PR: a licensed profession?

In any profession it is important to that others see you as credible and trustworthy in what you do. This should not be any different when it comes to PR. Like any other profession, specific skill sets are important, and it is important for people to easily be able to recognize that a person has these skill sets. Guided standards are important and give the profession credibility. That is why it would be good to go forward in making public relations a licensed profession.

What does it mean to be a licensed professional?

  1. Professions have standard education requirements (not necessary in PR currently) – PR professionals will need to have at least 4 years of college.
  2. Draw upon a substantial body of knowledge
  3. Requires standardized testing

Licensure would give the public, organizations, and companies more confidence in PR professionals because it would ensure that they are knowledgable. According to Bernay’s education and the development of a vocation go hand and hand. In addition to this, it would protect the profession and integrity and pride in the field. Some may say that PR becoming licensed would puts restrictions on the profession. My reply would be that licensure would not take away the high demand for PR professionals, and there would still be a lot of opportunity in the field. In fact, it could create even more opportunity, especially for women. If it was to become a licensed profession with standards, then it would be easy for a licensed women to argue equal pay and so forth. Also, licensure should increase ethics in the field, which would in turn increase the field’s integrity and cause the public to be more open to listening to companies and organizations through crisis.

For now it will be important for practitioners to seek accreditation, as it is a step towards PR becoming licensed. To date, approximately 5,000 practitioners have earned APR status, or 18% of the PRSA’s membership. Approximately 10% of IABC’s 15,000 members have earned its ABC designation. However, in the words of Bernay’s PR “has reached its rubicon.” Let’s move it forward!

For Edward L. Bernay’s complete argument for why PR should be licensed read his call to action.

The following are organizations that currently work to increase the credibility of the field and train professionals: PRSAPRSSAIABC, and IPRA.

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Hobby Lobby Gets Boycotted After Filing Suit Against Obamacare

Hobby Lobby, the popular craft decoration chain, has recently taken action against Obamacare and its requirement to provide insured employees with contraceptive and abortion coverage. Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO commented on the matter by stating, “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate… These abortion causing drugs go against our faith.” The suit was filed on September 12th in U.S. district court in Oklahoma City. Lori Windham, the representing attorney for Hobby Lobby said, “They’re being told they have two choices: Either follow their faith and pay the government half a billion dollars or give up their beliefs.”

The crisis that the company now faces is the uprising backlash of groups that are boycotting the chain. 

One way in which PR crisis takes place rapidly is through social media. A Facebook page has been started to boycott the company. In a post to their wall today, they stated, “There’s already 70,000 signatures. We started off with only 12 likes on this page yesterday, and now the boycott is already up to 70,000!!!! Woohoo!!!” This shows how quickly crisis can evolve as people rally together over social media.

In addition to this there has also been a tumblr started in which crafty opposers are showing pictures of their works and voicing their distain towards the companies beliefs.

I could not find a press release so it will be interesting to watch this and see how it plays out. The one statement I found said this, “The Green family respects every individual’s right to free speech and hopes that others will respect their rights also, including the right to live and do business according to their religious beliefs.” This is not a huge crisis, and it is more of a legal case. With that said, I think this was a good statement to put out. They have no reason to give any sort of apology. It would be good, however, to be able to find a more accessible press release from the company in regards to what is going on.

One Facebooker commented, “Religion belongs in a church NOT a workplace,or in strangers lives.” Do you think this is true? While Green may not personally know those employees insured by Hobby Lobby, is he not ultimately their leader and the reason that they have a job there and insurance?

P.R.aise Jesus

PR can be defined as establishing goodwill between the organization and the public. There are many careers in public relations: corporate PR, government PR, an agency. However, there is one that is often overlooked by Christians, yet it is one that can be used to advance the Kingdom of God and bring God all the more glory-this area is ministry PR.

After graduation and for the rest of my life I hope to be in full-time ministry. It is certainly not an area that is exempt from public relations. Churches often face crisis, have to report different things to the congregation, have to be wise in the decisions they make as they interact with the public, and need to consider what they are communicating to the public. In fact, the General Council of the Assemblies of God has a PR department of their own. On their page are a few insightful articles that would be benefit any pastors who do not have communications professional on staff.

In one of the articles, “Is Good Communication Vital To Successful Ministry?“, the AG PR department gives 4 basic steps in establishing an active public relations program:

  1. Determine Your Local Publics. Each church is located in a community with unique demographic and geographic needs. It is important to determine the specific publics in existence around your church.
  2. Examine Your Ministries. What existing ministries would be of interest to specific publics in your community? Do any new ministries need to be established to effectively reach your publics?
  3. Plan Your Efforts and establish a realistic timeline. Determine which publics you are equipped to reach now, and which will need to wait for the training of church members and development of ministries. Next, plan what methods you will use to promote these ministries. Some examples include radio and television ads, Web and e-mail promotion, flyers, bumper stickers, door to door, giveaways and word of mouth.
  4. Execute Your Program. Carry out your plans. As you begin to build bridges between a targeted public and your church with positive relationships, you will open doors to share Christ with that public.

