Archive for the ‘Reaction Papers’ Category

When there is an outbreak of a new virus that many people are unfamiliar with, or any sickness that affects a lot of people, it can cause panic, like in cases such as Swine Flu (H1N1) or the outbreak of staph infections in the last five years. This can lead the public to be overly cautious, racing to the doctor to get their immunization shots.

In Nielson’s article, “The Health Information National Trends Survey,” he puts a lot of emphasis on that the reason that so many people are becoming overly cautious is because there is so much information out there. What people do not realize is that there are viruses and infections being spread everyday all around the world and outbreaks are not an unusual occurrence. One thing that might influence the public is all of the polls. If the polls are showing that more and more people are becoming worried or scared, then it will have a greater chance of scaring the people who read those polls.

Polling about health information is very important and should be done with great care. If anything is reported wrong, or is spun in an unnecessarily negative way, it can affect a lot of people. But it is better to be safe than sorry.

Kaiser Family Foundation is an organization that specializes in health polls and surveys. They have a great reputation for publishing reliable polls. This is an excerpt from their website at http://www.kff.org. “A leader in health policy and communications, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation… Unlike grant-making foundations, Kaiser develops and runs its own research and communications programs, sometimes in partnership with other non-profit research organizations or major media companies. We serve as a non-partisan source of facts, information, and analysis for policymakers, the media, the health care community, and the public. Our product is information, always provided free of charge — from the most sophisticated policy research, to basic facts and numbers, to information young people can use to improve their health or elderly people can use to understand their Medicare benefits.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently published a poll about the current health reform. This was conducted on March 10-15, 2010, and published on March 26, 2010. They found that 52% Democrats strongly support health reform, while 66% Republicans strongly oppose health reform. Independents were 38% strongly opposed. In total, 28% strongly support, 18% somewhat support, 9% somewhat oppose, and 33% strongly oppose. It is unclear how many people were polled, and how the poll was conducted. They also note that “Depends on which proposal (vol.), responses for total = 3% and “Don’t know/Refused” responses for total=9%.” From what I have learned, I would not take this poll seriously without doing more in depth research on who was surveyed, how the surveys were taken, and the question is too general, considering there are many aspects to the health care reform.

Health polls are extremely important because they can tell you what disease or health problems are affecting people in different regions, financial state, etc. What is a problem in one area may not be a problem in another area. For example, there is not a problem of starvation in America, but there is definitely a food shortage in areas of Africa.

In Blendon’s article “Using Opinion Survey to Track the Public’s Response to a Bioterrorist Attack,” he believes that it is important to tell Americans what to do in an emergency situation. But it is also very important that it is important for the government and health officials to know how much Americans understand and what they believe.

I feel Blendon’s article was very useful. He made me believe that it is not just up to the health officials to take control of the situation.

