POSTED IN Featured
Posted At: May 1, 2013 10:00 p.m.
by Lindsey Green
What is a thought leader? Connie Ward defines it in four ways:
1. Thought leaders are people who make other people think.
2. Thought leaders will throw a javelin to just the right place in the sand; others will then build paths to that place.
3. Thought leaders see and then set a new direction.
4. Thought leaders are seen as pioneers.
This focus on establishing the brand of leaders as innovators in their industries led to Ward’s creation of Thought Leader Zone, a partner network that creates coherent thought-leadership strategies for internal and external communications to clients, media and business professionals.
“I chose the name Thought Leader Zone as it reflected the work I do to position CEOs and to help them choreograph communications choices,” Ward said.
Thought Leader Zone works with international clients from its offices in Switzerland and the U.S. to offer strategic and tactical support during key inflection points. The organization’s clients from the last year include one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies, a leading global engineering firm, an international biotech company, an HR consultancy, a global trade publication, and several nonprofit associations and private clients.
The key difference of Ward’s business model is the individualized and flexible attention she can give to clients. As a smaller player in the Swiss market, she is able to develop unique and case-specific plans at lower costs than the big, multinational PR firms.
“My days are most often spent seeing, then thinking, then doing. Too often it’s tempting to jump right in with a client and ‘do’ without taking the time to really ‘see’ the challenge from different viewpoints and then ‘think’ about the best model to use,” Ward said.
This customized approach also allows different opportunities to measure success.
“Robust, reliable metrics are the Holy Grail for any PR/communications person. In one company we measured our impact in column inches of publicity for particular projects and then multiplied that number by the cost of an equivalent-sized advertisement in the publication where each article appeared,” Ward said.
In another recent situation, for example, Thought Leader Zone set functional and relational rules of engagement for working together during a workshop for a German corporate communications team. Success was then measured by the scores for the workshop.
From where in the world did Connie Ward come?
Ward’s entry into the public relations industry is another story of its own. In 1989 she was teaching in Bulgaria as a Fulbright fellow when the Romanian Revolution broke out. As the first female journalist to respond, Ward provided coverage for the London Times, the London Sunday Times, Time magazine and many major American newspapers.
“Unlike Nicolae Ceausescu, I did not face death with defiance. I ducked and screamed and prayed and cried when snipers shot at me. But I got the story,” Ward wrote in her blog “Stuff Not on my CV.” (Link: http://thoughtleaderzone.com/who/constance-ward-stuff-not-on-my-cv/)
After her fellowship ended, Ward stayed in the journalism industry as a reporter for the London Times and the London Sunday Times. Bored with the monotony of a desk job, she moved to Munich to work for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and to do research in the former Soviet Union. Eventually, Ward accepted a position at a pharmaceutical company in Basel, Switzerland, where she stayed in the pharmaceutical industry until 2001. She then began her first communications job as global head of internal communications at Zurich Financial Services.
“I used many of my skills as a writer, editor and interviewer to help propel me into a career as a communicator,” Ward said.
This career shift eventually brought her back to Kansas City, Mo., for nearly 10 years, where she continued to lead global communication teams at major corporations such as Black & Veatch. Soon after her husband’s job moved them back to Switzerland in 2011, Ward founded Thought Leader Zone.
The global market
Although Ward’s diverse background has well prepared her for the world of global communications, she insists that working with international clients is very similar to working with their domestic equivalents.
“Clients want a high-quality product – you give them a top-quality product. Clients want it tomorrow – you give it to them tonight. Clients change their minds – you change your approach,” Ward said.
Speaking multiple languages is extremely important, she said, even if the language you learn isn’t the language of the country where you’re living or if you’re not required to use it in your daily work. Ward, who has training in Bulgarian, French, German and Swedish, explained that language skills show an aptitude toward learning and indicate an interest in the world beyond the U.S. borders.
Still, it is important to seek professional help when doing business outside of your home country, she said. No matter how proficient your knowledge of the language is, business terminology and cultural context are usually learned through experience.
“When you form a company abroad, you’ll probably need an incorporation lawyer, a tax accountant, a notary public, a bank manager and a sympathetic ear – like a friend or a spouse you can complain to when the complex, expensive process slows to a molasses pace,” Ward said.
