I wanted to be a Teacher

When I was in high school, I wanted be a primary school teacher. I’d looked into several universities which offered degrees in primary education and I was really excited. That’s when I made the mistake of telling people.

I was that kid in school who was super quiet and fairly ‘intelligent’. I use that word with trepidation somewhat; high school had decided I was ‘intelligent’ because I was good at memorising slabs of information and regurgitating it on exam papers in the exact format my teachers expected and liked. That’s the Australian education system for you, but I’ll save the ins and outs of my subsequent criticisms of it for another blog post.

I wanted to be a teacher when I was in school, but most people said it was a bad idea, so I believed them. (Image: Little Language)

There’s mistake number one. The ‘smart kid’ studies law, not primary ed. The first teacher who asked me about my career goals sort of folded her lips together, tightly. All she said was “oh”. I could tell she was surprised and I felt an odd air of disappointment exuding from her. I still have some friends in high school who have the same teachers I did; a number of those teachers have just assumed I enrolled in a law degree. They never bothered to ask.

I also told my friends at lunchtime one day. One girl laughed in my face, told me that I’d be hopeless at it and the kids would walk over me. I would be an utter failure as a teacher. I laughed it off. I went home after school and cried. The same girl made fun of me on more than one occasion for wanting to earn a place in university so badly (regardless of the course I chose). I should have seen that as the foreshadowing it turned out to be; sometimes you just can’t please people, no matter which path you decide to take.

A friend of my parents’ came over one day. She asked what I was planning to do after year twelve. When I told her I wanted to teach primary school children, she sort of smiled at me, but leaned over and whispered something to my mother. It made me uncomfortable. Later, mum told me what she had said; “Claire’s too smart for that”.

How does that make sense? How can one possibly be “too smart” to teach? Yes, the ATAR for teaching is significantly lower than law, but that’s a reflection of supply and demand, not course/career difficulty. How can someone be ‘too intelligent’ to teach children? Isn’t that a job which should be entrusted to intelligent people? That comment still bamboozles me to this day.

I was young and I cared way too much about what other people thought of me. When that teacher looked at me with that look on her face, when my friend told me I’d be hopeless, I believed that.

That was the end of that particular dream.


When it was time to choose course preferences, I had no idea what to do with my life. I did well in English, so I chose a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies with a journalism major. I also liked maths and business studies, so I decided to study the BCMS as a double degree with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in economics.

But then I changed my majors. Although I had enjoyed nearly all of my classes, none of them burned a passion inside me until I started writing about, and creating digital media. My marks have remained fairly constant throughout the subjects I have studied. The thing is, receiving a high distinction in accounting, statistics and management was a big deal in the eyes of the people who know me. When I get the same grade, or higher, in a digital media or public relations subject? It’s not the same impact at all.

Last year when I saw my Dad’s side of the family for Christmas, my Grandpa asked me what grades I received for my subjects that semester. I told him I received two distinctions and two high distinctions. He told me none of it counted because I study a “bludge degree”.

Why did he even ask?

Merry fucking Christmas. 

During one of my previous jobs, from which I ended up resigning early last year, I copped constant criticism for being enrolled in university. I stopped mentioning anything related to uni at work simply because the wrath was too much to bare. They were constantly salty that I had three days ‘off’ each week to attend class, whilst they had to work full-time (even though I was only part-time).

Image: success.com

They brewed gossip that I only decided to go to uni because I wanted to copy my friend (who started university a year after me . . . logic?) and were furious when one of my exam days clashed with the night of another worker’s soccer training. It was constant shaming for attending university and it made no sense. I’ve had two new jobs since then and I’m lucky enough to work with decent, kind people and managers who understand that my roster is generally inflexible and who support me in what I do.

I try so hard not to let this kind of negativity manifest itself inside my head, but I’ll be honest, it’s truly difficult. The only thing that makes it bearable is knowing for certain that what I study is perfect for me and I love it.


The Million-Dollar Question; what is Digital Media? Will I get a job at the end of my degree?

“Digital media? What’s that, Facebook?” (someone. legit.)

When asked this question, I give vague explanations because there really isn’t a simple answer. There’s so much to what we look at. If you’re genuinely curious, see the blog posts for my subjects BCM112 and DIGC202 in particular.

The world is changing in ways that most people don’t seem to consider nor understand. Yes, everyone’s connected to the internet and that means big changes – but it goes so much damn deeper than that. I’m sure people could understand if they took the time to, but they don’t. Why?

Much of what we study looks at people. Perhaps the best way to illustrate what we learn is to pose what we ask;

  • How do we interact with technology and the media? How does the media and technology interact with us? There is a distinct and important difference between those two questions.
  • What kind of business model will be sustainable in the future? We explore the slow death of the legacy media (book publishing, newspapers etc.) and analyse the growth of produsage, an image of the universe whereby the consumer and producer of an information product are one and the same. What is the attention economy and how does this relate to the above? How do we communicate in this new economy?

We have a strong focus on the production, curation and aggregation of content online. We learn how to reiterate information using various platforms and technologies, noting the implications of each. We explore the philosophies behind intellectual property and the internet of things. We are taught to take nothing at face value. I could go on forever.

Unlike any other class, we are given the freedom to design our own assessments. The criteria? Make something publicly available online, gain traction and implement some core ideas from the digital media content we study. One of my digital media lecturers was interviewed last year;

“The process of random experimentation without a goal is very important … that’s how students discover the affordance of a medium. So it’s not about me telling them do this and that, it’s about me telling them take the drone and see what happens.” (Teodor Mitew, The Standard, 2016)

Collectively, we make awesome stuff in these subjects. I created an online Sim story called The Life of Mindy. I wrote stories, made videos, made film trailers, experimented with persona and coding and created an online Twitter bot. I have never worked so hard on assessment, nor learned as much, enjoyed as much or received a grade higher than I did in this subject.

