What Motivates a Celebrity to Say “Yes!”

What Rita Tateel taught me about the celebrity public relations business.

By Stella Galli

DALLAS – If you know me, you know that the one thing I am on top of is celebrity gossip. At my first internship at JMG Public Relations, I was introduced to working on celebrity brand partnership projects and instantly became obsessed with the idea of working with celebrities in the public relations field. Therefore, when I saw that there was a professional development session at ICON with the President of Celebrity Source, an agency that supports celebrity booking companies, I quickly signed up.

Rita Tateel is well-known for getting celebrities to say yes – the single-most challenging thing to get celebrities to do. But how does she do it? After attending her informational session, here were some of my biggest takeaways on how to do so:

Make sure the celebrity knows what’s in it for them. This is the first thing that the celebrity will want to know – how will this benefit them? Sometimes, money is not a big enough motivator. For celebrities who are already very wealthy, a $100,000 payout won’t mean that much to them. Be sure to connect what you are asking them to do has a more meaningful purpose to their overall brand, purpose, or interests. So, what are some of the things you can tie into this?

  1. Media exposure. Media exposure is a great way to motivate two different kinds of celebrities: celebrities who are up and coming (on the rise) or down and going (used to have lots of exposure and are starting to be forgotten in the public eye).
  2. Personal interests. When it comes to persuading celebrities by bringing a hobby they love to do into the equation, Rita specifically said almost no celebrity will turn down one thing: golf! She has been able to sway celebrities to attend events for just a few minutes, take some photos, answer some questions by pointing out that the celebrity can go golfing after. 
  3. Perks and gifts. To put it quite simply: celebrities are humans. What do humans love? Gifts. As Rita explained, gifting nearly always works. 
  4. Connecting it to their hometown. When the celebrity feels a sense of connection that brings them back to their roots, they feel more compelled to be a part of it. Rita explained that when they were curating celebrities to be a part of the “Don’t Mess With Texas” littering campaign, celebrities born and raised in Texas were excited to be a part of it. 

While Rita shared all of these key influences to get a celebrity to say yes, she also gave us beyond compelling insight into the celebrities’ psychology, as well as what to avoid when trying to secure a celebrity.

Thank you to Rita and ICON for a thought-provoking session!

My Tips for Landing a Summer Internship

By: Janina Camp

Picture of Janina in professional attire for her internship

This time last year, I was a junior looking to secure an internship for the summer. I felt intimidated by the process, and after multiple rejections, I was starting to lose hope. Eventually, I landed a marketing internship with The Delaware River and Bay Authority, even though I was up against numerous applicants. What made me stand out amongst the others? In retrospect, I believe there are three things I did which gave me a competitive advantage. 

1. Attend UD’s Career Fair and Research the Employers Beforehand 

I discovered DRBA’s internship opportunities simply by searching on Google for marketing internships in my area. When spring semester came around, I noticed DRBA was attending UD’s career fair, so I took the opportunity to meet with them one on one. I met with a woman named Rosa, who was excited to hear that I was familiar with DRBA and had already applied for the marketing internship. She said she would put in a good word and help me  interview with the marketing department. 

If I hadn’t gone to the fair that day, it’s possible I would have never been offered an interview. At the end of the day, networking is vital and your connections are everything.

2. If Possible, Apply to Multiple Positions at the Same Company/Organization

While I was at the career fair, Rosa recommended that I apply for the communications internship. I had previously only applied for the marketing internship because that is the role I was most interested in. However, if there are multiple positions that you feel could match your skill set, why not apply to them all?

In retrospect, I can see more clearly how it benefited me to apply for both. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for both positions, and because of that, both the communications department and marketing department knew my name. If I wasn’t a perfect fit for one of the roles– then I could be recommended for the other. In my opinion, it demonstrates your interest in the business and increases your chances of being selected. 

3. Understand the Company/Organization and Position You’re Applying For

Always make sure you research what the business does, their history, and any other relevant information. This is especially important to do before an interview. The night before I had my interview for the communications internship, I made sure I would be able to answer the question “What do you know about the DRBA?” Which, to my surprise, was the first question they asked me – before they even asked me about myself. 

Because of the research I did beforehand, I successfully answered the question and was told it was the best answer they’d heard in the many years they’d been interviewing. I was shocked, I thought my answer was relatively simplistic. It turns out – DRBA is a complex organization, and many misunderstand what they do, or don’t fully realize the breadth of each sector. “Once, someone said ‘uh, you do work with the water, and stuff’” said TJ, the man who interviewed me. 

