A whirlwind of public relations

Sitting down to write this very last blog entry, I am filled with mixed emotions. With the end of semester drawing nearer I am excited at the thought of completing another assessment task, but like usual I am full of regret that this is yet another last minute job. Why do I always leave things to the last minute? You would think I would have learnt the last 10 times I rushed an assessment task!

Anyways seen as this is my very last blog entry (no offence Prue, but my excitement is building), I suppose I should make it a good one! Looking back on my blog entries I am sometimes embarrassed by my grammatical errors and my inability to construct a comprehensive sentenceL. However amidst the gloom I have found this exercise to be extremely beneficial. Blogging was a new concept to me, but it offered me a space to proactively engage with and reflect on the content of this course. Looking back I am proud of the knowledge CMNS 1290 has equipped me with. Before entering this course my knowledge of public relations was limited but now I feel better informed and also look forward to the opportunities this course as a whole will provide me with.

Ok so quickly getting back to the task at hand- the second reading for this week.


Richard Stanton

This chapter focused on public relations in Asia and associated countries. It exemplified the complex nature of public relations and explored the social, cultural and economical differences between different countries. A common thread I found in the reading is the necessity for public relations practitioners to be socially and culturally aware.  Although each country is distinguished by cultural values and traits, an important role of public relations is to maintain strong relations despite geographical distance (Stanton, 2009).

Asian public relations are somewhat more complex then it may be in individual Western countries. Competing levels of economic and political activity (Stanton, 2009) between countries prose’s problems for practitioners. Therefore it is necessary for practitioners to act on a global scale, to gain a more holistic view of their profession (Stanton, 2009).

 No single is suitable across the board. However, alike Western countries, relationship building and framing are the main theoretical components used in Asian public relations (Stanton, 2009).

This chapter was both informing and eye-opening. It made me aware of the importance of knowing your place, both socially and culturally. Skills of practitioners are diverse, incorporating communicative, technical, social, marketing and economic aspects. In order to survive in the PR world one must be alert and aware of what is happening in the world, whilst also paying special attention to issues on a local level.


–          Stanton, R. (2009). Focus on Asian Public Relations. In Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.


The Rising Voice


Kate Fitch

With the rise of digital technology and the increased use of the internet, social media plays a dominant role in both the personal and professional fields.

Almost everyone has access to and  is using social media in some shape or form. “The advent of new media means the communication environment is more complex and more immediate, with ‘instantaneous and far-reaching’ consequences for organisations” (Owyang & Toll 2007, p.1, cited in Fitch, 2009, p.337). With the idea that public relations is significantly concerned with the management of relationships and the management of communication (Fitch, 2009) in mind, it only seems plausible that social media is a great tool for practitioners. But is it necessarily beneficial, excessive or damaging to an organisation?

Real life examples have proven how costly and damaging social media can be. With Olympic star Stephanie Rice losing her Jaguar car sponsorship over a “homophobic slur on twitter” (ABC news, 2010) and comedian Catherine Deveny, former employee of The Age, losing her job over tweets she made at the Logies earlier this year (ABC news, 2010).

According to Dougall (2001, cited in Fitch, 2009) new media is one of the biggest challenges facing contemporary public relations. With social media giving power to more individuals to freely express their thoughts and opinions it is easy for an organisation to be caught in the cross fire.

Looking at new media from a theoretical approach, Anne Gregory (2004, cited in Fitch, 2009) classifies the use of technology into two schools of thought.

–          Firstly seeing technology as an extension of existing tactics or a strong channel of communication.

–          Secondly identifying that technology has contributed to a major shift in the balance of power between organisations and publics.

Personally I am torn between both ideas. With this week’s debate topic being, ‘Social media should be included in contemporary public relations campaigns’ it is clear that like many other things, social media and technology has an array of advantages and disadvantages.

I think that if used in the right context and the right way, social media can act as a promotional tool for PR practitioners and organisations. It can promote reputation and image, whilst connecting to publics on a personal and interactive level. However I do believe excessive use of social media is sometimes overwhelming and painful. For example the influx of messages and invitations I receive on facebook is at times annoying, but other times helpful and informing.