Other assessments were incredible and diverse in nature. UOW Admirers, a successful Facebook-based matchmaking service began as a digital artefact. 5 Second Summaries, a hilarious vine channel (RIP vine), won the bloggie for best artefact in my cohort last year. A variety of start up businesses have been born from class assessments in this field.

We do a magnitude of practical work; podcasts, memes, blog posts, YouTube, Vimeo, infographics, online commenting. We use Twitter, WordPress and Reddit. In other subjects, we not only learn how to undertake valuable, respectful research, but we actually do it.

I’m already contributing to a field of study, even as a student. I’m building myself online, this blog secured me a job writing for a website and a subsequent internship. Will I get a job? We’ll see. Of course it’s not 100% guaranteed, but there’s no job guarantee for any degree. But for some reason, this argument only gets brought up when we’re talking about a degree like arts or digital media. Digital media graduates work in film, social media analytics, public relations (I’ll add PR has experienced a 52% job growth rate over the past five years), marketing, project management and more! How is this less important or less valued than balancing equations in an accounting book? I have nothing against the accounting profession at all, I am merely posing the question; in changing my majors, how did I go from land owner to peasant, in the class system of yesterday, when I work just as hard and do just as well academically as I did doing a different major?


I’m calling it, there is so much judgement when it comes to what we study at university. It isn’t easy to earn a place in a higher education institution, we fight against numbered ATAR requirements which act as invisible dragons who guard seats in a lecture theatre with an inherent maliciousness. The weapons we use to fight with are called rankings and we use them against each other. The day we arrive at university we are ranked again. This time, it’s a social hierarchy, but we aren’t ranked from within. In my experience (and if you disagree, please leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments), so much of this stigma comes from outside of university, often it comes from people who have never even interacted with a tertiary education institution.

I consider myself lucky now to be strong enough to look past negative remarks about my degree. If I’d had this experience and mentality back in high school, who knows? Maybe I’d be almost finished a Bachelor of Primary Education by now. But I’m stoked to be studying what I do now, and I’ve learned that I need to make choices in my life that are right for me, regardless of what people I care about say.

A Final Note

I detest being asked about my grades. It’s nobody’s business. It’s never “do you enjoy your degree?”/”what did you learn this week?”/”tell me about your assessment”. All people want are the tiny numbers at the end. Sure, they’re important. I work hard to get decent grades and I take pride in them, but those numbers are not what defines my degree. Nor do they define me.



Public Relations: Summary

Because I detest taking notes and love blogging, I figured that posting my summary on WordPress (& adding gifs) would be a good way for me to retain the information I will need to do well in my public relations exam.

Week 1: What is PR?

Types of Persuasive PR Campaigns

  • Political (candidate/issue focused); NOT propaganda
  • Commercial (e.g. a company launches a CSR program)
  • Reputational (e.g. crisis management, corporate advertising – NOT brand/product advertising)
  • Public Awareness/Educational (e.g. drink driving campaigns, organised lobbying)
  • Social Action Campaigns (long-term rather than short-term)

Defining Public Relations

  • It’s NOT marketing


advertising v pr
Tench & Yeomans 2014
  • Public Relations: Sustained effort to maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.
  • Primary functions: research, image making, reputation management, counselling, early warning, interpreting, communication, negotiation, informing, education, issue/crisis management
  • Situational Roles: persuader, advocate, educator, crusader, information provider, reputation manager
  • Marketing PR: one small part of PR; but it supports marketing and sales objectives rather than reputational or relationship objectives. It focuses mainly on media publicity (earned media coverage) and only uses some methods and activities of PR.

Week 2: Propaganda & Persuasion, Ethics & PR

Key Figures in PR History

  • Bernays – his ideology was that of manipulating the masses through the use of propaganda in peacetime as well as war; engineering consent
  • Lee – he pushed organisations to be truthful and to choose policies the public will support, because if an organisation acts unethically the public will find out. This is more aligned with PR today than Bernays’ theory.


giphy (9).gif
Propaganda has negative connotations due to its wartime use. It’s still used today to spread faith to publics using incomplete, half-true or distorted information (image)
  • Propaganda: the deliberate attempt to shape the perception of consumers.
  • techniques:
    • assertion: fact given without proof, for example in advertisements, this product is the best compared to competitors.
    • glittering generalities: the use of words linked to values, even if they’re not linked to the idea itself. For example, using words like “honour” or “freedom” demands approval from an audience, in a manipulative tone, or glamourising war.
    • lesser of two evils: presenting an idea as the least offensive option of an inevitable decision
    • pinpoint the enemy : presenting an issue as black and white, and another party as ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’.
    • false dilemma: the omission of choices presented in an argument, presented as ‘us and the enemy’ and ignoring many other factors. Highly exaggerated.
    • bandwagon: everyone else is using this organisation, so why aren’t you?
    • name calling: the unwarranted use of words which carry a negative connotation, especially against a competitor or target.
    • card-stacking: only presenting the pros to an idea, not the cons, which impedes the judgement of consumers, or an imbalance of pros and cons.
    • Testimonials: people sharing biased stories

Modern use of Propaganda

Propaganda is sometimes used in social marketing campaigns for ‘good’ purposes. It manipulates society’s beliefs and behaviour for the greater goof, for example tobacco advertisements.

Public Relations & Propaganda (source: PRIA)

  • Similarities: powerful tools of communication with potential to do ‘good’ or ‘bad’; seek to shape perception and influence public opinion; use the mass media; targeted at specific audiences; results (hopefully) in people taking action; employ ‘spin‘ (a form of propaganda where a biased interpretation or argument is the basis for influencing public opinion).
  • Differences: PR uses truth because claims can be checked. It relies on facts and sometimes emotions to spread information, whereas propaganda’s philosophy is ‘us against them’. PR involves using two-way communication to build trust between an organisation and its publics, for mutual benefit. Propaganda is one-way and seeks to eliminate dissent.

