Master's Dissertation and the Increasingly Vast Communications Word Cloud

So you've gone through one full semester and part of a second and you have been exposed to theories and case studies and group projects and brainstorming. You have gotten excited over parts of a module and depressed over an entire module and it all leads up to one defining moment.

The selection of a dissertation topic.

It is probably the single most stressful moment of your academic career. And while you know you must select a topic that you are interested in or passionate about, there is also the other side - how much literature is available around your passion? Do you have a firm jump off point? What is already known about it - where are the areas of debate? And of great importance to an already stressed out student - what are the likely problems one can anticipate in planning to explore this topic?

My dissertation word cloud
There are a lot of ideas swirling around my head - a couple core concepts that I am exploring. Getting feedback from others is always a great way of drilling down from the general to the specific. The communications word cloud is expanding every day, challenging established theories and creating new modes of doing things. It's exciting as a practitioner, and maddening as a student on the brink of selecting a topic for a Master's dissertation. My personal word cloud - my dissertation word cloud - looks like this, and I need to drill down and be both passionate and practical. Easier said than done.

I am still soliciting feedback and suggestions, based on the topics floating around there in my word cloud. I have been reading and contemplating and speculating and planning and lots of other -ings. It should be pretty demanding and exciting to say the least. But should also include tonnes of learning.

Lights. Camera. Fashion. And the evolution of media relations

Photo credit: AP Photo/Andrew Burton via Yahoo News
Hair. Makeup. Couture.
Press. Publicists. Bloggers.

New York Fashion Week is on and what I love about this is how the media landscape has changed from a few years ago to what it is now. Social media has changed the face of media relations across the PR industry. Gone are the days when having a by-line in a newspaper made you the most important dude to a PR exec. Now with a laptop and an opinion, you can catch the attention of PR teams, whose eyes now have to scan new forms of media to gauge opinions about their brands and to build their brands.

Photo credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer via Yahoo News
I love that Tumblr has sent 24 of its fashion bloggers to NYFW. Just regular people with a love for fashion, who have a great following and who have the power to influence their readers.Great strategy for Tumblr, which is a favourite platform for photogs and fashionistas.  One of their Tumblrs is only 16 years old - from Devon, England. She will be rubbing shoulders with Oscar de la Renta and top fashion editors, and "reporting" live from one of the premier fashion events in the world. A 16 year old can open up the world of high fashion to an audience that may yet be untapped by traditional media. It's pretty damn awesome.

Media ownership now goes way beyond conglomerates. It lies in the keyboards of the citizens of the world. Media relations strategies now have to include and consider social media influencers in promoting the personality and image of the brand - making brands so much more accessible to so many more people. It's really fantastic how quickly things have changed.

I regularly follow one of the 24 Tumblrs - Jessica Quirke - and she is having a remarkable experience. She and the 54,000 people who follow her religiously. Amazing.

Valentine's Day - 2011 style

I found this great video by the always great Socialnomics, and it was too cute not to share.

Also a rewind to the past.

Public Relations - Does it Make Cents?

While doing research on a project over the past week, I realised that the question of budgets for PR was a nebulous one in the literature. So of course I went to the real world via Twitter and the feedback was not that surprising.

In my own experience, over the course of a few different jobs in both the private and public sectors, the process around PR budgets varied. In one role, we had a flat budget annually. There was no negotiation - take it or leave it. Somehow we had to make this stretch across advertising, stakeholder engagement, CSR activities, internal comms activities.

Most of the time though, the budget process was simply around what I call "submit and pray". You planned the year's activities, plotted the financial resources required for said activities, submitted the budget and hoped to God the powers that be would see it your way. They often never did. Budgets came back slashed by 30, 40, 50 percent and still you were expected to make the organisation and its brand shine like a new shilling.

And between reponses from my Twitteratti like "what budget?", "PR what?" and "Budget? LMAO", I realised that the PR professional in many cases suffer the same fate I did, in that somehow the PR budget is at the bottom of the cash money food chain. Even in my last job, most of the money we eventually got, was pillaged to get advertising spend.

So what is the reason for this? Is PR still the bastard child of the organisational family? It really all comes down to how PR positions itself within the organisation and how valued it is, how valued its people are. It's a circle of life that starts with people and power and perceptions. Until those things are in alignment, then the tweets like "PR budgets exist?" will continue and then that is truly a blow to the work that we try to do.
Related Posts with Thumbnails