30 August, 2006

A code of conduct - would that do?

Constantin Basturea has written about the need for a code of conduct or "rules of engagement in social media commons" for PR professionals. This comes off the back of the revelation that some PR companies are offering to write wikipedia entries for clients, for a fee.

Now when I read this I got all high and mighty. In fact I can show you just how high and mighty because I sent Mr Basturea an email, and in it I said:
For the record I think that it is unethical for PR people to edit wikipedia
posts for their clients, the true facts will out as they say.

So despite my pomposity Mr B wrote back pointing out that he would like to see:
1. a mechanism that will allow PR pros to correct false information
2. a code
that PR pros could subscribe to - something that will back them
when their clients will ask them to do act unethical in Social Media Commons as
Wikipedia, del.icio.us or digg.

I wonder whether it is more telling about me, or the reputation both inside and outside the PR industry, that I instantly assumed that if PRs were changing things on wikipedia it would be on unethical terms, rather than righting wrongs.

Sometimes I worry the cynicism will get me, sometimes I think it already has.

If I could play devil's advocate, I would have to say that while it would be great for us all to sign a code of conduct, it would only take one person to sign it and then carry on regardless, acting unethically, for the code to be made a mockery of.

I suppose that is the joy and curse of this social media malarkey; everyone is included, no one could be excluded (and wouldn't that be unethical in itself?) and sometimes, as with all things, we all get tarred with the same brush.

On the positive side; if anyone were to 'cheat on the code' nothing escapes the blogosphere - and increasingly this is where potential clients are turning to for reference on their PRs. An unethical PR can no longer brazenly get away with it.

Social media has worked well to add to the 'human face' to the PR industry. People can go online and see that PR people function in just the same way as in any other industry. We are silly, serious, charming and (think we're) clever across the board, and it provides a transparency which shows that while there may be the occasional Machiavelli, we are all just people who do and enjoy communications.

Of course I would sign a code and abide by it (it wouldn't be a stretch), but would I put all my faith in it? Now there is a question.

I don't like to be the cynic and I certainly believe the principals of a code of conduct, but if we were all ethical we would not need the code, and signing a code is not going to make everybody ethical.

These are things I have been thinking about for quite a while, as - I'm pretty sure - everyone else does too, and a thorny subject like this deserves a lot of thought. I don't have the answers.

I shall certainly be watching this discussion with interest.

28 August, 2006

That was the week that was

So my first week as a go-getting Lewisian... Well despite the unnerving feeling that I was asking a lot of questions that I ought to know the answer to, and pretty much forgetting everyone's names on Tuesday, I think it is going well.

I am currently in the process of remembering who everyone is and what clients they work for. I am also researching my own clients and undergoing training. I have also succumbed to tea and coffee making (sorry Richard).

Rumours of my death due to sudden early mornings were very greatly exaggerated. While it is true that the early starts are very different to my usual unemployed routine (I’m up a whole five hours earlier), I am suffering less than everyone (myself included) anticipated.

I have also spent a lot of the week seeking out someone who speaks Polish. I am just curious as I have received a lot of referrals from this site. Unfortunately I cannot read it, perhaps someone can help?

21 August, 2006

This is the story of how Alex got offered a job…

I was sitting about in my pyjamas at about midday on a Thursday. This makes me sound an awful slob, but the pyjamas are more of a uniform for the unemployed. A holey jumper is also a necessity, but because it was warm mine was merely nearby.

Now at this juncture (only three lines in), you may well be wondering what all the detail is about. Alex, you could say, we neither care nor want to know about your holey jumper or pyjamas, seeing as these things are not strictly integral to your employment story. I would have to answer that this is one of the big moments in my life – my first proper, grown up job – and I want to set the scene correctly.

So I am sitting there in my pyjamas at this very computer, most probably contemplating having a cup of tea, when the phone rings. On the phone is a lovely lady called Julianne. Julianne is a HR Executive at Lewis PR and a very nice person with whom I had had two interviews with over the last two weeks.

You can probably guess why she was phoning. She was offering me a job. She gave me the weekend to think about it. I spent the whole weekend being very excitable. Last Monday I accepted.

