Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Week 8 - No clas =/= no assignment

Huaaaah.. still haven't found the book to copy. I will have a lot of reading debt to pay, next week. And, I think I'll change the format of the blog, combining the thoughts on lecture with the reading review below it. Should be better that way, less confusing.

There's no PR class today, but the assignments must go on.
I will have my debate next week. Already started to do my research, but I realized that the topic is to wide, too general. Asked the opposition party -I mean, group, but they said they haven't started yet *jaw-dropped*
But I guess it should be alright. We'll just present what we think it is. Can't differ that much, can it?


Reading for week 9: Ch. 8 Reputation Management: A Driving Force for Action by Nigel De Bussy

and Ch. 10 An Issues–Crisis perspective by Gwyneth Howell

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week 7 - In the search of Holy Grail.. I mean, book

There's no lecture this week as it is the Lunar New Year break that is clothed with the name Midterm break.
And I still haven't continued my reading. See, the book is already available in our campus' Popular, but it's $60 for a book! Honestly, for students like me, it's very expensive.
I was hoping to catch people who have bought it, then photocopy only the chapters that we need. But I guess everyone is home at their countries now, enjoying the break..

Btw, Happy Lunar New Year, and belated Valentine's Day!


Reading for week 8: Ch. 7 Public Relations Management in Organisations by Amisha Mehta and Robina Xavier

Monday, February 15, 2010

Readings according to the schedule - catching up (pt.2)

Reading for week 6: Ch. 11 Engaging with the Media by Hamish McLean and Richard Phillips
This chapter sounds more like journalism course than PR course. But, anyway, both of them are closely related. So this chapter talks more about the things we'll need to understand the media more. There's even a section about writing news story (which we learn intensively in Introduction to Journalism course, but it's always good to have more information from other sources) and media release.

One of the things that captured me the most is that, the timing choice to release a news is crucial. Now I know, when we need to inform public about a bad news, wait till there's another big news, so the public's attention will be divided. That's new. It sounds like Sun Tzu's Art of War, too.
Somehow, this point reminds me of Jack Neo's scandal. Many people think it's a publicity stunt for his new movie, "Being Human" (released on March 4). Kind of makes sense, seeing the timing of the scandal was revealed (three days after the release of the movie). But, looking from PR practitioner's perspective, is it worth risking his career by gaining attention with negative news?

There's a section that discus how to minimize the media attention. Simple: by giving one particular media outlet an exclusive story. That way, only one media will talk about it; others will only have second-hand information, thus, will be more questionable.


Reading for week 7: Ch. 9 Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity by Melanie James

Friday, February 12, 2010

Readings according to the schedule - catching up (pt.1)

Reading for week 4: Ch. 4 Public Relations Ethics by Elspeth Tilley
The topic for this week's reading is interesting: ethics. 'Ethics' is usually defined "motivation based on ideas of right and wrong." But, how do we define what's 'right' and what's 'wrong'? In the reading itself, ethics is defined as "standarts of behaviour, spesifically, concern for 'good' behaviour and condsideration of our behaviour".
The example that comes to my mind regarding ethics in Public Relations, is the product placement in movies. Now, is that ethical? It's like hidden advertisement. While people decide to watch movie, so they are not bothered by advertisements. The placement of products in movies subtly force people to remember the brands. But then again, it makes the movies realistic. So, again, the question of ethics is a complex one. The answer is even more so.

The ethics pyramid as seen in the book, pg. 113
Image taken from

Back to the reading, there are 3 things that we need to have and keep in mind to stay ethically competent (pg.96): Willingness to be ethical, knowledge (find out what are the ethical things accepted by public, what are not), skill (put the knowledge into actions).
There are also 3 school of thoughts regarding ethics: virtue theorists, deontologists, and consequentialists. The three of them represent three different philosophical questions.
[Indeed, the topic of ethics is more to philosophical discussion as the idea of 'ethics' was first developed by the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle.]
Each school of thoughts has its own strengths and weaknesses. It comes back to each PR practitioner which one they want to follow. But the bottom line is, do not live without following ethical codes, both for living and for working.

