Friday, February 27, 2009

NUFAH Fails to Convince of Sudoku's So-Called Greatness

In the most ill-argued fashion possible, the tree-hugging villain known as Paddles (a.k.a. Alex) has posted a blatantly erroneous rationalization (or lack thereof) as to why he thinks Sudoku is the greatest game ever created. Of course, what more should we expect from a hippie who is much more E! than hip?

Paddles starts his nonfactual rant with a piece of uninformed blasphemy, stating the Bible itself is "the most anticipated ... puzzle section ... that [should] be ignored by Christians." What this has to do with sudoku, I'm not really sure, but I think by the shot he also takes at Jews in the blog post by using the word "Jewish" means he is simply an intolerant and evil blogger.

Aside from such atrocities, I have to wonder why Paddles' post is so delayed. Sudoku has been gaining minimal popularity among circles in nursing homes for years now in the U.S., primarily through the medium of newspapers, an industry that is dying as a result. No Use For a Headline is sure to experience the same death with such outdated, old news as a post about a craze that has already come and gone just like any other fad. In fact, the original popularity of sudoku in the UK and the U.S. first started being reported in late 2004 into early 2005. What dominates the news now? Obamas, Bushes and octuplets, according to CNN's homepage. Oh, and look, another sudoku-publishing newspaper going out of business.

Each of Paddles' points exhibits a sheer lack of mental acumen. He first talks about how difficult it is for him to read, then moves on to talk about how his own rhetorical analyses have been unable to find solutions to crossword puzzles without using self-help books (which he says should not be necessary, likely because — as already mentioned — it is difficult for him to read). People from the East Coast are referred to as smarmy snobs, while Paddles himself is from a city that may as well be called Atlantica. Finally, he makes the incorrect presumption that numbers are a universal language, while I have personally found that other cultures in the universe use only symbols instead of numbers to communicate.

One thing that Paddles fails to do in his post is even answer his own question, "Great game or greatest game?" In fact, he spends a lot of time comparing crossword puzzles and sudoku (and does say he thinks sudoku is superior), but he fails to acknowledge the hundreds of other games available for play. I would not say that sudoku is the greatest game or even a great game, but a mediocre game akin to its comparable counterparts that appear in giant-sized typefaces in thick books at drug stores every day for mass consumption by the elderly who are trying to keep their minds exercised in futile attempts to prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease. So is sudoku a great game or is it the greatest game? It is neither.

The Blog Wars Part 1 — "Sudoku: Great Game or Greatest Game?" by Alex (Paddles) of No Use For a Headline
The Blog Wars Part 2 — "NUFAH Fails to Convince of Sudoku's So-Called Greatness" by Josh (PR Josh) of Relatively Journalizing
P.S. Evan (Sideburns), if you are reading this, your blog sucks too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Communication vs. Communications

Recently, I hear a lot of people say communications when I think they mean communication. For example, I've heard people say they are a communications major when they are clearly in the Department of Communication (no S). In fact, to me, adding an S to communication does a whole lot more than just make it plural.

Tim Larson at the University of Utah defines the terms in the following way:
  • Communication — The communicating of information. The exchange of information between individuals, for example, by means of speaking, writing, or using a common system of signs or behavior.
  • Communications — The technology and systems used for sending and receiving messages, for example, postal, telephone, radio, TV and the Internet. The tactics used to execute a marcom (marketing communication) strategy, for example, advertising, PR, sales promotion, events....
Now, I like that Larson makes a differentiation between the two terms. However, I think in my own use of the terms I take them even farther apart. I think about the terms in sense of the job fields in which they employ people as well.

When I hear that someone works in communication, I think of public relations or maybe advertising or marketing. I also think about rhetorical critics, media effects researchers and orators. Perhaps that person even works in visual media or is a journalist if you stretch the term a bit. However, communications is more akin to a trade than a particular profession in my mind. I envision a lineman up a telephone pole or a lady setting up a radio antenna. Some telemarketers might even say they work in telecommunications.

In another way, communication is the strategy and creativity. It is the planning and managing that takes place first, and then communications are employed (through various media, whether the medium is print or Web or whatever) to get those formulated messages across.

So I suppose the moral of the story is, think before you speak, especially around someone who works as a communication scholar or professional, or they might just refer you to the cable company instead of the PR firm.

As always, I'd love to hear your comments and experiences regarding this blog post!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Framing and News Angles: What is Bias?