Even if you think you understand a business, always go back and check again. While they may not ask you, it’s important to be prepared if they do. 

I hope my tips help you in your journey of securing an internship this summer! Remember that there are endless opportunities out there and I know anyone reading this is going to find success. Here are a few bonus tips:

  • Always write a cover letter, even if it’s optional 
  • Bring a notepad and pen to the interview in case you need to write something down. It looks good if you are prepared.
  • Email a thank-you note 24-48 hours after the interview 
  • Have confidence!

The Ethics of Influencing and Gifted Content

By: Hayley Grossbauer

Social media has permanently changed the field of Public Relations. Not only has it just arisen in the 21st century, but it is constantly evolving, with new platforms coming out all the time. This challenges us in the field of public relations to keep up with these trends and to utilize them to our advantage. One of the ways PR professionals have done that is through the use of sponsorships with celebrities and influencers. However, there are some blurred lines when it comes to the ethics of sponsored posts. In this day and age, it is important that we start to set guidelines in order to not mislead consumers. It is common to see hashtags alluding to sponsorship, like “#ad” or “#spon,” at the end of a sponsored post, but is that the correct form of disclosure? What are the guidelines surrounding this, if there are any? 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that influencers should disclose a relationship with a brand when they are receiving monetary compensation or even products for free. It suggests that hashtags alluding to endorsement are not a quality way to show a sponsorship or brand deal, and influencers should instead treat sponsorship tags like any other brand deal. TruthInSponsorship.org, an organization dedicated to fighting against deceptive advertising, says that an influencer needs to disclose their financial, employment, personal, or family relationship with a brand whenever they express their opinion on said brand, regardless of whether they were paid, gifted, given a discount, etc. Influencers have a responsibility to their audience to provide truthful information. According to an article for Vanity Fair from 2017, around 90 celebrities received letters from the FTC as cease and desists for lack of disclosure on sponsored media, including Kim Kardashian, Anne Hathway, and Gigi Hadid. Celebrities are known for receiving thousands of dollars per sponsored post, so it is important that they follow ethical guidelines set by the FTC for full disclosure to audiences. The FTC did not plan to take legal action, but they do have the power to in the future. 

One area of PR that came to mind when we discussed ethics in my Communication class, COMM309: Introduction to Public Relations, was about beauty influencers and the cosmetic industry. Beauty influencers are known to receive boxes of new products that beauty brands put out, referred to as PR boxes. They often include new products in decorated packaging with other free items related to the products. I have noticed this more and more in recent years on platforms like Tiktok or Instagram, but I even grew up watching “unboxings” and reviews on Youtube. I spoke to University of Delaware Professor Tara Smith about the ethics of gifted and sponsored content, in general and in relation to the beauty industry, and this is what I learned from our discussion:

1. It’s all about disclosure.

Never assume that your audience knows that a product was sponsored or gifted. The reason gifted collaborations have such a gray area is because many fail to or don’t know how to properly tell their audience that the items are gifted. The FTC suggests that influencers avoid things like only putting a vague hashtag at the end of a post like “#gifted,” and, instead, make it as transparent as possible to the audience that there is a brand relationship. This can be done by fully and clearly stating in a video or post that the content was gifted. The FTC even says that thanking the brand for the products could be a proper way to disclose a business relationship if put in an obvious place of the post, same with the words ad, advertisement, or sponsorship. When a business relationship is fully disclosed in a post, the post would be considered ethical. 

2. You can give gifted items to influencers, but there is more of a gray area when gifting to those outside of that category, like journalists. 

A big part of beauty influencers’ jobs in this day and age is receiving gifted or sponsored content and posting about it. But there are gray areas when there are people who are influencers but also may work as a blogger or a journalist for a beauty magazine. Journalists are actually not allowed to receive any forms of gifts. Instead, a journalist may buy the product themself or borrow the product from the brand and give it back after their review or article. 

3. Know who you are gifting to. 

This is a big one. If an influencer has a history of just using a vague hashtag at the end of their post, this may not be an influencer that you want to work with. Know who you are gifting to and what their morals are, and make it clear about the guidelines you want them to follow to properly disclose the brand/ influencer relationship.

Overall, although it is generally considered the PR professional’s responsibility that the influencer discloses a brand relationship, I think that there needs to be more education on both sides about the ethics of gifted and sponsored posts to create the most ethical content for consumers. There are a lot of gray areas, but the main takeaway from my research and conversations has been this: when it comes to sponsored or gifted content, transparency is the most important thing. Always disclose, and disclose properly, in accordance with FTC guidelines. 

