Monday, March 7, 2011

An Analyzation of Codes of Ethics

Recently in Ethics class, we took a look at a few organizations codes of ethics (go figure). For the purpose of this blog and just because it was interesting, I took a deeper look at the International Association of Business Communicators’ Code of Ethics.

Like many other codes, they set guidelines and parameters for conduct for all of their professional members. It’s broken down by a preface/introduction followed by the specific codes that practicing members are expected to follow/abide by. Things like honesty, integrity, trust and responsibility are key components of most codes. Most also highlight ethical guidelines that would most would say should be self-explanatory, but I guess in some instances, reiteration is necessary.

What I did find surprising is how short the IABC’s code of ethics is. It’s very straight to the point and not supported by extra explanations. The foundation of the organization is based upon three, very simplistic principles:

·      Professional communication is legal.
·      Professional communication is ethical.
·      Professional communication is in good taste.

They pretty much elaborate on those three principles and that concludes their code. This differs from other codes such as that of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association in that theirs is eight pages of fully detailed, ethical guidelines. I can’t say whether keeping things concise like IABC is better than an elaborately spelled out code like WOMMA, but I think they each convey their points in a respectable manner.

I think it’s interesting, however, that in regard to principles like “honesty,” IABC leaves the ethical decision making in the hands of the communicator. It simplistically states that the communicator should refrain from taking part in what he/she deems unethical. They also have no guidelines for independence, loyalty or fairness. I kind of feel like ethical guidelines should touch on everything dealing with ethics.

Over all, I think it’s important for professional organizations to have a governing set of rules to follow and abide by. Of course, these guidelines won’t necessarily be the same across the board. But they’re very necessary and any organization doesn’t have any implemented, I would surely stray away. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Do We Pay for Advertising, Again?

“The conversation is happening whether you are participating or not,” said Porter Gale, top marketer for Virgin American Airlines. That was a real statement if I’ve ever heard one. More and more companies are capitalizing on the vast amount of potential social media has to make or break a brand; some better than others. In a recent article on Ad Age titled “Why Virgin Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV,” Gale highlights the success they’ve gotten via their social media initiatives – which in her opinion, are more successful than the cost of advertising.Why Virgin America Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV

While many brands are jumping aboard the technological wave, Virgin has embraced the trend much faster and with more enthusiasm than any other brand in their market. They respond to in-flight tweets for goodness sake! According to Gale, Facebook and Twitter serve as a multifunctional component to the advancement of their revenue. They use each to engage with guests, make accommodations and even relay important flight information. The airline’s fifth-most successful day in ticket sales ever came as a result of a Twitter promotion. That alone, should speak for itself.

Gale made some pretty sound statements in regard to social media. It’s happening, it’s working and it’s here to stay. “Having a two-way dialogue is really important as people are online more and more,” she said – and she’s right. With 63.2 million smart phone owners aged 13 and over, the US experienced a 60 percent increase since just a year ago. According to a three-month study from September 2010 – December 2010, comScore, Inc. found that of these 63 million owners, 24.7 percent used a mobile social media application. Considering the increase that will happen once the laggards jump on the bandwagon, that’s huge!

Because the majority of Virgin’s sales are done online, it only makes sense for their marketing tactics to remain online as well. Gale doesn’t think TV ads, on their behalf, will happen anytime soon. In today’s realm of consumer reviews, word-of-mouth is essential to the building and maintenance of a brand. A couple of bad reviews on sites like Yelp have the potential to shine negative light on even the household names with catchy jingles. It’s important to have an online presence to prospectively interject negativity and turn it positive; before the power of a dissatisfied consumer takes flight.
There’s no doubt that successful social media tactics take time, strategic planning and proper implementation - but once a company is able to tackle the aforementioned, the power and opportunity it has is endless.   

AdAge: “Why Virgin American Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV,” Michael Bush, February 9, 2011
“comScore Reports December 2010 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share,” February 7, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011


#ThanksToTwitter the world, as we once knew it, has changed - forever. I remember on several occasions "#thankstotwitter" being a trending topic. I never put much thought into how much Twitter has actually changed things. I'd like to call myself an early adopter of the fad, as I joined in some early month of 2009, when people were afraid to step off the Facebook train - and the laggards were still on MySpace. I used Twitter as simply a way to literally express what I was doing and to keep up with the folks that I actually cared to know about. I followed a few celebrities here and there, which actually created a relationship with them that you couldn't get from reality shows or blogs. You could actually engage with them. 