Note: The following blog post is a very condensed version of a section from a think piece I wrote about a year ago combined with some information from an article I was going to contribute to another site. I ended up saving stuff such as this for Relatively Journalizing and just now discovered the file again. I have made my best attempt to keep as much information in this post as possible while also shortening it as much as I feel I can.

BY JOSHUA DELUNG

It’s more difficult each day to find truly unbiased news sources, according to the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting Web site. Corporate ownership, big-name advertisers and comfortable political affiliations influence news frames, making the media increasingly less diverse. Some call the blogosphere the failed Fourth Estate, but perhaps the Internet does provide some opportunity to check and balance media. Both communication scholars and media professionals are coming to the realization that perhaps bloggers provide a system of checks and balances over the watchdogs. As is the tagline for the upcoming film based on the graphic novel, The Watchmen, "Who watches the Watchmen?" Maybe the bloggers do.

However, the validity of blogging sometimes raises issues with audiences, and the medium itself has yet to enter the mainstream for some demographics. The debates about influences on reporters, citizen journalists and bloggers will go on, but one undeniable truth is that bias exists, regardless of the source. All communication is in some way inherently persuasive. In fact, the Rhetorica Network goes so far as to say there is no such thing as an objective point of view. The following quote says it best:

No matter how much we may try to ignore it, human communication always takes place in context, through a medium, and among individuals and groups who are situated historically, politically, economically and socially. This state of affairs is neither bad nor good. It simply is. Bias is a small word that identifies the collective influences of the entire context of a message.

Scholars of the media often talk about framing in regard to certain biases that are present. To paraphrase Robert Entman, framing takes place when some issues or attributes are emphasized more than others, giving some frames more salience in the media. Many scholars in the field liken frames to news angles. This discussion lends itself to bringing a third word into the discussion of frames and angles — bias.

So are frames in news, news angles, and bias in the media all the same thing, or are they separate? And is bias really a bad thing? The Rhetorica Network’s site on media bias offers an anecdote about how politicians are biased overtly, while journalists are biased, but not overtly so. In the long run, both professions are honorable and “practiced, for the most part, by people trying to the right thing.” The Web site author writes definitively that biases in the media are the same as frames.

In other words, there is evidence to prove both arguments that the media are liberally or conservatively biased, but to ask such as question is to ask the wrong question.
Instead, the author identifies a non-exhaustive list of nine frames journalists may use to construct narratives from sometimes-ambivalent events:

  1. commercial bias (delivering a good product to readers/viewers)
  2. temporal bias (timeliness)
  3. visual bias (visual elements get more attention)
  4. bad news bias (good news is boring)
  5. narrative bias (seeking out drama for good stories)
  6. status quo bias (current governmental systems work)
  7. fairness bias (depicts politics especially as a contest by always seeking reactions from opposing sides for sake of fairness)
  8. expediency bias (deadline-driven field, there is competition among journalists to scoop others)
  9. glory bias (journalists assert themselves into stories, especially with local television news — this is also known as metacommunication, or media covering media).
What can be determined from this discussion is that bias is always present. We, as human beings, are always framing issues. However, in the case of many journalists this bias may occur subconsciously. As mentioned before, the bias of a journalist is not overt — he or she brings personal experiences, beliefs, attitudes and values to any story. Therefore, even though a journalist may attempt to provide equal space or time to both sides of an issue and be unbiased, even the news angle or tone of the story is influenced by inherent biases.

To accuse media professionals of purposefully injecting bias into their stories is irresponsible and untrue in most cases (speaking of true journalists, not pundits). Of course, corporate and political influences in some larger media organizations are obviously present (i.e., Fox News Channel). But at the individual journalistic level, especially for local journalists, the biases are more often subconscious.

This whole issue is a somewhat puzzling one — how can we have objective media when all messages are framed at some level? Is a news angle taken by a journalist and a frame the same thing? Though many communication scholars who discuss framing theory say yes, I would disagree to a certain level. News angles, it seems more appropriate to say, are a sort of mini-frames. Frames seem to be identified as broadly defined packages such as economic, political, global, religious, conservative and liberal. Framing, as discussed in contemporary literature is closely related, if not the same thing as, bias. Bias in this sense does not mean unfairness, but rather it refers to inserting some sort of frame, whether deliberately or unknowingly. All news has some sort of bias — all news is framed to create a certain reality for an audience.

