A Student's Guide to the World of Public Relations

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In the consumer culture craze of Black Friday,  a celebrity endorsement of a new product on the market should thrill technology companies like Microsoft, especially if said endorsement is from a star as widely followed as talk show phenomenon and renowned philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. However, that thrill factor only works if said endorsement is proven authentic.

On Nov. 18, Oprah tweeted that she “love that SURFACE!” (the Surface is Microsoft’s new tablet/laptop hybrid) and that she bought 12 of them as Christmas gifts this year. However, that tweet was not sent from one of her “#FavoriteThings,” but rather from Microsoft’s competition: the Apple iPad.

Michael Sebastian wrote on PRDaily that Oprah took a lot of heat from tech bloggers, some calling her disingenuous and “a sellout,” but he offers the valid point that this one tiny, somewhat irrelevant blunder probably won’t do much damage to the star’s image.

While a small mistake like this one isn’t a wailing siren to either Microsoft or Oprah’s public relations team to move into crisis management mode, it does serve as a comical reminder to those PR dummies just starting out that the Internet knows no shadowy hiding places and that digital words are permanent.

A writer at tech blog Zagg.com pulled
 this screenshot of the tweet that had people questioning Oprah’s authenticity.

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Hey dummies,

While it’s great that you’ve found this blog, only so much good can come from the blind leading the blind, or from one dummy leading another. A good starting place when learning about a new topic is to read what the experts say. Here are three blogs from PR industry insiders that you should be reading (besides this one, obviously!):

      • Brian Solis – This blog is a must read for those interested in the emergence of new media and its impact on business and marketing. Author and digital analyst Brian Solis takes a fresh look at modern markets composed of a new generation of  connected consumers, a group Solis calls Generation-C, and challenges businesses to discover new ways to best reach these people who are more plugged in than ever before.
      • PR in Your Pajamas – Publicist Elena Verlee and her managing partner Liz Estrella-Basilio at Cross Border Communications handle a wide range of clients – from DIY start-ups to multi-million dollar corporations. The blog engages conversations about the PR industry between curious budding entrepreneurs and seasoned experts. Posts range from the very basics (What is PR? or What is the difference between PR and advertising?) to interviews with industry insiders about whatever hot topic is in the news.
      • Bad Pitch– This blog is a great resource for PR practitioners wondering what not to do to get their clients good publicity. Richard Laermer and Kevin Dugan’s award-winning blog takes a look at some bad pitches, but not just for the sake of mockery or humiliation. These social media, marketing and communications experts take bad pitches and explain why they didn’t or probably won’t work the way the client wanted and offer insight on potential improvements. It’s kind of like reverse psychology, but better – because it’s practical.

There are plenty of other great PR blogs out there, but I think these three. What are some cool ones you’ve found? Spread the love to your fellow PR dummies in the comments below.


If you have somehow arrived here for any reason other than being my instructor for MMC 2100, welcome and thanks for checking it out! (Lauren, you’re welcome here, too!) Even though this is technically just an assignment, I think blogging is fun. I think the word is fun, I think the idea is fun, and the best part is – if nobody cares, I still get to write whatever I want. And it’s free. Sweet.

The main purpose of this blog is to document my adventure in the world of PR. It’s pretty exciting stuff, I promise. (I just applied for a social media and internet marketing internship at a local PR firm! There’s no money, but it looks a lot better on a resume than my year in fast food.) Even though PR is my concentration in school, I still feel like such a novice. A virtual “PR Dummy.” So I figured I’d mash a whole bunch of ideas into one and start a blog that chronicles my learning process and experiences (and hopefully earns an A). Anyways, I’ll post stuff that I find interesting, cool, noteworthy or valuable and if you’re interested in learning right along with me, you’re invited! Come on, dummies. Let’s learn.


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Happy blogging!