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Tapping the Web and New Media

14 Nov

Chapter 12 Reading Notes COMM 4333

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

The Internet: Pervasive in Our Lives (1960 used by academic researchers. 1990 public use)

  • Media is centralized having a topdown hierarchy.
  • It costs a lot of money to become a publisher.
  • It is staffed by professional gatekeepers known as editors and publishers.
  • It features mostly one way communication with limited feedback channels.

Mediasphere and blogosphere – widespread broadband, cheap/free, easy to use online publishing tools, new distribution tools, new distribution channels, mobile devices and new advertising paradigms.

The World Wide Web

  • You can update information quickly
  • It allows interactivity where viewers can ask questions about products or services, download information of value to them and let the organization know what they think.
  • Online readers can dig deeper into subjects that interest them by linking to information provided on other sites, other articles and sources.
  • Writing for the web – define objective of the site, design with audience in mind, update constantly.

Building Effective Websites

  1. Must have vision of how you want the organization to be perceived by the public.
  2. You need a copywriter to write the text.
  3. You need a graphic artist to add the visual element.
  4. You need a computer programer to put ideas together in HTML code for the Internet.

Making the Site Interactive

  • Hyperlinks
  • Search engines
  • Tracking site visitors
  • ROI (Return on Investment) – compare the cost of the website to how such functions would be done by other means.

The Basics of Webcasting – website is enhanced and supplemented by using webcasts. (90% companies use them)

  1. Minimize fasts movements and significant screen shifts.
  2. Emphasize strong foreground images and avoid shadows.
  3. Tiny details are often lost through digital encoding: provide sharp, clean screens.
  4. Audio should be clean and without the clutter of distracting background noise.

The Explosion of Blogs

  • Almost anyone can create it.
  • Start up costs are minimal.
  • Material can be updates and changed instantly.
  • Gives an organization an outlet to participate in the online dialogue already being said in other blogs and message board.

All other forms of social media.


Getting Along with Journalists

8 Nov

Chapter 11 Reading Notes COMM 4333

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

Areas of Friction

  1. Hype and News Release Spam
  2. Name Calling
  3. Sloppy/Biased Reporting
  4. Tabloid Journalism
  5. Advertising Influence

Working with Journalists

  • Always be areas of friction and disagreement between public relations people and journalists, but they can still have a solid working relationship and mutual respect.
  • Press interviews, news conferences, media tours, and other kinds of gatherings provide excellent opportunities build these relationships.
  • Media Interviews: Who are you? What is the story about? Why did you call me? Who else are you speaking with? Are you going to use my comments in your story? When is the story going to run?

How to Handle Interviews

  1. Never say “No comment”
  2. Do not lie.
  3. Do not let reporters put words into your mouth.
  4. Anticipate questions and plan answers.
  5. Determine in advance what key point or message you want to convey.

News Conferences

  • It is called by an organization when there is important and significant news to announce that would attract a lot of public interest and media attention.
  • Person of importance is coming to town.
  • A complex issue is being announced.
  • A matter of public concern needs to be explained.
  • New product or an invention in the public interest is to unveiled.

-Need a location for a news conference must be close to work place, have it for 1-2 hours, use hotels or conference rooms, and invite all reporters and bloggers who would be interested in the announcement.

-Needs to be well organized, short and punctual.

-Allow reporters to ask questions.

A Media Relations Checklist

  1. Know your media.
  2. Limit your mailings.
  3. Localize – most successful materials have a local angle to them.
  4. Practice good writing.
  5. Avoid gimmicks.
  6. Be available.
  7. Get back to reporters.
  8. Answer your phone.
  9. Be truthful.
  10. Answer questions – “Here it is” “I don’t know, but I will get back to you within the hour.” “I know but I cannot tell you now because…”

Distributing News to the Media

7 Nov

Chapter 10 Reading Notes COMM 4333

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

Media Databases

  1. Names of Publications and broadcast stations – places that get the word out to the masses.
  2. Mailing addresses – long lists of names and where to place the mail.
  3. Telephone and fax numbers – easy ways to call or quickly send over papers.
  4. E-mail addresses – electronic paper being sent back and forth.
  5. Names of key editors and reporters – great contact list of people to report and deliver the media message.

