A lot can happen in 10 years. Ten years ago email was not popular, texting did not exist, Google and Facebook were not around, and many companies only had one phone number. It is morbid to say, but 9/11 had a serious impact on how we communicate today. Sometimes it takes a significant and traumatic occurrence to spark change.
In the several months following 9/11, all communications norms disappeared. Executives did not feel comfortable calling companies to pitch ideas. Many marketers felt their products or services were meaningless. Out of respect, most business deals came to a halt. For a while, all the news stories being produced focused on one thing, the terrorist attacks.
There was no competition between news stations or hot celebrity gossip. All reporters and broadcasting companies simply wanted to air the unbiased and unfiltered reality of what America had experienced. Once communication returned to normal several months later, it was a completely different world. One huge story changed the way communications and public relations work forever. Here are a few ways the industry has changed:
User-generated media was not common before the September 11th attacks. After the attacks, news outlets begged viewers to send in their self-shot footage of the travesty. Most footage was shot on flip phones. It was powerful for people at home and all over the world to see people’s first-hand accounts of what happened that day. Watching videos filmed by people on the streets experiencing the trauma themselves gave the stories more validity. Stations wanted viewers to be able to feel the energy, hear the sounds, and see the events unfold and the chaos that ensued. It also attempted to feed the viewer’s need for understanding. If it were not for submitted media, we most likely would not have a lot of the footage we have today from September 11th, 2001. Today, more than once a week news stations embed a viewer-submitted video of what is happening. An example is when fights break out on the subway, news stations usually try to incorporate a video shot by someone witnessing the event.
9/11 drove officials to make communications between them and their constituents easier and faster. In the event of something tragic happening again, officials wanted to be able to reach whoever they needed to as quickly and accurately as possible. The best way they found to do this was to begin collecting email addresses. Therefore, emailing became more popular. Now, email is used for a lot more than emergency notifications. Google credits the September 11th attacks for motivating the company to make search result times faster. They, too, wanted people to be able to access vital information in the case of an emergency. Now when an event happens, it is usually trending on social media and then covered on the news. People have faster and easier access to posting and reading the news than ever. Often when the news reports on an incident, more details and confirmed facts are added, compared to what is published online by social media users.
The attacks on the World Trade Center caused foreign affairs and terrorism to be discussed more frequently. In 2016, there is a segment regarding terrorism or foreign affairs every day. A study conducted in 2006 found that since 2001 coverage of foreign affairs has increased 102% and discussions on terrorism have risen 135%. A certain “appetite for news” grew from 9/11. Stories changed from feel good to informative.
More than public relations has changed since the September 11th attacks; lives have been changed, people have been changed, the government, and so much more. Since 2001, the U.S. has added the Department of Defense, the Public Safety Bureau and improved the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Every March people all across America celebrate Women’s History Month. Also joining in the celebrations are the Library of Congress, National Parks Service, and Smithsonian Institution, to name a few.
Women’s History Week was approved by Congress in 1981. Thanks to some friendly protesting by the National Women’s History Project, Congress approved Women’s History Month in 1995.
March is dedicated to Women who have achieved great accomplishments, blazed new trails, and stood up in the face of danger or oppression. In honor of Women’s History Month, let us look at some of the top emerging women in the public relations field:
Sarah Evans: Las Vegas, Nevada
Sarah Evans combined her love of communications with her deep interest in technology. In the last 10 years she has worked with numerous large companies such as PayPal, written a book, started her own company, begun consulting, and given informative speeches. She credits staying up with current trends for making her such a stand-out communications director. Sarah’s biggest tip is to always be ready and phone savvy. You need to be able to create, edit, and post wherever you are. When big news strikes, you have to be able to cover it immediately.
Brooke Hammerling: Greenwich Village, New York
Brooke Hammerling primarily represents technology start-up companies. As this is a new and emerging market, Brooke has been innovative and brave when taking on clients. One of Hammerling’s biggest clients is Skype, a video messaging company. Hammerling does not believe the success of a public relations consultant is based on crafty press releases, but is more strategy driven. She told a reporter: “We make introductions to them that lead to investment, that lead to partnerships, that lead to customer acquisition.”
