Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 is about the publics public relations practitioners deal with during their workday. A public is considered any group whose members have a common interest or common values in a particular situation. That definition is copied straight from the book because I think it really covers it well and I can't think of a way to say it better.
I never thought of the different ways you can categorize publics so I was pretty surprised to find out there were so many. The publics involved in an organization are constantly changing. As our world becomes more diverse and more connected, the potential publics for an organization are becoming more numerous. I never thought about how the gay/lesbian community is a public that really has just emerged, or rather has just emerged as a potentially important factor. As it is becoming more acceptable, companies and organizations have to accommodate this community. A few decades back, the Hispanic community was probably not as prominent as they are now. Now, it is necessary for many organizations to have their consumer material translated into Spanish. Signs are in Spanish; instructions are in Spanish. This brings up the language factor. I'm sure it is much more crucial now for a PR practitioner to know another language. The different cultures of our world are colliding and we have to accommodate for that too. I am particularly interested in the multicultural aspect of PR (partially how I am hoping to use my minor in French). An article from PRSA about the importance of multiculturalism really made the issue clear when Virginia L. Kreimeyer, APR, said, "You have to look at the ethnicity and diversity from more than one standpoint. You have to be sensitive to what those cultures are, how members of the group perceive themselves and how other groups within the country perceive them." This same article discusses the sometimes overwhelming ethnocentrism that PR activities are "plagued by," meaning the tendency to see everything from the view of white, Christian, upper-middle class people.
Switching gears a bit, I also found an article about public relations on Facebook, on the pr-squared blog, that while is essentially an article about the social media revolution and the ridiculous success of Facebook, it also discusses publics. It talks about the demographic information of Facebook users that has changed from just college students to all ages (including the fastest-growing demographic of +35). The Facebook situation also reminds me of the example used in this chapter about Kablooie popcorn and reaching the teenagers on the internet. As Facebook has around 300 million users, of course companies and organizations want to get on the action and reap the benefits of having that many people in one "location." But as the article says, it's more difficult that it seems. Companies don't want to bring more business to Facebook (because seriously, they have plenty); they want to bring business to their own websites. The article suggest low-cost approach coupled with some advertising, widgets, and the like. And I agree. With the ever-changing world of Facebook (and really, the next big thing could come around any time), it's best to not spend too much money.

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