As both a Public Relations and Magazine major in the Journalism school at the University of Oregon I recently came across, thanks to my professor, an interesting article war between journalists and public relations professionals.
Chart from PRmoment.com describing how journalists view Public Relations
The argument started with an article by David Strom titled the Ten Biggest PR Blunders of 2011. Someone under the alias Pitchman then wrote a response article titled What PR People Really Think of Journalists. In Turn Kel Kelly wrote a response to both articles titled Please Stop Stereotyping.
To based by the titles of the articles the arguments presented by each article is pretty obvious but I’ll give you my take. Strom’s article was basically a worst-of practices for Public Relations professionals, which could be looked at like a mini rant. Pitchman article produced a full on rant looking at journalist’s worst practices/attitudes. While Kelly’s article may have overlooked some of the comments in Strom’s article presented a presented a general look at the argument and explained how the stereotyping needed to stop.
For me this is interesting because I fancy myself on both sides of the argument. Although I don’t have years of experience I am trained in both forms of journalism and I have come to see that stereotyping just within the journalism campus. Public Relations majors and Journalist majors have outstanding opinions of each other just like Strom and Pitchman. There aren’t any arguments or disrespect because of the preconceived notions but the stigma definitely exists.
This whole argument makes me wonder, if stereotypes evolve, and flourish, in settings as small as the UO SOJC how are ever to try to confront the global stereotypes facing the world today?
As a senior in college you would think that I would be spending time focusing on trying to find a job when I graduate, but I’m not. Instead I’m searching for an internship. Which seems funny because I’m currently the social media intern for a local non-profit in Eugene, and over the summer I interned at a nonprofit in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
You would think that would give me enough experience but when I compare that so some of my friends in the SOJC it pales in comparison. So many of my classmates, and soon to be fellow colleagues have completed multiple (as in 4 or 5.) A recent article posted by USA TODAY College made it very clear that Internships are not optional and the more you have the better chances you have at getting a job.
The increase in popularity of unpaid internships gives an opportunity for nonprofits to gain valuable volunteers. Because not much separates volunteers from interns non-profits are the perfect place to pick up experience. this is especially true in the Public Relations World. With the growth of social media and the increase in need for Public Relations officials many nonprofits welcome the opportunity to have students practice their newly acquired talents.
The article interview the Intern Queen herself, Lauren Berger about internships in the modern job market. Berger had 15 internships during her college career and went on to start her own company Intern Queen INC. From the interview the best piece of advice I saw was to go after internships you want, not just ones that companies post.
The Intern Queen: Lauren Berger
Now, I know there are probably some people who will be able to get a job without any internships. Just like we learned from He’s Just Not That In To You, there is always an exception to the rule. But lets face it I, just like millions of college students, are not the exception and will spending the next year or two interning just to gain the experience necessary to find a paid job and those internships will most likely be in the nonprofit field.
In a recent blog post Nilofer Merchant wrote about The Rules For the Social Era. The point that she make that interested me the most was that fact that many big companies were so closed off to the social factor. They didn’t understand the conversational aspect brought forth by social media platforms.
What I think is ironic about this is that while big corporations didn’t comprehend the value of social media, nonprofit organizations understood almost immediately. As per Merchants post companies now grasp the marketing aspect of social media but is still lacking in the conversational aspect. The reason for this divide in knowledge could be for many reasons. It may be because nonprofits understand their audience better or because they have a more personal relationship with their supporters to begin with.
The metaphor that Merchant used, which I really appreciated was that companies are more like 800-pound gorillas who are trying to become 800-pound gazelles but are actually more like 800-pound dinosaurs. Or in other words huge corporations are suck in their ways that are trying to become quicker and more mobile but are still just outdated models in the social era. ‘
Surfrider Foundation, in my opinion, is one of the best organizations utilizing social media. It’s not just the fact that they have accounts on many social media sites, it’s that they have a strong presence and identity on each media platform.
Their website is a one stop place for any information you need about the organization. It connects all of their chapters together and creates one solid face and mission for the organization. On their page interested individuals can learn about their mission, find local chapters to participate in, learn about individual campaigns, find ways to take action, and connect to all social media platforms. They have a comprehensive website where nothing is left out.
Their use of social media includes, a blog, twitter, facebook, You Tube, RSS feed, and Pinterest.
One click on their You Tube page and a very creative and powerful video, Plastics Kill, which doesn’t outright ask for support but instead makes you think about the environment. They also have two blogs in order to write about both environmental factors that affect the coast and to get a personal views on issues and campaign matters.
(picture credit: theinspirationroom.com)
Surfrider is able to effectively combine all forms of social media to create one fluid presence that transcends multiple platforms. Which, I think is one of the hardest things about so many social media sites. To be able to keep up with so many sites while still maintaining a large cohesive presence that expands on its mission is quite a hard task. I admire the employees at Surfrider for keeping it all together so elegantly, which is why I think they have the best social media practices by a non-profit..
