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Corporate blogging

April 29, 2009

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Corporate blogs are emerging as an important tool of communicating transparently and becoming an integral part of business marketing and PR strategies. Many companies are looking to embrace corporate blogging or are already interacting with their stakeholders through their corporate websites. Corporate blogs are being looked at as a platform for businesses to maintain an ongoing conversation with its customers and stakeholders. The benefits of having a corporate blog notably are helping a company obtain a good search engine visibility, which in turn increases corporate brand value. Such blogs can also potentially play a crucial role in giving out information during a crisis especially in difficult financial times like today. David Meerman Scott in his book- The new rules of marketing and PR (2007) suggests that the easiest way of finding out what the marketplace is thinking about a corporate company and its products is through a blog. Scott further asserts that most PR and marketing people are aware of blogs and should constantly monitor what’s being said about their company, product and executives on this new medium. D Breakenridge in her book PR 2.0 (2008) seconds Scott’s thoughts and proposes that the worst thing for corporate communication professionals would be if the executives found out about the communication in the market before they did. And also suggests that blogs should be transparent and updated regularly.

Although Scott and Breakenridge both strongly recommend corporate blogging, the various corporate communication departments operating out of the UK face new hindrances under the consumer protection legislation from Unfair Trading regulations 2008 and now have to clearly announce that they are a brand, if using blogging techniques. Additionally, there is the pressure from watchdogs of being fully authentic and transparent online, operating under new regulations and its impact on sales. This probably leads to the board of directors questioning the concept of corporate blogging and if it’s worth the risk. However, a good place to start a corporate blog would be to focus on social responsibility of the company, the way McDonald’s did. The corporations can be transparent about the work they do as a part of corporate social responsibility and showcase their good deeds. It also gives an opportunity for two-way communication and lets the society have a say in it. Corporate Responsibility magazine recently announced its 100 Best Corporate citizens for 2009 and Dell is sharing its success of its inclusion amongst the corporations on the list through its blog. By communicating on blogosphere, Dell is sending a message to its investors, stakeholders and customers to be proud of their association with the brand.

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Living it, Loving it

April 24, 2009

{New media assignment 3}

My Viral idea – Viral video suggesting that the employees at Nestle look forward to going to work & live for mondays. 


We don’t need no education?

March 25, 2009

bm1181_education-postersThe topic of debate in today’s (25/03/2009) Contemporary PR module class was “Success in PR is determined by personal qualities and contact; PR qualifications are irrelevant.

I put my heart and soul in opposing the motion. I feel very strongly for this topic, even more so, because my first degree ( BE Mechanical) had nothing to do with PR or media in general. For me, to gain an entry into this profession, a Master’s degree course was a natural first choice and 6 months down the line I am very glad I made the right decision. A qualification is always a good investment. CIPR stresses that “research shows that PR is becoming a graduate entry career i.e a university degree is a required qualification to have before entering the industry”. It is also encouraging to notice that a survey done in 2005 by CIPR called First destination revealed that 77% of PR graduates find work within 6 months of obtaining their degree. 

Historically, PR courses have been around for a long time. Edward Bernays taught the first university course in 1923. In the UK, first undergraduate degree in PR was launched at Bournemouth university in 1989 and Leeds metropolitan university in 1990. The post graduate courses were launched in 1989 at Stirling university and Manchester metropolitan university. In a competitive world like today, education is that feather in ones hat that can give you the extra edge. No wonder, PR courses are gaining so much popularity.

Like Grunig many other authors such as Jacquie L’Etang and Pieczka stress the importance of education to the professionalisation of public relations. Many scholars argue that an occupation becomes a profession only if certain conditions exist and one of them is existence of standardised education system. L’Etang (2002) called education the “crucial plank in PR’s quest for professional status”. A very recent survey (Degrees vital for PR career) done by PRCA  in March this year stresses that a university education is more important for PR professionals than it ever would be. 23% of surveyed agency heads revealed that a PR degree makes a graduate more attractive. It was also a bit alarming to notice that 34% said graduates less attractive. For me, it is an encouraging sign that 23% of agency heads share my sentiments. Moreover, 70% of the surveyed agency heads also reported that university education is more important than 15 years ago. This is a clear indication of changing times. A special acknowledgement to Kunal Mehta, PR lecturer at Greenwich university, who stresses the importance of PR degrees and states that contrary to what these reports have to say, PR world is supportive to PR degrees. Thank you. 