As more people jumped on the bandwagon, it made the experience more fun, even more useful. Today, I get a lot of information, which I ordinarily wouldn't have looked for beyond Twitter, from Twitter. I find myself spreading news, stories or other types of information to other people that I learned from Twitter. Being in PR makes these things more fun. While at most jobs, your phone shouldn't be out and social media websites may even be blocked on work computers. In both of my PR agency experiences, social media was apart of the job. So #ThanksToTwitter, I'm able to keep up with the world around me, while at work, without being penalized for it. 

#ThanksToTwitter, I know every update and change of event going on in Egypt. I know who's hiring Fashion PR Account Executives and which New York company is in search for Fashion Week interns. I can separate my illiterate followers from those who can actually construct a proper sentence. I can tweet important NABJ updates and meeting reminders to my members. #ThanksToTwitter, I know the weather and road conditions during this week of ice and snow. I know the “hot-spot” for the evening, where the best happy hour spot is, and whether or not the restaurant I’ve been considering lives up to its hype.

If any point is to be noted, it’s the fact that Twitter (along with other avenues of social media) has changed the way I (and a lot of the world) do things. It is yet another way for PR practitioners to keep their clients in a positive light in the minds of their consumers. It’s a way for business, celebrities and people of importance to share information with the public, to defer rumors and to engage with their most loyal supporters. It’s become a way of life. And it’ll probably be around for a while – that is, until the next Mark Zuckerberg or Dick Costolo arises. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011


During the interview process with my current internship position, I was asked a question I never would've prepared for even if I had thought out all of the possible questions that would've been asked. It was one that I shared during a #PRSSA Tweet Chat Wednesday night that got a lot of Retweets saying "good question." It really was a good question. "Can you give me an example of a company or organization that does a good job with their social media efforts?" I honestly couldn't come up with an answer after being put on the spot. I regurgitated a response that I wish I would've taken more time to think about (because I had so many good examples post-interview). But that's neither here nor there.

I wish I had experienced Abby pre-interview because I would've been able to give a sound, very good example. Abby works in the communications department at Charter Cable. Who would've thought that a company like Charter (who I personally think has very poor service) would be so social media sound? Not I. You see, I called Charter one day to disconnect two of my three services. Days later, they disconnected all three. I called to complain and asked to be reconnected and I was told that I had to wait until later in the week due to their mistake. Well, like most consumers do in the heat of poor customer service, I took to Twitter (not realizing they had any social media presence). Within minutes, I got a response asking what the problem was. I aggressively stated my dissatisfaction. She then asked for my account information. Reluctantly, I complied though I thought there'd be nothing she could do. To my avail, she DM'ed me minutes later telling me my new reconnection time which was THAT day!

I later learned that Abby doesn't act alone. There's a whole gang of them! They're even available on the weekends. My social sedia award goes to Charter Communications. Kudos.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Integrated Strategic Communications.

I think this picture sums it up in the simplest, easy-to-understand cartoon ever. I never realized exactly how integrated, yet completely different Public Relations, Advertising, Branding and Marketing were until I jumped in head-first with the acquisition of my first internship. A lot of my non-journalistic friends (and parents for that matter) have a difficult time truly understanding the concept of PR, even after my somewhat redundant attempts to explain (with examples).

At my first internship, I worked on a beauty account at a very small PR agency nestled in the heart of downtown Dallas. I remember one my first assignments being to look through beauty magazines for coverage of our client, a hair product line. And they called this work? I do this for fun. During my search however, I got extremely excited as I saw nearly 5 mentions of the brand and dog-eared the pages. When I took the magazines to my supervisor, she kind of gave me a look like, “uh no! Negative. Didn’t I ask for coverage?” To my surprise, magazines that I thought were loaded with “coverage” had absolutely none. Yeah, I dog-eared the advertisements. It was then that I realized that the job isn’t that easy. Advertisements are virtually, easily placed. Heck, they’re paid for. The real work is getting someone to take a product and find enough interest in it to place it in their publication. For free. So in essence, I “advertised” this product to these writers so they can, in essence, “advertise” it to readers, but with a news value? Oh, okay. So I’m pretty much “marketing” or attempting to promote/sell this product for the client as well? Got it. I understand the stale faces that result from my explanations now.  It’s actually a somewhat complicated, all inclusive sort of business. And frankly, it’ll remain one that puts stale faces on non-journalistic people’s faces.

I currently intern in the fairly new, Moroch|PR department of Moroch Partners, a very well known, established advertising firm. My first impression: This place is huge! Moroch is the epitome of integrated communications. The company is all encompassing. The ads are done there; the PR is done there; the marketing, done there. Work for each client is passed around the company like a hot potato. Each department adds their expertise. It’s really quite astounding. I’d like to take this time to tip my hat (as though I were really wearing one) to all of the company’s who are able to successfully integrate all of these various aspects of product promotion, while keeping the jobs totally unrelated. Kudos.