Posts tagged ‘Public Relations Writing’

Chapter 6 Notes- Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques- 6th Edition

by: Denis L. Wilcox

Expanding the Publicity Tool Kit


  • fact sheets – one page background sheets about an event, product, or organization
    • a list of facts in outline or bullet form that a reporter can use as a quick reference when writing a story.
    • types of fact sheets:
  1. for upcoming events
  2. one-page sheet giving key facts about an organization – corporate profile
  3. a summary of a new product’s characteristics.
  • media kits/press kit – contains news releases, fact sheets, and photos; assembled to introduce new products, services and major events.
    • Usually prepared for major events and new product launches.
    • A basic media kit may include:
  1. News release
  2. Fact sheets
  3. News feature
  4. Background information
  5. Photos and drawings with captions
  6. Biographical information on the spokesperson or senior executive
  7. Basic brochures
  • media advisories/media alert – let editors know about a newsworthy event or an interview that could lend itself to photo/video coverage.
    • types:
  1. Most common format uses: one line headline, brief paragraph outlining story, 5 W’s, and reporter’s contact info
  2. Used to announce time/location
  3. Used to let reporters and editors know about an interview opportunity
  • making a pitch – writing effective memos and e-mails that will persuade reporters/editors to cover your product, service, or event.
    • A good pitch has three phases
  1. Researching the publication or broadcast show
  2. Writing the e-mail or letter and making the call
  3. Following up

March 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm 2 comments

Chapter 5 Notes- Writing the News Release

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques Sixth Edition

by: Denix L. Wilcox

The Backbone of Publicity Programs

  • Press release- backbone of almost every publicity plan.
  • 55%- 97% of all news releases sent to media outlets are almost never used
  • 1) Standardized Format  2) Provide information that will be interesting to the audience   3) Material must be timely

Basic Questions when planning a News Release

  1. What is the subject of the message? Specific focus?
  2. Who is the message designed to reach?
  3. What is in it for the audience? Benefits/rewards?
  4. What goal is the organization pursuing? What is the organization’s purpose? Is it to increase sales? Position the company as a leader? Show company’s concern for environment? Etc.
  5. What do you want to achieve with the NR? To change attitudes/behavior or to increase attendance at a local event?
  6. What key messages should this news release highlight? How can they be tailored to the format of a specific publication and its readers?

Types of News Releases

  1. Announcements – personnel appointments, new products/services, mergers, awards, parties, anniversaries, openings/closings, etc.
  2. Spot announcements- When a storm disrupts the services of a public utility or a fire or an accident stops work, a flood closes roads, etc.
  3. Reaction stories – when a n event or situation has an impact on the organization.
  4. Bad news – The only way to make the best of a bad situation is to confront it; a release giving facts and the organization’s point of view should be drafted immediately.
  5. Local news – most common reason that news releases get used is the presence of a local angel

Parts of a Traditional News Release

  1. Letterhead
  2. Contacts
  3. Headline – brief, sometimes have a second headline known as a subhead
  4. Dateline
  5. Lead Paragraph – most important part of any news release
  6. Body of Text – write in inverted pyramid style. Most important facts go at the beginning of the news release so the editors will see the most interesting lines first thing.

February 23, 2010 at 3:49 am Leave a comment

Chapter 4 Notes- Finding and Making News

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

by: Denis L. Wilcox

The Challenge of Making News

publicity- resulting coverage from providing information to the media in hopes that it will be published or broadcast

publicist- PR writer who writes and places stories in the media

Publicists need to know 3 things

  1. Thoroughly familiar with traditional journalistic values
  2. Know where to find news and how to select the angle that will be most interesting to journalists and the public
  3. They must be problem solvers and come up with creative publicity tactics that effectively break through a forest of competing messages

Publicist must navigate at least 4 obstacles

  1. Media gatekeepers
  2. Incredibly shrinking news hole
  3. Traditional mass media is now fragmented- need to be adept at preparing and packaging publicity materials in a variety of formats
  4. Information overload

Take several steps to overcome the obstacles

  • Understand news values
  • Target the right media with your information
  • Thing continuously about the interests of the reader/listeners
  • Keeping in mind the objectives of the client or employer

What Makes News

  • Timeliness- news must be current
  • Prominence – presence of movie stars, rock stars, athletes, can attract media coverage; also can use governor or even a mayor.
  • Proximity- surveys have shown that the news release most acceptable to media gatekeepers are those with a local angle.
  • Significance- any situation or event that can affect a substantial number of people is significant.
  • Unusualness – anything out of the ordinary attracts press interest and public attention
  • Human Interest – people like to read about other people
  • Conflict- two or more groups advocate different views on a topic of current interest this creates news
  • Newness- any news release announcing a new product of service has a good chance of being published.

How to Find News

  • Internal News Sources – periodicals, clipping files, important papers (annual reports, market share, sales projections, etc.)
  • External News Sources – you need to read, listen to, and watch the news for events and situations that may affect your organization.

How to Create News

Brainstorming, Special Events, Contests, Polls and Surveys, Top 10 Lists, Product Demonstrations, Stunts, Rallies and Protests, Personal Appearances, Awards

February 17, 2010 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

There are several basic components of what qualifies as “news”.  Publicists must be familiar with these characteristics in order to write news releases that will move past the media gatekeepers and get published.  These components include but are not limited to, timeliness, prominence, proximity, significance, human interest,unusualness, and newness.  One of the most important aspects may be timeliness since news by definition, must be current.