Main Databases

  1. Newspapers and Magazines – written word of media
  2. Radio/TV/Cable – gets the word out fast about what is going on. You can either hear it, hear it and see it, or just have basic cable which is hearing and seeing still.
  3. Internet Media – these are all your online media coverage. From CNN updates or even hulu or other forms of media.
  • Editorial Calendars – trade publications and business periodicals.
  • Tip Sheets – find media personnel in material.

Distribution of Materials

  • E-mail – in subject line use key words, and put useful information not contact numbers at the beginning of a news release.
  • Online Newsrooms – contact information, corporate background, news releases and media kits, multimedia gallery, and search capability.
  • Electronic Wire Services – photos through electronic wire services.
  • Cost – national distribution of a basic news release was about $600.
  • Feature Placement Firms – mat releases, camera ready art, repro proof and paste it into the newspaper layout.

Fax on Demand – reporter calls an 800 number and through a series of custom-designed prompts, ask for various organizational materials to be sent by fax.

Fax machine is a good way to send media advisories and ground breaking news releases.

Mail or snail mail is used to distribute publicity materials.

Online newsrooms are a primary source for journalist to seek stories.

Think like an editor and make sure you use AP style with short snappy headlines.

Writing for Radio and Television

29 Oct

Chapter 9 Reading Notes COMM 4333

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques


  • Cost effective to reach large number of people of various age, ethnic and income groups.
  • 13,500 stations are aired in the United States.

Radio News Releases

  1. Format – time is of the essence. “30” = 30 seconds “60” = 60 seconds
  2. Announcers read at the speed of 150-160 words per minute
  3. Audio News Releases – (ANR) people send recording of the news announcement.
  4. Actuality – someone with a good radio voice o read entire announcement. person may or may not be identified.
  5. Soundbite – use an announcer but also include a satisfied customer.
  6. Preferred length for an ANR is 60 seconds including a 20 second or less soundbite.

Tips for Successful Radio and Television Story Placement

  • Topicality – pick things that matter to the majority.
  • Timeliness – timed within the annual seasons.
  • Localization – newsrooms emphasize local news.
  • Humanization – show how real people are involved or affected. People relate to people and animals.
  • Visual Appeal – successful stories provide compelling soundbites or video footage.

Public Service Announcements – an unpaid announcement that promotes the programs of the gov. or nonprofit agencies that serves the public interest.

  1. There is no legal obligation that stations must air PSAs.
  2. Only non-profit, civic and voluntary organizations are eligible to use them.
  3. 50% of PSAs are aired after midnight.
  4. 60 seconds or less (most are 15-30 seconds long)
  5. Add sounds effects if you can.
  6. Health is the most common. Then, family, community organizations and events and then volunteerism.

Radio Media Tour (RMT) – spokesperson conducting a series of round-the-country, one-on-one interviews from one central location.


pg 223 All the titles involved at both radio and television stations

Approaches to getting your story out there:

  1. Send TV station same news release you send to local print media.
  2. Prepare media alerts or advisory that would lend itself to video coverage.
  3. Call them or e-mail the assignment editor.
  4. Write producer (VNR) video news release – like an audio news release but is formatted for immediate use. 5,000 are produced a year. Includes 90 second news report and much more. ($20,000- $50,000 in price)

Satellite Media Tour – series of pre-booked, one-on-one interviews from a fixed location via satellite with a series of television journalists and even talk show hosts.

Talk shows are good to reach the masses.

Selecting Publicity Photos and Graphics

19 Oct

Chapter 8 Reading Notes COMM 4333

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

Importance of Publicity Photos

  • need them for news releases and feature stories
  • Eye catching

Components of a Good Photo

  1. Technical Quality
  2. Subject matter
  3. Composition
  4. Action
  5. Scale
  6. Camera angle
  7. Lightning and Timing
  8. Color

Working with Photographers

  • Use a skilled photographer with professional experience
  • Have a file of photographers noting their fees and expertise
  • Make sure you have a contract
  • Plan ahead the photo session
  • Cropping – editing the photo by cutting off parts of the picture.
  • Retouching – done to alter the actual content of the photo.
  • Ethical considerations

Writing Photo Captions

  • Photo news releases – photos with longer captions that are given to the media with an accompanying new release.
  • Identify from left to right when two or more people in the picture.
  • Most important person should be mentioned first.

Creating Other Graphics

  1. Pie Chart – show part of total
  2. Bar Chart – comparisons between years, population, sales and prices
  3. Graph – showing changes over longer period of time.
  4. Diagrams – show how something works.
  5. Rendering and Scale models – show how the finished structure will look.
  6. Line Drawings and clip art – cartoons are this form.