5 Conditions of Persuasion PR (not propaganda)

  1. intent (to persuade)
  2. free will (audience is free to develop their own opinion)
  3. truth (can be fact-checked)
  4. autonomy of audience (can make own decision based on their opinion)
  5. communication ethics (truth, honesty, integrity; above and beyond the law)

Public Relations v Propaganda

  • Similarities:
    • both aim to persuade society, influence policies and perceptions, to some extent
    • can use the mass media as a means to do so
giphy (1).gif
PR and propaganda can be similar, but there are several key differences (source)
  • Differences
    • PR tells the whole truth, because of fact-checking, if nothing else, whereas propaganda tells the truth in a more selective manner.
    • PR communicates between an organisation and its publics and stakeholders; propaganda has an ‘us vs them’ philosophy and presents the opposite view as the only alternative and/or the enemy.
    • PR is two-way, sustained communication; propaganda is one-way

Factors affecting Persuasion

Much of PR activity is designed to enhance the credibility of an organisation. Aristotle proclaimed that communication consists of:

  • Ethos: the character of the speaker. Do they hold authority? How do we know? For example, if a man wearing a white coat speaks, we assume he is intelligent and has authority in the area.
  • Logos: the nature of the message. What is being said? How much potential is there for feedback and interaction?
  • Pathos: the attitude of the audience. How much attitude do you have to change? This attitude may stem from the speaker’s character (ethos).

Ethical & Legal Considerations

  1. A practitioner’s obligation to the law comes before his obligations to clients or employers.
  2. Communication between a practitioner and client are considered confidential (on a general scale), but are not privileged in a court of law.
  • Legal Considerations
    • Appropriation: use of finds without permission or without disclosure (may be public funds)
    • Libel: slander/defamation on another’s reputation
    • I.P.: who owns the rights to a work?
    • Truth: false/misleading information
    • Lobbying: influencing the thinking of legislators/other officials through misleading statements, sources without permission or vested interests.
giphy (2).gif
Don’t do illegal shit okay? And be nice 🙂 (source)


  • Truthfulness: commitment to honesty
  • Authenticity: personal/professional integrity
  • Respect: for the audience, and the rights of all stakeholders
  • Equity: fairness rather than manipulation
  • Social Responsibility: Awareness of activity on broader society

Week 3: PR Theories

1.Why do we study theories?

  • Understand a field
  • Predict potential outcomes

2.Theories of Communication

  • Communication Model
com model.JPG
Tench & Yeomans 2014
  • Public Relations Hierarchy of Effects Model
  1. Formulating Message
  2. Disseminating Message
  3. Receiving Message
  4. Comprehending Message
  5. Change Attitude
  6. Change Behaviour
  • Situational Theory
    • Publics: people impacted by an organisation, whether they realise it or not.
      • Latent: groups which face a problem due to an organisation’s actions but are unaware of it
      • Aware: groups recognise a problem exists
      • Active: groups that organise and discuss action against a problem

3. Theories of Receiver Response

  • Social exchange theory
    • Hormans (1958): social behaviour of humans during economic transactions.
      • Social relationships involve the exchange of ‘resources’ (which are not necessarily money; they can be status, love, information, time etc.)
giphy (11).gif
How do humans behave in transactions? source
  • Social learning theory
    • We learn through copying the behaviour of others
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (EXAM QUESTION)
source: Boundless
  • Elaboration Likelihood Model
    • Ability & motivation to comprehend material
    • Central route: ability/motivation to understand is high, close attention paid to message content
    • Peripheral route: low ability/motivation. Receiver focuses on peripheral cues more than the actual message content.
Elaboration Likelihood Model (summarised). Source: commons
  • Agenda Setting Theory
    • Media agenda
    • Policy agenda
    • Corporate agenda
    • Public agenda
      • the latter is influenced heavily by the former three

Theories of Practice

  • Four Models of PR (NOT an evolution) EXAM QUESTION
4 models of pr.JPG
Tench & Yeomans 2014
  • Systems Theory
    • We don’t live in a vacuum; organisations are dynamic, they can open and close and thus have a significant impact on all sorts of other organisations, publics and stakeholders. Interaction with publics is essential for business survival.
giphy (12).gif
An organisation communicating with its publics = relo goals ❤ ❤ (source: giphy)

Week 4: Planning, Research & Stakeholders

1.Why is planning important?

  • PR Planning
    • focuses effort
    • improves effectiveness
    • encourages forward-thinking
    • minimises mishaps
    • demonstrates value for money
  • Elements of Planning
    • research (situation analysis)
    • set aims and objectives
    • identify publics
    • messages/content
    • strategy and tactics
    • timescales and budgets (incl. budgets)
    • evaluation and review
  • Strategic PR Planning Phases (Smith 2009)
  1. Formative Research
  2. Strategy
  3. Tactics
  4. Evaluative Research

2.Formative Research

  • formative research
    • reduce uncertainties in decision-making
    • guide communication planning
    • justify choices in planning
    • open up new opportunities
    • persuade senior management to allocate resources
  • Types of Research (EXAM QUESTION)
    • formative: before and during research
    • summative (evaluative): after research
  • Analysing the situation
    • explain WHY something is happening
    • why has it happened? Why is it important?
  • External Environment
    • macro environment: organisation has no control e.g. government, technology, social trends
    • task environment: forces the organisation interacts with (and may have control over) e.g. suppliers, buyers, competitors, regulators
  • Analysing the organisation
    • internal environment: vision, mission, performance, resources
    • public perception: reputation, visibility
    • external environment: competitors, opponents, supporters
      • SWOT analysis can be used
  • Issues management index
    • map of impact v probability
Issues Management Index (Slowikowski 2017)

Step 1: analyse situation

Step 2: analyse organisation

3.Targeting Audiences & Stakeholders (SHORT ANSWER QUESTION)

