It’s no secret that America is known as a melting pot, composed of people of various religions, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. The culture of the United States has drastically changed as its demographics have varied throughout the decades.
Despite the cultural richness the melting pot has caused America to experience, it poses several challenges for public relations practitioners.
One of the first steps in creating a public relations strategy is to identify the target audience. More and more segmented audiences have developed, so it has become harder for public relations professionals to distinguish and include the right groups in their list of target audiences. Since it’s harder for public relations practitioners to identify those audiences, it’s even harder for them to determine how best to communicate their message to them. They must conduct research regarding what types of media their audiences use and how they’re using it.
Image Credit: “Boiling potatoes, steaming pot” by Jo Christian Oterhals
Once public relations professionals pinpoint their audiences and learn more about them, they may also face the challenge of recrafting their message in a way that makes sense to them based on their values, backgrounds, etc.
The best solution to both challenges is research: researching the country’s demographics, researching media usage, researching cultural backgrounds and values, and the list goes on and on.
There’s no doubt that public relations practitioners will continue to face these problems in the future as the demographics of the United States continually evolve. But on the bright side, there’s never a dull moment in public relations.
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One of the many online resources for public relations students and professionals is Poynter’s NewsU. I recently took NewsU’s “Lousy Listeners” course. In this blog post, I’m going to use the three-pronged approach to talk about what I learned from this course.
One thing I learned is to repeat back to a speaker what I think they said to me before giving my response. I also learned that listening helps build trust in a relationship. Another important piece of information I learned is that listening does not always translate to communicating.
There were several things that surprised me. One was that paying attention to a speaker’s unvoiced emotions and what their body language is saying is just as important as listening to the words they are saying.
- What do you want to know more about?
I want to learn more about the importance of listening in public relations. Many of the tips the “Lousy Listeners” course gave I can apply to more personal life, but there is a different type of listening required in the public relations field. One way I can learn more about this is following public relations professionals’ social media profiles and blogs.
I would recommend this course to anyone, regardless of their major, career goals or job. Other NewsU courses I would suggest are “Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More,” “Build and Engage Local Audiences Online” and “Get Me Rewrite: The Craft of Revision.”
What are some tips you have for listening? What are some examples of how they have been effective for you? I’d love to hear about it.
Since the father of public relations’, Edward Bernays, plea in 1992, various public relations professionals have been arguing that there is an urgent need for the public relations field to be licensed. Though none of them have been successful so far, many practitioners, like Shel Holtz, remain adamant that licensing would advance the profession and eliminate several problems.
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The public relations field should be licensed because:
- it would establish a code of ethics all practitioners would have to adhere to. Across-the-board ethical standards would help eradicate spin doctors, black hat SEO and other practices that have given public relations a bad image.
- relating to the above point, the public and clients would have a greater trust in public relations professionals. They would have a stronger confidence that practitioners are creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships, gaining positive publicity, and crafting a genuine public image through transparent, ethical means.
- it would elicit a greater respect from those in other professions. I am currently writing an undergraduate thesis about the feminization of public relations and in the research I have done so far, I have discovered that there are those outside of the field who do not think public relations is a real job. Once there is a licensing requirement, other specialists may take public relations more seriously.
- right now, anyone can call themselves a public relations practitioner, which is probably a contributing factor to the issue listed in my last point. Licensing will help keep so-called public relations professionals, like Ryan Holiday, from associating themselves with the field and practicing their version public relations.
- no matter which career path professionals in any field choose to take, they can never have too much education, knowledge or expertise.
I think it is the responsibility of the current and upcoming generations of public relations professionals to make the dream that past influential practitioners had of a licensed profession a reality. I do not know about you, but I want to be one of the public relations game changers.
What do you think about licensing? If you are for it, how do you think soon-to-be public relations graduates can help make public relations a licensed profession?