Geoff Campbell, storified

Hey,

So if you’re familiar with my experience you may know I’ve been using this cool social media curation service called Storify.

I’ve used it to collect reactions to the 20 tips for first-year students video project I worked on at Mount Allison University. I also put together a little story around creating NPR’s Facebook page, a polar bear’s visit to Mount Allison, a conference I did all the tech work for at The Argosy, tracking a norovirus outbreak in Victoria, BC (a study in crisis communication), and a number of speeches and discussions.

However, I didn’t really used it to tell a story about me. After a couple months working at a Multimedia Storytelling Research Assistant here at the Newhouse School I figured I’d give it a shot. Ideally (if I had more time), it would be about twice as long and include a bit about my change in self-identification as American while living in Canada, about moving around North America while growing up, shifting gears from International Relations to social media communication, and other meaningful influences. Nevertheless, it was interesting finding things online with which to tell the story of who I am.

So, here’s Geoff Campbell, storified. Feel free to let me know here or there what you think.

Newsworthiness and Implications for PR

Last September, NPR wrote about the Occupy Wall St. protests that were happening in New York City. People got upset. They complained to the NPR Ombudsman.

The executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, responded by saying “The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective.

The ombudman said he doesn’t weigh in on daily news judgements unless a decision is “totally egregious or part of a long term trend”, and he said the decision not to write about the Occupy protests was neither.

So, if Occupy Wall St. in September 2011 wasn’t newsworthy, then what is?

Today’s assignment for PRL 614 (PR Writing for the Web is to examine a day or two of top news on: CNN.com, ABCNews.com, CBSNews.com, NYTimes.com, HuffingtonPost, FoxNews.com, WashingtonPost.com, MSNBC.com, and LATimes.com, write about what the featured stores indicate about newsworthiness in today’s media climate, and write about what the implications of the current trends in newsworthiness are for today’s public relations professional.

If PR Theory has taught me anything is it to begin with key concepts and try to define them. While there isn’t quite one all-encompassing definition of newsworthiness, there are a few important characteristics of it.

Brad Phillips, president of Phillips Media Relations and a former journalist with ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN’s Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang, wrote about 11 Things that Journalists Consider Newsworthy. Let’s begin with them.

1. Conflict: Reporters are professional storytellers, and good stories have conflict. If you disagree with a competitor’s approach, for example, you’re more likely to receive coverage than if you agree.

2. Local: Most news organizations cover a specific geographic range. A newspaper in Iowa may report on a local charity event, but is unlikely to report on a new condo development in Florida.

3. Incident: Anything that goes wrong has the potential to become newsworthy, such as an industrial explosion, a car crash, or a school shooting.

4. Extremes or superlatives: Reporters love extremes or superlatives: the first, the last, the best, the worst, the biggest, the smallest. If your story contains one, highlighting it will usually make it more newsworthy.

5. New: It’s no coincidence that the word “news” contains the word “new.” News stories have to answer the question, “why now?” Stories that don’t are considered “old news” and usually receive little coverage.

6. Timely and Relevant: Timely stories, often about an upcoming event, are often considered newsworthy, as are stories relevant to the news organization’s specialty. A Boston-area real estate journal will consider a story about next week’s annual gathering of local real estate pros newsworthy, but the Boston Globe probably won’t.

7. Scandal: The Congressman who hides money in his freezer, the hedge fund manager who rips off his clients, and the music mogul who murders his companion are almost guaranteed to be deemed newsworthy.

8. David vs. Goliath: In many stories, there is a “big guy” and a “little guy.” Since the media often view their role as being the protector of the exploited, the little guy usually receives more sympathetic coverage.

9. Incompetence: The corporate executive, politician, or celebrity who can’t seem to get it right will almost always draw the critical eye of the press.

10. Surprising: Stories with an unexpected hook are candy to reporters. If your study discovers that fried foods have previously undiscovered health benefits, you can bet the media will lavish your work with coverage. That story, incidentally, would also make me very happy.

11. Hypocrisy: I saved my favorite for last. Say you’re an anti-gay rights politician who gets caught with a gay lover. Or the president of an animal shelter who’s caught abusing animals. There are few stories as delicious to reporters as powerful people betraying their own publicly-stated positions – and they’re almost guaranteed to remain in the headlines for days or weeks.

So if we start with the assumption that Brad is right and the more of these attributes there are to a story the more “newsworthy” it is, when we can move another what the implications are for PR.