Rosalind Sixbey


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Tricia Dean

The chapter in Austin and Pinkleton’s book focused on the ability to prepare reports and presentations to communicate ideas and research effectively. They stressed the importance of appearing credible, successful and confident. An outline of an appropriate communications plan was laid out for the reader and Austin and Pinkleton walked through each section of the paper. They explained how the executive summary and results sections of the paper are typically the most read sections of the report because the audience may be very busy and not have enough time to read through everything. I am glad they pointed out how the results section should be written independent of the rest of the paper in case it were true that the audience only read that section. As well, they explained how to appear confident on paper and in person and to avoid using words such as “feel” or “believe”. In the end, when analyzing your reports and presentations, Austin and Pinkleton suggest being your own best critic which I thought was very good advice.
As for the APR study guide, there was a focus on research, planning, implementation and evaluation. I thought this was a good review of the majority of the topics we have discussed thus far in class. The study guide stressed the importance of the planning process within the public relations profession. They explained the 4-Step Process that involved research, planning/analysis, implementation/execution/communication and evaluation. As well, they explained how to write a proper public relations plan. I liked the idea of creating a timetable and task list to keep your project on track. I write a lot of lists so that I can visually see what I need to get done for each day, week, whatever it may be so I could relate to this aspect.
The study guide also depicted the two formats of a public relations plan: grid and paragraph. Personally, I would utilize the grid format more often because I like having the ability to quickly look over the details of each portion of the project. The study guide then portrayed the various types of research methods including survey and focus group. I enjoyed their overview of focus group research because I have had to conduct a focus group for my Market Research course.
In my opinion, the biggest piece of advice I took from today’s reading was the need to portray yourself as a confident person. I think this applies to every aspect of your life and it has been one of the most difficult things I have had to deal with while growing up. I was a very successful and competitive athlete, so on the field, I was typically a very confident person. However, for some reason, once I set foot in a classroom, I became more reserved and shy, especially when standing in front of the class. I always received good grades and this has been one of the most frustrating aspects of my educational endeavors. I am not sure if it has to deal with how passionate I feel about the subject I am presenting or how comfortable I am with the people I am presenting in front of but it is definitely something I have been working on. I hope that I continue to grow within this aspect because I will be entering the work force as an account manager after graduation. Exuding confidence and convincing clients that my solution is the one they should choose is practically in my job description. I think it will be a very interesting learning and growth process and I am excited nonetheless.
I found a poll in the New York Times that discussed the lack of confidence that New Jersey residents have in their governor candidates . I thought this was relevant to the readings because it supports the idea of portraying your thoughts and ideas in a clear, concise, and confident manner so that your audience can appropriately interpret and understand what you are saying. In the case of the New Jersey governors, they have done a poor job at convincing their voters that they are worthy of becoming their governor. A quote from the article was that “most voters think he (Mr. Christie) has not explained his positions, and among those who offer an opinion of him, twice as many dislike him as like him”. I think this goes to show that when you are not appropriately presenting your message or ideas, it can definitely backfire and put you in a negative light, depending on the context.
I think this poll story is interesting because of its relation to political candidates. Politicians are required to sell themselves more than any other profession and their entire line of work relies on their ability to get people to agree with their ideas. If the politician is not clear, concise or confident, it can cost them votes, as seen in the story. I think the readings were definitely beneficial to my own development as a presenter and I learned a lot about the need to plan before setting foot on stage, so to speak.

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Allison Miller
Reaction Paper #5