"..Get experience by volunterring for causes you believe in." -Fiona Cassidy.


Reading for week 5: Ch. 5 Public Relations Research by Gae Synnott
"'s pardonable to be defeated, but not to be surprised." -Ron Kawalilak.
It takes me some time to understand what the quote means, but I don't have to wait long because at the same paragraph, it was explained: In PR, you can't help it if sometimes your campaign is not as successful as you want it to be. But, if the failure is because of "lack of research or evaluation", it's just such a pity.
So, that's what the reading is about in this chapter: doing research ("the process of gathering information" p.127) for PR practice. This sounds like a sub-topic for PR Strategy.
There are three steps explained to think like a PR professional (pg.129). It generally helps me to understand more about doing a research, how to know the right questions to ask and how to get the information I need.

At first, the chapter talks about hierarchy-of-effects model that could help us understand more on how to lead "people from knowing nothing about a product to becoming a customer" (p.128). The explanation is not clear, however. The usual terms are simpler: Awareness > Knowledge > Liking > Preferance > Conviction > Purchase (see picture).

Next, the stages of research is further explain: the input stage, the implementation stage, presentation of research findings and research applications.

The one that captured me the most in this chapter, however, is the 'issues with PR research' section. Of course, we can roughly guess what might be the challenges in doing PR, but to read it blatantly written on a reading material is kind of weird. So, what is the biggest challenge in PR practice? Yup, you got it. Like in any other part of human life, budget is one of the issues in PR practices (seems like it's always about money, isn't it?).
But this can be tackle with gathering information from existing reports first, do a combine research with other company (or companies), and, if your budget is really small, you can work together with students who are studying market research. We can also use the internet, as the cyber technology doesn't require much funding.

and Ch. 6 Public Relations Practice by Gae Synnott
I wonder why this chapter is at sixth in the chapters sequence rather than the first, as it talks about the general perspective of PR practice.
As most of us already know (or barely do), "PR is one of the critical strategic tools used by an organization to help it achieve its objectives" (p.159).
There are quite a few types of organization in which PR will be very useful: the not-for-profit sector (NFP), like Salvation Army, PETA; the corporate sector (that is, the companies/businesses); the public sector (government campaigns); and the consultancy (that is, agencies or the PR itself as a business).
This chapter talks more about challenges that is faced by PR practitioners in day-to-day basis. More proof that PR is a "a mega-exciting yet talent-light' industry"? I conclude that a PR practitioner need to be -among the others- outgoing, good in time management, know how to pay for things (budgeting), a "journalist" (one that keeps a constant journal), a doer not just a thinker, and of course, good in communicating with people.

"Don't listen to the solution. Find out more about the problem." -Marie Howarth.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lecture 5 (Week 6) - A remedy for compulsions

Ok, I know I should read ch. 4 on Ethics before today. But to find the book, or even the article has been a journey. The book is already sold in our Popular bookstore, but to tell you the truth, it's way too expensive for me. So my option now is to borrow the book from my friend, then copy it per chapter. It's cheaper, besides it'd be lighter, so I can carry it around and read it whenever I'm free.

Anyway, today's lecture is very interesting. Ms. Tanya brought a special guest to the class today, to help us in our final project: Ms. Jolyn Chua.
She's a self-confessed OCD (Obsessive-compulsive Disorder sufferer) who turn her weakness into her strength.
Jolyn is a very young woman to have started her own company and call it OCD: Organizing Chaos Daily (a smart pun). Well, to call it a "company" perhaps sounds too grand as she's doing everything alone, or, as she said it, it's a "one-woman show".

What she does is offering people an organizing service. NOT a cleaning service, an organizing service. To tidy up clutters in people's room, house, office, and/or store. And keep it that way by teaching the person how to organize their belongings.
I must say, I'm awed by her. It is a brilliant idea. I mean, my brother is an OCD, but all he does is throwing away my things and yell at me whenever I move his things by a centimeter. Maybe I should suggest him to apply for a job in Jolyn's OCD company.

