Chapter 11 Reading Notes

July 7, 2010 at 9:28 am (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          The eleventh chapter of our  Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook is called Getting Along With Journalists. This chapter contains many ways in which public relations professionals can improve upon their professional relationship with journalists; after all the text explains that:

“One survey of 539 large companies by the Public Affairs Group (PAG) found that media relations was the number one job responsibility of their public relations staff. A survey by PR Week found that media relations was the number one activity performed by corporate public relations departments. Similar surveys have indicated that media relations is the primary activity of public relations firms.”

          Journalists turn to PR sources for recieving most of their information and PR professionals rely on the media for distribution of information; journalists and PR writers have a dependent relationship on eachother and they must remain professional and courteous to one another in order to keep this relationship going.

          There are ways in which PR professionals can get on journalists’ bad sides, the textbook explains that there are five complaints that they have about PR professionals come up the most:

  1. Lack of familiarity with editorial requirements.
  2. Poorly written materials.
  3. Too many unsolicited e-mails and phone calls.
  4. Lack of knowledge about their product or service.
  5. Repeated calls and follow-ups.

          PR professionals in turn have some problems with the ways in which journalists interact with them and do their work; the most common complaint is that journalists can sometimes be sloppy in their accuracy and often don’t take the time to do their homework.

          It is important for the spokespersons of organizations to carefully prepare for media interviews; media training is vital to produce a positive outcome. Retracting statements and setting the record straight should be dealt with among the PR professional and the reporter who originally wrote the story. This chapter provides excellent ways for a PR writer to maintain a good professional relationship with journalists.


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Chapter 10 Reading Notes

July 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          Chapter ten in our  Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook is entitled “Distributing News to the Media.” This chapter deals with selectin gthe appropriate channels of distribution that will ensure that your materials will reach the correct media and intended audience.

          Media directories are vital for compiling media lists and information; they can range from CR-ROMs to online versions. In order to remain current it is important to update media lists and e-mail contacts on a regular basis because journalists frequently change jobs.

          In order for a publicist to find out what special editions various publications are planning for the year, it is important to keep up with editorial calendars. Publicists can become aware of what types of material a publication station is seeking for a specific purpose by using tip sheets.

          Mailing labels must be addressed to the correct editor using their specific name and details such as the floor or suite number of an office building should be included. Electronic media is growing in popularity with each day and the vast majority of news releases and other press materials are now distributed using these types of media. E-mail is also a popular way of communicating with reporters and editors about possible story ideas. However, the best work can be acheived when the reporter and the PR professional have already established a working relationship.

          Journalists rely on online newsrooms as the primary source for late-breaking news and other information about an organization. Electronic newswires distribute news releases to internet search engines and social networking sites, allowing the public to access the information. These news releases include photos, graphics, and video clips embedded into the basic news release. In order to take full advantage of search engine optimization, publicists must use keywords that consumers are most likely to use to search for information.

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Chapter 9 Reading Notes

July 6, 2010 at 11:03 pm (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          Our  Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques book explores writing for radio and television in the ninth chapter of the text. Radio and television present great opportunities for the public relations writer to effectively reach both a mass audience along with more specialized publics. According to the textbook:

“Radio reaches about 94 percent of adults over the age of 18 on a daily basis, with a total estimated audience of about 225 million. A 2008 study by Edison Media Research found that college graduates aged 25 to 54 listen to the radio almost 16 hours a week. Noncollege graduates listen more than 21 hours a week… The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says that local television news still attracts about 150 million viewers on a daily basis, and the average American family still spends about 7 hours daily watching television.”

          Radio and television news releases begin with the same basic identifying information such as the letterhead, contact, and the subject, however there are specifics for preparing a news release for radio rather than print. One of them being that radio releases are written in all capital letters in a double spaced format. Instead of having a specific number of words as a standard in a radio news release, the general practice is to use an approximate word count.

          The visual element in television is what sets it apart from other traditional media and gives it such persuasive impact. Our textbook tells us that there are almost as many television stations in the United States as there are daily newspapers so this presents numerous opportunities for the placement of public relations materials at the local level.

