Posts filed under: ‘PRCA 3330-reading notes‘

chapter 14

While I was reading Chapter 14, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, I never realized the specifics going into creating a letter, memo and email.


I never realized voicemail could play such a vital role in communication.  Yes, I know voicemail is important, but I did not realize the specific parameters of leaving or voice mail.

-Say the telephone number slowly, so the person can understand you.

-Be brief and to the point.  you should be able to give your key message in 30 seconds or less.

-Give specifics time in which you are available to be reached.  This is important so you both don’t continue to play phone tag.

-Make sure your voicemail greeting is short and to the point too.

-If you are going to be unable to return someone’s phone call for extended period of time, it is important to give the caller further information on another person to contact.

**It is good “PR” to return all phone calls in a timely manner.


The book says that style and substance are very important.  The book says that emails can be informal, but you must remember to have good grammar and proper spelling.  The book gives certain suggestions and things to remember when writing an email:

-Blunt words and statements assume importance in electronic form than in telephone conversation.  Temper your language accordingly.

-Attachments are almost always a negative.  Usually, if the email has an attachment it won’t be read.

-Don’t use cryptic symbols as shorthand.

-Avoid “reply to all” syndrome.  Only reply to the necessary person.


I didn’t realize memo was short for memorandum.  It can be used for a communication purposes.  It needs to be a short, brief message, usually less than a page in length.  PR professionals usually use memos for written record on things that were discussed or done.


2 comments April 24, 2010

Chapter 12

While reading chapter 12 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, I learned several important things about writing for the web.

  • The most important thing I learned was the difference between linear and nonlinear styles of writing.  Prior to reading the chapter I did know about linear and nonlinear writing styles.  I learned that printed material are written in linear style because “a person reads in straight line from the beginning of the article to the end of it”.  Nonlinear mean that items do not have to be read in a certain order to be understood.  Online writing is in nonlinear style.This is a relevant concept in my life because I tend to jump around more when reading material online than I do when I am reading a hard copy of something.
  • Another important idea to remember is articles written for the web should not longer than then length of the screen.  People do not like having to scroll when reading.  This makes writers have to consolidate their articles and get rid of unnecessary detail.
  • A fact that I found interesting: “it takes 50 percent longer for an individual to read material on a computer screen” according to study done by Sun Microsystems

Things I found important to remember when for the web:

  • Write the way you talk.  Adding personality to your writing will keep things interesting for the reader.
  • Use lots of bullet-points. Lists are easy for readers.
  • Avoid ‘puff” words, clichés, and exaggerations.
  • Avoid a patronizing tone by talking “with” rather than “at’ reader.  This could be difficult with websites that are issue based or opinion sites.

I didn’t realize all the details that went into creating an effective website.  A website could essentially make or break an organization.

  • Another new concept I learned from reading this chapter, was Return on Investment (ROI).  “This mean you compare the cost of  the website to how such functions would be done by other means.”  This is a way to show management and powers at be how a company’s website contributes to the bottom line.
  • I also just assumed that an organization’s website would be managed by a website manager who was familiar with web design and information technology.  However, the book suggests that a cross-functional team is best suited to mange and control the website.  A cross-functional team would consist of marketing, PR, and IT people who all can contribute to the management of the website in their areas of expertise.

Add a comment April 16, 2010

Chapter 10

While reading chapter 10 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, I learned several important things.
Two concept that were unfamiliar to me prior to reading this chapter were the “push” and “pull strategies.
The “push” strategy is where people are putting there news out there to media outlets.  An example is distributing email news releases on a regular basis.  The “pull” strategy is when you make your information easily available to or attract journalists and media to the information.
The idea of tip sheets is new to me to.  I didn’t realize publicists had a continuously updated sheet with contact information and what kind of material the client is looking for.
I didn’t know about electronic wire services until reading this chapter.  According to the book, electronic wire services have several advantages.

  • “It is timely and immediate delivery  of a large amount of material via website that can easily be accessed by everyone in the news department.”
  • They give clients more opportunities for distribution.
  • They are now becoming for multifaceted.  They can contain multimedia functions too.

Even with today’s fast-growing technology, many companies still prefer to mail the news releases and media kits.  According to the text, publicist say that when a news release or media kit is overnighter it makes it appear important and newsworthy to the potential editor.

Add a comment April 9, 2010

Chapter 11

While reading chapter 11 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, I learned several important things about media relations.   The most important thing I learned was media relations is the most important in many PR jobs.

  • A statistic I found interesting was that although most journalists distrust PR people, they need them to be successful.  We as PR people rely heavily on media as well.  The media serves as “third-party endorsers of your information.”  The media has the power to decide whether your information is newsworthy.  I realize it is a love-hate relationship, depending on the moment in time.

