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Close the Umbrella

So far in my study of Public Relations, there is one principle that I have noticed comes up over and over again. I thought it deserved some direct attention. The best way I can understand it is to compare it to closing an umbrella.

Out here in Utah, umbrellas are used year round. The obvious choices would be to use them during the transition seasons (spring and fall) and there are plenty out on the side walks during those months, but we also use them during the winter, to keep the greatest snow on Earth from falling down the back of our shirts. For the purposes of this comparison however I would like to concentrate on how we use umbrellas in the summer months.

Utah heat is dry and scortching. “Safe Sun” is a phrase you hear a lot. It takes just about as long to get my kids prepared to go outside during the summer as the winter, because of sunscreen and cool yet covering clothes. One thing we keep in the old minivan is an umbrella.

Using the umbrella casts a shadow over the area you are walking or sitting (for the many parades that happen in Cache Valley). As you find some shade or return to your car or home, you close the umbrella. The shadow it casts shrinks until only the folded umbrella casts any shade on the pavement.

Similarly, it appears that the craft of Public Relations first focuses on casting the big shadow. It starts with mass media, such as broadcasting or mailers. From there the umbrella starts to close. More direct contact to a more focused public starts to feed stronger feelings toward or against the focus of the campaign. This may include more direct mailing, coupons, face to face visits with community and business leaders, etc. Finally, when the shadow has focused in on just one public, the campaign has weeded through generals to the specifics. They have their following. I also understand that this may focus a group for or against you. Both may be the more common ending.

Anyway, simple mind, simple products. This umbrella theory looks like it should fit. So far in my studies it looks to be solid. I would welcome your feedback.

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