EDITOR’S NOTE Have you ever considered how ridiculous it is that we pour our time, effort and best obscene vernacular into assignment after assignment, only to have them read by one person? If you haven’t, that’s okay ... because I have, and I think it’s silly. That’s why this issue of Insight (my second-last - gaa) has a new focus: as the end of semester approaches, isn’t it high time we celebrated some of the fantastic work that is produced by HSS students over the course of 12 weeks? You’ll find media releases worthy of professional status (p.9), a couple of high-marking PR essays (p.10-13), and a Fashion Writing piece that may as well have come straight from the pages of Cosmo (p.18). I’m both in awe and pretty darn jealous of some of the talent that gets around this place. We’ve also got stories from two Study Abroad students, some words of wisdom from Mr Andrew Dibden and roughly a gazillion photos from the HSA’s very busy past two weeks. If you didn’t get amongst it, you missed out on onion-bobbing, bejewelled G-strings and a trip to the footy with a difference. If you did get amongst it, you’re very welcome. ‘Til next time (the last time - sob sob)! Emma.
The 2011 HSA Tutor Database is up and running! If you fancy a bit of extra help in any of your HSS subjects, we have a team of students on board ready to share their tips and tricks. Contact our Academic Affairs Director, Andrew Dibden, for more information: email@example.com We’re here to help with last-minute exam cramming, too! Run by students who have received a High Distinction in HSS subjects, HSA exam revision seminars turn gobbledy-gook into “I get it” moments. Keep your eyes on your student email inbox ... we’ll be sending out more details soon.
Want to contribute to Insight? Send through your work to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Emma Devlin Designer Emma Devlin & Callum Wood Cover Photo Yasmin Zeinab
A WORLDLY EDUCATION There’s travel and there’s study. One keeps us up at night with excitement and anticipation, and the other just keeps us up at night. But what if you could take the sting out of your higher education by combining it with the opportunity to experience the sights and frights that other countries can offer? That’s exactly what Christina Wieselthaler has been doing for the past few years. From Austria to the States and now here at Bond, Christina reflects on the cultural nuances that she has been surprised and moved by as she studies
around the world...
A WORLDLY Four years ago, I made one of the most important decisions of my life. I left my home in Austria to study in the United States. During my time at university, I travelled across America and met many different people from all over the world, through which my curiosity for other countries and cultures grew bigger and bigger. Therefore, it was no surprise that after my graduation I had already planned to move to Australia to obtain my masters degree â€Ś and here I am. I have realised through my study abroad experiences that education can differ a lot between countries. For instance, high school in Austria takes longer than it does in the US and Australia because students take the general classes of an American or Australian bachelorâ€™s degree in high school. Therefore, when people go to university, they can focus solely on the major in which they are interested. This means that the Austrian population that graduates from high school has a very broad general knowledge. Furthermore, many high schools offer a special education towards studentsâ€™ degrees so, by the time people graduate from high school, they have already specialised in a field of study. This is why attending university is not as common in Austria as it is in the US or Australia, even though university is free in my country. No tuition fees as well as no attendance lists might sound great at the beginning but there are downsides. For many of the classes, students have to share a class room with hundreds of others, so asking questions during lecture or talking to the professor outside of class can get really tricky. Since there are so many students with different levels of education in a class room, professors might start to teach on a level that not all students can follow. These students have to catch up on their own to be able to follow in class. Attending university in Austria means having to study very independently which can be challenging, especially at the beginning of your studies when you do not know what you have to do and how everything works. Universities in the US and Australia are very similar to each other. Everything is very structured. Students are told what they have to do, how they have to do it and when they have to do it in order to graduate as soon as possible. This kind of structure reminds me more of high school than university. Students in Austria do not get homework or have assignments throughout the semester. They do not even have to show up to class - as long as they pass the exam or receive a good grade on their paper at the end of the semester, they are fine. One thing that I have loved about my studies in the US and Australia is the encouragement and opportunities to get involved in things outside of the classroom, and the services that are offered to support the students in so many different ways. This is something that you cannot find to such an extent in Austria and one of the reasons that makes paying fees that little bit more understandable. I wish people back home would get more inspiration from their professors or other faculty staff because sometimes people do not think big enough and just need some encouragement or advice to make their dreams come true. However, when I started my masters degree at Bond University, I was disappointed when I found out that undergraduate and postgraduate students take the same classes. Most of the lectures for masters students at my university in South Carolina were later in the evening and often only once a week, but still separated from the classes of undergraduate students. I think people who decide to get their masters degree have different expectations of their study as well as a different maturity level. Therefore, they should be able to take classes matched to the expectations of a masters degree.
