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News Releases, Media Alerts, and Pitch Letters

14 Nov

Chapter 14 Reading Notes COMM 2322

Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

The News Release – also called a press release. it is the most commonly used public relations tactic.

  • Use short headlines
  • Use descriptive and creative words to grab an editor’s attention.
  • Tell the news instead of promoting your product or company.
  • Don’t throw everything into a release.
  • Don’t use lame quotes. Write like someone who is actually talking.
  • Double check all information.
  • Use 8.5 by 11 inch paper. Should be white or organization letterhead.

Publicity Photos

  • More people read photos than reading the articles.
  • Quality – photos must have a great contrast and sharp detail so that they can reproduced in a variety of formats.
  • Composition – the best photos are uncluttered. Have tight shots with minimum background, an emphasis on detail, not whole scenes and limited wasted space.
  • Action shots with different scale.
  • Angles – interesting angles can make the photo compelling.
  • Lighting – to make the subject look the best.
  • Color – have several formats available and send what the publication or Web news site needs.

Mat Releases

  • Originally called “mat” because they were sent in mat form ready for printing press.
  • Today, we know them as word documents, jpegs, and pdfs.

Media Kit

  1. The main news release
  2. News feature about the development of product
  3. Facts sheets on the product, organization, or event
  4. Background information
  5. Photos and drawings with captions
  6. Biographical material on spokesperson or chief executives
  7. Some basic brochures

Pitch Letters

  • Use a succinct subject line that tells the editor what you have to offer.
  • Keep the message brief.
  • Don’t send out blast e-mails.
  • Personally check the names in your e-mail database to remove redundant recipients.
  • Good pitch is based on research and creative idea that will appeal to the editor.

Distributing Media Materials

  1. Mail
  2. Fax
  3. E-mail
  4. Electronic News Services
  5. Online Newsrooms
  6. Web pressrooms

Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Pubic materials are distributed electronically.


Reaching a Multicultural and Diverse Audience

7 Nov

Chapter 11 Reading Notes COMM 2322






Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Reaching Diverse Age Groups

  • Persistence nagging – a plea that is repeated over and over again.
  • Importance nagging – appeals to parents’ desire to provide the best for their children.
  • Generation Y – people born after 1980.
  • Generation X – people born between 1965 and 1980.
  • E-generation – both X and Y share the electronic media with these other two groups.
  • Baby boomers – born 1946 and 1964 which was the tidal wave of babies after World War II.
  • Seniors – men and women over the age of 65 years old.

Communications Campaign for Multicultural Consumers

  1. Organize a team that understands the customs and values of various groups that you are trying to reach.
  2. Know the demographics.
  3. Understand the consumers of diverse cultural backgrounds and respond better to messages that are culturally relevant.
  4. Extremely loyal once their products become apart of their lives.
  5. Use the primary language of the audience.
  6. Use spokespersons who represent the audience.

Other Emerging Audiences

  • Catholic and Evangelical Groups – products and services structured around religious themes sell.
  • The Gay/lesbian Community – media targeted to gay and lesbian consumers have grown over the last two decades. There is a high brand of loyalty.
  • The Disability Community – very diverse with people in wheelchairs, blind, or even deaf.
  • Women – very important consumers for numerous household products.

Reaching Global Audiences

  1. China is a growing market undergoing revolutionary political, social, and industrial changes.
  2. Chinese value their long-held traditions and exist in every angle of business.
  3. Russia is another cultural challenge – corruptions (black public relations)
  4. Key strategic point is to maintain sensitivity to different cultures with different languages.

Matching Audience with the Media

  • Americans spend about 3,500 hours a year consuming various media.
  • Television and Radio consumers most of that time.
  • Radio is the best for mobility.
  • Internet is good for fast breaking news.
  • Print media is effective for retaining information.

Conflict Management: Dealing with Issues, Risks, and Crises

7 Nov

Chapter 10 Reading Notes COMM 2322





Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Strategic Conflict Management

  1. Strategic – for the purpose of achieving particular goals
  2. Management – planned, deliberate action
  3. Competition – striving for the same object, position, prize, as others
  4. Conflict – sharp disagreements or opposition resulting in a direct overt threat of attack from another entity.

