For the last Public Relations Writing assignment we are to look into the OBAY ad campaign sponsored by Colleges Ontario.  I must admit, I had to read a few articles to fully understand the cleverness behind this campaign.  I guess the apparently obvious intellect behind the campaign didn’t jump out at me right away.  I had to do a little digging to find out what these posters were trying to tell me. 

[ But in my defence, the only time I saw this ad prior to the assignment was on the subway and I recall thinking “pffff… Obey this.”  I didn’t really give it the time of day. ]

Anyway, moving on. 

One article I came across suggested how the Obay campaign was all over the blogosphere, yet I had yet to come across it.  This could possibly be because I don’t avidly read too many blogs outside of my blogroll (which consists of a few friends from class).  However, I thought I would tell you my thoughts about this campaign regardless of it being all over the blogging world already.

 
After a little investigative work, it was made VERY clear what the parody of this campaign was.  As if a light shone down on me, I saw the appeal behind these ads.  The ways of the big pharma have been replicated, and mocked, by Colleges Ontario; along with the Canadian Law I might add. 

I say, “good for you Colleges Ontario.”

I agree with Colleges Ontario’s message, that university isn’t necessarily a better option than college.  I believe university can be a valuable experience for many, but not for all. 

Being a university graduate myself, I know the pressures some students face from their family about attending a particular school.  Thankfully, my family was supportive of whatever I chose to do, but not all are like that; and hence, the hypothetical need for Obay.

To me, the real zinger behind this campaign is the mockery of the Canadian Law regarding direct-to-consumer advertising.  But, I didn’t understand that until I found about the 1990 Health Canada regulation reinterpretation. 

[ May I point out I was six in 1990, so I have good reason to not recall this regulation change. ]

The ad is genius, but completely useless to me until Christine’s assignment came along and I found out what is was making fun of. 

I would expect the target audience of this campaign is pre-college applicants, but will they understand the true meaning of these ads?  They’ll be even younger than I am.  Some might have not even been born in 1990! 

I think this campaign is extremely cleaver and is a real poop disturber.  But I raise my eyebrow to the effectiveness it has with highschoolers. 

Lately I’ve heard a lot about bad communication practices coming directly from professionals in the PR world.  More often than not, this bad communication is coming from a PR agency. 

First hand, I haven’t had any negative experiences with an agency but I know many of my fellow classmates have.  I feel frustrated for them, so I can’t image what’s going through their minds. 

I don’t understand why some professionals find it so hard to give a response e-mail to a student.  They were once in our shoes and know the challenges we face as students trying to break into the PR industry and land internships.  So why do they make it harder for us by leading us on about an internship and then suddenly realize after three or four call-back interviews, they don’t want to hire an intern anyway? 

Or why do they make us send more than one follow-up e-mail (or phone call) inquiring if they’ve lost our contact info, since they told us they would get back to us more than a week ago? 

For professionals in the COMMUNICATION business, this doesn’t seem very respectful. 


In my mind, respecting a persons time, regardless of rank, is a number one rule for any situation.  And I don’t think some practitioners see a student’s time as anything worth the effort.  When it’s convenient for them, they will let us know they’re not interested in hiring an intern.  Meanwhile, it’s one week before we’re supposed to begin placement and some students are still hunting for somewhere to intern. 

For all of my classmates who have been lead on and let down; I hope this doesn’t sour your opinion of public relations; I’m sure there are a lot of respectful practitioners out there.

As school is winding down to the final week, I must admit, I’m a little apprehensive about what’s to come.  I have realized the older I get, the more nervous I become to take the leap to the next step.  I can’t help but ask myself, have I really learned everything I need to know about the world of public relations before I dive into it? 

Probably not. 

I question my preparedness for this real world that awaits me.  I have learned a plethora of information and priceless skills over the last seven months.  But I never seem to feel fully prepared when it comes time to move onto the next step.

When I reflect back to my first big change in life I think of graduating from grade six.  I wasn’t aware of the changes junior high would bring but I was too young to care.  I left my beloved, and well-known, elementary school for the unknown, as happy as could be. 

That transition was a smooth one, luckily for me.  And before I knew it, I was leaving junior high for full-blown high school; the next big step.  I was a little more scared this time.  I was a little more self-conscious.  I was a little more worried about friends.  I was a little more worried about academics.  I was a little more worried that I wasn’t prepared.