With more experience under her belt, Ward is continuing to expand her possibilities. In the next couple of months, she is launching an official consulting network called the AdvisorsADVISERS for Strategic Communications with former colleagues in Germany. She also continues to speak to and mentor students interested in international careers, as illustrated in this video from a lecture at the University of Kansas.
Her parting words of advice for students?
“Persevere and keep your eye on the prize: a fulfilling career with global adventures!”
POSTED IN Featured
Posted At: April 26, 2013 12:23 p.m.
by Grayson Martin
The field of public relations has changed tremendously and so have the skill sets of its practitioners. PR professionals now have a wide range of abilities in order to satisfy as many of their clients’ needs in-house. These skills can include writing, video editing, photography and social media management. One skill that is often not considered is political savviness.
There will come a time when the PR pro will have to understand how decisions made at the local, state and federal levels could affect his client. The practitioner must also effectively communicate the client’s position and needs to political representatives, in addition to the general public.
A client’s need for political involvement will differ depending on the line of work. The medical field is one area that comes with a high amount of political involvement due to funding and government regulation.
Brad Fisher is responsible for advertising and public relations for the DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa, Ala. According to Fisher, DCH has a communication department that consists of himself and three other coordinators. DCH also employs Director of Community Relations Sammy Watson, who deals with government affairs and community activities like the Chamber of Commerce and other public initiatives.
Fisher said that the hospital is heavily affected by federal and state decisions because this area of government controls about half of the hospital’s income. “We are facing cuts due to sequestration,” Fisher said. “Meanwhile, the Medicaid program, which is controlled by the state, is a mess. Government reimbursement accounts for about half of our income — as it is with most hospitals — so funding of Medicare and Medicaid is very important to DCH.”
Fisher said that a supportive relationship exists between DCH and the local government.
“The Tuscaloosa City Council, the Tuscaloosa County Commission and the Northport City Council appoint the majority of our board, and we receive 10 percent of two cents of the county sales tax,” Fisher noted. “For these reasons, we keep in close contact with local officials to keep them informed of our activities. Our local governments are very supportive because we provide a community benefit and because we are a major employer.”
The role of information distributor is constantly growing for PR pros. This need is well understood by Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. Mayor Maddox once held a public relations and personnel director position with the city school system. Following the April 27 tornadoes that devastated the city of Tuscaloosa, Mayor Maddox added a PR staff position to his office. This new position was created to effectively communicate the city’s disaster communication plan and to keep the city, media and other publics informed across multiple platforms.
Maddox understands the importance of practitioners in keeping elected officials better informed on the needs and opinions of clients. “Government is complicated,” Maddox said. “There are many varying interests, wanting various things. So to be able to task and align a message is very important, especially in today’s society where information is very quick. I think their role will continue to expand in the years to come.”
Not all PR positions will be as politically involved as others, and not all practitioners are going to be political scientists, but it is important for all practitioners to increase their political knowledge. Few know this point as well as Tilden Katz, managing director of APCO Worldwide’s Chicago office.
APCO is a large, independent public affairs and strategic communications firm with 30 offices worldwide. Katz has a diverse background of political and communication experience, ranging from law school to representing Joe Biden during his first presidential campaign in 1987. Katz said that his background gave him a good grounding in politics, public affairs and how companies compete for political attention.
According to Katz, communication positions that will end up being the most politically active are those that have a prominent place in the community, like hospitals. “I also think industries that are heavily regulated like the financial industry and health care in general [require political savviness],” Katz said. “You are going to have to be aware of how public opinion is moving.”
Katz said that it is not always only government officials with whom communication representatives have to work, but the activists around that line of work, too.
“You could be working for Kraft or another food company, and you could become a real focus of public attention,” Katz said. “So I think it is something you have to be aware of no matter who your client is. You could be working for a large company or a regulated company, and there is going to be public attention focused on that entity.”
Katz said that there are ways for communication professionals to be more politically active and savvy without studying political science. “These classes can be good, but they can also be very dry,” Katz said.