  • Audience: receivers of messages; can be active or passive
  • Stakeholders: have an interest in organisation; may or may not be publics
  • Publics: impacted by an organisation’s activities; can be latent, aware or active


  • Stakeholder Mapping: examines level of interest v power of stakeholders
stakeholder mapping.JPG
Slowikowski 2017
  • Process theory dissected (EXAM QUESTION)
    • Stakeholders
      • categorise based on steps 1 and 2 of formative research
      • both internal and external audiences
    • Publics
      • determine category of public (latent, aware, active) based on awareness and involvement
    • Prioritise & Profile
      • using demographic, relationship to organisation, geographic, media use, motivation (rational or emotional?) and power

Week 5: Creativity

  • Output: measured (e.g. the reach was 1.8 million) EXAM QUESTION
  • Outcome: more general (e.g. the campaign changed the conversation about organic food) EXAM QUESTION
Be creative. It’s lit (source)
  • Developing creative ideas
    • Creativity is about free-thinking and inspiration
    • Get a group together, allow time, get away from the office, warm up, ban negativity, say ‘what else?’
    • Campaign ideas cannot be effectively tested
    • Wordplay
    • Impact
    • Soon
    • Extremes
    • Rest
    • Modify
    • Audience
    • Now
  • Principles of Creative Behaviour
    • Surround yourself with inspiration
    • make time
    • daydream
    • look, listen, ask questions
    • take risks
    • if something makes sense it is not a new idea (Deasley 2016)

Week 6: Media Relations & Interactive Media

Media Relations

  • What is media relations?
    • managing relationships (media as gatekeeper), i.e. press releases, press conferences, with writers, editors and producers
  • Mistakes in writing which fails to persuade
    • emphasis on company
    • all features, no benefits
    • fails to say ‘what’s in it for me?’
    • too much technical jargon
    • redundant/over-used words
    • no call to action
    • not necessarily addressing target audience
    • failure to nail down message
    • poor grammar
  • Who are the media?
    • they have a ‘news sense’; they know what appeals to their audience and how to get your message across
giphy (1).gif
the media know how to get your content to your audience (source)
  • Relationship Rules (build rapport with journalists to get media coverage)
    • send them good (newsworthy) content
    • don’t pitch ‘advertising’
    • don’t annoy them
    • know which outlets share a newsroom so you don’t call a place twice
    • popularity is based on the newsworthiness of your content
  • What journalists will NOT do:
    • publish poor grammar
    • contact you if you don’t share contact details
    • bow into incentives
    • free advertising
    • stretch deadlines for you
  • Media Relations Rules

1.Be newsworthy: Be relevant, don’t create  a wave, catch a wave. Be innovative and different. Match your story to the media outlet

2. Be relevant: Find an overlap in what you want to say and what they’re interested in (i.e. relevance)

3. Become a media know-it-all: Scope; employers desire knowledge of all forms of media

4. Be willing to flex: Influence the media agenda (the influencers), think outside the square and be different

5. Go old-school: Send gifts, form relationships over coffee or via a phone call rather than an email

6. Be tailored: Be known for the right reasons, personalised communication, have a plan, send relevant material

7. Make it easy: Give material to support media release, edited properly, photos etc.

8. Be an elephant: Build relationships with journalists, not media outlets.

Interactive Media

  • Digital media and internet access is growing exponentially esp. mobile access
  • A digital divide is thus establishing itself
  • Digital natives EXAM QUESTION
    • generation which has grown up immersed in the digital age
    • a subset of this is Gen-C; constantly connected and their social status is predominantly online-based
  • Digital immigrants EXAM QUESTION
    • generation which needed to learn about new digital technologies from the outside.
  • Digital media channels: impact half of all PR work today; this number is only going to increase. Digital media can be used across all stages of the PESO model.


The PESO model segments communication channels (source: Iterative Marketing)


Week 7: PR Issues & Crisis Management

Issues Management (EVOLVING)

  • Issues management
    • things happening in the macro-environment which may impact upon your industry or organisation
  • Examples of issues today
    • growing demand for aged care
    • obesity
    • world hunger
    • climate change
  • Evolutionary sequence of public policy issue
    • ‘tipping point’ occurs when an ISSUE becomes a CRISIS
  • Issue v Crisis Management
    • Crisis management: dealing with a sudden adverse event which fractures a company’s operation and poses an immediate threat to survival (e.g. pneumonia). Crisis management is reactive (after) and tactical (now).
    • Issue management: evolving public policy debate; over time this shapes the way a company is permitted to operate (e.g. cold). If unmanaged, all issues have the potential to become crises. Issue management is proactive (before) and strategic (future). “Threat” or “risk” indicate an issue.
    • Issue v Crisis examples: EXAM QUESTION
      • share market fall = crisis
      • food poisoning = crisis
      • threat of product tampering = issue
      • waste disposal of nuclear = issue
      • increase in cancer = issue
      • natural disaster = crisis
      • child labour = issue
      • endangered Barrier Reef = issue
    • Functions of issues management
      • anticipate and analyse issues
      • develop organisational position on issues
      • identify key publics whose support is needed (who are your allies?)
      • identify desired behaviour of key publics (change how/what they consume)
    • Coalitions
      • stronger than allies. Power stems from here
      • 1: for profit (business, industry groups)
      • 2: not for profit (NGOs, academia, media): has the strongest voice, post digital-age
      • 3: government (regulators, ministers, legislators
    • Effect of context on issue development
      • issues management is about PACE and EXTENT of change than the FACT of change.
      • context explains why issues have impact.

