Creating pieces for the Peoria chapter of Crime Stoppers was a very beneficial “real world” experience. Not only did we have the opportunity to meet with the client to discuss what they wanted from our group, but we also were able to create materials and present it to them as if we were actually hired to do their public relations. For the project, I created the flyer about the Crime Stoppers scholarship and the television slide that would be shown in Peoria County jails. I had never created pieces like these before, so I thought I would take on the challenge and put my basic knowledge of graphic design to use. I ended up creating pieces that I thought were visually appealing but contained all of the important information Crime Stoppers wanted on them too. When my group submitted everything to Crime Stoppers for review, there was no feedback given about my elements of the project. Part of me wished that they would have said something about my pieces, but I concluded that no feedback was good feedback. Generally, I would say there were no negative takeaways from this opportunity. I really enjoyed working with Crime Stoppers and gained helpful experience making press kit materials— experience that I will definitely draw upon in the future.
One way to combat the era of “fake news” is through captivating and efficient press releases. When journalists at newspapers and online news sources use press releases as their stories or to build their stories, their sources for that news are coming straight from the organization itself. Since the information coming from organizations should always be correct, sending out press releases that journalists should want to use could help diminish fake news. The most important thing to keep in mind when writing a press release is journalistic style. If the release is not up to the certain journalistic standards, journalists will not want to use it for a story. A press release also needs to be newsworthy, given that journalists receive so many every day. Focusing on the lead of the release is crucial because that is the first thing journalists read. The lead should be simple and short yet interesting to the readers. Including other elements like quotes, pictures and links to further information also help make the release stand out. In all, a press release should be able to stand alone as a news story so journalists won’t have to make any changes to it. If a journalist would have to make a change or add more to it, that is when false information could start to spread.
One press release I saw recently that is a good example of one is from the Cardinals about an upcoming event:
Well-written public relations materials help build and maintain positive relationships with an audience because they give an organization a voice. In a world of huge corporations and big businesses, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that each organization is made up of people too. These people ultimately just want to serve other people, whether that’s through selling a good or service or if it’s a nonprofit that helps the community around it. Having well-written materials that explain an organization’s initiatives, motives and core beliefs makes the organization more approachable but also makes them look more put-together. People now want to have the information they need right away, so making sure organizations have that readily available with a modern look is crucial. Direct contact with an organization’s audience is also important in maintaining those positive relationships, which is why having up-to-date and engaging social media pages is the main focus of many public relations professionals nowadays (Wendy’s Twitter is one of my favorites). Organizations can use social media to directly speak to their audience and respond to any concerns they have. Any public relations material should ultimately make its readers feel more informed about an organization, and this can be done in both serious and entertaining ways. When an audience feels more informed about what an organization is all about, they should feel more willing to buy or partake in whatever they are selling or doing.
The one use social media to promote positive public relations that stood out to me was Crock-Pot’s response to the controversy that the show “This is Us” created. In the show, a Crock-Pot started a fire that killed a main character, and fans started to think that the slow cooker was dangerous. Crock-Pot eagerly responded by making a Twitter account with the handle @CrockPotCares and tweeting that their products are safe. They also replied to “This is Us” fans that had voiced their concern for the safety of Crock-Pots, first sympathizing with them about the loss of the main character, and then ensuring them that the slow cookers are not harmful in any way.
I think that this is such a good example of how social media can really help handle a situation like this. Though the show is fictional, fans who are attached to the character that died suddenly felt negatively toward Crock-Pot. The company realized this quickly and made a Twitter account to reverse the negative effects of the show. No other form of public relations is as fast as social media, so they made the right decision in using it. In addition, Twitter was definitely the right platform to do this on because it was where most of the fans where discussing and it allows Crock-Pot to respond publicly to the concerns.
I believe the most crucial Provision of Conduct from PRSA’s Code of Ethics that public relations professionals should be cognizant of when creating media for organizations is the “Free Flow of Information.” This provision’s intent is, “To maintain the integrity of relationships with the media, government officials, and the public” and to, “aid informed decision-making.” In order to do this, a member who follows PRSA’s Code of Ethics must preserve the integrity of communication, be honest and accurate, act promptly to correct erroneous communication and preserve the free flow of unprejudiced information when giving or receiving gifts. This provision especially applies when creating content that an organization releases to the media because people rely on that information to be true. If an organization releases false information or doesn’t try to correct it, the organization will look bad in the public eye and people will not be able to trust it anymore. Honesty is the most important value for public relations professionals, I believe, because it is the basic foundation in which people build trust for something. Even if the truth might hurt an organization, it is better to release it than to cover up a situation with a lie.