Why earn your APR? #accredchat testimonial

Diane Rhodes Bergman, APR

Attaining the APR turned out to be one of the most rewarding endeavors I have undertaken. I have been practicing PR professionally for over 15 years and have always strived to stay informed and updated. As a result, I was astonished at how much I learned going through this process and the impact it has had on my daily practice of public relations.

It is true that much of the information you review in preparation for the APR covers topics you have “learned” before. The difference is that this process forces you to actively apply the details of this knowledge to your real life practice of the profession, which takes your learning to a whole new level.

Now that I’ve completed the process, I fully realize that the APR designation is much more than three letters after your name; it symbolizes a deeper level of commitment to the profession, the public and to your employers/clients.

Three Signs You’re a PR Pro

Public Relations is ever changing – and as it becomes more integrated with marketing and advertising, we are starting to see many new facets of PR professionals. So what constitutes as a PR professional? We’ve discussed the definition, but what about types of people? Types of personalities? We will never all be the same, but we might have some of the same traits.

1. ‘Dude I can’t put down my BlackBerry/iPhone/snazzy smartphone‘: Admit it. You check it incessantly. You have to be on all the time. You’re checking social media channels, Google Alerts and national media coverage. If something negative hits, you need to be ready. If a client pings you at 2 a.m., you might be expected to answer. It might vary depending on your industry, but clients come first. In associations, members come first.

2. ‘Proud, Honored and Words Like it Make Us Cringe’: It’s hard to look at those words in a press release and not take out the red pen and cross it out. Innovative and Synergy are starting to become over-used words as well. As PR professionals, we don’t want to have the same type of press release as another, especially a competitor. It’s hard to believe something is ‘incredible’ if everyone else is shouting the same thing. Make your client unique.

3. ‘Grammar Pet Peeves’: Mine is ‘your’ v. ‘you’re.’ Yours might be ‘loose’ v. lose. Many of us are writers at heart, and a large portion of our job revolves around it. I’ve noticed many have quirks and like things done a certain way – and grammar is always one of them.

So what would you add? What are your signs of a PR professional?

Being green is good for the environment, but is it good your bottom-line?

Big Elephant EarsImage by K. W. Sanders via Flickr

President’s Column: Andra Bennett, APR

Green’s my favorite color. Huge green elephant ears gently sway in the breeze outside my home office window as I write this, bringing peace to my work.

My affection toward green extends to the ink on U.S. currency. Having that kind of green brings peace of mind, too.

Can those two greens live in harmony? As environmentally-friendly “green” initiatives have come upon the PR scene, how do we implement programs and campaigns that are relevant to our customer and measure the return to our company / client?

Find out at our next PRSA luncheon Oct. 14 as our panel shares how the public and private sectors are working to steward our precious environment, communicate these efforts to the public, and bring a positive return to a company. Panel members are:

Brian Boerner, director of environmental management, City of Fort Worth

Tom Burke, APR, manager of public relations and communications, IBM

Chris Smith, Texas media director, Environmental Defense Fund

Giving away some green…
We’ll also be handing out some green. The Greater Fort Worth Chapter has established scholarship funds for outstanding PRSSA students at ACU, TCU and UTA.A student from each university is selected to receive $500 each and will receive their check at the October luncheon. The students are:

 

 

ACU – Will Moore

TCU – Katie Pool
UTA – Kathelin Buxton

Finally, congratulations to Diane Rhodes Bergman, APR, for achieving her accreditation status from National PRSA.Diane will receive her APR pin and $100 from the Chapter’s Jim Blackmore APR Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund was established last year in memory of Blackmore’s PRSA legacy in Dallas-Fort Worth, and is awarded to GFW members who achieve accreditation.

Chapter members, your annual dues fund these important local awards that elevate the status of our profession and help support fellow members and students. Please join us in October at our annual meeting for the luncheon program, presentations and elections. Your participation is appreciated.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Making the News: The Rise of the Crowd

On Tuesday, September 15, GFW PRSA members Tracy Syler-Jones and Richie Escovedo provided a session for the chapter’s Education Special Interest Group.

Making the News: The Rise of the Crowd

Tracy Syler-Jones (@TracySJ) – Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communication at TCU
Richie Escovedo (@vedo) – Media and Communication Development at Mansfield ISD

Today’s supercharged communication world presents numerous challenges for communicators. In the recent past, one could rely on traditional media to pass along news and information that could reach, and hopefully, influence the masses.

However, a shrinking number of reporters means communicators must learn how to effectively utilize, integrate and manage social networking and new media tools to remain visible and connected with key audiences. Learn more about the role the crowd plays in pushing your message along and how to tap into that energy.

