Saturday, November 22, 2008

Social Media: University Applications (Blog 9)

It was extremely interesting the other night to hear about how Missouri State was utilizing social media applications. The guest speaker explained that he was soley in charge of implementing, updating, and maintaing all of these tools. This presents some very serious and intriguing issues from a PR standpoint.

First, a lot of what we have learned in this class through our readings and other activites has implied that using social media tools requires full-time attention. The guest speaker explained that he devotes less than half of his time to these applications, as his job description requires him to do much more. This means that the university is not properly utilizing social media applications like they should be. Although the website currently has a Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, blog space, etc. they are not all updated or even functioning at their full potential. The university should hire someone else to solely focus on these tools, or at the very least hire some assistants to aid the guest speaker in his job. Second, the guest speaker said the he did not know exactly what the PR implications were for these social media tools. That is because he isn't a PR professional. This means that the university should hire someone who does understand how to use these different applications to achieve better public relations.

Universities such as Missouri State are using social media applications to gain a competitive edge in an online world. These tools allow universities to perform a number of functions. It allows them to recruit more students, create a more interactive culture for current students, increases their ability to disseminate information, and allows them to create a more efficient means of two-way communication with different publics. It is important, however, that universities recognize the importance of these applications and how to properly utilize them. Their social media tools should be created, updated, and maintained by a skilled and trained professional. Also, they should be that person's sole responsibility.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Podcasts: iPod to iCommerce (Blog 8)

Another social media application that is a valuable tool on the PR professional's belt are podcasts. Although traditionally, these were simply audio files that were uploaded and downloaded on ipods they have evolved into much more. Podcasts now are not restricted to just audio, but incorporate numerous video and other media aspects as well. Although their use is not as critical as an online media/press release, they are still regarded as being very useful for organizations to utilize.

Podcasts are like blogs, but instead of text they are an audio and/or video file that are released on the Internet. Often times, you can find podcasts incorporated with other types of social media applications like blogs and they are prevalent on YouTube. Although they require more time and production value than blogs, I believe that they are more effective for a PR professional to use than blogs. It all comes down to image. Podcasts have a more "personal feel". Although blogs are customizable, target public(s) can actually see the PR practitioner talking to them - or at the very least hear their voice. I have heard it said numerous times that it is hard to read emotion over text, and I believe that this is true. Podcasts add a more realistic value that blogs simply can't do. This doesn't mean that blogs don't have a place in social media, rather, that podcasts offer a niche that they simply do not.

I found an excellent explanation as to the uses and application of podcasts for an organization at This is a great source of information provided by Apple. PR professional would do well to understand how podcasts work, their uses, and the benefits that they provide.

Integrated Marketing Communications; Organizational Synergy (Blog 7)

Since I was a child, the idea of "working as a team" has always been a staple of my upbringing. In school, I was encouraged to work in group projects. In sports, I was encouraged to be a team player. Even when I got into trouble, it was usually in a group situation. Why then in the last century has this same concept not been practiced throughout every aspect of an organization? Instead, a lot of work cultures empower individualism and reward those who who are better than their fellow employee. To me, this runs counter-productive to our teachings as a society about the value of teamwork. However, numerous organizations have realized this fundamental flaw of individualism at numerous levels within their organization and adopted the concept of integrated marketing communications (IMC) accordingly.

IMC as defined by Laura Lake, a nine year marketing veteran, as "a management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation" ( ). This allows organizations to work more effectively and efficiently. Traditionally, in marketing you always hear about the "four p's" - product, price, place, and promotion. In a global market where online commerce and constant communication runs rampant this outdated concept simply does not cut it anymore. IMC, on the other hand, can be seen as the "four c's" - consumer, cost, convenience, and communiation ( ). No longer can organizations allow their departments to work individually, but rather they need to make them work concurrently.

What does this mean specifically for the PR professional? That's simple. It means that your job may have become more complex, but I believe that it is now made more rewarding. That's because instead of "stepping on the marketing team's toes" you are now part of that marketing team. You are an extension of their eyes, ears, and mouth. There is no more competition - your success is their own and vice versa. However, this does mean that the role of the PR practitioner is expanded. Being a part of an integrated team, there are more ropes to learn but less hoops to jump through. IMC provides a way for the PR professional to engage their public(s) in ways that before were never possible. IMC is synonymous with organizational synergy and a well tuned machine that runs runs more efficiently is more likely to succeed.

That's Business 101.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Press Releases for a Digital Age (Blog 6)

During my PR undergrad I was taught that the most important tool for a PR professional was a press release. As information dissimination and retrieval becomes more popular and mainstream on the Internet, older methods of traditional practice have declined. However, the use and effectiveness of a press release has remained just as effective. The most significant and obvious difference is that the press release is now predominantly digital.

The transition to the new digital medium offers numerous benefits that greatly enhances a press release. First and foremost, press releases can be released at a much quicker rate. Digital press releases simultaneously allow for a much wider disbursement to multiple outlets at the same time. Although an organization may be tempted to cut out the traditional media outlets and distribute a press release themselves, that it is ill advised to do so. However, it is possible to do both. By distributing a press release through both traditional and digital means it ensures that an organization's target public(s) will be easier to reach. This also allows PR professionals to possess greater control over the information they release.

Finally, a press release is still the main component of an organization's media kit. Organization's can fully utilize media kits by posting the information on their websites, providing it through rss feeds, and using other forms of online social media. It is possible to use media kits, with press releases at the helm, to navigate the stormy oceans of the media and arrive safely in the information port that an organization so chooses.