Crisis Management (SUDDEN)

  • a crisis is bigger than a problem; a major occurrence with a POTENTIALLY negative outcome. It disrupts normal business and can threaten the existence of an organisation.
  • 2 forms
    • 1: cobra; ‘sudden’ crisis
    • 2: python; ‘slow-burning’ crisis
  • 8 Types of crisis EXAM QUESTION
    • 1. natural disaster
    • 2. technological (e.g. car design)
    • 3. confrontation
    • 4. malevolence (e.g. product tampering)
    • 5. skewed management values (e.g. sexual favours for promotion at work)
    • 6. deception
    • 7. management misconduct
    • 8. business & economic (e.g. 2008 GFC)
  • Where do crises come from?
    • 50% come from products being ingested
    • disclosure of confidential records (through poor disposal or theft)
    • around 25% are committed by dissatisfied employees.
  • What are the costs of a crisis? EXAM QUESTION
    • financial
    • management distraction
    • employee distraction/concern for job
    • political backlash
    • legal actions
    • customer reactions (i.e. loss in market share)
    • market confidence and reputation
  • Crisis management is reactive, but planning strategic activity is still important; PR team should be ready to act if a crisis occurs
  • Crisis communication process (good communication is essential in all steps)
    • 1. detection
    • 2. prevention/preparation
    • 3. containment
    • 4. recovery
    • 5. learning (ensure crisis will not be repeated)

Week 8: Consumer Public Relations

Consumer PR

  • Consumer PR
    • change and develop attitudes and behaviours of consumers
    • creates a favourable sales environment
    • directed at conscious and subconscious consumer levels
    • steps to increase connections with customers (visibility, engagement)
    • connecting with third parties to back up the brand (paid = sponsorship, unpaid = blogger etc.)
  • Key challenges of consumer PR
    • a good PR campaign cannot overcome a bad product
    • consumer and the media can see through vague or misleading claims

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)

  • Public relations and advertising intersect  some areas, including corporate advertising and publicity.
    • corporate advertising = building up a brand rather than a product
  • Marketing communications toolbox
    • advertising
    • direct response
    • instore & POS
    • sponsorship & events
    • sales promotion (short term)
    • online/digital
    • personal selling


Sponsorship is used to build relationships in PR (source)
  • marketing/communications/PR activity; financial or in-kind (provision of non-monetary resources – very common) support
  • used to build relationships e.g. McDonald’s and Little Athletics
  • what is a sponsor?
    • person who vouches/is responsible for something
    • person/entity who finances media time
    • person who makes a pledge on behalf of an individual
  • reasons for sponsoring
    • support products and services
    • build media interest
    • reinforce corporate identity
    • goodwill
    • staff engagement
    • lobbying
  • Features of sponsorship
    • passion marketing
      • added value, memorable
      • power of association
    • image transfer potential
      • positive connotation of sponsorship
    • integrative communication
      • condensed strategic window, rather than a wide audience like marketing uses

Week 9: CSR & Employee Engagement

giphy (2).gif
Businesses must consider CSR in their daily practice (source)

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • CSR defined
    • a genuine attempt to build meaningful relationships. To be effective, this must be a part of everyday business, engage all stakeholders, make socially responsible decisions, be ethical and obey the law.
  • Why is CSR gaining attention?
    • Government failure (lack of funding)
    • rising community expectation of business
    • globalisation
    • information proliferation
    • environmental awareness
  • Impact of a business on the environment
    • 1. basic (expected; e.g. tax, obey the law)
    • 2. organisational (e.g. minimise negative affects)
    • 3. societal (responsible for a healthy society, e.g. remove social problems)
  • Why practice CSR?
    • it’s expected
    • improve stakeholder relationships
    • attract investors
    • it’s efficient
    • company of choice for employees
    • improved employee commitment
    • high productivity
    • customer loyalty
    • long-term profitability
    • economic foundation for community
    • reduce risk
  • CSR Pyramid
source: Pink Golfer
  • CSR & Public Relations
    • CSR = a dimension of PR
    • 4 areas:
      • 1. environment
      • 2. workplace
      • 3. community
      • 4. marketplace
    • different ‘domains’
      • community support
      • diversity
      • employee support
      • environment
      • product
      • non-domestic operations
  • CSR Initiatives EXAM QUESTION
    • cause promotion: provides funds/in kind resources to raise awareness of an issue
    • cause-related marketing: links monetary or in kind donations to the sales of a product
    • social marketing (behaviour change): uses business resources to develop a behaviour change campaign
    • philanthropy (don’t expect things in return): corporation makes direct contribution to a charity
    • employee engagement: support and encourage employees to partake in charity work
    • socially responsible business practices: a business adopts these in their day to day operations

Community Relations

  • Community relations defined: planned, active and continued participation in the community. There is a link between community relations, reputation and financial performance.
  • 3 aspects of community relations
    • 1. organisations can operate with the support of the community
    • 2. CSR programs benefit wider community
    • 3. direct participation
  • Elements of a successful community involvement plan
    • company
    • employees
    • community
  • Examples of community relations
    • sponsorship
    • donations
    • awards
    • volunteering/equipment loans
    • training/seminars

Internal Audiences/Employee Engagement

  • formal and informal communication are both crucial in an organisation
  • goals of employee communication
    • motivate employees
    • encourage high performance
    • limit misunderstandings
    • align staff to the organisation’s goals
    • build trust
    • provide important information
  • Techniques to encourage employee engagement
    • preferential treatment
    • reward program
    • awards/presentations
    • employee volunteering
    • community membership

Week 10: B2B PR; Public Affairs/Lobbying


  • PR is targeted at intermediaries along the supply chain (i.e. another business) rather than the end of it.
  • Core principles of B2B PR
    • detailed understanding of marketplace
    • application of products and services
    • dynamics of buying process
    • must understand characteristics of marketplace
      • small number of buying publics
      • specific application/end use of products
      • defined product/service in terms of technical specifications and legal/trading restrictions
  • Traditional PR methods
    • trade journal: trade journalists have a thorough understanding of trade in their area.
      • Managers/professionals tend to read titles relevant to their trade
      • loyalty of trade press is an asset to B2B cycle
    • advertorials
      • frequently used in B2B PR
      • do not have the credibility of news material
    • direct response
      • sales rep
      • online
    • websites
      • digital and interactive media
    • events
      • interactive media, real-time
    • sales promotion
      • vouchers, short term incentives etc.
giphy (4).gif

Public Affairs

  • Public affairs defined: seeks to influence public policy via lobbying and the media.
  • Lobbying is one key component of public affairs
    • aims to defeat, amend or oppose legislation
  • communication is the key intermediary between business and government
  • Scope of public affairs
    • matters of public policy; including
      • businesses talking to the government about brexit or food labelling
      • consumer-facing companies e.g. The Body Shop try to stop cosmetic testing on animals.

