Public relations writing

Document Sample
Public relations writing Powered By Docstoc
					Public relations writing

  Many hats, important job
            A use-use relationship

The relationship between journalists and PR folks
  is often like the one between parents and teen-
  agers: they often disapprove of one another but
  there’s a lot of mutual need. Also, teens become
  parents, but parents don’t return to being teens
  (not literally, anyway). Journalists may leave to
  go into PR, but rarely is the reverse true.
Nicky … the “good” Hilton sister
Anchor learns Nicky isn't a Mrs. anymore
WCCO-TV's morning anchor Karen Leigh would like to annul an interview reference to Nicky
Hilton's marriage.
Hilton was in the Twin Cities at malls and on TV promoting Chick, Nicky's sportswear
collection. "You recently got married ... congratulations on that," Leigh said.
"No," Hilton responded. Oops!
Unhip to the Hilton sisters' antics, Leigh was unaware that Nicky had her Vegas wedding to
Todd Meister annulled in fewer than 90 days.
 Leigh has a great excuse for the gaffe. "In the press folder that they gave us, the first article
in there is from the Fashion Wire Daily and it talks about her being married. 'Mrs. Todd
Meister, otherwise know as Nicky Hilton, launched her collection of ready-to-wear casuals ...'
" Leigh said.
From whom did Leigh get this info? "Whoever the press people are."
The packet came from PMK/HBH public relations with offices in Hollywood and NYC,
according to WCCO spokesman Kiki Rosatti.
"I don't even know that that was in there," said PMK's Victoria Harvie, who declined to spell
her name when reached in L.A. "Fashion Wire Daily is online; they could have looked that up.
We sent them all the clips that have run on Chick. They should [ask] questions relevant to the
line and not be delving into her personal life."
Leigh said, "That's what I went on. didn't realize that was the big no-no. I felt awful.”

Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune
C      old hands that turn red, white
       and blue may be patriotic,
But they can be an early symptom
Of an autoimmune disease called
               A former student of mine …
George Carlton Deutsch III was a press officer of the United States space
  agency NASA. He was appointed to the position by George W. Bush,
  having previously worked in the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign "war room."
  Deutsch gained notoriety in February 2006, when it was reported he
  ordered the adjustment of NASA Web sites mentioning Big Bang to include
  the word "theory" afterward. His comments in the internal NASA email
  quoted by the New York Times raised concerns because of its religious
  Deutsch wrote: It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a
  declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts
  intelligent design by a creator... This is more than a science issue, it is a
  religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be
  getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed
  to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information
  the most.

   He was also connected with Dr. James Hansen's allegations of censorship
   of global warming and other science reporting within NASA.

Source: Wikipedia. Also note that his email handle was MRBIGSAC
               Public relations: a definition

Public relations is the discipline that looks after reputation,
  with the aim of earning understanding and support and
  influencing opinion and behavior. It is the planned and
  sustained effort to establish and maintain good will and
  mutual understanding between a business (*or
  organization or person) and its public(s).
                      -- PR consultant Renee A. Prejean-Motansky

* Additions mine
      Public Relations (PR)

Today’s PR professional wears any number
of hats. In fact, PR encompasses a number of

 Media relations -- dealing with media questions and
  needs, seeking publicity
 Government affairs -- no, not Monica.
  Communicating with legislative and regulatory
  bodies and doing some lobbying
       Public Relations (PR)

 Industry relations -- dealing with other firms in the
  industry and with trade associations

 Investor or financial or shareholder relations --
  working to maintain investor confidence and good
  relations with the financial world.

 Public affairs -- engaging in matters of public
  policy, writing position papers
         Public Relations (PR)

• Crisis manager -- handling internal and external
  communications during a crisis. Knowing what to do
  when you get a call and are told “60 Minutes” is in
  the lobby … or that the Bonfire stack has fallen and
  kids are dead.

• Community relations – being the intermediary
  between an organization in the public, often involved
  in charitable work
        Public Relations (PR)
Because of the variety of hats the PR person
has to wear, the term “strategic
communicator” has become the in vogue
descriptor as an umbrella term for what they

PR professionals are also faced with a variety
of tasks that are much broader than those of a
general assignments reporter at a newspaper
or broadcast station.
          Public Relations (PR)
They have to do much more than simply
 put out news releases. They also:

  –   Supervise photography and graphics, assist the Web site
  –   Handle media questions, needs and requests
  –   Screen charity requests
  –   Set up news conferences and similar programs
  –   Do research and evaluate the effectiveness of programs
  –   Contribute to corporate decision-making
  –   And then take care of publicity in their spare time
         Public Relations (PR)
What they have to write:

  – News releases, the most popular way for an organization to
    deliver its message to the media. (Video news releases are
    also common now.)
  – Newsletters, to employees or special interest groups.
  – Pamphlets, brochures, manuals to convey facts about an
    organization’s history, operations or policies.
  – Position papers, or white papers, to explain an
    organization’s stance on an issue.
  – Byliners and op-ed pieces crediting an organization official
    but actually written by a member of the PR staff.
  – Web writing – news releases, blogs, etc. – that allow PR
    practitioners to bypass the media.
  – Speeches – to allow an organization figure to deliver key
    talking points directly to interested groups
Similarities and Differences
     Similarities and Differences
First of all, what journalists and PR
professionals have in common is a shared
need and appreciation for good writing. Your
writing skills will go a long way toward
determining your success level, no matter
which track you pursue.
     Similarities and Differences
 Additionally, to be most effective, journalists
  and PR people must place a high value on
  accuracy. That is essential to nearly all
  communications goals.

