Week 11 - PR in Asian Countries

Monday, March 15, 2010 2:16 PM

Public relations in Asian countries are different from that in Western countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Some Asian countries mentioned in the readings are China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, , the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and so on. Not only does public relations differ between Asian countries and Western countries, public relations in Asian countries itself, differ from one another.

This difference is caused by the difference in culture, language and the way the government works in the different countries. Due to these differences, the way public relations is being practised and managed needs to be different. There isn't a “one size fits all” kind of thing.

Take for instance in China, the country is a communist country. That in itself makes circumstances different for public relations. As for their language, Mandarin is their first language but despite these factors, public relations in China is opening up. And as in China, Hong Kong (SAR) is somewhat similar in terms of guanxi. Chinese people holds guanxi in high regard. It is basically building relationships.

The Philippines' public relations comes a long way with its influence mainly from the United States. However, public relations in the Philippines is not always free of corruption which is quite upsetting in my opinion. Another example would be Singapore. Singapore is a small country but public relations has been on the rise over the recent years. What is depressing to know is that Singapore has trouble with understanding the definition of public relations and the consequence of that is that public relations is being mixed and jumbled up with marketing, advertising and publicity. Besides that, Singapore's government is the one controlling the media.

Public relations is not easy to understand and to carry out. There are a lot of lines, boundaries, codes of ethics to follow. Dealing with different countries' public relations, public relations practitioners must be careful and sensitive to the cultural differences. When it comes to dealing with different organizations, they too have a different set of rules to follow; i.e. the way they work and all. Building relationships with others and maintaining them are important and necessary. Through given opportunities and experiences, the PR skills of public relations practitioners can be honed.

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Week 10 - New Media

Saturday, March 13, 2010 2:13 PM

We are living in an age of advanced technology. Many people have internet connections in their homes. Many people use Facebook, twitter and many people blog. New media is on the rise. Public relation practitioners are starting to use new media for campaigns but they have yet to understand and know how to fully utilize new media to their advantage. It is not a top-down approach, but rather a two-way communication; that they may receive feedbacks and ideas from the public.

Having said that, there always has to be a balance in things. Public relation practitioners cannot solely base on promoting their campaigns or events through new media. There are factors to consider. Factors such as, certain countries like China has banned certain websites and searches on the internet, and public relation practitioners have to know that even though we are living in an age of advanced technology, not everyone has internet access. There are people who actually live in poorer conditions and cannot afford internet access.

Besides that, public relations at its basics is mainly a person to person interaction and using new media is another opportunity for public relations practitioners to reach out to those who are more IT savvy. Taken form a quote:

“I think a lot, maybe I'm a bit old school, but I feel that public relations still needs a lot of human touch, still needs a lot of interpersonal feel, [an] interpersonal relationship with the person that you are dealing with and not just leave it to modern technology to take over.” (Fitch, 2009)

To conclude, I think public relation practitioners need to know how to make use of every (kind of) opportunity presented to them, to reach out to the public.

Reference
Fitch, K. 2009. ‘New media and public relations’, Ch. 12 in An Introduction to Public Relations: from theory to practice, Chia, J. & Synnott, G. (eds), Sth Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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Week 9 - Relationship Between Reputation and Management

Monday, March 8, 2010 2:10 PM

Corporate reputation management is rooted on the skill set of ethical corporate public relations professionals but it encompasses the cooperation and coordination across the entire organization. The most consequential driver of reputation is the quality of an organization's relationships with its stakeholders.

Reputation is not something that can be built overnight. It may take a long time for reputation to be built yet reputation of an organization can crumble within a night. The worst thing an organization can do, just because they want to make themselves look good, is to claim to be something that they are not. Take for instance an organization were to say that they are an environmentally friendly organization but they do not act as they say. This would cause the organization to lose their trust from the public and their reputation.

Organizations need to run in an open environment. They need to react to the public outlook and changing expectations. The way an organization is being managed contributes to how its reputation is like. With good management, crisis management may not be needed. The process of listening to the audience and stakeholder issues and concerns, and being thoughtful and understanding toward the rise of public viewpoints on issues with regards to the organization, are essential roles and tasks of public relations practitioners.

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Week 8 - Internal and External Environment

Monday, March 1, 2010 3:07 AM

Public relations management in organization is based mainly on systems theory which we have already touched on in week three. To reach organizational goals, public relations practitioners need to be conscious of the relationships between the public relations function and other corporate functions. Public relations practitioners need to build strong relationships with their employees with regard to communication channels and organizational culture.

Public relations work hand in hand with other departments such as marketing, human resource and the legal department. Public relations practitioners need to know how these departments work to bring out the best in their tasks.

