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Great Heights

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Great Heights.

This is a blog by recruitment consultant by Spurthi Devalla from 33Talent on hiring for communications sector & her experiences in Singapore


Does PR Education create better professionals??

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Came across this discussion on Linkedin (http://linkd.in/1qrOCKz) on Are PR degrees worth it?? After reading comments, I felt like sharing my comments as well – having spent last 20 years in the communication industry in India. My two cents on subject:

PR courses & degrees help understand theory – but practice gives it grounding. Research in PR pans across so many verticals now including the latest fad of social media & its ubiquitous effects on organizations & marketing campaigns.

In my limited experience of 20 years in India having worked in News Reporting, PR Agency & Corporate Sector and currently as an independent consultant – lack of professional programs in PR education in India is not helping create talent pool. Students get enamoured with TV, Radio & Film shooting in communication programs at Indian universities – few pursue PR as a full time program. It’s a chicken-and-egg kind of situation – lack of students don’t permit colleges & universities to offer it as a full-time course and lack of courses don’t attract students. The approach of regulatory body – University Grant Commission (UGC) which needs to approve the same is also not helping either.

Am given to understand that UGC doesn’t recognize Public Relations as a Bachelors or Masters’ INDEPENDENT program – it has to be clubbed with Arts courses, for e.g. you can pursue – Bachelors of Arts (Public Relations) or Masters of Arts (PR) though a lot of private colleges are offering them. For those who are inclined to pursue PR as a professional program, there is no recognized college|univ offering the same – its an elective in Masters – Mass Communication where focus is on Journalism – Print | TV | Radio | Advertising & PR is an elective.

Another dimension for PR education not being very encouraged in India & Asia has been the rather low academic insights into this nascent industry and its recognition with the academia and industry. I am a member of Asian Media Information & Communication Center, Singapore for last 5 years and have been pushing them to include Public Relations as a theme in their conference, research, publications etc.

Have presented a paper at 2012 AMIC conference in Kuala Lumpur on “Social Media, PR & Journalists – Issues of Trust: case study of India & Malaysia”; “Ethical Dimension of Media Industry – case study of India” in 2013 at Indonesia and presently working on a paper for 2014 in Bangkok. Very grudgingly & reluctantly AMIC approached the subject and accepted but there is hardly any representation from the Indian PR professionals and my attempts to get them to partner with Mudra Institute of Communication or engage with corporate communication team in large companies like Reliance, Tata, L&T, GMR, Jindals, Birla, ICICI Bank etc got limited attention.

As a PR professional running my own consulting firm in Hyderabad – my attempts to study PR has been really uphill task since no Indian university offers any mid-career program for experienced professionals in PR. US universities offering these programs come at a very steep price and one needs to quit jobs & family and pursue the same there. In Europe, MSCom offered by USi, Lugano was the program I was very keen to pursue but couldn’t due to lack of financial support. Again, except one Indian student who pursued this program, nobody else even knows about the same. Singapore Management University offers the same program but they don’t offer visa to pursue the program for Indian students – had applied, paid application fees and then had to abandon the same.

Public Relations in India is still long way from being accepted professionally as a profession & career despite having over 10000 people working & lot of PR association & events taking place. I am handling companies in start-up stage to $1billion stage in IT, Healthcare, Energy, Realty – the understanding at Media|Client end of PR is abysmally low & for some companies & their managements, it’s all about “Managing Media” and a stand-alone function. The integration of PR with Marketing, IT, HR & Administration, Finance, Technical & Project departments is still at a nascent stage and lacks maturity. I hope this changes for the better & quickly!!

7 things journalists wish PR pros knew about pitching By Becky Gaylord

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As a former journalist, who now handles PR for clients, I know what it looks like from both sides. I sympathize with the gripes I hear from public relations folks. But I empathize with the journalists who moan about flack fails.

Though they might not admit it, most journalists actually like solid, professional PR people. The others pretty much drive scribes crazy. Here are seven of secrets that these solid PR pros know:

1. Get to know the media folks you’ll need before you need them.

If you wait until you need to reach a journalist before initiating any contact with that person, it’s already too late. Relationships are everything. Your call will be returned and your email answered much more quickly if it’s not a cold pitch.

2. Respect media deadlines

Publication deadlines are only part of the picture. Be a sleuth (but not a stalker). Notice the rhythm of the day for the media people you need to reach most often. Scan for the timing of their posts and updates on social media sites for clues. Or send a short message and ask when they want to be contacted. Do they want only emails, not calls? Write down these preferences and honor them as best you can.

3. Provide information promptly without interrogating.

PR people used to ask me, regularly, “How are you going to ‘use’ the information?” Or, “What’s your angle?” The solid PR pros don’t do this. They get back, with the information requested, as soon as possible. That helpfulness garners goodwill. Cross-examining media about their intensions never does.

4. Don’t push, beg, or threaten.

I wish I could say this doesn’t happen, but it does. Pros just don’t go there.

5. Stay with the media you need to reach

This doesn’t take an advanced degree, but it does require persistence. Set up a Google Alert or a Topsy Alert for the names of journalists you need to track most closely. Know their beat, their topics, and what they’ve covered recently. This is what archives are for, if you need to get caught up in a hurry. If you pitch without doing this, it’s obvious to them and embarrassing for you.

6. Make sure the “news” you’re pitching is truly newsworthy.

And be prepare to state why, compellingly. If it is newsworthy, pitch freely. Journalists will want to know about it. But if it’s not, use another channel to spread the message. Bugging media with a pitch that’s promotional or not news to them (see N. 5) likely means a chilly reception the next time you call, regardless of that idea’s worth.

7. Know you will win some and lose some

Unless you are doing PR for a presidential candidate or for Facebook, you’re going to have to vie for shrinking space, fewer staff members handling the news, and major stories that always risk pushing aside smaller-tier pieces. Don’t take it personally. Pros don’t. But they do learn from their mistakes.

Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including The New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and was associate editor of the Plain Dealer’s Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact.