Saturday, February 26, 2011

If I use product placement, would you hold it against me?

Since I barely watch TV anymore (see last blog “Electronic English Teacher”) I decided to get on Youtube and check out some of the music videos from songs I’ve been hearing on the radio recently.  Britney Spears is notorious for making outrageous music videos for her songs and I knew she just released a single so I went to check out the video.  Her newest song “Hold it Against Me” answers the age old question, “If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?”  I’m pretty sure guys use that pick-up line in honky tonk bars, but I digress.  The one thing that made me cringe during the video (among other things) was the extremely obvious product placement.  Sony was glaring in my face along with Britney Spears’s new fragrance.  It made me think, how affective is product placement and is it something PR professionals should think about?
Here is the Britney Spears video

Here in another video I found that is hilarious but also fully endorses Ciroc liquor 

Let me start off by saying that Britney Spears is probably not the greatest spokesperson for products.  With her track record of rebellious destructive behavior, it would be difficult for a company to confidently let someone like her endorse their product.  For the sake of argument, let’s say the products in the video were being endorsed by someone a little more wholesome, like Taylor Swift.  I still think that a music video isn’t long enough to have a product placement strategy be affective.  In my opinion, if a three minute song spends 1 minute zooming in on a brand, the brand has lost all of it’s mojo.  At least with movies, you have time to develop a character that audiences can relate to or admire.  More than anything, I’ve noticed its not so much the brands people tend to mimic, it’s the behavior.  So what does this mean for PR professionals?
Our job descriptions are always growing and it’s getting difficult to figure out where our responsibilities end.  I’m not an advertiser, so I see the use of product placement in a very different way.  I think a good way to achieve the effectiveness that a product placement attempts at reaching from a public relations perspective would be to incorporate social media.  I think the PR version of product placement is a Webisode or a Youtube channel directed toward a specific audience concerning a topic related to your brand.  Having a continuous story line related to a brand could draw people in while also giving your client the spotlight. 

Check out the video and tell me what you think.  Did you mind seeing the product placement in the music video?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Potter Box is useful as long as you are ethical

Some ethical decision making processes occur without any painstaking practices.  These processes happen all the time.  You are taking a test and you choose to not glance over at another student’s scantron, or you turn in a paper and you choose to not plagiarize any content.  Decisions like this are extremely easy and are made without any additional thought... or are they?
Unfortunately, decisions to act ethically don’t always come second nature.  For instance, lets say the student taking the test will fail the class resulting in pushing his or her graduation back another semester.  For that student, choosing whether or not to cheat just became a little more difficult.
The Potter Box analysis can be an extremely useful tool when deciding how to treat various ethical dilemmas.  The 5 step process of the Potter Box is define the situation, determine loyalties, determine values, identify principles, and make a decision.  After you go through each step involved in the analysis, you may come to find what was once a difficult decision is now an easier decision to make.  Still, we face the problem of people who have trouble even recognizing a difficult ethical decision.  Some decisions may be acted upon without second thought but are also completely unethical.
Based on the case discussed in class, the female intern stands to lose a lot in the long-term by acting unethically.  As an intern, you are a sponge to your environment.  Your first internship can be an extremely important experience because here, you are relating what you do in class to what is actually being done in the real world.  It is easy to assume what people do outside of the classroom is automatically right.  How could they be wrong if what they are doing is working and profitable?  
If the intern had an issue with doing “whatever means necessary” to sell advertising, she could have gone through the 5 steps of the Potter Box to help her come to the right decision.  However, the only issue I have with the process is the decision to use it.  
People who are lacking personal ethics or intuition may not see their decisions as difficult even though they may be completely unethical.  For the intern, if she has no previous experience in the field or has never taken an ethics class, she may not have the personal ethics or gut feeling to know something doesn’t feel right.  I would only use this process if I had a feeling what I was about to do may be wrong or harmful to me, publics, or stakeholders in the situation.  
The Potter Box is an extremely useful tool however, I believe you need to have a solid foundation of personal ethics to make the decision to use it.

Electronic English Teacher

Let me start off by saying that I learned how to speak English by watching TV.  My mom and dad were both born and raised in Havana, Cuba.  Spanish was the first language I learned how to speak. When I turned four years old, my family bought a television.  Being the extremely impressionable toddler that I was (not to mention adorable, see picture below) the TV had stolen my attention away from my Barbies, who I presumed to be pretty upset about the whole ordeal.  I had a lot of trouble reading at first but knowing the sounds made the process a little easier.  When it came time for me to start elementary school, I had a respectable handle on English and I owe a lot of that to the tube.

Now, almost 20 years later, the only time I turn on the TV is if the show I want to watch isn’t available on Hulu.  When I finally do make it to the TV, the process of finding the remote and sitting through commercials can be painful.  This new development got me thinking: how do I receive news?  I don’t read newspapers and I don’t actively seek out the news.  When it comes to the news, TV and newspapers aren’t part of the equation.   
This revelation got me a little disappointed.  I consider myself to be an educated student of public relations.  I think I always have a relatively firm grasp of what is 
going on in the media and what is going on in the public relations field.  How on earth am I getting all this information without my electronic English teacher?  
In a recent tweet chat I participated in,we discussed how Gen-Y has issues focusing and reading a newspaper.  According to the other chat members, it simply isn’t part of Gen-Y’s lives.  To me, this isn’t such a terrible thing.  The perspective I think they’re missing is Twitter has forever changed the way we receive news.  In the past, if I didn’t catch in on the six o’clock news, I had no idea what was going on.  Now, all I do is read the news online.  I don’t consider “actively seeking out the news” as following a reporter or news station on Twitter, but a pretty passive act that gets me in the loop.  I hate it when people say Gen-Y doesn’t read.  We just don’t read the way people have become accustomed to.   Fine, our generation has video games, smart phones, and iPads, but we grew up with the all mighty and awesome internet.  We’re not reading books, we’re reading websites.  As PR practitioners we have to realize if we are trying to target Gen-Y, newspapers and PSA’s may not be a part of an effective plan. 
As a society, we have made amazing leaps in technology changing the way we interact and communicate with others.  I wonder what new medium will change the way we talk next.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Eating Right For a New Attractive (Public) Figure