Jolyn keept repeating the same word during her presentation: organizing.
The thesaurus to organize is put in order, sort out, classify. So I conclude, the key(word) to be neat is to have the ability to classify.
Now I know why I'm such a mess (yes, in both understandings).

Our task now is, to come out with a 1000-word PR communication plan which "meet the brief provided by the organisation" and include research and situational analysis (or SWOT), the goal, strategy, objectives, tactics, budget, and evaluation. We must also submit a media release (300-400 words) and a 1000-word academic essay.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reading: Theoretial Contexts

Reading before week 5: Ch.3 Theoretical Contexts by Marianne D Sison

So, this week's reading talks mostly about the theories that surround Public Relations. Worth to note, though, the profile story at the beginning of the chapter is inspiring. I'd like to quote Richard Amos, when he describes PR as "a mega-exciting yet talent-light' industry". Talking about the roller coaster life ;)

Anyway, I notice that PR shares many theories of communication (at least I recognize the ones that we studied in our Communication Studies course), like the agenda setting, semiotics, transmission models, persuasion. But to think about it, of course PR practitioners must understand these concepts in order to understand the media audience, and in what way the media might influence its audience.

I'm a bit surprised that someone (sometwo?) has actually categorized PR practise. They who have succeeded in doing so were James Grunig and Todd Hunt, thus the model is called Grunig and Hunt's four models. They are:
1. Press Agentry: one-way communication, reflect publicity model, PR as publicity agent.
2. Public Information: one-way communication, sort of informational campaign.
3. Two-Way Asymmetric: use of scientific/factual information to persuade the audience.
4. Two -Way Symmetric: organization and its audience have equal power, for example, a dialog with community groups.

There are variations to these groups, however. Like personal influence (an influence depending on one's interpersonal communication skills) and mixed motive (PR practitioners see their organizational behaviours through the public's perspective).

But the one thing that captures me the most in this chapter is the Four Rooms model that was developed through VMIA (Victorian Managed Insurance Authority) and SHJ's (Scaffidi Hugh-Jones) Change Support Pack.
The Four Rooms model of change are the Contentment Room, the Denial Room, the Confusion Room, and the Renewal Room.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lecture 4 (Week 5)- Experiential Marketing: Selling product by "selling" experience

Yup, we learnt about Experiential Marketing today. Well, not just that, but about every other ways we can advertise something, or influence the mass (don't understimate the power of blogs, people!). Again, very interesting. I love Public Relations topic more and more.
This subject is like psychology: you must understand humans first. Except that in psychology, you don't try to influence their thinking (to buy stuffs or worship a brand).

Okay, back to Experiential Marketing. It might sounds like a fancy word, especially if your mother-tongue isn't English. But it's simple (the explanation, I mean), I'm sure everyone of you have ever gotten in touch with it. When you walk around the mall, have you ever seen some product offers free massage? Free trial? That's Experiential Marketing.

The concept is, it should not be intrusive. Meaning, the customer would be free to try the product, without having to buy it. Or even, without even their noticing that you're selling them something.
(It's not so simple in Singapore, though, if you notice. The "agents" are savage, so it's dangerous if you try their product, but later buy it not)

There are many other creative marketing through PR, like:
~Integrated marketing.
~Guerilla marketing.
~Roach marketing.
Which according to is "A marketing message delivered by an actor posing as a regular person with the intention of having that message passed along to many other people." NICE.
~Subviral marketing.
~And something about otaku, which is a Japanese word for a feeling between penchant and obsession.

A sidetrack story, my boyfriend is studying marketing. I must say he has a penchant for advertising (it gets annoying sometimes, esp. when he explain how a brand should've advertised its brand instead). After this lesson, I finally know something more than he does. And we'll have one hell of a conversation later.