Tag Archive: Public Relations Society of America


Let’s ask the question another way: Should left-brain quantitative types be teaching communications to right-brain qualitative types or at least overseeing their academic progress?

Recently, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) asked corporate executives if the Whartons, Haas’, Tucks, Kelloggs and oodles of other prestigious business schools should be teaching public relations to MBA candidates. The answer was overwhelming and loud and clear…”Yes!” wharton

Today, Almost DailyBrett is posing a different question:

Should the entire undergraduate and graduate sequences for the instruction of public relations and advertising (a logical extension) be taught by business schools?

This suggestion has been brought to my repeated attention by people who know both sides of the reporter/flack divide.

The thinking, which is credible, is that PR and advertising build, support and extend corporate brands. In most cases, brand is associated with a privately held or publicly traded company/corporation, directly flowing from a business strategy. Doesn’t it make sense for future PR and advertising professionals to be taught by MBAs and others holding advanced business degrees?

Strategic Business/Financial Communications

In creating an upper division college course as my master’s degree project, I was immediately struck by the opening of University of North Carolina Professor Chris Roush’s book, Show me the money: Writing business and economics stories for mass communication.

Roush recounted the story of the reporter interviewing the CEO of Humana Corporation. The CEO made several references to the regulatory SEC. The reporter asked: “Excuse me, but what does the Southeastern Conference have to do with your business?

How many students, majoring in public relations and advertising, do not know the difference between the Securities Exchange Commission and the Southeastern Conference?

showmethemoney How many more cannot explain the difference between revenues and net income?

Is gross margin increasing/decreasing or expanding/contracting?

And what constitutes accretive as opposed to dilutive when it comes to EPS?

Asking for a show of hands, there are always more than a few honest souls who openly admit they are majoring in public relations or advertising because they are not on friendly terms with numbers.

As a green public relations director back in the 1990s/2000s Silicon Valley, the author of Almost DailyBrett was asked to produce quarterly earnings releases (10-Q), the CEO letter for the annual report (10-K) and oodles of unplanned disclosures, including material  top-line or bottom-line misses, mergers and acquisitions and restructurings (8-K).

Help!

Why was I not taught how to read an income statement, a balance sheet, a cash-flow statement or how to track a stock back in college? The reason was simple: I went to journalism school.

The Five W’s, One H, The Inverted Pyramid and Who the Hell Cares?

Having acknowledged the lack of quantitative skills for the vast majority of journalism graduates, and this number definitely includes those majoring in public relations and advertising, there is still a compelling need for these students to learn journalism.

Some may differ because those who employ earned media (public relations) and paid media (advertising) are not objective. They have a point of view. PR and advertising pros want the public to do something that directly benefits their client or clients. True, enough.

Regardless, these practitioners still have an obligation to get the story right. They need to understand if a story is newsworthy or not for the intended audience(s). They need to pose the story in the inverted pyramid-style with the all-important what, when, where, who, why, how and who cares questions being answered in a concise and compelling manner.

invertedpyramid Are business schools equipped to teach journalism to PR and advertising majors? Do they want to teach journalism? Would they just outsource this responsibility to the journalism schools? They would still have ultimate oversight for these PR and advertising students.

Before these questions are all answered, let’s address another assumption, and a wrong contention as well. We are assuming that all public relations and advertising majors will be working for the greater glory and good of privately held (e.g., Dell, Subway) and publicly traded companies (e.g., Google, Amazon).

What about those who want to work in the public sector, politics, non-profits or NGOs? Yes, there are still bottom lines for all of these entities because they all have to stay in business. (Okay, the $18 trillion in cumulative debt federal government is an exception, but let’s avoid that subject for now).

Can business schools effectively teach issues management? Can they teach community relations? Can they really convey corporate social responsibility as opposed to fiduciary responsibility? Or will all of these subjects be taught by journalism schools? Do they want to teach these subjects and more? If not, why move public relations and advertising students to business schools?

