Archive | November, 2011

Practising Infographics

21 Nov

Creating infographics has become one of the most popular ways to illustrate information. Infographics are particularly useful to a PR professional when looking into good ways to present information to clients or for showing research results. With the introduction of big data being so prominent in modern day communications this simple and attractive way of demonstrating results is integral to including all the relevant information.

I have attempted to create my own inforgaphics using a free web tool called Many Eyes, this tool was fairly simple to use and publish the results but the options on how to present the information were limited. Here are the example infogrpahics I put together showing the usage of different social media platforms in the UK taken from data across one month.

The images show results for Facebook:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LinkedIn:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are far better examples of inforgraphics available online, all coming form online tools providing a more varied experience than the ones I have made from Many Eyes. The site visual.ly  looks promising in provding plenty of ways to produce a professional infographic, however the site is not available to use at present. Here’s an example of a detailed and mixed data infographic I have found (this is the type of infographic being used in the industry):

These infographics look professional and can be used in a business situation, I hope to be able to gain experience in using more technical methods to produce infographics in the near future as it is important for any PR student to look at new ways to present information. Lots of PR agency blogs feature relevant infographics and this helps them to show off their capabilities. One of the best things about infographics is that they are comprehensible throughout many different parts of the world and can be understood for many years in the future.

Original Ideas, Do They Grow on Trees?

7 Nov

Originality, creativity and success are attributes everybody hopes to embody at some point during their career or hobby. Within PR these qualities are very important to the development and admiration of the industry. Creativity is a key part of public relations and is exemplified in almost every piece of work produced for a client or project pitch, it is a quality that cannot be lacking in any practitioner in the field. However, creativity is different to originality, there are many debates surrounding the issue of originality. You can be creative in different ways but being original is rare or non-existent in some people’s views.

Can there ever be an original idea? I believe it depends on the way you look at the idea but in a basic sense, I don’t believe there is many (if any) totally original ideas. The creativity side appears when presenting an idea to others or when it is applied to real life. Most ideas are sprung from inspiration we find in other things we have seen, heard, touched, smelt or tasted even if this inspiration or application to another thought is sub concious. Humans are social animals and like to fit into groups, so it makes sense that we pick up on ideas from others, like them and then use them in a new way ourselves even if we are mostly unaware to this copy-cat behaviour. We all take part in collective behaviour to achieve a sense of belonging and this is how our ideas develop. For example, look at the fashion design industry there are seasonal trends featuring similar colours, patterns, styles etc. which are often brought about from previous design trends:

Louise Brooks: 1927 (Left)                                    Kate Moss: 2011 (Right)

The is not much difference in the design of these coats (except one is real fur and the other is fake… hopefully!) illustrating the similarities between eras in time and peoples ideas of what’s fashionable. Celebrity’s also become leaders in idea sharing and trend setting; they are innovators of fashion or whichever sector they’re involved in but are not totally original in their ideas.

People may develop, add to and transform an idea creatively but it will never be fully original despite sometimes being appreciated as so. The ability to use the internet to find trends and inspiration means the idea of originality is even less likely and even easier to be disproved. The internet provides a basis for us to search, use and interpret other peoples ideas which we then use for ourselves either in our own private thought development or through expression to other people; producing a ripple affect of ideas. Humans feed off each others inspirations and thoughts to produce better ideas, because of this combining our knowledge and thoughts is often the best recipe for success in the PR industry. There are different techniques practitioners use to share ideas with one another and one of the most popular is the brainstorm.

From my work placement at MediaCom I learnt that generally it is best to:

* Invite as many people a long to a brainstorm in order to evoke creativity, the diversity and sharing of all thoughts should return some creative and brilliant ideas.

* There needs to be an openness and willing to listen between participants with no judgement on people’s ideas; any idea is a good idea.

* There needs to be some direction of conversation, this should be planned prior to a brainstorming session by the leader of the exercise (this is usually the person benefiting from the brainstorming activity). Direction can be formed using direct questions, images, objects of relevance, associations etc.

* Eliminate all distractions.

* Sometimes inviting a selection of different ‘thinkers’ to a brainstorm is a good decision. For example, a leader, a reasoner, a creative, an analytical etc. are all different types of people who each bring something useful to the brainstorm environment.

Sharing information is in a sense the whole objective of a PR practitioners job. Through applying brainstorming and similar idea developing exercises e.g. experience days, the quality in campaigns can grow to become extremely successful. The ideas produced may not be original in a unique sense but they can be and often are creatively actioned through the use of  the media.

Publicity: “It’s a Game, My Hobby & My Way of Life”

6 Nov

…As the famous publicist; Max Clifford said, the profession has become a big part of a lot of PR practitioners lives. Publicity is a component of public relations and a very relevant one in today’s society in which what interests the public may not always be the public interest. Mark Borowski says; The publicist’s skill is to  pro-actively find, tell and sell the stories that make their clients news.” From a very early time publicity has been an essential component of the promotion industry, for example, Bernay’s and the ‘torches of freedom’ and P.T. Barnum with his circus promotions. Publicity has always been seen as controversial in an ethical sense. Gullible and vulnerable people have fallen fools to many publicity tricks in the past and the result of such communications is not always favourable to the public.

There are five suggested simple steps to becoming a responsible practitioner of publicity:

* To tell the truth

* To do no harm

* To do good

* To respect privacy

* To be fair and socially responsible.

These guidelines are a good basis to aid the ethical decisions of a publicist but often conflict when all are adhered to in practice. For example, you could be telling the truth but at the same time causing harm to a consumer, celebrity or company. Despite these blurs of ethics in publicity it still remains to be one of the most thought after and competitive sections of public relations and one that really interests me. It can be used for a lot of good in society and proves to be very effective.

To achieve success as a publicist it is very important to be creative and requires a lot of skill in determining the interests of a target public group in order to capture their attention. The PR stunt is one of the most effective forms of publicity, here are a few great examples from Taylor Herring PR:

The Peanut Protest. Mark McGowan pushes a peanut, using only his nose, from Goldsmiths College to 10 Downing Street in protest at his student debt. The two week journey across London in September 2003 drew massive media interest and culminated with McGowan delivering the nut to Prime Minister Tony Blair, asking him to accept it as payment for his debt.

Pink My Ride. To mark the launch of the Fiat 500 Pink – we worked with marketing agency Krow to win the car manafacturer a place in the record books by painting an entire vehicle in pink nail polish. The artist used 131 bottles of pink nail polish to turn a brand new Fiat 500 into a glossy pink ride. He lived and slept in a special studio where he completed the mammoth task which was broadcast over the internet by webcam.

car PR stunt

Fathers For Justice. Despite factional issues within their own organisation, the campaign group Father’s For Justice became famous for their headline grabbing tactics. Their supporters resorted to dramatic protest stunts, usually dressed as comic book superheroes. They frequently scaled public buildings, bridges and monuments – perhaps most famously Buckingham Palace.

Fathers For Justice

These are just a few of my favourites from the publicity stunt hall of fame Taylor Herring have provided, there are plenty more to look at!