December 21, 2011

Semester one lessons learned

I am officially one eighth of the way through my public relations degree and I already feel like I have so much more knowledge than I did going into the program. Here are a few reflections from my first semester:

Grunig’s two-way symmetrical communication model is key. If there was one thing that was drilled into my head this semester, it was that this model, stemming from Grunig’s excellence study, is what public relations strives for time after time. It may not be the easiest or most realistic model to practice in real life, but it is the essence of public relations.

Social media is an intrinsic tool for public relations practitioners. We studied social media very intensely this semester and I started to see that to practice public relations with the two-way symmetrical model in mind, social media has to be used; it is not an option. It is one of the only ways to ensure one is listening to feedback from stakeholders and having a real conversation with them.

Being a great writer is a must. I don’t know how to thank my parents enough for ensuring that I started learning my ABCs and reading at a younger age than a lot of people. I’ve always loved to read and write and it made my writing lab this semester a lot easier than I had anticipated. Writing is such a large part of public relations that knowing how to do it well and actually enjoying it as much as I do makes all the difference.

Group work is a difficult thing to manage, but you have no choice. This is one thing I have trouble with. Some group members (more often than not) are unreliable and are more than willing to piggyback on your work. It is hard to decide on meeting times that suit everyone in the group. Personalities clash. I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. Group work is involved in real public relations practice too, not just in class work. Better get used to it.

Tara Hunt is a genius. Anyone wishing to get into public relations should read her book, The Power of Social Networking. Everything she says makes sense in our modern, technological world.

I am extremely happy that all of my courses have been so relevant and already make sense in real life. What have you learned this semester?

December 01, 2011

A link from humanities to public relations

Who would have thought that taking a humanities course titled “Good and Evil” would have taught me so much that I could tie in with public relations practice? I’ll admit, I only took this course because my first choice (“Pop Culture”) was full, but I’m extremely glad I chose this as my backup. I’ve learned a lot, and even ended up writing a paper on Batman. What else could you ask for? As the semester is drawing to an end, though, I have realized that there are some themes I have learned in this abstract class that I can relate not only to my life in general, but to what I have been learning in my public relations courses. 

  1. Become who you are. This was a phrase made popular by German philosopher, Nietzsche, who really meant that you should figure out what your talents are and affirm them. Find out what your niche is in the public relations practice and go for that. Don’t let other people tell you any different. Only you know what you want.
  2. Dialogue is great… just make sure you know your audience. We studied Plato’s Gorgias, which had its interesting parts, and, to put it nicely, its not so interesting parts. What it did prove was that to “persuade” your audience, you need to research them and know how to communicate with them. Each public may have different values and you will need to tweak your communication style depending on the public. Socrates was an orator and didn’t really persuade his audience well. Maybe he should have taken a public relations course
  3.  Situations can define how we act. This was studied intensely by Philip Zimbardo who conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment. This idea confirmed that you should not just follow the rules or blindly obey people in authority. This idea ties in with what we have learned about ethics in public relations. You have to question what decisions you are making and whether you are just doing them because someone told you to. Public relations involves thinking critically about whether decisions you are making are ethical or not. Don’t let the situation you are in change your perception or your values.
 Have you learned anything in an abstract course like this one that tied in well with your focus of study?