A publicist can make an article timely in various ways.  First, is to announce something when it first happens.  An example would be the announcement of an organization’s new CEO, or the launch of a new product.  A second way to make something timely would be to provide additional information to an event or situation that is already being covered.  For example during the Olympics, after Shaun White had won his gold medal, reporters continued talking about his win by mentioning his childhood or interviewing him after the medal stand.  A third tactic would be to relate an organization’s product or service to another event that has national recognition and interest.  For example, Kimberly-Clark publicized its toilet paper during halftime of the Super Bowl.  The company used Mike Ditka and an essay contest, “Share Your Cloggiest Moment.”

A good way to get media coverage is to have a “star” attend a grand opening of an organization’s event.  Movie stars, rock stars, and professional athletes do draw media attention, but other types of celebrities can draw attention as well.  For example, a hospital, clinic or shelter can get first-page coverage if a governor or even a mayor, pays a visit.

Another component of news is proximity.  Surveys have shown that generally news releases that are considered acceptable to media gatekeepers are those that have a local angle.  Hometowners are stories that are customized for an individual’s local newspaper emphasizing the local angle in the first paragraph.  Whenever possible the PR writer should attempt to “localize” information.

Another component of news is significance.  Any situation that can affect a substantial number of people is significant.  For example, Harvard recently released a study that said that people who drink “soda” gain an extra 15 pounds per year.  However, keep in mind when judging significance you must not only know how many people will be affected, but also who will be affected.

People love reading about other people.  This is called human interest and it is another component of the news.  Human interest is not restricted to celebrities.  An article may focus on a woman with aids detailing her experience with a sordid clinic and people would rather listen to her story in her own words rather than seeing bar charts showing the state’s decreasing funding for public healthcare clinics.

Newness is another component of what makes news.  New products or services should be written about in a news release.  For example, Apple’s iPod and iPhone generated thousands of articles and blog posts when they were first introduced.

**Some facts/definitions from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques- 6th Edition by: Denis L. Wilcox

February 16, 2010 at 9:14 am Leave a comment

Chapter 3- Avoiding Legal Hassles

coThe key points from Chapter 3 of Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Edition) are:

1.   Libel and Defamation

  • libel– printed falsehood
  • slander– (false) oral communication, such as a speech or a broadcast mention
  • defamation– a collective term for libel/slander

2.   Invasion of Privacy

  • treatment of employees with regard to employees
  • PR writers are subject to litigation in regard to employees’ privacy in 5 areas (Employee newsletters, Photo releases, Product publicity and advertising, Media inquiries about employees, Employee blogs)

3.  Copyright Law

  • A copyright under U.S. law protects original material for the life of the creator plus 70 years

4.  Trade Mark Law

  • A trademark is a word, symbol, or slogan that identifies a product’s origin.

5. Regulatory Agencies

  • SEC closely monitors the financial affairs of publicly traded companies and protects the interests of stockholders.
  • FTC ensures that advertisements are not deceptive or misleading

February 11, 2010 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

PRCA 3330- Blog Comments

Part of our assignment of creating and maintaining a blog for Professor Barbara Nixon’s PRCA 3330 Public Relations Writing course, is to comment on other’s PR blogs.  We are to keep a running list of comments throughout the semester following these guidelines:

  • Comment # (keep a running list)
  • Title of blog post you commented on, followed by the author’s name
  • Hyperlink to the blog post
  • Date of your comment
  • Your complete comment (copy and paste)

#1   Dan Santow’s 4th Annual Proofreadapalooza (from Dan Santo’s blog Word Wise)
Posted by: Kelseyeh.wordpress.comJanuary 29, 2010 at 01:05 PM

I thought that this blog entry was very helpful. I am currently taking a Public Relations writing course and we’re working on grammar and little things before we move on to actually writing press releases and things like that. These little tips and pieces of advice are things that no one usually thinks of but are so helpful. For example, having a clean desk? A messy environment for me can easily distract from the task at hand. I also thought the part about proofing not reading was interesting. How when you read you subconsciously fix the mistakes. I had never thought about it like that. Avoiding interruptions and giving myself enough time are my two biggest problems. I am first and foremost a procrastinator but I have improved immensely in that area, however I do get easily distracted with other social media like Facebook or Twitter or even email while trying to sit down and write or proofread. I will try to work on this though. Thank you for ideas.

#2  “4 Reasons That Writing Blogs Can Enhance Your Executive Job Search”- by Heather Eagar
Posted by: Kelsey On: 2/4/2010 2:41:33 PM

Heather, “4 Ways that Writing Blogs Can Enhance Your Executive Job Search” was a great blog entry for me.  I have just created a blog as an assignment for a class and it is encouraging to read a post that details why a blog can help you further your career.  I have actually already followed some of your advice and joined LinkedIn and linked my blog to my profile so that would-be employers can see my blog and give me feedback or advice.  I think that it is a great idea to show a company physical evidence of something on your resume, for example news releases or blog entries.  Thanks for the great post!

#3 Tiger Woods” by Allie Harrington
March 4, 2010

Allie,
I do think that he is moving in the right direction as well. He has shown some remorse or at least acknowledgment of his actions by apologizing and going to therapy. However, I think his apology was too little too late. I think that his publicists and PR team should have pushed for a statement, announcement, or something months ago when this event first occurred.
The public has been hearing tons of stories from various mistresses including text messages, video, photos, etc. and Tiger Woods has been almost “defenseless” the whole time. He has not once said he is sorry, or denied any allegations.
I realize that it is some people’s opinion that this is a private matter between Tiger and Elin, but I think that it became public the second Tiger crashed his car into the tree outside his house and a media circus developed. Where was his statement when there was speculation that Elin beat him up or that he was on drugs that night? Or where was his statement of apology when more than 10 women came forward claiming to be in a relationship with him and that they could provide evidence?
I just think he (and maybe his publicity team) could have done better to diffuse the situation!

January 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment


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