          The textbook also states that there are more than 5,000 video news releases (VNR’s) produced annually in the United States. A typical VNR costs a minimum of $20,000 to $50,000 for production and distribution; however these costs may vary depending upon a number of factors.

          The broadcast media are extremely important channels of communication, but using them requires a PR writer to think in terms of sound and visual elements. A persuasive pitch letter can be used to obtain placement on news programs and talk shows.

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Chapter 8 Reading Notes

July 1, 2010 at 4:19 am (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          Chapter eight in our Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook discusses how to select publicity photos and graphics. Photos and graphics add variety to stories and capture the interest of the audience in a way that words cannot. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

          The chapter starts off with determining the components of a good photograph. The technical quality, subject matter, compostition, action, scale, camera angle, lighting and timing, and color of the photograph must all be considered when selecting an appropriate photograph to accompany a story or to tell a story within itself.

          The next section of chapter eight discusses proper ways for a public relations professional to interact with photographers. The first thing to do is select the appropriate photographer for the job you need them to complete. It is also important to have the agreement with the photographer documented in writing. Planning ahead saves time and money when thinking about a photo session. When editing a photo cropping an retouching should be considered and it is vital for a PR professional to know when and where to use these editing tools.

        There are also ethical considerations to keep in mind when altering photographic images. Editors must be sure not to alter the original image too much in order to keep it professional and real. This chapter provides so much useful information for PR professionals (or future PR professionals such as myself) to keep in mind when selecting and editing photos to accompany their stories.

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Chapter 7 Reading Notes

July 1, 2010 at 3:29 am (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          The seventh chapter in our Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook is all about creating news features and op-ed. The beginning of this chapter specifies the difference between a news release, which emphasizes the timely disclosure of basic information about situations and events, and a feature story, which can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and create understanding and in a more imaginitive way. Basically, news releases utilize the skill of logic and feature writing requires more creativity.

          This chapter also says that feature writing is considered to be “soft news” rather than “hard news” and are not as time sensitive. They serve the purpose of entertaining, giving consumer tips, and additional background information. The text states that feature stories can come in a variety of types, but all of them have the potential to serve the purposes of:

  • Providining more information to the consumer
  • Giving background information and context about organizations
  • Providing behind-the-scenes perspectives
  • Giving a human dimension to situations and events
  • Generating publicity for standard products and services

          The next section in chapter seven deals with planning a news feature. Creative thinking plays an important role in feature writing. A public relations writer must think about how something lends itself to feature treatment. They must also determine if the information is newsworthy and interesting to a particular audience. It is also important to be sure that the feature helps achieve some organizational objectives.

          Before submitting an article to a magazine, some editors require that you give a proposal that outlines the entire feature and explains why it should be published in the magazine. The following points should be included in a proposal:

  • Tentative title of the article.
  • Subject and theme.
  • Significance. Why is the topic important? Why should readers know about it?
  • Major points.
  • Description of photos and graphics available.

          Chapter seven in our textbook provides many useful tips for a public relations professional to keep in mind while writing a feature story. I plan to use what I have learned from this text and apply it to my professional career in the future.

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PR Connection: Kate Plus 8… Entertaining America or Exploiting this Family?

June 30, 2010 at 2:22 am (PRCA 3330 PR Connections)

Kate Gosselin and her sextuplets on their sixth birthday          Back in April 2007, Jon and Kate Gosselin embarked on a life-changing television series (Jon and Kate Plus Eight) about living their lives together along with their eight children. For those who are not familiar with the family, it started off with Jon and Kate Gosselin, who’s desire to start a family was impaired by infertility when they discovered that Kate suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome. The couple then underwent fertility treatment and welcomed their first set of multiples, Cara and Madelyn in October 2000. The sextuplets; Alexis, Hannah, Leah, Aeden, Colin, and Joel; were born in May 2004.

