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Public Relations: The Soft Side

November 10, 2011

I’m an ad/PR major, but I prefer the ad side; more creativity, less talking to media (I’d rather report than get reported on), and far more Adobe design suite. That said, the part of public relations I like the most is crisis management. It’s an opportunity for recovery and hope in any given time of uncertainty, tragedy, or loss, and it takes PR from something that exists for the company’s benefit to something that can truly heal and help communities. Many people have the misconception that all PR is hype to draw attention to a company or manage its reputation; that may sometimes be true, but it isn’t always. All it takes is looking at how the ACU bus crash was handled to see the tender and genuine nature PR can take on when it’s practiced by people who truly love and care for their organization or company. The manner in which ACU handled the tragic loss of Anabel Reid proves that in times of hurt and crisis, public relations professionals have the opportunity to step up and use their expertise–communication, uniting people, maintaining a sense of calm–to bring people together and strengthen communities. From setting up the emergency response blog to keeping people updated through email to producing Dr. Phil Schubert’s response video, the public relations team was surely behind the scenes for all of it, making sure that every message released conveyed the emotions everyone was feeling: sorrow, pain, hope, and joy for Anabel’s life. PR done right is not just a marketing tactic, but a genuine and heartfelt way to reach out to an organization’s communities to give them what they need in times like this. It may seem like a strange thing to focus on in this time of tragedy, but for every day that goes right following a crisis, there is a team of trained people behind the scenes making sure the story gets told in a kind and hopeful way. In a small way, the ACU PR team is helping make sure that Anabel is remembered and that her family is comforted; that’s the heart of public relations.


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