Embracing Social Media

As college students, we are, for a lack of a better term, forced into the world of social media. As PR practitioners, our profession is changing in a BIG way. Most of us have at least one social networking domain, and we’re frequently browsing the Internet, instant messaging and texting. Applying these social media skills to our professional lives is the real test.

The way in which PR practitioners learn is changing, just as technology is changing. A computer is a requirement for any college student. Keeping current with the latest software, and using interactive classroom discussion boards are vital. My economics professor once told my class that his friend had his own personal computer back in college, costing $10,000. It’s amazing to think how our society has advanced in both production and availability.

Blogging and social media are everywhere. It’s still somewhat overwhelming to have classroom discussion on how to use Twitter or Facebook for marketing tactics. It changes the way prospective employees have to present themselves and protect their privacy online. It is a great resource to learn this material prior to entering the job market because the knowledge will be expected of us.

Yet, some PR professors are not as excited about teaching new social media tactics in the classroom and find it to be more distracting than anything. For example, some PR professors at San Diego State University, such as Associate Professor, Bey-Ling Sha, find that using Twitter and other networking devices during class time causes students to not pay attention. They prefer that their students learn how to effectively use these programs outside the classroom. While most professors do recognize the importance of these programs, some prefer it not enter the classroom because they feel it takes away from lecture. While it’s important to have knowledge in various social media platforms, professors still want to emphasize strong writing and editing skills.

social-media-platforms

Perkett PR is an organization that is using social media very effectively, even posting an article called Drop the Excuses and Start Participating. Fundamental skills are always going to be the foundation for studying PR, but it seems the old way in which we apply ourselves and get information out there is now irrelevant. Plain and simple, social networking just allows for a much more efficient way for a company to relay a message to people. These social media tools make it possible to connect with and target people who are interested in what you are saying, rather than annoying people who don’t care.

Being well trained in how to use these tactics doesn’t automatically ensure that your business is better off. Good PR and bad PR will exist no matter what tools are at an organization’s disposal. Even if the medium of communication changes, organizations can still communicate with people. That’s why I truly do believe that learning how to apply this material in a professional environment is crucial for any PR class.

Successful PR won’t change at all, even as the tools we use do change. Creating relationships with organizations and journalists is always going to be the foundation for any successful PR practitioner. Poor skills in communication and writing will lead to failure in this industry no matter how educated you are in social media platforms. The ability to adapt to a changing job market, while solidifying that foundation in “old school” PR is what separates true practitioners from fake ones. While social media skills are crucial today, a fundamental and structured knowledge is still needed. Combining all the tools that are used to make our job more efficient and enjoyable, with the tools we are instilled with throughout our education, makes the changing communications medium more exciting.

It seems as though we will continue to have to learn and adapt because there is no end in sight for this social media rampage. The test will come in the form of staying current on all of them.

PR in “Black Hole” North Korea

North Korean citizens and journalists have the right to press freedom, according to Article 53 of the constitution. Why is it that North Korea is constantly being deemed the largest information void in the world according to Reporters Without Borders? Freedom of speech and press freedom are only allowed in support of the government. Public relations in North Korea does not exist in the way we are used to seeing it.

Promotional activities aimed toward the growth of a company does not exist in North Korea. This changes our very perception of advertisements and the way in which we read news. Imagining hearing the praise of Barrack Obama every single day, as North Korean media does with leader Kim Jong il. The government prohibits anyone from listening to foreign media broadcasts, and severe punishment awaits those who are caught. Only government officials have access to foreign media and business statistics. Employees working within a specific organization may have knowledge of that organization, but everything is overseen through the government.

PR within North Korea is practiced only to contribute to political propaganda. While it is technically defined as PR, it’s not journalistic. Government PR control extends to all areas of academic learning and informational broadcasts. Businesses, art studios, authors, organizations and film companies are allowed to actively promote their brand or idea, as long as it somehow plays into government propaganda.

According to a report released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), “When the state controls all media, opposition voices don’t get heard, critical analysis of the government’s performance is hidden from the public. In North Korea, the media are actively used only to foster a cult of personality around the country’s autocratic leaders.”

Public relations is all about freedom of speech. A PR practitioner without the right to promote what he or she feels is best for an employer loses all sense of accomplishment and value. One could feel like their job is lifeless and unappreciated. Personal insight goes to waste, and the mind isn’t allowed to flourish into the amazing gift that it is.

I can’t stress enough on how I feel PR doesn’t truly exist in North Korea. The citizens and journalists are isolated from the rest of the world, and the government keeps a firm grip on information by using restrictive laws, fear, and intimidation. There is simply no independent media, which means no true PR. Great minds reside all throughout the world, but the inability to express thought and have it uniformed toward one purpose is horrific, disallowing you to reach your potential.

Only a small number of foreign journalists are ever allowed to enter, and those who are allowed are guided by minders who promote what they want you to see and dismiss any provocative questions by journalists.

Live Link has an inside perspective on this taking place.

During the 1990s, the official Korean Central News Agency wouldn’t even allow coverage of a famine that affected millions of citizens because the government did not deem it as newsworthy. PR agencies that wanted to promote health warnings, places to find food and relief efforts were not allowed to do so.

I continue to wonder how the atrocity of disallowing freedom of speech and of the press is allowed to still persist in a part of the globe in this era of media revolution. The laws that bind our own privileges greatly differ from those where appearance and political “worship” is the only calling in life.

Entering the blogosphere

bbbHello, bloggers, it’s my pleasure to finally have entered the blogosphere in this world of new media. The importance of expressing my thoughts is crucial, not only in helping future employers learn more about me but hopefully educating the public as well. I will focus my blog on current issues in PR, particularly in the area of crisis communication and addressing press freedom.

The availability of information is ever-expanding, and the ability to express your thoughts on a focused issue, or broader issue, is a great resource and intelligence to have. Since college, I’ve become interested in government PR and the cultural differences between nations. Culture has always been a passion of mine. I’m not one for too much structure, and I believe personal thoughts should not have a uniformed outline. I hope to relate this to the profession of PR and explain its impact on our professional lives as practitioners. It may be a difficult task as far as research and narrowing down information, but it looks to be rewarding, as well.

My thoughts often get scrambled as I’m writing them, but I hope I can relay information in a way that is targeted and easy to follow. This blog is not only for readers of PR news but also for those who follow current events and are looking for an opinionated yet intelligent post.