A PR firm’s role in media tours is also important:
1)schedule appointments with key editors
2)conduct media training for organization spokespeople
3)prepare an outline of key talking points
4) make hotel, airline, and transportation arrangements for each city on tour
5)prepare a briefing book about the background of the editor and publication visited

I found the section on media etiquette to be very informative and also very common-sense based.

1) Don’t hassle reporters about if/when your story will be published.  It is not up to them.  The editor makes the decision.
2)Don’t think taking a reporter to an expensive restaurant will impress them or more your story an closer to being published.  Allow reporters to select the restaurant and let them pay for the meal.  It could be against their company policy to let PR people buy them a meal because  it could be viewed as favoritism from another’s point of view.
3)In the area of gift giving, do not give expensive gifts.  It makes others think you are trying to influence a reporter or editors thoughts about publishing or covering your story.  Keep gifts under $25.  Leave gifts at the door or with a secretary.  This way the reporter can decide to accept on decline a gift without pressure.

Add a comment April 7, 2010

Chapter 9

Reading chapter 9, in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox helped me learn how to write my PSA for class.
I always assumed PSAs were free.  But, in the chapter I learned the that PSAs spots are sold for a  discount of the price that the spot would normally sell for.
I also didn’t know that a soundbite was defined as that little story/opinion of a customer or expert on a given product or place.  I always thought a soundbite was the whole  ANR itself.
Don’t expect to send your PSA to a station and get it played right away.  Allow for a 5-6 week window for the station to put it in the rotation.  The best time to submit a PSA is in January because according to experts this is usually a time when there is a lull in advertising.  In contrast, the  text says that those submit PSAs should stay away from the Christmas time.  This time has lots of paid advertising and little room for PSAs.  Sadly, the book also says that most PSAs are aired after midnight. Not many PSAs are aired during the time period in which the station can air profitable advertising.
I didn’t realize a 30 second ANR was written with such few words.  About 75 words is used to write a 30 second ANR.  The book also recommends reading the ANR out loud to see how it flows.  I thought this was important because no one wants a ANR that is boring.  You want an announcer best suited to fit your ANR.

Add a comment March 31, 2010

Chapter 8

Chapter 8 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox was about PHOTOS!!! My favorite!! I was a photographer for my high school yearbook for two years, so the information in this chapter was very familiar to me already.

Photos are very important.  The chapter says that research shows that “more people ‘read’ photographs than read articles.”  If a photo is included with a news story, it is noticed more than the article itself. My yearbook teacher always said “the best zoom is your own two feet” and book agrees.  The book recommends that a photographer should move in closer rather than far away when focusing on the intended subject.  Although usually, one would want a photo with very little background because it can be distracting; sometimes the background accentuates the photo/subject and helps tell the story.

Remember that cropping and retouching photo extensively can be unethical.

Captions, man oh man do I despise captions. Some important things the chapter mentions that one needs to remember about captions:

  • Cover Who, What, Where, When Why, and How.  Provide additional information for the photo.
  • Write it as though the photo is happening in the present moment.  Present tense.
  • Usually two to four lines long.

*Usually the most important person is the first person on the left side of the picture, therefore they should be mentioned first.

Add a comment March 29, 2010

Chapter 7

While reading chapter 7 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, I learned a lot about op-eds and personality profiles.

Prior to reading the chapter, I didn’t understand the necessity and point of a personality profile.  I learned that PR personnel help the journalist writing the profile in order “to ‘sell’ the idea of a profile, make the executive available, provide back ground information, and arrange photo shoots.”   The profile does necessarily have to be n someone high in the company or organization.  In many cases it is about someone new to the group.  It could also be a hard-working, contributing member who the PR professional think should be recognized. In the chapter, Ragan Communications lists several ways to make sure the personality profile is a success:

* Give the “essence.”  Make sure to tell the audience why this person is interesting.

* Take some chances.   Show the person through your eyes; give the audience your interpretation.

* Get a different view.  Make sure to include the subject’s perspective too.

* Don’t write in chronological order.

* Make your subject reflect upon themselves.  Include opinion of themselves.

* Don’t focus on work alone.  Include their life outside the job.


I didn’t realize op-eds could be used for public relations purpose.  According to the text, op-ed pieces provide an excellent opportunity for individuals and organizations to reach an audience of readers who tend to be opinion leaders or “influentials.”

There were several important tips for writing an op-ed list in the book:

* Concentrate on presenting one main idea or theme.

* Make your viewpoint/opinion clear in the beginning.

* 20% of your piece should be opinion and 80% factual.

