First Peer-Reviewed Article to be Published

25 07 2008

Great news. The PRSA journal appropriately entitled, Public Relations Journal, will be publishing my study on public relations, branding, and marketing at O.C. Tanner, entitled “Creating Recognition for Employee Recognition” (the paper that won the Plank Top Student Paper award at the International Communication Association). The article will be available at the link below, shortly:

Here’s a fun shot of me at the Bledcom Conference (taken by a professional photographer no less!…that’s why I look so professional).


What’s the difference between Fish and Chips and Violence?

24 07 2008

Apparently, one can’t be a name in New Zealand, and the other can.

Frankly, I think it’s about time we start cracking down on poor name choices. I have heard of too many people wanting to name their kid “Braxton Hicks” or some other unfortunate name…

PR as Education

21 07 2008

In May, I won the Plank Award for Graduate Student Research at the International Communication Association conference in Montreal for a paper I did on PR as education. O.C. Tanner, a global employee recognition firm, focuses its communication efforts on educating organizations about the merits of employee recognition.

That was my first research paper I produced as a doctoral student, and I’ve always been intrigued by other examples of organizations/individuals emphasizing education in public relations efforts. Why? Because teaching is an important interactive experience, where one individual edifies the other. It represents one of the noblest efforts. I think that’s why it is so effective. I can think of no better way to build a relationship than when someone reveals the tricks of the trade, the secrets of success…which is why I like this video, below, of Barenaked Ladies’ front man Ed Roberts teaching viewers how to play one of the band’s popular songs. I think there’s also an evident level of Grunig-ian Two-Way Symmetrical communication here too…

One other thing I like about this is bands seem so loathe to share their music. Anyone who has gone to a music store to purchase a book on playing a song on guitar, piano, etc., knows the frustration I have felt so often…the notes usually reflect what the singer sings, not what he or she plays.

Anyway, good public relations, kudos to BNL.

PR from the Bathroom

15 07 2008

Not quite sure what it is about toilets and PR, but for some reason, some of the more interesting examples of PR seem to come from the lavatory (here too).

Maybe it’s the intimacy of the situation. I’ve said it before, online technology provides the intimacy organizations/groups/etc. seek in creating relationships with strategic publics. What better intimacy than sharing the personal confines of the organizational “throne”…as the Rock Group, Barenaked Ladies, have demonstrated quite well in a new PR campaign on YouTube:

Here, Ed Roberts of the Barenaked Ladies fame, records and distributes through YouTube, low-budget, seemingly webcam quality, songs produced in the bathroom.

Simply Brilliant.

The value of intimacy, sacrificing perfectly honed, crafted, and designed productions in favor of imperfect and seemingly unrehearsed productions in order to relate to publics, is so underappreciated in PR discussions. The producers of The Blair Witch project discovered this value over a decade ago, when they produced a low-budget film that attained cult classic status because of the raw artform it used.

Videos like the one above by BNL represent PR as art, rather than science, and a real understanding of an organization’s public (in this case, the fans, who crave an insider, up-close-and-personal access to the band). This raw viral video form also depicts an organization as human, an organization that makes mistakes…and thus, an organization that is more real (which might entail posting bloopers, which BNL also does on YouTube).

Guerrilla PR? Bledcom 2008

9 07 2008

I spent the weekend in Slovenia, speaking at the Bledcom 2008 Conference where the theme was Integrated Marketing Communication, exploring the relationship between Marketing and PR in Integrated Marketing Communication. I was lucky enough to be a part of one of the more controversial panels.

IMC Panel at Bledcom in Slovenia: L-R: Dejan Vercic, Me, Paul Willis and Ralph Trench

Quick background: There is an established discontent between Marketing and PR…and this clash is amplified in the Academic World. Many scholars are concerned that Marketing will threaten the credibility of PR and sorely limit what PR is to merely publicity and promotion.

So, I have to admit, I’m not surprised that the panel I was on was so controversial.

I spoke on PR in marketing mix modeling, and how organizations are evaluating PR activities against sales…often considered a no-no, because PR’s value transcends superficial sales figures (a point I agree with to some extent, though I don’t agree with scholars who think you can’t connect relationships with revenue).

Two other presentations on the same panel were even more intriguing (read: controversial).

Dejan Vercic and his wife Ana Vercic set out to prove that an Editorial has more impact on consumers than an Ad…only to find that the difference is negligible. (I was actually shocked by this…in an age when Advertising is supposed to be dead, you’d think editorials would carry serious credibility…)

But perhaps the most heated debate came from a presentation by Ralph Trench and Paul Willis from Leeds, UK…on public relations’ inclusion in guerrilla marketing.¬† Ethics in PR is a huge deal…as it should be, but the word “ethics” in PR often gets translated into transparency. When Trench and Willis discussed some successful PR campaigns where a leading alcohol manufacturer created a new brand and used guerrilla PR techniques to get the word out (i.e. not being up front about the parent company), some in the audience were more than a little upset. One raised her hand and said she would teach her PR students to ignore such tactics (I guess she’s never heard of P&G, who don’t put their name prominently on ANY of their products).

Now…I do believe in ethical¬† PR. I believe in transparency, too. But teaching students to ignore such tactics only makes the problem worse…because when they get into the work force, they’ll be under-skilled (PR is quite often used behind the scenes in a “guerrilla” fashion to create hip and trendy brands) and, students won’t have a clue how to manage viable communications tactics like Guerrilla Marketing.