“All politics is, is the discussion of issues and deciding of issues that most people are going to be interested in anyway,” Katz said. “It’s the quality of schools and the quality of law enforcement and how high taxes should be. Those are issues that I think are worthwhile issues to think about. These issues can be found from reading the newspapers both in print and online. You can listen to political commentators and talk to people and see the issues they care about.”
“So I think there are all sorts of outlets for people who want to understand public affairs and public life without taking a class, which may be interesting to some people, but is more focused on voting patterns of a certain group over 40 years or something that is not really relevant today to what they are trying to understand in their own community,” Katz said.
With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, PR practitioners need to bring many job skills to the table for potential clients. Having political smarts is possibly a skill that could distinguish one practitioner from another. Being able to communicate politics opens up new publics to communicate with for a PR pro’s client. Like Mayor Walt Maddox explains, “In many ways, it’s not the work we do, but how we communicate the work we do.”
POSTED IN Featured
Posted At: April 24, 2013 7:40 P.M.
by Kaitlyn Honnold
“You’re shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in sixty seconds. What do you do?” — Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?
Now, I don’t want to give it away just yet, but if you’re interviewing at Google, you may want to know the answer. Google asks riddles, like the one above, to test its potential employees’ critical and creative thinking skills to make sure they’re the right fit.
“Tech companies are always on the cutting edge of employee maximization,” said rbb Public Relations CEO Christine Barney, APR, “because they have to get the most creativity possible out of their employees.”
Barney would know; maximizing employees is one of the things rbb Public Relations does best. As a self-proclaimed, employee-driven workplace, rbb has won every major PR agency award. Period.
Barney credits much of her agency’s success to creating a work environment to suit employee needs.
“When employees are treated well, they do a better job,” Barney said. She noted that the two primary issues driving employee satisfaction are flexibility and respect.
“There is no one size fits all workplace,” Barney said. “There is no one size fits all framework for productivity. If you work better in a team, you have to account for that. The respect comes from giving up control. You have to respect employees.”
The new rbb model is based on the theory that if you give your employees flexibility, you show trust. It’s all about treating your employees like adults.
How does one accomplish this goal?
Presenting the Christine Barney guide to a civilized “adult” workplace:
1. Listen: Don’t talk at employees, but with them.
Barney suggests the C-staff should get off “CEO Island.” “Everything is Top-down,” Barney noted in her speech to United Way Women’s Leadership. “The CEO comes out of their office and says, ‘This is my vision. I will bless all of you below me.’”
Rbb seeks input from all levels of employees in its 360-degree hiring process.
“I‘ve gotten to sit in on everything from summer intern interviews to the hiring of a CFO,” said Susie Gilden, account manager at rbb. “I’m not an executive vice president, but my opinion was just as important to the agency. It goes back to the workplace environment — we’re employee-driven and we get to help make those decisions.”
2. “Go” behaviors, not “no” behaviors: Let people make decisions.
Avoid policies aimed at stopping behaviors. “Go” behaviors can include flexible work schedules and spot bonuses. When a company facilitates “no” behaviors, people start living in fear of the things they shouldn’t do instead of the things they should do. Most workplaces are policy driven with rules that start with “thou shalt not.”
“If you want to listen to your iPod while you work, if that maximizes your productivity, then do it,” Barney said. “You’re going to get ‘yes’ more often than ‘no.’”
3. Trust: Treat people like adults.
“Even if you have the strictest policies, people will still abuse them,” Barney said. “So don’t sacrifice the productivity of your employees to try to control the few.
“It boils down to giving employees the freedom and giving them opportunity to figure out how and when the work should be done. You can still give people constructive criticism,” she said, “but if you do so from a position of respect, then they will be more likely to seek out feedback in the future.”
4. One culture: There can’t be different rules for the higher-ups.
Rbb not only values transparency for its clients, but also for its employees.
“I run completely open books,” Barney said. “Anyone can come in and see everything aside from individual salaries. People really appreciate that. That way, they always know the financial situation of the company.
“That level of transparency lets people know right from the start this is an agency where everyone is treated like adults and equally. Secrecy breeds fear. You should respect your employees to understand the decisions that you make. You need to bring them in the loop. Other companies have a lot of top-down communication, but it’s not employee-interactive.”
