Monday, April 9, 2007

USC College Dean’s Prize: How Can the Public Relations Program be Improved?

Veering away from the normal format of my blog, I switched the focus from the field of public relations to the education of public relations. They University of Southern California’s mission statement calls for “the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” The realities of this statement are laid out in USC’s 2004 strategic plan. In the plan, the university voices how they intend to incorporate new ideas and technology without losing the traditions of the past, and one way they aim to achieve this goal is by hiring the best and brightest faculty.

While USC is going to use their faculty to extend the university’s resources and educational value, the school also wants to hear what the students feel could be improved. The USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences created the college dean prize for the enrichment of student academic life, and it asks students to “think seriously about learning, be creative and daring, and inspire us.” Past winners have suggested new minors or career skills development. Even though I am a member of the Annenberg School of Journalism whose logo can be seen to the left as a public relations major and not the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, I used the dean’s prize criteria to explore what could be enhanced in the public relations program to make it a better overall experience.

The initial problem I encountered with the Annenberg School of Journalism was that the school was not very accessible to students unless they were already enrolled in the school. I started college unsure of what I wanted to study and as an undecided major. I thought I would use the general education program to explore and find what major I wanted to pursue. As I began to search through my possible major options, I realized I could not take a class in Annenberg as part of my general education program. I believe this is a big mistake, and that Annenberg should offer some classes as “GEs.” Writing class are required for all students, so Annenberg could fit some of their curriculum into the writing programs. Annenberg would attract more attention from students if they gave them the opportunity to see what it would be like to be in the Annenberg school.

Part of USC's strategic plan refers to “providing unique opportunities for career preparation,” and Annenberg has many clubs that can help reach this goal. Although my experience with one of Annenberg’s club TriSight Communications at the right, a student run public relations firm, was not what I was expecting. I felt I could have contributed more to my group and taken more from the experience, but the group did not need a lot of my assistance. It would be beneficial to TriSight Communications and the students if Annenberg could institute a rule or guideline that ensured each person was allowed to contribute as much as they wanted to. I had hoped to have a very active role and get a lot of hands on experience; instead I did a lot of observing.

I wanted to gain more insight into how other colleges’ journalism schools are set up and what their public relations majors are like. I searched through the Association of American Universities and found that a lot of colleges do not even have journalism schools. The colleges I found that did have journalism school did not have public relations as a major. Indiana University’s Journalism school does not have a public relations major, but they do offer class that teach the writing and principles of public relations. The schools emblem can be seen at the left. Although Indiana University’s public relations classes cannot teach as much detail and hands on experience as Annenberg’s major program, the classes do instruct students on managerial issues, client relations, and budgets. I have not heard of an Annenberg public relations class that teaches these elements. Now I have not taken all of my public relations classes, so I may not be aware that I will learn about these ideas in the future. I do know that Indiana University made mention of clients and budgets in their course descriptions, and Annenberg did not. It is important to know all of the public relations practices that Annenberg bestows on their students, but it is also important to know about the details that will make it easier to get through the day. Annenberg might want to consider incorporating these ideas into their curriculum; it may be a good idea to create another elective class based on them.

After researching and exploring ideas for this post, I realized the Annenberg School of Journalism has an excellent public relations program. They have set up a great curriculum and strongly encourage their students to get involved outside of the classroom. I feel they are meeting the requirements of USC’s mission statement.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

James C. Kennedy: USC's Next Honorary Degree Recipient

With the end of the academic year approaching and commencement looming as picture to the left, the notion of receiving a degree is steadily becoming a reality to many hard working students. At the same time, most universities also extend honorary degrees to accomplished individuals. At my school, the University of Southern California, honorary degrees are given "[t]o honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in scholarship, the professions, or other creative activities, whether or not they are widely know by the general public." I decided for this post I would find someone in my intended field of public relations who is deserving of an honorary degree from USC. While the intentions of the honorary degree are commendable, the outcomes do not always reflect the initial objectives. According to James Freedman, president emeritus of the University of Iowa and Dartmouth College, the standards have changed and the “purpose of honoring distinguished personal achievement has been widely modified [. . .] to flatter generous donors and prospective benefactors.” They have often been transformed into “trivialized” awards for “mere celebrities—who are often famous principally for being famous.” With this stigma in mind, I searched and found a company CEO, James C. Kennedy, who deserves a Doctors of Human Letters for being an outstanding citizen.

