Richard Branson’s – Humanizing a Brand

PRL 614 Blog Review Assignment

Eccentric billionaire and Charman of Virgin Group Richard Branson authors a blog on the Virgin website where he writes on various topics from his time signing the Sex Pistols and the Golden Jubilee kerfuffle, the key to negotiating, to supporting drug legalization.

The posts in their totally not only provide a glimpse into the thinking of Branson but the kind of chairman he is the kind of companies he runs. By writing freely about what he thinks he gives the idea that the Virgin group of companies is a forward- and free-thinking group of companies.

It fits in with the other types of fresh communication from shooting an entire movie at 35,000 feet to promote Virgin Airlines to ‘fight the man’ type advertisements for its other brands (especially Virgin Music).

In general CEOs should be encouraged to write blogs to give a face to their companies. While there is the potential risk of having a less-than media-friendly executive hurting the brand image in various ways, for the most part CEO blogs have been positive insights into companies from the people who know them best.

Tenure Committee – Call for Student Input

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Tenure Committee Call for Student Input
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Tenure Committee Call for Student Input

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Tenure Committee Call for Student Input

This year, I was elected to serve as the graduate representative on the Newhouse Tenure Committee. I’m committed to doing what I can to ensure Newhouse maintains the very best faculty for current and future students.

Professor Bruce Strong of the Multimedia, Photography & Design Department is undergoing his final-year tenure review and the Tenure Committee is looking for student input on and his teaching, creative/scholarly work, and service.

All comments will be kept confidential by the Tenure Committee and will not be available to the candidate. Please address letters to the Tenure Committee and drop them off at the Dean’s Office in Newhouse 1 or e-mail them to Elizabeth Calabria at [email protected] before September 28.

If you have questions about the process or want to speak to someone on the committee, please contact Professor Melissa Chessher, Room 318, Newhouse 3.

In addition, any students wishing to contact me directly to share input on Professor Strong’s qualifications can contact me directly by e-mail.

YouTube and Online Censorship

YouTube and Censorship (PRL 614 Assignment Post)

Apart from the video, “Innocence of Muslims” which has sparked international outrage, the video giant YouTube has refused to remove other videos governments and individuals have requested to be taken down.

What may not be widely known is that the United States leads the world in Google content removal (censorship) requests. The company received requests for the removal of 3,8511 items. In second place was Germany with 1,304.

Google complied with 63% of U.S. government requests for removal pf content from January 2011 to June 2011. When they refused to remove videos of police brutality, they refused.

In another case, Google refused to rebuffed a request from the Canada’s Passport Office to take down a video of a Canadian citizen urinated on his passport and flushing it down the toilet.

The company also refused to remove six videos mocking Pakistan’s army and senior politicians.

However, Google did block more than 100 videos in Thailand allegedly insulting the Turkish monarchy, which is a crime in the country.

Google, while not releasing all details on the government requests, is among large internet companies leading the way in transparency.

About the government requests, Google noted,

We hope this tool will shine some light on the appropriate scope and authority of government requests to obtain user data around the globe.”

In regards to Google’s obligations to balance free speech and restricting the spread of inflammatory content, Google has none. It is a private company which makes decisions based on its community guidelines and only has the obligation to remove illegal material, not what some may find in poor taste.

Media Law at the Newhouse School

Law of Public Communication 2013 Update (8th Edition)
Law of Public Communication 2013 Update (8th Edition)

Law of Public Communication 2013 Update (8th Edition), the textbook for COM 698: Media Law at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

If you ask the average person they may not think that a class on communications law would be particularly exciting. They’d be wrong though. Jasmine McNealy somehow makes a potentially dry subject into something interesting to non-law students. I enjoy it so far and am particularly looking forward to leading a class discussion on political speech next month. If you’re interested, here’s the syllabus for COM 698: Media Law.

[PR Theory] Power and Public Relations

Sage Handbook of Public Relations
Sage Handbook of Public Relations

Sage Handbook of Public Relations, the main textbook for PRL 605: Public Relations Theory at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

As I noted in my last post I’m well into the fall semester at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications M.S. in Public Relations program at Syracuse University.

