Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wanna Be a Journalist? Act Like One.

Taylr Powell

It’s Hard Out Here for a PR Rep…

As a Public Relations major, today’s readings were both frustrating and enlightening. Public Relations representatives always get picked on by others in the media realm for being “sketchy”. As Scott Culip said in “Changing Minds: Ethics in the Persuasive and Entertainment Media," many see PR as cluttering “ ‘our already choked channels of communications with the debris of pseudo-events and phony sound bites that confuse rather than clarify.’ ”

Keep Yourself In Check
PR is seen as non-transparent due to its nature; usually PR comes in the form of firms representing companies. When you are representing a company, you usually act in its interests. This is where we, as PR professionals, need to keep ourselves in check. We must make sure that we are always acting within the best interests of the public. As pointed out in one of the articles, what is the point in communicating to the public if you’re communicating a lie? It will only make you look worse in the long-run. If you think about it, news writers can’t tell “the whole truth” either, but they make the best of their choices. That’s what PR representatives do as well; we choose, or are supposed to choose, the most newsworthy information to communicate to the public. What would the public like to know? What questions are they asking about our company? Those should be the questions you answer.

When it comes to VNRs, we should keep in mind that the whole debate over these releases is that viewers can’t be relied on to make the most responsible consumer decisions. We can put the responsibility on them all we want, but when it comes down to it our job is to communicate honestly and thoroughly. Leaving information out or being knowingly misleading is highly unprofessional. When putting out VNRs, we must follow codes of ethics like those followed by the National Association of Broadcast Communicators. People know when they are being deceitful, and it’s easily corrected by inflicting moral and value codes.

We’re the Future
This summer, I will by interning with the Media Relations department at SafeAuto Insurance, the New Media department more specifically. I realize that I will probably be faced with these ethical decisions, and I hope to communicate only the most useful information about the company. I hope that the professionals there are following good ethical codes and that they can really guide me down the right path.

I definitely don’t want to be criticized as a sketchy, suffocating and misleading PR professional; I’m a journalist. I’m going to act how a journalist should act: truthful and transparent. You should too.

*Click for another story on the Facebook vs. Google showdown.
*Click for a recent story about FCC crackdowns on VNR attribution.

Here's an Adidas video news release. What do you think?

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