Not So Pitch Perfect

By: Zoe Shapiro

Picture of Zoe Shapiro in front of her "Pitch Perfect" presentation.

As the Director of Internal Professional Development for PRSSA-UD, I host two skill slams per semester. A skill slam teaches the members an industry-sought skill that is centered around professional development. Our first Skill Slam dissected how publicists write pitches to journalists and, taking inspiration from the movie Pitch Perfect, I called it “Pitch Perfect.” 

For those who don’t know, a key part of PR is pitching to journalists. PR professionals need journalists as conduits for getting important messages about their clients out to the public. And journalists rely on PR experts as sources for story ideas and relevant information on ongoing stories. 

A “pitch” is usually executed via email – as short, personalized messages that outline the value of a story and why it should be published. And just like anything else, it’s very competitive -there are typically about six PR professionals for every journalist, and 95% of pitches are rejected by journalists. This is due to fast news cycles, unprecedented media outlets, and not customizing the pitch for the specific journalist. 

In the weeks leading up to the Skill Slam, I spent time researching the topic and creating a presentation that wasn’t just informative but creative and engaging. As a public speaking tutor at the University of Delaware, I know the difficulty of keeping an audience’s attention, especially for an hour.

When it was time to present, I had a plan. I was going to present, ask questions along the way, and finish it out with a fun activity that allowed the members to write their own pitch about a made-up company and send it to me, “the journalist.”

As I reflect back on the skill slam, I think it was a success, but it didn’t go exactly how I planned it. I anticipated talking more throughout my presentation and devoting less time to the activity. Thankfully, it turned out to be the exact opposite.

Every member pitched for the same client, but everyone wrote it differently- whether it was the information used, their writing style, or even their creative flair to make it stand out from the rest. I provided the members with tools on how you are supposed to write the perfect PR pitch, but they taught me a much bigger lesson- there is no perfect pitch. We all sat around and picked out our favorite subject lines and read the pitch, discussing what we liked and didn’t like. Everyone’s opinions varied in the responses, much as they each expressed the same idea in a unique way in their own pitch.

I thought with all my research, I knew how to pitch, but it wasn’t until I saw the variety of everyone’s responses that I realized I had been wrong. While there are tools at your disposal to learn how to write a pitch and learn which journalist to send it to, the key is personalization, creativity, and confidence.

While I was in charge of this Skill Slam, the members highlighted the importance of what PRSSA means to me. PRSSA is a community of people who work together to learn and practice professional skills in a safe and encouraging environment. It is a community that I am very proud to be in, and I continue to learn new skills every day from the members of PRSSA!

PRSSA-UD’s Field Trip to the Wells Fargo Center!

By Emma Churgin

This past Tuesday, October 4th, PRSSA-UD and the UD Sports Marketing Club went on a field trip to meet the Sports Marketing and Communications team for the Philadelphia Flyers. This was a fantastic experience where we learned more about the ins and outs of each professional’s role. The field trip included a panel where we were able to ask each member questions and then was followed by a pre-season game with the Philadelphia Flyers against the New York Islanders. 

We spoke to four professionals; the Events Director, the Senior Marketing Director, the Communications Director, and the Senior Group Sales Representative. All of the members were enthusiastic when talking to us and gave advice about how they started their careers to get to where they are now. The most inspiring advice that I took from them was the importance of being confident in yourself to take on different roles while still being able to rely on your team members. Each member’s role is fast-paced; they need to think quickly and be on top of their game and they have admitted this could get overwhelming. However, having confidence in yourself, as well as in your team members, will make the work much more enjoyable.

I was amazed to hear of all the projects that their roles had included. To give an example, the Events Director, Lyric Hamilton, is in charge of setting up each Flyers game as well as setting up concerts with artists like Ariana Grande and Lizzo. She is also the backbone of everything getting done within the arena. Due to the nature of her role, she is constantly working, and setting boundaries with her work life is very important to prevent burnout. When asked where she would like to progress with her career, Lyric Hamilton shared that she aspires to own the Wells Fargo Center; and with her strong personality and commanding work ethic, she persuaded me that she will make that goal a reality.