 Thirdly, they all use the same mediums to get
  their messages out -- print, broadcast and
  the Web, so they share common ground in
  the advantages and disadvantages of each
      Similarities and Differences
There are some major differences between journalists
and PR professionals, and this is where the retort
about “enemy lines” comes in to play.

 Both sides serve different masters:
   -- Journalists serve the “public.”
   -- PR folks serve an organization or a client.
 Folks in PR are paid to put that client or product in
  the best possible light (spin). But they shouldn’t LIE.
PR vs. journalism
PR vs. advertising
PR writing is a form of persuasive communication. It can be the
soft sell of trying to get publicity for a charity’s upcoming fund-
raiser or the hard sell of laying out a political candidate’s stand on
the issues.

There are three root beliefs of persuasive communication:

1. People are essentially good. You need to believe that to appeal
   to their basic fairness and goodness.
2. People are intelligent or at least can be educated. Don’t talk
    down to people and don’t assume you can trick or fool them.
3. People are changeable. You must not only believe that but also
    have the confidence that YOU can change them.
 To be an effective PR communicator you have to
  establish and maintain your own credibility and that
  of the organization you work for. A sterling
  reputation takes a long time to build -- but can be
  destroyed in an instant.
 In addition to the principles of news-gathering,
  persuasive writing etc. that a PR professional must
  know, they must also have an acute awareness of
  three other elements: the Message, the Audience
  and the Medium.

1.   The message: You have to know the signals or
     message your organization is trying to send out,
     the impression it is trying to make. A newspaper
     sends an explicit message in the content of the
     stories in publishes, but it also sends an implicit
     message with how the information is presented
     (story play), what is covered and what isn’t, what
     stories are left out.
     In PR, you send an explicit message in how you
     conduct yourself and an implicit message in what
     organizations or products you choose to

2. The audience: Just as a newspaper or magazine
   must know all it can about its target audience, so
   must the PR professional. This allows the PR
   message to be directed with laser accuracy.

  Now, “audience” in PR is divided into three sub-

A. Publics -- In PR, there is no “general public.” It
has to be a much more specific target to better
refine the message. A “public” is a group of people
who have a shared relationship with an organization
(the client) but may have no demographic or other
similarities. The relationship tries to meet the needs
of both parties.

Students at UHCL or fans of a professional sports
team, for example, are publics. They can be
supportive or non-supportive of the organization. A
fan or employee can be supportive; the contractor
who supplies bottled water may be non-supportive
but still has a relationship with the organization.

B. Markets -- A very specific type of public. These
are folks who are potential buyers, customers,
patrons, patients, clients etc. In short, they are
generally willing to spend money, but have a choice.

Think of publics vs. markets as family vs. friends;
you have almost no choice on selecting your family
members, but you do have a choice in selecting
your friends. Your family has to support you (in
theory, anyway) but your friends have a choice in
spending money on you.

C. Wide audience – Purveyors (readers, listeners
and viewers) of a particular medium. Their chief
commonality is the use of a certain medium.

They are generally passive, not really seeking the
organization’s message. They’re just there, in the
line of fire of the message despite a potential lack
of interest.

Whereas, publics and markets allow the message
to be significantly narrowed, this category utilizes
the shotgun approach.
3. The Medium: Once you have mastered the message and
  targeted the audience, you have to choose the medium that best
  allows you to achieve your goals.

   – For a product that nearly everyone wants -- beer or soap -- you
     would probably choose TV because the product appeals to a
     general audience.
   – Radio allows you to play a message over and over, and since
     radio listeners demonstrate loyalty to a station, that is a market
     you might aim for.
   – Print is handy for more complicated messages, has a higher
     credibility image than other mediums and allows the consumer
     to return again and again to the message.
   – The online audience is generally better educated and affluent,
     and the Web allows you to combine print, audio and video. But
     the consumer can click away a pop-up ad; it’s a bit more difficult
     to click away a TV or radio commercial.
In the end, defining the message, targeting the
    audiences and choosing the medium or media
    becomes part of an overall campaign or strategy.
    Your textbook (Page 178) outlines how to create an
    effective public relations plan:

1.   Analyze the situation         2. Plan the strategy
3.   Implement the plan            4. Evaluate the results

Such a campaign assumes that you can’t just tell an
   audience just once what your message is, that your
   goals will take time to achieve. Public relations writers
   have to be ready to adapt the message to the whole
   spectrum of media and to changing circumstances.
News Releases
                     News Releases
Novices and even seasoned veterans all use news
releases as a primary tool to get their message out. It’s a
fundamental method for trying to get publicity. Here’s
where all of your newfound writing skills come into play.

