Monthly Archives: April 2008

Cinematic Savvy: True Grit

The Cinematic Savvy series is designed to explore themes and ideas from certain films. Inspiration can be drawn from characters, their quotes, their circumstances, historical approaches depicted – it’s my blog, I’ll take it where I get it. I love film and I love PR. Let’s see how they influence me.

True Grit in blogging/social media, to be specific. Looking through some of my posts, I’ve noticed a distinct timidity. This reluctance to firmly and boldly speak my mind results from a decided lack of professional experience and affirmation. Until I go through the symbolic ritual of graduating and land myself a job, much of my opinions seem speculative.

The John Wayne flick that inspired this post depicts a girl out to avenge her father’s death who hires “a man with grit.”

He’s wise to the ways of the world and has got toughened determination that can only come with time and experience. I do think, though, that there is something to be said for being young and full of gumption.

At some point I hope to be assigned to an account because I’ve shown grit and determination in my work and have proved that I weather challenging situations. I suppose that time is now. As a recent recruitment to a PR agency, I can honestly say I was hired because of my grit. That’s right, I said it.

I’m not a pro, but these are some things that worked for me:

Keep blogging: No one’s born a good blogger. You become one by thoroughly researching your topics and reading other people’s blogs. But just because no one leaves comments doesn’t mean no one’s reading. So keep going.

Use your social media resources: I use Twitter and Facebook to announce new blog posts. That has served me well. But I’m also very active with them. I average about 5 “Tweets” a day ranging from what I actually AM doing at the moment to bringing up relevant and interesting articles, blog posts and other content.

Keep Commenting: This is so crucial in “joining the conversation” people may or may not reply to or even read every posted comment, but if you’re doing your research and posting intelligent comments, you’ll get their attention.

Be determined and deliberate: In both your research on new social media as well as your involvement.

Recover and learn from mistakes: I’ve made some pretty stupid Twitter mistakes (ie. linking to a blog post as though it was this scandalous news but it was actually an April Fool’s joke) but had to keep making posts and am now much more careful.

Be bold: Asking questions isn’t always enough. Making educated assertions is what gets you “in” to the conversation.

Stick it out: It’ll pay off in one way or another. The things you learn and the connections you make in Web 2.0 are of use now and in the future.

If it’s True Grit you want, here are some guidelines from a seasoned amateur.

*Image courtesy of http://www.needlenose.com/

The Legacy of a “Lonely Girl”

The producers of the YouTube phenomenon vlog of “Lonelygirl15” and Kate Modern are launching a production company called Eqal that calls itself Social Entertainment. From their website they say they’re incorporating the best of traditional narrative and online interactivity. At the site you can watch their intro which seems to be a montage of their futurer shows. They’re very Cloverfield-eque, seemingly done from home-video cameras. The shows themselves, according to the Eqal are driven by the participation of their viewers.  It’s “community-generated” content, rather than studio-produced. Neat idea – capitalize off of the YouTube trend.

So, with this new ripple in the Social Media Stratosphere, what does this mean for PR? Can the public relations industry approach this medium in a ethical and efficient way?

Since viral content and especially videos have become such a staple in the public relations arsenal, we can only assume that this, too, will become a weapon of choice… er-not to put too violent a connotation on PR tactics.

Regarding Eqal, though, they may be on to something. As their name suggests, there exists the same amount of reciprocity in this medium as in most social media outlets: Users and viewers see the fruits of their own participation.

Let’s just hope this, like most other forms of social media, promotes, respects and contributes to transparency, more than the original inspiration, Lonelygirl15, did.

Setting the PR Bar in Rwanda

In a recent article from allAfrica.com, public relations professionals are making an effort to regulate the profession there and clean up its reputation. Peter Malinga, president of of the Public Relations Association of Rwanda, asserts that the public relations world has a current “free entry” status in which “failed or re-traded journalists” can thrive. This being the case, the PRAR, a joint private-public sector venture, hopes to align the industry with professionalism and apparently competency.

“[PRAR]’s main aim, [Malinga] added, is to professionalize the public relations profession, given that its practitioners are often considered to be poor cousins of advertisers’ and event management.”

The organization hopes to “weed out” unqualified people and make the profession something to which people aspire, rather than resort.

At first, I was mildly offended. Only mildly because I wasn’t sure if Malinga and his organization were referring to the Rwandan PR industry rather than the global profession. But I was offended because I think that the skills that make a successful PR professional are disciplines that I am daily honing and – well, at least thinking about.

The article later goes on to focus on the importance of distinguishing between good and bad PR and the need for the former.

And so at this point, I realized: I need to NOT be offended (even mildly) about this and realize that he’s right. There’s plenty of bad PR out there, even if most of the time I associate it with being stimulated by external, “beyond our control” forces. Probably the bulk of bad PR out there is done by PR pros who really aren’t THAT pro.

This is a rallying call for mobilization and engagement. How do we answer?

By striving to be truth-centric and people-oriented. By allowing the industry to be chastized.

“It is in the institution’s interest if it is criticized, since this helps in the correction of different mistakes.”

*Photo courtesy of http://polosbastards.com