I would argue, though, that news angles come after frames have already been established. Editors and other influencers define frames intentionally by assigning stories and hinting at appropriate tones of coverage. Perhaps industry and/or societal norms or personal experiences influence editors and reporters to cover some stories in different ways or to give them more salience. Personal identification with a specific issue (say, civil rights for blacks, the evangelic movement for someone who is an evangelical, or perhaps a victim of a natural disaster who covers something such as Hurricane Katrina) causes one to interpret that issue differently and give it more salience, even at a subconscious level.

In my own early reporting experience, when I began writing a story, I thought very little about the frames involved. Even when the assignment came not from an idea I’d pitched but instead from my editor, I don’t give much thought as to why the story was assigned or where the idea came from — I just wrote it because that was my job. You see, before the story ever gets to a reporter, it’s been framed — consciously and subconsciously — by those higher on the totem pole than the reporter. Then, my own personal experiences influenced the story and did more framing, though perhaps more at an attribute level. Finally, we come to the news angle.

Editors do not always tell reporters exactly what angle to take on a story — in fact, finding a good angle to tell the right story is looked upon as a good trait in a reporter. So, when it comes time to decide the news angle, how do journalists do it, and what differentiates an angle from a frame?

In journalism schools, journalists are taught to think about news angles in terms of news values such as proximity and human interest. Framesetting affects news values and perspectives, as purported by Sean Aday. Perhaps there are predefined frames journalists are influenced by that tell them what human interest means, but the actual angle they decide to take within that human interest frame is more intricate.

One example that comes to mind is a story I wrote about a new free clinic opening. The human-interest frame was of course already in place because I would cover people in poverty who benefited from the opening of a free clinic. Though the human-interest frame was an obvious one for this story, I would describe the news angle I chose for the story as a combination of need/justification for the clinic and a narrative about one person who took advantage of the clinic. I used lots of statistics about the county affected and its poverty-stricken residents combined with a story about the hardships faced by one woman.

Another example of how I believe frames and angles differ comes from a feature story I wrote about a local historical society and its museum. My editor originally framed the story as a feature about the group and the exhibits at the museum. However, I took a storytelling angle on the article and began telling the story of the town’s Civil War history and tied in historical artifacts from the museum and locations in the town as I went along with the chronological story.

Good journalists are innovative and find interesting news angles within the frames with which they are given to work. However, it is the frames from corporations, politicians, personal beliefs, inherent experiences and public relations that most greatly influence the bias we find in the media. Taking an interesting news angle is not bias — it’s good journalism. What we as scholars and media professionals must do is try to identify possible frames (biases) as we cover issues and events, be mindful of what inherent feelings within us could add to these biases, and strive to objectively report the news fairly.

As media consolidation lessens competition and decreases the amount of flexibility journalists have in telling their stories because of the personal interests of conglomerate owners, we will observe pivotal moments in journalism where the symbiosis between public relations practitioners and journalists becomes even more solidified. We already see the lines blurred between so-called professional journalists and those Web journalists known as bloggers. No matter the challenges and changes journalists face, though, they must always remember their role as the Fourth Estate — to tell the truth, no matter what politician or CEO it may make uncomfortable. And should they fail to do that, perhaps it will be the blogosphere's moment to rise to the occasion.

Further reading:

1. FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) Web site at www.fair.org
2. Rhetorica Network Web site at www.rhetorica.net/bias
3. Entman, R. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication. 43(4), pp. 51-58.
4. Burns, L. S. (2002). Understanding journalism. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
5. Aday, S. (2006). The framesetting effects of news: An experimental test of advocacy versus objectivist. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 83(4), pp. 767-784

Saturday, February 14, 2009

United Resourcefulness

So you'll remember that I took a little trip back in August to present my research at the 2008 AEJMC convention. I even made a video about my trip to Chicago.

Well, needless to say probably, the trip was relatively expensive for a graduate student. The registration fee for a graduate student for the conference was $105, and I found an airfare/hotel package through United for $535.55 (Roanoke to O'Hare round trip and one night in the Hyatt at Rosemont). So, of course, I wanted to try to get some of that reimbursed. A student organization I belong to covered the registration fee, and I applied for a travel fund program through the university-wide graduate student organization to try to get some of the travel money reimbursed.