Systems for Managing Conflict

  • Organizational – know the time, finances, and management commitment to combat the threat.
  • Situational – assess danger and effort required to fix it.

Matrix of Contingency Factors:

Internal Variables

  1. general corporate characteristics
  2. characteristics of public relations department
  3. top management characteristics
  4. internal threats
  5. personality of people
  6. relationship characteristics

External Variables

  1. external threats
  2. industry-specific environment
  3. general political/social environment
  4. external public characteristics
  5. issue under consideration

The Conflict Management Life Cycle

  1. Proactive Phase – thoughts and processes that can prevent conflict from arising.
  2. Strategic Phase – an issue that has become and emerging conflict is identified as needing concerted action by the public relations professional.
  3. Reactive Phase – point where public relations professional must react to the issue at hand as it unfolds.
  4. Recovery Phase – the aftermath of the crisis and the organization repairs its reputation in the eyes of key publics.

Crisis Management: accidents, terrorist attacks, disease pandemics, natural disasters

  • Need to communicate to the public first
  • Take the responsibility for solving the problem
  • Be honest and do not obscure the facts
  • Never say, “No Comment.” Looks as if there is something the organization is hiding
  • Be accessible
  • Communicate with key publics
  • Provide a constant flow of information. When information is withheld the cover up becomes the story.
  • Designate a single spokesperson

Three Foundations of Reputation

  1. Economic performance
  2. Social responsiveness
  3. The ability to deliver valuable outcomes to stakeholders
  • Using research to monitor the companies reputation
  • Returning to the proactive phase of conflict management to improve the organizational performance will ultimately improve the reputation.

Public Opinion and Persuasion

29 Oct

Chapter 9 Reading Notes COMM 2322

Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Types of Leaders

  1. Formal opinion leaders – elected officials, presidents of companies or heads of membership groups.
  2. Power leaders – people in formal leadership positions.
  3. Informal opinion leaders – those who have clout with peers because of some special characteristic. Exert peer pressure for others to go along with it.

The Flow of Opinion

  • Two-step flow theory – public opinion is really formed by the views of people who have taken the time to sift information, evaluate it and form an opinion that is expressed to others.
  • Multiple-step flow model – opinion makers derive large amounts of information from the mass media and other sources and then share that information with people known as the” attentive public”.
  • N-step theory – individuals are seldom influenced by one opinion leader but interact with different leaders around one issue.

The Role of Mass Media

Mass Media – means information from a public relations source can be efficiently and rapidly disseminated to literally millions of people.

  1. Agenda-Setting Theory – (Max McCombs and Don Shaw) contends that media content sets the agenda for public discussion.
  2. Media Dependency Theory – people have no prior knowledge to issue so the mass media tells them what to think.
  3. Framing Theory – related to how journalists selected themes, facts, treatments and even words.
  4. Conflict Theory – (Morton Deutsch and Peter Colman) constructive process that builds towards consensus.

Uses of Persuasion

  • Change or neutralize hostile opinions.
  • Crystallize latent opinions and positive attitudes.
  • Conserve favorable opinions.

Factors in Persuasive Communications

  1. Audience analysis
  2. Source credibility
  3. Appeal to self-interest
  4. Clarity of message
  5. Timing and context
  6. Audience participation
  7. Suggestions for actions
  8. Content and structure of messages
  9. Persuasive speaking

Propaganda – political or ideogical persuasion, with emphasis on deceit and duplicity.

Ethics of Persuasion – publics know that we are trying to promote a client or organization and interest of that client or organization will be well served by false or misleading information.


19 Oct

Chapter 8 Reading Notes COMM 2322

 Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Evaluation – fourth step in the public relations process. It is the measurement of results against established objetives set during the planning process.

4-5% of budget is allocated to evaluations

Measurement of Production

  • Count how many news releases, feature stories, photos and letters produced in a given time.
  • Specify what the pr person should obtain during media coverage.
  • Distribution

Measurement of Message Exposure

   Media impressions – the potential audience reached by a periodical, broadcast program, or Internet Web site.

  1. Hits on the Internet
  2. Advertising Equivalency (AVE) – value of message exposure
  3. Systematic tracking – measured by sheer bulk.
  4. Requests and 800 numbers – compile number of requests for more information
  5. Return on Investment (ROI) – cost of reaching each member of the audience.
  6. Audience Attendance – counting how many people showed up.