High school ended up being five of the best years of my life.  Grades nine and ten were a little awkward for me, but I had my best friend by my side to get me through it.  As the end of high school neared, I was terrified.  I didn’t know what university I was going to be in as of September.  I didn’t know where my friends were going to be.  I didn’t know what it was going to be like in residence.  I didn’t know how I was going to manage on my own.  I didn’t know anything, and that scared me to death. 

As I watched my dad’s truck pull out of the Western parking lot, I realized that I had taken the next big step in my life.  I was living in a town two hours away from home with NONE of my friends.  Not even one.  We had all gone to separate schools scattered around southern Ontario.  Despite my nervousness for the better half of first semester, I soon started to love my life at Western; my new life with new opportunities and friends.  I didn’t want to leave this new life and move back to Toronto at the end of my degree.  However, I managed to find myself taking yet another leap into the unknown and moving back to Toronto.

And this brings me to my most recent leap, Centennial College.  The last big step I took landed me here.  And now I don’t want to leave.  But I have to.  It’s time to take another leap, like leaving elementary school, junior high, high school and university.  It’s time to move on to the next big thing, but am I ready? 


Like I said in the beginning, probably not. 
Am I nervous?  Shaking in my boots.

Will I make it and be successful in whatever direction I go?  My past experiences seem to suggest I will.

As nervous as I am to jump into the working world, I must look back on my past and acknowledge that it has all worked out before.  Regardless of how nervous and scared I was.  I always found my way. It’s time to find my way in public relations.

I’m going to make an assumption that most of you are familiar with blogs since you’re reading one right now.  But, for those of you who aren’t entirely sure what a blog is, allow me to explain: 

Blog stands for “web log.”  A web log is best described as an online journal in which you can share your thoughts and experiences.  They can be personal or corporate (run by an organization) and the topics are endless.  They can reflect opinions of products, services, or experiences.  They give the average person the freedom to be a critic and they give an organization an easy way to access their audience. 

For a list of definitions for the word ‘blog’ click here:   

At Centennial College, we have learned about blogs in the Online PR course.  We have been encouraged to create our own blogs to see what they’re all about; and for good reason. 

After doing a little Internet searching, I’ve realized why blogs are so helpful in public relations.  They act as a channel for open communication from trusted sources that may or may not be invested in the product/service or organization. 

A presentation on ‘PR and Emerging Communication Channels’ made by Steve Rubel of Edelman helped to shed some light on blogs and their relationship with public relations.  Rubel’s presentation is available here for those of you who wish to view it all, for those who don’t, I will summarize Rubel’s main point:

The media (or a product/service) acts to fuel Blogger X to write a particular post.  The audience interested in Blogger X’s opinions will read this new post and be influenced positively or negatively by it.  The audience will comment on Blogger X’s post, which can be monitored by the media (or producer of the product or service).  It is a cycle of feedback between the media, bloggers and the audience. 

This cyclical feedback is further supported by Francois Gossieaux on his Emergence Marketing blog.  He says, “nearly 70 per cent of all reporters check a blog list on a regular basis.”  The feedback blogs supply give the media insight to the thoughts of the audience. 

So how does this benefit a PR practitioner?  If you’ve considered creating a blog for the organization you’re representing, you’re on the right track.  A blog can be used to update readers of new products being launched, upcoming events or consumer suggestions that have been incorporated into a better version of an existing product.  By letting the consumers know their opinion matters to your organization, a sense of value and appreciation may be instilled.  I would hope this sense of appreciation is accompanied by a positive opinion of your organization; and a positive opinion can only mean positive word-of-mouth.

Blogs are a great way to reach an audience and the media in one shot since they all influence one another.  Done properly, blogging can be a priceless tool in PR as it reaches two of our most sought after groups of people.

Done the wrong way, blogging can really harm an organization, as Radian6 identifies the problems associated to the new wave of social media and the need to monitor it.  Click here to view Radian6’s explanations of social media and reasons why it needs to be positive.

As PR practitioners, or soon-to-be practitioners, we have to realize the value of potential resources and maximize it.  A positive reputation for our client/organization in the blogosphere is comparable to thousands of dollars worth of effort put into a communications plan, not to mention the time. 

A favourable public opinion is the most wanted outcome in the PR world and blogs can be a great assistant in achieving this. 

For information on blogging etiquette please click here.