Week 11: Corporate Reputation & Identity, Corporate Communication

Corporate PR

  • PR is mostly a corporate activity; PR manager answers to senior executive rather than the head of a product division
  • Most PR is not marketing PR

Corporate Identity

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Corporate identity is vital in today’s market (source)
  • who are we?
  • what are we?
  • how does an organisation present itself?
  • Comparing identity and image
    • identity: sum of all the ways a company chooses to identify itself
    • image: what the company looks like NOW.
  • Visual identity
    • corporate name
    • logo
    • colour palette
    • font type
    • slogan or tagline
  • Aligning corporate identity with visual/graphic design
    • catalyst for change
    • important communication vehicle
    • fashionable
  • Dimensions of corporate identity
    • structure
    • strategy
    • culture
    • behaviour
    • design
    • communication
    • industry identity
  • Comparing image & reputation
    • image: NOW, multiple facets
    • reputation: over time
      • the biggest determinant of reputation is BEHAVIOUR
  • Corporate reputation
    • cannot be manufactured
    • built from interactions
    • behaviour far outweighs communication
giphy (3).gif
Behaviour is the single largest determinant of a corporation’s reputation (source)
  • Factors used to manage reputation
    • innovation
    • global competitiveness
    • people management
    • long-term investment
    • social responsibility
    • product quality
    • use of assets

Corporate Communication

  • Difference between marketing and corporate communication
    • Marketing
      • targets consumer
      • developed by brand managers
      • defined channels, controlled communication
      • positions a product
    • Corporate Communication
      • targets all stakeholders
      • developed at the corporate level
      • multiple channels
      • positions an entire organisation
  • Corporate communication
    • building positive relationships and reputation; refers to communication with political, community, financial, media, competitor, suppliers and internal publics.
    • Can be internal (employees, shareholders) or external (media, government, industry).
  • Total Communications Process
    • Primary: effects of products, staff, behaviour
    • Secondary: controlled forms of communication (i.e. marketing promotions)
    • Tertiary: what others say; word of mouth, media commentary etc.

Week 12: Evaluating Public Relations

  • Why conduct evaluation?
    • answers questions about time, effort and resources
    • justifies investment
    • should be used for learning
  • Evaluation should:
    • check against objectives
    • be visible for clients
  • Types of evaluation:
    • formative
      • how activities might be improved DURING the campaign
    • summative
      • measured at the END of a campaign
  • Evaluative criteria
    • criteria (metrics): standards of measurement to assess the outcome of a program
      • awareness
      • acceptance
      • action
      • unplanned results
  • Model of evaluation
    • inputs: (formative) appropriateness of medium and message
    • outputs: (F/S) physical, easy to measure e.g. number of media impressions
    • out-take: (F/S) reactions, harder to measure e.g. increased awareness or behavioural change
    • out-come: (summative) key performance indicators, impact and effect of communication
giphy (6).gif
Evaluation is essential in Public Relations (source)
  • When to evaluate?
    • 1. Pretesting (preparation), set benchmarks
    • 2. Progress reports (implementation; WIP report), preliminary evaluation with modification if necessary)
    • 3. Final Evaluation reports (impact), summative report, impact and outcome of KPI’s.
  • Reporting to a client (summative)
    • return on objectives
    • project success
    • budget reconciliation
    • head hours
    • timeline
    • key learnings: improvements and recommendations
  • Associations set up to evaluating PR & Communications
    • AMEC: Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication
  • Barriers to evaluation
    • attitude
    • time
    • cost
    • resources
    • lack of education
    • fear of being proven wrong


Slowikowski, S 2017, Public Relations Concepts, MARK221 (weeks 1-13), University of Wollongong, Autumn 2017

Tench, R and Yeomans, L 2014, Exploring Public Relations, 3rd edn, Pearson, Harlow, UK

For further references, see hyperlinks 🙂

Graphic Disney Princess Photography Raises Awareness for Social Issues

Disney princesses have long been used in art as a symbol of ‘happily ever after’, but a New York photography student has taken this to a new level. The likes of Ariel, Belle and Cinderella live in perfect lands, but what happens when we pull them out of our children’s bedtime stories and place them in modern society?

This is the question posed by 20-year-old Shannon Dermody. She used a Disney princess theme to shoot photographs representing contemporary social issues, such as domestic violence, pollution, police brutality, rape, heroin abuse, tobacco addiction, suicide and alcoholism.

I tied in fantasy with real issues to show that these can happen to anyone . . . People need to realize this is happening in the world, even if it doesn’t affect you.”

Belle’s relationship with the Beast in this image represents domestic violence (source: Shannon Dermody Photography)
Ariel represents the impact of pollution on sea-life and waterways (source: Shannon Dermody Photography)

Dermody is a student at the Antonelli Institute near Philadelphia. Her inspiration was drawn from a drawing she saw of a princess beaten up. The caption read “when did he stop treating you like a princess?”. This was an impact which hit her hard; an impact she wanted to create through photography.

The images have had a positive reception, with many ex-addicts reaching out to Dermody via social media to thank her for sharing awareness of these modern issues (which are becoming increasingly common) and for making them feel “less alone“.