EDUCATION Christina Wieselthaler
At the moment, I still have a hard time getting used to the grading system in Australia. In Austria, we use numbers from one to five which equates to the letters A to F in the US. The number one is the same as the letter A and five has the same meaning as F. So it was very easy for me to understand the way professors were grading my assignment in the US, but it is not so easy in Australia. In my mind, 75 points out of 100 is a C and not an A. I know that with time, I will get used to it but it is hard to change and adapt one’s way of thinking. Nevertheless, I do not understand why a high distinction mark even exists when professors tell the students that this is something almost impossible to reach and students should not aim for it. For me, that is just frustrating and discouraging if you want to get the best mark possible but you know that there is only a little or no chance of reaching it. What I love about Austria is that it is a very traditional country. There are certain customs and ways of doing things which are unique. For instance, as far as food goes, there are many traditional dishes and detailed ways of how to prepare and eat them. When it comes to the food in the US, I have the impression that it is more about the quantity than the quality, whereas in Austria, we like to put a lot of effort and detail into our dishes and people value the surrounding and setting in which they eat. But I think no other country can challenge the US when it comes to the amount of choices people have – the choices of cereals in the supermarket, the different clothing stores and the variety of job options. One reason why traditions remain through generations in Austria is because most people in my country are born and grow up there. Not one of my family members lives outside of Austria or even more than one hour away from my home. Therefore, it is unusual for me when people tell me that they have never seen some of their relatives. However, sometimes I struggle with Austria’s traditional attitude and it bothers me when some people are not open to new things. I know that this way of thinking is changing with the younger generation in my country. I hope they find a way to value tradition as much as the generations before but, at the same time, appreciate different points of view. Quite often, I have heard people saying that Americans are superficial. For instance, when they greet each other, they ask how the other person is doing even though they might not really care. For me, that is just a polite way of dealing with each other. I think it is nicer to greet each other that way than passing each other without saying a word like most people do in Austria. In the US, it is nothing unusual if somebody you have never seen before starts a conversation with you while you are waiting in line or sitting at the bus stop but you would not find this very often in Austria. People in my country would get rather suspicious and ask themselves what the other person may want. For me, Americans are more outgoing and also more individualistic. Because people in the US have so many different backgrounds, there is no specific way of living your life – what you should wear, where you should work or what you should think. This is one of the aspects I like about the US - people do what they want and wear what they want without criticising others who are different. I started my postgraduate degree in Australia just a few months ago so I am still discovering what life is like in this country. However, during this short time, I have realised that there are many similarities between life in the US and in Australia. However, one of the main differences between those two countries is that Australia seems less commercialised than the States.You won’t find as many fast food or franchise restaurants here and there are no stores that are open 24/7. Every culture is different and each does things in different ways. People often go to a foreign country where they are not aware of the reasons other cultures do the things they do and thus tend to judge everything that they are not used to.You won’t agree with everything you find but when you are conscious and trying to understand, you will be able to learn something. Only those who are open to new ideas are able to see, and hopefully use, the opportunities that studying in a different country offers them. Those are the lucky ones who learn many things about and from other cultures, and discover new things about themselves.
I came to Australia planning to fall in love and I did. But instead of meeting the perfect boy, I fell in love with a country and its culture. In the past four months, Australia has become my new home and I can’t believe my experience here ends so soon. I honestly think I might cry my whole flight back to the States. Never having left America before, I didn’t know what to expect to find on the other side of the world, but my experience at Bond was everything I could have imagined and more. Though some things took time to adjust to (think driving on the wrong side of the road), the many surprises and adventures I have had in Australia make the adjustment well worth the time. My first surprise came during O-Week when I was exploring campus only to find it was not only the nicest looking school I had ever seen, but it had a hot tub. My first thought was something I wound up thinking a lot over the past few months: “Is this real life?” I knew then I had come to the right school. I then found out that our campus had a bar. Coming from a country where the legal drinking age is 21,I couldn’t believe that Bond not only had a bar, but would also send out weekly emails to students telling them what parties were going on. Trading frat parties for night clubs was easy after learning that the club atmosphere, where I could go to the bar and order drinks with my friends, was much more fun than a party in a fraternity house basement drinking punch spiked with who knows what, out of a giant bowl. In relation to school itself, as an international student I was probably more surprised than I should have been about how many other international students attend Bond. My home university has about 16,000 students and I have met maybe less than 10 foreign students in my two years there, so I loved that when I came to Bond, I found my classes full of students from all around the world. I liked learning what different cultures had to say about topics we discussed. It helped to give me a much more global perspective on things. Lectures and tutes were also a new experience for me. Back at home, I had class on either Monday, Wednesday or Friday for 50 minutes or Tuesday and Thursday for an hour and 15 minutes. This could be either a lecture-style class with hundreds of students, or a class of 10 kids that was much more discussion-based. Adjusting to only having a lecture one day a week was hard. It meant I had to learn to be much more on top of my work and couldn’t expect the teacher to reinforce what I learned every other day. I found that learning in Australia is done a lot more outside of the classroom. Back at the University of Rhode Island, pretty much everything I needed to know for a test was taught in class and then listed on a study guide provided a few days before the exam. I was always taught exactly what I was expected to know and the readings for class were not as important. I found that at Bond, I was expected to learn most material before each lecture and then be able to recall it all for the exam, even if it was only discussed once. This was a challenge for me because I had never learned like that before, but I imagine our system of learning would be hard for someone not used to it as well. When I wasn’t in one of my 12 hours of class a week, I was out getting acquainted with other aspects of life in Australia, starting with sailing. At Club Sign-on Day, my friends and I decided that we wanted to join the Bond Sailing Club. None of us had ever sailed before so we thought this would be a great opportunity to meet new people and learn a new sport. For the first sailing club meeting of the semester, we met at the yacht club at the designated time, ready to learn to sail but, much to our confusion, we couldn’t find any other kids from Bond around. We waited a while and finally an older man came over to us and asked if we were there to sail. We told him that we were with the sailing club and he told us to follow him to his boat. We didn’t know what else to do so we did. We got on board and looked to see if there were any other students there. There weren’t but we didn’t know where else to go. We figured we are here, these people are letting us sail on their yacht, let’s just go with it. And that is how we started sailing with our old guys. Turns out we were in a race and by the end of it, we were almost positive we were on the wrong boat, but we had fun anyway and the guys invited us to come back the next week. We did go back that week and a few other weeks too. We never did find the real Bond Sailing Club, even after trying a few more times. Our old guys, though, taught us to sail and gave us free drinks on the boat each week. In America, I would never have wandered into a yacht club and found old guys to sail with, but here I did and I discovered a new hobby in the process.
