A note from Jeff Morosoff: Hofstra Honors College students in my PR fundamentals class are required to submit guest blog posts throughout the semester. The following was written by Areanna Rufrano:
Earlier this year Time magazine comprised a list of the 13 sassiest brands on Twitter. The companies that made the list excelled in creating witty interactions and clever posts thus proving that the power of social media is a big advantage for public relations professionals.
A major part of what public relations entails is communication with the general public, and the most effective way to do that today is through social media. It is a highly innovative platform that provides a direct connection to a mass audience as a means to supply information and generate buzz. If used properly, social media has the ability to enhance a public image, maintain a loyal following and establish a strong public awareness for a company.
Even though most of this area is strategically planned in public relations, especially for campaigns and announcements, there is plenty of room for spontaneous engagement. The majority of these unplanned opportunities relate to either a current event or news headline. For example, Oreo made a brilliant move by tweeting “You can still dunk in the dark” during the 2013 Super Bowl power outage, which went viral within minutes. It became a national sensation and proved to be more effective than the company’s commercial during the game. So as long as the content is relevant and noteworthy, social media can be powerful method to attract public attention.
While social media is a great asset to utilize, one must be extremely cautious of the material that is to be publicized. Many times certain comments can be taken the wrong way even though the intention was good. Public relations professionals must work closely with marketers and social media directors to send out the right message. Ultimately, the general rule of thumb for social media is to continue to follow the “Seven Principles of Public Relations Management” created decades ago by former AT&T executive and PR veteran Arthur Page. Page’s principles emphasized action, patience, listening and–most importantly–truth. Your thoughts?
Karl Rove has been a political consultant since leaving the White House in 2007, working for the Republican Party and serving as a commentator for various media organizations. He is often credited with engineering George W. Bush’s victories, including two elections for Texas governor and two for U.S. president.
Phineas T. Barnum was a showman (and a former politician!) best remembered for creating international hoaxes and for founding a circus. He famously directed what public relations guru Fraser Seitel calls “pseudo events” — happenings and curiosities that sold tickets to a gullible public.
Last week, Karl Rove unleashed a firestorm of discussion among political pundits at Fox News and other media when he speculated that Hillary Clinton “may have brain damage” resulting from a 2012 concussion. He later stood by his “concern,” telling Fox last Sunday, “I’m not questioning her health. What I’m questioning is whether or not it’s a done deal that she’s running. And she would not be human if she did not take this into consideration.” He told the Washington Post that he believed she suffered “a serious health episode” and would “have to be forthcoming” and “cough up her medical records” if she runs for president.
Top Republicans from John McCain to Michael Bloomberg blasted Rove, calling his comments “disgusting” and “outrageous.” But the news organizations were all over the story, and it became central to political conversations this week. Mission accomplished, Mr. Rove.
In this blog I previously compared Donald Trump with P.T. Barnum in light of Trump’s relentless media campaign regarding whether Barack Obama was born in the United States. He honed in on people’s prejudices to help create a prolonged and silly public discussion. Like Trump, Karl Rove is P.T. Barnum revisited. By raising a false issue, he created a pseudo event that was and will be talked about. And like Barnum, Rove doesn’t care what’s true, as long as doubts about Hillary’s health will be raised if and when she announces her candidacy. Your thoughts?
But TIME magazine referred to him as such this week. On the venerable publication’s cover was a shadowy, Hitchcockian profile of New Jersey’s stout governor headlined, “THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.”
The elephant became the symbol of the Republican Party in 1874 when, according to factmonster.com, cartoonist Thomas Nast drew a donkey (the Democrats’ symbol) clothed in lion’s skin, scaring away animals at the zoo. One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled “The Republican Vote.” “That’s all it took for the elephant to become associated with the Republican Party,” noted the site.