A mild negative feedback loop occurred, with Dermody criticised for a lack of diversity in models and for including police brutality as a social issue, as well as the ‘disturbing’ nature of the images. She isn’t worried, however, concluding that art is supposed to make people feel a certain way and some respondents just don’t know how to express that. Dermody hopes to become an art therapist after college.

I think it’s brilliant that she has used fairytales which traditionally fall into the ‘white picket fence’ category of perfect, to explore ideas about these social issues and reduce the stigma surrounding them. Drop any thoughts in the comments!


SEO Basics

SEO: what is it and why do you need to know about it?

Let’s start with the basics.

Effective use of SEO will rank your web page higher on a Google web search (source: Community Management)

SEO = search engine optimisation. It’s a collection of strategies, tactics and techniques designed to earn a high ranking position in search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo), which will drive more viewers to your site. Fewer than 10% of consumers will advance to the second page of a Google search; even fewer will continue past that point. A ton of internet traffic comes from search engines. This makes it pivotal to ensure your page has a decent ranking – who wants to be invisible on the internet?

Over 90% of internet users will not venture past ‘page 1’ of results on a Google search (source: Proto Fuse)

How to Implement SEO on your Blog

Now that we’ve established a brief definition of SEO and discussed its value, we need to figure out how to incorporate SEO theory for our own benefit.

There is a variety of software which exists for the purpose of search engine optimisation. Popular sources include SEO Powersuite and Advanced Web Ranking. Alternatively, if you upgrade to a paid WordPress account, SEO options become available – but all of that costs money (which, if you’re first-world poor like me, is a fairly significant barrier). Instead I’m going to mention some tips on boosting SEO without having to purchase any software.

1.Use simple URLs

A URL is a “uniform resource locator“; the ‘address’ for a website. To be SEO-friendly, a URL should be very simple (i.e. easy to read for both humans and search engine algorithms) and state what the post is about.

Good example: https://thisisclairesworld.wordpress.com/post/how-to-optimise-seo

Bad example: https://thisisclairesworld.wordpress.com/post/9834

You can change this by going to the ‘More Options’ menu under ‘Post Settings’. Type your desired URL in the text-box which says ‘Slug’.

Alternatively, you can visit the permalink page under settings.

Adjusting your permalinks is an effective way to boost SEO (source: WP Beginner)

2. Use Categories and Tags

Sorting posts into categories and tags makes your site much easier to navigate. Additionally, categories and tags are what search engines use to understand what you’re writing about.

  • Categories are a method of grouping posts which are attached to your blog. For example, on this blog, I have a category for each of my different subjects, and another for personal posts, for example ‘digital media’ or ‘book reviews’.
  • Tags are more specific keywords which are attached to a specific post, for example ‘SEO’, ‘how-to’ or ‘blogging’.
source: pearsonified

An effective way to tag is to conduct a keyword search (try wordtracker or Google Adwords), to find out what is trending (what people are searching for). Additionally, try different variation of the same keywords. For example, if you are writing a post on writers, you may choose to tag ‘writer’, ‘writers’ and ‘writing’, to cover as many potential web engine searches as possible.

3. Interlink your posts

They call in the INTERnet; “inter” as in between. People click between sources quickly and compulsively – so why not keep them on your site? Linking previously published posts to your new ones will encourage a boost in page views, increase your SEO score and keep people on your site for longer. Just copy the URL, highlight the phrase you wish to hyperlink and hit Ctrl+V. Click on edit after the hyperlink appears and you can play around with how you want your link to appear (see below). Hint: by ticking ‘open link in new tab’, your viewer is less likely to leave your site, or that particular page at least.

Linking previous posts to the one you are writing is a way to boost SEO (source: WP Beginner)

4. Show an excerpt of your post, rather than the whole text, on the front page

This will make your pages load faster (because there’s less material) and increase page views, because followers will not be able to view the whole post in their reader and thus will be forced to visit your site to see the whole article. Search engines may find ‘whole posts’ to be duplicate content, so this also helps your SEO score to increase.

Now get out there & get famous!

source: giphy

That’s it for my (extremely) simplified version of search-engine optimisation. There are an infinite number of theories out there; their respective validity is entirely dependent upon your blog style and content – so get researching!


We are Suffocated by the Capitalist Internet

The exponentially increasing role of technology in our lives has been criticized as long as it has existed. For example, Socrates feared the advance of writing when it first emerged. The perspective from a group of dissenters whom spoke at a conference on reinventing the internet isn’t your typical techno-phobic “back in my day/we knew how to live before the internet/brainwashing young minds/young people won’t get off their smartphones”. Rather, they are a group of technophiles dissenting against the internet’s design, rather than its existence. Their blueprint for the ‘perfect’ internet is that in which nodes can communicate with one another directly and not be forced to go through a “data-sucking corporate hub“.

Astra Taylor wrote a book entitled The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age (2014). Whilst Taylor appreciates the connectivity which social media and search engine technology provides, she acknowledges the “shadow narrative” which is being written simultaneously. She argues against the so-called ‘independent‘, ‘democratic’, ‘utopian’ internet design. Key takeaways from Taylor’s argument include:

  • If an online product, service or platform is ‘free’, you are the product.
  • Companies are profiting from our personal data. This links to the rise of the ‘surveillance state’; the government (internationally), corporations and research companies harvest data we give ‘willingly’ (or unknowingly?) and use it for purposes with questionable ethic. We aren’t ‘customers’ of social media platforms, we are the merchandise. We create value for corporations, not content for social media platforms.
Corporations harvest gigantic profits from ‘free’ internet activities (source)

Our thoughts, friendships and basic urges are processed by computer algorithms and sold to advertisers. The machines may soon know more about us than we know about ourselves (Achenback 2015).

