Public Relations: The Art of Persuasion

May 30th, 2013

Three Methods of Persuasive Communication

By: Tiffany Engleman

According to Robert Heath from the University of Houston, “Public relations professionals are influential rhetors. They design, place, and repeat messages on behalf of sponsors on an array of topics that shape views of government, charitable organizations, institutions of public education, products and consumerism, capitalism, labor, health, and leisure. These professionals speak, write, and use visual images to discuss topics and take stances on public policies at the local, state and federal levels.”

Because public relations professionals have mastered the art of persuasion, they can use persuasion to their advantage. But, how do PR professionals become so exceptional at persuading public opinion? There are three methods of persuasive communication that PR professionals turn to when communicating with the general public.

  1. Audience analysis is a major component of persuasive communication. Possessing the knowledge of the audience’s beliefs, attitudes, values, concerns, and lifestyles is a critical part of not only basic communication, but also in persuasive communication. Audience analysis can help public relations professionals adapt the messages that they send to unique audiences and increase the effectiveness of these messages significantly.
  2. Self-Interest is the central motivation of every individual and appealing to one’s self-interest will gain more attention to any message. People tend to pay attention to messages that appeal to their needs, whether it is economic, psychological, or situational.
  3. Source Credibility is the third method of persuasive communication utilized by PR professionals. A message is more convincing when the source has established credibility with its audience. There are three factors when creating source credibility: Expertise, Sincerity, and Charisma. These three aspects are crucial in making a message credible with its target audience.

As you can see, persuasion is a detailed process that communicators, especially public relations professionals, need to understand in order to effectively send messages that will reach their target audiences. By utilizing audience analysis, appealing to the consumer’s self-interest, and establishing source credibility within a message, communicators can efficiently master the art of persuasion.

Source: Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education.

Pros for using a Public Relations Agency

May 21st, 2013

The Top Five Advantages of Utilizing Public Relations Firms

By: Tiffany Engleman

As is the case with all organizations, there are advantages and disadvantages to the services provided. There are countless advantages of utilizing the services of a Public Relations firm. Among all those advantages illustrated by the chief PR firms in the country, five advantages stand out among the rest.

  1. Objectivity: Choosing a firm can offer a company with different insights and innovative ideas and perspectives toward enhancing that particular organization’s image.
  2. Resources: A public relations firm is going to have a vast amount of resources that they can utilize when offering their services to an organization. Some of these resources include: ample media contacts, consistent contact with a number of products and services suppliers, as well as research materials such as data information banks.
  3. Problem-Solving Skills: Each staff member of a PR firm can offer a unique skill set when it comes to solving problems creatively. With many different perspectives available, companies will find themselves with a broad spectrum of assets if a problem arises.
  4. Varied Skill Sets: Aside from problem-solving skills, each staff member of a PR firm will also be skilled in speech writing, trade magazine placement, and assisting with investor relations.
  5. Credibility: A renowned PR firm will have a solid
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    reputation for professional and ethical work. Aligning an organization with a successful Public Relations firm will provide a client with positive public attention among opinion leaders of various backgrounds.

Choosing a public relations firm can offer an organization a vast array of advantages. Public relations is an industry where people are its greatest strength, and managing the way that people view one’s organization is key to the success of all organizations.

Source: Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, Massachusetts: Pe

International Public Relations

May 20th, 2013

Representing U.S. Organizations Abroad: Four Chief Public Relations Obstacles of Globalization

By Tiffany Engleman

Globalization is a prominent force in today’s world. There is a large number of United States-based global giants participating in this prosperous market worldwide at this very moment. Having a prominent company presence abroad can be extremely lucrative for businesses from the United States. Some major U.S. companies that are currently reaping the benefits of a global market are as follows: ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, and General Electric. Though there are immense benefits to globalizing a company, there are also four chief public relations obstacles that an organization will face when introducing a brand to the rest of the world.

  1. Competition: There will always be competing organizations, regardless of the market. Maintaining the competitive advantage is a withstanding obstacle amongst the global market as well. Always stressing the benefits of a brand and ensuring that these benefits are relevant to consumers will remain key in jumping this hurdle.
  2. Sustainable Development: Sustainable development is a crucial initiative of any large corporation as

    they enter the global realm. Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the resources of the future is imperative of large corporations. Public image overseas will rest greatly on how businesses can hone their skills/products to preserve resources.