Additional links promised to attendees:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Understanding organizational ethics: How PR professionals can steer a safe course

Through the Looking GlassImage by clspeace via Flickr

From PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics, Vol. 19, Issue 9/September 2009

By Linda Ld Jacobson, APR

Ponzi schemes, bank failures and million-dollar bonuses. The public barometer of trust in U.S. corporations measured a frail 38 percent for informed publics, aged 35 to 64, according to a StrategyOne survey in December 2008. Public backlash ballooned, erupting against those companies guided by a moral compass different from that of Main Street.
Under this public scrutiny, how can PR professionals assess whether an organization is steering an ethical course? And what strategies can PR pros implement if they find an enemy from within?

The Looking Glass

As a first step to understanding an organization’s ethics, PR professionals can perform a “looking glass” exercise that allows them to view an organization’s actions from two different moral perspectives, utilitarianism and communitarianism. In a utilitarian model, an organization stresses positive outcomes that produce the greatest good for the largest number of stakeholders, placing a priority on consequences. A communitarian ethic balances individual freedoms and social responsibility so that an organization’s decisions result from values expressed by its stakeholders.
To perform the exercise, focus both utilitarian and communitarian lenses on a particular corporate action, using PRSA member values: advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. Prioritize these values first within one model, then the other.
Jacque Lambiase, associate professor of strategic communications at Texas Christian University, uses this exercise to illustrate how the same values can produce very different outcomes. She says that objectively gauging corporate ethics is helpful for pros in the middle of a crisis or for those who experience a disconnect between corporate policy and corporate actions.

Red Flags

Unfortunately, when organizations begin to stray from an ethical course, PR pros aren’t always able to pinpoint the departure. But certain red flags can signal shifts in a company’s moral compass:
1. The organization’s decisions reflect an absence or low priority on ethics. Many organizations say that integrity is a core value, but the real test is whether the C-level emphasizes that value and demonstrates that behavior.
At American Airlines, Charley Wilson, managing director, external communications and international advertising, says that during a recent crisis, the airline’s CEO requested that a customer’s family receive the first communication, one of sympathy, before making any statement. That type of ethical leadership powerfully impresses employees. Indeed, a 2007 Deloitte & Touche Ethics and Workplace Survey revealed that 42 percent of employees believe that management’s behavior positively impacts organizational ethics. “We require our team to adhere to the airline’s standards of conduct, but nothing beats a leader who walks the talk,” says Wilson.
2. The organization does not show an overt commitment to ethics. Just because an organization says it is ethical does not mean it acts ethically. Ask these questions: Does the company corporately abide by a code of ethics? Are its values taken seriously internally? Is there infrastructure to support ethics or ethics compliance? Internally, does the company encourage open communications?
Reace Alvarenga Smith, APR, PR manager for Texas Health Resources, says that her organization places special emphasis on the company’s code of conduct, known as their company’s promise. “We provide monthly training sessions on what our promise means and behaviors we expect from employees,” Smith says. “Our promise gives us a filter by which we make all our corporate decisions and foster open discussions.”
Recent research undertaken by Jinae Kang, a doctoral student at The University of Alabama, reinforces PR perceptions of ethical practice in an open communications structure.
3. The organization lacks a robust fact-checking and approval process. PR professionals most often work collaboratively or cross-functionally when crafting communications. This means that attorneys, executives or coworkers review documents for factual errors or suggestions. If this process is absent, that indicates lax oversight. Wilson says that the airline’s Corporate Communications team complies with both the letter and the spirit of the law. If an issue arises, leaders at the company guide discussions, but decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.
4. The organization shifts responsibility. Lambiase points to an example in 2007 when a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo killed a visitor. “In addition to releasing incorrect information, the zoo director maligned the victim rather than focusing on the zoo’s responsibility to keep the public safe.” When things go wrong, ask yourself and your team whether the organization looks at its own role or assigns blame to others.

Ethics Strategies

PR pros who find themselves working with or for an unethical organization can employ a number of strategies, according to Dr. Karla Gower, director of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations:

  • Arm yourself with knowledge. Know the laws and regulations that concern the organization’s industry, especially laws dealing with communications. Be able to discern if something is seriously amiss with a company’s financial statements.
  • Prepare for a variety of crisis situations now. Once a crisis occurs, there is more potential for the legal response to take over at the expense of public relations. Gain buy-in now on the priorities for making appropriate and sensitive messages.
  • Trust your instincts. Don’t blindly accept assignments. Ask questions!
  • Begin a campaign for ethics. Occupy the role of ethics counselor, and campaign for the organization to adopt ethical practices.

What if the PR professional continues to grapple with conflicts or meets extreme resistance? Gower says it may be time to end the relationship. “It’s never easy to walk away from a job, especially in this economy, but at the end of the day all you have is your integrity,” she says. “You won’t get any thanks for staying loyal to an unethical company, not even when you end up taking the fall for others.”


Linda Ld Jacobson, APR, is the principal of Que Public Relations and an instructor of PR ethics at The University of North Texas. She can be reached at ljacobson@quepr.com or via Twitter @LindaJacobson.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]