PR: The New Priesthood?

January 23, 2009

When I tell people that I’m studying for a career in public relations, I’m invariably asked the same question: “So what kind of job can you get with that?” My usual answer is, “Well, any kind of job.” That’s the great thing about PR. As Al Pacino, playing John Milton/Satan in the film The Devil’s Advocate, once so succinctly stated about being a lawyer, “Because the law, my boy, puts us into everything. It’s the ultimate backstage pass. It’s the new priesthood, baby.” To me, that’s PR. Every industry that’s worth its salt needs to communicate with its publics, and that’s where we come in…it’s the new priesthood, baby!

The thing about learning PR is that there is no right or wrong on answer on how to approach a problem. It’s all about having that common touch…either you got it or you don’t…and building upon it along the way. However, there are a few time-tested ground rules that every practitioner should have in their playbook.

In searching for a useful site about public relations that contained these standard rules, I came across Rohit Bhargava’s excellent (and pertinent) “Influential Marketing Blog“. In his two most recent posts he discusses what it is both PR practitioners and journalists (the PR man’s (and woman’s) most immediate and important audience), should know about themselves and one another. I think Bhargava’s most important lesson, however, is that reputation matters. If words are our stock-in-trade, then reputation is the quality of our goods. Your word is your bond and trust matters, or people won’t be buying whatever it is you’re selling. In this industry, a tarnished reputation is rarely resurrected. On the other hand, a good reputation will not only open doors, it will take you as far as you want, in whatever you want.

I guess maybe that’s the difference between us and lawyers.


The Glory that is Google Reader

January 22, 2009

For someone who considers them self fairly savvy in the ways of the Internet, I really don’t know too much about what Google can do for me outside of finding information on anything I could possibly imagine…oh and zooming in on any location on the planet (Google Earth). I occasionally use Google Docs, but that’s about it. I still don’t use Google Calendar, I just remember where I have to be. I don’t use Google Groups, just Facebook or mass texts/emails. I don’t even know what Google Analytics is (but I’m gonna find out, don’t worry).


This brings us to Google Reader. I had a vague idea of what it was all about. I knew that it essentially let you read what you wanted to read from all over the Internet in one place. That may sound like a simple explanation, but after checking it out, that’s really about what it boils down to…and I have to admit, IT’S FANTASTIC. As someone who tries to keep up with the news from around the world, sports (fantasy and reality), weather, various blogs, and a plethora of other things on a daily basis, Google Reader truly is a transformational tool. Instead of me trying to go into detail on the finer points of the application, here is a video that explains what Google Readers does and how to do it:

If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what would. But seriously, instead of having to individually type in every URL for the site you want, or scrolling through all of your bookmarks, you can wake up, turn on, and tune in to everything you want to know from everywhere you want to get it. I would say its only drawback is that it does take a bit away from the personalities of each individual site, but it surely makes up for it in the amount of information it allows you to cover with it’s organization and time-saving ability.

Sometimes I like to check out the New York Times for the latest news and editorials, The Daily Beast to get a mix of news and entertainment, ESPN.COM for my sports, and so on and on and on. Instead of having to go to each site individually and not knowing if I’d missed anything or forgetting if I’d read something, Google Reader takes care of all of that for you in one place. I’ve already added several new sites to my daily consumption since I began regularly using Google Reader this week. I am a permanent fan and I already feel smarter for it.

Change Comes to Communications

January 21, 2009

Considering this is supposed to be a blog about Obama it’s only fitting to post something on the man, the subject, the phenomenon. With the incredible events of the inauguration now photo album fodder, it’s time to get down to business. Since this is a blog of a course on new media communications, I thought I’d put this quick post out there to highlight the Obama team’s use of these tools. One of the first thing a visitor to the White House’s official website is how much different, modern, accessible it looks compared to the past site.

The White House

OK that’s it for now, but I just wanted to point out how fantastic it is to have a president who is not only unafraid of 21st Century technology, but actually embraces it. It may seem like a small or insignificant matter to some, but really is a sign of the “change” to come. In the future I’d like to talk about Obama’s use of blogging, Video Addresses, and governmental transparency through the Internet. YES WE CAN! (is that getting old? maybe?)

Congrats Colin!

January 17, 2009

Before I really jump into this venture in an organized, scientific manner, I wanted to give a quick congrats and shout-out to my Irish brethren Colin Farrell (we’re not really related, but we could be) for winning Best Actor this year at the Golden Globes for his bleedin’ brilliant role in IN BRUGES.

And for those of you who haven’t yet seen IN BRUGES…get out there and see it/rent it/buy it/live it!!! Having some of everything – comedy (a lot), drama, action, it was probably the coolest movie of 2008. Actually, it IS the coolest movie in a long time. Here’s the toned down trailer:

What IS up?

January 16, 2009

Without further ado, let’s get this blog rolling. So, overall the REASON for this blog is that it’s part of a sweet new course at Michigan State University called “New Media Drivers License” taught by Derek Mehraban and Dr. Rick Cole (two of the coolest conveyors of knowledge I’ve had the opportunity to meet). NMDL is all about learning the latest tools (and art) of the digital world and applying it to the advertising, marketing, public relations, business trades, everything trades. To me, this is the way of the future for all business, but particularly those in the communications industry.

Check it out for yourself at THE DIGITAL BUS.

The PURPOSE of this blog is, well, to promote myself – Paul Kanan. To me, public relations (my major) can be used from the highest of corporate levels on down to the individual himself (or herself). As an individual myself, I feel public relations is an art and a skill that can be practiced everyday by treating oneself of as brand as well as a person. What I’m selling are my thoughts and ideas – on Obama, on politics on culture, on you, on me, on life. Why those particular things you may ask? Well, that’s basically all I care about…and yes, I care about you.

OK, so here we go. Rock n’ roll. Let’s do this. Open up your mind and let me blow it away. YES WE CAN!