The APR study guide discusses research, planning, implementation, and evaluation. It is discussed that this public relations always uses a four-step process to plan. First, you want to know who you are researching, what the subjects need to do, and what is wanted to be conveyed to the public. Planning helps to decide what goals you have in mind and what you want to get out of the study. Next, the execution of the plan is done and you have to decide on what channels the messages will be sent. Lastly, evaluating the plan helps show what needs to be improved next time a plan is implemented. Many objectives, strategies, tactics, and materials are decided in order to write a plan for attack. There are a few case studies that have been researched; Planned Parenthood and HIV/AIDS. There are many different ways to write a plan for research studies. “If your planning style is different, use it” (APR 49). This quote just shows how diverse the world or journalism and planning can seem. It is best to point out the advantages and disadvantages you have, whether it is in telephone polling or media analysis, when looking into a study. Many of the best ways to interview are listed in the study guide. The top ones are personal interviews, telephone, and the mail. Lastly, sample size and accuracy are discussed in a way to help you get the smallest sampling error as possible.
Chapter 16, in Austin and Pinkleton, discusses presenting campaigns, program proposals, and research reports. Different organizations like their reports in certain ways. Some like a lot of detail and others like less detail. This chapter goes in depth on how you should write a report and go about it in a slightly scientific way. There should always be some type of cover letter or memo explaining what the purpose of the report is to the receiver. One should also keep goals, objectives, and a hypothesis in mind in order to research and get results. In order to be a successful write, this chapter suggests that one should be confident and not hesitant because “hesitance will appear to come from self-doubt” (Austin and Pinkleton 357). This could be true because a lot of people are not willing to just jump into a story and write, they would rather be factual and correct. “The communication plan serves as the manager’s sales pitch” (Austin and Pinkleton 361). The mission or goal of the organization should come across as creative and enthusiastic.
I believe that a lot of manager’s do not have a lot of self-confidence. If there is no self-confidence, the company will not do very well. I used to work for someone who wanted me to help a marketing professional create different marketing plans in order to address the public. He asked me to help because the company was a new casino hotel and the professional was a woman who had been out of school for quite awhile and no longer had a fresh view. I helped her create a young, fresh, and enthusiastic ad campaign that brought in tons of new customers. Without my help, there may not be such a great business happening. It is interesting how employers will hire people just to get someone in the seat. I believe they should look at their credentials and expect more out of their work.
President Obama has to create a plan to communicate with his country all the time. He must deliver a speech that is both correct and understanding towards the U.S. citizens. It is difficult for him, however, having all of this information makes people believe and respect him. A lot of people do not think he really understands what is happening in our world economically, but, he gives enough facts to support his speech. The media talked more about the earthquake in Haiti than Obama’s state of the union address. Americans seemed more interested in this topic, “four-in-ten say they followed news about the aftermath of the earthquake and relief efforts ‘most closely’ last week, far more than said the same about the debate over health care reform (18%) or reports about the condition of the U.S. economy (15%)” (Public 1). It is interesting how different parties are affected by Obama’s speeches, as well. “More than half of Democrats (55%) say they watched the speech, compared with 38% of Republicans and 41% of independents” (Public 1). Obama focuses on what he thinks is more important while the media focuses on what they believe important.

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Ty Tannatt
Reaction Paper 4/22
The first article starts out about the four-step process of strategic planning. The four steps are; research, planning/analysis, implementation/execution/ communication, and evaluation. Knowing how to use these steps can greatly affect your performance in public relations. Like the second article they give an outline to writing a public relations plan, but they only include 10 steps.
Then they give you an exercise that puts you in the position of a public relations professional. Seven steps are required to learn from this process. This exercise is supposed to build confidence skills and ability in research.
The next step is to plan formats and styles. There are two types of formats; grid format or paragraph format. Next they talk about content analysis, which is, “the objective, systematic and quantitative description and evaluation of the content of documents, including print media and broadcast media coverage” (57). Next is survey research, which is, “is a quantitative method that uses a series of written or oral questions to sample a desired “universe” — a population or group of people” (59). They continue to talk about many different types of research including focus group research and scientific method research.

The second article we read was chapter 16 out of our book, “Strategic Public Relations Management.” This chapter is a summary of how to present campaigns, program proposals, and research reports to outside clients who need the help. The book has 12 steps which make up a proposal. They include; Introductory material, executive summary, situation analysis and research needs, research goals, research objectives, research hypothesis, research strategies, results, revised situation analysis, and proposed communication plan, conclusion, and references and appendixes.
These 12 steps should be very detailed and explicit. Confidence should extrude out of the proposal. Hesitance and evasiveness need to be put aside for this type of project. The proposal should be easy to read, as if the reader has no idea what you’re talking about. Get to the point quickly. Make sure you proofread and have no grammatical errors. Leave a positive impression by writing a strong conclusion.
When presenting always be on time and ready to adapt to the circumstances. Have a backup plan if you are planning on using a computer or monitor. Be effective, clear, and complete. Look and act professional. Again be confident and leave no doubt in your mind that you did a great job.
I am interested in public relations so it was good to read general tactics of strategic planning. I am currently a volunteer for the Cedar Rapids Independent Filmmakers and have done various public relations items. I think knowing that this information is out there will definitely help me in the future when I start looking for a job. I have learned a lot about how surveys and polls can be beneficial to companies. This is something that can beneficial and improve my experience in the workplace.
A poll story I found called, “Why Aren’t People Trusting the Government” includes the new pew survey, which asks the people if they trust our government. Only 22% said they trust the government in Washington. This is a public relations nightmare for our government. The last thing they want is for the general public to not trust in them. Professionals who work for the government will definitely be looking for ways to change the negative public image. To do so they will need to build a proposal similar to the proposal outlines that our two readings included. They need to make sure they return a positive image to the country and they must do this in a confident matter that builds our trust in them.

