Monday, 25 April 2011

Challenges for PR Practitioners

This video is based on a essay I wrote from last semester. It simply explains some challenges which PR practitioners might find difficult to cope with. Enjoy!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Augmented Reality in PR

Lynx augmented reality campaign in London Victoria Station
When people step onto a marker with Lynx symbol on it, an angel then falls on the ground in the digital video billboard at London Victoria Station. People could interact with the angel via the digital billboard. This technology is called augmented reality which is a relatively new technology that can be applied to PR campaigns.  A PR communication agency Lewis describes the use of  augmented reality quite well: “augmented reality… allows your customers to experience your product or service in a totally new way. Merging reality with computer generated graphics you can offer brand interaction on a new level, whether it is via a webcam or a smartphone; at a desk or walking around a city's streets.”  To make it simple, augmented reality is able to mix the real world into virtual one by means of webcam, smartphones etc.

There are several advantages of augmented reality when being used in PR campaigns . Firstly, people would pay more attention on the message the PR campaign is going to send out when interacting with whatever it is with the help of augmented reality. Therefore, the exposure of the message/brand/product is more likely to increase. Moreover, it is quite fun for people to interact with virtual world, they may share this with their friends. Consequently, more and more people will get involved in the campaign, brand awareness would be increased greatly.  Last but least, with augmented reality, organizations are able to communicate with their key publics in spaces, not being restricted by physical communication as well as the traditional media.
Although augmented reality has been used by various industries since 2009, such as film, shoes, NGO, watch, automobile and so forth, it is still a rather expensive technology  to be used, especially for those smaller companies. However, in the near future, it is likely that augmented reality will be widely used by organizations as a tool to send out key messages and to communicate with key publics.


The Use of Social Networking Sites in PR

Recent years, social networking websites have become more and more popular all over the world.  Those websites are not only used by individuals for the purpose of  keeping in touch with friends, but also by companies for marketing/PR purposes. According to Harvard Business Review Analytic  Services Report, social networking sites are the most popular form of social media among all orgnizations, with the majority (87%) using sites like Facebook and twitter. The reason why social network sites are so popular is becausen practitioners can directly reach their target audiences in a cost effective way. There are four major uses of social networking websites when engaging in public relations.

1. Build your brand awareness
Social networking sites provide opportunities for both big companies and medium/small companies to publicize themselves in a cost effective way. Big companies with already popular brands could make the brands even popular; Medium/small companies could become more well –known by using those social networking websites through online PR campaigns. Moreover, a key feature of social network sites is its viral nature – because people like to share information which they find interesting and useful. When a company is carrying out an online PR campaign, someone mentions this campaign and your brand on a social network site, it is more likely other people pay attention on it and share it to their friends. It is much easier for companies to spread the messages and reach a much larger audiences.

2. Build relationships with your target audiences
It is essential for companies to build up good relationships with their target audiences. According to Grunig, two-way symmetric communication practices are a keystone for excellent PR. It is social networking websites that provide a platform for companies and their target audiences to communicate in an easier and more effective way.

3. Find the right channel
Different social network sites have different focuses, such as LinkedIn is a business oriented network websites; MySpace and are connecting music lovers, etc.. Also the use of social network websites varies from different countries and culture.  For example,  Mixi is the most popular social network sites in Japan, Facebook and Twitter can’t be used in China and so forth. Therefore, PR practitioners are able to carry out different PR campaigns with various focuses on the right networking websites all depending on who/where their target audiences are.

4. Monitor and analysis tool 
PR practitioners could monitor the progress by social network sites and react/respond at once. For example, just simply by monitoring the feedback, PR practitioners are able to know what people like or don't like about your product/service or how they feel about your campaign etc; also PR practitioners could monitor the number of people's participation and the number of groups or fan pages have been created.

Tench, R. & Yeomans, L (2009) Exploring Public Relations. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Bitch Hits Back


QQ截图未命名I first saw this viral video on a popular Chinese social website called Renren ( Chinese Facebook ). In the video, a teenage girl violently beats a young boy after the boy pushes her away when they were kissing. I was shocked by the girl’s violent behaviour and  I felt sorry for the boy. The name of the video is “The Bitch Hits Back”, I then searched it on YouTube, it was updated by a YouTube user called "BITCH999991” and the caption of the  video was full of worship of violence. This uploader also provided a website and encouraged people to watch more movies of violent beatings. From the uploader’s name and the caption, I therefore firmly believed whoever uploaded the video must be a violence-oriented gangster.  Out of curiosity, I opened the website the “gangster” provided. It was a website which contained three videos on violent beatings. When I was watching the video on the site, a harsh sound came out from nowhere and a conspicuous red sign with some Danish words shown on the center of the screen before the webpage was closed automatically! I looked up the Danish words via Google Translate, and it says “BUSTED, VIOLENCE IS NOT ENTERTAINMENT”. I then understood  all the previous set ups. This video turns out to be a part of anti-violence public communication campaign, which conducted by a non government organization in Denmark called Børn og Unge i Voldsramte Familiers. The Main goal of this organization is to prevent  violence in families and in personal relationships.
Along with the videos, the organization also launched a game website  called “Hit the Bitch” (This website is now only open to users from Denmark due to “an extremely high amount of traffic”). The goal of the game is to hit a girl to see whether you are a “pussy” or “gangster”. After several hits you reached the point and the girl fell down, the moment you thought you “won” the game, there’s something shown on the screen:
It is NOT gangster to be hitting women!
You lost the game the first time you raised your hand!
There is NO excuse to hit, so seek help before it is too late!” (this was translated by a YouTube user)

I like the initial idea of this PR campaign using game and videos to implement goals and I also admire the fact that this campaign is very eye catching. Also the campaign did a great job in terms of reaching the target audience. And the target audience they focus on is very clear – (potential) domestic abusers in Denmark (male and female).

YouTube has been used by the campaign as a powerful communication tool to reach the target audience and conduct the key message, however, what if some people only watch the video and don’t even click on the website which was given below the video? In this case, it is just an entertaining video for some people. As I was reading the comments on YouTube, I found out that vast majority of people who left comments found this video entertaining.  I believe only a small number of people realize this video is a part of the anti-violent campaign. 

Moreover, the messages that campaigns are trying to conduct are not strong enough to influence behaviour change of the target audiences. Especially the game campaign. Interactive games can always draw people’s attention in an online public communication campaign. This game does draw a lot of attention even from outside of Denmark, however, the message which hides behind the game is so weak. Why would an anti-violent campaign provides an opportunity for people to slap a poor woman online and then tells you that you are an idiot because you hit a woman. At least  I would not be convinced. Additionally, people would be so easy to be carried away by just slapping the girl and therefore the key message of the campaign tends to be ignored.

Sources were taken from: