Thursday, 31 December 2009

Personality or Education? Which is actually necessary to practice public relations?

In completing some research for an assignment on the professionalisation of public relations,I discovered that some of the conditions for achieving professional status include a code of ethics, an overall governing body as well as standard educational criteria to enter the field.

However, Jacquie L'Etang indicated in Robert Heath's Handbook of Public Relations that there are arguments to suggest that there is no specialist knowledge required to work in public relations, but rather a specific set of personal skills and qualities. Jacquie L'Etang lists some of these qualities as “creativity, lateral thinking, flexibility, articulateness, persuasiveness, common sense, and integrity.”

And although the public relations profession has evolved, with more and more practitioners becoming suitably qualified through undergraduate degree programmes, postgraduate degrees and others, these specific personality traits still remain an acceptable ticket into the field.

Furthermore, after speaking to several persons here in Barbados who work in public relations, I have discovered that many of the veterans do not possess any particular qualifications, but instead, they have a passion for the field.

They either started their business or began their career because of a love for the practice and never believed that there were any specific educational requirements. However, most of the younger persons employed in these organisations are well- qualified, and have completed degree programmes and even vocational programmes. They explained that academic qualifications were pursued as a result of an interest in the field, and believe that simply possessing characteristics such as those mentioned above was not sufficient.

Personally, I agree that specific personality traits are a necessary element of a successful public relations practitioner but I believe that these should be supplemented by specific academic qualifications. Not only would it bring public relations a step closer to achieving full professional status, but it would also ensure that well-trained individuals enter the field and enhance public relation's reputation.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Is it more difficult for an international student to get a work experience placement?

As part of my post-graduate course I am required to complete four weeks of work experience in a public relations position and I honestly believed that it would be difficult for me – an international student- to find a work placement.
This belief was mainly due to information I got from another international student searching for work experience in the UK. She has been studying in the UK for the past two years, and as a mandatory requirement for completion of her undergraduate, she was to get some work experience for two weeks in her required field. However, after sending out numerous applications, she was either not responded to or she was denied the job.

Let me explain also that her first language is English and she has been doing exceptionally well on her course, but somehow, she was denied several placements. She had explained to me that the main reason given for her being denied these placements was that she was an international student and may not ‘fit in’ well in the organisation. Well, this made me a little concerned about getting a work experience placement.

I was trying to understand why she wouldn’t ‘fit-in’ and was getting worried that I would be told the same thing.

I mean, being an international student myself, I know that there are significant cultural differences in terms of food, dress, speech and many other things, but does that mean that I am not suitable for a position? I honestly believe that an international student has a lot to offer. Although we would be there to gain experience in a particular field, the company that employs us can also learn a lot from us. They would be exposed to our culture and subsequently, differing thought-processes, and that way they would have a wider scope for ideas when brainstorming.

So honestly, I hope that if I am denied a work placement, it is for a reason other than my international status.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Rachel Adedeji going home on Xfactor

I am so sorry that Rachel was sent home, and I do wish that Simon had chosen her as opposed to leaving it to the public vote because I really like her.

However, as much as I do believe that she was the better singer and should have remained in the competition, I understand why Simon didn't just chose her.

This would have been either the second or third time that she was in the bottom two, and that demonstrates that she is not popular with the public. And obviously, if this is the third time that the public has voted against her, she can't possibly get far in the competition. It just means that they would have eventually voted her out anyway.

Furthermore,if the public doesn't like her, she would not make money in the entertainment industry, because that is all about popularity and likability. And if she has neither, she can't possibly progress.

The twins lingering presence on Xfactor

On Sunday night I sat and watched as a really good singer was sent home while Jon and Edward (the twin) went through to the next round of competition. And honestly, I was in such shock that these two have gotten this far in the competition. But then I realised that it was because they are entertaining.

They may not have the best vocal ability, but they bring a certain essence to each show that you just can't do without. However, I also realised that their popularity is as a direct result of excellent Public Relations.

Their PRO has taken the route of social media for promoting them, and it has proven extremely successful. If you go on YouTube, their performances have so many more hits than others and they have hundreds of followers on Twitter and their fan list on face book has just reached the thousands.

Moreover, their media coverage has been explosive. I read an entire article in the Sunday edition of News of the World on their life, explaining their early interest in entertaining. Also, they are constantly the topic of conversation on radio shows and televison programmes.

So, it is clear that there is some great PR at work here, and so the public will continue to love them and they will probably get really far in this competition. Because even though they may not be the strongest singers, they are definitely the most popular competitors, whether it is for positive or negative reasons.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Studying Public Relations-My Changed Views

I started an MA in Public Relations at De Montfort University, Leicester about three weeks ago. So far, I have developed a deeper understanding of all that goes into being a public relations practitioner.

Before I started this course, I held a very narrow view of PR just being for damage control (in the case of celebrities),promoting an event or publicising a company. I was also of the opinion that Marketing and PR were the same, but I was made aware of the difference since starting this course.

The modules that I am currently doing have expanded my knowledge on the history and background of Public Relations as well as Public Relations and its link to social media. I am particularly interested in Grunig's Excellence Study as well as Public Relations and its involvement in new media.

I am also looking forward to the work placement that is a requirement of this course. I truly believe it will expand my budding PR skills and give me a more in-depth understanding of Public Relations practice.