Play Hard and Stay Truthful

PERSONAL CREDO

“As an aspiring public relations practitioner, I strive for excellence, not perfection. I firmly believe that committing to the truth, no matter how difficult it is to face and acknowledging mistakes today will help me improve myself for tomorrow. With Honesty, perseverance and hard work as my core values, I strive to be a better person both personally and professionally.”

Although my personal credo can apply to different aspects of my life, it is the core of my future career as a public relations professional.

As a result of all the ethical implications public relations carries, it can be a very delicate profession. From transparency vs. conflicts interest to confidentiality and integrity, there are many ethical standards set in the industry that PRSA and PR professionals must follow.

Although many industries where a PR professional can grow, my desire company would be inside the video game industry (interactive entertainment industry). However, as fun as it may sound to work for industry giants such as Sony Interactive Entertainment or an indie studio like Toby Fox, there will be many instances where my personal credo and its values will be challenged.

THE VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY AND ETHICAL ISSUES

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No Man’s Sky, an action adenture game released August 2016 by indie developer Hello Games. Source: Hello Games.

Released worldwide in August 2016, No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival video game developed and published by Hello Games, an independent video game developer, for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows. Although Hello Games is a relatively small developer studio with less than 15 employees, Sony provided with promotional and publishing help throughout the development cycle of the game.

Originally, No Man’s Sky would offer players a shared universe where players would be able to exchange coordinates with others and travel to worlds other players have discovered. The game promised an epic gaming experience in which each player would encounter unique worlds and adventures to experience and share those with others inside a massively diverse and complex universe that changed and grew with them as they played. Although what they promise was not impossible, by its release date, many of these aspects were not fully implemented or were too simplistic to be considered the finished feature of the game.

Although No Man’s Sky had an enormous commercial success being the best-selling game release on the PlayStation Store for the month of August, it was critically panned by both the media and online users as a result of the lack of promised features.

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Metacritic is a website that aggregates reviews of media products: music albums, games, movies, TV shows, DVDs, and formerly, books. No Man’s Sky for PC currently holds a Metacritic score of 61 with a 2.5 score given by its users. Source: Metacritic

WHERE DID IT GO WRONG

As an aspiring PR professional, my credo and values would have helped Hello Games prevent this situation by providing truthful information and offering factual context by addressing mistakes and taking a stance on them.

First, No Man’s Sky critical failure and Hello Games loss of credibility could have been prevented if Hello Games had been more transparent and genuine about things that may or may not make it into the finished game. Being honest, a core value from my personal credo prevents the public and the industry from claiming you tried to cover up mistakes or oversell a product. Instead, honesty helps state the truth and address the issue at hand by speaking to key publics and stating the importance of it and why it matters.

As game developers, Hello Games could have released a statement when the game was first delayed addressing features that were being worked on and may get dropped.

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Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida talks about No Man’s Sky backlash a month after release. Source: Kotaku

Secondly, an ethical public relations communicator would have offered more than just the facts, but the context of the story. Hello Games could have explained to the media covering the game and their publics about the missing features and inconsistencies between the footage shown on the marketing materials and the final product before the game launched. Sean Murray, director and lead developer at Hello Games, should have released a statement addressing the disparity between the game and its marketing upon release instead of going silent. If he had done so, it would have gone a long way to mitigate the anger and manage the crisis. The fact that he and his studio still did not address any of it until months later showed their unprofessionalism and hugely affected their credibility and how gamers perceived the game.

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Trials and Tribulations of InDesign

Public relations is a very dynamic career path. As a PR practitioner, I can write, edit, market, design, plan events, edit photos, create press materials, pitch to the media and develop relationships with target publics.

However, to do all of those things, there are few skills that I must know regardless of what I want to do as a student in the public relations field upon graduation. One of those skills is Adobe InDesign.

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InDesign CC2017 Release start-up screen. Source Auris Guzman Bautista

During my spring semester at the University of Maryland, I was tasked with the creation of a newsletter for an organization. I was in charge of writing, editing and designing it from scratch. Although, I was overconfident since even though I had no experience with InDesign, I had done multiple print media projects with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I thought this project would be easy-peasy due to my previous experience. Oh, how wrong I was.