This would not be the first time a Doctors of Human Letters went to a newspaper person; Herbert G. Klein, retired vice president and editor-in-chief of Copley Newspapers, received the award in May of 2006. Being a successful CEO of a major communications company who was strong roots in newspaper, radio, and television, Kennedy, seen to the right, has had tremendous success in the fields of journalism and communications, and done it all in an admirable manner. He is the grandson of former Ohio governor and Cox Enterprises founder, James M. Cox. He graduated from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Kennedy’s career began with Cox when he worked for the Atlanta newspapers in 1972. Sixteen years later in 1988, Kennedy was named chairman and CEO of Cox Enterprise. He held various positions before becoming CEO including publisher, vice president of Cox Newspapers, and executive vice president of Cox Enterprises. Kennedy was clearly prepared to take the role of chairman and CEO after he spent numerous years preparing for the position. I think it is enduring that he went to school considering the popular trend of prominent businessmens’ offspring to not value the work that was done to create the life they have. It would have been easy for him to skip college and still have a pleasant job at his grandfather’s company. Instead Kennedy got an education, started his job at an entry level position, and worked his way up. Once Kennedy was in charge the company flourished. From the years of 1988 to 20002, Kennedy increased the company’s revenues from 1.8 billion to 9.9 billion; and the Cox Enterprises' companies are all list among the top ten in their fields.

Similar to Tommy Trojan, Kennedy is a very skillful man. If the success he has brought to his corporation is not enough evidence that he deserves the honorary degree then the awards Kennedy and his company have received should be another reason. James C. Kennedy himself was named to the J. Mark Robison College of Business’ Hall of Fame in 2004 for his achievements with Cox Enterprises. In March, Cox Communications, one of Cox Enterprises' companies, placed twenty-five out of the top fifty diverse companies on DiversityInc’s diversity list. Obtaining a position within this esteemed group was competitive, and Cox's placement of twenty-fifth is very impressive considering three hundred and seventeen companies fought to acquire a spot on the list. The grounds for this award mirror one of the core values of the corporation, which is commitment “to having a diverse workforce that reflects the communities we serve.” Not only does Cox Enterprises set ambitious goals for their companies, but they live up to them too.

The USC Honorary Degree acknowledges "...exceptional acts of philanthrophy," and Cox Enterprises' recent charitable donation reveals that Kennedy is deserving of the award. Cox Enterprises donated six million dollars to the on going development of the Newseum, which is going to be a museum that “will offer visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits.” Within the Newseum, the First Amendment Gallery at the left will be named after Cox Enterprises. It is only fitting that Cox Enterprises contribution will go to the promotion of and education about the First Amendment because Cox Enterprises’ businesses are strongly affected by its liberties, such as freedom of speech . Some critics could argue that the gallery being named after Cox could expose a promotional and selfish act to gain more publicity, but Kennedy has never been a person to use his position is life for fame, and I believe he in not going to start now.

James C. Kennedy would be an exceptional honorary degree recipient, and he would delivery a fascinating speech to the graduating class. He believes "there are so many new opportunities coming along..most exciting time to get a new business." During the speech, he could educate about the future of communications and technology because of his many successful companies, and reiterate the importance of the past by reminding everyone about the First Amendment and the Newseum. Kennedy embodies the values established by USC and Tommy Trojan.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This I believe: How I Found My Path in Life

For this week’s post, I tried something different. Inspired by National Public Radio’s “This I believe” campaign seen at the left, I decided to investigate into what I believe in, and examine how this ideology has shaped my life. The program’s creator, highly esteemed journalist Edward R. Murrow, wanted the project “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.” Throughout this post, I plan to uncover my beliefs, and intertwine them into the floor of civilization.

This I believe in a voice for all people. Big or small, black or white, English or Spanish; it does not matter. I believe the underdogs should have the chance to sell themselves. I believe the opposed should have the opportunity to defend themselves. And I believe the misguided should have the ability to explain themselves. Having a voice, verbal or non verbal, creates the arena for communication, and I believe communication leads to cooperation. Imbedded into our country’s legislation, the idea of communication is protected by the First Amendment. Freedom of speech, assembly, petition, religion, and press allow all citizens to evoke their voice. But there is a discrepancy between having the right to do something and actually having the means to complete it.

