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These are my Ch.14 notes from Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques

E-mail

  • reduces the cost of employee communications
  • increases the distribution of messages to more employees
  • flattens the corporate hierarchy
  • speeds decision making
  • it is a good way for PR writers to send media advisories & news releases to the media
  • it is not suitable for all person-to-person communication and should never be a substitute for face-to-face communication
  • you can be somewhat informal in emails, but you still need to pay attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, & sentence structure

Memorandums (Memos)

  • is a brief written message, usually a page or less in length
  • it can ask for information, supply information, confirm a verbal exchange, ask for a meeting, schedule or cancel a meeting, remind, report, praise, caution, state a policy, or perform any other function that requires a written message
  • hard copies of memos are usually distributed even if it was sent via e-mail
  • should be specific & to the point; the subject line should state exactly what the memo is about
  • every memo should include 5 things:
  1. date
  2. to
  3. from
  4. subject
  5. message

Proposals

  • are a management technique to consider new programs and policies
  • the purpose is to get something accomplished – to persuade management to approve and authorize some important action that will have a long-lasting effect on the organization or its people
  • can be presented in a few or multiple pages
  • proposals will be more compelling if these 4 things are included:
  1. show a need
  2. satisfy the need
  3. show benefits
  4. call for action

These are my notes on Ch.12 from Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques

  • The media traditionally has the following characteristics:
  1. it’s centralized, having a top-down hierarchy
  2. it costs a lot of money to become a publisher
  3. it’s staffed by professional gatekeepers known as editors & publishers
  4. it features mostly one-way communication with limited feedback channels

The World Wide Web

  • allows interactivity
  • a website is literally a distribution system in cyberspace
  • in a lot of cases, an organization’s website is linked to other web pages and information sources
  • there are 2 basic concepts that are important when writing for the web:
  1. there is a huge difference between how people read online & how they read printed documents
  2. the PR writer needs to know the basic difference between linear and nonlinear styles of writing
  • when writing online you should limit line length to fewer than 60 characters
  • you have 10-12 seconds to “hook” a viewer onto your site otherwise they’ll click on to something else
  • if you want to attract visitors to your site you must give a lot of directional signage, which includes hyperlinks & search engines
  • page view/page impression – refer to the number of times a page is pulled up
  • unique visitor – means first-time visitors to a site
  • cookie – a file that is placed on your hard drive by a website you have visited
  • return on investment (ROI) – you compare the cost of the website to how such functions would be done by other means

Social Media

  • according to wikipedia “social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.”
  • blogs are the most dominant, but social media also includes MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, etc.
  • conversation is not organized, controlled, or on message, BUT is vibrant, emergent, fun, compelling, & full of insights
  • in 2007 there were 112 million blogs, with 120,000 being created every day
  • corporate blogs are usually written by an executive & represents the official voice of the organization
  • 70% of Americans 15-34 were currently actively engaged in some form of social network in 2008

Podcasts

  • is a digital media file or series of such files that is distributed over the internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players & personal computers
  • 3 major advantages:
  1. cost-effectiveness
  2. the ability of users to access material on a 24/7 basis
  3. portability
  • organizations use podcasts to provide news about their company, in-depth interviews with executives & other experts, features giving consumer tips about use of products & services, and training materials for employees
  • the ideal length is 10-20 minutes

These are my Ch.11 notes from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

  • media relations is the core activity in many PR jobs
  • 2/3 of journalists say they don’t just PR people, but 81% say they need them anyway
  • PR materials save the media time, money, and effort of gathering their own news; no medium has enough reporters to cover all the available news
  • the relationship between public relations and the media is based on mutual cooperation, trust, & respect
  • the excesses of hype and promotion have caused many journalists to openly disdain PR as nothing but covert advertising, deception, & manipulation
  • a survey found that 82% of executives feel that news coverage today reflects the reporter’s personal opinions & biases
  • most media are dependent on advertising revenues for survival
  • if the public increasingly takes a skeptical view of what they read/hear, the value of media as an objective & independent source of information is compromised
  • Media interviews: (some common questions)
  1. who are you?
  2. what is the story about?
  3. why did you call me?
  4. what are you looking for from me?
  5. who else are you speaking with?
  6. are you going to use my comments in your story?
  7. when is the story going to run?
  • news conference – where many reporters ask questions; it is called by an organization when there is important & significant news to announce; should be well organized, short, & punctual
  • junkets – a variation on the press preview is the press tour
  • fam trips – (familiarization tour) is similar to a junket but is within the travel and tourism industry