As a student, trying to gain entry into the profession, I have learnt a lot about media relations and different channels of communications. Most importantly, I have learnt how to link the two together. By choosing to do this degree, I am showing my commitment to PR as a career. I am not saying qualification alone should be enough to assess a candidate’s potential. Certainly work experience and personal qualities matter. But a right combination of all three should be a must in any candidate entering the field. 


Social Marketing

March 19, 2009

socialchangeSocial marketing is a theory that aims to influence people’s behaviour to bring a change in the society. I stumbled upon a synopsis on social marketing that made me aware that the term social marketing was coined in 1971 by Kotler and Zaltman. They defined social marketing as “the design, implementation and control of programs calculated to influence the acceptability of social ideas and involving considerations of product planning, pricing, communication, distribution and marketing research”.

In our this week’s class we had Sean Kidney, a social change consultant with over 20 years of experience in working with governments, unions, NGOs etc on various social marketing projects. I would like to thank him for introducing the concept of social marketing to me although I am not sure how far will I go with it.

Mr. Kidney spoke and advocated very passionately & convincingly about the concept of social marketing . I have to give him credit for bringing a lively atmosphere and must acknowledge the fact that he is a very good speaker, certainly very engaging and interactive as compared to some of the speakers we had in our first semester. I was also very intrigued by his talk on people’s psychology and how “small ask, big ask” can be used as a successful strategy in social marketing. One has more chances of succeeding whilst trying to bring in a change in the society if you take baby steps. 

Trying to connect public relations and social marketing together, I am still struggling to learn about what role might a PR practitioner play in social marketing apart from being the communicator. Your thoughts?

I would like to leave you with this video made by Greenpeace on global-warming though. I urge you to take a look at it. 

Crisis Management & PR

March 15, 2009

crisis_communicationMartin Langford  in Exploring Public Relations (2006) defines Crisis as “An event that disrupts normal operations of a company or an organisation and if badly managed can ruin hard-won reputations in just days and even, in some cases, write off companies” (p397). Looking back, I am trying to remember how many such situations can I think of that not only disrupted normal operations but also scarred the reputation of some of the organisations – 9/11 Twin tower attack, 07/07 London tube attack, 26/12 Tsunami, 26/07 Mumbai floods, 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, current banking crisis. Whilst Seymour and Moore would label all the crisis that I have listed as ” The Cobra”, disaster that hits suddenly and takes the organisation (or in some cases the whole nation) by surprise, I am trying to comprehend how the respective communications department handled these situations and as a PR student I empathise with them.

I might be right in saying that crisis management communication might be the most evaluated and an important factor in the business mix. It is often the job of the communications team to communicate effectively, efficiently and quickly  on the onset of a crisis not only to avoid panic but also to manage the impact on overall reputation of the organisation. Langford suggests that the spokesperson of the company should follow the proposed 5Cs model whilst dealing with the media – Concern, Clarity, Control, Confidence, Competence.

online011Heath(1993) suggested that a PPRR (Prevention> Preparation. Response> Recovery) model is often adopted by the organisations in the western world. Perhaps the most important aspect of this model, without under mining the others, is learning. Learning from the past can perhaps be the greatest tool for not just the communicators but the organisation as a whole.  Kathleen Fearn – Banks in Handbook of Public Relations (2001) stresses that “Crisis Communication is designed to minimise damage to the reputation of the organisation”. But the reputation of the organisation is in the hands of the news reporters who disseminate the information provided by public relations person to them. Whilst we all know that crisis can happen to any company big or small, the scholars such as Fearn-Banks and Langford believe that an organisation recovers best when it is prepared for a crisis. But how many organisations realistically invest in preparing for a crisis? 

