Posted by: bologna2010 | June 16, 2010

The Colosseum: Movies as PR?

Kelly at the Colosseum

Last Sunday, my classmate Phillip and I visited Rome for the day. Our first and last stop was the Colosseum. As one of Italy’s most ancient and major tourist attractions, it needs no publicity or word of mouth. When we first arrived, the line to enter the Colosseum was so long, we surmised it would take us at least two hours to gain entrance.

So, we decided we would hit some other tourist spots and make the Colosseum our last stop. When we returned and walked into the Colosseum, I immediately knew it was worth the wait. As an American who loves period movies, my first thought turned to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Who doesn’t remember Russell Crowe’s most infamous lines spoken in the final Colosseum scene?

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

Take that Commodus! OK, I digress. As I harkened back to some of the best scenes of Gladiator, Phillip asked me if I had seen Doug Liman’s Jumper film. I had not so he told me that there was a great fight scene that also took place at the Colosseum.

My trip to Rome showed me that PR takes many different forms. It can be overt or covert. But, it also can take the unconscious form of a Hollywood film, usually filmed not on location but on a studio lot miles away. And, some of the best PR is free PR, especially if a consumer can attach a brand to it.

-Kelly A. Campbell

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 15, 2010

PR for Marketing and for You

Something touched upon in our meeting with Edelman (HP’s relationship with Edelman’s Spanish office) is how the public relations function fits into the promotional puzzle of larger, MBA-driven organizations. One might be surprised to find that PR is, to many in the business world (particularly B2C), the last –albeit essential- step in the marketing process. This, I’ve learned, holds some important implications on how to brand oneself to would-be clients,…so I’m wondering how these implications could be affected by European business dynamics.

The tenets of B2C marketing can most elegantly be described by the Four Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Rather than delve deeply into each P’s relevance to an overall strategy, I’ll simply say this: after one has developed the optimal product for a market, has priced it for maximum gross profit, and has placed it in the most profitable mix of sales channels, they then seek to promote it via advertising and public relations.

This globally taught schema suggests two things right away: 1) after product release, biz school grads (those not schooled in relationship marketing) immediately see PR as asymmetrical, and 2) if one hopes to work with big business, one should brand oneself as an important, informative piece of the Four Ps or, after years of strategic experience, brand oneself above the Four Ps.

I am, however, hesitant about the best way to present oneself to European business, specifically. Given the more collective nature of many European business cultures (e.g. German), should one worry about transcending PR’s predetermined space? Moreover, given all of the cultures and varying measures of success, do European businesses tend to depend on more common-denominator, institutionalized capacity verification (e.g. professional schooling) than their American counterparts? – well, if so, having taken a course in PR and Public Affairs from a European Perspective certainly couldn’t hurt! 🙂

– Jude C.

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 15, 2010

Pizza Relations

A few months ago I was in New York City with a few buddies. On our last day in town we decided to take a “Pizza Tour” of some of the oldest and best-known pizzarias in the city. Scott, the tour guide, owner and expert of everything pizza taught us the intricacies of the differing ovens, techniques, water, dough and cheeses. He showed us there are no two pizzas alike.

Being in Italy, where there is a pizza place literally on every corner, got me thinking. Pizza and public relations are not all that different. In almost two weeks in this country, I have yet to taste two pizzas that are even remotely the same. The slice I had in Venice is completely different from the ones I had in Bologna, Rome, and Milan or the one I just had for lunch. The same can be said for public relations.

Public relations across Europe and around the world is like pizza. There is no one size fits all model. Public relations in the UK looks entirely different from public relations in Italy or France. The people, cultures and language are all different. Just like pizza, PR is unique to specific regions and countries and these differences must be accounted for when producing a campaign for a product or large corporation.

The ingredients going into the campaign are not always the same. Public relations professionals all have different techniques and approaches. Some of these methods are more effective then others. That being said, just because pizza is different doesn’t make it bad and the same is true for a diverse set of public relation practices.


Posted by: bologna2010 | June 15, 2010

PR police arrest beautiful women at world cup


Why does PR get bad PR? Possibly because it’s paymasters too often react like this merely to potential asymmetrical rivals:

Beware what you wear or risk being mistaken for an “ambush marketer”!

What next? Oaths of brand loyalty from ticket purchasers? Color schemes allocated to supporters?

If this was indeed “ambush marketing” then its designers should be congratulated for their creativity. At worst, scolded. Arrested!? For orange mini-skirts. Seems like the marketplace of ideas has an entry fee – and an exit fee.

PS – how many people have now read of Bavaria beer because of the police action?

 – Ruarai

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 15, 2010


“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde

Today in class we spent some time discussing propaganda and public relations. After some background was presented about the word propaganda many thought that the two terms were synonymous, but that propaganda now has a negative connotation due to Joseph Goebbels’ grossly sinister misuse of influence tactics. After reflecting on the discussion I began to think about the truth and how the public can really know it. A journalist is supposed to be a purveyor of truth, presenting both sides of a story objectively and offering diverse sources to corroborate the information presented. But this isn’t always the case. For example, people are drawn to news sources (TV, radio, newspapers) that reflect his or her ideological beliefs; therefore biased presentations of the truth exist in mediums that should be objective.

I decided to look up the definition of the word “truth” and found that the popular satirist Stephen Colbert added “truthiness” to the English lexicon in 2005, when he referred to those who take facts and twist them to suit their own viewpoint. Another gem that Colbert coined was “wikiality,” stating that Wikipedia allows the internet public to “… create a reality that we all agree on,” and went on to state in an interview with Wikipedia’s founder that Wikipedia brings democracy to information. I thought that sounded familiar, and looked back at my notes from today’s class.