Thank-you Facebook

March 6, 2008

The sky’s the limit when it comes to inspiration.  Anything and everything can be inspiring at the right moment.  The controversial Facebook was just what I needed to solve a problem I’ve been struggling with for the last eight days – what to write about for Presentations Skills.Our first day back after March Break, we have a speech to persuade due.  It was assigned well before the break, but alas, I am a student and sometimes put off difficult things until the last few days.  It wasn’t intentional this time, because for the life of me I couldn’t think of a topic I wanted to write about.  I’ve been tossing ideas around in my head the whole break and was just starting to get a little anxious about it.  But enter Facebook to save the day.

Thanks to my dear friend Kate, who decided to question the Facebook world about the value snow brings to society, I now have a topic I want to write about.  I didn’t want to choose a topic too in-depth that I’d get in over my head, besides; we only have three minutes to present our point of view and back it up.  So the topic Facebook inspired me to write about is just perfect because I know I can say what I need to in the allowed time slot and I’m passionate about it.  Thank-you Facebook and obviously, Kate.

So for all those times Facebook has taken a beating for ruining things, this time it saved the day.  It has put me out of my misery of deciding on a topic.  Now if only Facebook would write this speech for me.

Two peas in a pod(cast)

February 25, 2008

Before I begin, whenever I hear the word “pod” I think of the saying “two peas in a pod,” so naturally the title of this podcast related posting had to be what it is. 

Today I was de-virginized in regards to podcasting.  Two fellow classmates and I successfully recorded a telephone interview with Jennifer Beale, the PR practitioner for Unleashed PR.  The interview was on her thoughts of social media and its impact on networking.  The interview went well and she answered all our questions appropriately.  Now, we just need to figure out how to get this podcast online and we’re set!

As a colleague and I sat and listened from the sidelines, we absorbed the little effort involved in this process.  We called Beale, hit record and asked our questions.  That was it.  The quality is decent, although a little quiet on Beale’s end, but audible nonetheless. 

I’m beginning to see why podcasts are continually growing in popularity.  I’ve listened to a few in my PR career, but never really knew the mechanics behind it all.  Now I do and I see that it is relatively easy with the right equipment.  I’ve taken a liking to this podcasting idea. 

Now if only writing blogs would follow suit.

To forgive and forget?

January 30, 2008

            After closing my cat’s tail in the sliding doors just moments ago, it got me thinking about something; but before I explain, let me give you a bit of a preface. 

            This horrible event for my cat, Killer, unfolded as follows:  Killer was scratching at the glass door so I got up to let him out on this brutally windy day.  Upon opening the door, a painful gust blew in the house and out of instinct, I slammed the door shut.  Unfortunately, Killer had not cleared the door way yet.  He let out a painful cry and bolted from the house at lightening speed when I freed his body from the door.

Now, not only did Killer re-enter this former house of animal cruelty seconds later, he was happy as could be.  He purred as he rubbed his face on the side of my leg and then proceeded to sit on my right foot.  What I’m obscurely getting at is that he didn’t hold a grudge.  He didn’t judge me on my act of unintentional violence towards him; he carried on as if nothing had happened.  He forgave and forgot and we moved forward.
            So, where am I going with this you ask?
            Lots of people like to consider themselves as non-judgemental individuals, but how can anyone honestly claim that?  Every time someone does something not to our approval, we judge.  It’s our nature, but not our furry friends’ nature.
            One of my classes initiated this train of thought earlier today as we were discussing the Africentric school issue.  There was nothing said during class that was offensive by any means, but I was well aware to choose my words wisely when sharing my opinion.  I did not want to offend anyone by saying something without giving it due consideration before opening my mouth.  It’s not that I had anything offensive to say, but sometimes things come out wrong, or sometimes we slam the door without checking to see if our cat has cleared the pathway. 
            As future communication professionals, choosing our words wisely is probably one of the most important skills we can have.  Our words are our future.  Our words are what make us a success or failure.  Our words must be carefully articulated.
            Judgement is a characteristic of mankind and always will be.  We judge everything we hear and experience.  We do it in our personal lives and we do it at work.  And, as communications practitioners, we don’t get to ask the public if they can forgive and forget what we just said.

What are you, new?

January 28, 2008

Welcome!

I want to welcome you to my first blog.

This is a completely new idea to me and to be honest, it kind of scares me.
Knowing that people are going to read my personal opinion is a little intimidating. 
However, as part of a class requirement, I must partake in this blogging adventure. 
I don’t know what to expect, but I’m about to dive in head first and find out.

I hope you enjoy any thoughts I share with you.