Properly thank those that have helped your organization. As the Public Relations professional for a nonprofit company the #1 thing that every nonprofit organization should have at the top of their to do list is to thank donors,volunteers, parter organizations, etc…
A well thought out thank you, besides being a general courteous thing to do, can have many benefits for an organization. A simple thank you makes people feel appreciated, which makes donor happy and more willing to donate as much or even more in the future. It makes volunteers feel needed and they are more likely to return and become regular volunteers.
Goo thank you’s are always valued when they personalized to the individual donor or volunteer, it gives an extra feeling of gratification because they are personally remembered by are your organization. Although, because of the large amount of workloads and the small amount of persons employed by nonprofits they are not necessarily necessary. A group thank you is completely acceptable as long as it is obvious that it is conveys a sincere message of gratitude. These thank you’s can come in the form of a letter or a video. The more creative the better but the number one thing to keep in mind is sincerity. Make sure the donor understands how appreciated they are and that the or she knows the effect they had in helping your cause.
Penelope Burke posted on her blog the top 20 things to do when thanking donors. Some of the easiest, but most important things she said to do is to have the letter personally signed by the highest person in your organization. Include contact info, speaks to the donor but does not “sell” the organization.
Another blogger, Raymund Flandez, posted on The Chronicle of Philanthropy blog about the best Thank You video’s. My favorite video is by the Tiden Community Hospital Foundation. Not only because it featured adorable kids and made me tear up but because it gave the donors insight into where their money was going while also conveying a sense of gratitude. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKoFwy9Ex3U&feature=player_embedded#!
A simple thank you has the power to make or break your organizations relationship with donors and is the deciding factor on whether people will continue to donate to your organization.
After reading a post from Lauren Dugan about ways to destroy your reputation on twitter it got me thinking about my own opinions about Twitter. Although Dugan talked about personal twitter accounts I think that personal accounts correlate with your own companies twitter.
Just like my facebook account I don’t really use twitter to tweet that often, albeit thanks to J452 I am slowly but surely getting better about it. However, I do tweet for the non-profit company I work for regularly and the rules that Dugan mentioned can certainly be applied to those tweeting for their own company or non-profit.
The rules from the post that I think are most applicable to both an organizations twitter and personal twitter accounts are:
- Don’t whine about not having enough followers.
- Don’t repeat your tweets.
- Don’t sell, sell sell.
Any organization that tries to continuously sell you on their mission, comment on their lack of followers and tweet repetitively about information pertaining to their followers will almost certainly have negative effects on their followers. The company or nonprofit will not only lose followers on twitter but will also create a negative connotation in the eyes of their supporters that will not translate well when asking for help in the future.
I also don’t recommend tweeting about information that is completely irrelevant to your organization’s mission. If you are a nonprofit who works with youth or adolescents why are you commenting about the environment. This is not to say you only have to talk about your organization but keep the information you send out relevant to your cause. Also try to keep you personal political agenda away from your company’s. If your organization does have a political agenda or supports certain legislation that’s great and you can talk about that all you want just make sure to differentiate between your opinion and your organization’s mission.
What I do suggest you do is include other organizations or people in your posts. Tweet at other nonprofits that have similar causes. Spread good news or even ask their opinion (on matters that are appropriate for twitter.) Both professionals and organizations use twitter for online networking and you should be utilizing twitter in the same capacity. Also think globally, you might be working for a small local nonprofit but why not reach out to others globally. It is not plausible for you to travel to another country or state to find out what other organizations do but you can certainly find out through the internet. Why not ask someone from Ireland or Brazil what techniques they use? Even if you don’t use their information at least you’ve established a connection and have opened your mind to another possibility.
So in conclusion here are my basic do’s and don’t for both personal and nonprofit twitter accounts:
- Think big; reach out globally and nationally.
- Tweet at others to begin conversations and create connections.
- Don’t whine about not having enough followers. (Per Lauren Dugan)
- Don’t repeat your tweets. (Per Lauren Dugan)
- Don’t sell, sell sell. (Per Lauren Dugan)
- Don’t tweet about completely irrelevant information.
- Don’t mix your personal opinions with your organizations opinions.
This week I decided to evaluate blogs and social media sites then choose the best one.There are so many sites one the internet so it’s hard to choose from. I know that tomorrow I might find another blog to add but I finally decided upon my two favorite blogs; The Big Picture and Humanitarian info.
The Big Picture is a blog that was started by photo editors of The Boston Globe. It ‘s a collection of photo’s from current events. The blogs strengths include it’s ability to provide in-depth coverage of news events in a timely fashion. It’s weakness is that because the blog is only pictures and captions so it makes it hard for a proper analysis. Although because of its ties to the Boston Globe it’s easy to tie into news stories. In addition to tying into the news stories, the connect ion to the Boston Globe this blog lets the authors of the blog connect with their readers and creates conversations on a level that isn’t reached through regular reporting. I also picked this blog because I’m especially interested in photojournalism and I think this is one of the better displayed photo blogs.