It all started with the workspace.

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CYCLED! Newsletter pages 2-3 in a custom InDesign workspace. Source Auris Guzman Bautista

Since all three programs look fairly similar, there is a clear distinction between Illustrator and Photoshop. However, InDesign and Illustrator look so similar, but the way in which both software worked was different which put me a period of confusion for longer than desired.

Dropping pictures instead of place, not following the bleed margins, sorting to using layers for easier organization, are so of the few things I struggled with during the first week of this project.

Although I sort of “mastered” InDesign, there are a few things I would have liked to know before I started working on this project:

♦ Make multiple objects the same size: I like my items to be the same size. To make multiple objects the same dimensions, first set the height and width of one object. Then select the remaining objects and choose Object> Transform Again> Transform Sequence Again Individually.

♦ Fit Image or text to Frame: To fit a frame to a graphic: Double-click a corner of an image frame. Or press Cmd-Opt-C (Mac) / Ctrl-Alt-C (PC).

♦ Replacing an image with another: Choose File> Place to select an image. Then Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) click on an existing image on the layout you would like to replace with the new one.

♦ Preview a document: To see how your project looks without all those lines distracting you, just press W.

Despite the trials and tribulations I experienced while working on this project, I found the greatest lesson to be learned is to utilize the resources that already exist.

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Video overview of InDesign, the industry standard app for both online and printed media. Source: Adobe Help

By searching the Internet, I was able to find a lot of Adobe help resources. Some of my favorites include Adobe InDesign Tutorials, What is InDesign? The video, and Mark-Antony’s Website. Regardless this was a one-time project, I would also recommend subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud newsletter and magazine since they offer free workshops for their software and they are mostly beginners-friendly.

A story behind a story

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(Photo credit: Newseum)

Last weekend, I visited the Newseum. I had never been there before, but since I like going to museums, I was looking forward to visiting it this weekend. The Newseum documents the past and present of the Press, Media, and Reporting. Although it may sound pretty boring, The Newseum is anything but boring. As I was walking through the museum, I noticed how The Newseum shows the behind the scenes of reporting, news and media as well as the risks and implications that journalist has while doing their job.

During this visit to the Newseum, I have to admit that I felt shivers several times. It wasn’t just the stories that made me evoked emotions, but the stories behind those stories. I believe it is important to understand the way journalists work. By understanding a journalist job, we become better News consumers since it allows us also understand the reporter’s perspective and the role they play in stories. One of the exhibits that made me come to this realization was the 9/11 Exhibit.

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(Photo credit: Lara Martin)

The 9/11 exhibit is a very touching and moving display located on the 4th floor of the Newseum.

This exhibit has a large antenna of one of the towers of the World Trade Center as well as the front pages of many newspapers from around the world the day after behind it the terrorist attack. Around the antenna, there is a timeline of how the news was responding to the events happening since the first plane crashed to the next day. There is also a dark back room which plays video interviews of the Journalists that were reporting about the events that day from Manhattan.

As a public relations student, I believe that if 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t anticipate every crisis. 9/11 was an event that proves that a healthy relationship with news organizations is essential in times of crisis. While thousands of people ran away from the scene, journalists were heading towards the towers. Not to get their name out or to sell copy, but because it was a story that needed to be told. Sharing information, right there, on the spot. Crisis communication is an essential part of public relations. During this kind of events, we, as PR professionals, need to find ways to communicate quickly, accurately and efficiently to key publics, whether consumers, investors or employees. A failure to adequately address public safety intensifies the damage from a crisis. Therefore, it is essential that we, as public relations professionals, understand that Crisis Management is designed to prevent, in this case, lessen the damage a crisis can inflict on an organization and its stakeholders.

While it was certainly a short visit, I learned so much from the Newseum, I highly recommend others to visit.

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From left to right, Auris Guzman Bautista, Lara Martin, Brianna Provost, and Joe Dewitt (Source: Auris Guzman Bautista)