Weekly PRecision

The Medium or the Message: Which Matters More?

Corporations often regard social media as efficient communication tools for mending the reputation of a company and preventing further turmoil in crisis situations. However, does social media ever create negativity towards an organization’s crisis rather than help to fix the crisis. To find out, I read an academic journal this week for my public relations class. I chose the following article:

Schultz. Utz. Göritz. (2011). Is the medium the message? Perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via Twitter, blogs and traditional media. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 20-27. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2010.12.001

This study asks if there is an effect on an organization’s reputation, secondary crisis communication (e.g. sharing information and leaving a message) and reactions (e.g. willingness to boycott) when combined with different types of media.

Method

The research team designed the experiment to have a three by three design, meaning three types of media (newspaper, blog, Twitter) and three types of reactions (information, apology, sympathy).

Participants were recruited through an online panel. The research team sent out 6,814 requests to panel members asking them to participate in the short survey. The experiment offered no incentive for participation because the survey took fewer than five minutes. In the end, 1,677 out of the 6,814 panel members completed the experiment; a response rate of 28.4 percent.

The average age of the participants was 39 years old. Overall, 87 percent of the participants used the Internet daily, and the other 12 percent used the Internet numerous times throughout the week.

After accepting the invitation, panel members received an email with a link to the online experiment. Participants were provided with a short introduction and then taken to the next page that had a screenshot of a crisis communication scenario. The scenario stated that it was reported that 10 Mercedes Benz drivers who got into a car accident died because of the cars’ spark plug problem.

Participants were then presented with one of the three reactions through one of the three media listed above. With the screenshot still visible, participants were asked to answer questions about secondary communication. On the following page, the experiment asked questions about a company’s reputation, secondary crisis reactions, and demographics.

Participants viewed either a screenshot of the scenario on the online version of the German newspaper Die Süddeutsche, on the Daimler blog, or on a tweet from Mercedes-Benz online to control the experiment’s medium. In each of the three media, the three conditions (apology, sympathy, information) were presented.

Corporate reputation was measured by six factors, such as “Mercedes delivers high-quality products and service.” Three signs were measured for secondary crisis communication: how likely participants were to share the message with other people, to tell their friends about the scenario, and to leave a reaction. Participants recorded answers through a five-point scale ranging from “very unlikely” to “very likely.”

Results

Participants scored higher in the apology condition about “Mercedes taking responsibility for the incident”; however, participants scored higher in the sympathy condition about “Mercedes expressing its sympathy with the aggrieved parties.” This demonstrated that manipulation was a success.

The results indicated that the medium mattered more than the message itself. Although people still discuss newspaper articles more than tweets or blogs, tweets had the most positive effect on reactions and secondary crisis communication. Twitter users also share information through different media channels; therefore, organizations should pay more attention to Twitter, strategically consider their media choice and their target audiences’ media use.

A limitation of this experiment was that it did not include a control condition without any crisis communication. The experiment needs to take into consideration that the organization’s reaction might already be viewed as positive because it indicates that the organization values and cares about its stakeholders.

Diversity: A Key Element Needed In Corporations

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“We are in a war for talent. And the only way you can meet your business imperatives is to have all people as part of your talent pool–here in the United States and around the world,” stated Rich McGinn, former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent Technologies.

From 1998-2007, LATINA Style Magazine named Alcatel-Lucent one of the 50 best employers for Hispanic women in the United States more than seven times. You may be wondering how a company lands itself on a list such as this one. McGinn believed that what earned Alcatel-Lucent a spot on the list was the company’s decision to adopt a diversity stance. “It made good business sense, yes, but in addition, it was the right thing to do. It was an issue around equality,” stated McGinn.

Statistics show that by about 2040, minority groups will make up more than half of the population of the United States. Corporations are gradually starting to realize that diversity is a competitive advantage. Different people approach similar problems in different ways. According to Ivan Seidenberg, former CEO of Bell Atlantic, “If everybody in the room is the same, you’ll have a lot fewer arguments and a lot worse answers.”