Speaking of things done and not done in the States, I would like to comment on how Australia really needs to get into Halloween. It was quite sad walking into the stores in the beginning of October and seeing Santa hats but no pumpkins. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is great and all, but in December, not October. Halloween is a great excuse to dress up as someone else, eat some candy corn, and paint a pumpkin. I feel that Australian children miss out on a lot of fun going door-to-door getting free candy. Hey, you guys could even give out Tim Tams instead of a candy bar because those things are amazing. But, even though Australians may fail at Halloween, your zoos are a thousand times better than mine back home. I love the fact that you can go to Currumbin and play with kangaroos and emu. At home, I cannot think of one place where I could go to pet a kangaroo. Maybe to people who have grown up being able to pet animals in a zoo, this isn’t exciting but take it from me, it blows watching them in a cage out of the water. Currumbin also has a ropes course which may be the coolest thing I have found in Australia. I literally went every Friday for over a month, just to go play around in the trees. Trying to take part in the outdoorsy lifestyle of Australians, I also tried surfing for the first time. Even though I grew up on Long Island, an island off New York City, and go to school right by the beach in Rhode Island, no one I know ever surfed so I decided to try it out and see that I have been missing. Let’s just say that after surf camp, I called my mom to tell her I need to buy a surf board when I get home. I called tointerning tell her that, going home seemed IWhen have continued into my last semester (a so far away but now, as I sit on my balcony watching bonus in not undertaking it as a subject, I guess) and the seeing sun gomy down each night, I increase can’t helptobut realize am responsibilities editing how few nights I really have left until I go back toother interns’ work (haha). I’m also getting more articles the States.and I will sit with my friends and family andgoes published notice mycrazy skills improving as time share my stories of my adventures in Australia on. and I will undoubtedly be asked “Was that real life?” AndI urge while I think back onit’s all never my amazing memories, So, Bondies, too early to start! I will smileyou andallsay, “Yes.”
Emily has a keen interest in humanitarian affairs; sheâ€™s volunteered for the Make Poverty History Campaign and for World Vision. Additionally, in 2008 she was one of five Australians who participated in the World Challenge Program. This program facilitated a trip to Borneo where volunteers built shelters for a remote village. Acting on an interest in global affairs, Emily undertook an internship with the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva this September. Emily sat on the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review. An incredible experience and a massive achievement to have secured the internship - well done, Emily!
Marcus De Courtenay
Do you know of an HSS homegrown hero? If theyâ€™ve caught a grenade, thrown their hand on a blade or jumped in front of a train for ya (or done something else pretty cool), we want to know about it! Send your nominations to madeline. email@example.com
A veteran of Bond University campus life, Marcus was recently appointed HSS tutor fellow. For those residing on campus and studying HSS subjects, Marcus will become your tutoring bitch from Sem 121 onwards. Get in touch with him to proof read, edit or for general intellectual assistance. Marcus richly deserves this position, having maintained a stellar academic transcript while immersing himself in Bond campus culture over the past nine semesters. Congratulations, Marcus!
EXTRA, EXTRA! Media Relations students were tasked with preparing media releases for the Australian University Games held earlier this semester. Proving just how clever our Bondies are, some even got a run in the Gold Coast Bulletin and other publications! Get a whiff of what public relations practitioners do with Linda Woelk’s take on the indoor volleyball comp, and Stephanie Welyczko’s report on some whippersnappers causing a stir on the lawn bowls green...
