Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fort Worth #PRSA turns 25

Carol Murray, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

Has Greater Fort Worth PRSA really been around 25 years?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Fort Worth members of the Dallas-based North Texas chapter petitioned the National Assembly for a chapter of their own. But when I recall the events of 1986, it truly seems a lifetime away: Ronald Reagan was president. The space shuttle Challenger disintegrated in the sky. The national newspaper Today was launched. Prince Andrew wed Sarah Ferguson. Corazon Aquino became the first woman president of the Philippines. Pixar Studios opened. Ollie North and the Iran-Contra affair were household words. Bill Buckner became infamous for letting a baseball roll between his feet. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” premiered. And Geraldo Rivera made a big to-do over opening Al Capone’s secret vault, only to find … a bottle of moonshine.

In November we’ll celebrate the chapter’s 25th anniversary and look back at our successes and the many talented, dedicated practitioners who have nurtured our profession in Fort Worth. Following a nice dinner and program, we’ll poke a little fun at ourselves and laugh together with assistance from the improv group Four Day Weekend.

A “save the date” and more information are forthcoming. Meanwhile, mark your calendar for Thursday evening, November 10. Sorry, no moonshine on the menu.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is your reputation worth? (#PRethics)

What is your reputation worth? It’s worth protecting if you expect to flourish in the field of public relations.

Yes, it’s your reputation at risk, always, on the job or not. Some of the most serious hazards are on the job.

Check out the values of the organization or client who is paying for your public relations efforts. You are not the conscience of top management, including its Board. You can’t be if management has no conscience.

If you are asked to do something that conflicts with your own personal code of ethics, your own values, you have three choices.
The first is to talk about the risks to the organization if it is taking, or plans to take, a wrong turn. If personal, professional counsel fails, you can turn to PRSA’s code for behavior for its members and simply say the plans are putting your career in jeopardy. When that doesn’t work, you can quit. I’ve done it. Only once. I had four small children, a husband out of work and was in a similar economic climate to what we are experiencing now. It worked. I was coaxed back, and listened to thereafter.

If you don’t do this, you hurt yourself and the practice of PR.

Once when teaching at TCU, I had the idea of asking a philosophy professor who taught ethics to teach a class for us. When I asked him, his first response was, “I didn’t know PR people had any ethics.” You are still up against that perception. Now it’s called “spin.”
Guest post by Dr. Doug Newsom, APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor Emerita Texas Christian University, for PRSA September Ethics Month.

Photo credit: nylffn via Flickr Creative Commons
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Know thy objective

Guest post by Linda Jacobson, APR

I recently judged communication campaigns and tactics, and was struck by the lack of planning involved in nearly every entry.  Particularly absent was the lack of specific communications objectives. If you’re in public relations, marketing or corporate communications, you need to know how to craft a solid strategic communication objective because that is the single most important focal point of any communications campaign. If you don’t know what you're aiming for, you’ll never know if you reached it.

Below are components of a communication objective, but ultimately, you’ll want to ensure this is part of a strategic communication plan that aligns with your organizational or departmental business objectives.
  • Expect your outcome. Are you trying to raise awareness of a new widget or new process? Or do you need to move the needle by changing employee or customer attitudes? Perhaps you need a target audience to adopt a specific behavior. Before you can craft an objective, know what you expect the outcome to look like.
  • Use verbs! Once you know the expected outcome of your objective, select an appropriate verb. Do you want customers to buy, ban or endorse? Are you looking for employees to adopt, support or change?
  • Be specific. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at communications plans that aren’t tied to specific objectives. If you can’t articulate the objective specifically, then you are already missing the goal.
    • Who is the audience?
    • What is the timeframe?
    • What is the attainment level?
  • Measure the objective.  Know how to accurately measure your objective, and know your baseline. This is your starting point. What is the current status quo? You need to know this before you initiate your strategy; otherwise, you won’t know whether you moved the needle or not.
Below is an example of a specific communication objective that anticipates an increase in audience awareness:
Within the next 60 days, 70 percent of our organization’s customers will see or hear about our new widget.

Starting with these basics, you’ll add a solid, measurable component to your strategic planning. What other components help you achieve your goals?