Here are some general guidelines:
1. Know what news is and how to write it
2. Know the structure and operations of the news room
3. Know the news people and their jobs
4. Know the style of writing that fits the medium
       Types of news releases
Why issue a news release:

  1. Announce upcoming events, appearances or
     personnel matters/changes
  2. Give information about worthy causes, blood drives,
     food drives, aid fund-raisers etc.
  3. Give information about a breaking news event
     involving the organization
  4. Publicize an anniversary or milestone
  5. Release survey/poll results or statistical data
  6. Alert the public about health/safety issues.
  7. To introduce new products, services, facilities
     Writing the news release
 The good ol’ inverted pyramid is the primary structure
  used by the PR writer, largely because it speaks the
  language of news professionals. Some PR writers will
  take the IP to the extreme, using “who-what-when-
  where” subheads/categories in the news release.
 The inverted pyramid is the place to start but that doesn’t
  mean there isn’t room for creativity. You can jump
  outside the confines of the news summary lede with a
  colorful quote -- or perhaps use a short delayed lede.
  (See sample in handout)
 Note that PR professionals often have to manufacture or
  “massage” quotes for organization officials.
        News release preparation tips

1. Always include the name and address of the
   organization putting out the release
2. Always include contact information. Phone numbers,
   email addresses and Web sites
3. Indicate the release date. Any embargos?
4. Fit the style to the medium. Generally AP style.
5. Watch your length. Try to confine you message to
   no more than 2 pages or 500 words. Email news
   releases should be shorter than that.
       More news release tips
6. Avoid breaks. It’s a subliminal thing for the reader.
   Avoid hyphenating at the end of lines and don’t
   break sentences between pages.
7. Write clearly, fact-check, proofread. Avoid corporate
   jargon and legalese. Get it right!
8. Remember the pyramid.
9. Beware of exaggeration/distortion. Especially avoid
   superlatives -- the best detergent ever! (Exxon
   Valdez example; now the Sea River Mediterranean)
10. Get it to the right person. Tailor the content in your
  release to the appropriate beat (business angle for
  business desk; lifestyle angle for features desk etc.)
       More news release tips
10. Make it local.
11. Include visuals.
12. Attribute news to a person.
13. Indent the paragraphs. Another subliminal reader
14. Headlines. If you can write good ones, use ’em. If
  not, stick to what you know. (Headline: Good news
  Bears – Smith signs with Baylor)
 Creating Kick-Butt News Releases (and
     Bonehead Mistakes to Avoid)
       Even more tips (from PR Insider Web site)

 The news release is your only chance to make a
  good first impression.
 Sloppy, inaccurate, pointless releases are the first to
  hit the newsroom wastebasket or recycle bin.
 To make sure yours isn’t one of them, avoid these
  seven deadly sins.
         Seven Deadly Sins
 1. Providing insufficient or wrong information.
  Particularly telephone numbers. Releases must be
  complete, accurate and specific.
 2. Writing too long. They should be no longer than
  two pages.
 3. Sending it too late. Mail or fax it at least two weeks
  before an event, preferably three or four. Send them
  four to six months ahead for major magazines.
        Seven Deadly Sins
 4. Sending a release with no news value. News is
  what happens that is different. If it isn't different, it
  isn't news.
 5. Blatant commercialism. Avoid hackneyed words
  and phrases such as spectacular, incredible, the
  only one of its kind, breakthrough, cutting-edge,
  unique and state-of-the-art.
 6. Omitting a contact name and phone number. At
  the top of the first, page in the left corner, let
  editors know who they can call if they have
       Seven Deadly Sins
 7. Calling after you send a release. Questions like
  "Did you get my news release?" or "Do you know
  when it will be printed?" will brand you as a pest.
  Don't follow up with a phone call to see if the media
  got your release, unless you are absolutely sure
  that someone will check for you. Most reporters
  and editors don't have time.

1. -- Contains info on effective
   news releases, PR resources and insider tips by PR
   professional Bill Stoller.
2. -- Helpful site for anyone interested in
   PR. A resource for numerous other Web sites
3. -- Explains how to be
   newsworthy and provides a checklist on how to figure
   out your news angle
4. -- general information about the Public
   Relations Society of America; includes the Code of

5. -- Site of the Public Relations Students
   Society of America; includes job listings

Helpful for new ideas and creativity
6. -- Site for the annual awards given to
   PR practitioners.
7. and -- Help with
   distributing news releases online
          One last writing exercise …

   Edit and rewrite the following information (on the
    Web site or delivered to you electronically) into a
    usable news release. Remember to look over the
    “tips” and “sins” regarding news releases.
   Remember to fact check.
   Be creative with the logo/style, if you wish
   Due next class