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Allison Miller
Reaction Paper 4

The first article on The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) talks about where the survey originated and how it came from a conference dealing with risk. It is discussed that “an internal HINTS advisory committee met to develop the principles and framework for the selection of topics and questions for the survey instrument” (Nelson et al 5). This was important because they had to decide who they were going to administer the survey to and they had many different criteria to decide this. Deciding who to give the survey to also helped to decide how to conduct the survey, whether it was online or over the phone and what other kinds of communication media to use. Before releasing the survey, one person, Westat, was chosen to review the survey and research other similar surveys to make sure it was extensive. A pretest was given in Westat’s laboratory to determine different opinions on topics included in the survey. He wanted to make sure the survey could meet a broad range of people. They discuss how the questions were displayed on the page in simple communication questions and then the questions tend to get more medically specific. One important aim for the survey was to get a large “minority representation” (Nelson et al 13). Different methods, such as reverse telephone look up and sending letters before calling on the telephone, were “successful for 43% of telephone numbers” (Nelson et al 13). All of the data was taken down by highly trained individuals and this data was collected for up to about a year. Lastly, they had to make sure the information from HINTS would be used effectively in ways people would notice. This is to ensure that, for future HINTS surveys, a lot of people participate so the sample is larger.
The second article focuses on the ways people respond to bioterrorist crises. It is discussed how many “Short-duration surveys can provide vital information to guide public officials in their response to events and their communication efforts” (Blenden et al 1). A lot of media polls were found in history to have been a huge help during crises, not necessarily surveys. Short-term polls are more effective because attitudes and behaviors tend to stay the same for a short period of time. In the U.S., a lot of people choose to not participate in polls. This is an issue because information is not recent. This article suggests that “although response rates have declined, error rates have not increased significantly” (Blenden et al 3). The article discusses how the public feels about the accuracy of information given by the public officials during a terrorist attack. Also, public officials do not know if the people are doing what they say during crises and need to know those things in order to fix them in the future. Many people say that if it was recommended to get a certain vaccination to prevent infection of certain bioterrorist attacks, they would listen to officials. Lastly, the reactions from these attacks are important to note because they needed some kind of feedback on how the situation was handled and what could be done better next time.
A lot of people choose to not take surveys, including myself. However, it is extremely important to participate in such things because it helps protect our country. In the anthrax attack a while back, we were so scared of any kind of white powder located anywhere in the United States. Everyone was expected to be ready to board up our homes and be prepared to stay in for days on end. These were all recommendations from public officials who we seem to trust. It was a very scary situation, however, we listened, and very few people were affected by this. I now choose to take surveys to help my community and the country. I believe everyone should become involved in order to become a better place to live. Also, this happens a lot with the current war in the Middle East. People are not sure what to believe. I am very skeptical of this situation, myself, but let’s see what the polls suggest.
A poll story regarding the current war in the Middle East suggest that “About half [the people] (52%) have a fair amount of confidence that the government is giving an accurate picture of the war, while better than a quarter (28%) have a great deal of confidence” (Terror 1). Apparently Republicans are most likely to believe what the government has to say on the war, which is very surprising. “Three-in-ten Republicans express a lot of confidence that the government is giving an accurate picture of developments on the home front – just 14% of Democrats and independents agree” (Terror 1). This is very interesting, especially because Democrats seem more interested in government affairs, to me.