My hope for a successfully communicative society stems for my childhood. Within the support system that was my family, an emphasis was place on fluid conversation. My parents and I had a relationship where I could share anything with them from getting a bad grade on a test to a conflict I was having with my friends. The same was true for my parents; they would share with me when they had a long day at work or if there was an issue in the family. This open line of communication produced very understanding relationships between my parents and me. If one person was in a bad mood then the other family members were aware why; and we knew with talking and time it would be resolved. Due to my upbringing, I learned to value the channels of communication, and realized the benefits that can come from them.

With this knowledge instilled in me, I set out for college knowing I wanted to pursue a career where communication was key. After a year and a half of searching, I found public relations to be the perfect fit. Not only is public relations an imperative communicative link between the world’s industries and the world’s citizens, it can affect and promote society’s values. Public relations gives a voice to people who otherwise may not have one or know what to do with it. Samuel Adams, considered to be one of the first successful public relations practitioners and whose portrait is at the right, once stated “It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” Adams was calling for a voice from and for the minority. Public relations was the outlet to meet these means.

At this point in my life, I am not sure what type of public relations I want to work in. The options are open to me. Whether I choose politics, entertainment, non-profit, or sports, I plan to employ the core values of my family into my practice. My relationship with my family is my inspiration when it comes to communication. Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to trust my family, and that trust has produced a great life. Trust is also an essential ingredient in public relations. Former president and CEO of PRSA, Judith T. Phair pictured to the left, vocalized this philosophy when she spoke to the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation “In our role of providing information to the public — often through media outlets — that trust is essential.” Truthful and pertinent communication preludes trust. I highly anticipate the day when I can incorporate my values in communication into my public relations career. I want my voice, whether sending my message or my clients’, to reach, inform, and affect society in a positive way.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

PR Firms’ Websites: Are They Webby Award Worthy?

I would image a person who works in one of the most prominent public relations firms would advise their client on the importance of a website. It is no secret that the World Wide Web is here to stay; and anyone who has not jumped on its bandwagon will soon be left in the dust. The real question is whether the PR field is practicing what it preaches? Are the world’s top public relations firms designing innovative websites that attract potential clients and employees? Using the guidelines supplied by The Webby Awards (its logo can be seen left) I analyzed a powerful public relations firm’s website in order to uncover its effectiveness. “The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet,” and they judge a website based on its proficiency in six categories; content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, and overall experience. My findings varied from less than mediocre to exceptional, but overall my impression was positive.

The firm whose website was under my microscope was Weber Shandwick Worldwide; its logo and motto is shown at the right. According to, “Weber Shandwick is one of the world’s leading global public relations firms” and its clientele includes American Airlines, The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, the U.S. Army, and many more. With such a successful list of clients, Weber Shandwick should have an amazing website that anyone can navigate and enjoy. After spending a while searching the site, I found the aesthetics to be displeasing. The Webby Awards believe the design of the website should communicate “a visual experience... may even take your breath away.” The Weber Shandwick website does not take my breath away. The color scheme is appealing to the eye, but the layout of the page itself does not make sense or good use of the available space. At the homepage, all of the text is flush to the left, and there is a vast white blank spot at the right. The font size is smaller and harder to read, and there is another awkward blank spot in the middle of the page. An image would fit in the spot which is surrounded by news stories on the left and a mission statement on right. After I examined the homepage, I continued to explore. The colors and the pictures changed, but they did nothing to enhance the content of the website. In public relations, everything needs to be catered towards capturing the audience, and I feel this website does not do that.

Despite lacking visual appeal, the website does offer an immense amount of fascinating information and resources. The content is plentiful within the site, and it is easy to navigate. The Webby Awards feel “good navigation gets you where you want to go quickly and offer easy access to the breadth and depth of the site’s content.” All of the information is grouped into seven different categories ranging from "about us" to "contact" and then the information is broken down within each category. What makes this website superb is that it continues to promote the company. At the bottom of the page, Weber Shandwick lists its recent awards. By doing so, the firm is constantly reminding the viewer that they are the best; and that is good public relations for them. One problem I have with the site, though, is that I was unable to find a list of the firm's client prestigious clients. Acknowledging its clients would be another smart public relations move for the company. Although the website does lack this list, the rest of the information creates an enjoyable experience that is stress free to navigate.