Barney isn’t just blowing smoke. Rbb has been placed in the Wall Street Journal’s top 30 best small workplaces in America four years in a row.
Gilden agreed that the work environment is much to thank for rbb’s success.
“Every account is driven by this goal of making sure that our programs are award-winning,” Gilden said. “It guides everything that we do; it helps us in our thinking. When we win agency awards, it’s because Christine Barney as CEO really practices what she preaches.”
Barney developed rbb’s new employee-driven framework after years of experience and sourcing inspiration from books such as “Employees First, Customers Second” and Zappos’ “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.” As we know, creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum and inspiration should be sourced from everywhere possible — the CEO is no exception.
Barney wrote in an article for PR News, “At its heart, the concept of recognizing great work is designed to inspire. Who among us hasn’t read about an award-winning program and thought, ‘that’s brilliant,’ or ‘we could do something similar here.’ Inspiration is something we all need and shouldn’t be shy about seeking.”
Part of rbb’s “employee maximization” is ensuring its employees can find inspiration wherever is best suited to them.
“I usually do my best creative thinking in the shower or in my car driving to the office,” Gilden said. “For me, those are the places I find creative moments of inspiration. I value a place to be alone, but I am talkative (such is the nature of our industry) so I do love to hash out ideas with other people.”
Gilden said when she is looking to hash out some ideas with others she goes to the playroom. The playroom is a meeting space designed with beanbag chairs and an iPod dock to play music.
Do you work better from home?
“One thing that always annoys me is people who say they only allow their senior employees to work from home,” Barney said. “We’re all on a 24-hour schedule. So what’s so magical about the hours between 9 and 6?”
Rbb allows its employees to set their own hours.
“We have a system where people can log where they are,” Barney said in her presentation to the United Way Women’s Leadership. “[…] We know you can’t fit all your work in between the hours of nine to five and your personal life in after six and weekends.”
Need a quieter brainstorming atmosphere? You can choose between the den, a more office-like, functional conference room, or any of the individual silent rooms.
“Half the office is built in one room,” Barney said. “We have many rooms, but you have to find the one that works for you.”
Barney said they only have three rules for brainstorming: “There are no bad ideas, negativity must be left outside and brainstorming must consist of people who don’t work on the account.”
“The way the office is situated really allows for group thinking,” Gilden said. “I can say, ‘Hey, I‘m having trouble. Does anyone have a contact or can anyone help me make this pitch newsworthy?’ [The office] really allows for employees to jump up and say ‘I can help!’”
Gilden said it’s not just about the account teams: Brainstorming is open to everyone.
“I try to really invite people across the board,” Gilden said. “If you only brainstorm with your team, then they’re too involved and can be limited. If I had a consumer product account I could bring in someone from social media or B2B to get input from all different outlets.”
Barney said there are typically two cultures in a company: the culture on paper and the reality.
“Your brand is not defined by what you say about it,” Barney said in her presentation. “It’s defined by what your employees say about it. The number one face of your brand is the people who work there.”
POSTED IN Featured
Posted At: April 23, 2013 10:00 p.m.
by Haley Clemons
You don’t need a passport to travel the world. In one afternoon, I learned that Denmark invented Legos, mythical trolls can be found in Norway’s forests and Austrian hot chocolate is indisputably the best. With no luggage in hand and no ticket in my pocket, my voyage began on the outskirts of Ukraine. It wasn’t long before I waved goodbye, and the aroma of Irish cream and coffee beckoned me forward. Luckily, the Emerald Isle was only a few steps away.
The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, nestled within Balboa Park of San Diego, Calif., is a four-hour adventure that leads participants through 32 different nations and ethnicities by way of atmosphere, food and genuine artifacts. The rich history of each country comes to life as visitors flock from cottage to cottage, experiencing the atmosphere and diet of locals from each land. Every Sunday between noon-4 p.m., the cottages open their doors in the name of “goodwill and understanding” and “peaceful coexistence.”
