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Chapter 14: Writing E-mail, Memos, and Proposals November 7, 2010

Filed under: PRCA 3330,Reading Notes — amberlaurin @ 4:33 pm

Chapter 14: Writing E-mail, Memos, and Proposals

The challenge of Managing Communication Overload

  • Completeness.  Whether you are writing a 10-line memo or a 32-page annual report, you must be certain that it contains the information needed to serve its purpose.
  • Conciseness. Less is better.  Conciseness means brevity. Your objective is to be as brief as possible, because people don’t have the time or the patience to read through long messages.
  • Correctness.  you must be accurate in everything you write.
  • Courtesy. There are personal communications.  Personal names are used extensively, and both senders and receivers have considerable interest in the material.

Responsibility.  Be prudent and think about how your communication will be perceived by the recipient.  A letter or e-mail is highly visible record of what you say, so be careful about setting the right tone.


Purpose: According to a survey of communicators in Fortune 500 corporations, e-mail (1) reduces the cost of employee communications (2) increases the distribution of messages to more employees, (3) flattens the corporate hierarchy, and (4) speeds decision making.


Purpose: A memo can serve almost any communication purpose.  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.


Purpose: A letter may be used to give information, to ask for information, to motivate, to answer complaints, to soothe or arouse, to warn, to admit, or to deny.  It is a substitute for personal conversation, although it is not as friendly as face-to-face conversation.


Purpose: The purpose of a proposal is to get something accomplished– to persuade management to approve and authorize some important action that will have a long-lasting effect on an organization or its people.  By putting it in writing, you let management know exactly what is proposed, what decisions are called for, and what the consequences may be. 

All information in this post can be found in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition


Chapter 12: Tapping the Web and New Media

Filed under: PRCA 3330,Reading Notes — amberlaurin @ 4:13 pm

Chapter 12: Tapping the Web and New Media

The World Wide Web

The exponential growth of the World Wide Web is due, in large part, to its unique characteristics.  Here are some major characteristics of the Web that enable public relations people to do a better job of distributing a variety of messages:

  • You can update information quickly, without having to reprint brochures and other materials.
  • It allows interactivity; 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.
  • A great amount of material can be posted.
  • It is cost-efficient method of disseminating information on a global basis to the public and journalists.
  • you can reach niche markets and audiences without messages being filtered through traditional mass media gatekeepers (editors)
  • The media and other users can access details about your organization 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world.

The rise of Social Media

The first generation of the Internet, often called Web 1.0, was primarily based on information being transmitted from supplier to receiver.  Although websites still serve that function, the second generation of the Internet (Web 2.0) has become an interactive model, and Web users now have multiple tools to talk to each other in real time.

Most important Web 2.0 Sites:

  1.  A social bookmarking Web service for storing, sharing, and discovering Web bookmarks.
  2. MySpace.  An interactive social networking website offering a user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos internationally.
  3. Facebook.  A social networking site launched in 2004; it has the highest number of users among college-focused sites.
  4. Twitter.  A social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates”(text based posts, up to 140 characters) via instant messaging or e-mail to the Twitter website.
  5. Blogger. A blog-publishing system created by Pyra Labs, which was purchased by Googly in 2003.
  6. Technorati. An internet search engine for searching blogs.
  7. YouTube. Video-sharing website where users can upload, view, and share video clips.
  8. Flickr. A photo sharing website and Web services suite that features an online community platform.
  9. Wikipedia.  A multimedia, Web-based, free-content encyclopedia project operated by the Wikipedia Foundation.
  10. Digg. A community-based popularity website with an emphasis on technology and science articles.
  11. Second Life. An internet-based virtual world that enables users to interact with each other through avatars.

All information in this post can be found in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition


Chapter 10: Distributing News to the Media

Filed under: PRCA 3330,Reading Notes — amberlaurin @ 3:35 pm

Chapter 10: Distributing News to the Media

Media Databases- Media databases vary in format and scope.  However a common denominator is that they usually provide such essential information as (1) names of publications and broadcast stations, (2) mailing addresses, (3) telephone and fax numbers, (4) e-mail addresses, and (5) names of key editors and reporters.

Editorial Calendars- 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.

Tip Sheets- These are weekly newsletters that report on recent changes in news personnel and their new assignments, hwo to contact them, and what kinds of material they are looking for.

