Monday, April 30, 2012

PR Practitioners Need Broader Skill Set

On April 20, the Center for Global Public Relations held its second annual global public relations research conference. Former CGPR Intern Patricia Mills shares her takeaways from the conference for public relations practitioners and job seekers.
Today I want to explore a few ideas about the future in communication and necessity of broader ideas among my colleagues and future practitioners. In meeting with internationally respected industry leaders at the global research conference I kept hearing recurring themes in needed skills.
1) How do we get our profession more globally savvy?
Today’s global political climate and disappearing business borders require a professional communicator with global savvy and cultural sensitivity to new market entry. Programs designed in one culture can fail miserably in another. Professionals  from the host country are  the most knowledgeable about how a given program could be tweaked to be most effective. Offering them a seat at the implementation table is not a luxury - it is a must!

2) A need exists to integrate relationship building into social media campaigns. 
With the birth of social media use, practitioners have a valuable opportunity to directly reach our clients or constituents. Yet, the majority of entities are talking at and not with the consumer. Today our clients are challenged by competing products and services all around and the new professional consumer needs to feel heard and have issues addressed not just community service or sale information megaphoned to them.

3) PR professionals need to broaden the basis of thinking and education in new areas.
We as communicators can no longer just lean on the press release to standard media outlets to get our program message to the consumers. Knowledge of governmental constraints, cultural norms, and economic/ business environments are needed to create program initiatives with tactics that will reach out rather than repel. A much broader curriculum must be included in any new communication professional education. Analysis of all environmental and cultural factors internationally and even within country segmented areas is necessary to achieve strategic goals of any program.

As I sat with my distinguished colleagues at the conference, the themes of common needs kept being reappearing. We as a profession are expected to keep broadening our skills and spanning our boundaries with the growth of the industry. Don’t let yourself fall behind the curve. To keep global corporate business as healthy as it needs to be and giving clients quality campaign results these new ideas seem to be extremely high in importance for PR and the industries and customers or professional consumers they serve.

Full text of the blog available here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Communicating Beyond Borders" Photo Review

On April 20, 2012, the Center for Global Public Relations hosted its second annual global research conference, "Communicating Beyond Borders: Building Relationships Among Corporations, NGO's and Governments" at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Marco Herrera, President & CEO of Grupo Public, served as keynote speaker. A global panel presented on the unique practices of public relations in Western Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Latin America. Nadine Billgen was recipient of the Top Paper Award for her submission, "More American Than American? A Textual Analysis of the U.S. Websites of American and Foreign Carmakers."

For more photos of this event and our Teaching International PR Colloquium, please visit our Facebook page at

A big thanks to Tetsuro Otsuka for his photography skills!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Task of the PR Practitioner: Image Maintenance or Organizational Reform?

While playing catch-up on AMC’s hit drama Mad Men a couple of months ago, a particular scene in an episode entitled “Beautiful Girls” caught my attention. 

Young copywriter Peggy Olson is troubled over the racist hiring policies of one of the ad agency’s clients (the show is set in the early 1960s). Much to her discontent, creative director Don Draper’s response to her voiced concern is “Our job is to make men like Fillmore Auto, not to make Fillmore Auto like Negroes.”

Fast forward five decades and a similar concern still haunts public relations practitioners. Is it our duty to simply make people ‘like’ our client/organization or does our unique position as organizational liaison require us to go a bit further and incite true change?

Examples abound of reputations and images gone awry within the past couple of years, including British Petroleum, Rupert Murdoch and Penn State. Such issues raise the question: are practitioners addressing the underlying issues within the organization, or simply doing their best to smooth over the crisis until the public’s attention shifts to the next scandal?

Research in our field has found many practitioners view themselves as the organization’s conscience. Other scholars (i.e. Heath) draw attention to the significant difference between an organization who appears to be ‘doing good’ as compared to the organization who is actually ‘being good’.

Take, for example, Shell.

On the company’s website, a document outlining their ‘socially responsible’ practices contains this gem: “People matter to your Company. Our sense of economic, social and environmental responsibility is reflected in our commitment to meeting today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Ongoing troubles in the Niger Delta, however, suggest perhaps the organization’s practices aren’t as fine and dandy as their PR pros would lead us to believe.

With buzzwords such as “transparency” and “two-way communication” abounding in our discipline’s vernacular, isn’t it time we take a closer look and examine not if we can bring about organizational change through our position, but how?

By Chelsea Wilde
Center Manager