There is little room for cultural stigmas as sightseers enjoy learning about the unique cultures within each ornamented cottage, sampling foreign dishes. Mary McDermott knows the value of the messages that HPR holds dear. She has been involved with the International Cottages since 1990 through membership in the House of Ireland, and educates visitors about HPR’s mission.
“It is a sharing of culture. Culture is defined by the food, art, music, history and language of a country,” said McDermott, 2nd vice president of HPR. “An appreciation of our diversity is displayed and fostered. We stress that a common thread of humanity binds us together.”
The House of Ireland greeted me with “One Hundred Thousand Welcomes” in a memo hanging above the fireplace. It read, “The Irish Cottage bids you Céad Mile Fáilte.” I instantly felt like a local.
I had no problem handing over my $2 donation to the volunteers of the Irish Cottage. The soda bread and tea were much appreciated on my trip across this miniature version of the world. “Volunteers who open the cottages to the public welcome any donations to help maintain and run the cottages,” McDermott said.
After scarfing down my Irish fare, I looked to the square connecting the cottages and was overwhelmed by the sights and smells that loomed in the air. It was, again, time to travel to a new country.
As I strolled into the Cottage of Germany, I became fixated with the bold statements of “Deutschland” and colorful knickknacks lining the walls. The warm San Diego light streamed through the cottage windows as I made my way to the volunteers who were busily baking in the back of the room.
“We make it homemade,” one volunteer said, as he placed whipped cream on top. I quickly learned that the only way to one-up a portion of German Apple Strudel is to have it served by a man in lederhosen, bearing a big grin and a thick German accent.
McDermott explained to me how this level of authenticity was possible. “We have members who are from the native country [working in the cottages],” McDermott said. “The volunteers are first/second generation or have no lineage, but do have a love and connection to that particular country and its traditions and expressions.” Along with authenticity, a sense of community and teamwork are fostered.
“The cottages exist by members and the public donating their time and resources,” said McDermott. “The members decorate their cottages and have an administrative structure within each cottage, consisting of a house president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and board members. The exact structure will vary from house to house.”
In addition to administrative tasks, volunteers of HPR educate the community about “understanding, tolerance and goodwill between all races and nationalities.” This message was shared with me in unique and powerful ways during my four short hours in Balboa Park.
As I walked into The House of Israel, HPR’s mission became more apparent. I sampled a Bureka, a cheese-stuffed pastry snack, and listened as Israel’s cottage volunteers began to speak of the accomplishments and beauty of the country. In glass casing along the wall of the antiquated room were examples of Israel’s contributions to the scientific community, including a pen that could foil a bomb and a “Pillcam” that records endoscopies. The cottages gave every nation a chance to showcase its beauty and integrity. With each passing moment, my eyes were opened to a new understanding of each country.
The visit awakened my inner globetrotter and I searched for excuses to come back. HPR members quickly gave me the inspiration I needed.
“The House of Ireland offers Irish language lessons on Thursday nights,” said McDermott. “They also teach a history class every first Monday of the month.”
“The House of Puerto Rico offers cooking classes once a month and musical instruction on playing a ‘Cuatro’ – the traditional instrument played in Puerto Rico,” added Rosario Camacho-Reyes, president of HPR. She has been involved with the HPR International Cottages since 1989 through membership in the House of Puerto Rico.
This is only a small sample of what is offered from the 32 countries. For example, the House of England holds Jane Austen meetings, while The House of Scotland has its Pipe Band practice on Mondays and Gaelic lessons on Thursdays. Depending on the specific culture, visitors can find dancing lessons, cooking classes and interest meetings worth any traveler’s time, but the opportunities don’t stop there.
“Twice a year, in May and December, the HPR International Cottages host two major civic events: the Ethnic Food Fair and the December Nights Festival,” said McDermott. “The Ethnic Food Fair is held Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend and features ethnic food, drink and entertainment from all of our national groups and lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. December Nights is held on the first Friday and Saturday in December, again featuring ethnic food, drink and entertainment inspired by winter holidays from around the world.”
“On December Nights we have crowds of 300,000 alone visiting the park museums and International Cottages,” Camacho-Reyes said. I was already planning my winter getaway trip.