Here’s the syllabus:

Last week I presented to the class on ideas about power as they relate to the field and practice of Public Relations. The content is based on chapters 12 and 13 from the Sage Handbook of Public Relations.

Preparing my presentation made me realize just how complex and varied research in the field can be.

Here is the presentation. I’m going to be working with theory in class until December, being tested on it again in May in the comprehensive exam, and it’ll come up in the field I’m sure. With that in mind feel free to comment or criticize.

Cutlip et al.’s 4 Step PR Process

Primer of Public Relations Research - Don W. Stacks, our primary textbook for PR Research at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Primer of Public Relations Research - Don W. Stacks, our primary textbook for PR Research at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Primer of Public Relations Research – Don W. Stacks, our primary textbook for PR Research at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

I’ve gotten quite into my courses here at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. I’m pretty busy doing coursework but every now and then I’d like to share some observations/class notes/etc. from class to let prospective students know what the curriculum here entails. This semester is really the ‘meat and potatoes of Newhouse’s take on Public Relations.

The content from our cumulative exam we take in April (a requirement to graduate) is taken from our Research, Theory, Management and Campaigns courses.

Here’s our course syllabus

and here’s what we discussed in class on Tuesday:

4 Step Public Relations Process

RACE: Research, Action, Communication, and Evaluation

Keys: Situation Analysis, Strategy, Implementation, and Assessment

Step 1: Defining the Public Relations Problem 

A problem statement represents a concise description of the situation.

-often written in a sentence or short paragraph

-useful problem statement summarizes what was learned about the problem situation

-written in present tense, describes a situation in specific and measurable terms dealing with knowledge predisposition and behavior

-who what where when why how

Problem Statements deal with:

What is the source of concern?

Where is this a problem?

When is it a problem?

Who is involved or affected?

Why is this a concern to the organization and its publics?

The classic example of an overused problem statement that has an implied solution is:

“What we have here is a communication problem”

Communication is part of the solution, not the problem!

A real problem statement:

“Only 5% of new graduates join the alumni association during the 1st year following graduation, compared with 21% of all graduates, resulting in lost contact and reduced support for the university”

Situation Analysis

“An unabridged collection of all that is known about the situation, its history, forces operating on it, and those involved or affected internally and externally”

-A situation analysis contains the background information needed to illustrate in detail the meaning of a problem statement.

-Doing a situation analysis helps you clearly and specifically define and refine the problem statement.

-Situation analysis research gives practitioners the timely, complete, and accurate information needed to understand the problem and to serve as a basis for decision-making.

S.W.O.T. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

Detailed analysis of the internal and external factors allows one to assess organizational strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) and to identify the opportunities (O) and threats (T) in the environment.

Moving Quickly at the Newhouse School

During the first week of class of the fall semester, (of the M.S. in Public Relations here at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications) I was concerned that classwork alone would not secure me a job starting in June 2013, when I’ll be done classes at Newhouse and have to find a full-time job, or, failing that, a full-time eight-week internship.

So, I looked for something that I wasn’t learning in my required classes and found ICC 625: New Media Business, jumped through all the hoops to audit it, and have been actively engaged in discussions every Wednesday morning.

The New Media Business professor, Vin Crosbie, is a managing partner of Digital Deliverance and is the senior consultant on Social and New Media and Curricula at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

I’m very much looking forward to the next lecture, “Creative Destruction and How Supply & Demand Affects Media Economics, Business Models, Consumption, Law, and Content Itself”. You can follow me @GeoffBCampbell on Wednesday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m for highlights of the discussion.

I also have been wanting to know more about how university faculties decide on tenure so I nominated myself to be one of seven graduate students on the Newhouse Student Representative Committee. I was elected (albeit from 6 named candidates and a write-in option) and from there I ran (opposed) and was elected by a majority of graduate representatives to be the graduate student representative on the Newhouse Tenure Committee.

I cannot discuss the private discussions but when the committee needs student input I’ll be sure to include notifications here. I’m very much looking forward to being a part of this very important committee and upholding the strong reputation of the faculty here at Newhouse.

Lastly, I applied for and was hired to be Professor Seth Gitner‘s graduate research assistant. I’m doing varied research on multimedia storytelling that I will write more about in the future.

