Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

Ten weeks seem to go by even more quickly with team teaching than with solo teaching. I would have liked for another 10 weeks to continue to work with my students. The quarter flew by. I enjoyed getting to partner with John Mitchell to team teach the class. Below are top student blog posts from the students who chose to have their work highlighted here. All students provided permission for the picture above.

For one of the blog posts, I asked students to summarize an academic journal article in public relations to

  • Exercise their research skills
  • Deepen their knowledge in an area that interests them
  • Give them experience with translating complex information, specifically with regard to scientific studies

One of the most interesting studies was described by Nicole Johnson. She summarizes a study by Mai Abdul Wahed Al Khaja and Pam Creedon, published in Public Relations Review, about tips for breast cancer awareness campaigns in the United Arab Emirates. The study shows the importance of conducting research to culturally adapt messages to audiences.

For another blog post, I asked students to write about how to engage a diverse audience of their choice to

  • Give them experience with conducting research about a particular audience
  • Help them see how they can use research about an audience to plan a campaign
  • Deepen their knowledge about communicating with a particular audience

Jayna Omaye wrote an insightful blog post titled “Fostering Diversity and Engaging with Hispanic Audiences.” She provides helpful tips and warns against generalizing to Hispanic audiences as a whole.

I also asked students to blog about an ethical issue in the public relations community. Martina Benova wrote an engaging blog post about ghost tweeting for athletes, and Cydni Anderson also wrote an insightful blog post about ghost tweeting. Both discussions include insightful secondary research. Cassie Bates discusses astroturfing and includes a recent case involving a response to an unflattering restaurant review.

I hope my class had a great spring break and is recharged for spring quarter.

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Manny Ruiz

I cleared my schedule when Natalie Tindall e-mailed me about a free PRSA teleseminar about Hispanic social media, featuring Manny Ruiz. Manny commented, “Not everyone understands Hispanic marketing and even less understand social media.” Below are some insights.

Hispanic audiences tend to be collectivist. Community is important. Hispanic decision makers seek their peers’ insights and consider their community’s opinions. Social media tools present meaningful opportunities to listen and connect with Hispanic audiences.

In at least one way, Hispanics lead several groups in social media use. Manny referred to a July 2009 report by Felipe Korzenny and Lee Van from the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. Below is one finding from it:

Participants Who Visited Social Networking Sites At Least Two to Three Times Monthly

  • 36% English-preferring Hispanics
  • 34% Asians
  • 27% Spanish-preferring Hispanics
  • 26% African-Americans
  • 18% Non-Hispanic Caucasians

The data are based on a sample of nearly 2,500 people with about 500 cases in each ethnic group. The study did not report whether the participants were randomly selected.

Do not treat Hispanic audiences as a homogenous group. Differences are based on several considerations, such as language preferences, income level and location of origin. You need an analysis of the most appropriate spaces for online engagement, depending on who you want to reach.

There is an opportunity to create highly influential blogs in specialized areas for Hispanics. Manny said there are high quality blogs in several areas, such as Hispanic mom blogs; however, there is not yet a high quality blog in every category. This presents an extraordinary opportunity to create influential blogs in specialized categories for Hispanic communities because 1) Hispanic audiences are looking for culturally relevant communities and 2) these online niche areas are far from being saturated.

Manny offered the following comments to aspiring bloggers: “The hardest part of having a blog is starting. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. Once you see people reacting, you’ll start to see what your audience cares about and where your blog will be headed.” He also encouraged bloggers to include their URLs on their business cards and e-mail signatures.

Public relations practitioners can help the Hispanic blogging community by offering incentives and gifts. Keeping in mind that you need to ask any recipient to transparently disclose incentives and gifts to be ethical and to follow the law, encouragement is appreciated. Manny explained, “It is hard for bloggers to continue without financial support, and we need Latino voices.”

Manny also noted that a blogger could have a bigger presence on a blog rather than on Twitter or vice versa. Time is short, so people tend to do a better job with one area. This could affect your approach with engagement and pitches.

Don’t just translate announcements into Spanish for Facebook and Twitter accounts. Manny explained:

“That is a problem I see with early adopters. It [Facebook fan page] just happens to be in Spanish, and there are a couple company announcements on there. That won’t create any meaning with people who want to sign up. Unless you have unique, tailored content, it’s not going to get you anywhere. Have great content and a contest that helps people — or just a good contest. Now you’ve created a point of connection. It’s a much slower process to grow Twitter. You have to have unique value.”

Frequent content is essential. Moderator Sonia Sroka, PRSA Diversity Committee chair and senior vice president of Porter Novelli, compared relationship building with friendships:

“If you want to build a relationship with someone, you don’t just call them every once in a while; you have to talk to them and with them. Don’t just call every week and hope I pick up the phone. It goes back to deep human insights in terms of the relationship.” Manny agreed and recommended that serious bloggers update content at least three times a week.

Many thanks to PRSA’s Diversity Committee for this event.

Resources for Getting Connected

How to Market To Hispanics (Like Me)

2010 Hispanic Social Media Guide (sign up to be among the first to receive this free guide)

List of Resources About Hispanics and Social Media by PRSA

Hispanic PR Blog

Manny Ruiz on Twitter

PRSA’s Diversity Committee on Twitter

PRSA’s Diversity Today Blog

PRSA Diversity Case Studies, Surveys and Tips

About Manny Ruiz (verbatim from PRSA’s promotion)

“Manny Ruiz is co-publisher of the Hispanic PR Blog , the leading marketing trade journal of the Hispanic public relations and social media industries, and the founder/organizer of the Hispanic PR & Social Media Conference . Both are business units of Hispanic Media Trainers, LLC.