I had stumbled upon a San Diego gem. Camacho-Reyes enlightened me on how to help spread HPR’s message. “Each cottage has its own website,” she said. “There is also an official House of Pacific Relations International Cottages website (www.sdhpr.org), which connects visitors to all of the cottages.” The websites list all of the possible activities and individual histories of the cottages that HPR represents.
In the House of Israel, nearly every sightseer had one thing in common: they all knew the meaning of shalom. With this in mind, I knew that Israel was the perfect place to end my journey, as shalom means hello, farewell and, most importantly, peace.
Visitors do not have to search far to find the significance in HPR’s mission. It is hidden in the name. The word “Pacific” means something different than the wayfaring context that it suggests. Pacific means “intending to make peace.” Surveying the crowd, watching participants laugh and share stories, was more rewarding than spending time in an expensive hotel room. It was an experience with a purpose.
The crowds hauled their satisfied stomachs to the cars waiting in the nearby parking lot, the hustle in of cottage square returned to a lull and I was back in California. Hidden in hectic Downtown San Diego, in historic Balboa Park, is a chance to see the world, a foodie’s culinary dream and an opportunity to promote ideals of peace.
POSTED IN Featured
Posted At: April 22, 2013 2:35 p.m.
by Jessica Ruffin
A young blonde woman stares off in another direction, her clothes torn and her skin covered in gashes. Her surroundings reflect chaos and tragedy, the ground overtaken by puddles of blood and debris. This picture from the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon has become “iconic,” according to the New York Daily News, and has appeared in papers all across the nation.
However, before publishing that picture, the Boston Globe photographer who shot it had to consider the following: Is it ethical?
In this case, the picture was deemed ethical and there was not a controversy surrounding it. But what about the other pictures from that day? Were they deemed unethical and not published? Or were they published and met with public outrage? Alabama Assistant Professor of Journalism Dr. Chris Roberts believes those are crucial questions journalists must think about when such situations arise.
The difficult ethical issues in journalism and other areas of communication are not black and white. According to Roberts, the controversial issues are an entirely different color.
“When we think about ethics and if we should or should not do something, we’re thinking about a technicolor gray,” Roberts said.
Roberts said that issues that are “black and white,” such as plagiarism, are the easy ethical decisions for communicators. Journalists know that taking the words of others and claiming them as their own is wrong. However, the ethical dilemmas that journalists struggle with go far beyond right and wrong.
The social impact
Social media has grown drastically in its usage over the past several years and has transformed into a source for breaking news. Roberts said that the increasing prevalence of social media has sometimes allowed ethics to battle with breaking a story as quickly as possible.
“The question becomes, do we start reporting a rumor that we’re not quite sure we’ve got nailed down?” Roberts said. “The biggest fundamental change in your lifetime and my lifetime as a journalist is from [the news] coming out once a day – when we could make our decisions and live with them – to having a deadline every minute.”
Because communicators primarily use Facebook and Twitter to break news to the public, this use has created a public expectation of up-to-the-minute news. People constantly want to know what is going on, especially in the midst of a tragedy or major event, and Roberts said it has led journalists to work much faster.
“When I was a newspaper guy, I would go to a meeting at 10 in the morning and the paper wouldn’t publish until the next afternoon – literally 24 hours after the meeting started,” Roberts said. “Now, reporters are at that meeting and they’re sending blog updates and sending tweets as it is live.
“And what that means is that you’ve got to make some decisions on the front end about what you’re going to do and not do because you don’t have nearly as much time to make decisions.”
The hastening of decision-making in order to “break a story” first can lead to inaccurate information, which may cause rumors to spread. However, sometimes it is necessary to take a risk in the publication of certain information. Sue Hale, who serves as the media consultant for Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, said that sometimes the news media are forced to report findings that they’re not certain are 100 percent accurate.
“In the Boston marathon bombing that happened yesterday, there were numbers all over the place,” Hale said. “People were rushing to get online and on T.V. as quickly as they could. So obviously, even the law enforcement people didn’t have accurate numbers.”
Hale went on to explain that although publishing any available information in a crisis situation is important, journalists still need to be wary. On April 17, several major news outlets reported that police had arrested a suspect in the Boston bombings. This statement turned out to be false, causing an uproar on social media.