* Do not ramble or deviate from the stated opinion/theme. (This is something I have a hard time doing when blogging)

* Make it about a relevant issue, situation, or news event.  Do not cover something that no one will be interested in.

Add a comment March 10, 2010

Chapter 6

While reading chapter 6 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, I learned new information about pitching stories.  The biggest thing I learned was you can prepare ahead of time, but if you don’t have a successful pitch, all your hard work could be pointless.  Do your homework on the publication or person you are trying to pitch to.  CREATIVITY IS KEY!! (Usually)

There was a whole section in the chapter dedicated to pitching towards bloggers specifically.  According to the text, bloggers will post negative criticism and feedback about a pitch if they don’t like it or think it’s up to par.  Certain bloggers have a large follow and a major influence on public opinion.  Kevin Dugan wrote an entire blog dedicated to blog pitching  . . .

* Read the bloggers recent post to gain insight about their interests and opinions.

* Make sure you are not pitching them something they have already blogged about.  Or be able to give it a fresh spin or add to it.

* Subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed in order to follow the blog easily.

* Comment on other posts.  This will build a relationship with the blogger prior to making a pitch.

* Find out how the blogger wants to be pitched by finding the information on the homepage or through the links.

* Find a way to introduce yourself to the blogger that does not relate to the pitch, example-via email.

There are several key points to remember when preparing the actual written pitch.

The first is: Be brief.  Make sure the pitch is does not take over the whole computer screen

Second: Write with clean, sharp sentences.  Get to the point.  The spelling should be perfect.  Do not give journalists any little reason not to read the pitch.

Third:  Have an enticing lead.  Do not be boring.  If your lead is boring they are going to the think your idea is and stop reading there.

When sending your pitch via email, you have to plan your subject line carefully.  It goes back to doing your homework.  Know the interests or latest activities of the person or company you are sending the pitch to.   Be very creative or be very informative.

Melvin Helitzer is quoted in the text saying a good pitch should have six components.

* Enough facts to support a full story

* An angle of interest to the readers of that specific publication

* The possibility of alternative angles

* Offer to supply or help secure all needed stats, quotes, interviews with credible sources, arrangements for photos ect.

* An indication of authority and credibility

* Offer to call the editor soon to get a decision

Add a comment March 3, 2010

chapter 5

Chapter 5 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, was very informative about news releases.  While reading I made notes about several things that I wanted to remember when writing my own press releases.  The part I was most unfamiliar with was the boiler-plate.  I had no idea what it was at first and the name threw me off a little too.  Previously, when I had written news releases we did not include these.  Now I see how they important in PR writing.  Especially when writing a release that goes out to all different kinds of media.  The term “embargoed” was also new to me.  I didn’t release companies would send out releases before making announcements.  I guess PR people really do have to stay one step ahead of the media so they have the upper hand and control over what is released.  Still, there is something unsettling about sending out a release concerning something that has yet to made public by the company.  What if they media disobeys the embargoed date?  Reaction releases are also a new idea to me.  I thought news releases were to discuss news and not necessarily a company’s reaction to a piece of news or event.  Apparently I was wrong.  Another idea I was unfamiliar with was letterhead.  I didn’t know this was a must.  I honestly thought it was only for decoration or a little pizazz.
Before I submitted my news release for this class I referred back to the Tips for Success: 10 Classic News Release Mistakes.  I went through the list to make sure I was not making the same mistakes listed.  Ones worth remembering are:
Punctuation errors
Hyperbole-I tend to over exaggerate in my writing and I need to remember not do this in news releases
Documentation-I need to make sure I document correctly and that I am crediting those who gave me information.

Add a comment February 27, 2010

Chapter 4

While reading Chapter 4 inPublic Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, I learned several important things.  The most important thing I learned is news can be practically anything.  News is news because its important to someone.  According to the book, most news has the “purpose of creating public awareness to inform, persuade, and motivate.”  The word “pseudoevent” was coined by Daniel Boorstin to describe events and situations that are created to simply get media coverage.  In addition, sometimes I think my creative juices are not flowing as strongly as those around me so the tips the books listed helped.  Ones I thought were important:

  • Record ideas whenever they occur.
  • Stop saying or thinking “No.” Be open to possibilities.

The first tip was important to me because there have been many times when I think of a great idea but don’t write it down.  Usually, I then forget the idea when I actually need it for its purpose later on.  The second tip stuck out to me because there has also been many times when I have been searching for ideas and limit myself and my creativity because I think the idea is too “out there” or not attainable.  I need to be more open to where my brainstorming and mind takes me.

The idea of a contest being a common device for creating news struck me.  I realized that most companies do start a contest or sponsor one when they want to generate publicity.  The company has usually been out of the media spot light and they want to remind the public of their presence.

Add a comment February 16, 2010






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