I was awarded $150 toward my costs, which would be a pretty big help. Then I found out that in addition to all of the paperwork I had already done (submitting receipts, forms, etc.) to get the award, I also needed to provide my department with additional documentation to receive it. They wanted an itemized breakdown of the travel costs. That is, the cost for the airfare and the hotel separately instead of the total package included on my receipt. Here's where the story gets interesting...

...I am on the phone with a lady at United (think she's in Hawaii), and when I ask her for the breakdown, she tells me $111.55 for the hotel and $424 for the flight. OK, cool. Of course, my department, it seems, needs this in writing. So, I call United again and get someone else who tells me she has no access to such information and that she can't give me the breakdown I was previously given in an e-mail that refers to my confirmation number. Of course, I think (read: know) she's full of crap, so I eventually ask her to speak to someone who can send me what I need in writing. Apparently, accounting now handles customer relations because she said that's the department I needed to speak with.

Here's the catch: when I asked to be transfered to accounting, she told me she couldn't do that. So I asked for their number. She said she didn't have the direct number for them. After a few minutes of trying to get her to explain to me (A) how she doesn't know how to use the transfering feature on her phone and (B) how accounting operates without any phones in their offices, she finally told me I would need to submit my request via e-mail. She did not know to what person I should address my request, and she just said to send a message with what I need to an obscure e-mail address. So, I did, and I got a reply saying I would receive a repsonse within 30 days. Here's where it gets even more interesting, and where the resourcefulness part comes in...

...I call the same number I had called before.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that I don't lie to people. I am very honest. That being said, I also don't let organizations with poor communication skills push me around until I get what is rightfully mine. I mean, c'mon, I already paid them for this trip months ago, so why the heck can't I know how much I paid for what services and get it in writing immediately? If the first lady I spoke with was able to give me the breakdown so quickly, she could've copied and pasted that info in an e-mail in less than a minute I'm sure.

So the next lady who answers asks me what she can do for me. I tell her that I was told to call that number and ask for John in accounting. (Every accounting department must have a John, right?) She seems a bit thrown off, and she asks me to hold for a few seconds. When she comes back on the line, she asks for my confirmation number, and then asks me who told me to call her.

My response was something along the line of, "Uh, I don't know, I've already talked to so many people, but they said they were going to put me through to this department and that I should ask for John in accounting. I think that was his name, anyway..."

The lady says she can't find an extension for John, but that she'll just have to put me through to what I think she called the revenue department and I could ask for him there. Bingo! The first person who answers the phone after that pulls up my file, finds the breakdown and e-mails me a PDF of all the information I need within five minutes. I felt pretty good about being able to finally get the information, but I felt pretty bad that customer relations at United Airlines is that poor. Really? We have to lie to you to get information about a purchase for which we already paid you? Give me a break.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Top 10 College Football Preseason Rankings

Mark Schlabach over at ESPN just released his revised way-too-early preseason rankings for the 2009 college football season. You can check out his take here.

I can't say I agree 100 percent with Schlabach, though his rankings are definitely plausible. Here are my top 10 going into 2009 as I see it:

  1. Texas Longhorns — should've played Utah for the national championship.
  2. Florida Gators — had no problem with the Sooners.
  3. Oklahoma Sooners — will be better, and they were already good.
  4. Virginia Tech Hokies — reloaded instead of rebuilt last season, and now they're mature.
  5. LSU Tigers — held outstanding Georgia Tech to three in bowl play and return plenty of talent.
  6. Kansas Jayhawks — return just enough talent in the Big 12 North, which isn't the South.
  7. Penn State Nittany Lions — if the defense can get the job done, so will Joe Pa's team.
  8. USC Trojans — they'll be weaker without some key guys, but they're a perennially good team.
  9. Oklahoma State Cowboys — momentum from a win vs. Georgia could carry them all the way.
  10. Georgia Tech Yellowjackets — Paul Johnson's squad just needs to practice at the D-line.