The team also shared their favorite stories when working in their roles. One that stood out to me was when Senior Marketing Director, Ben Dicandilo, told the story about how Gritty became the team mascot. He said that he was one of the creators for deciding on every feature of the mascot including the color, size, and eye shape. Over time when they had just a few options left they decided to go with the more “crazy” option. If you have ever seen a picture of Gritty, you would understand what he meant by crazy. The day Gritty was introduced to the Flyers Ben Dicandilo shared that the team went to Twitter to see how the fans would react. Posts said things such as, ‘the marketing team needs to be fired’ ‘what were they thinking, etc. However, there was enough press about the mascot that publications like GMA and Jimmy Fallon called to get Gritty on. The marketing team took a risk and it clearly paid off. 

Overall, the field trip was an amazing professional experience with the help of the panel. I am thankful I got to share this experience with other PRSSA members and I’m glad I got to hear from the panel!

PR Pride: A Lesson in Advocacy and my Interview with Paul Richards

By Jess Gardner

This June, I wanted to highlight the important role of public relations in advocacy work, specifically for LGBTQ+ advocacy. Our Instagram featured four different LGBTQ+ organizations that help to empower queer people at the local, state, and national levels; one of those organizations was the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC is an international nonprofit focused on advocating for the LGBTQ+ community through improving national anti-discrimination policy, increasing public education about queer issues, and encouraging voter participation. As a part of their mission statement, the HRC “envisions a world where every member of the LGBTQ+ family has the freedom to live their truth without fear, and with equality under the law.” 

Knowing all that the HRC does for the LGBTQ+ community through citizen empowerment and political action, I was excited to interview Paul Richards, Membership Outreach co-chair for the Greater Philadelphia branch of the HRC, last week. Paul first started working with the HRC as an intern when he was a junior in college.

“I really wanted my junior summer internship to be working for a nonprofit organization in DC doing something that I cared about, so I found the HRC and was lucky enough to get hired by them.” Paul stated.

When the internship ended, Paul spent a few years working on his career in higher education communications, and then joined the HRC again as a volunteer for the HRC’s Greater Philadelphia Steering Committee. A steering committee is a committee within an organization that decides what the organization prioritizes in its course of operations, “steering” the organization in the right direction. Paul’s role in the steering committee evolved into his current position as Membership Outreach co-chair. As a co-chair, Paul focuses on event planning and attending Pride events as a representative of the HRC. At events where Paul represents HRC, he invites people to support the HRC through making “small dollar” donations and recruits people as volunteers. Along with growing the organization’s network, Paul is also educating people about what the HRC does to support LGBTQ+ rights. 

Locally, the HRC is doing a lot to make sure that LGBTQ+ people have rights and resources. One of the most important things the HRC does is mobilize pro-equality voters.

“The people that we meet throughout the year and at events who go to our website and indicate that they’re interested, those are people that the HRC then tries to activate during important election cycles.” Paul stated.

Engaging their network during election seasons so that pro-equality policy prevails is a key aspect of what the HRC is doing at the local and state level, especially in places such as Pennsylvania where successful and strategic local campaigning can flip the vote. The HRC Philadelphia branch also works with other nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia in order to reach a wider audience and to support smaller local nonprofits. The HRC website provides an abundance of resources on different LGBTQ+ topics. A key resource of theirs is the Municipal Equality Index, which is a comprehensive index that assesses different municipality policies across the country to see how different places rank in their treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. I decided to look up Newark DE in the 2021 Municipality Equality Index, and I was surprised to find that our town scored 61 out of 100, which is below the average national score of 67. Check out the HRC Municipality Index if you’re curious to see how your hometown compares to Newark. 

Probably one of the most important things I learned from my interview with Paul was the importance of volunteer work not just to support a cause, but also to support yourself at the individual level.

“I find that it’s very meaningful to have involvements outside of your job, like outside of your nine to five, that connect you to the issues that you care the most about and in the issues that impact your specific part of the broader community that we’re all part of.” Paul stated.

Volunteering for a cause that’s important to someone can help them to find their voice and feel empowered. As college students, there are plenty of opportunities for us to develop skills and build our resumes through fulfilling volunteer work. So don’t be afraid to stand up for your cause, whatever it may be. With all that being said, thanks for reading and happy end of pride month!

Lindsay Lohan and Lawyer.com

By Stella Galli

When I think of Lindsay Lohan, a few things come to mind: rehab, “Freaky Friday”, the early 2000s, and DUIs. One thing that does not come to mind is a credible spokesperson, but Lawyer.com did and ran with it. In March 2018, Lawyer.com partnered with Lindsay Lohan to become their representative and create the “Why did Lindsay Lohan join Lawyer.com?” campaign. Off the bat, many may think this is a bizarre move considering Lohan’s past. It’s no secret that this pairing is ironic, which is what I think made it a great, eye-catching campaign. 