Public relations practitioners also need to know what goes on in the environment as things that happen externally, out of the organization, affects the decisions they make. Therefore building relationships externally, i.e the public, is crucial. They have the ability to impact and affect organizations during times of stability and change. Change is inevitable thus keeping yourself updated about the happenings of the environment is good. Contemporary challenges are moulded by the constant changing expectations of the public. Due to these constant changes, the role of public relations will continue to change as well.

Understanding internal environment (within the organization) and external environment (outside of the organization) is important for public relations practitioners. Through this understanding, public relations practitioners can then perform their tasks at best and help the organization to flourish.

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Week 7 - Building Bridges

Monday, February 22, 2010 2:07 AM

Public relations is crucial and significant job as it involves bringing people together, developing mutual understandings, benefits and joint action. Public relations practitioners act as the middle person, to pull things into one piece. The very core of this job scope is making use of their good communication skills to assist organizations in attaining their objectives.

In this line of job, it is all about building relationships, making connections, maintaining them to aid their clients, or organizations seeking publicity exposure, to be publicized. Pubic relations is directed at building good working relationships between organizations and their stakeholders and communities. Community relations and community engagement are vital of the job.

Therefore, public relations skills are needed across a range of organizations. Public relations practitioners need to spend a lot of time learning up on cultural differences because if, for example, their client is of different ethnicity, they would be prepared and ready. Besides, under different working environments, there are different challenges that would be faced. Thus, public relations practitioners need to adapt readily to their working environment and source for ideas for a solution.

Some challenges that public relations practitioners will inevitably face are time management, budgeting and building and maintaining good networks. It is then up to the public relations practitioners to decide what they should do in that situation.

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Week 6 - Manipulation of Media

Monday, February 8, 2010 12:22 AM

A key role of a public relations practitioner is to present the public face of an organisation and it can be achieved through getting media coverage. To achieve media coverage, the public relations practitioner would have to first get the media's attention with media releases or events.

The news that is being sent out through media releases, letters to the editor, emails has to catch the eye of media gatekeepers: editors, directors of news or journalists. The headlines or the first sentence has to jump off the page. It has to be something that is newsworthy; that has great news values. The way the media release is being framed is very important as well. It plays an important role in making your media release an outstanding one. So that being said, this is an uncontrolled communication as the media relations practitioner cannot be sure that the story will be used or even if it is being used, it might be in another form; re-written.

Besides being able to frame the news well and have the media release written was much newsworthiness, building relationships with journalists and editors can help with getting publicized. Maintaining the relationship is important as well, so as to avoid calling up a journalist who does not work there anymore. Knowing legal and ethical issues in media management is another key aspect that needs to be understood and respected. It will help you stay out of trouble with the authorities.

Working with the media requires a lot of skill, creativity and knowledge of how the media works. It is important to know how the media can be used to your organisation's advantage.

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Week 5 - Public Relations Research

Monday, February 1, 2010 7:17 PM

For a public relations practitioner, research is one of the most important tool. Unlike what many people say, research is not a waste of time and money. It can be low or no cost. It is not a waste of time either, because for each project a public relations practitioner takes up, he/she needs to know at least some background knowledge of the project he/she is dealing with. If the public relations practitioner does not do his/her research, he/she is basically guessing and/or making assumptions about the problem, opportunity and solution.

There are different kinds of research methods that a public relations practitioner can do and it really depends on what the public relation practitioner is trying to gather from the research. The very basic kind of research is quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative gives you the 'what' and qualitative gives you the 'why' to a question or topic. Another type is the primary and secondary research method. Secondary research means that the information is gathered by someone else which is a cheaper method of research. primary research means that the information gathered is done by the practitioner himself/herself.

Research helps public relation practitioners to understand their target audience thus making their task more smooth sailing and effective. Information gathered through research can help public relations practitioners plan, carry out and evaluate their projects. However, it is critical that public relation practitioners are able to identify the appropriate methods of research to conduct because there are different kinds of research methodologies available. They must also be able to plan their time and budget well for the research.

On a basic whole, research aids public relations practitioners in their project and makes it more effective when it comes to getting the job done.

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Week 4 - What is Ethics?

Monday, January 25, 2010 7:07 PM

“Ethics is about standards of behaviour, specifically, concern for 'good' behaviour and consideration of how our behaviour , as an individual or an organisation, affects the well-being of others or society as a whole.” (Tilley, 2005)

Morals and values fall under ethics. It is difficult to define what 'good' morals and values are when people are just so different, being brought up with different cultures, rules and personal experiences. Thus it is the same for ethics. People have different sets of thinking and they live by their own beliefs. A child being brought up by his parents may not have the same set of beliefs as his parents.

