My reflective essay on choosing a career as a PR Agent.
Beginning University, wanting to “do something in PR” was the best explanation I could give when asked what career I desired. However, after completing this unit’s semester, I have new knowledge that has helped me fixate on specific career goals and roadmaps in Public Relations.As a future Public Relations agent, there are many things that I am required to be conscious of in my career. Media Globalisation, the public sphere and the issues surrounding women in media are the three that have stuck with me the most when it comes to my career. With most PR statements being posted online in this modern day due to the strong reliance and worldwide attachment to technology, the Public Sphere and Media Globalisation have both brought a new wave of advancements and challenges to the career of a Public Relations agent. When working in PR, media globalisation and the public sphere often cross paths and work together to assist in sharing messages globally and sparking discussion. In conjunction with the above topics, the sphere of Public Relations falls into both the media and business industries, and with women in media being a prevalent issue in public relations as the gender imbalance in both the media and business industries continues to exist. This issue is one I will have to inevitably work through and be one I aim to conquer in my quest for leadership in the workplace. (Heath,2010)
In the 21st century, Media Globalisation has dramatically risen and is taking on unprecedented and uncharted abilities. With the widespread accessibility to many varieties of digital media sources and platforms like social media and satellite television, the once segregated world has formed into a ‘global village’. (Jan, 2009).
With this increase in cross-border connections, the work of a Public Relations agent has expanded from just communicating through newspapers and magazines, to having the ability to promote through a wider variety of ‘free media’ including, social media (Facebook, Twitter), satellite TV and websites (Youtube); all accessible on the ‘World Wide Web’. (Wynne, 2013). Furthermore, with this globalisation, three new core factors to how a PR agent approaches their work in the media; ‘media access’, ‘media diffusion’ and ‘media access’ have been introduced.(Sriramesh, 2009), (Cunningham,2015). Advantageously, through media globalisation, PR agents have access to a plethora of platforms they can promote clientele on. Mostly free of charge and publicised to millions, going into this career, I have access to media globalised sources like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube that are currently being utilised to deliver media releases through written word, video, hashtag and lifestreams. With the ability to reach this ‘global village’ within seconds, I additionally hold the responsibility to engage and understand the needs of this constantly changing market. Acknowledging that with the power to release items that promote reputations into the world instantaneously, comes a great responsibility to remaining liable for work being the utmost of quality, both in the presentation and the message it’s conveying.
A standout example I came across when researching media globalisation within my career was the ‘Most Shocking Second a Day Video’ Save The Children campaign video released in 2014.
This campaign was released and promoted by the Public Relations and Marketing directors of this foundation in their attempt to have a “higher commitment to do things globally.”(Vizard, 2014). Taking advantage of the global reach that digital media has in the 21st Century through Satellite Television, Youtube, Facebook and SMS, this video went viral and within a week had over 24 million views. To donate, you were required to SMS the number shown at the end of the video which was screened on a multitude of digital platforms, additionally taking advantage of media convergence.(Vizard, 2014).The success of this campaign is one I hope one day achieve and somewhat replicate in it ability to take advantage of this globalised digital world.
Initially, the public sphere was a literal space of social life where thoughts and problems would be discussed. But with the ‘global village’ that has formed through media, this sphere has morphed into a figurative space that thrives on digital platforms. (Calhoun, n.d.)
The emphasis on public opinion in my future career makes my involvement, influence and understanding in and of the public sphere an integral focus. As stated by the Public Relations Society Of America, the core components of a Public Relations agent is, “anticipating, analysing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organisation.”, (PRSA, 2017). These comments lend themselves to the heavy interlinking of the public sphere in the work of a public relations agent. (Pendleton, 2013)
This public sphere is something I engage in daily, and something I have learned plays an extremely large role in assisting PR agents in their research in understanding the market they are promoting clientele, too. As well as enabling them to source instant feedback on their client’s actions. With this access and influence to a space that lacks privacy, I can view both negative and positive discussion which allows me to take appropriate courses of action in controlling or expanding promotion. The public profile of clientele to a PR agent is extremely important to uphold. Due to this, utilising the public sphere can very much work in favour of my job with the ability to quickly gauge public opinion on certain topics through hashtags, trending topics and comments. The public sphere has repetitively been known to be greatly manipulated, above other factors, by public relations professionals. (Calhoun, n.d.).
Being a PR Agent, I have to be prepared and able to work on large group campaigns; often incorporating principles and factors of Integrated Marketing Communications. (Prof. Neale, 2017). This collaborative work, in this modern day, is more often than not broadcasted into the public sphere, igniting global discussion and heightening awareness on various clientele promotional requirements. An example of a PR campaign that successfully both engaged with and influenced the public sphere was the ALS Association’s 2014 #IceBucketChallenge.
From June 1st – August 17th of this campaign’s launch year, there was 28 million public sphere occupants who joined the conversation on social media platforms, discussing and donating to the cause; increasing the donated funds for this cause by $97,600,000 and leading to a breakthrough in cure research. (Perez, ,2014)
As a PR agent, the approach I will take to work always has to feature concepts that engage with the public because, ultimately, my job will be to make my clientele look to the world, which are people who exist in the public sphere.
