An Open Letter from OU PRSSA

To the OU family -

 The statue by Tom Otterness sits outside of Gaylord College. ( OU Daily, 2018 )

The statue by Tom Otterness sits outside of Gaylord College. (OU Daily, 2018)

We, members of the Stewart Harrel Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America in Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma, wish to register our disapproval of the installation of Tom Otterness’ ‘Covered Wagon’ statue, a donation by William Obering, located on the front lawn of Gaylord College. As young public relations professionals, we are taught that transparency is critical to an organization’s reputation and are particularly concerned about the lack of transparency which preceded the installment of the statue, as well as what we have come to learn about the artist’s past.

As one of the nation’s top journalism and mass communications programs, we are very proud of our public image and the successful recruitment efforts which have contributed to our success. We believe the statue and its placement outside Gaylord Hall will negatively impact the image of our college, our recruiting efforts and potential donor and alumni support. Most of all, we want to express our solidarity with members of the OU community who feel disrespected by the statue’s reference to Oklahoma’s colonialist past, as well as the artist’s mistreatment of animals.

Art is a wonderful way to enhance the beauty of our campus. We also know that beauty often lies in the eye of the beholder. However, we are confident that this statue has not and will not be viewed in a positive light nor will it enhance our campus community.

Sincerely,

The Public Relations Student Society of America

Steward Harrel Chapter at the University of Oklahoma

CO-SPONSORS:

Gaylord Ambassadors

Lindsey + Asp Agency

National Association of Black Journalists, OU Chapter

National Association of Hispanic Journalists, OU Chapter

Society of Professional Journalists, OU Chapter

Same City, New President: What New Leadership in Washington, D.C. means for its Communicators.

Guest post by Hannah Franklin,  Inclusion and Diversity committee member

Have you been on Twitter lately? Have you talked to your grandma on the phone, or maybe turned on the local news? If you have, then you know Donald Trump has a problem with the media, or “dishonest media.” Whether your answer to any conversation over politics begins with an “R,” a “D” or a “no comment,” as public relations young professionals, we must diligently watch how our role in the media and how media’s role in the U.S. is going through some changes. Will Trump’s administration set a new tone for politics and media or has the tone already been set? Most importantly for us, what is the best way for public relations young professionals to adapt to this new media environment?

I recently dove into a few articles that addressed the expected shift in media. One of those articles came from a website called “The Capitol Communicator.” The article zeroed in on how communications in the Washington, D.C. area will change over the course of the next few years. One of the more obvious changes predicted more Republican-minded communicators will be in demand as is typical when parties switch control. Other media shifts the article discussed included focused messaging and integrated digital campaigns, both of which were used heavily in this year’s election.

As a public relations young professional who's focused a lot on the social media realm of the industry, it's clear to see that political communication, and all communication, frankly, will be incorporating digital methods to reach greater audiences in a shorter amount of time. Digital presidential campaigns were first seen with Barack Obama's 2008 election and was heavily seen in the 2016 race.

My thoughts on this integration? The way social media is evolving and integrating itself into various forms of communication is changing rapidly, and it's never going to stop being interesting and conversation-starting. This works to the advantage of digital campaigns because it calls people to start or continue conversations about those campaigns, thus making numerous people aware of said campaign and politician. But how do D.C. communicators, digital and traditional alike, think about how to adapt to digital campaigns and one of its most frequent users being in the White House?

Al Jackson from EVP Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. offered great insight into how communicators will adapt during this time in the media industry:

There are some big lessons here for public affairs practitioners, not the least of which is the distrust of Washington embodied by the Trump movement. Indeed, voters demonstrated a distrust of government institutions that likely extends to private companies in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. It’s something we’ve got to keep in mind as we develop programs for our clients. Additionally, the Trump team had a completely different approach to this campaign and this election than everyone else did. We can’t just stick with what has worked in the past — to be successful we’ve got to look at things differently.

I never gave that much thought to what happens to D.C. communication when a new president takes office, but it’s one of the most intriguing times in communications throughout the entire nation. Communicators around the United States and even globally are impacted with the national change in leadership, and this time of leadership has already proven to keep communicators on their toes.