“We’ve always had a competitive spirit [as journalists],” Hale said. “But the key to me is not letting that be ahead of what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Making an ethical decision
Journalists do have a duty to report facts that the public has a right to know as accurately as possible – however, where is the line of being a good journalist and being unethical? Roberts is not sure.
He cites Doing Ethics in Media, a textbook co-written by himself and Jay Black, as a explanation of how communicators can make an ethical decision.
“What we try to do is help you try to work your way through the process of figuring out what the real ethical issue is,” said Roberts.
He also said that the book describes a method called “the W’s and H list,” which includes the following six questions that communicators should ask themselves when faced with an ethical dilemma:
• What’s your problem?
• Why not follow the rules?
• Who wins, who loses?
• Who’s whispering in your ear?
• How’s your decision going to look?
The third question, “Who wins, who loses?” is one of the primary questions that PR practitioners should ask themselves, according to Roberts. It deals with loyalty and to whom the communicator is loyal in his practices.
“If you’re a public relations practitioner, you say you’re loyal to your client, but when it boils down to gravy, are you really loyal to the person who’s paying your bill or are you loyal to the public?” Roberts asked.
Journalists may also struggle with this question when considering whether or not to publish information of public importance that has been labeled as “off-the-record.” Do they publish the information that they feel the public has a right to know and “burn” their source? Or do they remain loyal to their source and keep the information to themselves?
A Transparent Field
One of the other questions that Roberts answers in his book is “What’s it worth?”. Roberts said that this question focuses primarily on values and what the communicator’s highest priorities are.
“You think about all the things that are important to you in life and you determine which of those matters when you shuffle it down, because ultimately what matters to us determines how we act,” Roberts said. “If I know how you’re spending your time and I can see your checkbook, I can tell you what’s important to you in life.”
For Hale, integrity and honesty are values that she considers to be the most important for a journalist.
“I used to say that people either have integrity or they don’t.” Hale said. “To me, that means you’re either ethical or you’re not.”
Remembering one’s values in the field of communication is crucial because if a journalist makes a mistake, the world knows about it.
“We are in a business where everybody’s looking at what we do,” Roberts said. “Everybody wants to come over the hill and shoot the wounded when it’s over, talking about whether or not we did the right thing. And there are not many lines of work where that happens.”
POSTED IN Featured
The motion picture and film sector has become a multi-billion-dollar industry since its beginning in the United States and other countries around the world. Because cinema reaches so many people, from a wide array of demographics, it is no wonder that it is becoming increasingly popular from a PR perspective.
The film industry has become a common stage for marketing products and an incredible technique for creating revenue for various tourism destinations both locally and nationally. This particular form of publicity and promotion has become known as film-induced tourism.
According to a Journal of Travel Research article by Simon Hudson and J.R. Ritchie, “Film tourism is defined as tourist visits to a destination or attraction as a result of the destination’s being featured on television, video, or the cinema screen.”
The article also elaborates on the many benefits and marketing opportunities derived from film tourism. This form of tourism has acted as a springboard for marketing campaigns and public relations approaches.
Fueled by the growth in the entertainment industry and by the increasing popularity of international travel, the opportunities this industry can provide are phenomenal – if only taken advantage of and capitalized upon. Opportunities abound before, during and even after film production.
Marketing production destinations
Public relations is part of every step in the film tourism process, even from the very beginning stages of marketing a destination to potential film producers. Because of the growing number of success stories, many law makers have also stepped in to aid in attracting films to their particular locations.
For example, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley recently signed a bill that will allow the state of Alabama to compete more effectively for film productions.
HB243 will double the current value of allowed incentives for filming projects within the state by 2015. According to the Alabama Film Office, “In 2011 alone, production companies spent approximately $22.5 million in Alabama and more than $5.6 million was reimbursed to these companies through the incentives.”
A recent al.com article stated that, “Filming activity for movies, television shows and other projects grew in Alabama last year, with production companies spending $33.5 million in the state.” This spending represents 31 projects from a variety of industries.