A PR professional should generally be one who wants to be a catalyst for change, writes well, speaks well, and can think quickly.

As someone who plans to be on staff in a ministry, I think I have the qualities to also fulfill PR duties if I seek to always be working on my writing skills. Speaking will naturally be something that I will continue to improve on as I speak in front of a congregation or the public more and more. When it comes to the thinking quickly part, well, I just pray God gives me wisdom and common sense in situations. Ultimately, I have a desire to be a catalyst for change in a community and reach out to people that do not normally attend church. PR is an effective tool in doing so.

Social Media

“In the beginning Tom created the My and the space. Now Myspace was formless and empty, layouts were plain and boring, and Tom was surfing the internet for inspiration.

And Tom said, “Let there be friends,” and there were Myspace friends. Tom saw that friends were good, and separated a select few that he really liked from the others he just knew. Tom called the select few the “top 8” and the others simply remained friends.

And Tom said, “Let there be a bulletin so that we may view each other’s useless info and meaningless surveys.” So Tom made the bulletin and everyone started posting there answers to all of life’s most meaningful questions like the last time they talked on the phone with number 6 on their top 8. And it was so.

And on the 4th day Facebook opened up to all people and everyone forgot about Myspace. And public relations professionals looked upon new social media sites and saw that they were good.”

-Social Media Genesis 1:1-5

While social media started out as a way to connect with friends, it has evolved into much more. Individuals, companies, and organizations have a far greater reach. Communication can happen on a much larger scale at low costs.

Social media may present some challenges, for example having to respond quickly and wisely when negative information goes viral, there are many benefits to being able to use social media for public relations:

  • New relationships can be formed and maintained with people all over who can also interact.
  • It makes it easy to listen.
  • It makes research easier. (Also, measurement tools may be useful.)
  • It’s quick and easy to update.
  • It is a cost-effective option

In “The Future of Public Relations and Social Media” Erica Swallow discusses how “niche, industry-specific networks will be of greater value in the future” than mass social platforms. While Facebook can filter through things like sex, age, location, and what pages people like, so far this is only accessible for advertising. If public relations professionals find different social media sites that are unique to certain demographics it could be very helpful to them.

Also, while a vast majority of the PR people out there are using social media as a broadcasting tool for sending out press releases and recent client news, it will make an even greater difference once PR professionals use social media as a listening and communicating tool.

There is power in social media and it is important for both marketing and public relations professionals to be aware of how social media influences people. The infographic below displays the affects social media has.

Interesting infographic about the role social media has in the power of influence.

A Light of Hope For Parents of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Parenting the Disabled

Almost every parent looks ahead with mixed feelings to the point in their child’s life when they will finish school and move on to become independent young adults. However, this is not always the case, especially for those who are parents of children with developmental disabilities. These parents have to face the reality that 93% of children with disabilities will be unemployed upon leaving the public school system and most will remain unemployed for their entire life.

Jack Kosik, founder and director of Noah’s Ark, informed me of how parents with children with developmental disabilities have a neglectful mindset when it comes to their child’s future. “Many families just try to get through a day, or a week and pray that the future will take care of itself. They do not understand how challenging it becomes when an individual with a developmental disability exits the school system to a life of video games and soap operas.”

When parents come around to facing the facts of reality, they are put in a dilemma as to what the next point in life is for their child. Noah’s Ark’s website states that due to a severe lack of adequate funding, there are over 18,000 individuals who are on a waiting list to receive services. New applicants for support services are being told the wait could be 10 to 15 years. In fact, it is only when parents become too old to properly care for their children that the Agency for Persons with Disabilities will place these individuals in a group home or facility. At this point in their life, it becomes very difficult for these individuals to grow and learn healthy habits that will empower them to live independently.

With all this in mind it seems like parents have no option but to provide shelter and care for their children day in and day out until they no longer physically can take it. A lifestyle of constantly giving oneself exhausts parents and drains them of living a vibrant life themselves.  Kosik stated, “In many cases, just getting through the day is a challenge.”

In addition to all of this, the divorce rate is near 90% for parents of children with developmental disabilities. Kosik informed me that most families are single-parents trying to earn a living to support their family and they come home to tend to the needs of a child with disabilities.

When their seems to be no hope in such circumstances, especially with the State of Florida ranking 47th in providing support services, where can parents turn to find help? Parents in the Lakeland area can find relief and hope in Noah’s Ark, a local organization that empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to learn how to become independent so that they can experience all that God intends for their lives.

