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Let the ‘sunshine’ in! Blogging, PR musings

The Tiger Beat Blog regularly takes readers “behind the scenes” of RIT University News. Providing the full and unvarnished “inside scoop” about the inner workings of RIT’s news office has been this blog’s mission for some five years now.

Over the past few weeks, my colleague Marie Lang has been taking you “under the hood” to tell you specifically about her job and changes in her life since starting at RIT last fall. So today, let’s go “behind the scenes” of that “open hood”….

Marie recently proposed writing about her role in University News and its relationship to a family member’s job working in local media. “Great idea!” (or something to that effect), I replied.

But she was having reservations. Another colleague cautioned her that it could cause trouble if someone—perhaps through a random Google search—uncovered the nefarious affair.

“You’re both over thinking it,” I said. For starters, we have nothing to hide. (Not to mention, in my mind, what IS there to hide? We don’t provide preferential treatment to any one media outlet over another—and we don’t expect it in return from professional journalists. If someone suspects otherwise, that’s their problem, frankly.)

“Now, if your family member (or his employer) has issues with it, then don’t post it,” I advised, in the interests of promoting familial harmony. “But WE have no problem with it.”

It led to a good, old-fashioned, healthy in-house debate. My view: Suppose someone did have an issue with Marie’s relationship? Better they learn about it from us. That’s actually PR101—so maybe it’s not surprising that my colleagues on the other side of the debate are also the newest to PR among our staff.

As I’ve previously written here, we’re not your typical PR office. In fact, we’re more news than public relations (a luxury of higher-ed, as opposed to corporate or agency, PR). Therefore, we advocate for and practice transparency (or “sunshine,” the term open-government advocates might use).

One might think that my new colleagues—as ex-newspaper people both—would be “sunshine” advocates; but possibly they’re just not used to our brand of less-controlled PR (as opposed to corporate-Goliath PR like that of, say, Gannett).

So let’s be abundantly clear: “Sunshine” is always good in public relations.

I will endlessly advocate for maximum transparency—especially on this blog. But here’s another small fact:

You, dear readers of this blog, represent a highly valued, but—how shall I say it?—a very “select” group of readers. In other words, it’s just us. Although I wish we numbered in the thousands, on a good day, this blog might receive a couple hundred visitors (most days, it’s closer to 70)—another reason why we can “let it all hang out.”

But what about the random Google search—and that serendipitous finding that reveals, for all the world to see, the untoward affair involving Marie, her relative and their jobs—that caused Marie such consternation? My answer next time.

  1. Will Dube
    May 09

    Sunshine is an extremely important component of good PR because it makes the information you are promoting more believable. I saw it all the time in politics, my previous profession. People would attempt to hide things or present information in a skewed view. When it was found out that politician's ability to get people to listen to anything he said was greatly reduced.

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    The Tiger Beat takes you behind the scenes with the members of RIT University News—the news and public relations division of Rochester Institute of Technology. Get the “story behind the story” and an insider’s look at who we are and what we do to publicize RIT news.
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