So now I am the newest Account Executive at Lewis PR. This means I have a job title, possibly a desk and (very exciting) a wage. This makes me a grown up. I shall have to start doing sensible, grown up things like owning a shed, discussing house prices and listening to the Archers (maybe not). The time of pyjamas at midday is over; holey jumpers shall be cast aside. The relentless tedium of unemployment will be over and merely a memory. I am employed!

So there you have it, one of THE moments of my life. The prospect of employment can be daunting, but I can’t wait! I know I shall receive excellent training and the opportunity to work with some of the most exciting clients and co-workers available. And I would like to thank all at Lewis PR for this chance.

Today is my first day, so wish me luck!

15 August, 2006

RIP blogging?


I worry about the state of blogging when its explained on Richard and Judy, even if it is by my hero Dave Gorman.

Does this mean its dead or am I being a snob?

On reflection: Probably being a snob, as surely more publicity for blogging will only add more people to the conversation.

But on the eve of my 23rd birthday I am clinging to anything that keeps me youthful, and anything that I do being explained on Richard and Judy makes it very uncool. It puts blogging on a par with stories of gadgets from the 1950's that still work and couples who win big on fruit machines. Surely it is more important than that?

UPDATE: R and J fail to kill blogging

Having just watched Richard and Judy (the first time in ages - has it always been so banal?) they touched more on the ridiculous blogs of the bizarre and mildly insane. This created the impression that bloggers were all slightly odd egotistical creatures celebrating their own eccentricities. Which may be true, but there was no mention of the possibilities of corporate blogging, educational blogging and collaborative blogging.

So the whole story was not represented - but then what do you expect? It is annoying that all the blogging possibilities were not explored but you need longer than a ten minute section.

My Dissertation

I have decided to upload my dissertation onto Writely. It is entitled 'Them and Us - An Empirical Investigation into the Confusion of PR Officials over the Differences between Publicists and PR Practitioners' and is available here.

I decided to use Writely after my recent collaboration with nine other blogger to create How to Ruin Your Corporate Blog: 100 Tips by 10 Bloggers for Business Blog Wire.

By way of an extract from my dissertation this is my Executive Summary:

This Paper aims to investigate the confusion within the PR industry over the differences between Publicists and PR Practitioners.

The research highlights uncertainty within the Public Relations community as to the correct labelling of roles with in PR. Although not many texts have been written on the subject, the author identifies that this lack of clear labelling may inhibit the Public Relations industry from progressing to professionality, through its direct contribution to building mistrust of the profession.

An extensive critical Literature Review has highlighted the need for such an investigation. This allowed the author to formulate certain key theories. These themes and theories have then been put to professionals from Public Relations vocations. Primary data was then reviewed by the author and recommendations are made with regards to future research.

Although this research offers few solutions, it adds depth to existing theory and will aid further study into this area. It was found that there is indeed confusion amongst the PR community regarding the job descriptions of their peers. The conclusion suggests that further research is partaken in this field. There is also a need for further education for PR personnel as to what the correct job descriptions are for their peers, to help reduce the existence of confusion and misinterpretation.

Although at the time it was the bane of my life, I am now very proud of my dissertation and the achievements it stands for. Thank you to all who helped, although you are not named I am sure you may recognise your answers at the appendices.

08 August, 2006

"Have you ever beaten or killed a co-worker?"

Oooh its all been interview fever round here. Very exciting times. Whilst researching techniques I came across some jokes and cautionary tales regarding the interview scene. Some are meant to be real, some are obviously not, all are funny.

Netfunny.com has some of the worst questions that an interviewer could ever ask. Here are some of my favourite:

- "You see a wounded puppy bleeding and whimpering on the side of the road while you're running to work ... Do you let the puppy die?" "Why not?"

- "Do you object to bullwhips in the workplace?"

- "Have you ever beaten or killed a co-worker?"

- "How do you work in a team situation when all the other team members are fools and idiots?"

Strange (but true) job interview behaviour also has some classic weirdness, this time from the interviewees, ranging from:

An applicant who "said he was so well-qualified that if he didn't get the job, it would prove that the company's management was incompetent."

to "she threw-up on my [the interviewer's] desk, and immediately started asking questions about the job, like nothing had happened."

and my favourite:

"While I was on a long-distance phone call, the applicant took out a copy of Penthouse, and looked through the photos only, stopping longest at the centerfold."

