Find connection between PR and social media

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Spin, PR girls and Public Relations

Public Relations for those who don’t go deeply into the topic is either a light job with lots of fun or on the contrary a mysterious machinations at the top of political and business ladder and media manipulation. That’s because the public perception of PR for is mainly created by it representations in the media and popular culture.

So that from one side we have such representations as of Samantha Jones from “Sex in the City”, Edina Monsoon from “Absolutely Fabulous” or Bridget Jones – the so called 'PR girls' for whom the PR work is all about parties, fun and meeting people.

But on the other side the news media feed us with the examples of mighty 'spin doctors' who have the power over politics, big corporations and media. According to Wilcox et al. (2007) the term was originally “restricted to what often were considered the unethical and misleading activities and tactics of political campaign consultants. By the mid-1990s, however, the media widely used the term to describe any effort by public relations personnel to put a positive slant on an event or issue.”

Probably the most famous spin doctor in UK is Alistair Campbell - Communications Director to the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair until 2003. There is an interesting and worth watching BBC documentary (2000) titled “News from Number 10” where there is shown a lot of Mr. Campbell’s work methods at Downing Street.

Morris, T., Goldsworthy, S., (2008). PR - a persuasive industry? Spin, public relations, and the shaping of the modern media. Palgrave McMillan.
Wilcox, D., et al. (2007). Public Relations: Strategy and Tactics, Pearson Education.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Activism and PR

The activist groups although without a real governing power, over the years managed to gain considerable power over people’s mindset. They pose a threat to big corporations either by dragging out and highlighting their malpractice or by influencing the law, which consequently impacts on corporations’ business activities.

Perceived as a challenge to corporate PR practitioners, activist groups themselves thrive on PR and its tactics. One of the main threats to big and successful activist organizations nowadays is that they alarmingly start to resemble the big corporations themselves.
      Some images of activists stunts:

For example Greenpeace has developed over the years such a strong brand that now in many aspects it needs to think and act like a standard company with its all bureaucracy in order to maintain its structures.

Lord Krebs, the former chairman of the Food Standards Agency and current principal of Jesus College Oxford at an parliamentary event on science policy said that "Greenpeace is a multinational corporation just like Monsanto or Tesco. They have very effective marketing departments... Their product is worry because worry is what recruits members," he said. (link to the Guardian article)

Anyway, let’s go back to the most characteristic PR tactics used in activist campaigns, which are: 
1. Stunts
2. Third-party endorsement from opinion leaders, journalists, celebrities, MPs
3. Catchy soundbites and imagery materials for media
4. Social media activity

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Prioritizing and understanding stakeholders

To prioritize stakeholders and understand their needs and expectations is one of the core aspects for any organization. Knowing these things we can control their impact by implementing an appropriate system of communicating with them.  

Mapping stakeholders on Power/Interest Matrix is a helpful technique to realize how much influence and interest particular stakeholders have in relation to a particular issue. Accordingly it allows us to determine what steps should we take towards them in order to build good relationships between them and our organisation.

Power/Interest Matrix

The stakeholder’s position on the grid informs us what actions we should take (by Rachel Thompson):

·        High power, interested people: these are the people you must fully engage and make the greatest efforts to satisfy.
·        High power, less interested people: put enough work in with these people to keep them satisfied, but not so much that they become bored with your message.
·        Low power, interested people: keep these people adequately informed, and talk to them to ensure that no major issues are arising. These people can often be very helpful with the detail of your project.
·        Low power, less interested people: again, monitor these people, but do not bore them with excessive communication.

To get to know how to communicate with our key stakeholders we can ask the following questions (by Rachel Thompson):

·        What financial or emotional interest do they have in the outcome of your work? Is it positive or negative?
·        What motivates them most of all?
·        What information do they want from you?
·        How do they want to receive information from you? What is the best way of communicating your message to them?
·        What is their current opinion of your work? Is it based on good information?
·        Who influences their opinions generally, and who influences their opinion of you? Do some of these influencers therefore become important stakeholders in their own right?
·        If they are not likely to be positive, what will win them around to support your project?
·        If you don't think you will be able to win them around, how will you manage their opposition?
·        Who else might be influenced by their opinions? Do these people become stakeholders in their own right?


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Audiences, stakeholders and publics

These three terms make us confused very often. What's the difference between them? Is there any?

When we talk about audience we think about those people whom we send our message to. In other words, they are receivers of our message. Therefore, we often tend to connect that term with such determiners as ‘active’ and ‘passive’. A passive audience refers to those receivers of a message, who don’t engage with the media content they receive. An active audience, on the other hand, represents those, who engage with the media content. The clear example of passive audience may be the TV/radio/newspaper audience, and active audience are social media users.

Term stakeholders is related to those subjects (individual people, employees, organizations, communities, companies, customers, suppliers, media, government, distributors, etc.) “who have a stake or interest in a particular organisation, i.e. they depend on the organisation to fulfill their own goals and on whom, in turn, the organisation depends”. (Tench,Yeomas; 2006)

                                                                                                            (Picture from:

Difference between stakeholders and publics is very blurry, but when publics are distinguished they are meant to be “stakeholders that face a problem or have an issue with the organisaion. Thus stakeholders are potential publics, the critical factor being the arrival of a problem or issue. (…) when such a problem or issue arises, stakeholders organise to  become publics and are able to affect the interests of the organisation.” (Tench,Yeomas; 2006)

1.     Tench, R., Yeomans, L., (2006). Exploring Public Relations. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.