The last category the Webby Awards focus on is overall experience. Overall experience “includes the intangibles that make one stay or leave.” Weber Shandwick’s website has many of these “intangibles,” one of them being the reputation Rx link. Reputation Rx "provide[s] you with the laest news, information, insights, and resources on the care and repair of reputations." This link adds to Weber Shandwick’s site, but it extends beyond the facts of the company and allows the onlooker to receive a closer look into the field of public relations. It is the detailed addition of useful information that makes the Weber Shandwick website beneficial and Webby Award worthy in some aspects. The website is not perfect, but in the end, it is impressive.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Damage is Done: Now JetBlue’s PR Team Must Clean Up the Mess

There is no question that running an airline is a difficult task; dealing with scheduling, impatient customers, and unpredictable weather conditions can create an extremely stressful situation. JetBlue, whose logo can be seen at the left, is no stranger to this situation considering the breakdown their airlines had about a week ago. Now is the time when JetBlue needs to communicate with its customers and reestablish a sense on trust. I thought it would be interesting to examine how different public relations professionals would handle the JetBlue dilemma. Jeanne Bliss, a customer leadership all-star who has worked for Microsoft, Allstate Corporations, and other businesses, lists the improvements that JetBlue needs to make in her blog MarketingProfs: Daily Fix. She stresses that JetBlue has to accept responsibility for the collapse in communication and reimburse their customers. In BrandSimple, Allen P. Adamson whose managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates advised JetBlue to expand beyond clearing the mess and find a model that will succeed for the growing size of their company. As a student of public relations, I could not find more current of a case study then JetBlue’s cancellation crisis, and I look forward to seeing how they proceed with their crisis management. Bliss and Adamson offer fascinating insight on what JetBlue should do and my comments to their blogs can be found below.

My comment to Jeanne Bliss’ blog:
I believe you have created an excellent outline for JetBule to follow. I agree that the company must take full responsibility for the lapse in communication, and do so in a humbling manner. If I was working for JetBlue, I would focus more on steps nine and ten of the steps you laid out. It will not be enough to say sorry for their mistake; now the company has to ensure that nothing similar to this instance will happen again. Before this past week, JetBlue stood apart from the rest of the bigger airlines who occasionally have horrendous time delays, but not anymore. JetBlue has the daunting task of gaining their customers trust back. I think the company should start a new advertising campaign describing how JetBlue is bigger yet better. The company needs to multitask by apologizing for what happened and by showing how another incident like the one that recently occurred is no longer a feasible option at JetBlue.

My comment to Allen P. Adamson’s blog:
It is true that JetBlue is expanding and they need to create a business plan that works for the growing size of their company. Although in order to do so, I believe JetBlue needs to reflect on their past business model and see what went wrong. JetBlue’s focus was on their brand and the image they portrayed. You said that JetBlue followed its brand’s image and made “flying fun, from its airfares to personnel.” If JetBlue had already established great personnel then why was there so much tension between the personnel and the passengers? The passengers to the right do not look like they are having fun. Granted emotions were high and people get fired up, but the personnel should have been trained to handle the situation. I am sure JetBlue will establish a new way to represent their brand, but they need to ensure that they will live up to what they create. In order to do this and gain the public’s trust again, JetBlue must explain why their original brand image failed in the first place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

To Some Public Relations is Unethical: In Reality, It Cleans Up the Unethical Mistakes Made by Others

For years now, public relations practitioners have faced scrutiny claiming their profession is unethical. In oppressors’ opinion, public relations is a deceitful practice that misleads people, but this accusation is false. According to the PRSA, the definition of public relations states “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” In addition, there is a public relations code of conduct which sets guidelines for the field. One of those guidelines declares “A member shall not engage in practice which tends to corrupt the integrity of channels of public communication.” . These guidelines set examples of how public relations practitioners should conduct their business affairs and reveals that they want to be true to their audience. Granted there are a few exceptions that stray away and fall into bad decisions. This small percentage should not have the control to create the entire image for all of public relations. In reality, the opposite of that situation is what most organizations strive to do with their public relations department. Steven R. Van Hook of All About Public Relations, claims “The Public Relations department is frequently the ethical heart of an organization.” Although it would be na├»ve to assume corporations and celebrities are the only people utilizing the benefits of public relations, the average every day citizen also partakes in the world of public relations. Hook articulates this opinion by declaring “PR is for us regular folks.” Despite having to work in a scandal obsessed industry, public relations as a business manages to maintain a respectable reputation that steams from basic principles.