The End of Journalism Schools?

If public relations and advertising students are transferred to business schools, what happens to journalism/communications schools?

First, the demographic makeup of business schools becomes more XX-chromosomes by means of the influx or public relations and advertising students, and the percentage of XY-chromosome journalism student bodies increases. Whether these results are demographically important or not, Almost DailyBrett will leave that analysis to those with higher pay grades.

Second, one must ask whether the tasks for already hard-pressed journalism school development (e.g., fundraising) professionals will become next to impossible if they lose students and graduates from two highly compensated professions?

Third, university and college politics are thorny enough without posing this transfer public relations/advertising students from J-schools to Biz schools. Is this a fight that anyone really wants to undertake? Would one jump into a venomous snake pit, if it was not necessary?

Maybe the answer lies with a hybrid approach? Keep public relations and advertising students under the J-school/Communications-school tent, but require them to take essential strategic business classes, particularly those that focus on brand management, reading income statements and balance sheets.

In return, business students should learn effective writing, grammar and persuasion skills offered by J-schools. The result may be more students, hailing from business and journalism schools, who are qualitatively and quantitatively equipped to serve as corporate public relations and investor relations technicians, managers, directors or vice presidents.

Heck, they will at least know the difference between the top-line and the bottom-line.

One can always dream. Right?

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/mba-admissions-strictly-business/2011/12/16/why-b-schools-need-to-teach-pr

http://www.socialbusinessnews.com/should-public-relations-be-taught-in-business-school/

http://www.businessweek.com/business-schools/public-relations-coming-to-a-bschool-near-you-12072011.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/are-public-relations-pros-journalists/

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The shattered pieces of the glass ceiling may lie on the floor, but no one is partying.

In case you haven’t noticed it, women dominate the profession of public relations.

When I was a senior vice president at A&R Edelman in San Mateo, CA, there were 134 on our staff, 110 were women.

There was no line for the men’s room; physiology had nothing to do with it.

Teaching and lecturing upper-division public relations courses at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, more than once I entered a classroom and there was not a male face to be found.

Who invited me?

The ratio of women-to-men students majoring in Public Relations at UO is north of 7-to-3. Similar women-to-men out of balance ratios can be found at other university PR departments.

gender1

Women may be dominating in numbers, but compensation is sadly a very different story.

San Diego State School of Journalism & Media Studies Professors David M. Dozier, Bey-Ling Sha and Hongmei Shen reported the pay differentials between men and women in public relations in their Why Women Earn Less Than Men: The Cost of Gender Discrimination in U.S. Public Relations.

The quantitative study of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) members, published in Public Relations Journal, revealed that male public relations practitioners earn on the average $84,368, compared to women at $76,063. That amounts to an $8,305 difference in annual salary between the two genders. At first glance, that figure sounds relatively close.

However, the magnitude of the different pay for equal work comes into play when you multiply the $8,305 over the course of a 40-year career, bringing the total to a staggering $332,200 loss of earning power for women practitioners, their children and their families.

That’s serious money.

You could outright buy a very comfortable house in Eugene, Oregon with that amount or maybe make a down payment for a home in Silicon Valley. More than $300,000 is the difference between a comfortable retirement, and being forced to flip hamburgers in your Golden Years.

Dozier, Sha and Shen offered several potential explanations for this inequity including differences in experience, career-interruptions (e.g., babies and family) and simply because of gender.

gender2

One area that was studied by these San Diego State profs that still needs more attention are choices of specific jobs made by the two genders. The academics noted that corporate PR shops ($88,823 average salary) had more men, while non-profits ($62,275 average salary) were composed of more women. There is a major difference in pay and yet more women gravitate to non-profits than men. America is a free country, but are non-profits the right choice?