The Group of Parents that Dared to Question the Future and Work to Change It

Noah’s Ark has been serving the Lakeland area since 1997. The organization grew out of a parent support group named “Parent to Parent.” “Parent to Parent” is a national organization that connects parents so that they do not feel that they are alone in dealing with the most trying issues of raising a child with developmental disabilities.

Photo Credit: Jack Kosik; Image Design/Composition: Nick Tedeschi

The original group was made up of families with children from infants to teenagers. Jack Kosik’s daughter Brittany was 13 at the time. At one meeting Kosik brought up some concerns of his that had been lingering in his mind, ones that all parents of children with developmental disabilities must face. His concerns were related to what was going to happen to Britanny when he died. Some of the questions he had were

  • “Where would she live?”
  • “Who would her friends be?”
  • “Who would care for her?” and
  • “What quality of life would she have?”

Kosik informed me that he had already been looking into such questions and did not like what he was finding. If something happened to him at the time, she would likely be placed into a group home where quality of living is poor at best. She wouldn’t know any of the people and she would be cared for by constantly changing caregivers that are were paid close to minimum wages. People in group homes do not even get the privilege of making decisions for themselves, such as what they will be eating, when they will be eating, what they would be watching on television, and what leisure activities to participate in.

It was in the moment of Kosik sharing these concerns in the group support setting that he awakened similar concerns of other parents. As he brought about his concerns, other parents began looking ahead to their child’s future.

Out of about a dozen families that were involved in the “Parent to Parent” group, five chose to change their focus to changing what their child’s future quality of life would be like. It is this shift in focus that started Noah’s Ark.

In the process of developing the organization Kosik and the others felt the excitement of a positive change as they searched and discovered an array of organizations across the world. They saw how they were addressing the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and knew that there was hope. The group traveled throughout Florida and to five different states to look at dozens of organizations to help them “crystallize” their vision.

Noah’s Ark still holds meetings as a support group regularly and anyone interested in attending is welcome. They are constantly helping educating and counseling parents on how to prepare for their child’s future needs. They inform people about the legal, financial, and guardianship issues to help them have their house in order.

The next membership meeting is Thursday, January 12, 2012. In this meeting they will be featuring a speaker from The Center for Guardian-Advocacy. She will discuss how families can protect their child through using a flexible and affordable form of guardianship. The membership meetings are open to individuals and families that support the organizations mission and goals. 

A Look Into What It is Like Raising a Child With Autism

Dr. Steven Fettke is a professor in the College of Christian Ministries and Religion at Southeastern University. He is also the father of twin daughters and a 27 year old son, Philip, who is autistic.

I sat down and talked with Dr. Stephen Fettke about Philip and how Philip’s autism has affected their family’s life. We discussed what it has been like being the parent of a child with autism, Philip’s education and current life, their struggles, how they have coped, and what Dr. Fettke knows of Noah’s Ark.

Dr. Fettke stated that the greatest challenge is all the attention that is needed. It detracts from one’s own situation with their spouse and other children. He expressed how fortunate he is to have a wife as well that was supportive and helpful.

He also discussed how he founded a parent support group but it was difficult for the parents to find the time to actually meet together because they were also so busy with taking care of their child.

His advice to parents is to connect with social services, find an understanding faith group that will help them struggle with their handicapped child, and if they can’t find that, at least another believer who is patient and willing to pray with them and support them.

Dr. Fettke has also written a very an article in the Journal of Pentecostal Theology titled “The Spirit of God Hovered Over the Waters: Creation, the Local Church, and the Mentally and Physically Challenged, A Call to Spirit-led Ministry.” The journal article examines aspects of God’s creation, God’s image, and true Spirit-led ministry, in order to point the Pentecostal/Charismatic Church to the biblical witness that calls for ministry to all people in all states of their creation. In the article Dr. Fettke discusses his experience along with the need to include and involve those who are mentally and physically challenged in the life of the local church. He also discusses the importance of remembering and being there for those who have been broken by caring for disabled or ill family members.

Click play below to hear my full interview with Dr. Fettke.

Life after schooling: With and without Noah’s Ark

Dr. Fettke voiced his satisfaction with Florida’s school system in his son’s experience. When an individual with developmental disabilities is in school, parents can be at peace knowing that someone is watching after them and caring for them. Without an organization like Noah’s Ark or any kind of day training, many individuals with developmental disabilities will exit school and stay at home unattended. While some are okay, others get into trouble, can be exploited, and some even get arrested.

As individuals with developmental disabilities become engaged with other Noah’s Ark participants, many parents see their child blossom. Parents discover that their child can do a lot more than they ever imagined. The reason Noah’s Ark is so successful is that there is such love and acceptance. Noah’s Ark is more than an organization, it is an extended family.

