By Latisha Ellison
DePaul PRSSA hosted a regional conference for music and entertainment PR called PRpalooza. I had the pleasure of sitting in on two sessions: one with Rob Walton from Allied Integrated Marketing (AIM) and the other with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). AIM represents major film studios and Walton heads GrassRoots Promotion and red carpet events, while DCASE is responsible for organizing and promoting seven free music festivals for the city of Chicago. It was my first time in Chicago, I had a blast, and even learned a few things along the way.
1. Entertainment PR is not glamorous.
It's hard work. These PR professionals work 18-hour days and wear several hats. They are part event planner, part travel agent, part tour guide and part food critic; that's what it means to be a publicist. As an entertainment publicist you will be up at 5 a.m. picking up talent to do press tours for the day or getting the media ready for an event happening later in the day. Then, you will be up late because your company will want a full report of the day's work. In Chicago, the PR professionals are right in the middle of two time zones, so Walton is expected to be answering emails until at least 7:30 p.m. to accommodate all clients. If you're thinking about entertainment PR, just remember red carpets are fun, but you're behind the scenes keeping everything from falling apart, not modeling for the shoe cam.
2. Genuine connections are crucial.
We are always told how important it is to network, but I think that sometimes we forget that part of networking is forming a real connection with someone. PR is all about relationships and now is the time to start building genuine relationships with those going into same industry as you. National and regional conferences are great places to meet your peers who will eventually become your colleagues. If the relationship is real, the connections will be better and mutually beneficial. I think this is especially true when networking with professionals in the industry. Real connections will last longer than the two-minute conversation you have after a breakout session.
3. Creativity is important.
AIM represented the movie "Sausage Party," and Walton had to discover a way to get some publicity for the film, so he reached out to the food section of the paper that wrote about different types of sausage and he got some buzz going about the film. Another time he did some research for a film and found that it had a connection to a local theater. Through his research he was able to connect the film to the city of Chicago which helped generate even more press. In entertainment, as in all branches of PR, you really have to think about who your audience is and what will make them interested in your movie or event. Thinking outside the box can make you more appealing to more people.
4. Current Events are important.
It's always important to know what's going on in the world, regardless of the industry you're in. In entertainment, knowing about the world can help you create more ideas for your communication plan. In the film industry, promotional screenings are held to get a preview of what the public will think about the film and how the publicists have to frame their messaging. The movie "Patriot's Day" came out at the same time the Chicago Police Department was facing scrutiny in the media. AIM invited 30 members of the Chicago PD to a screening of the movie as a way of calming things down a bit.
5. PRKent is preparing us for the real world.
Listening to DCASE's presentation made me feel like I was sitting in Eric Mansfield's media relations class and Professor Armour's PR Tactics class. Press releases aren't dead. In fact, they're incredibly important and need to grab the attention of the reporter reading it, and that reporter had better be the right person to receive the release! In entertainment PR it is so important to follow a communication plan, using a workback, months before your event. This plan includes a roadmap for the event and leaves room for potential roadblocks that are sure to happen. Research is the key to a successful event because through research we learn who our audience is and how they will receive our messages. Our key messages have to be targeted the right way--with a strong call to action--to each of our audiences if we want a successful event.
I learned a lot at PRpalooza and had a great time. Special thanks to DePaul PRSSA for planning a great regional conference! If any PRSSA Kent members are interested in attending future PRSSA conferences, talk to the PRSSA officers and learn about how you can attend.
Latisha Ellison is a junior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's YouToo Committee Chairperson. Contact her at email@example.com.
By Brenna Parker
Public relations is not spin.
I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back. PR. IS. NOT. SPIN. For everyone at Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication “Journalism’s Way Forward” event, it was made clear that #PRKent is not about spinning the truth.
The event was a panel discussion of post-election America and the future of journalism and communication under President Trump. The panel, which was moderated by news anchor Russ Mitchell, of Cleveland's WKYC Channel 3, included Henry Gomez, chief political reporter at Cleveland.com; Cheryl Ann Lambert, an assistant professor in the public relations sequence at Kent State; Jacqueline Marino, an associate professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Connie Schultz, a professional-in-residence within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a nationally syndicated columnist; and Chance York, an assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Heading into the third week of the Trump administration, it is apparent that the need for a strong relationship between journalists and the American public is now more important than ever. The problem with Trump’s campaign during the election was that he manipulated his supporters into distrusting the media, therefore they now view media professionals as the enemies of the executive office. PR professionals and the media now have to maneuver a working relationship with President Trump, and more importantly, there has to be a sincere and strategic plan in building a relationship with the American public.
Another problem facing PR professionals is that the public is self segregating its news. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have algorithms within their site that tailor your content from your online searches and past browser history. The challenge for these professionals will be communicating with these segmented publics, especially when social media sites are kicking out messages and content before it even reaches people.
