Chapter 4 Reading Notes

June 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          Chapter 4 in  Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques covered how to find and make news. Public relations programs seek to provide information to the media in hopes that it will be published or broadcasted to their target audience. The book defines the resulting coverage of this information as publicity and the pr writer who creates and places these stories in the media is commonly referred to as a  publicist. In order to be an effective publicist, these three things are important to remember:

  1.  Be thoroughly familiar with traditional journalistic news values.
  2. Know where to find news and how to select the angle that will be most interesting to journalists as well as the public.
  3. Come up with creative publicity tactics that effectively break through a forest of competing messages to be a good problem solver.

          I am still on the fence when it comes to what career I would like to embark upon, but becoming a publicist sounds so interesting to me and this chapter really opened my eyes to what that job entails. Publicists do have a few obstacles to overcome when generating news and coverage in the media. These can include media gatekeepers, the incredibly shrinking news hole, the fact that traditional mass media is now fragmented (which means that it is no longer possible to reach the larger public through a single medium), and information overload. Overcoming these obstacles can be difficult but the text suggests several steps that can be taken to make your efforts more effective:

  • Understanding news values
  • Targeting the right media with your information
  • Thinking continuously about the interests of the readers or listeners
  • Keeping in mind the objectives of the client or employer
  • Exercising creativity in thinking about how to present information that will meet the requirements of media gatekeepers

          This chapter also covers the basics of what makes news; this consists of timeliness, prominence, proximity, significance, unusualness, human interest, conflict, and newsness. Chapter 4 also tells us that there are two main sources from which to find news, one of which is internal news sources which includes familiarizing yourself with the organization you represent by examining important papers, periodicals, clipping files, and other published material. The other is external news sorces which could be any newspaper you read, event you attend, or website you regularly visit and they can give ideas on how to get your organization into the news. News events can be used to create publicity it is extremely important for a PR professional to read, listen to, and watch the news for events and situations that may affect your organization.

          Creating news, as discussed in chapter 4, starts off with brainstorming sessions that encourage everyone to express any idea that comes to mind. Special events, contests, polls and surveys, top 10 lists, product demonstrations, stunts, rallies and protests, personal appearances, and awards are the ways to create news that are listed in the text. Without publicity it would be almost impossible for public relations programs to exist and it is important for any PR writer to be familiar with what makes a story newsworthy in order to gain attractive attention to your organization.


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