  3. Boycotts: It comes as no surprise that many countries do not agree with U.S. foreign policy. As a result, a number of overseas organizations and citizens will not wish

    to conduct business with U.S.-based companies. Creating a strategy to alter these negative perceptions and become an accepted company abroad is one of the largest barriers to break when taking a company overseas.

  4. Moral Corporate Citizenship (Local/National Levels): David Drobis, a former senior partner and chair of public relations firm Ketchum, stated, “Companies must take into consideration a broad group of stakeholders as they pursue their business goals globally. And by doing so, there are tangible and intangible business benefits. In this way, good corporate citizenship is not a cost of doing business, but rather a driver of business success. What’s good for the soul is also good for business.”

Handling any of these four obstacles would be very difficult without a sound public relations team representing an organization. These global obstacles are no small task for companies to face, and the manner in which they are addressed

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can either positively or negatively affect a corporation within the global market. Yet, if a company is positively accepted into the global market, the opportunities for increases in revenue and further expansion will be just two of the major benefits for an organization. Source: Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education.

Public Relations on the Web: a Case in Point

May 8th, 2013

The Web in Action: National Pizza Chain Reacts

By: Tiffany Engleman

In my previous article, Power of the Web, we saw there are many different ways that the World Wide Web can become useful for public relations professionals across the board. In the case of Domino’s Pizza and the infamous YouTube video from Conover, North Carolina, we can see just how powerful the Web can be in dispelling false information.

In 2009, Domino’s faced a major setback to it’s brand reputation when two employees decided to create a “prank” YouTube video, while at work, showing them making sandwiches completely violating all health standards. The video attracted 500,000 viewers in just 24 hours. Within 48 hours, the video had reached over a million views and the mainstream media had began to

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pick up the story. With such a blow to the Domino’s brand reputation, their public relations team had to create an impeccable strategy to set the record straight and the Web played a major role in their comeback.

Domino’s used the following tactics on the Web to inform their consumers about what was happening with the company and what they were doing to fix the problem. The first thing Domino’s decided to do was create a Twitter account solely to communicate with their customers about the issue. They then placed a “customer care” link about the incident on their corporate webpage to effectively respond to consumer concerns.

Another public relations tactic used was communicating via email to all employees and franchises to keep them informed about what was happening. Conducting interviews and distributing news releases via electronic news services, blogs, and social media sites were also used extensively to reach their consumers. Finally, using the company’s Facebook page, Domino’s was able to attract and gather “friends” and keep them informed about what they were doing to resolve this issue.

As you can see, the Web was the perfect forum for dismissing the false information that the YouTube video conveyed to the public. It is also simple to notice how advantageous the Web can be for public relations professionals when trying to communicate with mass audiences as quickly as possible. Domino’s was able to get back on its feet and once

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again establish the trust that they held prior with their customers through proper utilization of the Web.

Source: Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education.

Public Relations and the Power of the Web

May 7th, 2013

Using the World Wide Web in Public Relations

By Tiffany Engleman

Some might say the growth of the World Wide Web can be attributed to browsers such as Internet Explorer and Google. Both browsers have made information rapidly accessible to billions of people across the globe. Not only do people have a vast array of information to discover on the web, the web is also extremely attractive to public relations professionals because of the ease of distributing messages to a wide variety of audiences. Public relations professionals can easily exploit the power of the web to their advantage, especially when communicating with target audiences. There are several appealing features  the web possesses to public relations personnel.

  1. Interactivity: One of the best features of the web is the interactivity that it provides for viewers. Viewers have the ability to question products and services, download useful information, and provide feedback to organizations.
  2. Updates: Information can be updated swiftly, without the hassle of reprinting materials such as brochures. This feature could come in handy, especially in a crisis situation.
  3. Space: Space for information is infinite on the web. An organization can post as much material as necessary to communicate effectively with an audience.
  4. 24/7: Anyone can access the materials posted by public relations professionals virtually anytime they need, which is an incredible advantage of this resource.

Although these are just four of the advantages that the Web offers for everyone, especially people working in the field of public relations. The growth of the World Wide Web offers astounding resources for public relations professionals. The Web makes communicating with target audiences an extremely easy task and the PR industry can easily benefit from this resource to extend their organizations reach to a variety of people on a much broader scale.

Source: Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education.


Public Relations vs. Advertising

April 30th, 2013

Public Relations and Advertising: What’s the difference?

by Tiffany Engleman

I’ve noticed that the practices of Public Relations and Advertising can become muddled. Indeed there are some similarities between the two fields. However, there are four unique differences that distinguish the two from one another.

