Archive for the ‘Public relations’ Category

If you were public relations counsel to Penn State University, what advice would you give them about how to handle the current scandal?


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Position: Tenure-track assistant professor in public relations and communication management.

Responsibilities:  Teach courses in the undergraduate program in Strategic Public Relations and integrated Communication and in the Master of Science program in Communication Management. Undergraduate teaching opportunities include two or more courses among: Principles of PR, PR writing, PR campaigns, and Organizational Communication. Graduate teaching opportunities include one or more core courses and others in the Candidate’s area of scholarship and expertise.  Expected to supervise students working on thesis and directed research projects. Scholarly research productivity and service to the department, college and university is expected.

Appointment: Ten-month appointment with the possibility of additional summer compensation for teaching. Start date: August 2011. This position is contingent on funds being available at the time of hire.

Qualifications: Earned Ph.D. in the field of public relations/mass communication or ABD (completion of all doctoral work required by February 1, 2012) demonstrated success or potential as a classroom teacher; two or more years of professional experience in public relations; and potential research productivity. Expertise in teaching interactive public relations in the online environment is a plus. Interdisciplinary experience or interest is a plus. Evidence or interest in securing external funding is preferred.

The Department: The Department offers a major in Communication Studies and a major in Mass Communication with tracks in Journalism and New Media, Advertising, and Strategic Public Relations and Integrated Communication. A master’s degree is offered in Communications Management. The department annually enrolls approximately 1,300 majors served by 28 full-time and 50 part-time faculty. For a more complete description of the department and graduate program, go to http://www.towson.edu/mccs.

Founded in 1866, today Towson University is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top public universities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Towson is nationally recognized for its programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business, education, communications, health sciences, and the fine and performing arts. The University places a strong emphasis on service learning and civic engagement through such activities as internships, practica, clinical placements, course assignments and student events. As the Baltimore area’s largest university and Maryland’s Metropolitan University, Towson articulates its research and scholarship mission through partnerships that link the University to the economic, educational and cultural life of the state of Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region. Towson enrolls more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 63 undergraduate majors, 38 master’s programs and four doctoral programs. Located on a rolling 328 acres, the striking campus is eight miles north of downtown Baltimore and 45 miles from Washington, D.C. The campus and its surrounding cities provide an excellent environment for teaching and supporting the academic pursuits of the 780 full-time faculty who work here.

Application: The review of completed applications will begin on October 15, 2010 and continue until the position is filled. Submit a letter of application, curriculum vita, evidence of potential for teaching effectiveness, three letters of recommendation (sent under separate covers), and an official graduate transcript to:

Dr. Cynthia Cooper
Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies
Towson University
8000 York Road
Towson, MD 21252-0001

All or part of the application may be submitted via email to dwarrington@towson.edu. Please indicate “COFAC-N-2414” in the subject line.

Towson University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and has a strong institutional commitment to diversity. Women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply.

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On Sunday, September 27, 2009, The Washington Post ran this headline on its front page: “Sandwiching Older Metro Cars Was PR Move.”

The headline referred to the Washington Metro officials’ move to sandwich older rail cars between newer, more sturdy, rail cars in response to this summer’s subway crash that killed nine people. The older cars being sandwiched are similar to the one that was crushed in the crash.

Metro officials said the move was to improve safety, but as the Post reports, the practice was not based on engineering analysis. The initiative was called “PR”.  In a letter to the Tri-State Oversight Committee, Metro Safety official Alexa Dupigny-Samuels  said the Metro repositioned the cars “to provide an added level of reassurance” but did not cite any scientific support for the move.

The Post said that subsequently, the Committee concluded the move was “purely a public relations effort.”

It’s obvious neither the Metro nor the Committee knows what PR is. What the Metro did was a stunt, not PR.  The Metro needed to take methodical steps to study what went wrong and fix it, making rail cars and all aspects of subway usage safe.  Professional public relations management would have kept all publics informed during the process.

Finally, once the problem was fixed for good, then the Metro should have shared the information with key publics. If the Metro wanted to “provide an added level of reassurance”, then fixing the problem that led to the crash and keeping publics informed of progress was the reassurance sorely needed.

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The women of Theta Beta chapter of AOII brought early and well-received Christmas joy to many underprivileged children Wednesday night, December 3, at its annual Holiday for The Kids held in the University Union.

Each year, Theta Beta partners with an inner-city Baltimore school to provide the Christmas party and gifts for nominated children who meet a strict criteria of attitudinal and behavioral goals. It is an educational and enriching opportunity for all concerned. The kids who earn the right to participate are rewarded with a great dinner and stacks of practical and fun gifts in a night of friendship, music, and celebration in a safe and loving environment.

I was a first-time attendee at this year’s event. The sisters of AOII had just named me their Faculty Advisor, so I couldn’t wait to see them in action at this their major annual philanthropic event.

When I entered the huge conference room, happy kids were everywhere playing with new toys and trying on warm new coats and other clothing. The AOII sisters were resplendent in their black shirts with rich cardinal-colored “AOII” insignia. The room was warm with loving, caring attention to kids who otherwise might not have had any joy this Christmas.

“This is the happiest day of the year for us,” I was told repeatedly by AOII sisters. “We love doing this. We love working with the kids and seeing their happiness.”

To purchase the most appropriate and size-correct presents, AOIIs obtain a Christmas Wish List from each child who will attend.  Chapter members agree to kick in $20 each, but from conversations with many of the sisters and from the volume, variety, and quality of the gifts, AOII sisters spent much more than $20. In addition to each member’s personal generosity, their parents frequently kick in more money for this worthy cause. It is all for some special kids who otherwise would have to do without.

