The Public Relations Papers

Because sometimes you just don't have a choice.

28 September, 2006

T.O. and PR: Why the Football Star and Media Facet go Hand in Hand

Even though the flashy wide receiver calls himself an entertainer as well as an NFL player, Terrell Owens has created a persona and image that is almost unparalleled in the sports world. During the span of only a few years, Owens has gone from loved, to hated, to everywhere in between. So what, you ask, does this have to do with public relations? In my opinion, everything.

In the wake of a reported suicide attempt by Owens on Sept. 28, we have once again seen a media feeding frenzy over the Dallas Cowboys receiver. In a rush to get the story out about the high-profile athlete, media outlets reported on information from an internal police report that turned out to be largely untrue (but that is another topic for another time.) As the misinformation spread like wildfire, Owens’ publicist Kim Etheredge was called in to shoot down the rumors.

Wait, a publicist? For a football player?

Though it is probably not as uncommon as it was 20 years ago, there is something about an athlete needing a publicist that seems a bit strange. But from high-profile contract disputes, to book deals, to staged media events in his driveway (featuring Owens doing sit-ups while answering questions,) a publicist might not be such a bad thing for a spotlight-loving person like himself after all.

As much as athletes are getting paid these days, or at least having the potential to be paid, every bit of publicity and camera time helps their cause. Having name-recognition among fans and even non-fans helps players like Owens land bigger contracts, shoe deals, etc.

Terrell Owens, just like more and more athletes in our society, is more than a player or entertainer; he’s a brand. A brand that is being gobbled up by football fans everywhere. He has had the NFL’s top-selling football jersey for most of this year, and has recently come out with a fairly successful book. With so many things happening off the field in the lives of athletes, maybe publicists aren’t such a bad thing after all. Publicists essentially create storylines and super-personas that keep audiences entertained, and sports news exciting.

Oh yeah, football players, actually still DO play football. I think.

21 September, 2006

Power of Printing

In a recent assignment for our PR Techniques class, we designed flyers and brochures for the Journalism Education Association (JEA.) During the process, we learned more about the ins and outs of Adobe Creative Suite, and just how stressful it can be. But one of the things I learned during this assignment that really surprised me was the power and effect that printers can have on the public relations industry.

I’ve worked at print shops in the past, so I guess I can say that I know the basic internal works of them. But this is really the first time that I’ve worked with one on the outside, as a perspective customer. Getting quotes for our pieces was much less stressful and time consuming as I thought it would be.

Two of the print shops I received quotes from, Kwik Kopy Printing (Lenexa, Kan.) and Hall Commercial Printing (Topeka, Kan.) had really unique systems. On their websites, you simply enter your information, give the details about the job, attach a document (PDF for example) and you’re good to go. I got quotes from each company in less than five hours (which is excellent time.)

In my opinion, quality printing can make you or break you in the PR world (or business world for that matter.) The finished product is really a reflection of you and your company, so it is important to do some research about the print shop. Ask to see some samples of work they’ve done; don’t just automatically go to the printer who gives you the lowest quote.

Also, if you’re having trouble in the design process of a piece, you can usually go to the printer for help. Many printers have a design team on board for situations just like that. Many times, they will help you out with the whole design process (though it may come at a price!)

Moral of the story is that commercial printers are there to work for YOU. They’re happy to give you a quote, even if you’re not planning on doing business with them right then. If there’s a chance of you going back there in the future, they will do what they can to help, even if it’s just with a PR Techniques project!

13 September, 2006

Importance of PRessurization

Scheduling, time constraints, due dates and deadlines are all part of the life of a college student. Upon entering college, one unwittingly assumes the role of multi-tasker. Some curse this unwanted attribute, some wish they could be one and some can’t handle the pressure, and sadly succumb to its rigid parameters.

I learned to embrace it.

After three years as a public relations and journalism student, I have learned the stressed importance of deadlines and the necessity of meeting them. Living in a pressurized box of stress has become almost a second home to me. Let me explain.