  1. Public Relations incorporates a number of communication tools in their daily interactions with colleagues and clients; social media brochures, special events, speeches, news releases, and feature stories are just a few. Advertising operates almost solely through mass media outlets and for the most part does not utilize near as many channels as does Public Relations.
  2. Advertising directs messages to external audiences (predominantly consumers of goods and services).  Public Relations focuses on a specific external audience such as stockholders, vendors, community leaders, environmental groups, as well as internal audiences (employees).
  3. Advertising is primarily identified as a specialized communication function. Public Relations is much broader in scope. PR integrates policies and performances of entire organizations, from the interactions between employees to the procedure of answering phone calls.
  4. The primary goal of Public Relations is to become a liaison between a company and their customers. Public Relations creates and protects a positive image for organizations through any situation that can affect a company’s image, including but not limited to: economic, social, and political factors. The primary function of Advertising is to assist in promoting the sale of goods and services.

Although Public Relations and Advertising share some similar traits in the broad scheme of things, there are many aspects that do differentiate the two. At the end of the day, Advertising is selling a company’s goods or services and Public Relations is ensuring that a company has the ability to positively market goods and services to the public or a targeted audience.

Works Cited: Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education.

Media: Blunders, Bumbles and Bungles

April 29th, 2013

By Neil Kuvin

My perspective on the media comes from having spent more than 45 years working at major network affiliated TV stations in cities including New York, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit and Pittsburgh. So I don’t come by my extreme opinions by way of a back road.

These past few years we’ve all witnessed journalism, both broadcast and print, at its best and recently its worst. There’s a plenteous supply

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of muddling, blundering and just plain screwing up to make us all sick and ashamed. Examples of shoddy media coverage is not just the mis-reporting of international events. Agree or disagree with network International reporters, we’ve been witness to a growing demonization of the Syrian state by the media. I disagree with the matter-of-fact reaction to their mistakes. Like the purposeful, planned and terribly reported Benghazi incident. In 2011, many news organizations misreported that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died. Recently, in Newtown, Conn., many news outlets wrongly identified the shooter.

I’m sick of the fabrications and then the palms-up denials. The fingerprint of the current cycle is the blisteringly inadequate, unprofessional and embarrassing coverage & then the rush to release incorrect information, painfully surrounding the terrible Boston Marathon tragedy.

It all actually started for me in the last election cycle when WCPO, the ABC affiliate up I-71 in Cincinnati on Oct.19, 2012 declared President Obama had won Ohio. Ummm – wasn’t the election still two weeks away?

Put aside the blunders for a moment and focus with me on the other truly unforgivable media activities; the despicable language and browbeating verbiage being routinely spat forth by print members of the fourth estate. For what? A competitive edge? Competing with whom? “Hustler?” “Playgirl?”

Consider a very recent “Media Matters” column: “Kelley (as in Megyn Kelley) is the most despicable whore among a cast of despicable whores on the Fox Lies news.”

Recently, this same laudable member of the print journalism fraternity, in defense of President Obama and Planned Parenthood and against Fox News, emitted their typical foul-mouthed venom at Kirsten Powers, Monica Crowley and Megyn Kelly, calling them “despicable whores” and other open-minded, free-thinking smears. Tolerance indeed. And “Media Matters” says they are “the nation’s premier progressive media watchdog, research and information center.” Rrrrright!!

How about a recent Washington Post article published the morning after the Boston Marathon bombs left behind their devastating marks. The reporter said two men had been arrested. Even published their pictures! Ratings the evil one here?

Before I go on too long, let’s bring up those three once-proud broadcasting letters; the news brainchild of Atlanta’s beloved media culture tycoon, Ted Turner. I know Mr. Turner quite well. Almost went to work for him. Did you hear about the CNN reporter who mistakenly told us that there had been an arrest in Boston? There had been none yet.

A wonderful, unrehearsed reply went to a reporter by former President George W. Bush who was asked by Diane Sawyer: “Do you miss all of us?” “W” responded: “Well, I miss you as a person. But I don’t miss your profession.”

And I’ll close this rambling thesis with the award for the most ridiculous blunder of the year so far. A CNN reporter, covering the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings was in the immediate area where the bombs exploded. She looked around. Turned back to the camera and reported. “Oh… it looks like a bomb went off here!”

The bottom line: We oughta be ashamed. We who are still part of the once-proud and dignified fourth estate, and the rest of the unknowing, unaware general public. The average Joe and Jane in our country get their news from fewer than two sources each day. That’s downright scary. Don’t take it from me. I just work here.