If there are any questions as to the integrity of public relations tactics then the underlying issues leading to the public relations move needs to be examined, in particular, the actions of the journalists. In today’s competitive society, a journalist can overstep their boundaries and break their code of ethics to get the story. One of the most common examples of journalists disregarding their ethics can be found in the celebrity fascination the media has creating by invading celebrities’ personal lives. The latest development in this celebrity phenomenon is the controversy surrounding Britney Spears and her newly bald head as shown in the picture to the left. It is apparent the media’s overwhelming amount of attention and intrusion into her life pushed her to extremes that otherwise she may not have done if the media intensive spotlight had not been on her. Public relations practices are affected by this kind of content negligence, and it forces practitioners to switch for adaptation mode to crisis management mode. Crisis management is overtaking public relations due to the media, so really the media needs to reevaluate their values instead of the public relations industry.

Now that crisis management has taken a forefront in the public relations world, all practitioners must learn all the elements it entails. “Because of the way the modern media operates -- feeding on a staple diet of bad news, pouncing on any slips or slurs of the tongue -- every word uttered either at work or at play could catalyze a personal or corporate PR disaster,” this is how Gerry McCusker, a public relations analyst, believes the public relations field is changing. If someone wants to study past crisis management accounts then they should look into Levick Strategic Communications, the company displayed on the right. Levick was the crisis agency of the year in 2005 and their clients include Enron and Napster. This corporation believes “crisis management can no longer be a separate item, handled by a sequestered team.” It is clear the public relations community has had to adapt to the low tactics of the news society. Before public relations practitioners could concentrate on getting their client’s professional message out to their peers, and they were questioned about their ethics at that time. Now that the focus of public relations has been switched to crisis management the examination of public relations’ intensions is more severe. It is not the public relations profession’s fault that journalism, especially entertainment journalism, has shred some of their morals in order to make a deadline. Pubic relations is just adapting and moving with the change of the industry.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Viacom vs. YouTube: The Battle over Viewing Right

With Viacom’s recent demand for YouTube to take 100,000 clips containing Viacom content off their site, I decided to investigate into the blogopshere and uncover the reactions to this new development. YouTube is unbelievably popular and an integral component in public relations’ transformation into a technologically drive industry. If YouTube suffers a set back then the new age of public relations could suffer a setback. While Kamau High's blog displays YouTube’s rebuttal to the demand but, it is impossible to ignore Viacom’s advantage if the matter is taken to the courts. YouTube is claiming “it is not their right to control what and how viewers choose to view;” they say Viacom only has the power to decide how their films and shows are made. It is an admirable defense to Viacom’s command, but the real concern should be whether a judge will think the argument is applicable to the copy write laws. Putting legal affairs aside, Scott Karp believes the issue will dissolve due to the appeal of YouTube’s platform. For a while now, YouTube has been the new “it thing” on the web, but did it really expect other companies to not catch up? Private companies have seen the success of the new website and they must be planning to alter their own website to incorporate YouTube’s model. Both blogs composed cohesive arguments indicating the downfall of YouTube could be approaching, and my comments to those blogs can be found below.

Comment on Kamau High's blog:
Both sides of the argument are acceptably present here, but I cannot agree with YouTube’s rational for keeping Viacom’s clips. To be honest, the lazy part of me wants to side with YouTube. YouTube creates an enticing environment where any video clip can be seen in an instance, but then I ask myself is it fair to Viacom? Viacom spends the effort and expense to produce these films, so they should solely be allowed to distribute them. I would be curious to know how YouTube is avoiding the piracy laws. They may be able to avoid then now, but that may not be the case if Viacom takes them to court. According to this post, YouTube is asking its followers to boycott Viacom. My initial reaction was that YouTube might have some success with the boycott due to the esteem surrounding the trendy new site. After further consideration, I reversed my decision. Viacom’s cliental is composed of some of the biggest brands in movies and television today; those brands’ legacies and checkbooks would easily out due any rebellious stunt by a website new to the game.

