze mainstream theory and practice and suggest alternative paths. Students pose the question of whether this movement can help alter the profession’s image. Time will tell.

Metis PR addressed instead the question of what makes a good (or bad) PR practitioner. They quite rightly pointed out that clients are not always aware of what their agency can do for them, and so may misconstrue certain actions. This, too, is a question of professional perception, but on a smaller scale.

The Agency strode fearlessly into the treacherous waters of political communication, questioning the media strategy of the GOP handlers in charge of VP nominee Sarah Palin’s public appearances in recent weeks. Electoral campaigns represent a particular niche of communication, which requires practitioners to balance their strategic concerns with the responsibility to provide the citizenry with enough information to make considered voting decisions.

CAST Communication tackled a topic near and dear to my own professional heart, internal communication.
They touch on the difficult balance between encouraging employee engagement (freedom) and managerial monitoring (control), which is always an issue in internal communication, and a frequent source of friction.

Iris Public Relations reflected on whether new media technologies represent a sea change in PR practice, or simply a new set of tools for conducting business as usual. And if the former, do they dampen creativity and innovation? Coming at new media from a different angle, TALLfore noted that the speed with which information and rumors spread, thanks to densely networked rapid communication tools such as Twitter, makes organizations especially vulnerable to crises.

September 16, 2008

Viral Videos, the Next New Thing in PR?

God, I hope not!

In the PR Squared blog by Todd Defren done this past Friday, viral marketing was the topic of the day. This link will take you too the site, PR Squared-Viral Videos. As stated in the blog, this latest craze seems to be the way to go for movies and other new media. However, it leaves something to be desired as far as ethics goes.

The fact that he carried on a relationship for 3 months with this girl, built up this idea in her head and even went as far as meeting her parents and have her start hinting about marriage–is that really ok? I know this is not real, but I have seen other viral videos and people do whatever they can to get people to watch them and get hits. Sites like and have become hotbeds of activity for the latest great Internet video.

I know in class we are being exposed to the various new online media outlets, but if this is truly where PR is headed, then I am slightly nervous. I understand that this is satirical, but people already negatively connote our industry at times–labeling us as spin-doctors. I definitely do not think that using media in this way is going to positively affect our image. What is the point of hiring someone with a PR degree if anyone can just post videos and market and promote something? I guess people already can do this, but it is our degree and knowledge that gives us the edge? But if we start resorting to viral media, then what is the point? We have “stooped” to the level of the amateur, so to speak.

–The Agency

September 15, 2008

Weekly roundup

JMC417 students have explored quite a range of topics this past week, as they dip their toe into blogging. Cast Communications looked at propaganda, which tied into last week’s classroom discussions as well. How can we keep PR from devolving into propaganda, fulfilling the low expectations of public relations critics? ABC PR continued in a similar vein. Both teams cited videos by PR Watch. The Agency posted on the related topic of credibility.

As I mentioned in comments, I think the Center for Media and Democracy (the source of PR Watch) does some important work, and I sometimes teach from their books. However, they only present one side of the argument, and often fall into the ideological trap of equating any form of advocacy with propagandistic bias. Considering the importance of the public information role played by PR practitioners, it’s important to critically evaluate each case on its own merits. Throwing out the baby with the bath water does a disservice to the public at large, as well as the profession.

Sparkle Media broached instead the issue of international PR, which we’ll be discussing in class this week. As a matter of fact, one of the readings comes from the case book they cite in their post. They frame the question as a matter of “the evolution of PR,” which can be construed in a few different ways. Are they suggesting that social responsibility is the latest trend in public relations? Or that other countries are somehow “underdeveloped” in terms of their PR approaches? The latter view is certainly problematic, but the post itself doesn’t elaborate on the term “evolution” in the title, so we are left to wonder.

Metis PR focused on personal brand management and professionalism. Students such as those in JMC 417, all seniors who will soon be on the job market, need to be particularly aware of the cumulative effect of their online presence. Those who have maintained MySpace pages, are active on Facebook, keep (or simply comment on) blogs, or participate in online communities under their own name, should take a look at what kind of impression they may be leaving with the public. Tallfore talked about another aspect of professionalism: the ability to make time for important commitments. This is always a challenge, in any profession.

Finally, I posted about the PRSA challenge to the US electoral campaigns of both major parties, inviting discussion about the utility of such a strategy. At this point, it seems that most people who have commented on this topic feel that it is more of a stunt than a useful way of associating PRSA, and by extension the public relations profession as a whole, with ethical behavior. They have also expressed skepticism as to the extent to which the campaigns would benefit from accepting such a challenge.

Ethical issues are always messy.

September 12, 2008

An ethical challenge

Filed under: Prof. Gilpin — drgilpin @ 5:51 am
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I just wanted to point everyone to this PRSA news release, which challenges the communication directors of both major US political parties to uphold the PRSA code of ethics for the duration of the electoral campaign.

Since this post ties into our ongoing discussion of ethics, as well as this week’s reading and discussion of propaganda, I would love to know what you think about this announcement. Is it a good idea for PRSA? Why or why not? Do you think it would be a good idea for the campaigns to openly accept the challenge? Why or why not? If you were a campaign communication director, what would you do? Do you think the Democrats and/or Republicans will take PRSA up on the challenge?

September 9, 2008

Propaganda is a dirty word

Filed under: CAST Communication — asbrooks04 @ 5:27 pm
Tags: ,

The ethical landscape has changed. The days of the Edward Bernays propaganda-is-PR style of communications, meant to control the masses, has transformed into a new model of transparency and trust. In the technological age we are living in today, consumers are more savvy of business practices, and certainly more reluctant to drink down any message that is served up before it. Groups like PR Watch are constantly there, surveying the validity of what we say, what it means to the public, and giving the public a once-hidden glance into the world of PR.

Anyone can research, anyone can verify if what we’re selling is really in their best interest, and, with a click of the mouse, find out what people from all over the world are saying about it. Now, more than any other time, we are responsible for conducting truthful and ethical business and communication practices. It’s too easy to get caught with your pants down.

(written on behalf of Cast Communications)

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