I Heard It From The PR Girl

Wiki for PR Student Blogs

Posted in PR Connections by laurynwilliams on April 13, 2010

Matt Churchill created a post about a PR Wiki on Seldom Seen Kid, a blog about digital communications, social media, brand consultancy, PR, newspapers, the digital world and music. He states that Adam Lewis, a student at York University and Flawless Buzz blog creator, has started a Wiki page dedicated to Student PR blogs. This allows students studying PR or looking for work in PR showcase their blogs to a wider audience. This is a wonderful way to network and possibly find a placement or full-time work.

I suggest hat you add your name to the Student PR blogs wiki if you are an PR student aspiring to be a professional with a serious interest in the digital part of PR. Even if you are not interested so much in the online world of PR it is still a wonderful way to create some networking.

Adam says his wiki is a worldwide list of student PR and communications blogs inspired by Stephen Davies’ s List of UK PR Student Bloggers.

Check out all of these posts. Start becoming involved in the world of PR online. I believe that it will really help you in the future.


Week 13: How PR Can Sometimes Drive Journalists Crazy

Posted in Topic of the Week by laurynwilliams on April 8, 2010

Here is a list of 10 ways that PR people can drive journalists crazy with ways to prevent these things from happening.

1) Poorly written material by PR due to being unfamiliar with journalists editorial format

The PR person should research this. Learn what journalists want and how they write. The closer that you can get to writing like a journalist the less work they have to do in editing. You will have a better chance at getting your material published. PR people should research each news sources editorial requirements before submitting their work.

Cited: Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

2) The PR person mentioning that he or she advertises with a publication to a journalist

“Journalists aren’t responsible for advertising and vice-versa.” Don’t try to squeeze into a paper on the back of the fact that you have advertising. The PR person should go through the ad department and get them to apply the pressure to the reporters.

Cited:  Defending PR:  Why Journalists Need to Stop Making Lists Telling PRs How to Do Their Job

3) Gimmicks that PR people send with their news releases and media kits

Items such as T-shirts, coasters, caps, paperweights, pens, and mugs are usually the most popular items to send, but they are dull and overused. These items are referred to by journalists as “trash and trinkets.” These items are supposed to make a media kit stand out, but journalists say they are a waste of time because they don’t help tell the story. Do not send these. 

If you do decided to send promotional items with a media kit or news release you should make sure that they are things that the journalists can use. Otherwise they are an annoyance. There should be a clear connection between the news you are announcing and the promotional item. Send just one item instead of a basket full. Another idea is to use creative packaging instead of a promotional item. This will grab the journalists’ attention.

Cite: Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

4) Repeated calls and follow-ups from PR people

Do not make repeated follow-up phone calls. This is annoying to journalists. One phone call is enough. A good point made in chapter 6 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.) is that you should keep the ball and the responsibility for follow-ups in your court, but do it in a polite way. A great approach is one used by Julie Schweigert of Edelman Worldwide. At the end of one of her pitch letters she took initiative in a nice way by writing “I will contact you nest week to follow-up, but in the meantime you can reach me at 312/233-1380 with any questions.”

5) Calling a journalist to ask why a press release was not published

Never do this. This only starts controversy. Just let it go. Perhaps try using a different news source next time or communicating better with this one. Make sure you know their editorial requirements before submitting their work.

Cite:  Defending PR:  Why Journalists Need to Stop Making Lists Telling PRs How to Do Their Job

6) Excess hype words used in news releases

Journalists hate words such as “unique” and “state of the art. Journalists see these as poorly written. “Journalists, dulled by the constant flow of news releases that sound like commercials, generally conclude that the majority of publicists are incompetent.” Do not use hype words. Be as objective as possible.

Cite: Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.) 

7) Not meeting deadlines

A PR person should meet the deadline for his news release. There is no question about that. Journalists have deadline too that we must consider. If a journalist calls to ask for more information or asks this during your follow-up phone call provide that within 24 hours. If something has come up dealing with the deadline and news release, communicate with the journalist. Let him know that it can’t be met and for what reasons. This should rarely happen. Always strive to be punctual.

Cite:  Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

8 ) Making mistakes in news releases that are not factual, accurate, or objective

If it is just the tone that the journalist does not like there is not much that can be done. “If the error is significant, contact the reporter to discuss the incorrect facts or references. You should politely provide the correct facts with documentation. Avoid confrontations; the reporter no doubt will be writing future stories about your organization, so it’s wise to maintain a good relationship.” You can also contact the editor if the mistake is a major one. Try to negotiate with him. Other ways to handle the situation if these don’t work would be to go to the public or file a lawsuit. These should not be used unless necessary to avoid confrontation. In the mean time strive to be factual and objective in your news releases to prevent mistakes.