Lawyer.com is a free service website and their target audience is simply anyone looking for a lawyer. By selecting Lohan, Lawyer.com chose to be transparent to their audience. For anyone who paid attention to the news in the early 2000s, it’s no secret that Lindsay Lohan has needed a lawyer a few times in her life. According to CNN, Lohan has been arrested four times and appeared in court more than 20 times. Upon accessing Lawyer.com’s website a video titled “Why did Lindsay Lohan join Lawyer.com?” is the very first pop-up. In the video, Lohan says, “Lawyer.com is just about helping people. From getting a DUI – let’s not pretend like I didn’t get one… or two or three… or some others.” With transparency and humor, Lawyer.com makes their website visitors feel understood. No, not everyone is Lindsay Lohan, but everyone in their target audience has made some kind of mistake that has led them to their services, and are on the site for the same reason. More than anybody, Lohan just gets it. 

The campaign has been successful in terms of media coverage. Buzzfeed wrote that the commercials were “iconic” and The Wrap called it Lohan’s “perfect gig.” For a small company that has only 2,000 likes on Facebook and growing, this is major exposure for Lawyer.com. Just as their website, Lohan’s face is the first thing you see when you open Lawyer.com’s social profiles, such as Facebook and Twitter. As part of the campaign, Lawyer.com utilized Lohan’s humor to draw attention to their brand by having her tweet to her 8+ million followers. When former President Trump’s lead personal attorney, John Dowd, resigned in 2018 Lohan was quick to tweet “Hey, @realDonaldTrump heard you need a lawyer… at http://Lawyer.com we are always here for everyone.” Lohan utilizing her humor surely got Lawyer.com’s marketing message noticed and even got a response from Kathy Griffin. Gerry Gorman, Layer.com’s CEO has said that Lohan has become “a very large investor” for the company.

Lohan says in the same website-opening video “When Lawyer.com first reached out to me, I was confused and a little scared because I thought I was in trouble. But when they asked me to be their spokesperson, I was intrigued.” Well Lindsay, so was I. By utilizing a celebrity who has had a relatable experience to their target audience, Lawyer.com was able to effectively communicate their brand’s purpose: to help you find a lawyer from someone who knows it the best. 

Start 2022 With 5 Ways to Grow Your Professional Presence

By Evelyn Zanowski

  1. Update Your Linkedin and Resume
What to Update Now on Your LinkedIn Profile - ProResource

Start off 2022 by updating your resume and LinkedIn to make sure all your current accomplishments and positions are up to date. Engage with your connections on LinkedIn and find inspiration on a post you can make, this is to show you are active on the site.

You can access resume templates from the UD Career Center here or get creative with Canva to express your personal style on paper. (remember to keep it professional and clean!)

**Dues-paying members please take advantage of Pitch+ for resume/cover letter advice, prepare for interviews and get help setting up your LinkedIn

  1. Buy a New Planner

Some people prefer online calender applications to plan but for me, having a physical planner is my number one way to stay organized. I love google calenders but physically writing in my planner is less distracting for me and helps me to remember important dates. Every Sunday I have the habit of sitting down, taking out my colorful pens, and organizing my week.

Just for fun, here are some of my favorite pens, highlighters, and planners!

Sharpie S Gel Pens– my go-to note-taking, list-making, everyday pen!

Mildliner Creative Markers– These highlighter pens are dual-sided so they are great for highlighting major events and using color to organize notes.

Target has an amazing selection of reasonably priced and high-quality planners

My personal favorites are the Blue Sky brand planners! Some other great places for planners are Papier and any big box office supply store

  1. Start Looking for Summer Internship Opportunities
HRACRE Summer Internship Program - Hampton Roads Association for Commercial  Real Estate

It is time to start looking for summer internships. Start with researching companies that spark your interests and look at their website career pages to see when their applications are live.

Visit the PRSSA UD Instagram for information on internship opportunities from HUNTER PR (application deadline 2/15) and BCW (application deadline 2/4)

My recommendation is to seek out summer internships by looking directly on company websites, many companies do not post their opportunities on large job posting sites as they are only looking for interns who do their own research to find the opportunities! Also do not feel scared to reach out directly to the companies HR/information email inquiring about internships. Keep your email professional and concise while expressing your interest in an internship!

**Dues-paying members more information on internships will be shared in our member group!

  1. Seek Out New Connections! Network, Network, Network!
A Network of Networks | Anna Lindh Foundation

Research professionals and companies that you find interesting and reach out for informational interviews. This is a great way to create connections, learn more about the industry, and help guide your career path! Cold LinkedIn messages and emails can be scary but do not let that hold you back from creating a professional network!