Lizzie Grubman: New York, New York
Grubman’s specialty is the entertainment industry. Grubman is also a public relations expert/ correspondent for the O’Reilly Factor. Some of her biggest clients include Jay-Z and the Backstreet Boys. She claims it only took her four days to make Jay-Z a star. You know Grubman is a big name in the public relations field and entertainment industry when in 2005 she had her own reality show on MTV.
Recently, there has been a lot of curiosity about why the public relations field is primarily women. Women make up almost 85% of the public relations workforce. However, a man is always at the top. It is not unusual for a man to be the executive of a public relations company with an entirely female staff.
One theory as to why there are more women is because they never felt comfortable in other fields. One woman said, “No one encouraged me to do STEM, so I did liberal arts.” Another theory is that men are more interested in the action-packed and exciting world of journalism. Lastly, one writer believes there are five reasons as to why women flood the public relations field: women are better and more active listeners than men; they are more social; they have better multitasking capabilities which allow them to be more informed on current events; they thrive in groups; and, they focus on the big picture.
Last month, an innovator in the public relations field passed away. Jack Lindquist graduated from the University of Southern California with a business degree, and from there went on to create entirely new ways of advertising.
He began his professional career at a small advertising company promoting washers and dryers. Eventually he would earn the title of first president of Disneyland. Other positions he held included advertising manager, director of marketing, and vice president of entertainment. He has worked at Disneyland California, Disney World Orlando, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.
Just like anyone or anything else associated with Disney, Lindquist was a leader in his field who was responsible for creating ingenious ways of doing things. Here are some of the marketing tools we have Jack Lindquist to thank for:
Disney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations: To promote Disney’s New Year’s Eve events, Jack brought about the idea of giving customers the ability to pre-purchase tickets. This technique had never been used before in the industry. The motive behind implementing this strategy was to sell more tickets. To sell more tickets, Lindquist promoted ticket sales at nearby stores. This allowed customers to avoid long lines the day of events and to make convenient purchases, as they attend their local stores regularly. When this technique was first tested the goal was to sell 6,000 tickets total to cover production costs; 8,500 were sold. Concerts, sports events, and the theatre all use this special selling today.
Grad Night: Jack Lindquist noticed that around graduation time the number of student fatalities rise. The increase in accidents was related to careless celebrations students would take part in after graduating. Jack Lindquist noticed this correlation and decided he had to do something about it. He met with local PTA groups and came up with the plan for Disney Grad Nights. On these special nights graduates would dress in their best and have all the parks completely to themselves to throw one last hoorah. Between 1961 and 2012, five million students celebrated their graduations at the park. Today, almost all of the big amusement park companies have their own version of Disney’s Grad Night.
Anniversary celebrations: Millions of people travel each year to Disney parks and resorts to celebrate various life events. When you enter the parks, there is always a display of buttons such as “just engaged,” “it’s my birthday,” “celebrating my wedding anniversary,” and “it’s my first trip” buttons to take if they apply to your visit. In addition, Disney has anniversaries of its own that it would like to celebrate with customers. Inspiration for this idea hit Jack in anticipation of the 1984 Olympics. Jack took the excitement from the games and funneled it into Disneyland’s 30th anniversary. Not even married couples put a lot of effort into 30th anniversaries, so it was going to be a challenge to sell tickets. To entice customers, Lindquist used the appeal of giveaways. For these giveaways Lindquist set up partnerships with major companies such as General Motors. Also, upcoming Disney offerings, such as upcoming ride openings, were advertised during the anniversary specials. During the 30th year of operation, three million more people visited the park compared to the years before and after.
Commercial plugs: After the Super Bowl, everyone waits for the winning team’s quarterback to say, “I’m going to Disney World.” This is thanks to Jack Lindquist. Other forms of plugs related to Jack Lindquist are product placement, and sponsored displays.
Disney Dollars: Disney Dollars are a form of currency available for purchase and consumption only while on Disney property. This eased transactions for international visitors while they were enjoying the parks. The Disney Dollars range in value, mimicking the U.S. dollar. However, instead of displaying Abe Lincoln and Ben Franklin, the familiar faces of Mickey Mouse and Goofy are shown.
