Reflect on the media conference. How has your understanding of PR and the media developed? Does the mainstream media still set agendas?
The media conference was an opportunity to display our understanding of working world situations, and our understanding of creative software. The preparation for the media conference helped me to improve my co-ordination, organisation, time-keeping, teamwork, and communication skills by working towards targets, pitching ideas to my group and contacting journalists. The media conference also showed me how important it is to prepare for questions from journalists, and how media training and the way you present yourself are vital, as you are representing your brand and not yourself during a media conference. Before the media conference I believed the mainstream media still set agendas, but since then I have to come to realise they do not. Although they do control what to publish, the agency controls what information is made available to them, and if probing questions are asked by journalists in real situations, those being interviewed are able to combat this with media training and deflect the question.
How has learning progressed in the first two terms of your undergraduate life? What has the attendance at the practical classes contributed to your understanding of communication?
During the first two terms of attending practical classes, I have become more organised with coursework by establishing an efficient timetable for working outside of university hours and by acquiring and reading material related to public relations and creative industries. However, I have come to understand it is not enough to just attend the classes and engage with the content, but it is also crucial to communicate with your peers and develop working relationships to increase the proficiency of group work projects. I have learned that one way of doing this is by identifying what I am best at and trying to find a role best suited to what I can contribute. However there have been occasions where my preferred role has not been available, these are the situations I learn most from as I will assume a different role in the group and attend workshops or drop in sessions related to that role to better myself and therefore my group. One of example of this was working with my group Cream Communications where I wasn’t able to be the team leader, but instead assumed the role of producing creative content. In order to do this I attended drop in sessions to improve my understanding and felt confident in using InDesign and Photoshop software by the end of the group project. All of these improvements are down to communication between me, my peers, and my course tutors.
How has attendance at Thursday lunchtime 'meet the industry' sessions contributed to your understanding of the PR industry and those who work in it. What sticks out for you?
The ‘meet the industry’ sessions have allowed me to gain an insight into the working lives of some of the most influential people in the PR industry. The guest lecture with Sara Cosgrove (European Communications Director for DDB) stood out for me the most as she detailed a lot of the challenges she comes across every day, and because her position in the company (which is also the 4th largest communications agency) is very high, giving the perspective of a leader. In the guest lecture Sara Cosgrove highlighted how monitoring media coverage, crisis management, and being aware of cultural sensitivities are some of the most important aspects of her day to day work. Also highlighted was the importance of handling clients correctly, making sure they don’t have conflicting interests and that their campaigns don’t compromise other clients. From the ‘meet the industry’ sessions I have come to understand that PR as an industry involves being in high intensity environments and that PR practitioners are made to prepare for the worst-case scenario all the time.
How has your understanding of Public relations developed during the first two terms? Where is PR heading? And what of those employed by the industry? How ethical should PR be? Should practitioners be licensed?
One of the key things I have gained a greater understanding of in the last two terms is that you need to be proficient in content creation. It is not enough in the working world to rely on outsourcing production of creative content. In order to become employable and distinguish yourself, and reach your full potential within PR, you need to be able to evidence that you are proficient in content creation and ethical practice. For example, taking pictures, shooting and editing film, and creating content on InDesign and utilising Photoshop. Furthermore, something I have discovered that comes with this power to promote and create, is a responsibility to do so ethically. I believe that PR is heading in a direction where those in the industry are becoming more complete in their creative skillsets and abilities, but maybe declining in their ethical practice. Because PR practitioners are working on behalf of a client or in line with a brief, they have little control over the ethical consequences of campaigns and may find it difficult to implement a strict moral code of practice at all times.
I do not think PR practitioners should be licensed because it is sometimes impossible to remain completely ethical when working on behalf of a client, and also taking into consideration possible cultural tensions. The most PR practitioners can hope to do is be as ethical as possible when practicing, according to their own morale standpoint. Consequently, potential employers and others in the industry will be able to see the work you have produced and then decide whether or not to work with you dependent on the quality and morality of your work.
Reflect on the digital magazine you created in first term. How can we create engaging content? What are the challenges and opportunities of digital communication?
In my first term we created a digital magazine centred around street style in London. One of the ways we created engaging content was by integrating a film into our digital magazine. By offering more than one platform of enjoying the content, we created a truly interactive digital magazine. One thing I quickly realised through researching other digital magazines like Brick magazine, is that your content needs to be short and impactful to gain and maintain the attention of readers. One of the ways we made our content engaging was by making it diverse. We had to stick to a central theme of eclecticism and London, but out of that we were able to tap into skate culture, high end fashion, running culture and fast fashion trends with articles and a video.
I was able to learn that digital communication also has numerous challenges. If distributed and supported correctly, digital content can have a wide outreach and readership. However, for most smaller companies or ones with smaller budgets, it is easy for your content to become lost in the sea of social media. With the number of social media platforms growing by the day, it is important to make content relevant to current mainstream media, but at the same time stand out, a difficult medium to achieve.