Cara Mitchell

April 21, 2009

Do The Right Thing.

Filed under: Other — by caramitchell @ 1:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

Is Bad/Unethical/ Unthoughtful PR ruining our reputations before we (PR students) even get in the door?

Throughout the semester our PR class has been studying examples of both good and bad PR – because there is definitely a lot to learn from both the good and the bad of what PR people are doing.

Lately, some examples of bad PR are making me think…

The words “public relations practitioner” already automatically leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Often this is because of several reasons (possibly the media’s depiction of the field, and actual PR practitioners who are not good at what they do for various reasons [ex: lack of strategic thinking/ planning, lack of ethics, etc.]).

Many times the examples of bad PR are shocking, but this one from the Bad Pitch Blog is THE craziest thing I’ve heard. A texted pitch!!?? This is unbelievable and ridiculous. (I though it was a joke…I usually don’t even like when my friends send me multiple pages of text. This goes against just about EVERYTHING I’ve learned about PR).

This is so unreal to me because of the class time we have spent learning about how to pitch, the group projects we’ve done learning the best ways to pitch, and the numerous blog posts I’ve read by PRofessionals about how to pitch depending on who you’re pitching to and what it is for.

In this post Dave Fleet touches on this subject by telling us that “PR isn’t the enemy”, but it’s Bad PR that is…one of the commenters drives this point home when he says that this is the case in any field- one bad apple can spoil the bunch, but this should just be fuel for us up and coming in the PR world to practice PR the way that we have learned to do it – the right way.

The way that doesn’t pitch to a journalist before even knowing what s/he writes about. The way that is strategic about the moves about to be made. The way that works to develop relationships with journalists and keep PR personalized. The way that works to tear down the wall of gobbledygook (lol) that so many companies are building with publications and press releases filled with big word that don’t say much. I can go on, but *hopefully* you get the picture.

Radio Raheem in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing

Spike Lee's film: Do The Right Thing

What you do in PR can make that difference between someone or loving or hating PR, so do the right thing!

Overall, these bad/unethical/unthoughtful PR practitioners are definitely making it harder for us, but they will also make us look better when we get out there and show our employers, publics, fellow employees, and the media that there is a right way to practice PR, and that we can do it that right way.

What do you think about this?

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March 27, 2009

How do you explain PR?

Filed under: Other — by caramitchell @ 12:02 pm
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Many times when I meet new people (especially people older than me), and we have that introductory conversation, it often goes something like this:

PLAIN JANE: So, you’re at Clemson what’s your major?

ME: It’s Communication Studies.

JANE: Oh okay….so what do you want to do with that? 

ME: I’m hoping to work in public relations.

JANE: Oh, okay…So, what exactly is that?

As PR students, and people interested in PR, we know how to define PR. We know all about the multiple definitions our textbooks give, and the multiple views that people have of PR.

But, how do you explain PR?

First of all, I’m a bit shocked by how many people still really don’t know what PR is.  So, how do you explain PR to these people. I was at the beauty salon over spring break and one of the barber’s who worked there and I had this conversation.

Lately whenever a conversation goes  this way I’ve started asking the person to pick any organization or company. And then I explain to them what a public relations practitioner would/could and is supposed to do for that organization.

Through my public relations classes I’ve also learned that it’s also important to emphasize to people who don’t know what PR is, or who have a skewed view of PR that it is not underhanded and all about putting the right spin on a message- when it’s done PRoperly :).

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So, how do you do it?

I’m sure that many of us ( especially students) find ourselves in the situations all of the time where we are explaining PR, so how do you find yourself telling others about what PR is? I’m just interested in knowing if there are other people who have a particular way of answering this question (that I seem to be asked all of the time).

Please, share your stories and methods!

December 3, 2008

Walgreen’s TakeCare Health Tour- Excellent PR

Filed under: PR Connections — by caramitchell @ 11:42 pm
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I saw a commercial for Walgreens TakeCare health tour that lead me to the website.

What is the heatlh tour? Basically, Walgreens is putting nurses and health-care-savvy experts on a bus and doing a 300-city tour in the US and Puerto Rico where they offer free screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, glucose levels, waist circumference and body mass index. The idea is to increase health awareness in communities and offer possible early detection of diseases and health issues for anyone who comes.

As far as PR goes: First of all, the way that the commercial showed the website: ‘walgreens.com/takecare’ is an example of excellent PR because it proves that research is going on. This code automatically takes viewers to the TakeCare site and it provides PR people a way to track how many people came to the Web site as a result of seeing the commercial on TV.

Another reason why this is excellent PR: Walgreens launched their TakeCare health clinics in select stores a few years ago. Other pharmacies like CVS have started similar programs recently as well like MinuteClinic. This TakeCare bus tour is also giving the Walgreens in-store clinics a leg up on the competition by the relationships it’s creating beyond its customers.

This campaign shows customers and members of the community that Walgreens cares about them. The services Walgreens is offering on the one-year tour are worth about $115 (according to the website). Although the ultimate goal of Walgreens is to gain customers, this is a good way to build relationships with the community and potential customers at the same time.

November 6, 2008

Response to “Still on Hold? Twitter Can Rescue You From Customer Service Line Waits”

Filed under: PR Connections,Responses — by caramitchell @ 6:08 am
Tags: , , ,

A post on ABC News: “Still on Hold? Twitter Can Rescue You From Customer Service Line Waits” discusses a Comcast customer’s story of salvation from 3 days with no Comcast service (phone, cable, or internet) through the power of Twitter.  After getting the typical run around from customer service reps that we have all probably received, this woman decided to tweet about her issues w/ Comcast…

I personally think that it is a great thing that Comcast has a task force to seek out customers who are taking their frustrations to the Internet. It’s a very smart thing and it shows that Comcast understands how serious and damaging customer frustrations can be when unleashed online, however there is something a little fishy about this to me.

It’s similar to a model of PR we studied in class called Stakeholder Theory. The model compares publics in a situation- (for this purpose let’s say a customer service issue) and is a type of rating system on how you should deal with each public. Publics are rated as to what degree they possess power, urgency, and legitimacy. The more characteristics a public possesses, the more important they are in the situation. For example you may choose to deal with a legitimate public who has a lot of power before you deal with a public who solely has a legitimate issue in the situation. In a way this model is unethical- and I see how when it is applied to a real life example such as this ‘Twitter rescue’.

The problem is (and I’m looking from a customer’s perspective): All customers should be treated equally important- especially when they all call in to the customer service line. I understand that each customer wants to feel special and significant (which is why the woman who used Twitter and received help is now completely loyal to Comcast), but it is like you have to take your complaint to the Net to get help- and this should not be. Your call and need for these services should be enough motivation to companies like Comcast.

Clearly, Comcast had the power to help this woman , but they did not do so until she got on the Internet and increased her POWER factor by speaking up…I can relate to this woman (because I have Comcast at home, and worked from home during the summer and had Internet issues). Getting the run around is frustrating enough to customers. What this situation tells me is that Comcast has the power to help customers in a more timely manner than they may schedule- it just depends on how important of a customer they think you are (are you talking bad about their services to the masses?).

Wrap-up: Basically I think it’s a great thing that Comcast is getting involved online and takes their internet-saavy customers seriously, but I don’t think it should have to come to this to get timely help. From a PR perspective: this is a great way to better relations with customers. It makes them feel special and like their business is valuable when they get help from an exclusive group from within the company. I think that Comcast would do even better just being more effective in the customer service department that they already have.

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