BOND’S MULTICULTURALISM PAYS OFF Linda Woelk
This year at Australian University Games, Bond strongly relies on its international student base to secure a medal in the girls’ indoor volleyball. The team, representing a total of six different cultural backgrounds, is turning their diversity into a competitive advantage. After winning the third set of a nerve-racking game against University of Technology Sydney, Bond is pushing for the semi-finals. Team member Kaitlyn Lewis from Canada was happy with the team’s performance considering the difficulty of combining six different cultures into a unified team. “The biggest challenge was to find a way to play as a team together. We all come from different volleyball backgrounds, different countries and different understandings of volleyball and the systems that are played,” she said. From today onwards, the team will be versing the universities from the other pool for a position in the semi finals and Kaitlyn Lewis said she was confident in her team’s abilities. “We will do very well if we continue to put our individual skills together and keep up our confidence and excitement as a team.” Bond University is currently fighting to keep up membership within its indoor volleyball club, struggling to assemble a team for this year’s AUGs. President of Bond’s indoor volleyball club Linda Woelk sees the team’s success as a chance to bring Bond’s indoor volleyball club back to life
BOWLING TOWARDS A YOUNG GENERATION Stephanie Welyczko
The Australian University Games (AUG) Lawn Bowls competition is well under way at the Broadbeach Bowls Club bringing a stream of young competitors onto the green. Lawn Bowls is often associated as an older persons game, but times have changed as more and more younger people are participating and competing in the sport. Griffith University’s youngest team member Kyle Richardson said there were people who played quite competitively and others who wanted to play for fun. “Lawn bowls has a good culture associated with it which helps brings younger players in,” Richardson said.“It is good when you have parents who do it too - it makes it easier to take it up.” “I am just really happy to be here and have the chance to compete against other universities from all around Australia.” The 20-year-old considered Lawn Bowls to be a great team event in the games, and said that he particularly enjoyed it when the older members from the club came around and gave tips to the players. Ian Miller, a senior member of the Broadbeach Bowls Club, said that some of the standards he had seen at the Games were very good. “Lawn Bowls used to be a game associated with older people only but not anymore … I am truly rapt to see it go down this path,” Mr Miller said. “To be proficient in it these days, you have to start early, so it’s definitely a young person’s game now.” There are 150 competitors from 23 universities participating in the Lawn Bowls competition which is split into Divisions one and two. The Griffith University team is determined to make it all the way to the finals in the Division two competition.
We keep the PR vibe rolling with two essays from Public Relations Principles and Practice students. Both Emily Burman and Thea Doyle explore the misconceptions of public relations practitioners in the media. If you thought PR was all about exclusive events and pretty clothes (Samantha Jones, anyone?), these essays might be just the reality pill you need to swallow...
PR ON FILM: MEDIA MISCONCEPTIONS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Emily Burman The perception of public relations practice is a subject of much debate due to frequent misrepresentations of practitioners in the mass media. A lack of understanding about public relations practice contributes to poor public perception in addition to common negative portrayals in television, movies, and the news media. Inaccurate misrepresentations negatively impact professionals in the field and also students, whose only perception of public relations is how it is presented in the media (Everidge, 2010). Negative perceptions of public relations practice due to common misleading portrayal within the mass media can be lessened through greater understanding and further definition of the profession. Public relations practice is a varied profession with a range of different titles and specialisation roles, making it difficult to define. According to Johnston and Zawawi (2011), the definition of public relations has evolved from central concepts of communication management to new understanding that, in addition, focuses primarily on relationship building. “We define public relations as the development and management of ethical strategies using communications to build relationships with stakeholders or publics” (Johnston & Zawawi, 2011, p. 7). Understanding these key principles assists in interpreting the inaccuracies portrayed by the mass media in terms of public relations.
Studies show that due to common misconceptions of public relations practice, accurate portrayals, true to the reality of the practice, are of significant importance (Everidge, 2010). In the media however, accurate representation of public relations is rare. The media is impactful, and has the ability to shape people’s opinions and perceptions. “Mass media images are often influential, particularly in the absence of other sources of information such as personal experience; some studies have shown that entertainment media images can affect perceptions of certain professions” (Miller, 1999, p. 4). This indicates the propensity for the media to affect the public relations profession and damage its image. Misrepresentation of public relations is prevalent in movies, whereby practitioner characters are often portrayed as cynical, manipulative, and ruthless. Miller (1999) observes that in most movies, the role of the practitioner is often described generally as ‘publicity’, without reference to specific titles. “Many practitioners, especially those in movies, were never referred to by title but simply called a "publicist," "PR man," or "press agent"; sometimes, no occupational reference was made” (Miller, 1999, p. 7). This increases scepticism towards the profession and implies deceit and dishonesty, traits synonymous with common public relations portrayals within the media. The character of Bridget Jones in the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary is an example of public relations stereotyping, in that her character traits are negative and her job is portrayed inaccurately. In the movie, Bridget plays the role of a publicity agent for a publishing company. Inarticulate, clumsy, and scantily attired, her character depicts an unfortunate and unprofessional public relations practitioner. Her personal life takes precedence over her job, as the movie presents her daily activities in the office as entailing little more than email flirting with her boss, paper shuffling, and long gazes out the window. The movie proceeds to describe her subsequent affair with her boss, which leads to further disrespect from co-workers. Eventually, Bridget leaves to pursue a career in television. The themes and characterisation in the movie suggest public relations practice requires little intelligence or initiative.