Parents can begin to relax knowing that they have done all they can do for their child and that their child is in an accepting and loving environment.

For many parents one of the most difficult challenges is dealing with “letting go” so their child can move on to living independently. A common opinion among parents is that their child “is just not ready” to live on their own. Kosik stated, “Few of us, disabled or not, are ready to move out and live on our own but we do it anyways. We had to learn, we had to make decisions, we had to live with the consequences of poor decisions and that’s how we grew. I frequently tell parents that ‘the greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of independence before they need it.’ It’s hard to let go, it’s even harder with a disabled adult child, but it’s a natural progression of life.”

It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta Go Shopping On Black Friday

It’s that time of year again where Americans mindfully practice gluttony and then stay up all night to save some money on things they may not otherwise buy. With Black Friday less than 6 days away, this year’s holiday retail sales forecast is $465 billion, a 2.8% increase over last year.

If you are planning to get some Christmas shopping done or make a purchase for yourself this Black Friday, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Some stores will be kicking there sales off early. Search around and look for any possible deals.
  • Know what it is you are looking for. If you have an item or items in mind don’t get focused and go for it!
  • Find out when stores are going to be opening. Some may open at midnight others may not open until 4:00 a.m.
  • Don’t go alone. It’s just more fun when you do it with others.

Here is a cool infographic with tips:

 Black Friday Smart Shopper Tips and Tricks brought to you by hhgregg

(Infographic By: hhgregg)

Here are ten more helpful tips from Bradsdeals.com:

  1. Research: Start your Black Friday 2011 sale research on Thanksgiving Day or earlier.
  2. Make a plan: Identify what you want to buy, which stores have the best sales on Black Friday and what time they open.
  3. Timing is everything: Arrange stores by opening time, from earliest to latest.
  4. A fool and his money: Be wary of Black Friday deals with quantity limits. If a store has only 10 items at that price, go elsewhere.
  5. Visualize: Know where your items are in the store.
  6. Stay safe: Previous Black Friday sales were honestly deadly; please don’t trample or shoot anyone!
  7. Power of numbers: Go with a team and attack separate stores or separate sections of the same store. Designate a meeting place.
  8. Bring a snack: Only amateurs stop at the food court on Black Friday! (Or the bathroom — so go before you leave.)
  9. The quiet ones: Don’t ignore stores that don’t advertise. They will have Black Friday deals, too!
  10. Have fun: Enjoy your family, friends and deals!

To learn a little more and find some other good sites that will help you prepare, read USA Today’s insights on the big day!

I will spare you of the more violent videos and outrageous news stories, but just be cautious around all those crazies out there.

Check out these other interesting infographic on Black Friday:

Ten Tips For New Bloggers

Blogging, like anything else, can be difficult to get in to when you don’t know what exactly to do and how to do it. Writing for a blog, and writing in general, takes practice. Writing my first blog was a much slower process than writing blogs are for me now. With all that I’ve learned, my writing is much more fluid. I’m no expert on blogging but I hope that what I share with you helps to some extent.

  1. Blog about something that interests you. If you can freely choose what to blog about, then pick something that you like or would like to know more about. It makes the process much more fun.
  2. Be yourself. Let your personality shine through your writing.
  3. Get to know the blogging platform you are using. When I first started using WordPress, I was lost. With the help of others I learned how to set up my blog and where the essential basic things were. From this basic knowledge I explored a few things and was able to enhance the appearance of my blog and my writing.

    Ryan "Jingles" Seecrest updating Twitter

  4. Comment on other people’s blogs–your friends’ blogs and professionals’ blogs. I probably wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t required for class, but I learned its value over time. When you comment on other people’s blogs, you create conversation that builds a connection and stimulates growth. Being assigned to comment on other blogs got me reading blog posts that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I learned a few things. It also felt nice to receive comments on my own blogs, especially when one of them was from a complete stranger (ie. someone who wasn’t required to comment). Read the post I wrote on commenting if you want to learn more.
  5. Incorporate multimedia. That is one of the advantages of digital writing. You can add pictures, videos, slideshows, and sound to make your posts more engaging.
  6. Write short paragraphs and bullet or number things where possible and appropriate. People scan when they are reading off a computer screen.
  7. Try to post regularly. It will keep others coming back and like I said before the more practice you have, the better you get at writing.
  8. Give credit to where credit is due. Cite where you get ideas or quotes from.
  9. Use proper grammar and proofread. It’s good to write conversationally but that doesn’t mean you abandon sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, and other grammar rules.
  10. Use tags and create categories. They will draw people to your posts and categories keep your blog organized.