First, the headlines

Biden is in ‘denial’ about Libya, Romney says

Romney seizes on Biden’s remark on Libya attack

White House moves to insulate Biden, Obama on Libya security question

Libya Attack Gains Steam as Issue in Race for President

‘MATHEMATICALLY IMPOSSIBLE’

Clearly, remarks from the debate triumph, and Biden’s remarks on Libya can be seen by some as incorporating the Conflict, Incident, Timely and Relevant, Scandal, Incompetence, and Hypocrisy sections.

What’s further evident is that no stories on the top on any of the above front pages currently have any stories that one could quickly assume originated with a pitch from a media relations person.

However, partway down the Washington Post page you see a review for Argo with the headline “Affleck’s ‘Argo’ is a nail-biting political thriller with a Hollywood twist“. This film, regarding how State Department employees were sheltered in the Canadian Embassy and then taken out of the country clearly is timely in that it relates to current tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Overall the stories indicate that Brad Phillips is right and that those are aspects of a story that makes it newsworthy and that news organization publish and feature stories like those.

What it means for media relations professionals is that they ought to write their releases and pitches in a way that makes them newsworthy. Organizations need to be careful when piggybacking on current events to ensure they are not being insensitive or inappropriate like Kenneth Cole was when the made light of the violence in Egypt in February of 2011.

Writing for the iSchool’s Blog

The School for Information Studies at Syracuse University's InfoSpace Blog
The School for Information Studies at Syracuse University's InfoSpace Blog

The School for Information Studies at Syracuse University‘s InfoSpace Blog

Today my first post as a blogger for Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies’ InfoSpace Blog was published. It’s a little piece on the IFTTT (really awesome) automation service and it being forced to remove triggers for Twitter due to Twitter more strictly enforcing its API rules regarding storing Twitter content on cloud servers.

Writing for the iSchool’s blog is just one of many things I’m doing to supplement formal classes while I have another 8 months before working full-time. I’ve also began studying basic programming at the Code Academy, became a HootSuite Certified Professional, and am planning a bit of a vlog in addition to my job as Multimedia Storytelling Book Graduate Research Assistant for Professor Seth Gitner, being the graduate student representative on the Newhouse Tenure Committee and auditing ICC 625: New Media Business.

It’s a lot of work but it’s necessary because (despite the fact that I think investing in this degree will be worthwhile) the PR curriculum here, and, arguably, no PR curriculum anywhere, teaches the skills that PR employers will require in the near future. I’ll hopefully be posting here more regularly on my progress here.

Getting a Job after Newhouse

LinkedIn University of Maryland Communications Specialist
LinkedIn University of Maryland Communications Specialist

LinkedIn University of Maryland Communications Specialist

“I want this job and I know I have a good chance of landing because I’m qualified, experienced and very eager to work in this role.”

That’s what I’m going to say in eight months when I’ll have successfully completed all of the on-campus requirements of my degree (M.S. in Public Relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications) and am looking for full-time work. I’ll be looking at a job description like this one (excerpted below) from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Why am I so confident? Because I know I already have the skills necessary for the job. As you can see below, I have specific, public recommendations from supervisors attesting to my qualification in regards to the job duties and have more than adequate “Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities” for the job as evidenced by my portfolio and work experience. This isn’t to say that there aren’t many others with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the job, but I think I have an advantage because I’ve put in the time to display my qualifications online.

Why did I come to graduate school when many consider my degree unnecessary? I came here because I wouldn’t have Deloitte, GE, Dannon, and others recruiting in my living room but they are coming/have come to campus to recruit students like me.

It’s not as though the last 12 weeks have radically transformed me from someone who knew nothing about hard work, good writing, or effective teamwork into someone who does. But that doesn’t matter to employers. I can say I know this, that, and the other but it only matters because I have something to back it up.

I’m in this program not only because I have the competence for it but because other people and ETS have said (through my undergraduate grades, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores) that I am.

Graduate school is a perfect filter for employers. They already know we’re well-qualified (someone with a Ph.d said we were better than 90% of other applicants), ambitious (spending the time and effort to do well here), and motivated (self-evident strong personal interest and reality of having to repay student loans).