The Alabama Film Office recommends policies and legislation, as well as implements and participates in programs and projects to benefit the state’s film tourism. The office also acts as an advocate to film producers to choose the state as a filming destination.
Alabama Film Office Manager Kathy Faulk said, “We are very excited to see the release of two major feature films this month, ’42’ which filmed at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham and ‘Space Warriors’ which filmed at Space Camp in Huntsville.”
Faulk also stated, “We sometimes take for granted the beauty of our state. I am constantly reminded when showing photos of our gorgeous beaches to someone for the first time, or our lakes and rivers, or the beautiful lush mountains in North Alabama, how very fortunate we are.”
“Locations such as the Space and Rocket Center, which has had two major movies in the last year, Barber Motorsports Park and Talladega Speedway sell themselves in what they offer as a destination location,” she added.
Positive production impact
Publicity for an area starts as soon as the film cast and crew get to town. Wilmington, N.C., has embraced its role as “Hollywood East” with several TV shows and features filming in the area recently. Connie Nelson, the communications/public relations director for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau, noted that the stars simply being in town is easy publicity for the area and its businesses.
“Another way the film industry impacts tourism is that when visiting productions are here, the visiting crew and actors stay in our hotels, dine in our restaurants, shop in our stores and visit attractions. This not only creates economic impact for our destination but it also creates the opportunity to promote where the stars dine, shop and stay,” said Nelson.
For example, “’Big Fish’ back in 2003 had a huge impact on Wetumpka, Ala.; ‘42’ recently shot five days in Birmingham, Ala., and they rented 200 rooms for a month; CMT’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ shot in Fairhope, Ala., was felt by the entire community, as the crew ate in its restaurants and stayed in local hotels,” said Faulk. “These are personal dollars spent by the crew and not easily accounted for, but definitely felt in a community.”
Alabama native Jennie Katz Hamilton, who was part of the production of “Big Fish,” said she believes “filming in Alabama is not only economically beneficial for the state, [but] it also acts as a positive morale boost for citizens. It gives them something to be excited about and a way to showcase a place they love.”
In another example, India’s Ministry of Tourism has also recently created a marketing campaign called “Land of Pi,” inspired by Ang Lee’s 2012 film “Life of Pi.” Leading hotels, businesses and officials have joined forces in the marketing campaign in hopes of capitalizing on the film’s popularity.
Harnessing production results
Global awareness also dramatically increased throughout and after the production of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Tourism awareness in New Zealand fueled by the trilogy’s overwhelming global popularity paved the way for destination marketers to harness the power of this phenomenon.
A CNN article coined Hollywood as being one of the world’s best travel agents, stating that, “With as much as 5 percent of tourism inspired by movies, more countries are aggressively auditioning for Hollywood’s attention.”
Stefan Roesch, Ph.D., is a film tourism consultant and current deputy managing director of CenTouris, a tourism market research and marketing institute based in Bavaria, Germany. The institute promotes film tourism around the world by way of destination marketing consulting, development and implementation of film-related tourism products and many other tactics.
“New tourism products and business opportunities such as film sets or guided film location tours and increased film-friendliness of the local populace are also some effects,” said Roesch.
According to film-tourism.com, “Visitors to film locations want an on-site experience which engages their emotions and tells them a story.” Providing this type of experience and evoking this sort of emotion are the very goals of today’s public relations professionals, no matter which particular market they serve.
For example, when Gwyneth Paltrow was in Wilmington, N.C., filming “Iron Man 3,” she dined and had a cooking lesson at local restaurant Catch. Later, she wrote about her positive experiences on her goop.com blog.
Stars simply tweeting about the film location is publicity in itself. Josh Duhamel tweeted about playing on the Oak Island golf course while filming “Safe Haven” in South Haven, N.C., and Emma Roberts called Folks Cafe in Wilmington, N.C., “the best coffee I’ve ever had” while filming “We’re the Millers” there last summer.
“Film tourism as a marketing tool is considered to be very effective due to several reasons,” Roesch said. “It’s perceived as below-the-line-advertising, it forms an emotional connection to place, it reaches a broad audience, and it is an affordable way of marketing a destination.”
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