Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mission: Accomplished — Relatively Journalizing Comes Full Circle With Presentation of Public Relations Report

You might remember how my original reason for starting this blog was to chronicle my internship experiences last summer at the recommendation of my adviser. I interned with great people at a great place called Access, focusing on public relations. I had to write an extensive paper about my internship, applying theory to the practical application of public relations I did there, proving that I had learned more about public relations through the communication theories learned in my graduate courses at Virginia Tech (Department of Communication).

So, keeping in the tradition of this blog and therefore posting about public relations as much as possible (though I realize it's been sort of a smorgasboard along the way), I'll share with you here the extremely abbreviated version of my 85-page paper that I presented last month to my graduate committee.

"Integrating Public Relations Theory Across Multiple Projects: A Graduate Internship Report Offering Insight into Experiences and Lessons Learned"

Overall, I felt the sociopsychological and sociocultural traditions, as discussed often by Littlejohn and Foss, were prevalent as overall frames through which to view my experiences.

I came away with the following five focal points to discuss regarding my experiences:
  1. Audience analysis: you must target the right audiences with the right messages for them. Therefore, knowing psychographic and demographic information about your audiences is key. In addition, I discuss how the narrative perspective of rhetorical criticism can actually lend a tool for creating effective messages across cultures.
  2. Media usage: I discussed agenda-setting, framing and priming theories here, and more specifically, I wrote about agenda-building. As public relations practitioners, we often build the agenda for the agenda-setters (the media), especially in a symbiotic age between the two professions. Also, I took a McLuhan approach, advocating that the medium really is the message.
  3. Research importance: Every PR project starts with good research. While the type and depth of the research varies by case, it is always the first and most important step to success. I discussed the importance of understanding statistics and research methods, including such strategies as using open-ended questions in focus group and surveys.
  4. Public voice: Here, I primarily discussed the two-way symmetrical model of public relations first made famous by the Grunigs while they were at the University of Maryland through their "Excellence Study." I believe it is important to give our various publics voices, finding a win-win zone using a mixed-motive model. However, I also discuss the ethical implications of this concept from a critical perspective.
  5. Advice: In the last part of my report, I offered advice to future graduate students who decide to become professional-track, internship-option students. This includes selection of an internship and workplace performance.
I of course mentioned in the paper the various clients and projects I worked on, but I would rather not mention them here. I did have a great opportunity to work on a wide range of things from research to writing to social media marketing to promotions.

I would like to personally thank Dr. Rachel Holloway for her guidance in this project and Todd Marcum for allowing me to experience this great opportunity.

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