Community relations pays on the average $63,437 annually. In contrast, financial relations provides the highest rate of compensation in the industry, an average of $117,233 per year. Are enough women focusing on investor relations and corporate public relations? IMHO, they should. Not only do these categories pay extremely well, they also require one to be talented both qualitatively (e.g., developing relationships with buy-and-sell-side analysts) and quantitatively (e.g., reading income statements and balance sheets).

There is also the question of the technician vs. manager divide as the former will most likely always be compensated in five figures, while the latter potentially leads to the six-figure salaries. Every profession needs worker bees, but there is no justification for one gender making up the majority of subordinates.

What can college and university instructors do to help rectify this inequity? The word “mentoring” comes immediately to mind. What if…

● We encourage women public relations majors to take Strategic Business/Financial Communications and other business communications classes to have a better understanding of businesses. Every organization – for profit or non-profit – operates on the basis of an income statement and a balance sheet. Remember GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) is your friend.

● In group settings, more times than not, it is the male of the species that is clamoring to be the group leader. Why don’t we quietly encourage more women students to lead these groups? If this experience is positive, it could spur more women to pursue the road-to-six-figure managerial jobs. Yes, industry always needs its technicians, but skilled managers as well.

● Another huge positive that comes from group leadership is the management of people. Keep in mind, not everyone is cut out to supervise and encourage employees. Having said that, organization management is a skill that will always be in demand, and it cannot be effectively outsourced.

● We present the full gambit of positions that are available in public relations, not just community relations, internal communications and non-profit communications, but corporate public relations, investor relations, reputation/brand management and crisis communications.

Guess which ones pay the most?

● The same also applies to chosen end market. There is more to life than just non-profits and PR agencies (I served in both), but also corporate and government (I toiled here and there as well). Where is the compensation the greatest? The answer usually revolves around where the supply is the smallest; the demand and challenges are the greatest.

gender3

Almost DailyBrett wishes for a magic wand to wave away the last vestiges of ugly and flat-out wrong sexism and racism from global societies.

Absent supernatural powers, we can instead take positive mentoring steps to help close and eliminate the pay inequity between men and women in public relations. Today is a great day to start.

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/Documents/2013DozierShaShen.pdf

http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/sexual-discrimination/a/Corporations-Sued-For-Gender-Discrimination-Against-Women-And-Men.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/pr%E2%80%99s-endangered-species/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/where-are-the-guys/

 

 

 

Is Ghost Blogging Kosher?

Is undisclosed ghost blogging ethical even in cases in which the stated executive author concurs with the content and approves the posting of the blog in her or his name?

What’s the problem? Barack Obama doesn’t write his speeches? Everyone knows this.

ghost

More than 70 percent agree that ghost writing an executive blog is no big deal.

And yet there is a sizeable minority with qualms.

Isn’t blogging the development of personal relationships by means of digital two-way symmetrical conversation?

You can ghost write speeches. Ditto for op-eds and commentaries. But can you effectively “outsource” your conversations?

Isn’t undisclosed ghost blogging the antithesis of the public relations industry movement toward “radical transparency?”

Maybe this question isn’t so easy?

Arriving on the University of Oregon campus in fall 2010 after my nearly four-year tenure at Edelman Public Relations, I remember discussing the Edelman/Wal-Mart debacle with School of Journalism and Communication Assistant Professor Tiffany Gallicano.

edelman

The 2006 Wal-Mart/Edelman controversy revolved around the use of non-Wal-Mart employees “Jim and Laura” to blog about the pleasant working conditions at the retail giant. This “astroturfing” deception resulted in banner headlines and embarrassment for both Edelman Public Relations and its client Wal-Mart.