Comment on Scott Karp's blog:
It is true that YouTube is in danger of losing their professional video creators; it is somewhat likely to happen if Viacom continues its quest. As for the private companies, such as Comedy Central, jumping on the bandwagon of embedding clips, I cannot believe they have not done it earlier. Many television stations are airing episodes of their shows on-line a few hours after the episode has premiered. ABC has their primetime shows available to watch on-line for free; incase someone misses the show and does not have tivo. Although, the act of private companies embedding their shows and Viacom taking away their clips will not result in the demise of YouTube because YouTube offers something the others do not. YouTube is filled with numerous amounts of home videos; some may show people dancing or acting silly while others may be cell phone clips of important events. These cell phone clips are being considered a new form of media; if reporters are not there to capture the actions then an average citizen can. Viacom cannot take away these kinds of clips, and I believe these clips create most of YouTube’s appeal.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Super Bowl: Not a Sporting Event, But a PR Extravaganza

The battle has been fought. Athletes' bodies were pushed to their physical limits and emotions were at an all time high. The Colts came to victory. Will their conquest be remembered? Perhaps by the Colts fans, but the majority of people will remember the commercials. The Super Bowl whose logo is at the left is arguably America’s biggest sporting events, and it is popular all over the world. This year’s game was broadcasted in twelve languages and "seen in 232 countries and territories and viewed by an estimated 1 billion people," according to CBS News. Along with being seen by many people, "the NFL's Super Bowl tops Forbes' first list of the world's most valuable sporting events brands." With all of the esteem the Super Bowl has acquired, it creates a public relations professional’s dream, and everyone ranging from sports franchises to charities are partaking in the dream.

It is no secret that the commercials aired during the Super Bowl have become a phenomenon. The price tag attached to a thirty second spot reached 2.6 million dollars this year. Peter Hartlaub at the San Francisco Chronicle argues “the rise in publicity for Super Bowl ads… are no accident.” The purpose of increasing the publicity for the ads is to gain the attention of the various audiences such as females who traditionally would not watch the Super Bowl. A poll conducted by Harris Interactive uncovered that more women than men were going to watch the game for the ads, with twenty-seven percent of women saying they were tunning in just for the commercials. This result is not exclusive to women; fifty-six percent of adults said they would be viewing the game equally if not more for the ads than the game.

Although the Harris Interactive poll is new, the advertising agencies were already aware of the buzz about the advertisements. They have been making their ads in conjunction with the interest levels. In the radio story “Super Bowl Ads: Still a High Stakes Game,” Chris Arnold claims there is suspicion companies such as "submit ads that will be rejects." On GoDaddy's website, the company advertises the rejected commercials such as this basic instinct spot to the right as the rejected Super Bowl commercials. The company benefits from these incidents because it receive news coverage and publicity from being the bad ad that was not allowed to be aired. This is a good example of the old saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity. At the end of the day, more people knew the company existed than before the Super Bowl.

In the midst of this power struggle among advertising agencies, there are some organizations that benefit from the Super Bowl without having to spend millions of dollars on commercials. These organizations are the non-profit groups whose causes are adopted by the sports franchises or various companies. Whether the intentions of the franchises are to benefit the charities or get another positive remark in a news article, the charity wins support and awareness for their cause. There were many charity events leading up to this year’s Super Bowl game. The city of Chicago was a participant in the "Weekend of Champions" held by the Otis Wilson Foundation. Following in his city’s footsteps, Chicago Bears’ wide receiver Bernard Berrian teamed up with Reserve nightclub and choreographed an end zone dance. If Berrian did the dance then the Reserve owners would have donated five thousand dollars to any charity Berrian wanted. The franchises and players are not alone when it comes to doing philanthropic work through the outlets the Super Bowl attracts. Cadillac held its fifth annual Super Bowl Grand Prix where celebrities and athletes raced special go-karts. Pictured here is second place winner, Nick Lachey.The winner was given ten thousand dollars to donate to a charity, seconds place got five thousand, and third place received three thousand five hundred.