If you want to know what to say at the all important interview visit this site. Some of the best are:

- After detailing your greatest achievement, qualify with, 'Of course I was totally hammered at the time.'

- Mention your resume would have been stronger, but you didn't feel like making anything else up.

- Ask if there is only one emergency exit, grin and say; 'Boy!, I bet this floor would be in trouble if someone barricaded that.'

Some other humourous interview sites include Monster's feedback from HR people, this advert for a temping agency and of course Borat.

03 August, 2006

New-ish, new and student PR faces to watch out for

I have had a bit of a re-shuffle here are 'wages' towers. As you can now see from the right hand side of the page I have re-jigged my links to add more new / student bloggers. I think that reading other PR students and new starters often will provide the freshest look into an issue, as well as providing an insight as to who could be the big hitters of the future. There are some new faces in the link list and in the spirit of all the PR love and blogtipping going around, I'll go through some of them for you now.

All things PR was set up last month by Sam Oakley, who is based in the North of England. He describes his blog as 'forum for UK PR professionals of all stripes to contribute towards a better understanding of how new phenomena like social networking sites etc.. are impacting on PR here in the UK'. Sam has interests in Political PR and Public Affairs and already has a loyal following. Check out his 5 myths of the public sector.

Ashley's Blog is from another of Robert French's students. Double majoring in Spanish and PR would be a lot for most people but Ashley writes a wide range of thoughtful, insightful and sometimes funny posts. His insight into the differences between his Spanish and American experiences are fascinating.

At D-Ring PR the US army, Chipotle Mexican Grill Recipes and Public Relations are all addressed by Steve, a 24-year-old graduate of American University, working in the Office of the Chief of Army Public Affairs. Great inspiration for his Monday fun posts!

Chris Clark at Student PR already has a huge following, and it is well deserved. Although now an ex-student and working at Thornley Fallis Group as an account coordinator Chris has appeared in the FIR podcast and says 'As long as we want to work, we need to be willing to learn.' Recently he has been waging war on fake 'PR' advertisements and providing us with one of the funniest promo videos I have seen in so long.

Jeffrey Treem, of Inside the Cubicle, is an Account Executive with Edelman's Employee Engagement Practice with a 'quasi-obsession with new media'. He has his own podcast and posts about the PR working environment.

Jill Pyle has one of the coolest blog pages I have seen for quite a while. She is a fourth year public relations student at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, NS. Like me she enjoys discovering new social media and often writes insightful posts about her course and what she has recently learned. I particularly like her recent posts about her job in September.

I love Laterstudy! Heather Smith's often hilarious look at being a 'mature' student on a Public Relations course is 'about Flash and semiology and narrative and ucas forms and writing and mise en scene and spaniels and lectures and lecturers and camper vans and photography and finding the right bank account and books and other things' and very definitely doesn't disappoint or hold back! She also has one of the most comprehensive list of links for everything that a sensible UK student could ever need, and much more.

I realise that some of the people on my New / Student list have bigger and better known blogs than I, the term 'New' is for 'New to the industry' or sometimes 'New to me'. So, if you are on the list and are not mentioned I apologise and will endeavour to do you a write up in the future. You are probably just so well known that there is no point in introducing you (Stephen, Paull, Owen, Ed, Marie, Richard, I could go on...) . Like-wise if you have a new blog and want to have some link love leave your address in the comment section and I'll pop you on.

02 August, 2006

Get the Forward Podcast! Now!!

As brand new PR people, we should all be regularly checking in at Forward, not to mention downloading their wonderful Podcast. Although Forward is meant for PR students, I can't help but think that there must be some old school PROs listening in and learning as well. And as regular readers of 'Wages' will know; in my book, anything that can help stimulate continued learning, has to be pretty cool.

Especially this fortnight, where Richard Bailey (of Leeds Metropolitan University) along with Robert French (of Auburn University in Alabama) and Luke Armour ( the author of Observations of Public Relations) impart some of their pearls of wisdom to Paull Young. You can get the podcast from here.

This is absolutely essential listening to anyone hoping to have a career in PR. Especially anyone who is thinking of taking a PR degree and wants to see what they are letting themselves in for! Although in some places Forward can offer us a rather 'American' view of PR student life, it is all still massively helpful and regular contributions by some of the best PR Academics (like our Richard) help to keep it relevant no matter where you are listening.