Essentially, Edelman hired “ringers,” one a Washington Post photographer and the other a U.S. Department of Treasury employee, to play for the Wal-Mart management team and everything was fine until they were caught. What made this caper all the more embarrassing is that Edelman participated in the formulation of disclosure standards for the blogging industry Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

To Richard Edelman’s credit, he visited virtually all Edelman offices to apologize and all Edelman employees were mandated to take training in online disclosure. Richard is a major proponent of “radical transparency” and one can surmise the Wal-Mart experience plays into his evangelizing on this issue.

mackey

Similar headlines and rebukes were directed in 2007 against Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey, who blogged incessantly under the alias “Rahodeb” (an anagram on his wife’s name, Deborah). His posts found a litany of faults with rival Wild Oats, a company that Whole Foods was trying to acquire. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was none-too-pleased.

As Tiffany and I discussed the Edelman/Wal-Mart and Whole Foods cases, we realized that while the issue of undisclosed ghost blogging was not new, it was far from settled. The question: Is there a consensus among the public relations community about the ethics of this issue? We quickly became indebted to Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for allowing us to circulate a quantitative survey of its membership on this subject. Nearly 300 (agency, corporate, public sector and NGO) practitioners responded.

PRSA has adopted an ethics code that all of its members should be “honest and accurate in all communications” and to “avoid deceptive practices.” The trade organization makes no distinction between communications that are traditional in nature, such as newspapers, or digital, such as blogging and podcasting.

Soon it was time to analyze the results and we were glad to have the assistance of quantitative Wunderkind and Ph.D candidate, Toby Hopp, to assist us. The study was declared valid, but the results were not clean-cut. This point was magnified when Tiffany and yours truly presented our results at the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) in Miami in spring of 2012.

We made several presentations, each starting first with the professorial types nodding their heads, but quickly arguing with each other. Tastes great! Less filling! No Disclosure! Disclosure? It was a sight to behold.

First, the easy part. Is it okay for an organization to list executives as blog authors even though they were written by others (e.g., PR types) as long as the ideas come from the listed executives and they approve the message: 71.1 percent, agreed; 20.7 percent disagreed.

Seems easy.

Next we asked is it okay for an organization to NOT disclose a PR agency’s assistance in writing blog posts under a client’s name? This is where the Radical Transparency movement first exhibited its influence: 44.7 percent concurred; 37.9 percent did not. Interesting.

The third question: “As a standard practice any ghostwriting of employer executive or client executive blogs should be publicly disclosed?” 37.1 percent, affirmative; 40.9 percent, negative. This was getting too close for comfort.

When it comes to staffers writing executive responses to reader comments (provided the ideas come from the executive and she or he gives approval), 56.3 percent believed this practice was acceptable, while 35.4 percent disagreed.

Finally, there is the question of a PR staffer writing an executive’s comment on subjects posted on some other blog, even with the ideas coming from that exec and she or he giving approval. The results revealed a reversal in sentiments: 42.6 percent approved; 44.0 percent disapproved.

We were pleased to receive the Jackson-Sharpe Award from the IPRRC in March 2012, and our research was published earlier this month by the PRSA’s Public Relations Journal. The Institute for Public Relations has created a Social Science of Social Media Research Center (SSSMRC). Our study will be available there as well.

Looking back at our research, a strong majority of industry practitioners see ghost blogging as essentially the equivalent of ghost writing a speech or op-ed. Everyone knows that Obama tinkers with his speeches, approves them but does not have the time to write them. That is largely true for CEOs as their time is precious.

speech

Isn’t it the job of PR practitioners (e.g., in-house corporate, agency) to assist executives in telling an organization’s story? Sure.

But is a blog the same as a speech or an op-ed/commentary? Speeches are two-way asymmetrical. Blogs are two-way symmetrical. Blogs invite conversation. Blogs benefit from comments.

Can you effectively outsource your digital conversations and still lead torch-light parades behind the banner of Radical Transparency?

The question of undisclosed ghost blogging does not lend itself to easy answers or quick consensus. Let the arguments continue into the night.

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/Documents/2013_Gallicano.pdf

http://www.instituteforpr.org/scienceofsocialmedia/

http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-10-17/wal-mart-vs-dot-the-blogospherebusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/12/business/12foods.html?_r=0

Wasn’t the 1992 Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes movie actually titled, “White Men Can’t Jump?”