          Jon and Kate Gosselin finalized their divorce in December 2009 after a ten year marriage and eight children together. In my opinion, the almost overnight fame and overexposure of the family in the media had much to do with this separation. Kate underwent a drastic transformation from the time the show originally aired to the present time. She was originally portrayed as a mother of eight who’s life revolved around taking care of her big family. Before we knew it, she was appearing in the tabloids then she was on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars in April 2010.

          TLC now hosts a show called Kate Plus Eight, which first aired in June 2010, that portrays Kate as a single reality TV star mom and her daily routine with her twins and sextuplets. Not only has the idea of the show adapted to her single life, but her looks have completely transformed as well. I don’t think there’s any way that a woman who has carried eight children could look as young and fresh as Kate Gosselin without plastic surgery and professional help from nutritionists and personal trainers.

          While watching the first episode of Kate Plus Eight I found it extremely difficult to form my opinion on what to think about this woman’s decision to raise her children in the spotlight in the manner in which she chose to. On the one hand, her failed marriage may have been a direct result of the overexposure of her family in the media and who knows what will become of the children as a result of being brought up under the constant watch of the media. On the other hand this family has been on television and in the media since the sextuplets were born and they have millions of devoted fans who love to follow along with the family on the TV series.

          So now the questions in my mind are.. Did the PR representatives for the Gosselins make a mistake in drawing too much attention to the issues in this family and making their lives too public? Are they responsible for the overexposure or was the family so eager to take full advantage of their fifteen minutes (plus a little more) of fame? Was it Kate or her PR rep’s idea for her to transform her image so drastically? Or was it a result of her newly single lifestyle?

          Honestly, at first I thought that TLC picking up the series Kate Plus Eight (dropping the ‘Jon’ aspect) was a mistake. But after watching the first episode and seeing how the children had formed a bond with the camera crew I might have to change my mind. After all, there are obviously millions of Americans who liked Jon and Kate Plus Eight enough for Kate to appear on Dancing with the Stars and then come back with her own reality TV series. Plus its a great way to rake in the much needed money required to provide a comfortable lifestyle for a family of nine. Only time will tell if the children will be able to handle life in the spotlight as they grow up.

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June 30, 2010 at 1:17 am (PRCA 3330 Topic of the Week)

          During week four we completed one week of Twitter in which we set up a Twitter account and sent at least twenty tweets along with responding to at least five tweets that our classmates posted and then blog about our experience for our fifth topic of the week. I have had some prior experience with Twitter before this week but I still learned a lot during my time during this activity.

      I found myself thinking of random things that I wanted to Tweet throughout my day but by the time I got to my computer, I would forget half of them. In order to solve this problem I chose the option to be able to send Tweets from my cell phone. I do not have internet access on my phone; pretty much all it does is make calls, send texts, and take pictures. I can’t even send or recieve picture messages because of the lack of internet access on my cell phone so I was very suprised that I was able send Tweets through the same device. The Tweets are sent through texts messages not the internet so that is how I was able to have such easy mobile access to Twitter.

          On any other week I would send Tweets randomly as I pleased but this week we were required to complete a certain amount of Tweets so I had to think about it a lot more often. I tried to Tweet about things that were more interesting than something like, “I had this for lunch today” and it was actually harder than I thought it would be. Normally I will send a Tweet here and there and not even think about the level of professionalism that it reflects back on me. This week however I tried to Tweet about something that caught my interest or any interesting facts that I may have come across.

          I think that Twitter is the future in social networking and it is very important for a public relations professional to be familiar with how to use this website. Twitter makes it easy to keep in touch with other people and follow along with things that they feel are important enough to share with the world.

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June 30, 2010 at 12:47 am (PRCA 3330 Topic of the Week)

          For week four’s topic of the week we completed a NewsU  The Lead Lab course. I am very glad to have this experience because I intend to use the knowledge I gained in writing news releases and maintaining the attention of my audience when I embark on a professional career in the public relations field.  I found this course to be very educational and extremely easy to navigate through.