In conclusion I personally believe social media is going to increase and further alter the profession of public relations. A common thread in the chapter and the main point I took from reading it, is that social media can be good and it can be bad, but it is what the organisation does with it that is most important.


–          ABC news online. 2010. Jaguar dumps Rice after Twitter slur. Viewed 15/10/2010, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/07/3004765.htm

–          Ficth, K. (2009). New Media and Public Relations. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Image: The driver of reputation


Gwyneth Howell and Nigel De Bussy.

For week 8 there were two readings that both focused on reputation management and the vital role it plays.

Reputation management is a strong focal point of public relations. It incorporates core aspects of an organisation and refers to the outward image, brand, identity and corporate culture an organisation extends to its publics, but mainly focuses on the interpretation and adoption of these aspects (De Bussy, N, 2009).

With publics and stakeholders defined as the “heart and soul of corporate public relations” (De Bussy, 2009, p.227), it only seems fair that management of these relationships is the first step towards a healthy reputation.  With the chapter identifying the strong link between concerned stakeholders, shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, governments and communities (De Bussy, 2009) and improved financial performance for organisations. Noting that “organisations with satisfied stakeholders are also likely to enjoy a good reputation” (De Bussy, 2009, p.232). Personally I find customer service to be a major determinant of reputation. Drawing on past experiences if I am ill-treated or simply don’t like someone’s service I will go elsewhere. Is it really that hard to simply smile and say please or thank you?

According to Mahon and Wartick (cited in De Bussy, 2009), reputation heavily relies on credibility and consistency. It is highly influential and can determine the success or failure of an organisation. But with this in mind can reputation be necessarily managed or controlled?

Personally I am undecided simply due to the fact that reputation is extremely fragile. It can be destroyed in an instant, but can take years to build or mend. Whether it be a poor decision or lack of branding, reputation can have a detrimental and long-term effect on an organisation.

Not only in the corporate world but also in the real world reputation is extremely influential. It is often hard to manage and hard to measure (De Bussy, N, 2009), but it is what you do with the reputation that is the most vital action.

As evidenced in chapter 10 a crisis or issue can lead to a bad reputation. There are a wide range of crises that according to Puachant and Mitroff 1992 (cited in Howell, 2009), tend to cluster together and form five distinctive groups.

–          External economic attacks e.g. extortion

–          Megadamage e.g. environmental

–          Breaks e.g. product defects

–          External information attacks e.g. copyright infringement

–          Psycho e.g. terrorism

This chapter highlights the vulnerability of organisations and also the unpredictable nature of the internal and external working environments. It just goes to prove that reputation cannot be controlled and that customer relations is not the only determinant of success.

Like life not many things go to plan or can be mapped out, as concluded in the chapter, “the most important issue faced by public relations professionals is maintaining context of the message in the public arena’ (Howell, 2009, p.292).


–          De Bussy, R. (2009). Reputation Management: A Driving Force for Action. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

–          Howell, G (2009). An Issues Crisis Perspective. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.


This chapter highlighted the role of public relations for the organisation, the individual, targeted publics and the environment.  With the introductory paragraph, “communities and stakeholders have high expectations of organisations” (Mehta and Xavier, 2009, p. 191), emphasising the important role publics play in the success or failure of an organisation, it only seems plausible that reputation management and effective communication is a focus point of public relations.

However, in order for public relations practitioners to achieve the desired goals of an organisation, and manage effective relationships and reputation with targeted publics, it is necessary to use a guiding theory (Mehta and Xavier, 2009).

The main focus of public relations is to achieve the desired goals of organisations, and respond and adjust to internal and external change pressures (Mehta and Xavier, 2009). Unfortunately an organisation consists of multiple interconnecting subsystems. This brings the system theory of management into play.

“Systems theory provides a framework through which to view organisations and their relationships with the environment.” (Mehta and Xavier, 2009, p.193). According to Modaff, Delvine and Butler, the systems theory takes a holistic view of an organisation, monitoring input from outside the organisation, whilst noting that a “change to one part affects the whole system” (Mehta and Xavier, 2009, 194).