My second choice; Humanitarian info is a great blog for information regarding humanitarian work around the globe. I’m also really passionate about non-profit work. This is one of my favorite blogs because it’s always on top of current issues. It fosters a strong online community about people who are passionate about the same issues. The format of the blog also allows for an in-depth analysis of issues. I think one of the downfalls is that there isn’t a real format of when things are posted so the immediacy aspect isn’t always a priority.
Using facebook for a company takes on a completely different meaning than using facebook as an individual. Personally I hardly ever update my facebook. I don’t post updates and if I do it’s usually to share a video, a quote or something cheesy like that, I never use it to publish my thoughts. I do go on and comment on and “like” statuses and wall posts. The only original content I usually post are pictures that I’ve taken.
This strategy would never fly for an organization, especially within nonprofit organizations where facebook usually has a more important function than within most other companies. Those invested, or thinking about investing in an organization wants to hear what is going on. They want to know where their money is going, which means keeping them involved. A nonprofit’s followers want to be in the know when something good happens and even when an organization is struggling and needs a little extra help.
But the double standard with that is facebook followers also don’t want to be flooded with constant information. There needs to be some sort of balance achieved between keeping your followers in the know and bombarding them with information overload. The balance lies within knowing your audience. Once you know who you want to reach out to on facebook you are able to better understand what they want to hear, how much they want to know and when to strike “aka post.” Jeff Bullas published a post on PR daily explaining the logistics about posting.
I think the most important part about facebook is the content you put out on your site. It needs to be informative yet to the point. People don’t through a bunch of useless information… just get to the point.
For nonprofit organizations social media is an amazing tool to use to promote their mission. These platforms have the ability to establish new relationships with potential supporters and strengthen/deepen the relationship with existing donors and volunteers. Another reason social media is so useful to nonprofits is that, for the most part, all of these sites are free. Organizations are able to spread information about themselves without any cost.
I am convinced the Internet has opened the door to some very useful tactics for Pubic Relations Practitioners especially for organizations running on a limited budget. But was is still in debate is whether you should, or if it even possible to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of social media.
Mark Schaefer, posted an article in full support of at least trying to measure the ROI. He cited four main reasons for why he felt measurement was necessary.
- There is an implied value for everything.
- If we are expanding human effort, it should be justified.
- If you’re not measuring how do you know you’re making progress?
- There is no excuse not to measure.
The main arguments against measuring the ROI is that there is no definitive way of measuring social media output. Take facebook for example. You can measure how many “likes” a post gets and how many followers you have. Facebook will even analyze your company’s data for you but how do you measure if anyone has really been effected by what you post. It is so easy for someone to like a page and then hide it from their news feed and never see it again.
With social media you are measuring feedback that isn’t so measurable so it’s easy to see why so many media professionals, both the experienced and greener professionals are hesitant to want to measure social media.
Personally I don’t see why you wouldn’t at least keep track of some type of measurement. How many “likes” you get is some kind of indicator of what people rally do like. So why not compare your posts over the last month and see what type of thing people want to hear about. The more comments on your blog means the more stimulating the post. Why wouldn’t you go back through and see which blog posts generated the most action.
Just like social media itself, measuring the ROI is an equally important and cost friendly tools that nonprofits must take advantage of. Even if the measurement is not as meaningful as the measurement of other PR tactics companies need some sort of base to guide their efforts. They need to know what seems to be working and when to re-strategize especially when budgets are tight. Why waste your time on efforts that don’t help or are possibly harming your organization?
Doug Haslam recently wrote a blog post about obsessiveness and it’s place in Public Relations that I found to be not only interesting but true. In his post he essentially says that in Public Relations objectivity is necessary and that as professionals we can achieve this while still being ethical.
The rules of journalism and the rules of PR are often seen as being the same but they are in fact very different. The job of Journalists is to inform the public of events world-wide. The role of a Public Relations practitioner is to inform the public about a specific organization or company. Despite their similarities these careers exist for two separate reasons.
The basic function of public relations is to be objective. By representing a specific company a PR practitioner automatically working for the benefit of the organization.
Now just because there is objectivity in PR doesn’t mean there isn’t ethics. These are also words with entirely different meaning that are jumbled together and often misused.
To be clear here are their definitions:
- Ethical (adj.) Involving or expressing moral approval or disapproval. Conforming to accepted standards of conduct.
- Objective (adj) Being the object or goal of one’s efforts or actions.
Despite the hesitancy to accept this fact by many, it is possible to be both ethical and objective. Just because Public Relations professionals have their company’s best interests in mind doesn’t mean they are unethical.