Cite:  Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

9) Miscommunication with PR people

PR people and journalists need to learn to respect each other’s work. Communication is the key here and both sides should feel updated on all information. One definition of public relations is that it is the building of relationships between the organization and its various publics, including journalists. “Press interviews, news conferences, media tours, and other kinds of gatherings provide excellent opportunities to build these working relationships. They are more personal than just sending written materials and helping reporters get direct answers from news sources.” Keep regular one-on-one contact with journalists to reduce miscommunication. It also “helps the organization accomplish the objectives of increasing visibility, consumer awareness, and sales of services or products.”

Cite:  Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

10) A press release more than two sides long 

Brevity counts. Never make a press release too long. “Even though we are digital now, this is a fair point. Two sides long is roughly 800 words which is a page lead for most. And make sure your first three paragraphs can be lifted and used as a complete story on their own.”

Cite:  Defending PR:  Why Journalists Need to Stop Making Lists Telling PRs How to Do Their Job

The information retrieved from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.) comes from chapter 11 in the textbook unless otherwise indicated.

Just some stuff the PR Girl thought you should know 🙂

Chapter 12: Tapping the Web and New Media

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on April 6, 2010

The Internet

Traditional media

  1. Centralized, having a top-down hierarchy
  2. Costs a lot of money to become a publisher
  3. Staffed by professional gatekeepers known as editors and publishers
  4. Features mostly on-way communication with limited feedback channels

New Media

  1. Widespread broadband
  2. Cheap or free, easy-to-use online publishing tools
  3. New distribution channels
  4. Mobile devices such as camera phones
  5. New advertising paradigms

See Traditional Media vs. New Media in Tips for Success on page 307 for more characteristics.

How the internet allows PR professionals to do a better job of distributing a variety of messages:

  • Information can be undated quickly, without having to reprint brochures.
  • Interactivity is prevalent.
  • Linking allows online readers to dig deeper into a subject.
  • A great amount of material can be posted, because there are no time or space limitations.
  • It is a cost effective way of disseminating information on a global basis.
  • Audiences can be reached on a direct basis without messages being filtered through traditional mass media gatekeepers.
  • Information about your business can be accessed 24 hours a day globally.

Website Writing

Visually appealing homepage tips:

  • Define the sites objective.
  • Design the site with the audience in mind.
  • Design the material with strong graphic components.
  • Update the site constantly.
  • Do not overdo the graphics, because they take a long time to download.
  • Make the site interactive with buttons and links. (See page 315 for more information)
  • Use feedback.

It takes 50 percent longer for an individual to read material on a computer screen. Text on the computer is scanned not read in detail.

Online reading is non-linear, which means that items can be selected out of order. This technique is called branching. The basic idea of this is to eliminate the need for viewers to scroll down a long linear document.

Short Paragraphs

  • Helen L. Mitternight says, “Documents written for the Web should be 50 percent shorter than their print counterparts, according to the Sun Microsystems study.”
  • Jeff Herrington, owner of his own Dallas PR firm says that sentences should be fewer than 20 words long and that a paragraph should only be two or three sentences.

See other writing tips from Communication Briefings newsletter and Shel Holtz, author of Pubic Relations on the Net on page 311.

Building an effective website requires:

  • A “vision” of how you want your organization to be perceived.
  • A copywriter to write the text.
  • A graphic artist to add visual content
  • A computer programmer to put it together in HTML code.
  • A considerable amount of time thinking about your potential audience and their particular needs

Gordon MacDonald says, “You have 10 to 12 seconds to ‘hook’ an Internet surfer on your website, or else they’ll click onto something else.”

Additional design elements can be found on page 314.

Attract Visitors to Your Site with:

  • Hyperlinks
  • Search Engines
  • Advertising

Tracking visitors on your site is an important part of site maintenance. It answers the questions:  How well is it fulfilling its objectives? Is is generating sales leads? It is helping the organization establish brand identity?

Tracking Terms:

Hit – the number of requests a Web server has received, not the number of actual views

Page View/Page Impression – the number of times the page is pulled up

Unique Visitor – first-time visitors to a site

See also pages 322 – 345 for information on social media and blogs.

All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

Recruiting During a Recession

Posted in PR Connections by laurynwilliams on April 6, 2010

In this weeks’ Issues and Trends – Career Mondays email from PRSA different career articles are mentioned. One of the articles mentioned was Recession Recruiting by Doug Berg, Founder & Chief Innovation Officer at Jobs2Web, Inc. courtesy of Recruiting Trends.