Research indicates that in movies, success of women in public relations is dictated only by their physical appearance (Miller, 1999). This is evident in Bridget Jones’ Diary in the way her character is presented as being unattractive and overweight, and thus disrespected and undervalued professionally. According to Johnston and Zawawi (2011), some of the critical skills required in public relations include possession of interpersonal skills, ethical perspective, and analytical, strategic, and creative thinking abilities. These attributes contrast distinctly with that of Bridget Jones, and highlight the inaccuracies of the film in terms of public relations portrayal. Television is another source of public relations misrepresentation. One of the popular portrayals of a practitioner on television is the character of Samantha Jones, from the popular series Sex and the City. Synonymous with creating an overtly glamorous impression of PR, Samantha Jones encapsulates the common misconceptions about the profession. In the series, she runs her own public relations company, and is portrayed as an independent, fashionable woman, whose life involves hosting parties, mixing with celebrities and ‘bedding’ any man she wants. This incorrectly describes the public relations profession as being solely concerned with event planning. In reality, public relations practitioners’ work is varied and entails multiple roles that intersect (Johnston & Zawawi, 2011). In addition to event planning, other key public relations activities include crisis management, promotions, press agentry, public diplomacy, sponsorship and communication (Johnston and Zawawi, 2011), none of which are recognized in Samantha’s television portrayal. The Sex and the City portrayal of public relations can also be described as unrealistically glamorising the profession, influencing students to study public relations based on a desire to be ‘fabulous’. “Often times, these preconceived ideas come from students viewing of a public relations practitioner on television or in film” (Everidge, 2010, p. 43). Miller (1999) asserts that sex is often associated with female portrayals in relation to career advancement, and implies a sense of immorality. This is evident in Samantha’s character and, while glorified, contributes to negative misconceptions about public relations practice. “Negative and limited stereotypes of women in the profession dominate the screen depictions and though characters may be endearing, the way they represent the profession is usually not” (Johnston, 2010, p. 13). It follows that Sex and the City’s Samantha displays an unrealistic and misleading interpretation of a public relations practitioner. The news media also plays a dominant role in the inaccurate portrayal of public relations. The relationship between journalism and public relations has always been contentious. While journalism is primarily concerned with objectivity, journalists view public relations as serving a solely promotional purpose (Samsup Jo, 2003). Reference to public relations in the news media therefore often reflects negative connotations. According to studies conducted by Samsup Jo (2003, p.406), “The findings suggested that news stories primarily use the term public relations to suggest image building, reputation management, and persuasion efforts.” Evidence indicates a misunderstanding of key definitions of public relations. Studies show news stories frequently refer to public relations in a negative context, thus contributing to the poor perception of the profession. Inaccurate representations of public relations in the mass media negatively impact the profession and its practitioners, and provide misguided interpretation of the skills and work required. “These representations have significant ramifications for how the profession, and those who work within it, are viewed and understood” (Johnston, 2010, p. 13). This impacts the profession and also students, who possess a misguided perception of the practice based on its portrayal in the media. Everidge (2010) suggests that in the academic arena, further research to gain thorough understanding into how public relations is presented in the media can assist in improved guidance for students and their study of public relations. Thorough understanding also applies to the profession of public relations in enabling the improvement of its public image. Conclusive evidence clearly indicates that improved understanding would increase knowledge of public relations practice, lessen media impact, and lead to more positive perceptions of the profession.
FACT OR FICTION: SORTING TRUTH FROM MYTH IN PUBLIC RELATIONS
Thea Doyle The portrayal of public relations practitioners in comics and movies presents a wide variety of questionable representations of the profession. As a result of false representations of practices in the media, the industry is often scrutinised. The distinction between public relations and advertising as two distinct marketing methods will be explored in addition to the commonly held view that practitioners devise and make up news by distorting the truth. Finally, the public’s view of the industry as an overly glamorised profession will be investigated while any inaccurate portrayals will be countered with detailed explanations of what public relations truthfully is.