I have learned that in public relations, you almost never work on your own terms. You work when, where and how it is best for your company, your client or your public. As unbendingly rigid as it seems, you must learn to be flexible. This makes for some sense of equilibrium in it all. One of the most important things I have learned so far about public relations is that it is extremely important to be flexible; because it helps you juggle many tasks at a time and allows you to be able to prioritize.

Some students, when asked to do a seemingly absurd amount of things in a small amount of time will snap under the pressure. Many more will handle the situation, and are able to plan and prioritize wisely. But a select few almost enjoy it, looking at it as a test, feeding off of the late night adrenaline rush and coffee buzz. These are the ones who know why it is important to be able to handle pressure situations so smoothly that it seems like you never did anything at all.

For me, the key so far in public relations has been all about taking the pressure, deadlines and stress, and looking at them as challenge, instead of an oncoming bulldozer. Besides, you can't spell 'pressure' without 'PR.'

07 September, 2006

Facebook Firestorm

A matter of hours is all it seems to have taken for the popular networking website to fall from the top of the collegiate mountain, to a valley of scorn, outrage and stalker paranoia.

In an effort to update its appearance and functionality, the website added a feature called “News Feed,” which allows users to take notice of what their friends and acquaintances are doing. Shortly after the new feature was added, users poured into virtual streets in protest, quickly creating anti-News Feed groups and signing online petitions to urge to revert back to the previous format. Those who disagree with News Feed argue that it has put their privacy into jeopardy and that members are now targets for online stalkers.

According to a story on, creator Mark Zuckerberg said that, “Stalking isn't cool; but being able to know what's going on in your friends' lives is."

Though I am somewhat amazed at how many people are up in arms about this trivial issue, I am not at all surprised that they are. I mean, people knowing that Suzie Student and Bobby Teenager broke up yesterday could be devastating for the former couple.

The truth of the matter is that once you join a social networking site, you essentially sign over every shed of social privacy you though you had. The whole point of a social networking site is to see what others are doing and vise versa. If you want you thoughts kept to yourself and hidden from the public eye, keep a diary. Or start a blog no one will read (see above URL.)

As far as public relations goes in this situation, I see this as having positive potential for The website is getting barraged with free publicity on all fronts, and most students would rather quit school than cancel their cherished Facebook accounts. I believe that the additional publicity coninciding with fall classes beginning will result in a membership spike. I suspect that will eventually put a limit on News Feed, and the adolescent firestorm will blow over as quickly as it came about.

So suck it up and quit complaining. This is essentially what you signed up for: to see and be seen. Don’t be so narcissistic. If someone really wanted to stalk you, they could find a way to do so without relying on News Feed, or even for that matter.

"Nothing you do is being broadcast; rather, it is being shared with people who care about what you do — your friends," Zuckerberg said.

01 September, 2006

The Adobe Diet

Weight watchers. Jenny Craig. Atkins. South Beach. Adobe. For those of you who might not be up to date on weight-loss trends, computer users with Adobe Photoshop have the ability to lose weight in a matter of seconds. Instead of cutting back on calories and carbs, Photoshop users can simply cut, paste, click and drag away the extra pounds.

The recently-surfaced Adobe diet has been put to use this past week by Katie Couric and Rosie O’Donnell. Doctored photos of the slimmed-down television personalities have been circulating the internet this week, generating quite a buzz around the two.

In my opinion, I really don’t see this as much of a problem for anyone. But this still brings us to the question of whether or not the public should be made aware of which photos are real, and which photos have been edited. In this case, I could really care less about if these photos are real or not. I just don’t see dropping a few pounds via Photoshop groundbreaking. But if, for example, a photojournalist were to edit photos and pass them off as real, there would be chaos in the world of journalism. If for some reason a journalist did edit a photograph, he or she should make it very clear that it was edited.

As a rule of thumb, I think that it would be a good idea to always tell the public when a possibly controversial picture has been edited. It could save you later on down the road. Besides, would anyone really believe that Rosie O’Donnell got that skinny anyway?