Toward the end of the night, a kids choir serenaded AOII with uplifting seasonal songs. It was a moving experience, touching the hearts of all in attendance. Joy in kids’ faces at Christmas is about as good as it gets.

Times have definitely changed. I was a fraternity member in undergraduate school. And while my SAE chapter did participate in community service projects, it was nowhere near the scope of what I see fraternities and sororities doing now in not only community service but philanthropy.

AOII is a good example of philanthropy. It supports the Arthritis Foundation and its Arthritis Research Fund; the Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Fund for sisters’ continued education; The Ruby Fund, which helps sisters in times of financial need and is called the “Heart of AOII”; and the Endowment Fund to support educational programming.

It’s an honor for me to be asked to serve as Faculty Advisor to such a fine group of people. From their spirit of service and desire to make a positive contribution to the world around them, these AOIIs clearly illustrate that there is so much more to the Greek experience than social life. These women exceed the expectation.

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As the 2008 Summer Olympics in China begin, brace yourselves for the zillions of references to “public relations”. I dread it.

True, this has begun already. An example is the Olympic Torch Relay that some call a “public relations disaster” for China.

China’s winning bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics is incredibly important to the country. By hosting the Olympics, China plans to show that it is a major player on the world stage, a modern economic powerhouse, as if we didn’t know that.

But some fears of China as host have become reality. In submitting its winning bid to the IOC in 2001, China promised open access for journalists so that they could cover this Olympics as they would any other Olympics. Not so in reality, say early accounts. There appears to be a clash of what freedom of the press means to journalists and what it means to Chinese officials.

Internet access is tightly controlled, and many Websites are blocked. Also tightly controlled are what reporters can visit and who they are allowed to talk with. So much for promises of openness.

In terms of PR, China’s effort to be seen in the most favorable light possible is undermined by its efforts to control messages and images. What pains me is to have “public relations” applied to any of this. There are enough people in the world today who disrespect PR. Applying the term “PR” to any aspect of China’s efforts at controlled self-promotion is deeply troubling.

A free and open media is significant to the ethical and effective practice of public relations. The truth is that much of the news that appears in the media comes from public relations sources.

Publicity is uncontrolled information, meaning that once any information prepared by PR professionals leaves the hands of those professionals, that information is at the mercy of a free media’s decision makers. These folks choose what they do with the information — run it, ignore it, or edit it and run it.

But when the media uses information from PR professionals, in whole or in part, it runs as if the media outlet created it, thereby giving the message a much-valued status called “third party endorsement”. That simply means that media using the information gives it credibility and validity. Though great media coverage is hard to obtain, it is highly prized for this reason. Plus, it’s free. Some call this “earned media”.

When media is controlled by the state, and only approved messages and images are allowed, then that is not public relations, but propaganda. China may wish to persuade the world that it is what it wishes to be seen as, but its heavy-handed control of media is not helpful. Persuasion as a PR tool is acceptable when done ethically. Persuasion uses communication to win people over. Persuasion is used ethically in reputation management all the time.

But there is a distinct difference between persuasion and propaganda. Propagandists try to tell people what to think.

Any PR Principles class, professional association, or PR textbook will define PR as a management function that seeks to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics. That cannot be accomplished by manipulation, control, and coercion.

Truly effective public relations needs a free and open media. And a free and open media needs public relations as a source of worthwhile information. This is the truth that we must not forget in the coming weeks.

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What is the true point of blogging for PR students?

One of my students and one of my colleagues have both recently asked this thought-provoking question. 

My colleague Stacy Spaulding, a journalism professor, says one of her students uses his blog to develop his professional identity. She says this is going to be a real asset when he goes looking for a job. Stacy says that not only does it tell an editor that the student is thinking about his work creatively, but it also demonstrates that he’ll be able to contribute to the expanding multimedia demands newspapers are making on photographers and reporters.

Accordingly, More With Les now asks the question: What is the true point of blogging for PR students?

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They’re back….

The ubiquitous Christmas letter (CLs). Doubtless you get one or two. Most come by snail mail, but with increasing frequency, some are emailed. CLs are well-meaning attempts to catch up with large numbers of people during the holiday season. They usually recount how the year was a blur of activity and frequently contain an apology for sending the CL instead of, say, a personal letter to the recipient.

Most CLs provide a look back at the year. Major events are covered in a journalistic style, minus the objectivity. In all fairness, there are sometimes mentions of sadness, pain, medical situations, and loss. That’s real. I believe using a CL to bring a lot of people up to date on such poignant issues is entirely understandable and acceptable. Otherwise, it might mean tiring individual mailing and phone time.

But to me, it’s the other topics covered that, in many ways, betray the purpose of the CL. Things like all the fun the writer(s) had that didn’t include the recipient.

“In August, we went scuba diving with friends Harley and Bernice in Aruba. It was such fun.”

“In October, we rented a motor home with friends Sidney and Penelope and drove across Canada. It was marvelous.”

“We snow boarded and partied at our mountain cabin in Puberty Rock with friends Reginald and Muffy. If you haven’t had mojitas in a hot tub in the mountains, you have not lived!”

“We flew to Bora Bora with friends Sherman and Lydia for two weeks of sun and fun. If you haven’t had mojitas in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific, you have not lived!”

The only problem is, your name is not Harley, Bernice, Sidney, Penelope, Reginald, Muffy, Sherman, or Lydia. So why are they telling you this? You have not seen them all year. But they sure managed to see a lot of other people.

Unless you are one of the chosen few friends who actually got to spend time with the writer(s), I think the CL is negative PR . The communication value is about the same. To communicate, why not simply send a card with a few hand-written lines on it. That has real meaning. People cherish that.

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