5. Stay Informed

news on phone with hand - Wyoming Department of Health

In 2022 you need to make sure you are seeking information on Public Relations outside of the classroom and reading up-to-date news stories in the industry.

Here is a list of some of my website recommendations

PR Daily– a leading publisher of corporate communications, public relations, and leadership development newsletters

PRsay– interactive public relations and communication blog by the Public Relations Society of America

PR Couture – fashion & lifestyle communications, specifically their articles under the category New to PR

Taking Care of You! Mental and Physical Health in the Hybrid Work Era

By Dani Raskin

I attended two ICON sessions this year that really stood out to me, mainly because they revolved around what our world is dealing with right now. One was about how to manage our mental and physical health in the hybrid work era and the other was all about how to thrive in your post-pandemic career. 

Mark Mohammadpour, an accredited communications executive and certified health coach and personal trainer discussed tips on how to take control of your health in our new normal. What I found really interesting about this session was when Mark spoke about how PR Professionals in particular have not been taking their paid time off. They are working TOO MUCH. They are having 15-20 meetings a week, in person or on zoom. Burnout is a real issue. We need to take care of ourselves, our mental health, and our physical health. Some tips he gave to balance work life and our own personal wellness were to go on walks, whether it be during your lunch break or after your workday. We can also jot down thoughts in a journal each day. We can see a therapist. Therapists can be for anyone. Having that unbiased, outside person to just talk about anything and everything could be very helpful for some people. My biggest takeaway from this session was that we need to be transparent. The world has changed in so many ways and changes take a toll on us. We are all human beings, we cannot handle everything thrown at us. It is okay to take a day off if needed, it is okay to contact your boss to express you are not at your best and it is okay to make time for ourselves. While the pandemic is not fully over yet, we still need to think about what is next for us. Career coach, Angee Linsey, shares some tips with us on how to thrive in our post-pandemic careers. With people who have never heard of zoom now spending full days staring at their screens and sitting in their childhood bedrooms, it will definitely be an adjustment. The year 2020 came with many disruptors such as an intense election, a pandemic, and mass protests. I took away a few really helpful tips from this session that I will carry with me post-pandemic. I learned to look for opportunities that are not just available to me, but those opportunities that I have reached a little further to get. Angee Linsey also spoke about how important it is to learn from others.

Taking a Stand: Evolving PR Roles as Activists, Allies and Cause Champions

By Lia Hyman

As Public Relations professionals, it is impossible to ignore the ever-evolving social justice issues that have become increasingly important and pertinent to consumers. From the Black Lives Matter movement, to Climate justice, to the Me Too movement, it is our responsibility to pay attention to current topics of conversation that impact the companies we work for.

This was the topic of conversation at PRSA’s 2021 ICON Conference during the session “Taking a Stand: Evolving PR Roles as Activists, Allies and Cause Champions”. 

When asked how prepared companies or clients are to respond to attacks from activist organizations, speakers at the session revealed only 31% of PR professionals surveyed reported “a great deal”. Even worse, 32% reported “not at all or slightly”. 

This lack of confidence in preparation indicates failure to execute continuous environmental scanning. As companies, now more than ever do we need to listen to what consumers want. Looking at trend tracking is a great way to process the media landscape and what we need to stay up-to-date with. If we do this, we will create better content and campaigns that resonate with our audiences.

Another problem within the PR field is an aversion to calling ourselves, activists. Speakers at the session discussed that only 24% of PR professionals identify as an activist, with 70% considering themselves an ally. Survey respondents indicated that they preferred to express their beliefs in more traditional ways, like voting, donating money, and engaging in community service. Engaging in more vocal methods, like protesting and striking, were less likely. 

During the session, speakers hypothesized this disconnect from the word “activist” stems from PR professionals’ belief that these people are protestors seeking to destroy PR’s carefully crafted reputation. However, the “new activist” is not what most people think. In reality, activists want to hold companies accountable to their word, something they should already be doing. No picketing or rioting needs to be done in order to fight for systemic change. 

Overall, this ICON session stressed the inability to separate our personal lives from our corporate life any longer. With an increased emphasis on societal change, 84% of PR professionals believe corporations have a responsibility to take a stand on issues related to their business. Before we as students venture off into the various communication fields post-college, it’s important to remember the lessons learned from these new studies: activism is here to stay, and we are responsible for listening and acting upon these causes.