Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: The Most Hated Man in America

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Imagine waking up one morning and your photo is plastered all over Facebook. The national news is outside your business office and your phone is ringing off the hook with reporters and bloggers seeking comments. Petitions are being signed to have you extradited. Overnight an American dentist, Walter Palmer, became the most hated man in America and now he needed to find someone who would agree to handle his public relations response.

In this week’s Friday Five – PRSA’s take on the week’s biggest news stories – we’ll discuss the social media backlash faced by Palmer following the killing of Cecil the lion and share four other lessons for PR professionals.

Here’s what we learned this week:

1. Very few PR professionals want to rep Walter Palmer

Most crisis communication professionals know what they are getting into: a high pressure, stressful work environment. Although many specialize in handling a situation like Palmer’s, very few said they would like to represent him following the backlash. In a PRWeek online survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t work with Palmer.

One firm did step up to the plate, J Austin & Associates, but their tenure with Palmer only lasted one day. The firm claims that they were hired only to distribute Palmer’s statement to the media, though that seems curious. There are few, if any, people defending Palmer’s actions. We do, however, revisit this topic quite often here at PRSA. Like legal representation, does everybody (despicable or not) have the right to PR representation?

2. Most people hate corporate buzzwords

Travis Bradberry, contributor to Forbes, pointed out this week that buzzwords and corporate speak have entered our vocabulary and taken over our workplace conversations. Bradberry provides a list full of annoying phrases that you hear all day long in an office setting.

Bradberry explains the danger of letting these phrases seep into our daily conversations: “I understand the temptation. These phrases are spicy and they make you feel clever (low hanging fruit is a crutch of mine), but they also annoy the hell out of people. If you think that you can use these phrases without consequence, you’re kidding yourself. Just pay close attention to how other people react to your using them, and you’ll see that these phrases don’t cast you in a favorable light.”

Do you agree with this? Or do you think that, to a certain extent, corporate speak is expected?

3. You shouldn’t have more impressions than the world’s population

The Washington Redskins have resisted calls for a name change and team owner Daniel Snyder has continued his crusade to keep his NFL team name intact. While Snyder’s organization has miraculously stayed out of the spotlight lately, the team has come under fire for their impression measurement practices.

In a report about training camp from July 24 through August 12, the team reported 7,845,460,401 unique visitors of print and online coverage. That sounds impressive, but, as PRNewser points out, that’s a few hundred million people more than currently exists on earth. How did they arrive at this number? The report states that “if six articles on ESPN.com contain the specified search terms within the specified timeframe, the website’s unique visitor count (and accompanying value) is multiplied by six.” Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me. Until public relations practitioners truly dedicates itself to moving away from impression-based metrics and toward the Barcelona Principles, we won’t be taken seriously.

4. You should color in meetings

As communication professionals, we know very well that clear and concise writing helps get messages across. When it comes to in-person meetings, the theory is the same. If you’ve ever zoned out during a long marathon meeting, you are probably thinking of all the work that’s on your desk that’s not getting done. As Stephanie Vozza of Fast Company points out, “47 percent of employees consider too many meetings to be the biggest waste of time during the day–-more than social media or email.”

Some companies are trying new ways to keep their employees engaged during meetings.  Plum Organics Innovation Director Jen Brush said the company implemented coloring during meetings. She said, “It’s proven that coloring during a meeting helps promote active listening, and is more beneficial than multitasking on something like email.” How do you make your meetings brief, effective and productive? Share your tactics with us below.

5. Google+ is dead (again)

Throughout the years, we’ve been hearing about the demise of Google+. While I personally like the social network, it seems like its missing a key component: users. Google tried to force its vast user base to start using Google+ through an integration with YouTube. However, even though people were logging into to Google+ to comment on YouTube videos, they weren’t using the social network for, well, social networking.

This week, Google announced that “a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google.” What does this mean? In short, people are once again calling this the demise of Google+. I do not believe this means the end of Google+, but rather a focus on of the features that people love like Hangouts. However, only time will tell if I’m correct.

About the author

Rosanne Mottola, APR

Rosanne Mottola, APR

Rosanne Mottola, APR, is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America. She is an adjunct professor of public relations at St. John’s University, Staten Island. Mottola obtained a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from New York University in 2010. You can connect with her on Twitter @RoeMoPR or on LinkedIn.

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