Here are my Ch.10 notes from PR Writing and Media Techniques

Reaching the Media

  • the basis of all distribution channels is an up-to-date media database
  • media databases may vary, but all usually provide the following:
  1. names of publications and broadcast stations
  2. mailing addresses
  3. telephone & fax numbers
  4. e-mail addresses
  5. names of key editors and reporters
  • one major directory is Burrelles/Luce, which claims to have listings for 76,000 media outlets in North America
  • print & CD directories are still used, but online databases have an advantage because they are always up-t0-date
  • online databases allow you to get a detailed media list together quickly or print mailing labels, email/fax your news release directly to a reporter
  • editorial calendars = certain issues have a specific editorial focus; trade publication and business periodicals tend to operate on these.
  • tip sheets = weekly newsletters that report on recent changes in news personnel & their new assignments, how to contact them, & what kinds of material they’re looking for

Distribution of Materials (tips for selecting a distribution channel)

  • E-mail – good for suggesting story ideas to journalists/editors, answering media questions, & sending news releases
  • Online newsrooms – good for distributing news releases, media kits, features, corporate background info, & high-resolution photos/graphics. distribution is enhanced by sending e-alerts & having journalists sign up for RSS feeds from the online newsroom
  • Electronic wire services – best for financial news to large newspapers & major broadcast outlets; ideal for multimedia news releases. Includes internet search engines, bloggers, & other social networking media
  • Feature placement firms – good for reaching suburban newspapers & small weeklies. distribution can be done in many formats
  • Photo placement firms – best for high-resolution publicity photos on an international basis
  • Mail – common method for distributing routine materials to local & regional media
  • Fax – good for sending media advisories & alerts and late-breaking important news
  • CD-ROMs – best used for background material (corporate profiles, executive bios, & product info sheets)

These notes come from ch.9 in Public Relation Writing and Media Techniques

  • radio reaches about 94% of adults over 18 on a daily basis
  • local television news still attract about 150 million viewers on a daily basis

Radio

  • radio lacks glamour, so it’s not always the first medium PR professionals think of when planning an information campaign
  • on a local level it is a cost-effective way to reach large #s of people in various demographics
  • it is the only mass medium that can reach millions of Americans as they commute to and from work in their cars
  • approximately 13,500 radio stations are on the air in the U.S.
  • about 2,000 stations now have an Internet presence
  • Different stations have different formats, such as: “top 40” (for teenagers), all-news stations (for commuters), classical stations (appealing to older & better-educated groups), etc.
  • for radio news releases, write in all UPPERCASE LETTERS and double-space & give length of release

Audio News Releases

  • aka ANR
  • a simple approach is for someone with a good radio voice to read the announcement
  • preferred length is 60 seconds, including a soundbite of 20 seconds or less
  • should accompany a sound tape with a script of the tape
  • producing ANRs is rather cost-effective, but you should still be selective about distribution

Public Service Announcements (PSAs)

  • defined as: an unpaid announcement that promotes the programs of government or nonprofit agencies or that serves the public interest.
  • can be 60, 30, 20, 15, or 10 seconds long
  • submit multiple PSAs on the same subject in different lengths
  • adding sound effects can make a radio PSA more interesting
  • almost any topic/issue can be the subject of a PSA, but stations seem to like particular topics
  • “speak to the common man….make it as simple as possible.” – christine arbesu

Radio Media Tours (RMT)

  • a spokesperson conducting a series of round-the-country, one-on-one interviews from one central location
  • interviews are conducted over the phone with DJs, news directors, or talk show hosts
  • relatively low cost & convenience are the major selling points

Television

  • is the primary source of news, information, and entertainment for most people
  • almost as many tv stations (1,500) in the US as daily newspapers (1,532)

Video News Releases (VNRs)

  • more than 5,000 are produced annually in the US
  • large organizations seeking enhanced recognition for their names, products, services, & causes are the primary clients
  • a typical VNR costs a minimum of $20,000 to $50,000 for production & distribution
  • a basic VNR includes:
  1. consultation on story concept and news positioning
  2. production
  3. script, 1-day shoot, edit, & voiceover
  4. distribution
  5. distribution to newsrooms, satellite feed, & 2 days of pitching assignment editors to use it
  • standard length is 90 seconds
  • VNR package should include 2 or 3 minutes of B-roll (background pictures & soundbites)