It would be pleasant to assume that all of these companies were contributing to charities solely because they are passionate about the causes. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that the companies receive another piece of publicity from the event. Either way a significant amount of money is given to a good cause. If the real reasons behind the donations are to gain more attention then it is just another instance where the Super Bowl has become a media meat market instead of America’s finest football game. Although it is vital to remember the main reason for this event, the teams and players fighting to become chamopins.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Buzz Surrounding Senator Barack Obama: Is It Too Much Too Fast?

With the 2008 presidential elections quickly approaching, the media is beginning to take note of the potential candidates. It is now official that Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton will run for the democratic ticket, but she will have a difficult path to travel. Senator Clinton has a large obstacle obstructing her forward progress. Although Illinois Senator Barack Obama pictured to the left has not announced he will run for president, the feeling is that he will enter the race. After all he has one of the fastest growing popularities in politics. According to Ben Silverman at e-releases, the senator's reputation made him one of the public relations winners of 2006 saying "he became the new face of his party." While this amazing accomplishment can be very helpful to a presidential campaign, Silverman also states "Too bad for him the election is in 2008." Is Senator Obama experiencing his fifteen minutes of fame or is he going to prove to be the real deal and a power player in Washington?

The senator’s name is in the public’s eye, but now it has to stay there. NB! Public Relations’ Kelly Davis offers some insight on having a favorable profile. She advices that "pro-activity, and perseverance, are essential." If and when the senator decides to run for president, his every move will be watched and judged. Based on past elections he needs to maintain a good image in order to run a successful campaign. In Davis' article she reveals that the keys to having a good profile are being strategic, knowing the target market, focusing on the message, and spreading the word. Obama’s staff should already be familiar with these ideas and implementing them into his media coverage.

In Davis’ mind, Obama’s first goal should be strategizing with his staff members. He needs to organize a campaign committee that is familiar with his viewpoints and aware of how to sell them. The next goal Obama has to be concerned with knowing his market. Obviously Obama is going to appeal to many Democratic voters, but he needs to stand out within the Democrats candidates. One way of gaining more votes would be to attract the youngest demographic of voters and rally their interest in politics. Another area of opportunity is the independent community and their votes. Lastly, Obama has a huge advantage in appealing to minority voters; he can connect with them on a personal level. These are the demographics Obama has to reach. Coming from a public relations stand point, the initial move would be to acquire attention in the news. The New York Times and other left slanted papers would be ideal. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart would be an excellent program for Obama to give an interview because it draws the attention of Democrats with its subject matter and younger people with is comic flare.

The next step is Davis’ third goal of focusing on the message. After identifying Obama's target news sources, I explored whether of not he was discussed favorably in them. The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times both had a handful of articles mentioning Obama, but the headlines were overpowered by Clinton. There were about four Clinton headlines and maybe one about Obama; the two candidates can be seen to the right. Clinton recently declared she was running for president, so it is logical that she should have more headlines now, but Obama cannot allow Clinton to get all of the attention. She is going to be a fierce competitor, and he needs to watch out for her stealing the spotlight he achieved in 2006. One Los Angeles Times article did have Obama in the headline. The article discussed Obama leading The Harvard Law Review, and being the first African American to do so, which pulls the attention of the minority vote. While some positive came from the article, Davis feels Obama's campaign should choose three of four objectives to be known by. This article only appeals to one; him being a minority. Continuing my research, I found an article that views Obama and his White House track in a positive light. Ironically the article comes from the right-slanted FOX News, which can be helpful in attracting the independent voters who have not decided what party they want to vote for. Obama’s race and age were also pointed out, so three of his selling points were covered.

Davis’ final goal is spreading the word through press releases. On Obama’s website, press releases can be viewed. I believe they positively portray him by stating "Growing Momentum Behind Obama," but it is his public relations team’s duty to ensure the press releases continue to spread the appropriate type of news. Obama’s dilemma is not getting his name out to the public; it is already there. Now he has to focus on people continuing to hear that he "want[s] to be your voice in Washington." He should take advice from Superman pictured to the left and use the newsroom as his tool to win the election.