Sriramesh and Vercic state, “The western definition of PR assumes a democratic political structure in which competing groups seek legitimacy and power through public opinion and elections.” I believe the idea here is that PR in the West is supposed to add to the “marketplace of ideas,” but isn’t the quote disturbingly similar to Colbert’s satirical comment about bringing democracy to information?

I admit that “truth” (whatever that is) might be a difficult ideal to actualize, but I think that it’s worth a shot. Or maybe I’m totally off the mark and Mark Twain was right: “A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.”

-Abby Crim

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 15, 2010

An Italian Weekend

You can learn a lot about a culture by how people spend their weekends. This past weekend, we took the local train to Rimini beach. The train, as rustic as it was, was cheap, ran on time and with almost every seat taken.  After a short, relaxing, scenic journey on the train, we arrived in Rimini and were quickly shown the way to the beach by a helpful taxi driver and droves of bathing suit clad people. I marveled at how easily people are able to hop on a train at a moments notice to leave city life for a relaxing day at the beach. The country is set up for this kind of leisure, and getting there is half the fun. In comparison, a trip to the beach from DC would include fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic for 4-6 hours – just the thought of it makes me tense.

The Italians I encountered, especially on my beach trip, were incredibly helpful.  From giving detailed directions, to teaching me vital Italian words like the names of the toppings on my pizza, or even going as far as bridging the language barrier by retrieving a mystery ingredient from the restaurant kitchen. Italians seem to go the extra mile to ensure that their customers are happy. But it goes one step further – they don’t even seem to care if you are a customer, they want to make sure you as a person are happy.

My Rimini beach experience got me thinking: Has American culture become so obsessed with being successful, that we have forgotten that customer service is about people? Have we forgotten how to relax and be happy?

– Kristina

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 15, 2010

You Say Soccer, I Say Football

2010 World Cup Nike ad on Via Rizzoli (Photo by Genilson Brandao)

I am Brazilian so, yes, football is in my DNA. And in Brazil (like the rest of the world), the game loved by millions is called football though in the U.S., soccer is the correct name. Blame it on American football, a game played in a way that defies name logic. But I digress.

As the 2010 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup games advance in South Africa, the thought of global public relations vis-à-vis the popularity of football worldwide enters my mind. What can FIFA, a Swiss international association with more members (208) than the United Nations and allegedly similar altruistic goals, teach PR students and professionals about public relations from a European (and global) perspective?

 Two things seem obvious:

1. Speak to your audience. In a global and digital age, FIFA understands the importance of communicating with its audiences in various languages. Its website not only offers personalization options to enhance usability, it also provides global (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French) and regional (German and Arabic) site versions. It even offers international sign-language videos for the hearing impaired.

2. Make it personal. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter acknowledges that “. . . social media websites will play an important role in connecting everyone who cares about the game of football.” Thus, it is no surprise that Blatter, a one-time public relations professional for his hometown’s tourist board, launched his own Twitter handle @seppblatter.

When I sit down tonight to watch Brazil play North Korea at Bar Giuseppe in the Piazza Maggiore, I will be cheering for Brazil and hoping to see a beautiful game. But my PR hat will be on to see what else I can glean from FIFA’s global public relations efforts.

— Genilson Brandao

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 14, 2010

Letter from Italia

Who is best placed to give a perspective on a country? An outsider or someone who has lived there all their life?

Perhaps the best perspective of all comes from a resident who has travelled and experienced other cultures and seen their own country from a distance.

It was a pleasure to welcome Miriam Pelusi to our class. I know her from studying on an MA program in Leeds and it was lovely to meet up on her home territory (she now lives in Rimini but had attended Bologna University as an undergraduate).

Like several members of the class, Miriam has read Tobias Jones’s The Dark Heart of Italy, and she introduced what she described as her ‘old new country’.

She spoke of Italians’ love of food, football, family and fashion and addressed current concerns over gagging of the media.

On the subject of media, she was concerned about the representation of women’s bodies on television – and of the general lack of discussion of this issue (though she’s not alone).

For a more detailed account, you can see Miriam’s paper in English on the class wiki page.

I hope to see you again, Miriam. If not in Bologna, then perhaps in Yorkshire.

– Richard

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 12, 2010

England vs US game tonight

(AP Images)

If anyone feels like joining us to watch the England vs the US football match tonight we’ll be at the bar called Osteria Cantavalli (sorry, couldn’t find a link), on the corner of Via delle Belle Arti and Via Mentana.

See you there!

– Gail

Posted by: bologna2010 | June 12, 2010

Global standards, local networks

In conference at Edelman

We received a warm and professional welcome at Edelman’s Milan office on Friday.

The visit showed the strength of global systems and standards, driven from the US. We saw something of the complex map of Europe – many countries, many languages, a network combining wholly-owned businesses and affiliates and a blurring of regional boundaries (at one point, I noted Greece linked with countries of the Middle East).

We looked at different models of communications coordination across Europe designed to suit a client’s best interests and avoid duplication and conflict.

We discussed the role of the public relations consultant and considered the enduring place of media relations in the public relations toolkit.

We also gained an insight into some Italian assets. Client relationships appeared exceptionally long-lasting, and Italy’s strength in areas like design, food and fashion were apparent.

Milan makes a statement. It’s a historic city that remains an important commercial centre – and one of Europe’s grandest cities. We noted the willingness of people on the street to help us find our way, switching easily into English to do so.

– Richard

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