Satellite Media Tours (SMT)

  • the television equivalent to the RMT
  • prebooked, one-on-one interviews from a fixed location via satellite of tv journalists and talk show hosts
  • started in the mid-1980s when companies started putting CEOs in front of tv cameras
  • today, SMTs are a staple of PR & the tv industry
  • a basic SMT costs $10,000 to $25,000

Talk Shows

  • there are now more than 5,000 radio talk shows in the US & more than 20 nationally syndicated talk shows and a countless # of locally produced shows
  • talk shows book guests 3-4 weeks in advance

Product Placement

  • often called plugs, are negotiated by product publicists and talent agencies
  • product placements have become a major part of the tv and film industry
  • should always be alert to opportunities for publicity on tv programs and upcoming movies

These are my notes on Chapter 7:

  • a features story can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and created understanding in a more imaginative way.
  • features are considered soft news; they all have the potential to provide more information to the consumer, give background and context about organizations, provide behind-the-scenes perspective, give a human dimension to situations and events, & generate publicity for standard products and services.
  • good features writers ask a lot of questions
  • news events/issues can trigger ideas for features stories
  • once you have your feature idea there are 4 ways to proceed:
  1. write a general feature & distribute to a variety of publications (most common)
  2. write an exclusive feature for a specific publication
  3. don’t write the feature at all. give a journalist your idea that they may/may not want to develop on their own
  4. post the feature on your organization’s website for possible downloading by journalists & consumers
  • There are many different types of features, including: case studies, application stories, research studies, backgrounders, personality profiles, & historical pieces.
  • formatting for a features is similar to that of a news release
  • you can use an informational headline or one that uses a play on words, alliteration, or a rhyme
  • the purpose of the lead in a features story is to attract attention and get the reader interested
  • the body usually includes:
  1. direct quotes from people
  2. concrete examples and illustrations
  3. basic statistics or research findings
  4. descriptive words that paint mental pictures
  5. information presented in an entertaining way
  • photos & graphics often accompany a features story to give it more appeal
  • Placement opportunities include newspapers, general-circulation magazines, specialty/trade magazines, and internal publications. (broadcast & online media are also an option)
  • op-ed means “opposite the editorial page”; it is to present a variety of views on current news events, governmental policies, pending legislation, and social issues
  • “the whole point of the op-ed is to illuminate the issue in a new way. it isn’t just opinion; it’s an opinion grounded in facts, data, and research”
  • the op-ed pages in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Washington Post are the best known/most prestigious (in terms of placement).
  • the next best thing to an op-ed is a letter
  • letters should be short, temperate & factual, identify the subject in the opening paragraph, state the theme in the second paragraph, have several other paragraphs, & a closing.

Here are my notes on what I found interesting and most important from Chapter 6.

  • fact sheets = 1-page background sheets about an event/product/organization; media kit = aka press kit, contains news releases, fact sheets, & photos; media advisory = aka media alert, used to let assignment editors know about a newsworthy event/interview that could lend itself to photo/video coverage.
  • there are several kinds of fact sheets
  • media kits are typically 9×12 inches & has 4 sides (a cover, 2 inside pages, and a back cover w/ the organization’s name, address, & website); usually in an attractive folder
  • “fact sheets, background materials, and other supporting documents should be made available in a format that is easy for the journalist to recognize and access.”
  • Electronic press kits are more versatile than traditional printed media kits bc they can include many pieces of information in a variety of formats.
  • media kits often include a short, personalized letter to the editor that is considered a pitch for using the material
  • researching the pitch is probably the most important component; they need to be customized to a particular editor/publication
  • knowledge of the publication and the demographics of its audience are crucial for a successful pitch
  • the first rule of a pitch is brevity (less than a page or a screen); also your syntax and spelling should be flawless; your pitch should have an enticing lead
  • the majority of pitches are sent via e-mail, so the most important aspect of the pitch is the subject line
  • if you e-mailed, faxed, or mailed a pitch you should follow up; if they ask for more information during your follow up, make sure you send it within 24 hours (you should ask how they’d like to receive the information)