Which teams out of Schlabach's list will be duds next season? I'm predicting:

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes — aren't they always a bust?
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide — they got thwomped by Utah in the Sugar Bowl, and that was when they still had an offense. The defense will be great again, but there is too much talent elsewhere for Big Al's boys to emerge from the SEC.
  3. Iowa Hawkeyes — they play a tough road schedule, and their surpise win against Penn State last year isn't enough to warrant excitement this year.
  4. Boise State Broncos — we all know they are a great team with great coaches. But even if the Broncos run the gauntlet, we also know the BCS won't give them the time of day — especially after they lost to TCU in bowl play.
  5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish — this school's rich football tradition will need some more time before its history is revived.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Neat Giveaway at Average20Something

The Dutchess of Kickball is doing a little spring cleaning, and the members of the blogosphere get to benefit from it! Head on over to her blog for more information! (Hint: You can win free stuff.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Personal Web Site Launches

I've launched my personal Web site, complete with my online résumé and portfolio. My hopes are that the site may serve as the future home for Relatively Journalizing. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

You can get to my personal site by visiting joshuadelung.com OR prjosh.com.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Decide on One Writing Style!

As a scholar, and as someone who as worked in a profession with its own stylebook, I often find myself frustrated with pleasing others in regard to which style I use. I've been lucky enough to have professors who see the ridiculousness of such conformity and who just simply don't care as long as all sources are cited the same way consistently and all of the necessary information is provided so the reader could look up the source. Keep the headings, page margins, etc., reasonable and consistent.

However, it's those blasted conferences and journals that really complicate things the most. You write a great paper in APA format for a class only to find that the journal uses Chicago style. Or, perhaps, in your undergraduate education, you were taught that MLA style was the way of the future and that all other styles were obselete — and then you get to graduate school and no one has ever heard of it.

Me, personally, I like to write (making sure to keep words in AP style of course) and cite my sources by using superscript numbers and endnotes or footnotes. This way, I don't have to look at a last name in parentheses, maybe with a year or page number, and try to guess the source. I can just look at the corresponding number if I want, and it takes up less space in the actual manuscript (plus, in the latest verison of Word, if you just hover your cursor over the number, a pop-up window lets you see the full citation).

On EBSCO Host and plenty of other citation software and/or databases, you have the option of seeing a source cited in so many different ways that it's surprising anyone can even tell what style you use. Some people want full first names while others just want initials. And the list goes on. So why hasn't the academic community gotten together and just debated about the best style and picked one to save everybody a little trouble? My guess is because academics really can't agree on much of anything, but some of them must have stock in the various style guides.

C'mon, profs, it's time to put selfishness aside for efficiency — think of how much time we could all save if we only used one style. We'd memorize every detail of it eventually from not switching between three different ones, and we'd never have to convert anything again once we decide it would be a better fit in Journal A instead of Journal B. My guess is this will be about as successful an argument as trying to institute an international language, but I at least had to try to put some momentum behind it.

Have a gripe about academics, public relations, journalism or a related topic? Want to do guest post or persuade me to write about it? Just leave a comment on this post! And oh, while you're at it, people, can we please settle this English vs. journalism argument about the serial comma?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What is Public Relations? What is Its Future?

BY JOSHUA DELUNG

If you're a journalist, maybe your answer to the question, "What is public relations?" is possibly "media relations." But, that takes the public out of it altogether. Far too often, people don't really know what public relations is. Even more often, public relations has what most might consider a PR problem. In other words, perhaps the spin-doctor image isn't so great. But what is PR really, who practices it, what is the paradigmatic struggle it finds itself in today, and how many practitioners know the theory behind it (and how many theorists practice it with the success of the practitioners)?

Find any PR agency's Web site, and you're likely to see an extensive list of the services the organization offers. In fact, the lines are really blurred in the field of PR as we move onward into the 21st century because of a popular move to IMC (integrated marketing communications). Under this management style, agencies perform marketing, PR, advertising, graphic design, media relations and other services under one roof. The press agentry model of PR has been out the window for a while, but more and more each day practitioners find themselves wondering what exactly their jobs are as they must adapt in an evolving career field, muddled further by the onslaught of Web 2.0 and the social media storm.

The excellence model (courtesy of Grunig) of PR provided the first real theoretical model for practicing public relations, and it stirred up plenty of debate over the last couple of decades. However, even though many strive to utilize what may be an unattainable model, that being two-way, symmetrical PR that involves publics and gives them a voice, there are still flacks who unethically practice PR and get by, therefore tarnishing the reputation of the field as a whole. But just how transparent can we be as practitioners? Can we do our jobs successfully and still hold ourselves to the ethical standards by which the academics in the field would have us?