As an aspiring communications professional who wants to work in public policy, the past two weeks of this administration have been beyond frustrating because our work will be compared to the work of Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. These two, who are furthering the negative stereotypes of public relations professionals, are perfect examples of what not to do when speaking to the press. Take Sean Spicer, for example. In his first press conference as press secretary, he completely shocked reporters around the globe when he scolded the press by reading a statement from the White House that included four verified lies about the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration.
For those of you that want to pay it forward and give back to the media, buy a subscription and support quality journalism. I do not think I am wrong by saying the millennial generation has taken for granted free information and news, but somewhere along the line we forgot to pay it forward and support these news organizations.
Brenna is a senior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's vice president of professional relations. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Jamie Brian and Gabrielle Gentile
Kent State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication hosted an open forum on Sept. 10 to recognize the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and discuss the effects of terrorism on American society.
The panel discussion “Terrorism and the Media” featured JMC faculty members Jan Leach, Stephanie Danes Smith and Wendy Wardell relating their views on terrorism from experiences in their respective fields.
The panel examined the moral and ethical impact of terrorism on public relations, advertising, journalism and digital media.
JMC Director Thor Wasbotten encouraged students to participate in the discussion.
“Your first media memory was a terrorist attack that led to a lot of other things happening throughout this country and the world. It’s been a part of your life for as long as you can remember,” Wasbotten said. “Terrorists will exploit whatever tactic that gains the most media attention. This isn’t just a news issue. It affects you, too.”
Wardell offered her view from an advertising perspective. She said advertising is all about the connection between people and brands and, more importantly, brands to consumers.
Some may have been confused why advertising was present at a terrorism event. Wardell explained much of terrorism employs very sophisticated, strategic advertising. ISIS demonstrates this very complex marketing and advertising.
ISIS' increasing strength caused growing concern among students and faculty. Former CIA senior executive Smith said ISIS’ messaging is extremely sophisticated and effective.
“Terrorism today is more complicated, more widespread and, potentially, more dangerous than 9/11,” Smith said. “ISIS is not a terrorist organization; it is a terrorist army.”
ISIS uses semantics and words that resonate strongly with its target demographics. ISIS recently declared the creation of the Islamic caliphate. Smith explained the word caliphate holds a very deep and spiritual meaning with Muslims.
Smith said she has confidence the U.S. will be successful in destroying ISIS but posed a concerned whether or not the U.S. will ever be successful in destroying the ideology behind it.
Leach added her own perspective on terrorism via her media ethics background. She explained pictures and videos can be very effective but can also be offensive. She said it is vital to examine the newsworthiness and ethics behind a picture and how to minimize harm as a reporter, journalist or consumer of media.
Leach responded to a student who noted media in the states is very American-centric. She explained American media is in the business to make money. Americans want to buy and hear the media they want to hear. Wardell elaborated by explaining what Americans say they want to consume and what they actually want to consume are two very different things.
Leach closed the conversation with a call for students to take the future of media into their own hands.
“You are the future, and you can make a difference. I see in you, the opportunity to use other forms of media to sell the information,” Leach said.
Students were very engaged and eager to share their thoughts during this discussion. The room was full of passionate young people ready and willing to take Leach’s call to action.
The event had a great turnout and was a complete success for everyone involved. It is always a humbling and enchanting experience when faculty and students meet to collaborate on a prominent world issue.
Wasbotten plans to host forums once a month to engage student and faculty perspectives. Next month’s conversation is entitled “Diversity Redefined.”
by Erin England
First of all, I just want to recommend that every member of PRSSA Kent attend a regional conference. It was a valuable learning experience, and I hope to be able to attend again next year.
That being said, I’ll tell you all about my day at the “insPiRation: Looking Ahead to the Future of Public Relations” regional conference hosted by the Ohio State University Chapter of PRSSA April 12.
Meghan Caprez, PRSSA Kent web and content producer, and I started out at 6 a.m. and made it to OSU with time to spare, which was good because we got a little lost on the way to the parking garage. We went inside the student union, picked up our “swag bags” and breakfast and made some OSU PRSSA friends before the first keynote speaker.
Dan Guitteau of GolinHarris, the first keynote speaker, was definitely my favorite. He spoke about the future of PR, and he brought up some very interesting case studies as examples of the innovative things that companies are doing to interact with their publics. From McDonald’s tweet to Al Roker to Ellen’s famous Samsung Oscars selfie, we learned all about the value of news jacking in public relations.
Some other topics covered throughout the day were public relations entrepreneurship, brand journalism, word of mouth marketing and international PR, just to name a few.
Overall, Ohio State PRSSA put on a great program and I am excited to see what next year’s regional conference brings!
(Shout out to our new friends at OSU PRSSA, Capital University PRSSA and Ohio Northern University PRSSA!)