Not only can a diversity-friendly environment boost creativity, but it can also promote a sense of investment to a corporation and enhance team spirit. To capitalize on the effectiveness of diversity at all levels of a corporation, diversity has to first exist. According to Patricia Digh, former vice president of international and diversity programs for the Society for Human Resource Management, there are many effective ways to promote diversity within a company:

  • Understand demographic changes in the workforce.
  • Educate staff that “diversity” is not synonymous with “minority.”
  • Build long-term relationships with minority organizations.
  • Learn how to effectively interview diverse groups.
  • Make sure to make appropriate internal culture changed that will enable diversity to thrive.
  • Become the employer of choice for a diverse workforce.
  • Ensure retention by developing a diversity-friendly culture.
  • Foster a culturally sensitive work environment.
  • Network for strategic alliances to enable long-term diversity recruitment.
  • Measure the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts.

By implementing some of these ideas, corporations generate a diverse staff and a minority-friendly image. This image would greatly benefit a company’s marketing and customer relations. Many potential minority customers are highly aware of a company’s minority-friendliness and often make buying decision on that knowledge.

Diversity is essential in the corporate world because a diverse workforce means individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, knowledge and beliefs. A diverse environment is greatly beneficial to a corporation as long as it utilizes its diversities as advantages.

(Information provided in this post is from Alcatel-Lucent Named to LATINA Style 2007 ListGetting People in The Pool; and What is Diversity in the Workplace? Image provided by http://www.employmentblawg.com.)

What Works When It Comes to Branding Yourself

Whether you’re endorsing a company or trying to establish your personal identity, branding is a fundamental step toward creating you own unique professional recognition. The challenging part of personal branding is how to brand yourself.

Many questions arise when I think about trying to establish my personal brand within the PR industry. How do I brand myself when I’m not sure I have something to say? Or how do I even get started? How do I make myself stand out?

Katie Konrath, a personal branding blogger, suggests that the first steps to being able to successfully brand yourself are:

  1. Spend your time learning about what is going on in your field. — Read books, articles and blogs, and stay up-to-date with relevant information and technology.
  2. Write about what you’ve learned. — Consider starting a blog or website. Write about something that interests you or something you learned about. Even if you don’t have expertise to share, you’re sharing that you are a passionate learner.
  3. Generate brand awareness through networking. — You should be connecting with other professionals in your industry through social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Networking is one of the best ways to get yourself known in your industry.

By forming relationships with people, you can establish credibility within your industry, and greatly expand your brand long-term. Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, wrote that the “four rules of networking that you should keep in mind are mutualism, giving, targeting, and reconnecting. Schawbel highly emphasizes that you never want to lose touch with professionals in your field because that way those people will remember you when new job opportunities arise.

Within the job market, employers want to hire passionate people, who are eager to get the job done and stand out amongst the rest. Social media and public relations innovator Todd Defren said: “We aim for crashing waves when we should aspire to never-ending ripples. The crashing wave makes a lot of noise; the never-ending ripple carves out canyons.”

I believe that the key to a successful personal branding of myself is to get my name out into the PR industry, become an expert in PR and network.

(Information provided in this blog post is from Personal Branding Blog; Entrepreneur’s “How to Brand Yourself”; and PR-Squared.  Image provided by http://empoweredonlineentrepreneurs.com)

Hello, blogging world!


Welcome to my blog! Just so you know, this is my very first blog, so bear with me as I attempt to master the ins and outs of blogging. As I continue to learn about the different social media outlets, I am hoping that this blog will help me obtain a better grasp of social media platforms. Join me as I begin my journey into the world of blogging about the public relations industry. I aim to share my knowledge and findings on public relations, in hopes that it will evolve into a forum for conversation about all things PR.

As a public relations major at the University of Oregon, I have been fortunate enough to gain knowledge, skills, and experience about the profession from my teachers, my involvement on campus and within my sorority, and my past internships. Following graduation in a year, I plan to take this knowledge of the industry and apply it to my career. Ideally, I hope to find a job that allows me to integrate my writing skills and media relation proficiencies to accomplish my future employer’s ultimate goals.

I am excited for the future of this blog, as well as getting to explore my interests within PR.

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