          A public relations writer must know how to write leads that are entertaining and spark the interest of  the audience. This course discusses the two different types of leads, direct and delayed leads, and the importance of choosing the right one and applying it to your writing. Direct leads are up-front in their presentation of news and state all the facts right away. Delayed leads tell a story and unfold the news as they go.

          Both direct and delayed leads are general categories that contain even more types of specific leads. A summary lead is a type of direct lead that answers the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? An analysis lead is very neutral and allows the reader to understand the story from the perspective they choose.

          An anecdotal lead is a type of delayed lead that illustrates the complete story. Another type of delayed lead is an emblem lead, which uses one event to elaborate on a larger problem. A significant detail lead  is a type of delayed lead that adds in depth detail to a story in order to provide for a better understanding of the general idea. The final type of delayed lead is called a round-up lead and it combines all of the other types of delayed leads to exhibit a trend.

          This course was very helpful to me as a public relations writer because it stressed the importance of having an interesting lead that maintains the interest of and informs the audience. There are many types of leads and it is also important for a PR writer to know when it is appropriate to use each different one.

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Chapter 6 Reading Notes

June 30, 2010 at 12:13 am (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          Chapter 6 in our  Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook deals with preparing fact sheets, advisories, media kits, and pitches. All of these are examples of basic publicity tools that are regularly prepared and distributed to encourage and facilitate media coverage.

          Fact sheets are one-page background sheets about an event, a product, or even the organization. These may be distributed with a news release or they can even be a part of a media kit. A fact sheet for an upcoming event, for example, may contain headings specifying:

  • The name of the event
  • Its sponsor
  • The location
  • The date and time
  • The purpose of the event
  • The expected attendance
  • A list of any prominent people attending
  • Any unusual aspects of the event that make it newsworthy

          A media kit, which is sometimes referred to as a press kit, can contain a vast array of materials including news releases, fact sheets, and even photographs and are often assembled to introduce new products or services and major events. Many organizations find it more cost-effective to distribute this information via CD’s, e-mail, and online newsrooms. Electronic press kits (EPK’s/e-kits) are more versatile than tradistional printed media kits because they can include multiple pieces of information in a variety of formats. 

          Media advisories are used to let assignment editors know about a newsworthy event or an interview of opportunity that could lend itself to photo or video coverage. Making a pitch consists of writing effective memos and e-mails that will persuade reporters and editors to cover your product, service, or event.

          The chapter wraps up in discussing a proper follow up for your pitch. I think this is very important for a public relations writer to be familiar with because it is essential for developing a professional relationship with clients. Following up on a pitch that you have made to an organization shows them that you have a genuine interest in developing news with this organization.

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Chapter 5 Reading Notes

June 29, 2010 at 11:42 pm (PRCA 3330 Reading Notes)

          Chapter 5 of our Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook deals with writing news releases. The first part of the chapter discusses the importance of news releases/press releases in publicity programs. I was extremely suprised to find out that between 55 and 95 percent of all news releases sent to media outlets are never used. I was not suprised to read that there is a massive competition for the attention of reporters and editors.

          News releases are so effective because they create awareness about ideas, situations, services, and products. They are also cost effective; according to the text, almost any organization can create and distribute news releases at nominal cost compared to the cost of advertising.

          There is also much to do when planning a news release. The creator of the news release must consider the selection of paper, word processing, and the style to be followed when writing. It is important for a public relations writer to complete a planning worksheet before writing anything. The planning worksheet should answer these basic questions:

  1. What is the subject of the message? What is the specific focus of this release?
  2. Who is this message designed to reach?
  3. What is in it for this particular audience? What are the potential benefits and rewards?
  4. What goal is the organization pursuing? What is the organization’s purpose?
  5. What do you want to achieve with the news release?
  6. What key messages should this news release highlight? How can they be tailored to the format of a specific publication and its readers?

          There are also many different types of news releases including announcements, spot announcements, reaction releases, bad news, and local news. It is also important for a public relations writer to remember the basic parts of a traditional news release. The first page of a news release is usually printed on an organization’s letterhead, followed by contacts, a headline, a dateline, the lead, the body of the text, and a description of the organization.

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