A survey done by BtoB magazine and Eric Mower and associates in 2007 revealed that majority of b-to-b companies lacked crisis plan. 53% of  surveyed marketing executives responded, that a business crisis that they experienced, led to negative publicity, reduced sales, and decline in profitability. A shocking 57% also revealed that their company does not have a crisis management plan in place. But the question is can one ever be fully armed for a crisis? Can we ever develop a technique that can or will foresee the future? What can be done though is to communicate with your stakeholders, especially with the employees to keep them in the loop. There is nothing worse than finding out about your company news in the morning news than your manager. 

Global PR – Fantasy or Reality?

March 6, 2009

globalisationThe phenomenon called globalisation in itself has been a hot topic of discussion. Simon Jeffrey (reporter, theguradian) attempted to define globalisation for us in an artice published in the guardian. He stresses that it is the modern communication process that has helped globalisation become a successful ‘process’. The term globalisation was first defined in the 1980’s, although the concept has existed for far too long. It is the  understanding of  this concept in the minds of PR scholars that led to them writing about ‘Internationalisation of PR’ as a profession. Wilcox et al (2001) defined International Public Relations (IPR) as “the planned and organised effort of a company, institution or government to establish mutually beneficial relations with the publics of other nations” (p283).

Gyorgy Szondi (2006) in the text Exploring Public Relations points out that international PR agencies play a significant role in the practise of IPR. Today, such agencies have offices in various countries around the globe. These offices, local to the language and the culture, add their expertise and credibility in maintaining relations with the media and help in tailoring and localising the messages towards the needs of the publics in the specific country. If PR is a global discipline, than how can global PR be a fantasy?

International PR agencies help in developing or building awareness by creating powerful media platforms. Such agencies come with an experience of working with national & international media and help their clients to reach widest possible audiences. With the rise of technology, multinational companies now communicate with its stakeholders or media from different continents. Such technological advances has given a whole new meaning to emergence of global culture. Look around you and you will see or feel the presence of brands like Mcdonald’s, Coca cola or HSBC in every nook and corner of the world. 

This century presents both opportunities and challenges for PR as an international profession. However, for further development of the profession, such stimulation becomes mandatory.Can the future of public relations really escape the global influence when the world is turning into a single market place? I think, not!

C S aaRrghh

March 2, 2009

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Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) – Am I right in saying that broadly CSR is being responsible as an organisation or a business and giving something ‘good’ back to planet earth and it’s inhabitants. Primarily to human beings in return of all the damage that might be caused to our environment in the process of making money or profits by all the ‘Corporate Socially Responsible Companies’. Correct me if I am wrong, but it does sound like – I am going to kill you but in return make sure I pay for your funeral. Is there more to it than what it sounds like?

CSR is all about building your organisation’s reputation but ironically, CSR itself suffers a low reputation. Is it because the potential harm being done by some of the industries in businesses like Oil, Paper or Arms & Ammunitions to our environment is so significant that their good deeds in the form of CSR look not so good?  Or is it a way of piggy backing on the ‘do good factor’ of  CSR and conning people into buying your products? There is a very interesting  and well written article in ‘The Guardian’ about how “HSBC’s Half-price Green HSBC plus” is basically a “Green blackmail”. The privilege of having a Green account is that the customers don’t receive any paper mailings, be it statements, marketing offers or cheque books.  HSBC’s idea of being socially responsible is to plant a “virtual” tree for every green account switch over. Twenty such virtual trees will result in them planting a real tree. I am curious, very curious to see HSBC forest on our planet and check out how fast is it growing. Is this being socially responsible ?  By not sending us paper statements, are they not saving on all the costs such as postage,  printing, recruitment etc?  Thank you very much. How about not cutting our savings interest rate to a paltry percentage in difficult financial times like today? That for me would be being responsible to the people who invest in your bank. 

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