5u520k15.jpg

That’s right, but one could easily substitute “Aging Pale Males” for “White Men” and the message would be exactly the same. Now what if you substituted a minority group, females or those of alternative lifestyle for “White Men” in the title of the movie? We all know the answer to this question and we don’t need to go there.

You may be thinking right now that this particular blog post is nothing more and nothing less than mid-life crisis sour grapes. After all, Almost DailyBrett is written by a follicly challenged pale male with more than a few miles on his personal odometer (even though the fire has not gone out).

Haven’t white men had more than their share of disproportionate glory (i.e., the first 43 POTUS’, even all of the presidents with wigs and beards, and all of those who have walked on the moon)? They have. Does that now mean it is high time to even the score and consign pale males to the ash heap of history?

Go ahead make fun and tell jokes about pale males (and lawyers too), you can do so with impunity.

When the political talking heads discuss the “gender gap,” does it ever relate to one candidate’s subpar performance in securing the votes of pale males?

A recent CBS New York Times poll demonstrated that President Barack Obama was six points in front of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney among women (49-43 percent), but Romney held an exact same lead (49-43 percent) over the president among men. And yet the article in its lead paragraph assessed the impact of reproductive health, contraception and career choices on the gender gap: all hot button issues for women.

There is even a concerted national effort to marginalize one party and equate it to being the party of the pale males…as though that is an unforgiveable sin.

Certainly there is still a sizeable “gender gap” when it comes to equal pay for equal work between men and women, and the female of the species has every reason to be hacked off. The Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) 2010 Work, Life & Gender Survey reported that the average annual income for men in public relations was about $120K. The figure for women was about $72K, even though women dominate the ranks of the PR industry.

The public policy question that must be posed is does society effectively respond to decades of sexism and racism in this country (and others) by permanently casting aside a particular demographic group? Do two wrongs ever equate to a right? Is Affirmative Action seen as Negative Action by pale males, at least in private? Does Affirmative Action mean that aging pale males need not apply?

As an aging pale male, I have been asked to fill out dreaded optional “demographic profiles” for jobs. Let’s see: Male or female…darn, male. Vet or non-vet? Ah, non-vet? African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific-Islander or…ehh…white? Can I check Pacific Islander since I have been to Hawaii a half a dozen times? I even channel surfed Hawaii Five 0.

How does one counteract being north of the young/old Mendoza Line (e.g., north of 50) with a pale complexion and that annoying y-chromosome that requires shaving your face every morning?

One of the reasons given to not hiring aging pale males is the overqualified syndrome. Yours truly just received his Master of Arts degree in communication and society from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Should I be proud of this accomplishment or should I be fearful that I just made myself even more overqualified? And if I actually decide to be the first person in my family to earn a doctorate is that curtains for any and all chances to ever being hired again in my life?

Hey, what if I try to dumb down my curriculum vitae…err resume? Can I possibly come across as less experienced, less costly and more appealing for a perspective employer? How’s that for counterintuitive out-of-the-box thinking?

Even if I succeed in making myself less overqualified, I still cannot change (other than sex reassignment surgery) who I am. For better or for worse (I fear the latter), I am an aging pale male. I am learning to deal with this albatross around my neck and hoping at some time the pendulum will swing a tad in the other direction (maybe just enough for me), even though I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. All of this discussion harkens back to some key questions for aging pale males.

What do you call 500 aging pale males in the bottom of the ocean? A good start.

What’s the difference between a dead aging pale male and a dead skunk on the freeway? The skid marks in front of the skunk (Sigh).

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/05/13/the_average_white_guy_vote_114135.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Men_Can’t_Jump

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57418064-503544/a-history-of-the-gender-gap/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/pr%e2%80%99s-endangered-species/

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