  • The ownership (which is predominantly corporate) of digital platforms is growing steadily towards monopolisation 
  • Because we are constantly connected to the internet, we are rarely fully present in one single place. This is a result of the growth of the attention economy. This serves as a massive opportunity for corporations to mine material and capital from our private experiences and emotions.
  • The erosion of privacy: Edward Snowden, an ex-NSA whistle-blower, revealed the ability and tendency for the government to track everything online.
  • The paranoia of machines replacing human jobs, and eventually (potentially) enslaving us in our own creations in a much-anticipated, yet feared, phenomenon known as ‘technological singularity‘.

“The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings.” Pope Francis

  • There ought to be more (openly) government-supported internet platforms, to move away from corporations having monopoly.
  • Information does not want to be free, it wants to be paid for (Taylor 2014).

The internet, although designed for democracy, has become a platform to generate profit. Capitalism surrounds this ideal like a python wrapping itself tightly around its prey. Humanists are those who feel that technological interest has surpassed human needs and nature. Humanists are generally associated with technophobes – but this is not the case. The dissenting group discussed in this post identify as humanists, yet in the sense that the internet needs to be redesigned to better represent and support humanity and democracy.

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The underground capitalist system governs today’s internet (source)

They want to go back to the basics – to a world where the interests of humans come before robots, algorithms and the needs of Silicon Valley (Achenback 2015).

Dissenting from the current internet environment is no simple task. Artificial intelligence, machinery and social networking is a permanently embedded structure in society.

Jaron Lanier is another dissenter. He is a designer of computer games and a self-proclaimed humanist. His view is that all internet users essentially work for platforms such as Google and Facebook; our private lives are transformed into content which these corporations can monetise. He argues that the internet’s current flawed design is a result of humanity’s collective choice; the decision to trade our privacy for internet service.

“For the last twenty years, I have found myself on the inside of a revolution, but on the outside of its resplendent dogma. Now that the revolution has not only hit the mainstream, but bludgeoned it into submission by taking over the economy, it’s probably time for me to cry out my dissent more loudly than I have before.” (Lanier 2000)

Douglas Rushkoff, another humanist, theorises that everything went wrong back in the middle-ages when currency was centralised. He examines how humans are content rather than creators in the internet environment, and the need for a discussion on how humans should be fitting in the ‘new’ economy.

How do we define the digital environment? (source: izquotes)

The digital environment is. It exists in its own right; we have gifted it that power. It operates under the disguise of freedom, but is underpinned by a dark capitalist shadow. Technology is not the enemy; the enemies are sinister surveillance and sly capitalism. Social media is not the problem. Sharing personal information online is not the problem. The system which chooses to abuse this environment for its own self-interest is the problem. This is an important distinction to make as the internet’s capacity and influence continues to grow and develop into the future.

Drop any comments below


Obtaining Consent from an Invisible Audience

Obtaining consent is an ethical requirement of undertaking research, yet there is a gap in research ethics in terms of collecting online data. My research project (see my proposal here) involves the mass collection of tweets containing “#feminism” over three days to issue map feminism online. Unlike most other students in BCM212, who are setting surveys to collect data, setting a simple consent disclaimer is not something I can realistically achieve. The vast majority of my respondents will not be aware their data is being used for my research.

giphy-downsized (2).gif

The line between public and private data has been fading rapidly since the birth of big data in 2012. Therefore it is difficult to set an ethical standard in collecting online data. There is no industry standard, so I have used this guide on ethics from the Association of Internet Researchers to draw my own strategy.

I will not store, nor publish, any data which identifies individuals. I will be focusing on collective mass data to investigate attitudes toward feminism. I will post examples below. This is for three primary reasons:

  1. Protect the identity of minors;
  2. Protect the identity of those who come from a sensitive cultural context, or those who may find themselves in such an environment in the future; and
  3. Protect the identity of those who simply do not wish to be exposed.

In addition, if you see any aspect of my research which you feel identifies you in some way you do not appreciate, drop me a line in the comments and I will fix it for you. Alternatively you can reach me via Twitter (@claireee096) or via email (cf207@uowmail.edu.au).

Examples of Data Collected

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Although it is unrealistic to aim to reach everybody in the feminist conversation on Twitter, I will regularly post updates on the thread so that anyone can keep up with my research.

Thanks for your interest in my research!


Manufacturing Ignorance

Agnotology, or “the study of how ignorance is deliberately produced“, has played a huge role in various political, health and social campaigns. It transfigures fact into doubt and reduces the perceived legitimacy of scientific facts.

The first wide-spread instance of this occurred in the 1950’s when scientists began to publish strong evidence of a link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer (source). A journalist, Alistair Cooke, predicted this would be the end of the tobacco industry. This is because largely, prior to this instance, gatekeepers (the fourth estate) played a dominant role in publishing facts and quality, accurate information. However the public relations team working for the interests of the tobacco industry manufactured doubt of these facts and thus post-poned the conclusion that tobacco was harmful for decades.

The blueprint:

  1. The industry appeared to engage in high level research to reassure the public
  2. The ‘question’ was over-complicated and intended to sow doubt; lung cancer could have numerous causes.
  3. Undermine serious research; it was criticised as “anecdotal”, “irrelevant” or “statistical”
  4. Normalisation; the tobacco industry would insist the issue was “stale news”; why can’t the media focus on what “really matters”?

The practice of agnotology was officially named in 1995 and the techniques used in the tobacco example have been exploited ever since. Recent examples include Donald Trump’s presidency, and Brexit.


Scientists have recently dubbed the current era as “post-truth” (ibid). This means that the emphasis on information creation and intake is no longer on rationality, but on sensationalism.

Agnotology looks at both what we don’t know, and why we aren’t supposed to know it. As the digital age moves forward and the fourth estate continues to retreat, the diminished presence of gatekeepers and fact checking in news media presents dangers to the current social paradigm. As citizen journalism and active culture emerges, more issues with truth and issues with agnotology are likely to arise; perhaps we will see a return in demand for quality gatekeepers in information publication.