So with this in mind, what exactly does the role of public relations entail? Personally I am overwhelmed but also excited by the multiple roles and different facets of public relations explored in this chapter. In a nutshell (please note my ignorance and lack of experience), I would describe PR as the connecting link that binds an organisation together. Through effective management of communication and reputation, a public relations practitioner can work with other departmental professionals, to strive to achieve organisational goals and objectives. With management playing a vital role in this process it only seems fair that a practitioner plans, organises, leads and controls (Wood, Zeffane, Fromholtz, Wiesner, Creed, Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborn 2006).

Therefore practitioners have a diverse role yet very important role within an organisation. It is the connecting link that holds everything together.


–          Image obtained, 13/10/2010, from http://koifishcommunications.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cartoon.jpg

–          Mehta, A. & Xavier, R. (2009). Public Relations Management in Organisations. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

–          Wood, J, Zeffane, R, Fromholtz, M, Wiesner, R, Creed, A, Schermerhorn, J, Hunt, J & Osborn, R, 2006, Organisational Behaviour Core Concepts and Applications, John Wiley and Sons Australia, Milton, QLD.

Public Relations Practice & Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity.

Hello again ☺
As there were two readings for this week I have decided to break my blog post into two sections.
The first being Public Relations Practice by Gae Synnott:
Having previously researched this topic area for my group’s debate, I found the reading to be a good representation of the role of public relations practice and extremely helpful in informing aspiring practitioners. However it did send me into a bit of a frenzy, with the opening statement identifying that “the contemporary public relations practitioner is a multi-skilled person with a values-based approach to the job” (Synnott, 2009, p. 158).
The reading sided with the affirmative argument of the debate, identifying that the role of public relations is indeed to achieve the strategic objectives of an organisation. I felt somewhat relieved to come to this conclusion, having found it extremely difficult to oppose this statement for the negative debate team.
A PR practitioner seeks to achieve “mutually beneficial results” (Synnott, 2009, p.159) for an organisation and its publics. It is an active profession, with a strong emphasis on communication, and ethical and social responsibility (Synnott, 2009)
The reading continually stresses the diversity of public relations, noting the variety of skills needed to be a successful practitioner and identifying the range of issues, roles and organisations one might encounter whilst in the public relations sector (Synnott, 2009). The role of PR is continually changing and evolving, with the rise in technology, especially that of social media heavily altering the face of public relations.
The chapter identifies the different types of public relations:
–    The not-for-profit sector
–    The corporate sector
–    The public sector
–    The consultancy
Although each different sector of PR has distinct characteristics, they all share similar commonalities. With ethics, communications, reputation management, values and establishing mutually beneficial relationships with publics being constant across the board.
Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity by Melanie James:
This chapter reflects on the three key concepts associated with public relations→ contested space, intentional representation and intended meaning (James, 2009).
Intentional representation→ refers to the image an organisation outwardly extends to its publics. It is the perception and narrative shaped by public relations practitioners, expressed to society (James, 2009).
Contested space→ is “where meaning is constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed” (Berger, 1999, p.186, cited in James, 2009).
Intended meaning→ is when the publics of an organisation or the intended audience receive and interpret organisational messages (James, 2009).
Implementing and achieving these outcomes is the desired goal of a practitioner, with tactics and strategies playing a crucial role. Strategy is “central to the role and function of public relations” (James, 2009, p.251).  It is achieved through planning, research, analysis, implementation and evaluation (James, 2009). Strategy relies heavily on effective decision-making, setting achievable goals and objectives and disseminating/conveying meaning to the targeted audience/publics in order to be successful.
A dominant theme in both readings is the strategic role of public relations and the valuable contribution practitioners can make to the success of an organisation. Reflecting back on the concepts we associated with PR in the very first lecture, I am starting to realise that public relations as a profession is much more complicated then I initially thought.. Funnily enough I don’t think it’s going to be as glamorous and exciting as I expected.
–    James, M., 2009. Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity. In J., Chia, & G., Synnott, 2009. An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. Australia: Oxford University Press.
–    Synnot, G., 2009. Public Relations Practice. In J., Chia, & G., Synnott, 2009. An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. Australia: Oxford University Press.

