American race relations

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In a poll run by NBC News, over fifty percent of our nation believes that race relations in the US are currently bad, “…the most pessimistic assessment of racial issues in almost two decades. In the past twenty years, race relations have been a major topic of discussion in the United States.”

An issue that has been ever present in our country has bubbled to the surface yet again – but this time, stronger than ever. President Obama sites this negative growth in an NPR interview as instead a heightened awareness of the issue. As more and more people begin to discuss race relations, more begin to believe in its importance.

Perspectives of race relations

As we make strides towards realizing the importance of race relations, we must first understand is that each race views race relations differently. In a US News poll, blacks consistently felt different than whites regarding race relations. While whites appeared hopeful that race relations are improving, blacks perspective on race relations actually showed the opposite.

Attitudes by percentage

When discussing attitudes towards race relations, whites showed a percentage ranging from 6-34% percent higher than blacks. The biggest difference: job opportunities, the second, housing and the third, education.

Finding common ground

As our country makes moves towards better race relations, I believe we need to begin to understand the perspective of the other race. If we continue to have such different perspectives, we will only continually go in circles regarding the issue. We will not be able to reach common ground in regards to race relations if we cannot first begin to understand race relations in a like manner.

Understanding ‘the other’

As a person of both black and white races, I will be the first to say race relations ARE an issue. Not only is this something I see in my life on a macro scale, but also on a micro scale within my family. Neither side, black or white, understands the other. And it often seems that neither side wants to. If we can never reach a common ground on the belief that each and every person deserves equal treatment than race relations will continue to be a major issue.

What will you do to make race relations better?

Public relations in non-profits: a personal reflection

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My sophomore year of school at ACU was spent in Dallas working with the Justice and Urban Studies Team alongside CitySquare – a nonprofit with the mission of fighting the root causes of poverty. As students with ACU @ CitySquare we were given extensive amounts of hands on learning; learning that we coined putting theory into practice.

From the hands on experience, I was able to spend time learning from major established CitySquare staff, like the CEO or director of the Texas AmeriCorps program, but also from community center leaders and teachers.

Coming from the public relations perspective, I was able to see where some non-profits were struggling and where they were doing well.

Struggles

Most of the struggles seen in non-profit public relations was a lack of funding to develop a public relations department. While most non-profits I saw were staffed with communications departments, there weren’t many with specified public relations employees. This seem to cause some misrepresentation of the non-profit and disorganization.

Triumphs

While the struggles were immense, the triumphs seemed to come directly from those struggles. Because there was no representation, the whole company knew exactly what to say and what to do when representing their non-profit. The lack of representation and disorganization also created a togetherness of the publics affected. They knew there would be no one to organize them so they organized themselves.

Why does this matter?

Personally, after seeing the functions, or dysfunctions rather, of a nonprofit lacking a public relations department, I was truly able to see the importance of PR. In my opinion, PR is what holds companies together and keeps them standing on their own two feet. Without PR, companies become disorganized, misrepresented and as a result, less effective.

I truly believe this is an important field in the PR world, and as more students make the move toward PR and communications, I hope that non-profit PR will become a more discussed sector in the PR world.

A passion for advertising

In order to understand where you are, you must also know where you have been, right? I think so. You must know who you are as a person, what you do daily and you have to know about the world around you. When you begin to look at the world around you, if you do not know where the world has come from your understanding of the world may be different than what it is.

But – if we take the time to understand the history, I think we can better understand today. In my opinion, this applies to advertising as well.

Early advertising

When looking at advertising from the 1950’s there is a – what we would call – vintage theme. The advertisements display deep colors and bold messages based around themes of the family home, cars or women working in the homes. They contain catch phrases but not a lot of detailed graphics or information.

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Advertising now

However, as we move to today, one can see that advertisements have become much more subtly persuasive in nature. The visuals are interesting, brightly colored and catching to the eye.

As technology has advanced so has advertising and the abilities of the creators. Advertisers are able to really invest themselves into their work and make it their own. They don’t have to pick from a few options for graphics but instead can create their own.

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A passion is developed

I think this ability to create and make advertisements ones own, has created a new revolution in advertising. The creators really invest in their projects and therefore create a better more effective product.

When talking to a JMC student, Karley Adrion, she expressed this,

“There’s something in our soul, our personality that instantly connects with that artwork or advertisement. Yes, I might be selling something, but it’s not just a product but an idea, concept, feeling, dreams, and the sweat, tears (and sometimes blood) that goes into creating it.”

Now that, is a passion and investment in advertising.

The Ever-changing Optimist

Looking back

Flashback to Thursday, August 1st, 1912: Abilene Christian College newspaper – the Optimist – produces its first edition. Circulation was monthly, a subscription was only 50 cents per year and the only staffed position was the business manager, Arthur Slater. The news from the first edition was as follows:

  • Discussion of Christian education and the dangers of public schooling,
  • Encouragement for boys and girls,
  • News from Merkel, Texas,
  • Information regarding athletics and student organizations,
  • Editorials and,
  • Advertisements.

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The Optimist’s change

As technology and media have changed, the Optimist has advanced as well. By the 1920s the Optimist was being published weekly; then bi-weekly in the 80s. AS technology advances and we have entered a time period where news stories are written within three hours of the event, the Optimist hopes to be able to produce minute-by-minute news to its audience as well. The goal of the Optimist is to move alongside advancing technology and media trends.

The Optimist goals

When talking with Brittany Jackson, the current Editor-in-Chief of The Optimist, she explained that in order to be able to provide more immediate news to it’s audience – students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni – the Optimist has moved their print date to only Fridays but has increased its online activity allowing for quicker access for their audience to the latest ACU news. Jackson emphasized her goal to “emulate the current journalism market as much as possible” in order to provide more experience as well as reach it’s audience better.

As the Optimist advances, “I see the publication becoming more aligned with publications found in bigger schools who tend to reflect mass media journalism market.” With these advances, more people will have access to the current and breaking news at ACU and I think this will be a benefit to those off campus but still interested in the happenings of campus life.

A Lack of Diversity

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The Campus

Walking around ACU’s campus, one can quickly see that the women out number the men. As our campus begins to grow – and we accept the second biggest freshman class since the 1980’s – we, as a campus, can see the gender diversity decreasing. In fact, about 63% of this years freshman class are women while only 47% are men.

In the JMC department, the number is more skewed than the university as a whole. In a Principles of Public Relations class taught by Dr. Cheryl Bacon, there are a total of 35 students and only three men. When looking at this in comparison to classes in COBA that tend to be male-dominated, we can begin to wonder about the effects of the lack of diversity.

Future effects

However, as students begin to move on to bigger and better things, (i.e. graduate and get an adult job), I wonder how this lack of diversity further affects their careers.

The men found in the JMC department benefit from this lack of diversity. They are able to get a taste of what their prospective workplace will look like. And when employees see that they have a male applicant for a PR specialist position or journalist position, they get a leg up. They are the diamond in the ruff!

A new perspective

But for the women in the department, I think we miss out on having a more diverse perspective. Women and men, in my opinion, always bring a different perspective to than table, and since we spend four years in a department dominated by women, we miss out on those differing perspectives.

Moving forward, as members of the JMC department, the men – future, current and past – need to continue to be encouraged within our field. We need fresh perspective and more diversity.