In a journal titled ‘PR vs Advertising: An apple versus an orange’, Francis (2011) claims there are four distinct differences between advertising and public relations. Accompanying Francis’ journal is a comic featuring a man representing advertising claiming: “We are a great company,” standing next to another symbolising public relations stating: “They are a great company.” The pictorial representation summarises the distinction between public relations and advertising and is supported by three main arguments. The first difference emphasises advertising as a paid form of communication in contrast to public relations that focuses on developing free media exposure for organisations through a range of strategies and tactics. Companies who employ tactics that align with their branding, to ensure positioning and brand integrity are maintained, are likely to succeed in obtaining profitable associations with their chosen publics. “The choice of tactics can then be made with every tactic relating directly back to its defined purpose in achieving the strategic outcome” (Johnston & Zawawi, 2009). Francis (2011) uses the story tale characters Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf to outline the second distinction. As consumers often perceive advertising attempts from organisations to be biased given their main objective often revolving around selling and making money, advertising is given the title of the wolf. In contrast, public relations, as Little Red, often involves a third party such as a media outlet to actively ratify the communicated issue. “In the eyes of the public, this increases the credibility of the information being communicated” (Francis, 2011). The final variation between the two approaches is the notion of total versus no control. Companies who employ advertising often have complete control over what is presented to the public in term of the design and image being communicated. Public relations, however, “has little control over how the media presents the message” (Francis, 2011). The commonly held view that public relations has little power over its effects and strategies often yields undesirable beliefs about the profession. Outlining the research conducted before and after a campaign can eliminate this view. “The consistent and comprehensive use of research can thus raise public relations beyond the technical level, positioning it ‘as a purpose, goal-directed, and problem-solving management function’” (Broom and Dozier, 1990). Providing evidence of research to validate the industry’s control, in addition to outlining distinctions between advertising and public relations, is one method of dispelling inaccurate views of the profession.
A recent public poll revealed, “most don’t feel telling the truth is the duty of a public relations practitioner” (Brown, 2009). A comic features a public relations practitioner in his office quoting: “There sits the unvarnished truth. Now shall we interpret it to our advantage?” Representations similar to these distort the role of practitioners by positioning public relations as a blatant method of propaganda. Grunig and Hunt (1984) use the term propaganda to denote incomplete, distorted, or half-true information. Public relations was originally practised in ways that were “one-way directional communication” (Johnston & Zawawi, 2009). More recently, however, practitioners are beginning to “embrace communication models that allow for mutual understanding and accommodation” (Johnston & Zawawi, 2009). The historic, one-way form of communication can be held responsible for the public’s misconceptions about the profession. By recognising the ethics behind public relation practitioners’ work, misleading views of the industry can be counteracted. Due to a “succession of political, corporate and environmental scandals,” public relations is required to keep codes and practices reviewed in accordance with the business and political divisions that manage their practices (Johnston & Zawawi, 2009). As defined by Parson (2004), public relations ethics is the application of understanding and reasoning to queries of wrong or right behavior in the public relations practice. In addition to the fifteen point Code of Ethics held by the Public Relations Institute of Australia, the numerous codes of conducts guiding employee behaviour allow the role of a public relations practitioner to be viewed in high regard and esteem and not in accordance with stereotyped media portrayals. Sex and the City is a primary example of a fictional representation of public relations that has resulted in the profession being incorrectly framed as overtly glamorous, sex-orientated, cheeky and manipulative. One of the most notorious illustrations of public relations as an overly glamourised and sexualised industry is through the portrayal of Samantha Jones in Sex and the City. Representations in movies have the ability to instantly discredit the role of public relations professionals. “People gravitate to PR for a number of reasons: variety of work; prospect of high pay; chance to be your own boss; glamorous lifestyle” (Brown, 2009). Therefore, such inaccurate representations develop unrealistic and shortsighted views of the occupation. The media, who often play a role in erroneous representations of public relations, should monitor their depictions by taking into account the effect they have on the industry. Journalists’ work choices “have an important impact on ordinary people’s understanding of any subject” (Jo, 2003). Therefore, the responsibility of media outlets in informing the role of public relation practitioners must not be understated. The connotative meaning of public relations is often formed through communicative methods the media use when dealing with aspects of public relations. According to Johnston & Zawawi (2009), people’s perception of public relations is generally formed by personal experiences and mass communication. As a result, inaccurate representations including the difficultly in ascertaining the distinctions between public relations and advertising, the view that the industry is deceptive, and the stereotyping of practitioners’ roles, must be counteracted with accurate and real-life depictions if public relations is to dispel the notion that it is “a lightweight function of party planners” (Cardin, 2006).