This is the opening paragraph that was posted on the email. It grabbed my attention, because I cannot help but think how I will get a job at graduation if the United States is still in a recession. We will mostly likely be recovering slightly from the recession I believe, but what if it is worse? Here is what Berg has to say:

“Are you wasting a great recession and the possibility that it provides smart companies to cultivate relationships with future recruits? As I travel around the country and meet with top companies to discuss their online recruiting strategies, I’m constantly surprised by employers’ attitudes: We don’t want applicants if there aren’t any specific recruiting requirements open. This means no capturing any candidate interest whatsoever! This “go away – there’s nothing here for you” sign that hung on career sites hurts future recruiting efforts – especially when in today’s market, the number of candidates searching online for jobs and companies is at an all time high”  Recession Recruiting

One of the most interesting parts of Berg’s article was his alternative to having candidates apply for a job that does not actually have a position currently open for them.

“If the ONLY way that candidates can show interest in working for our company is to apply for a job, then that’s the course of action they will take right? But what if there was an easier alternative?

Many employers haven’t even considered the simple concept of offering prospective candidates the ability to enter their email into a simple employment newsletter integrated into your career site. By using email subscription services such as Constant Contact, you can begin to harvest email addresses of candidates from your site. Another great option would be to set up a LinkedIn Group, a Facebook fan page, or a Twitter account for prospective employees. This would allow prospective candidates to follow your jobs in the social channels, and provide you with a way to capture their interest. Your recruiters can post future positions into these channels, which auto-broadcast them to this pool of prospects online, helping to capture the initial interest of prospects, and recycle them when future positions arise, helping to leverage these easy tools to fill future positions.”  Recession Recruiting

I believe this is a very important article for PR firms and professionals to read in order to more effectively build new relationships with future employees during this recession. It is important for PR students to read, because we must understand that simply applying or the job may not be enough or event the answer at all. Times are changing and we must adapt correctly.

The Rising Use of Social Media in PR

Posted in PR Connections by laurynwilliams on April 6, 2010

On PR Media Blog  I found Jon Clements’ post  “Marketeers board the Social Media Clue Train” which discusses social media issues, trends, and  who really uses social media. There are still businesses that do not want to engage in the world of social media, because they do not understand how to use it to effectively benefit their company.

“Overall, 70% of CMOs polled by Forbes said they’d be doing more work in social media next year, now comfortable that it offers real value, though measurement was still in its infancy.” Marketeers board the Social Media Clue Train

“Twelve months ago the attitude of big business to social media ranged from cautious interest to total disregard.  Now, in the UK too, the sound of consumer chatter is gaining an audience in the board room.” Marketeers board the Social Media Clue Train

I suggest all PR students and professionals read this post and visit the additional tags and links.

Paul Stallard  mentions this page in his own post PR Week – best of the tech blogs . Stallard’s post directs the reader to another post of his in PR Week  where he highlights Clements’ points about social media.

I commented on Clements’ post because I felt that during this semester in my PR Writing class we have learned so much about how social media can benefit a business through public relations. Clements’ post really highlights how business people feel about social media and who is using it.

My comment:

“I believe that social media has many benefits for public relations and marketing. By reviewing what consumers are saying about your product or service you can better understand what they want and what they no longer want. These things are really important for promotion. Twitter is a great source for businesses to view what consumers are saying about their company as well as for promotion for their product or service. The only problem I see with social media is that some people use it incorrectly. Businesses should make sure that they are not doing ridiculous automatic updates on Twitter. This does not benefit anyone and is quite annoying for other businesses as well as consumers.”

Chapter 11: Getting Along with Journalists

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on March 31, 2010

This chapter tells a lot that students need to know about the world of public relations.

The Media’s Dependence on PR

“Two-thirds of journalists don’t trust public relations people, but 81 percent say they need them anyway”

Although many reporters deny it, most of their information comes from public relations sources, because they provide a constant stream of news releases, features, planned events, and tips to the media. Reporters do not like to admit their dependence on public relations sources, because they feel it reflects negatively on their ability to do their job as reporters. This is an issue of pride.

Frictional Areas

News releases contain too many hype words such as “unique” and “state-of-the-art.” Journalists see these as poorly written.