Maintaining Photo and Art Files

  • Date of event when photo was taken
  • Releases from people portrayed
  • Compete names and titles of people shown
  • Name and address of photographer
  • Complete names and titles of people shown

Distributing Photos and Artwork

  1. Thumbnail
  2. Slightly bigger preview image
  3. Low resolution version
  4. High resolution (300 dpi)

Shotgun tactic – mail media kit that includes a CD that contains at least two files.

Electronic distribution – Business Wire, PRNewswire, MarketWire, or Feature Photo Service.

Creating News Features and Op-Ed

17 Oct

Chapter 7 Reading Notes COMM 4333

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

The Value of Features

Feature Story provides additional background information, generates human interest and creates understanding in a more imaginative way.

  • Provides information to consumer
  • Gives background ad context about organizations
  • Provides behind-the scenes perspective
  • gives human dimension to events
  • Generates publicity for standard products and services.

Service journalism – “news you can use” where t publishes tips about a topic.

Planning  News Feature

  1. Conceptualize how something lends itself to feature treatment.
  2. Consider if information would be interesting to audience.
  3. Helps achieve organizational objectives.

Ways to Proceed

  • Write general feature and distribute it to variety of publications
  • Phone editor and outline subject in 60 seconds (query)
  • Submit a proposal (for popular magazines)
  • Do not write a feature at all and give a journalist the idea to write about it.
  • Post feature on organization’s website for possible downloading

Types of Features

  1. Case Study – used for product publicity of how consumer benefitted from product.
  2. Application Story – focuses on how consumer can use a product or service in innovative ways.
  3. Research Study – surveys and polls or scientific studies to show some aspect of contemporary lifestyles or common situation at the workplace.
  4. Backgrounder – focuses on problem and how it was solve by an organization, or a product or it can explain how a technology has evolved over the years.
  5. Personality Profile – people like to read about people. Ex. celebrity stories, “movers and shakers”
  6. Historical Piece – anniversaries, major changes, centennials and other events.

Parts of a Feature

  • The Headline – 20 words or less, informational and play on words headlines.
  • The Lead – tells the basic facts in a nutshell. Name of organization and key summary points.
  • The Body – does not have to use the inverted pyramid. Use direct quotes, examples, descriptive words and present information in an entertaining way.
  • The Summary – most important part of feature. It must be complete and clear.
  • Photos and Graphics – adds appeal. (infographics – computer generated artwork that shows table sand charts.

Feature stories can be placed in newspapers, general magazines, speciality and trade magazines and internal publication.

Writing an Op-Ed – opposite editor page used to present a variety of views on the current issues, government policies, pending legislation and social issues.

  • Avoid using “I”
  • Be timely
  • No mass mailings
  • have clear editorial viewpoint

Next best thing is letter to the editor. They are shorter than op-ed pieces. focus on rebutting an editorial, clarifying information mentioned in a news story or column, or adding information that might not have been in original story.

Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches

12 Oct

Chapter 6 Reading Notes COMM 4333

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

Expanding the Publicity Tool Kit

Fact sheets – one-page background sheets about an event, a product, or even the organization. (News Release or part of a media kit!)

  • Address, main telephone number, website address, stock symbol, key executives, name, phone, and e-mail of director of investor relations, number of employees, annual revenues.

Media Kit – (press kit) contains a variety of materials, such as a news release, facts sheets, and photos.

  • main news release, news feature, fact sheets on the product, organization, event, background information, photos and drawing captions, biographical material on spokesperson or senior executive, basic brochures.
  • Media Kit includes: 9 by 12 inches and has four sides, a cover, two inside pages, and a back cover with organizations address, website and name.
  • EPK’s or e-kits (electronic press kits): include multiple pieces of information in a variety of formats. (text, video, photo, audio, animation). Saves money. Preferred over printed kits.

Media Advisory – (media alert) public relations professionals create it to let editors know about a newsworthy event or an interview of opportunity that could lend itself to photo or video coverage.

Pitching a Story

  1. Need to convince the editor or reporter that the story is newsworthy and relevant to the readers.
  2. Researching the Publication – most important component.
  3. Preparing the Pitch – write the e-mail or memo. You have about 60 seconds to grab the editor’s interest.
  • E-mail subject lines
  • The Telephone Pitch
  • Follow Up on your Pitch