Photographers: Madeline Wardleworth & Yasmin Zeinab
HS A’S INA UG LA UR NG AL UA GE FE S
S T N E S T E A R P E S A M U S U O I H D H A E T T I S H N W O C I R T ME
Photographer: Shaun Rotman
JUST DO IT Observations from the desk of an Academic Affairs Director
As my time on the Humanities Students’ Association wears its way to a close, I’ve learnt a few lessons which I’d like to share with those who care to listen. The first of which is that very few students will read this article, a staggeringly small amount in fact. So it makes you wonder, why on earth would I invest my time into something that I know will only get to a select few? Well, simply put, it’s because what I am going to say is meant for those of you who have stuck it out this far. Now, I’m not about to sit here and pretend to be some all-knowing Bond guru. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. All the people I tend to talk to really struggle to articulate what exactly Bond ‘is’. They generally mumble something about international students, fast-tracked degrees and low staff-to-student ratios, but all fail to capture the essence of Bond. Which brings me to my first point ... the only time you can be sure you’re wrong about this place is when you think you’re close to having this place worked out. This is due to one underlying factor: change. If the wise man built his house upon the rock and the foolish man upon the sand, then Bond was built upon a river rapids and the only way to survive is to start paddling and try to keep up. The average student is here for only two years, meaning that, unless you’re taking the Alan White-patented ‘every degree under the sun’ approach to your studies, the university has a really short memory. One of the greatest assets this place has is the number of people who pass through its doors year after year, each head full of new ideas with unforeseen potential, but where it struggles is in tying them down and remembering them. As a result, Bond will always struggle to build traditions, and a lot of time (the preciousness of which I need not emphasise) will be wasted remaking mistakes which need not be made as it fails to institutionalise sound practices for solid reasons. The institutional failure of the Bond student population highlights the second lesson I have learnt about this place: it’s all about the people. This goes for both students and staff alike. Students have a plethora of opportunities before them when stepping into Bond, but that means that a lot is left to the whim of the students. If a club, society or association is lucky enough to attract good people, then it is likely to prosper. Conversely, poor management is likely to set a club back years. Alternatively, the academic staff have seen many well-meaning student initiatives suffer as their leaders move on and find something else to devour from the opportunity smorgasbord. The end result is a staff population which knows all too well the imminent future of a zealous student initiative. Maybe it’s because two years is not enough time to feel emotionally invested in your degree, or maybe it’s because of Bond’s small size and the astronomical amount of personalised assistance we get as students here. Whatever it is, the result is clear: the majority of students don’t actively connect with their degrees. This tick-the-box, meet-the-requirement approach to learning will get you by, but that’s all it will do. As I mentioned at the outset, if you’re reading this article, then chances are you’ve noticed this too and you are probably asking ‘what am I supposed to do about it?’ It’s simple really: stop asking that question. It is all too easy to become jaded about a place like Bond and yes, it has its flaws. Change, over-reliance on people and a general lack of engagement are some of them. But it doesn’t have to be this way if people decide differently. I know I will be making a concerted effort to embrace and instigate change, connect with people and actively engage with my surroundings. The time for thought is done; the time to act is now. To give Nike some free exposure, ‘Just Do It’. It’s a little premature, but I’d like to thank those I’ve had the pleasure of serving with on the HSA, with whom I have created valuable memories and shared brilliant experiences. They’ve helped make the trail I blaze a better one! Yours finally and academically, Andrew Dibden, Academic Affairs.
THE IDEA OF “NEW” Jessica Davis
The first piece of clothing I ever bought was a pair of pink gumboots. I bought them with my pocket money at Oshkosh B’Gosh in 1994. I have a rolling set of memories of my $4.99 gumboots at the park, at home, in a puddle, at the shops, in bed. In that order. Seventeen years later, I have a pair of gumboots. They’re a little more colourful, a touch more sexy, approximately six sizes larger and quite a bit more expensive. I like them almost as much now as I did in 1994. It’s the (re)creation of new. Oscar Wilde famously said, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” And perhaps he was right. I don’t understand why we like the things we like, or why we must reinvent ourselves on the ever-turning hamster wheel that is good style. If nothing else, we are all seeking some clarification on what is really ‘new’ and just why we are so obsessed with it. There is no standard definition of new. New is such an abstract word that asking for a definition is like asking Mary Poppins to explain what it feels like to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. A shoe is new until it has been christened old. And a product is new as long as a salesperson wants to sell. We can renew and be new again. Twenty or 30 years ago, it might have taken a few years to make it from red carpet to mass market, but today’s manufacturers have put the fashion cycle into hyperspeed. Generally speaking, most trends stick around for at least six months. Maybe longer. But even that’s not guaranteed. A report from the University of California has attempted to quantify the cycles of new, with not entirely successful results. The report found that fashion travels in major cycles of 40 years or less. If that’s the case, teenage girls in 2020 had better keep a sharp eye out for pointy shoulder pads. So maybe I can’t put it into so many words, but I do know three things about new. The first is that new is entirely tempting. The tag of ‘new’ has a way of drawing us in easily with a coquettish smile and a crook of the finger. My computer says that new means ‘of recent origin, production or purchase’. The latest study on the allure of new picked the brains of a generation to gain new (there it is again) insight. Apparently, scientists have discovered that new things send off alarm bells in our brain. These alarm bells in the reward system of our brains are just itching to burn through some cash. Researchers say that the urge to have new things, and to reinvent ourselves is driven by our sense of adventure and, according to Bianca Wittmann of the University College London, just a whiff of new may tempt the ordinary tween, woman or metrosexual man just as much as cash or other prizes. Her latest report describes our quest for new as a sense of adventure, of exploring the unknown and finding the novel in the mundane. To sum up, new things affect our brains the same way rewards do. Interestingly, repackaging old products “might encourage you to sample [products previously dismissed] again – even though it doesn’t make much sense,” says Bianca. However, the real difficulty in quantifying new comes with the cycling and recycling of fashion that we see on a daily basis. For example, why did the addition of a Japanese-symbol tattoo, no matter what its meaning or accuracy, become suddenly new again and raise someone in the cool stakes in the early 90s, and then again in the early 2000s? It’s hard, near impossible, to come up with an answer that isn’t entirely contradictory. The second fact about new is that it is transient. My dictionary says that new means ‘having lately or now come into knowledge’. But when I asked Cassie Grace, from environmental group Green Cross Australia, why she thought we are so obsessed with new, she looked stumped and responded with a simple: “I thought vintage was back?” And so we come to a new definition of new. A new that is transient, and evolutionary. What is new today will not be new again until our grandchildren steal our clothes from our vacuumpacked space bags and sell them on the future version of eBay. The baton of ‘new’ has passed through many a pair of tattooed and bejewelled hands, from hippies to preppies, stoners to goths, camp to surfers and punk to emo. “We are constantly reinventing ourselves, reinventing the clothes we wear and reinventing fashion itself. Nothing’s not been done before, but it can still be new,” says Cassie.
