Friday, June 21, 2013

My PR Fundamentals II class: Learning Outcomes.

Yesterday was an important day for me and all of my classmates. Separated on several groups we were assigned to prepare a communication plan for a real client, Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The plan had a goal to target youth audience, 15 to 25 years old people. I must admit it was a real challenge, this time everything appeared to be serious: 1 out of 5 proposed plans will be named as the Winner and be executed (at least partially, with the use of its ideas). By the end of the course we were asked by our instructor to reflect on 3 key learnings each of us have taken away. Further, I'm going to justify my point of view on that question, followed up by the learnings concerning the PR project we've worked on for the past 6 weeks.

The first topic that stands out to me the most after completing the course is Ethics in PR. Protecting relationship with the audience and public trust is essential to the organization's reputation and PR practitioner in particular. Moreover, it depends primarily on the actions of the last one. Public Relations organizations are developing and maintaining their code of ethics, which are expected to be obeyed by all its members. The primary objective os such codes is usually to guide and educate members on the subject of professional conduct. Despite all that, ethical dilemma still exists. Many, if not all, of the major PR firms routinely engage in unethical practices. Let's face it, they do that to clean up the mess for their client, and money is a big motivator in the "era of materialism, services and price tags". The common sense must navigate each and everyone: be true and honest to yourself, be trasparent and interactive with those around you, be respectful to the cause you are working on. There's no science behind it and it goes without saying.

Secondly, I had a good lesson on how to measure social media Return On Investment. Many PR practitioners are frustrated when dealing with ROI. Though measuring it may not be perfect, it's not impossible yet. This is a great way for both small and big businesses to assess what they are getting out of their social media commitment. For example, Facebook has Conversion Measurement tool allows advertisers to record the behaviour of the users. But ideally, user clicks and then registeres on company's site. Optimized CPM tool helps Facebook ads target the right people. At the same time, measurement seems to be loosing its weight between impressions and likes, which makes interactions very relevant. That's why everything should be maintained and measured altogether. Analyzing website analytics against pay per click is  another way to measure. To sum it up, no social media ROI measurement is perfect and I realized that it takes time to find the best way to measure social media presence and mentions.

My third and not the least important learning outcome is about Crisis Management and Emergency Preparation. Self-reliance become indispensable in situations when a lot of people are affected at once. Immediate response and preparedness are much more effective when discussed and planned prior to potential crisis. Crisis Management is a matter of facing the threat quickly. That includes minimizing negative perception and losses. The first step in developing a plan should be the conduct of a SWOT analysis. Once possible theats and weaknesses are assembled into a list, the group should discuss the action during the time of current crisis. These simple actions will eliminate the turmoil and minimize the frustration in difficult circumstances.

Finally, I would like to mention the learnings from the idem CMHR project. Crafting a message for youth we were confused in the beginning. Maybe because of the fact that me and my groupmates represent only the last sub-audience on a scale from 15 to 25 years old. We decided to go on streets and simply talk to young people. Engage them into conversations about the new Museum, information that they are aware of, attidudes, concerns. And the main point we were trying to make is what do Human Rights mean to them. We value every opinion. After several days of interviewing random strangers we finally shaped our own vision on the project. I think it would not be as easy to accomplish the work we've done without simple interaction with our target audience. And I'm going to use this approach further while practicing my Public Relations skills.

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