Media in Practice

Generally and broadly speaking, media can be divided into two main categories: physical and online (social). Both works to present an image for a brand or person that highlights what or who they are. With media also comes publicity, which is essentially coverage of an event or person at a given time. Depending on the caliber of brand you represent, publicity can be hard to obtain. When you are a giant in the media world however publicity can be easy to receive. Though this may be the case, it is generally easier to receive bad publicity rather than good publicity.

In the context of public relations, the presidential campaign seems always be a flowing source of examples. We could talk about publicity all day when discussing our two candidates but we’ll just touch on it lightly. Both candidates have had more than their fair share of negative physical publicity thrown at them but that does mean there are not a flock of supporters behind them. Media interviews and high tier addresses are approached by both candidates with a certain state of mind and professionalism… most of the time. That doesn’t mean there aren’t slip ups here and there that can easily land them in hot water. Here’s a few examples of why Trump may want to hold back on his bold approach on certain topics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqHzwdmU3Sg

Social media now is a whole other game where basically anything goes. In the same context of the presidential race, social media has turned into a form of entertainment rather than professional media at points. For whatever reason that just seems to be the way it works and whoever is the funny can win the moment. Take this back and forth between the two for example:

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Though really nothing more than a silly internet joke, Hillary Clinton won the day on social media with that one.

At the end of the day, I suppose it’s about knowing the game you’re playing and using it to build your brand. Given the way media works, why is the general perception that it is harder to gain good publicity rather than bad?

Ethics and Law in PR

The concepts of ethics and law go hand in hand not only in public relations, but nearly any business setting. Ethics are not there to simply abide by the law and following the law doesn’t necessarily make for great ethics. Ethics are extremely important from a public relations perspective. When an action is deemed unethical by the public, trouble arises. For that simple reason, it is imperative to display good business ethics and have it be seen every once in a while. Groups are fully responsible for maintaining a healthy ethical disposition. Guidelines should be established beforehand for groups to abide by and follow. A universally accepted outline has become:

  • Advocacy
  • Honesty
  • Expertise
  • Independence
  • Loyalty
  • Fairness

Following these six guidelines will help any organization work toward maintaining in good ethical standings.

Law is another major factor in the game of public relations. First and foremost, it is important as an organization to know your rights in full. Know what can or cannot be done, period. With a variety of outlets to speak, groups must remain in top shape across all forms of media. Some standout laws when dealing with public relations include defamation law, disclosure law, ethics law, copyright law and internet law to name a few.

In modern time, anyone has the power to be a journal through social media. We can say what we want to say, when we want to for the most part. Trouble can enter rather quickly however given the size of the community on the media outlets. It should be noted that although American’s voices are protected by free speech, we cannot simply run around spewing whatever we want. Enter defamation. Defamation law protects people from being accused or proposed of untrue statements that would damage their character. A variety of celebrities face these attacks quite often today and do not hesitate to take action. With your celebrity essentially being your brand, true defamation should not be taken likely as such malicious claims can easily damage your reputation. A list of celebrities who have taken action to defamation lawsuits can be found here: http://fortune.com/2015/09/27/celebrity-lawsuits-defamationethical-legal-feature

Communication is Key

There are obviously a multitude of variables and components that contribute to make a functional yet reliable public relations group. Though the list is extensive, it all boils down to one essential element: communication. Communication on the surface seems like a pretty simple concept, but when dealing with a large group or company things can easily get lost in translation if the right precautions aren’t taken. The word itself can mean just one thing but the term goes much deeper than a simple definition.

The universal goals of communication are as follows: to inform, to persuade, to motivate and to build mutual understanding. Within a business setting, this group of goals doubles as an outline for doing business among larger groups. When all of these goals can be applied and executed effectively, healthy business practice is created. The same goes for public relations. Remaining transparent and communicating a clear message to the public and their counterpart’s helps public relations remain in good standing.

Many companies have had blunders in the past were communication just seemingly fell through. Years ago, TV network giant, Cartoon Network ran a campaign in promotion for their new show which featured a placement of numerous mysterious LED devices around Boston. Since no one on the outside was aware to guerilla marketing scheme happening, the public’s initial reaction was that the devices were makeshift bombs. Many employees lost their jobs over the campaign, a true nightmare for any type of public relations team. Had the company communicated a little better and gave some context as to what they were planning the result may have been a bit brighter and perceived a bit smoother. Just one of many examples of how imperative communication truly is.

Influence, Attitude and Reputation

Many can argue that a brand or company relies heavily on its public image to do any form of business. To be perceived positively by among a market, a brand must take necessary steps to influence it to their liking. It is public relations’ responsibility to manage and control how the brand wants to be viewed and consumed. To start, PR can make an effort to get the attention of the market and create an attitude within them. Once an initial attitude has been formed, they can begin to create an influence upon them. Once PR has the audience hooked, they then have a standard or reputation to carry among their consumers.

A good example of these elements is currently occurring right in front of us in our upcoming national election. We all have our firm general perceptions of our two current candidates, but how exactly did we end up there? Both candidates were fortunate enough to have already created an image for their brand prior to their entry to compete. They are two polarizes figures whose actions have echoed between two generations. Many of us were children when they reached the height of their careers, but that didn’t stop them from influencing our parents who would go on to of course influence us. In this unique situation, there are essentially two forms of influence acting upon us, those being the candidates themselves and possibly the influence of those who previously saw them in action. Whether your parent’s influence affects you or not, you still feel one way or another about each candidate based on your experiences with them.

It’s that natural flow of earning our attention, creating influence over us and building a reputation that will eventually motivate us as voters to perform an action. In such a unique election, that action could cause us to vote for one or the other or perhaps not vote at all. When we begin to break down this type of psychology, everything we do becomes that much easier to understand and allows us to learn.