And yet the cost of new to our hip pockets and to the Earth’s available landfill space continues to grow. According to Cassie, approximately 21 percent of annual clothing purchases will never leave our wardrobes. “Each year, Australians waste $1.56 billion on clothes and accessories that will never be used,” she says. So if new is not about looking good, then what is it about? Which brings me to my third point about new: it’s relative. My iPhone says that new means ‘unfamiliar or strange’. What you think is new will not be the same criteria by which I define new.Your mum’s version of new could be diametrically opposed to my own mother’s version of the same, and yet it could be pretty darn similar to mine. But underlying all the confusion is a somewhat semi-simplified answer: it’s new to me. “If fashion is really about creativity and self-expression, then every outfit is a new outfit no matter what anyone thinks,” says self-professed fashion commentator and closet enviro-humanist, Naomi Dickson. She’s very proud to show me her Versace-inspired gold rope and black high-waisted skinny-jeans paired with her favourite I [heart] Paris T-shirt. “I found them in a bag at my Grandma’s house,” she says. “I’d never seen them before – so excited.” And there we have it. The essence of the dilemma. What’s new to me may be old to you but it doesn’t matter because it’s new to me. So we’re happy to buy pink gumboots in the 90s and in 2011. We’re more than willing to watch brown come in, go out, and come back in again. I guess it comes back to repackaging ‘new’. Each time we change clothes, change wardrobes, change hairstyles for the sake of fashion, the fashion gods somehow manage to repackage what they are selling us in the guise of ‘new’.You know what? I like it. It’s recycling on a grander scale than I ever imagined. Now we just need to make sure that our mothers never again say the words, “But I never thought [insert hideous fashion statement here] would come back into fashion – I’ve kept mine for 20 years and only threw it out last year.” Henry David Thoreau warned us over 150 years ago: Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. I guess the joke’s on us.
I’M IN A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
D D I K R E V I L O : K O O PHOTOB
LOST CHRISTMAS AnneMie Decatte
It is that time of the year again … time for Christmas trees and presents, time to fly home and see the family, or stay and make the most of the festive season with close friends who substitute the relatives for a year or two. When growing up in Europe, Christmas became a hallmark for enjoying long dinners and conversation over wine by the open fireplace, while watching the snow fall down behind the window. Sometimes, my grandparents told stories of the war and Christmas during those times of uncertainty and tragedy. How they could, even in those unpredictable times, make the most of a challenging situation. Every time I think back about those Christmases with my family in Europe, I just know that they will be hard to beat, but they contribute to many wonderful memories. Over the years, I have found myself in many different situations during the Christmas season. One Christmas I will not quickly forget, was the year when I turned 21. It took me to experience the extravagant Los Angeles Christmas lights competition, whereby massive mansions and gardens are lit up by thousands of colourful lights. The most original participant was then crowned the winner and received a fat cheque, which highly likely contributed to paying the electricity bill. Other Christmases I spent in Rome, Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Osaka. Different countries brought different flavours and experiences, but all of them had the shared intention of celebrating life! The first hot Christmas I experienced in Australia was a ‘Christmas by the pool’ - so unusual. I remember it was smoking hot and felt more like a holiday in the South of France. On Boxing day, I woke up and was wondering: ‘Where did Christmas go?’ It is the strangest feeling to find yourself wondering what happened to that special day. Christmas went by as if it was just another day. Time passes by so quickly, so it is important to appreciate and enjoy life, and to treasure those moments which will stay with you forever. This made me think of a conversation I had a while ago with a close friend of mine in the hospital. He had just had a severe traffic accident, which had left him in a wheel chair. While chatting away about what unexpected turns life can take, he said to me convincingly: “ You know that I will walk out of here by Christmas, right?” And so he did, after several painful surgeries and months of intense rehabilitation training. His words have always stuck with me and made me realize how rich I actually am: to be able to walk, see, hear, smell, to feel, and to share all that with the people who are close to my heart. Regardless of what we perceive Christmas to be, in the end, it is not about presents or trees or snow or where you are in the world, but the feeling you have in your heart! Wishing you all peace, love and happiness, a Merry Christmas and not to forget a prosperous New Year in 2012!
S A M T HRIS
C Y R MER
Love, y our H