Press Releases: from quarterbacks to linemen

As I have mentioned before, my mom has been working in Public Relations as long as I can remember. One term I frequently remember hearing a lot growing up was “press release.” I never fully understood what my mom’s job was when I was young, but if someone asked I knew I wasn’t wrong in saying she wrote press releases for a living. She of course did a lot more than that, but press releases were a large portion of her job. These days, I still hear her talking about press releases, but I hear her talking about a whole lot more as well.

I do not believe that the press release is dead. I do believe because of social media and other new technologies, the press release is not the star player for PR professional anymore and being used more effectively now. In the early days of PR, if an organization wanted to share news with a large audience, it was either through television, radio, or newspapers. The proper form of communication to these mass media outlets was a press release; therefore, press releases were constantly being used in every play. (Excuse the football references. I have been on a Friday Night Lights kick lately.)

Today, organizations do not need television, radio, and newspapers to deliver all their news to the public. Communication between organizations and their publics is more efficient and effective. There are times to send press releases, times to tweet, times to blog, times to Facebook, and times to send a social media release.

Whether the press release is really a dying breed will ultimately be up to journalists and news outlets. If they want to continue using press releases to get stories, PR professionals will be smart to give them what they want. I do predict that this trend of less dependence on press releases will continue because of other ways to pitch news.

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People of Facebook holding American Airlines accountable

Thursday, August 25 2011, was the last time Karen Pascoe saw her cat Jack when she handed him over to American Airline baggage handlers at JFK Airport. Shortly after, she received a call notifying her Jack was missing. After barely any updates or news from American Airlines, Karen took the issue to Facebook, any company’s worst nightmare. The page Jack the Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK was launched Sunday, August 28 to encourage people to put pressure on American Airlines. The people of Facebook turned out in large numbers. Currently, the page has 14,567 likes and continues to grow.

American Airlines responded in the best way possible: frequent updates in the form of Facebook notes. Since August 30, American Airlines have posted at least 4 notes updating concerned Facebook users of the steps the company is taking in finding Jack. In their latest note on September 9, American Airlines wrote:

“Since our last update this past Friday, our employees have continued the search for Jack at JFK over the weekend and into this week.  We are all concerned with Jack’s well-being and our employees have been doing everything they can to locate him.  This past weekend we also issued a pet Amber alert that we hope furthers awareness about Jack.  This broadens our search beyond the airport grounds in the event he has made his way into the community surrounding the airport.”

Unfortunately, Jack is still missing according to Karen’s latest post:

“Sorry for no update yesterday, Friends of Jack… the search and flying was beautiful, but did not result in finding Jack. It did, however, result in one of the worst migraines of my life… which has continued into today. I wanted to give you the bottom line, though. I will write more later. Please keep the faith.”

Just in case you find yourself at JFK, keep your eyes open.

Oh hello

I guess I should probably introduce myself. Not just because it is the next class blog assignment, but because it’s the proper thing to do when starting a new blog, right?

Well, my name is Emily Claire, and I am a Communication major/Religious and Theological Studies minor at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.

I love my school!

I am the youngest of 3 born to some pretty cool parents. My mom is a graphic designer and has actually spent part of her career in the PR industry. She is currently the Director of PR and Publications at my former high school. She is the artsy Apple-loving parent. My dad on the other hand has been in technology sales since I can remember selling  hp products (previously Compaq) to businesses. He is the practical pc-loving parent. From my point of view my older brother takes after my dad more, my older sister takes after my mom more, and I am the odd mix between them both. I am a bargain hunter (what I do in my free time) who is nerdy about organization and maps, but I can spend hours in Hobby Lobby planning my next craft project.  This mix of interests is why I am taking a course on Public Relations.

I chose to major in Communication for some pretty lame cliche reasons. I liked connecting with people, and I had too many ideas of what I might want to be when I grow up so I thought I should learn how to communicate well because no matter what I do, good communication skills are always important. Also, it sounded like a practical field of study unlike Religious and Theological Studies (keeping the parents who are taking out loans for your education happy is important). I thought the Rhetorical and Cultural track would be a good match with a RATS minor, but then I realized I had no idea what Rhetorical and Cultural Communication really meant. So I moved on to Interpersonal and Organizational. That just didn’t feel right. So now, I am in the PR and Advertising track hence my enrollment in a class about Public Relations. After only a few classes, I can already see why PR is something I want to do in the future. With its use of technology, strategy, and thinking outside the box, it, like me, is an odd combination of the practical and the creative.

PR in my own words…

How would I define Public Relations?

Relating to the public.

Done. Next question…

Okay, I guess I could add more to that.

Let’s break it down. You have an organization. This organization (business, team, club, whatever) has a purpose that usually requires the involvement of people outside the organization, unless it’s that secret neighborhood spy club you were never invited to be a part of as a kid. These people may be involved actively or potentially as customers, supporters, clients, etc. Let’s call them “publics.” An organization has a Public Relations department/employee to present an image to these publics through multiple mediums including but not limited to social media, promotions, press releases, and stunts.

Basically, Public Relations is how an organization  communicates the kind of organization it is to the public. Whether the image is true or not is up to the individual to decide.

Okay, now I’m done.

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