Major Complaints from Journalists about PR:

  1. Too many unsolicited e-mails, faxes, and phone calls
  2. Lack of knowledge in the product or service
  3. Repeated calls and follow ups
  4. Spokespersons not available
  5. Do not meet publication deadlines


How to Reduce Sloppy Reporting:

  • Educate executives about how the media operate and how reporters strive for objectivity.
  • Train executives to give 30-second answers to questions. This reduces the possibility of answers being distorted.
  • Provide extensive background material to reporters who are not familiar with the topic.
  • Familiarize executives with basic news values such as conflict, drama, human angles, and obstacles.

Reporters are faulted with not doing their homework on a story before-hand, sensationalizing, and making simplistic generalizations.

How to work with Journalists

Press interviews, news conferences, media tours, and other kinds of gatherings provide excellent opportunities to build public relations peoples and journalists’ working relationships. These face to face meetings will help accomplish the objectives of increasing visibility, consumer awareness, and sales of products or services.

If a reporter calls to request an interview with you, ask the reporter these questions first:

  • Who are you?
  • What is the story about?
  • Why did you call me?
  • What are you looking for from me?
  • Who else are you speaking with?
  • Are you going to use my comments in your story?
  • When is the story going to run?

This allows you to decide if you are qualified to answer the reporter’s questions or whether someone else in the organization would be a better source for the reporter.

PR Firms and Media Tours

A media tour is an alternative to a news conference. Instead of being held in one location, a media tour involves personal visits to multiple cities and a number of media throughout the region. There are two types of media tours, on that aims to generate media coverage and one that aims to provide background and establish relationship building.

When a PR firm is hired to arrange a media tour their job is to

  1. Schedule appointments with key editors
  2. Conduct media training for the organization’s spokespeople
  3. Prepare an outline of key talking points
  4. Make airline, hotel, and local transportation arrangements for each city
  5. Prepare a briefing book about the background of the editor and the publication that will be visited


All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

There is so much in Chapter 11 that I feel is important I encourage any PR student to read this to become more familiar with the world of PR.

Week 12: The Creative Career Podcasts

Posted in Topic of the Week by laurynwilliams on March 31, 2010

The Creative Career by Allie Osmar is a wonderful website for undergraduates as well as those who have graduated college and are entering the business world. I listened to the podcast “Surviving Change” where Osmar interviewed MJ Ryan, author of many books including Adaptability: How to Adapt to Change You Didn’t Ask For.

This is what MJ Ryan had to say:

Jobs did not exist 5 years ago. Take comfort in that you do not know how things are going to turn out. You are not stuck in this career for the rest of your life. Do not stress!

Become life long learners. Always continue your education through experience. It does not stop when you graduate.

There are thousands of jobs that are under the radar as far as training. These are the jobs that when you enter college you do not know about like you do other jobs such as a lawyer, engineer, or doctor. You discover them as you go along.

You have a certain way of thinking that you have been doing your whole life. This is your capacity for excellence. These are your personal thinking talents, and if you cultivate them then you create a better life for yourself because you are using those talents.

After graduation could be the most challenging time of your life. You are trying to find a job and when you do you enter this rigid lifestyle of going to work everyday. MJ says she wishes everyone in this position the gift of perspective, because it will not always be like this so be patient.

Always have support. Join a group of people your age struggling with the same issues you are. Talk to a person who is older who can give you their perspective and experience advice. Lots of people are in the same position as you.

There is no such thing as a five-year plan. Nothing happens the way you expect. Does one do better with a five-year plan than those without? No, there is not difference according to a surveys and polls. Rather than having a plan, keep enriching your environment with new information and by keeping connections through networking.

Make sure you never lose sight of doing the things you love.

The second podcast I listened to was “New Job, New You” a title that is also a book written by Alexandra Levit. In this podcast Osmar interviews Levit and here is what she had to say:

Why might you want to re-invent your career or make a career change? You may want to spend more time with your new baby, bring forth a talent or passion that you have had on the back-burner, challenge yourself more, or maybe make more money.

Changing a career is overwhelming and scary and you do not know where to start. You just know you are unhappy where you are. The key is starting off small. Do a self assessment and write down what you want to do and what type of environment you thrive in.

If you are struggling financially in this rough economy start saving money and try to cut back on little things that can save you money. This way you can start your entrepreneurship or career change on a fresh plate. Pay off all of your debts.

A career change does not happen over night. You must have persistence and patience. You have to be ready to sacrifice for the life that will be meaningful to you. You may know someone who you would like to be like and whose life you would like to have, but you have not seen the steps that person has taken. Almost everyone has hardships and worked to get where they are today.

You visit the New Job New You website to learn more. 

PR podcasts can help new PR practitioners as well as current PR students by giving them a sense of understanding. I believe that the information given can allow comfort through better knowledge. They can better prepare students for the business world and how to adapt to a new lifestyle, while also teaching current practitioners how to survive further change and acclimate to new careers and new uses of technology that are being developed.