With the Republican Christie re-elected last week in a landslide, TIME published the cover and created controversy–and got lots of publicity. Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote in Salon: “Nobody needs to tiptoe around the reality of what Chris Christie looks like . . . but…you don’t need to call him a pachyderm. And anybody who does is just a big fat jerk.” New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse also tweeted his disappointment: “These cheap shots are decidedly uncool.” And Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren tweeted: “TIME MAGAZINE EDITOR is SLIMY SNAKE!”
TIME Executive Editor Michael Duffy went into full spin mode, telling MSNBC: “Well, he’s obviously a big guy. He’s obviously a big Republican. But he’s also done a really huge thing here this week. He stood astride the Republican Party and said, ‘Stop. We don’t have to make our whole appeal about narrow base issues.’ And that campaign showed it with the demographics you talked about.”
The folks at Business Insider aligned their opinion with Duffy: “The new issue of TIME features a brilliant triple entendre featuring Chris Christie.” And the thick-skinned Christie has made light of his weight on national TV many times.
But comparing a heavy man to an elephant so you can sell more magazines has created a (positive? negative?) public relations “situation” for TIME. Duffy may think it’s worth it if, in fact, all the attention results in selling more magazines this week. Its cover certainly has people talking about TIME, which must have been its editors’ ultimate goal. Your thoughts?
I’m writing a second blog today to celebrate the Class of 2013. As I finish my third year of full-time teaching at Hofstra, I’ve gotten to know many of my students very well, working closely with them on projects, internships, and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. I’m going to miss my students whom I can now call my friends and colleagues, and I truly hope they stay in touch through the social media platforms that allow us to communicate through time and distance.
A special congratulations to just a few of the graduating students with whom I’ve been closest: Shirley Huyhua, Erin Starke, Vania Andre, Ty Hardamon, Lauren Katz, Jenny Zheng, the two Nicoles (B and C), Chloe Lambros, Jeena Liriano, Kristen Flotteron, Emily Crist, and of course, Sophie Krall and Sarah Travaglini. I’m sure I’m leaving many out, but be assured that I care for every one of you and wish you great happiness in your lives.
Time magazine’s headline last week stated that “Milennials are lazy, entitles narcissists” but added the subhead, “Why they’ll save us all.” Joel Stein’s cover article says, “…milennials are nice…(they are) much more accepting of differences, not just among gays, women and minorities but in everyone.” He concludes, “They’re earnest and optimistic. They embrace the system. They are pragmatic idealists, tinkerers more than dreamers, life hackers…They want new experiences, which are more important than material goods.”
I have met some wonderful, hard-working, caring, determined, and smart students. They are now the Class of 2013. I’m so proud of them and they should be proud of themselves. You did it! You’re a college graduate! Now go out there and rock the Public Relations Nation!
As this semester winds down, I’m thrilled to blog about an encouraging graph I spotted in the current issue of TIME magazine. The chart marks “Professions with the biggest raises since the recession began,” and points to public relations professionals as the group receiving the third biggest raises in the nation, ranked behind tax preparers and physicians.
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Harmon.ie and the FCC as sources, TIME’s graph notes that in 2010, PR people averaged just under $60,000 in salary and had the third fastest wage growth–32%!–of any other profession. PR was ahead of IT professionals, chemists and even pest control workers, each which saw increases of around 25%. Within the accompanying article titled “Getting Yours” and subheaded “Even in a down market, some jobs still command pay hikes,” author John Sandburn notes: “November brought good news and bad news for U.S. workers. The unemployment rate dipped, but wages remained stagnant. Pay increased just 1.8% in the past year, about half as much as inflation. That may be changing.”
So read this again: Pay increased just 1.8%, yet PR professionals saw a 32% jump. Wow! Needless to say, I was thrilled to see this, and I’m quite sure that the dozen or so students I know who are graduating this month will be, too. This recession has been scary for college students forced to wonder if they’ll get jobs in their chosen field, jobs which include a salary high enough to let them pay their loans and still be able to become financially independent. Thank you, TIME, for making our holiday a little brighter with such encouraging news. Your thoughts?