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Introductory Topics Mass Communication
Reaction Paper #4
April 20th, 2010

Polling for Health
The Use of Surveys for Medical Research

The first article I read was entitled, The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). HINTS is essentially the result of a conference held in 1998 by the National Cancer Institution (NCI). The conference was held to discuss the topic of health risk communication. Members at the conference realized that with the cancer epidemic on the rise, it was “…essential to maximize the effectiveness about the communication of cancer.” As a result, HINTS, a representative survey, was created with the purpose of providing the public with accurate information regarding medical research. The survey was distributed to 19,509 households, and consisted of a series of telephone interviews given to respondents by experts in the field. Ultimately, the development of HINTS was a large step in the right direction for both individuals suffering from cancer, as well as those studying methods to combat its deadly effects on humans. The survey will continue to assess current trends in the use of health information, as well as study the percentage of Americans utilizing new communication technologies over time.
The second article, entitled Using Opinion Survey’s to Track the Public’s Response a Bioterrorist Attack, discusses the use of polls and surveys during times of national crisis. The article describes an instance during WWII, in which a survey administered to American soldiers around the world ultimately led to Truman’s order to desegregate the army. The article goes on to state that while these polls can be very effective in gathering useful data regarding issues of top national concern, they are rarely used to assess public health issues. For example, shortly after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, a series of attacks involving anthrax in the mail led to the death of four Americans. Little was known about the key aspects of public response to these attacks, and the issue created a large public stir of anxiety. As a result, the Harvard Opinion Research Program of the Harvard School of Public Health launched a survey project specifically to measure Americans’ response to biological terrorism. The survey answered a series of questions that led to a better understanding of the public’s view of the issue.
The final article I read, Public Perceptions of Information Sources, analyzed data from six national surveys taken before and after the anthrax attacks on America during October of 2001. The findings showed that Americans believe strongly in the usefulness of television and radio during times of national crisis, as well as the use of cable and network news channels as information sources. The six surveys used in the study were taken from three sources: firstly, the Healthstyles survey, an annual mail survey conducted for a social marketing firm; secondly, the Harvard School of Public Health survey project on Americans’ response to bioterrorism; thirdly, a web-enabled online survey of civic attitudes and behaviors after September 11th. The results of these six surveys indicated that the most trusted spokesperson or source of reliable information regarding a local bioterrorism event was a local health department, followed by a local physician or the hospital, and at the bottom of the spectrum was an elected official, such as the mayor.
Regarding the third article, it is interesting to note that my personal reaction to national terrorist attacks involves seeking out the same information sources that the surveys indicated were most trusted. I recall exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. I was in 8th grade, and it was approximately 7:30 am, a few minutes before we would ordinarily leave to go to school. I had a daily routine of turning on ESPN to catch some highlights before we left – I remember asking my parents why every channel had the same program broadcasting the Twin Towers’ with smoke billowing out of their top stories. When I was informed of what was actually happening, I recall watching the news all day, trusting the broadcasters as reliable sources of important information. My family and I were kept up to date as the worst possible outcome occurred – the towers’ fell down. In the following several weeks, months, and even years later, we continued to receive news coverage regarding the terrorist attacks via major network television.
A recent poll questioned what Americans’ perceived to be the “single biggest threat the world faces.” The results of the poll showed that at 48%, just under half of the American population feels that the possibility of terrorists’ obtaining nuclear weapons was the largest threat in the world. This relates to the article because it is an example of a time when polls were used to determine what Americans’ perception was regarding a national crisis (or a potential national crisis). The results help politicians and world leaders assess what citizens’ are worrisome about, and also determine the level of threat that certain issues are perceived as in the public eye.


