Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blogging About Blogging

With constant news updates about the world’s hottest and most controversial topics, blogs have grown to be one of the most popular sources for news. I personally enjoy reading blogs because they give short descriptions of current events and they can be easily accessed through smart phones. Being able to access blog sites has become as simple as touching a button through sources like Twitter, which is why I find myself visiting these sources more and more each week.

I visit several blog websites each week. These blogs range from world events and politics to celebrity gossip and television shows. As far as current world events, I follow Newsweek’s blog titled, “The Daily Beast.” I enjoy reading this blog because it has a good mixture of important news stories and entertainment stories, such as a recent feature on the Grammy awards. Newsweek is also a credible news source that is respected by many, which allows me to trust the majority of the information presented. As much as I would not like to admit it, I also frequently check TMZ, the celebrity gossip and entertainment blog. I do consider myself to be a pop culture fan and I follow this blog to satisfy that hobby. To also satisfy my entertainment need, I also frequently check T.V. Fanatic, a blog dedicated to previewing spoilers for my favorite television shows like Revenge and The Good Wife. T.V. Fanatic allows me to never have to feel impatient about learning new details about my favorite shows.

I believe that each of my entertainment blogs, although entertaining, are not as reliable as mainstream news distributors because of the fact that they want to produce interesting gossip stories for the public and are not as concerned as gathering facts as mainstream distributors. Gossip blogs like TMZ are concerned solely about producing a story that grabs media and public attention and cannot be trusted for news facts like websites such as ABC News and CNN. I do believe, however, that “The Daily Beast” is a credible blog like mainstream news distributors because it is produced by Newsweek, which is a reputable news source that produces a widely recognized magazine.

If by some chance “Shooting the Bri’s” became an opinion leader blog, I would fully disclose, if allowed by the company, that I am being paid for advocating for the product. The only reason I would not admit this would be that I would be in legal trouble with the company for breaking a confidentiality agreement. I believe that admitting to others the truth helps the public to trust you more because of your honesty. If the public finds out later that I was being paid for a blog, it would ruin the whole reputation of my blog and my company’s image. Being in PR, maintaining a good relationship with my client and public is the key to success.

By listening to Professor Holtz’s lecture, I discovered many useful and interesting things about the craft of photography. I learned about the importance of lighting, as well as the different techniques of framing in photos, such as using lines to draw attention to the subject of the photo. Taking photos from different angles, such as an aerial view, can also improve the quality of a picture. Instead of focusing on trying to get a wide angle of a shot, I also learned that it is more flattering to zoom in on the subject of the photo. I will use this concept, as well as remembering that simplicity is the key to a great photo, to benefit me as I start to complete my interviews of the Middle States members for our class “Builders Project.” 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One More Writing Style for the Resume

As a Communication major with an English Studies minor, I have written my fair share of papers. I have discussed everything from workplace anger and conflict management styles to Sylvia Plath’s use of symbols and allusions in poetry. Despite a pretty lengthy writing resume, I have never written a feature story. To be honest, I always feel slightly apprehensive when writing in new styles. This is mostly because I sometimes find it difficult to switch from an academic writing style to a more journalistic style. With a feature story, you are not writing about facts or concepts in a book, but trying to tell a story about a person’s life. I personally find telling someone’s life story a big responsibility, but it is a challenge that I believe will be very beneficial in the future.

Despite never writing a feature story, I still believe my diverse background in writing will help me to write a compelling piece. I feel that I have a talent for taking multiple pieces of information, such as pieces from an interview, and compiling them into a fluid document. From recent experience in my internship, I also believe that I know the appropriate time to use quotations and vivid language. I have also learned to adapt my writing style for audience, which is a very important aspect of feature story writing.

When writing my feature story, I feel concerned that I did not gain enough information in the interview process that will allow for me to use my strengths of compiling multiple quotations and pieces of information. I also feel that I may have difficulty switching from academic writing to a more journalistic style in order to avoid the story sounding too bland and impersonal. Overall, I feel that it may be difficult to exceptionally capture the true personality and essence of an individual.

During the video shoot for the admissions office, I noticed that the videographer moved his position multiple times to capture different angles of Rogal Chapel. This was most likely to capture the architectural structure of the chapel, including the stained glass windows. I also noticed that the videographer moved the tripod that held his camera to different levels to also gain different perspectives. With the beautiful stained glass window at the front of the chapel, I also noticed that the videographer chose to showcase this feature by filming at sunset. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Relationships, relationships...and relationships

In my understanding, practicing public relations can be summarized with one word: relationships. As a public relations (PR) practitioner, it will be our responsibility to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between our client and the public. PR revolves around placing a great image of your client into the public to form trusting bonds that will ensure mutual success for both parties. By building strong relationships, a PR practitioner must possess the ability to understand both the client and the public’s needs and be able to successfully address these needs. To successfully address these needs, PR involves, in many cases, working in a fast-paced environment where strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are mandatory to complete press releases, and handle media relations. Public relations practitioner’s can work in industries ranging from non-profit to government agencies. Regardless of the type of industry, PR practitioners must always be ready to handle crisis situations by working as mediators between the public and the company or client. With many skills demanded by PR practitioners, it is very important that as current students, we focus on not only learning but also retaining the information we are being taught to use in the future. Another excellent way to retain important PR skills is to apply them in real job situations. This is exactly the reason why undergraduate internships are so valuable. Through personal experience in my current internship, I am gaining priceless job skills in the PR field by developing press releases and media alerts. Internships also allow for the building of relationships, which is the base of the public relations field.  

As I stated before, learning and retaining the skills we are taught in school is a very important tool to future success in public relations. That is why visits by professionals like Professor Houser are so valuable to students. Learning from individuals like Professor Houser who have worked in the industry and who are using their experience to teach us new skills is irreplaceable. Not only will the journalism tips that Professor Houser gave us be beneficial in the future, but they will also benefit myself and my other group members with our Builders Project.  Listening to Professor Houser describe the process of writing a feature story allowed me to gain a better understanding of how to conduct an interview, gather quotations, and put them into a compelling piece that tells a story about a person. I especially found it very beneficial to learn how to ask questions that provide open-ended answers. In school, there are very few chances to break- away from academic writing and touch on more personal subjects which is why I enjoyed hearing about Professor Houser’s process.

With entering the beginning phases of any group project, problems arise. With our group, we have had an unstable start because of group members dropping the class. With these transient classmates, our group has not been able to focus as much on the content of the project, but instead about trying to organize group dynamics, such as not being able to e-mail other group members and being assigned a new group member after class has ended. This has also affected the organizing of the interview schedule. Despite these challenges, our “founding” group members have been communicating very effectively through e-mail, such as being able to decide on a group name and logo all outside of class. We are also using the cost benefit analysis to assign group members assignments that will bring out the strengths of each of us, such as using group member Patrick’s skill in design to create our logo while I developed the team name.

I am a firm believer that the learning process does not end after we graduate. This is why I am always striving to learn more, especially about the PR field. By focusing intensely on my academic courses, my knowledge of public relations has grown immensely since I first declared my concentration. I believe that I have grown the most as PR practitioner through my current academic internship. I have been given the opportunity to develop press releases and media alerts, as well as learn new technologies that I do not get to use in school, such as contacting print media sources through Constant Contact e-mail blasts. In my particular internship, at the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, networking and business development is the purpose of the organization. This is why whether through my academics or internship opportunities, I am learning that the key to the field of public relations will always be: relationships.