Chapter 10: Distributing News to the Media

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on March 30, 2010

This chapter focuses on selecting the appropriate channels of distribution that will ensure that your materials reach the intended audience.

Media Databases provide:

  1. mailing addresses
  2. telephone and fax numbers
  3. names of publications and broadcast stations
  4. e-mail addresses
  5. names of key editors and reporters

An example:  Cision publishes Bacon’s media directories and two regional directories, Bacon’s Metro California Media and Bacon’s New York Publicity Outlets.

Ruth McFarland, senior vice president of Cision, told O’Dwyer’s PR Report, “The paradox of PR media research is that less is more; the fewer entries you have in your database of regular contacts, the better your results will be.”

Editorial Calendars

These tell you when to approach publications with specific kinds of stories. Certain issues have a special editorial focus.

“Special issues are used to attract advertising, but news stories and features on the subject are also needed.”

MyEdcals has a Google-like database that tracts editorial calendars of about 7,000 publications.


Snail mail has not disappeared from the publicist’s tool kit. Daily delivery of press materials may be prefered by small town weeklies with limited internet access.

Primary Distribution Channels:

  1. e-mail
  2. online newsrooms
  3. electronic newswires
  4. mat distribution companies or feature placement firms
  5. photo placement firms

Fax and CD-ROMs are still used as well.

Remember to keep it short when sending a news release via e-mail, because reporters hate to scroll through multiple screens.

Online newsrooms are often the first place journalists turn for basic information on an organization.

The three major newswires are Business Wire, PR Newswire, and Marketwire.

All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

Chapter 9: Writing for Radio and Television

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on March 29, 2010

Radio News Releases

  • Write a radio release using all uppercase letter in a double-spaced format.
  • Give the length of a radio release.  (Ex:  RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT: 30)
  • Format for the medium:  “Radio is based on sound, and every radio release must be written so that it can be easily read by an announcer and clearly understood by a listener.”

2 Approaches to an Audio News Release

  1. Someone with a good radio voice reads the entire announcement. This is called an actuality.
  2. An announcer is used but a soundbite is included from a satisfied customer, celebrity, or company spokesperson. This is more effective because it comes from “real person” rather than an unidentified announcer.

Rules for Successful Radio and TV Story Placement:

Topicality:  Offer information on a hot topic

Timeliness:  “Stories should be timed to correspond with annual seasons, governmental rulings, new laws, social trends, etc.”

Localization:  Emphasize local news and make national releases relevant to a local audience.

Humanization:  Bring a human angle into play by showing how they are affected and involved.

Visual Appeal:  Use compelling soundbites and video footage to subtly promote and illustrate.

Public Service Announcement (PSA): FCC defines this as “an unpaid announcement that promotes the programs of government or nonprofit agencies or that serves the public interest.”

All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

Week 11: Infographics

Posted in Topic of the Week by laurynwilliams on March 26, 2010


What are they?

Infographics are visual representations of information organized in a way so that a viewer can more easily understand the data than they would be able to by reading a lengthy paragraph. A few examples of infographics are graphs, pie charts, bar charts, direction maps, weather maps, and even road signs. Some of these infographics require a key or legend to explain to the reader the smaller symbols that are used.

“They are also sometimes used as communication tools; some travelers, for example, bring a chart with infographics of their basic needs which they can point to, asking for things like a bed, food, a phone, or water.”


How could one be useful in a story for your client?

Infographics can be used as a universal communication tool. If you are dealing with people who of different nationalities who speak different languages, infographics can be used to simplify the communication barrier. They are easier to understand because they used pictures and symbols that any intelligent being may be able to comprehend. These types of graphics are also very appealing.

“Pie chart: Ideal for showing what part of a total is used for each of several purposes.”

“Bar chart: Ideal for showing comparisons between years in such things as income, population, sales, and prices.”

“Graph: Somewhat like a bar chart, but better suited for showing changes over a long period of time.”

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

How do you go about creating one?

Almost everyone has created a map to show directions to someone’s house or for some type of school project where you had to create a graph or chart.

“Charts, diagrams, maps, etc., should be simple, colorful, and uncluttered.”  Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

One can create an infographic on a computer using Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, and other software applications. Take into consideration though, if you plan on distributing material to the media you should use graphic artists and commercial illustrators.

Paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)


This graph shows how many pop-tabs are turned in each season by Alpha Delta Pi to the Ronald McDonald House (in billions).

 Pop Tab Graph

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