I’ve just recently started a new nutrition plan.  I’m hesitant to say, “diet” because I haven’t restricted my intake, but have simply replaced pizza with celery sticks.  It hasn’t been without its challenges.  The Super Bowl beer and pizza debacle of 2011 proved to be one of the hardest tests of will power, but I got through it unscathed (according to the scale).  Why do I bring this up?  I’ve come across many PR professionals and students who still don’t believe in social media.  I call them “PR dodos.”  The Dodo birds is extinct because of it inability to adapt, much like some of our PR friends.  Unfortunately for the dodo bird, their time has come and gone.  PR professionals, however, still have a chance to survive in the ever changing social media climate.  These PR dodos typically believe in old school one-way public relations.  In our profession “old school PR” doesn’t carry the same kind of legitimacy as the phrase “old school sneakers.”  Although, some of these PR dodos do see it that way.  PR dodos see their methods as traditional and the way things should be.  I obviously couldn’t disagree more.
So what does this have to do with my new nutrition plan?  Improvements in technology are a constant.  We can always count on advancements in phones, computers, TV's, you name it.  When we come across someone using a rotary phone and a black and white TV, what do we think?  I know what I think, “How on earth have you been doing this for so long?” or “What good can come from being left out of the loop?”  Their response, “I don’t want to change, I’m happy with the way things are.”  My suggestion to them is they need a new social media nutritional plan.  Continue receiving communication but instead of a rotary phone, use a cell phone.  Instead of waiting for the 6 o’clock news, look it up on the internet.  I replaced pizza with celery, PR dodos need to replace one-way communication with two way communication and not take the crash diet method by completely avoiding social media.  We see the person using antiquated technology as a means of receiving information the same way we see the PR practitioner on a crash diet from social media; doing the dodo bird.  
PR dodos who maintain the idea that traditional push PR practices work the best have been gorging on too many pizzas.  Social media is the celery stick they need for their nicer (public) figure.  People who refuse to use social media are like the people using the rotary phone; they are laughably outdated.  If you want to have any credibility as a public relations professional, you have to know the tools of the trade and how they advance and progress.  Moving with those advances will help you stay ahead of the game and maintain legitimacy among your colleagues and your friends.  Social media is an extremely communal activity.  Alienation can occur when purposely crash dieting from the use of any social media channels.  
What is all comes down to is this new way of thinking isn’t completely unachievable.  No crazy meal plans are necessary, just a hearty helping of nutritious social media.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Foursquare vs. Google Latitude

I just blogged about how much Foursquare has to offer and how other platforms are lagging in their efforts to compete with this type of location sharing interaction.  Well, lo and behold, here comes Google Latitude with the addition of checkins.  I’m a huge fan of Google and everything Google related; my phone is an android phone, I prefer to use Google Chrome for the internet, and I, of course, use gmail for my email.  When I saw this article’s title “Google Latitude Adds Checkins” I immediately thought, “You have my attention.” 
Much like Foursquare, Goggle Latitude now allows you to checkin to locations when you get there.  With this new addition, it also offers various ways to check in.  The traditional way to check in used on Foursquare, logging on and manual checking in, is an obvious option for the checkins on Google Latitude.  Additionally, the user can set notifications so upon arrival it will ask if you would like to check in.  If you’re like me, you’ll probably use the “automatic check in” setting so that you automatically check in as soon as you arrive at your location.  
Because this a Google product, I will probably implement it into my daily life however I was a little surprised they didn’t do anything to compete with the game aspect of Foursquare.  I really enjoy earning the various titles and reaping the benefits from stores actively participating in the medium.  From a navigational perspective, Google Latitude does trump Foursquare in that once you locate where your friend is, Google Latitude can give you turn by turn directions on how to get there by taking you right to Google Maps.   
I think Google Latitude has a lot to compete with.  As much as a I love Google, I think Foursquare has this medium down.  Google has a loyal fan base that will actively participate in this but I think they are going to have to come up with something more interactive to really engage their users.  
What does this mean to the PR world?  With each platform evolving and changing, PR professionals have to be cognizant of what is really working.  To suggest to a client to participate in social media on the wrong platform could be hazardous to your relationship with the client.  As much as I like Google, I would still suggest the sue of Foursquare as the location checkin application.   
After writing this, I can’t help but think about how much we have progressed in technology.  I’m sure parents are loving all the different ways they can track their children now.  When phones were finally equipped with cameras and we could send picture messages, my mother would make me take a picture of the place I said I would be at as soon as I got there and send the picture to her.  I feel bad for the kids now that have to deal with their tech savvy mom logging onto Google Latitude to see where their kids are.  Of course there is a great deal of value in platforms like this during emergency situations but if you are going over to Jenny’s house to spend the night it shouldn’t be a big deal!