Measurement of Audience Awareness and Attitude

  • day-after recall – people asked to view a specific TV show then the next day they are interviewed about it.
  • baseline study – measurement of audience attitudes and opinions before, during and after pr campaign.
  • benchmark studies – graphically show percentage difference in attitudes and opinions as a result of increased information and publicity.

Measurement of Supplemental Activities

  1. Communication audits – evaluate once a year at least
  2. Pilot and split messages – pre-testing before going national
  3. Meeting and event attendance – forms or ask attendees their thoughts
  4. Newsletter readership – evaluate annually
  • Content analysis
  • Readership Interest Surveys
  • Article Recall
  • Advisory Boards


18 Oct

Chapter 7 Reading Notes COMM 2322

Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Goals of Communication: inform, persuade, motivate, or achieve mutual understanding.

Third step in the public relations process is communication. Most visible part of public relations, also called execution.

  1. Implementing the plan
  2. Public relations perspective – ask if the message is appropriate, meaningful, memorable, understandable and believable.

Objectives for communicator: message exposure, accurate dissemination of the message, acceptance of the message, attitude change and change in overt behavior.

Receiving the Message

  1. Sender/ source
  2. Message
  3. Channel
  4. Receiver/ decoder
  5. Feedback from the receiver

Paying Attention to the Message

  • People come to message to find out what is happening
  • Entertainment and diversion
  • Reinforcement of their opinions and predispositions
  • Decision making about a product or service
  1. Passive Audience – people that pay attention to a message only because it is entertaining and offers a diversion.
  2. Active Audience – people that want to know the information.

Concept of triggering events: public relations practitioners should spend more time thinking about what behaviors they are trying to motivate in target publics, that what information is being communicated.

Understanding the Message

  • Effective use of language – writing for clarity
  • Use of symbols, acronyms and slogans – clarity is enhanced by use of these.
  • Avoid jargon – (also known as semantic noise)
  • Avoid cliches and hype words
  • Avoid euphemisms
  • Avoid discriminatory language

Believing the Message

  1. Sleeper effect – Carl Hovland
  2. Context – action (performance) speaks louder than a stack  of news releases.
  3. Involvement – an interest or concern for an issue or product.
  4. Dissonance – make audience aware that circumstances have changed.

Remembering the Message

  • Repetition – not everyone hears the message at the same time.
  • Repetition – reminds the audience
  • Repetition – helps the audience remember the message itself.
  • Repetition – lead to improved learning and increase the chance of penetrating audience who are indifferent or resistant.

Acting on the Message

Five-Stage Adoption Process

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Evaluation
  4. Trial
  5. Adoption

The Time Factor

  • Innovators
  • Early Adopters
  • Late Majority
  • Laggards

How Decisions are Influenced

  • Awareness Stage
  • Interest Stage
  • Evaluation, Trial, and Adoption Stages

Word of Mouth Campaigns

Program Planning

3 Oct

Chapter 6 Reading Notes COMM 2322

Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Program planning is the second step to following Research. (RACE – “A” stands for action and that is what planning is doing taking action.)

Approaches to Planning

  • Management by Objective
  1. Client/employer objectives
  2. Audience/publics
  3. Audience objectives
  4. Media channels
  5. Media Channel objectives
  6. Sources and questions
  7. Communication strategies
  8. Essence of the message
  9. Nonverbal support
  • Strategic Planning Model: Facts/Goals/Audience/Key Message pg. 153-154)

Elements of a Program

  1. Situation – organization must conduct a remedial program to overcome a problem or negative situation, conduct a one-time specific project to launch a new product or reinforce an ongoing effort to preserve its reputation and public support.
  2. Objectives – establish these for the program. (informational and motivational)
  3. Audience – who are they?
  4. Strategy – how objective is to be achieved
  5. Tactics – nuts and bolts or tactical part of the plan.
  6. Calendar/Timetable – timing of the campaign, scheduling tactics and compiling a calendar.
  7. Budget – how much will it cost?
  8. Evaluation – analysis of how key message points were mentioned.