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Ty Tannatt
Reaction Paper for 4/20
The first article we read was called, “The Health Information National Trends Survey” and it was about the HINTS research program. The acronym HINTS means, “to provide important insights (hints) into the health information needs and practices of the American public” (445). “The National Cancer Institute (NCI) developed this survey to be an ongoing vehicle for providing data periodically to researchers and policymakers on the nation’s progress in conveying cancer-related health information to the U.S. adult population” (456)

It took them several years to come up with and execute the final survey they used for their research. “A list-assisted random-digit-dial (RDD) sample was used for HINTS” (453). They used this because they wanted to achieve an adequate minority representation. Special attempts were made to oversample African Americans and Hispanics. They used 19,509 household telephone numbers to reach their sample. They called a maximum of 30 times to achieve responses from individuals. “The final response rate for the extended interview—that is, the rate at which SPs voluntarily completed the full HINTS interview—was 62.8%” (455).

“The four dissemination objectives were the following: (1) to encourage scientists to conduct research using HINTS; (2) to promote use of findings from HINTS to inform and guide further research in cancer communication, behavioral science, public health, and informatics; (3) to promote use of HINTS to inform health policy decisions related to cancer prevention at the local, state, and federal level; and (4) to promote the translation of HINTS findings for cancer communication programs, including through NCI’s Office of Communications” (456).
In all HINTS was put in place to keep researchers and policymakers aware of the nation’s progress in communicating cancer-related information to the U.S. adult population.
The second article was called, “Using Opinion Surveys to Track the Public’s Response to a Bioterrorist Attack.” This article talked about the importance of short-duration polls in times of a national crisis such as a bioterrorist attack. The main example they used was the anthrax attacks in 2001 after 9/11 happened.
Harvard School of Public Health/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Survey Project on American’s Response to Biological Terrorism reported the data in this article. “The first survey in this series, conducted October 24–28, 2001, with a sample of 1,015 adults nationwide (HSPH/RWJF, 2001a), dealt mainly with knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to the threat of anthrax. Next was a collection of four surveys conducted November 29–December 3, 2001. One was conducted nationally (n¼1,009 adults); the others were conducted in three of the metropolitan areas where anthrax cases had been reported: the District of Columbia (n¼516); Trenton/Princeton, New Jersey (n¼509); and Boca Raton, Florida (n¼504) (HSPH/RWJF, 2001b)” (86).
The results they found showed that people in a metropolitan area or area that had been affected by anthrax took much greater precautions in opening their mail. “The surveys gave a picture of the demands being placed on both the public health system and the health care system by these attacks” (89). The goal of this article was to inform officials of the significance of short-term surveys in response to a biological attack.
I haven’t really been introduced to the devastation that is cancer. My family has been relatively lucky to not have to experience its hardship. I feel like I could use more awareness on how people obtain cancer and more information about prevention. I don’t think our government or education system does a good job of educating the public. I see thoughts of special events about cancer such as special days, events, or symbols but I don’t see much information. We as a country should help inform others.
As for the second article relating to short-term surveys, I definitely feel like these could be a great help to society. I think if you took a short-survey after most attacks, whether terrorist or not, you would see a rise in precaution by the general public. The general public doesn’t know much about biological chemicals that can harm them. I know I had never heard of anthrax before those attacks in 2001. I was really scared something might happen, because I was uniformed and unaware there were such things out there. Out public health department could do a better job of educating us. It’s not just them it’s also our education system. This type of information would be useful for our children to learn. Maybe someday they could cure cancer and prevent biological attacks.
In the article, “Class Divide in Awareness of Breast Cancer” by Helen Puttick, she conducted a poll of more than 500 women and, ”found that almost one-quarter of women in the lowest socio-economic groups had never checked their breasts and couldn’t name any symptoms of breast cancer” (Puttick). This poll shows that women in a lower social class are not as aware of the symptoms of breast cancer. They are trying to do more to educate women of classes so that this can be dealt with and beaten. This poll probably rings true in most, if not all, countries. As a society we have a hierarchy of power and sometimes we don’t help out the lower levels of this hierarchy. We need to do more to educate everyone and that starts in our education system.

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