Disneyland Ambassador Program: A Disney Ambassador is a current Disney employee who attends big events such as movie releases or ride unveilings and has been referred to as “the tour guide to end all tour guides.” They are chosen after rigorous interview processes and serve one-year terms. It is an extreme honor to be chosen for this position. If there is a new event, attraction, movie, or parade, the ambassador is in charge of being the face of Disney and stresses the magnificence of the opening.
Mr. Lindquist made amusement advertising what it is today. Even though Jack is gone, many amusement parks and other various forms of business to this day use techniques he innovated. In Disneyland and Disney World, Jack is forever immortalized through memorial nods to him in the parks. For example on one of the facades lining Main Street, a window reads, “J.B. Lindquist, Honorary Mayor of Disneyland.”
Technology has altered the lives of first world countries tremendously. We no longer have to churn our own butter, we have high speed internet, and we have the resources to cure diseases that previously wiped out millions. However, there are downsides to relying as heavily as we do on advanced automatics. Inconveniences include damage to the environment, lack of privacy, and laziness. What about when it comes to business? Technology has allowed businesses to connect to their customers in innovative and particular ways. But, has this abolished the need for public relations? A former PR executive produced a book last year proclaiming that technology had killed PR.
He reasoned that the rise of social media had diminished the demand for public relations. Others say the opposite. Some current public relations executives state that social media has driven a demand for public relations. The fact that the face of public relations has drastically changed over the last decade does not mean it is becoming extinct. If you own a public relations company that used to thrive and is now stagnant, maybe the problem is that you have not successfully kept up with the times. Social media has opened avenues that allow companies to publicize themselves as never before, not only in the number of new platforms available, but in the different formats available.
There are so many different options to choose from when deciding where to advertise your clients. TV, radio, billboard, restaurant placemats, key chains, celebrity endorsements, website banners – an abundance of options accessible with just a click A company can use YouTube for long videos, Instagram to display different goods and services, Twitter to promote a message quickly and simply, Facebook allows mutual friends to discuss openly and to promote their companies or products within their networks of friends. Online messaging boards and review site platforms such as Yelp or Tripadvisor may aide in a similar fashion. However, websites similar to these can be a blessing or a curse. For a solid company they are a great asset. If your company often experiences hiccups or bad press, websites like Yelp can ruin your business.
Here is a list of the components that add up to being the best time yet in public relations history:
Public relations specialists have always been masters of simplifying. Since their creation, their primary functions have been to take Company’s vast ideas and condense them into pretty packages that will attract clients. Clients have never wanted to be bombarded by a ton of lengthy informative narratives. They have always preferred advertisements that were short and to the point. That is easier more than ever now with the help of social media. Public relations companies can take extensive concepts, summarize them, dress them up, and redistribute them back to the world. Social media today is designed specifically for this purpose. For example; vines only last seven seconds and tweets have to be less than 140 characters. If something is too long or too confusing, customers will simply keep scrolling.
New technology has allowed companies to be skeptical. Consumers can research a product or company within seconds and form an opinion. Customers do a lot of research prior to committing to a large purchase. There is a certain wariness consumers have about companies. They are not as easily susceptible to advertising as they might once have been. Many people even have ad blockers installed on their devices to prevent themselves from being reached by companies. Due to the power buyers now have, agencies need public relations to find ways to gain customer trust and make sure promotions reach intended targets.
Companies often have to dispute false claims. Companies can directly promote the truth to their clients, or they can continually post engaging information over time that builds trust, It is important for a company to keep their clients well informed and active or everything will plateau. If the company is the one building and maintaining its image, it assures the image it wants portrayed is the one being received.
- Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools in advertising. People are much more likely to listen to the opinion of someone they know and trust over a large corporation. If someone sees their neighbor posting about how great their new Cuisinart blender is, they will ask their neighbor if they recommend the same one the next time they are in the market for a new blender. Previously, word of mouth marketing literally had to travel orally. Social media has also created professional bloggers, the modern day equivalent of a secret shopper. They buy and test products, and consumers who read their blogs may trust their reviews enough to consider buying the product or service.