So, while the information below will show that I could very well apply for this job today, I don’t want to have to go back to school later on in order to advance to a managerial position. Public Relations and Fundraising Managers made an average of $91,810 in 2010 while Public Relations Specialists earned $52,090. The disparity in wages and the increased speed of promotions that come with having a master’s degree, I’m betting, is worth the investment in time and money. Some PR professionals encourage people to get experience before pursuing a master’s in order to increase their chances of getting a job immediately following graduation.

A recent study from Georgetown University found that Public Relations and Advertising graduate degrees had among the lowest return on investment at 12%.

Additionally, a master’s degree in Public Relations was noted by Bankrate.com as one of 5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off. This determination rested on the relatively low average return on investment (which may be skewed as it including advertising graduate degrees as well), and the opinion of two  Liz Pulliam Weston, a columnist for MSN Money and Kristen Harris, who owns a staffing agency in Columbus, Ohio. However, the national survey and broad statements by those not in the PR field need to be taken in context.

I suspect if a proper survey were conducted Newhouse PR graduates would fare better than average. Newhouse graduate programs, in general, are successful. 89% of survey respondents who graduated from 2006-2009 from graduate programs at Newhouse were employed within 6 months of graduation. Additionally, I could have gone to more prestigious and nationally better known schools but I chose Newhouse because it’s the best choice for what I want. As well, the PR program here is respected enough for Richard Edelman to speak at last year’s convocation and partner with the school for one of Edelman’s diversity initiatives.

Anyway I’m highly biased so my opinion doesn’t count for much. I’m heavily invested in the idea that a master’s degree will help in the long-run and so I guess we’ll see in about ten years if I’m right or not. At the very least I’m sure that being properly educated in PR writing, graphic design, research, and business basics will, in addition to the experience-related credentials below, put me over the edge and secure me a job.

Without further adieu, here’s a few recommendations and the corresponding job responsibility followed by desired skills and the relevant evidence of those skills.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF POSITION VACANCY FOR Specialist

(Communications Specialist)

Position:

Desired Skills & Experience

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

Measuring opinion across media

Romney Debate Performance

A recent Pew Research Center study argued that social media and traditional press reacted to the Democratic and Republican conventions differently. However, the fine print showed that humans decided the tone of the traditional media stories while the Center relied on automated sentiment analysis which isn’t always right and in fact can be wrong most of the time.

However, the study touched on the notion that the type of posts and commentary are different on social media vs. traditional media. For instance, the Obama campaign insisted that he won because he lied while traditional news simply said that Romney won among undecided voters.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xZniwrAwZGY]

On Twitter, with the help of live fact-checking by organizations like the NY Times, users were informed that a number of things Mitt Romney said were not true. Difference in sentiments about the candidates is absolutely affected by if those surveyed were given truthful information.

On the topic of the conventions, many were reacting positively to Bill Clinton’s speech on Twitter while some on Fox News were unsurprisingly critical of it

On the Republican side, many on Twitter enjoyed Paul Ryan’s speech, but after talk, many criticized Ryan or lying. Even regularly conservative mouthpiece Fox News (which another study found makes people less informed than those who watch no news) published an article saying

On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.

So, in the end the study shows not a whole not of anything definitive. People who get their news on Twitter can have opinions of candidates or conventions which aren’t based on fact just as easily as those who get it via more traditional means.

The Newhouse School is Hiring

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication is hiring a new chair of the Public Relations Department and two new tenure-track professors.

The importance of having full-time, tenure-track professors teaching these programs would be difficult to overstate. If you or anyone you know is interested in applying go to www.sujobopps.com.

via newhouse.syr.edu:

Chair, Public Relations Department

Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications seeks a Chair for the Public Relations Department—one of the most successful and highly-regarded Public Relations programs in the United States. The successful applicant will have a teaching, research and service record appropriate for hiring at the level of Associate or Full Professor. The successful applicant will become the Public Relations Department Chair starting July 2013.

For full descriptions and online application instructions, go to www.sujobopps.com. Under “Search open positions” enter Job #029566.

Assistant/Associate Professors in Public Relations

The S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University invites applications for two tenure-track positions in Public Relations. One position is at the rank of assistant professor and the other is at the rank of assistant or associate professor. The positions will add to our nationally-recognized faculty in the fastest-growing department in the Newhouse School.

For full descriptions and online application instructions, go to www.sujobopps.com. Under “Search open positions” enter Job # 029567 for the Assistant Professor position and Job # 029567 for the Assistant/Associate Professor position.