Prior to launching the blog and national tradeshow, Ruiz was President of Multicultural Markets and Hispanic PR Wire for PR Newswire. Prior to PR Newswire’s acquisition of Hispanic PR Wire, Hispanic Digital Network and LatinClips in 2008, companies he founded, Ruiz was Chairman and CEO of HispaniMark, the parent company of these three businesses.

A media trailblazer, former journalist, award-winning PR professional and dynamic keynote speaker on media trends, Ruiz is often sought after for his expertise on media, PR and public affairs. A longtime member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Ruiz is the immediate past co-chair of PRSA’s National Diversity Committee and the host/co-founder of the organization’s national monthly podcast ‘PRSA Diversity Today.’ He has also served as a board member of the PRSA Miami Chapter.”

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With Peter Debreceny and Toni Muzi Falconi

With Peter Debreceny and Toni Muzi Falconi

Cross-posted earlier to the Institute for Public Relations blog, Conversations.

An academic version of the following content can be found here:

Gallicano, T. D. (2009). Personal relationship strategies and outcomes in a case study of a multi-tiered membership organization. Journal of Communication Management, 13(4), 310-328.

Last October, I had the extraordinary experience of participating in the EUPRERA Congress in Milan.

At the conference, I presented a paper and gratefully accepted the award from IPR for “Best New Research on the Personal Influence Model of Public Relations.” (Another aside is that I recommend signing up for IPR’s listserv.)

I have outlined below the strategies that the advocacy organization I studied uses to cultivate personal relationships. Feel free to request my research paper to learn more. You can reach me at derville(at)uoregon(dot)edu.

Facilitate relationship building among members of your publics. A common strategy involves focusing on building relationships between an organization and its publics – this research also points to the value of establishing and encouraging relationships among members of publics, such as employees or customers. Facilitating relationships among employees or among customers can contribute to a strong sense of community with your organization and brand, which can affect retention among employees and brand loyalty among customers. I call this strategy peer linking.

Create an identity for your publics within your communication.
Macintosh’s “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC” advertisements exemplify this strategy because they send messages about the kind of person a Mac user is and the kind of person a PC user is. In the rhetorical criticism literature, Stein (2002) wrote about the 1984 Macintosh commercial that created an anti-establishment identity for Macintosh users.

When deciding how to create an identity for employees or users of your brand, ask yourself, “What kind of employee works for my organization,” or “What kind of a person uses my brand?” Then narrow your list to a core message. Applying insight from Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” book, make sure this core message is something that your employees or brand can be the best at and make sure that it is profitable to position yourself in this way. I use the original term for this strategy that was presented in the rhetorical criticism literature by Charland (1987), which is constitutive rhetoric.

Help your publics achieve their goals.
Helping people resolve problems and achieve goals can result in strengthened relationships and social capital. This strategy was introduced by Hon and Grunig (1999) as task sharing.

Train staff to respond to questions and concerns when possible rather than referring someone to others. Generally speaking, people appreciate receiving a direct response to their inquiries rather than being passed around to several people within an organization. In some cases, organizations might consider empowering their front-line staff with greater decision-making authority to decrease the need to appeal to higher levels of command. Although referral is sometimes necessary, organizations should look for opportunities to reduce this. I call this strategy direct engagement.

Invest in the local level and frontline staff. Relationships are built locally, so organizations need to invest in their local offices and the staff who work there. Furthermore, organizations should evaluate satisfaction with the performance of their local offices.

Interviewees in this study who had only worked with the organization’s local level evaluated their entire relationship with the organization based on their local experiences. In many cases, the strength of the relationship and the benefits that accompany strong relationships hinge on the local level’s performance. I refer to this strategy as local investment.

Diversity Strategies for Grassroots Advocacy Organizations

Use the hat-in-your-hand approach.
This term represents a four-step process for cultivating relationships with diverse communities. The first step is to get to know as much as possible about the desired outreach community. The second step is to partner with a member of the desired community and humbly approach community members together. This person could already be a member of the organization, or this person could be found through associations that are based on aspects of people’s identities, such as gender or race. The third step is to listen to the needs of desired communities. The fourth step involves sustaining efforts, even when improvement is not readily attained. Of course, evaluating unsuccessful efforts is also wise.

Target aware affiliates. If you would like to personally help local affiliates of your organization with their diversity outreach programs but cannot work with all of them, consider focusing on the “aware” affiliates who are interested in engaging in diversity outreach but are stopped by constraints. The organization in this study found that the affiliates who were actively interested in diversity outreach and who were not impeded by constraints were going to engage in diversity outreach anyway.


Charland, M. (1987). Constitutive rhetoric: The case of the peuple Quebecois. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 73, 133-150.

Hon, L. C., & Grunig, J. E. (with Anderson, F. W., Broom, G. M, Felton, J., &
Gilfeather, J. et al.). (1999). Guidelines for measuring relationships in public relations. Retrieved from the Institute for Public Relations Web site: http://www.instituteforpr.com/measeval/rel_p1.htm

Stein, S. R. (2002). The 1984 Macintosh ad: Cinematic icons and constitutive rhetoric in the launch of a new machine. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88, 169-192.

What strategies do you use to cultivate personal relationships in professional contexts? What benefits or drawbacks do you see from cultivating personal relationships in professional contexts?
On the PR Profs blog, Mihaela Vorvoreanu talks about a potential drawback of cultivating personal relationships — see her discussion here.

What do you think about the personal influence model as a research direction for public relations?

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