And here I think the struggle for PR in the 21st century really begins. Where do we belong, and are practitioners and theorists in PR really in the same field? To me, journalism and PR are both in an evolution, but they are evolving in opposite directions. Journalism is devolving in a way, becoming more infotainment in quick sound bytes than an investigative, watch-dog Fourth Estate. Much of this problem stems from the slow death of newspapers. However, the death of newspapers will, I think, likely lead to a surge of people with professional journalism skills on the Web writing niche, blog-like investigative posts to draw subscribers and advertisers — the small, hyperlocal print publications will likely live on with hypersmall staffs, but the world is becoming one that will read the headlines on mobile devices and only focus in-depth on what is important to each person as an individual. Journalism will emerge stronger in some ways, but the public itself may be less-informed.

Public relations, on the other hand, is evolving into a larger beast it seems. Practitioners who once wrote news releases and hosted pseudoevents now find themselves doing annual reports and market research, along with running social media applications and blogging. Of course, don't forget crisis communications and issues management, tasks that become more important for organizations every day with so much corporate corruption and so many financial meltdowns throughout the country. But has PR become too big? In a way, this is great for practitioners and students of PR because it provides so much excitement and variety. However, it leads scholars of PR to ask where exactly PR belongs.

In journalism schools, you'll likely learn about PR writing, putting together media kits and designing campaigns. In communication departments, you might encounter some theory and talk more about excellence, rhetoric, best practices, systems, chaos, sense-making, legitimacy, elaboration-likelihood, agenda-setting, framing, priming and a whole array of terms. But what if PR were housed under the roof of a marketing department or a school of business? As PR becomes more of an executive function in many organizations, why wouldn't it make sense to see the field in one of those places instead of the traditional j-school or communication department?

How many agencies or corporate communicators integrate PR theory into their everyday practices? How many are even trained in theory? And what practitioner who becomes theoretically trained actually has a chance to implement theory into practice without some strange looks from the administration or management? Can theory even be useful in practice? Is the PR studied in academe the same as the PR practiced in the field?

These are all pressing questions, and they just make the strategy and variety in PR even more exciting for the practitioner who is aware of all of the additional literature outside of trade magazines and PR news sources. If a problem and the usual PR practices are in a box together, but the usual practice is not working, perhaps theory is the solution outside of that box. But is it feasible to implement theories that call for a completely symmetrical model through which to allow input from publics? Can practitioners really implement a humanitarian, co-creational approach over the traditional, instrumental, functionalist approach and still come out successful and with profits intact?

To me, it seems PR theory is an area of literature more practitioners should pay attention to because it provides the most ideal, ethical forms of PR. However, I think that theoretical side of things can never fully be reached, as practice is less about ideal, ethical situations and more about survival. This is not to say our practices in PR are unethical, but from a theoretician's perspective, almost any hierarchical, image-projecting organization is at least somewhat unethical. Should we as practitioners mislead publics? No, of course not — this would only complicate and darken our field's current state. But what about framing — what some might call lies of omission — when the ends justify the means? We practice in a strategic, tactical field, but we study in an academic realm that is more compassionate and that seeks the most humane, ethical and democratic methods.

As we look forward to the future of PR, we cannot really be sure what to expect. PR is trying to find its place in the field and in the academic realm. In addition, practitioners are trying to voice their concerns to upper managers who in many cases do not (A) understand what we do and/or (B) cares more about the short-term image and profit margins of the organization than the long-term relationships that create an enduring reputation. We are finding ways to give voices to marginalized, forgotten publics and increase their efficacy, which is one area of PR we should be extremely proud of. Clients, audiences and publics are not the same things, and we must never forget this. Without the help of PR, organizations that let sales numbers and CEOs dictate policies solely will fall short of their goals. In this model, organizations become content and ignore damaging measures that build negative reputational histories, extend legitimacy gaps and produce issues — these factors eventually lead to crisis, financial and otherwise.

So the next time someone asks you what it is exactly that you do and what the heck PR is, you can tell them. You can tell them PR is perhaps the most evolutionary, exciting field to be a part of in this modern age. You research, you write, you speak, you coach, you plan events and you plan for crises, you design, you implement, you fix, you pitch, you sell, you advise and the list goes on — but most of all, you establish and maintain relationships. You know there are multiple methods to doing this. You know your practice struggles to find out where it fits. And you know that scholars are working in universities around the world to develop applicable PR theories and to tweak the ones already in existence to best explain the interactions you witness each day. And because all of this is happening you realize that everyone wants a piece of your industry. PR is debated, it is studied, it is practiced, and it is popular — and that, my friends and colleagues, is a good problem to have.