Women In Media:
As explored in the discussion on Emma Watson as a media professional, gender imbalance is something that is very much a prevalent issue in today’s society and is one that is inhibiting women from expanding their careers and having the confidence and support to do so. In 2016, the Women in Media Report (Australia) released statistics showing that media industry sources were coming from only 21% women. (Mullins, Lilburn, Mullins & Schwartz AM, 2016). Supporting this, a US Study named ‘The Paper Ceiling’ released in 2015, the ratio of males and females in jobs in the business media world was 5:1, respectively. (Shor, Skienab, Van De Rijt, Miltsov & Kulkarni, 2015). The global issue of the lack of women in media is one that will inevitably affect me as I begin my career after University. With my career aim to work closely with social media and TV promotion distribution as a PR agent, I will have a large involvement with the media industry as well as a participation in the business industry.(MEAA,2016), (Alter, 2015).
Encouragingly, the general level of work as a PR agent in agencies is saturated by women; a reported two-thirds. However, despite this positive sign, the issue surrounding women in media still exists, with managerial and leadership roles in this industry being mostly held by men. (Khazan, 2014), (Risi,2016). Initially, when I learned of these worrying statistics and discourses surrounding women in media, I was concerned that a lengthy career for me could be jeopardised by pre-existing stereotypes. However, upon further reflection and research into success stories, I see that excelling past stereotypes is possible, I just have to be willing to fight.
Although not being in PR herself, Emma Watson is just one of many women in the media industry who significantly calls out and fights for equality in this workplace. Sheryl Sandberg is another who has gone above and beyond in not only her career but her determination to break the stereotype surrounding women in media. But most importantly to this issue, Brandee Barker is a woman in media who has truly excelled in her career and is a figure I have very much attached to as an inspiration. Previously, the head of PR for Facebook and now the PR advisor for companies like Uber and Airbnb, she is someone who is experiencing the career I desire.(Marikar, 2014).
As pointed out above, my industry of PR is one that is full of men in leadership positions; similar to almost all other media and business career. (Khazan, 2014). Having the ambition to lead in my career, the stigma surrounding women in media is one I certainly have to acknowledge, but not one I will be defined as.
Responding To Adversities:
Through personal reflection and the use of the PWC ‘Personal Brand Workbook’, I have discovered my core personal and professional characteristics; and applied them to my future career to be able to see a personal path to success and my professional identity. With the characteristics of flexibility while remaining committed to work and seeking leadership as well as, merging and upholding my personal ethics into my work life; I have equipped myself with a toolbox to enter my career with resilience.
Remaining flexible is a key component in response to adversities, especially in a technologically heavy career. As seen in the rapid development of media globalisation and the figurative public sphere, the media world is constantly changing.
A new social platform or public opinion can form any day, and I have to be flexible enough to respond to these with professionalism. Remaining engaged and relevant in the digital world is crucial, so taking advantage of all and any changes will advance my ability to respond quickly and seamlessly. With an aim to lead in my work, this flexibility along with an unparalleled commitment to my work, will help me combat the negative connotations surrounding women in media. Proving myself constantly through my excellence in my work is central to achieving this and fighting these adversities. Breaking through the gender barriers when it comes to the imbalance of women in high leadership positions, becoming a beacon for other women in media to fight for their place at the leadership table.
With all the benefits that media globalisation and the public sphere provide to global discussions, a challenge is that anyone can access these platforms and spread ‘fake news’. This fraudulence can tear down clientele’s and my own reputation. The actions of others online is unavoidable, but building up my credibility as a PR agent can reduce the detrimental effects these actions have.A misconception I’ve found surrounding PR agents is that they lie to support their clients. Reflectively, for some this is true, especially when trying to control crises and reputations. However, to build my credibility, I aim to stay true to personal ethics; merging them into my work, deterring me from these actions. This characteristic stems from comments Sheryl Sandberg made in her book ‘Lean In’, “[…] I think we benefit from expressing our truth, talking about personal situations and acknowledging that professional decisions are often emotionally driven.”(Sandberg & Scovell, 2013). And with key factors to building resilience being to seek self-discovery and to nurture a positive view of yourself. (APA, 2017). The importance I place on keeping personal ethics like integrity and honesty as a backbone to all I do in my field will help me not to burn out and build a lengthy and credible career. Also, I aim to build a credible identity early on in my career, because with an aim to move on to managerial roles later on, I need to show excellent professional presentation and work ethic.
Prior to this unit, I wasn’t aware of 21st-century advancements to the work of a PR agent. But through the exploration of media globalisation, the public sphere and women in media in relation to my career has enabled me to form a focused idea of my future career. Additionally, understanding and examining my personal and professional characteristics, I have been able to identify issues that I will inevitably have to experience in my career as well as plan solutions to overcome or avoid them.
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