It is not easy being ethical and being ethical is not simple. Ethics is not just about good intent. There are many things to be mindful of. There are laws and rules to follow, company ethics, clients' culture and beliefs to be mindful of. There are different ethics schools of thought and with all things there are advantages and disadvantages, so with these schools of thought. Different situations should be assessed differently. How would we know what is ethical in different situations? There are times when PR practitioners mean well but what they did is unethical, perhaps unknowingly. All these comes with experience and an alert mind to assess the situations thoroughly. However, then again some people lack experience and do not have that an alert mind. People are made differently.

All these ethics, morals and values are man-made as well, aren't they? How can we be sure what was set in the past are the 'right' set of ethics, morals and values since “It is likely that no two people, let alone two cultures, have exactly the same morals and values or place the same degree of importance on them” (Tilley, 2005)?

I think it all boils down to following the law and the company's set of codes of ethics for PR practitioners. There may be conflicts between the law and the company's codes of ethics or between the PR practitioner himself and the company's set of codes of ethics, then it would be up to the PR practitioner to make a decision to act upon what he feels compelled to.

I believe that ethics will always be a blur and that no one person will be able to define it completely as much as he wants to just because different people sees things differently. There is bound to be a conflict of interest and there are so many people in the world. Definitely there would be at least one person would raise his/her hand to object to it.

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Week 3 - Theories, Theories, Theories

Monday, January 18, 2010 7:06 PM

Understanding theory is important. It is always good to have a strong theoretical foundation as it can help you to contextualize and sometimes also anticipate outcomes and then decide which strategies and tactics to use to in different situations. Public relations theories have been developed in the past through psychology, social sciences and sociology.

These public relations theories are basic frameworks which can help a public relations practitioner in his/her job. Knowing these frameworks will help in having different strategies and tactics to approach a client, colleagues and also the public. Being able to identify the possible strategies in different contexts is an advantage as it makes the task of the public relations practitioner much easier to do.

Different theories such as system theory, communication theory, public relations theory cultural theory can be used. System theory enables practitioners to comprehend how their practice can make an impact and also to enquire feedback and the communication theory gives helpful guidelines for constructing and bringing a message across. These four theories as stated above, do not have to be used one at a time. They can be used together.

Public relations practitioners need to be able to assess their task at hand to identify the strategies they might want to use to approach it. This is the first step PR practitioners must take.

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Week 2 - there's more to PR than meets the eye

Monday, January 11, 2010 11:32 PM

I learnt that when you are doing public relations, you are publicizing your product, not only through making good connections and relations with people, but there must be planning involved. There has to be a strategy, and a strategy is a plan or method by which you are going to achieve a specific goal in a competitive environment. The crux to developing a good strategy is research. Research plays an important role in strategizing.

What really enlightened me was when Tanya gave the example going to the movies which I will explain. We might think that the only threats that Cathay may receive is through other movie companies like Golden Village or Shaw Brothers. However, that is only on the surface. Competitors and competition may not be that obvious. It could be caused by other factors, perhaps in an intangible form. For example maybe a potential movie-goer got a sudden migraine, that would stop the person from going to the movies, or even, if a potential movie-goer suddenly feels like staying home to watch his or her favourite DVD.

Public Relations is not a solution to everything. What it does is that it creates awareness, but it does not mean that people will get it. People still have a choice to choose if they want to go for it. You would have to push sales. PR works best when it is part of an integrated communication campaign and everything done must be sending out the same message.

There are nine steps to follow in preparing, implementing and evaluating a strategic public relation plan. They are:

1. Research
Research can be done internally and externally. The internal research is generally done first as its least expensive and it works best when systems are in place for good record keeping.

2. Analysis
You would have to analyze your results. Doing a SWOT analysis would be good as it offers a way of sorting and evaluating results.

3. Goal setting
When setting your PR goal, it should essentially be a broad one

4. Objectives (SMART)
Then when it comes to setting the objectives for your PR campaign, it will be specific. Use SMART as a guideline for your objectives. S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Results-oriented, T-Time frame for competition.

5. Selecting people who are subjects of your activity (target audience)
Your target audience is one of most important ingredient because without them, your campaign would not work. You might think that your campaign is the most important, people people out there don't care. They see many advertisements every day on buses, at bus stops that they don't even realize that they are "immune" to them. Ask yourself if the ad would interest you. If it does not, then forget it, move on to the next idea.

6. Developing strategies
When developing a strategy, think of a range of options that might deliver the desired outcomes of the campaign.

7. Devising and implementing tactics
Tactics are often seen as the "bread and butter" skills of PR, i.e. writing, pitching, liaising, arranging and organizing. There are many kinds of tactics that can be used. For example, personal contact, presentations, videoconferencing, printed and digital publications, special events, logos and branding and many more.

8. Monitoring
Monitoring is done during the campaign.

9. Evaluating
Evaluating is done after the campaign.

I am glad to have learnt these and to be able to share this with others.

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