Media’s heavy presence


Hamish McLean and Richard Phillips

Ok so thirteen days and seven assessment tasks later, I am excited to announce that I have come out of my ‘assessment task overload’ state alive. Sadly in all the hustle and bustle my blog was sacrificed. However, I am excited to announce that not only can I once again see the grey carpet of my bedroom floor but also that this is my long-awaited wk 6 blog entry!

Chapter 11 of An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (Chia and Synnott, 2009) written by Hamish McLean and Richard Philips, was an insightful and interesting analysis that highlighted the importance and influence of the media. The reading outlined the effect the media has on public relations and also identified the different mediums of media that act as communication networks and strategic tools for PR practitioners.

I particularly found the theories of communication interesting, with the agenda-setting, framing and sociological and social reality theories (McLean & Phillips, 2009), exposing the underlying reality and seemingly scary truths of the media. The media is a constant presence in everyday life. It pervades   our sight, hearing and apparently, according to the agenda-setting theory, our thoughts and our actions as a whole (McLean & Phillips, 2009).  This scary notion leads to the important role the media plays and also influence it prevails in public relations.

The ‘gatekeepers’ of the media (McLean & Phillips, 2009) decide what makes the news and what doesn’t. They determine how a story is framed and also the amount of coverage it receives, therefore it is extremely important for PR practitioners to build a positive and cohesive relationship with journalists.

The underlying truth and dominant theme in the reading is that the relationship between public relations practitioners and the media is one of extreme importance. It relies on cohesion and trust, and also works in a back-and-fourth motion. As much as public relations practitioners rely on the media, the media also heavily relies on practitioners as a source and circulator of news (McLean & Phillips, 2009).

The reading was both informative and insightful. It helped me to identify not only the heavy presence the media has on my personal life, but also in the world of public relations. It is scary to think that the success or failure of an organisation can be determined by a dodgy story, at the click of a button. Or that the loss of a job can be held in the fate of a journalist.


–          McLean, H & Phillips, R. (2009). Engaging with the Media. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Research, research, research..


Gae Synnott

Ok so once again I have found myself going into ‘information over-load’ mode after reading this weeks reading.

Before starting this PR course, I was really unsure as to what actually constituted Public Relations, but each week I am amazed at the practicality of the information contained within the text book. Not only is each chapter informative and concise, but unlike most course textbooks, it provides an up-to-date and practical insight into the world of PR.. It also has a shiny silver cover :).

Research is the central focal point of public relations practice (Synott, 2009). It provides the basis of professionalism, arming practitioners with the knowledge and information they need to plan, implement and evaluate.

Research is an important tool that helps practitioners to determine their actions and approaches to work (Synnott, 2009). Whether it is used to analyse the opinions of users of a new product or to determine the best way to launch a new campaign, research is process of constant measurement and comparison. Occurring at all stages of public relations planning and implementation process, it is broken up into three categories as adapted straight from the text:

Before: the input or preparation stage, in which planning is undertaken, objectives are set, the context, and the target audience is learnt, and where the communication tools to be used in the program are produced.

During: Output or implementation stage, in which the process is monitored, the practitioner checks that what they have said would be done is being done, and where early signs of success or any need to fine tune or redirect the program are looked for.

After: the outcome stage, in which the impact occurs and evaluation is conducted to find out whether the objectives that were set have been achieved.

                                                                                                             Gae Synott, 2009, p.131-132.

Without research, practitioners can only guess or make assumptions about the problem or issue; they lack sufficient evidence and credibility which often leads to malpractice and unethical behaviour.

So I surmise and liken the relationship between research and public relations to that of cooking something new without a measuring cup or recipe to follow. You never know how it will turn out or what it will taste like.. More often then not ending disastrously.


         –          Synnott, G. (2009). Public Relations Research. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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