All of that work is on top of my full-time classes: COM 698: Media Law, PRL 605: Public Relations Theory, PRL 611: Public Relations Research, and PRL 614: Advanced Public Relations Writing for Digital Platforms which, all-together, I’ve found to be nothing to scoff at.

Today, I’ll be discussing Controlling Expression in Media Law, doing an in-class assignment in writing, doing multimedia storytelling research, reading dense academic text for Theory, and doing preliminary research for my case study in PR Theory. As a general rule I won’t be posting a lot (apart from the required posts for PRL 614) due to the workload but if anything major comes up I’ll be sure to share it here. For now I’ll wish you a positive productive Monday and leave you with a song. I hope your Monday goes better than this:

#NBCFail: A Post-mortem

During the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, viewers in the United States quickly became frustrated with the company given exclusive U.S. broadcasting rights to the games and used the hashtag #NBCFail to express their frustration on Twitter. They were frustrated with their “shoddy streaming experiences, editorial mistakes and — most of all — NBC’s preference for obfuscating footage of major Olympic events until airing tape-delayed primetime broadcasts stateside.

There were tape delays of sometimes up to twelve hours and people were so frustrated with NBC offering poor-quality live-streaming of the events only to those who pay for cable TV service that they used anti-internet censorship technology in order to connect with non-U.S. streams.

As Heidi Moore of the Guardian reports,

“Prominent, media-savvy journalists, academics and viewers have spread the word to each other to use VPN technology and proxy services like TunnelBear and StreamVia to scramble our computer’s addresses into ones that can access the BBC iPlayer, where 24 soothing streams of well-organized, brightly narrated, clever Olympics coverage await us.”

However, it wasn’t just about the tape delay, but “the determined refusal of NBC to acknowledge that some viewers might want live coverage“, poor narration of some events, and even insulting viewer intelligence.

Other failures by the company include cutting out a memorial to the victims of terrorism from the live broadcast, a spoiler of Missy Franklin’s gold medal win, and getting Twitter to suspend the Twitter account of a journalist critical of the coverage, and delaying broadcast of Usain Bolt’s gold medal win until four hours after it happens in the name of protecting their financial investment.

Jim Bell, who produced NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, defended his decision:

This is one thing you watch together. And if you kind of end up giving it away on TV you’re not protecting your investment and you’re not serving the audience and you’re not serving the affiliates and you’re not serving the advertisers.”

In the end I’d have to agree with the critics and say that NBC failed to live up to its viewers expectations. However, this time NBC seemed to be more focused on the bottom-line and didn’t care that people were upset at being forced to watch delayed broadcasts on TV because they served their advertisers by playing the most popular events in primetime. However, the media world is changing so quickly that by the next Olympics people may have lost their patience and technology will easily allow them to boycott NBC coverage in favor of foreign broadcasts to get their Olympics coverage. NBC isn’t alone in having to change their business model to face these changes. Many companies are having trouble monetizing online content enough to defray production costs. Let’s all hope someone finds a solution because to see coverage of these events, somebody has to pay.

Social Media + PR Guest Lecture

On Wednesday, Christy Touhey, @NewhouseSU’s Web Content Manager was a guest lecture in our PRL 614: Advanced Public Relations Writing for Digital Platforms at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

I thought her presentation overall was a great introduction to the professional use of social media. She covered reasons why companies use social media. While it’s very broad but covers most of the bases when it comes to public relations.

to widen your outreach
to let your audience know more about your organization
to found out more about your audience
to build relationships
to get your audience to share about you
to cut costs
to increase revenue or influence

I would agree with those points but I found some of the specific examples troublesome. When giving examples of ‘good’ tweets I found, and she half-admitted contained excessive hashtags that took away from the key message. I found the Follow Friday snippet to be overly broad. Her tweet included far too many handles and no reason WHY one should follow them.

Again, overall I think it was a good introduction for most but as I’ve worked as the ‘social media guy’ at both a university and student newspaper I personally did not hear anything I hadn’t learned before. However I think her talk was helpful and provided some specifics on the basics of using social media and a useful overview of why it’s important to the profession.