Selecting a Distribution Channel

  1. Email.  Good for suggesting story ideas to journalists and editors, answering media questions and queries, and sending news releases.
  2. Online newsrooms.  This is a comprehensive library of information for the journalist. Good for distributing news releases, media kits, features, corporate background information, and high-resolution photos and graphics.
  3. Electronic wire services.   Best for distribution of financial news to large newspapers and major broadcast outlets on a nation or international basis where immediate disclosure is needed.
  4. Feature placement firms. Good for reaching suburban newspapers and small weeklies.
  5. Photo placement firms. Best for distributing high-resolution publicity photos on an international basis.
  6. Mail. A common method for distribution of routine materials to local and regional media.
  7. Fax. Good for sending media advisories and alerts and late-breaking important news.  Not recommended for mass distribution of news releases.
  8. CD-ROMs.  Best used for background material, such as corporate profiles, executive bios, and product information sheets.  Increasingly used in place of printed media kits.

All information in this post can be found in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition


Chapter 9: Writing for Radio and Television

Filed under: PRCA 3330,Reading Notes — amberlaurin @ 3:11 pm

Chapter 9: Writing for Radio and Television

Radio News Releases

Format: There are several major differences between a radio release and a news release prepared for print media.  Although the basic identifying information is the same (letterhead, contact, subject), the standard practice is to write a radio release using all uppercase letters in a double-spaced format. Timing is vital, because broadcasters must fit their messages into a rigid time frame that is measured down to the second.

2 lines = 10 seconds (about 25 words)

5 lines = 20 seconds (about 50 words)

8 lines = 30 seconds (about 75 words)

16 lines = 60 seconds (about 150 words)

There are also differences in writing style.  A news release for a newspaper uses standard English grammar and punctuation. In a radio release, a more conversational style is used, and the emphasis is on strong, shore sentences.

Audio News Release

Format- The preferred length for an ANR is 60 seconds, including a soundbite of 20 seconds or less. It is advisable to accompany any sound tape with a complete script of the tape.

Production- Every ANR starts with a carefully written and accurately timed script

Delivery- Once the ANR has been produced, the public relations professional must notify the news department that an ANR is available.  75% of respondents preferred to receive email notifications about ANRS.

Use- Producing ANR’s is somewhat of a bargain compared to producing materials for television. Despite cost-effectiveness, you should still be selective about distribution to stations that have an interest in using such material.

All information in this post can be found in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition


Chapter 8: Selecting Publicity Photos and Graphics

Filed under: PRCA 3330,Reading Notes — amberlaurin @ 3:01 pm

Chapter 8: Selecting Publicity Photos and Graphics

Components of a Good Photo

Technical Quality- Professionals use digital cameras, and the traditional process of taking photos on film, developing film, and making prints has practically disappeared.  The key elements of a good photo remain the same.  Photos must have high resolution and sharp detail to be used.

Subject Matter- There is a wide variety of subjects for a publicity photo.  On one level, there are somewhat static photos of a new product or newly promoted executive.  On another level, photos are used to document events such as a groundbreaking or a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Composition- Keeping the photo simple and uncluttered.  The photographer should move into, not way from, the central focus of the picture. Experts have made the following suggestions about composition and clutter:

  • Take tight shots with minimal background
  • Emphasize detail, not whole scenes
  • Don’t use a cluttered background.  Pick up stray things that intrude on the picture
  • Try to frame the picture
  • Avoid wasted space
  • Ask subjects wearing sunglasses to remove them.

Action- Action is important because it projects movement and the idea that something is happening right before the readers eyes.

Scale- The picture should contain some element of known size so that the viewer can understand how big or small the object is.

Camera Angle- Interest can also be achieved through the use of unusual camera angles.

Lighting and Timing- Indoor pictures often require more than a flash on a camera.  Depending on the subject, a photographer may have to use supplemental lighting to remove or enhance shadows to highlight a key element— a person’s face, a product, or some aspect of the background.

Color- color photographs are now the industry standard and used by all kinds of publications as printing technology has become more sophisticated and less expensive.

All information in this post can be found in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition


Chapter 7: Creating News Features and Op-Ed October 11, 2010

Filed under: PRCA 3330,Reading Notes — amberlaurin @ 2:59 pm

Chapter 7: Creating News Features and Op-Ed

Feature Story: can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and create understanding ina  more imaginative way.They come in all shapes and sizes, but all of them have the potential to:

  1. Provide more information to the consumer
  2. Give background and context about organizations
  3. Provide behind-the-scenes perspective
  4. Give human dimension to situations and events
  5. Generate publicity for standard products and services

Types of Features:

  • Case study- tell how individual customers have benefited from a company’s product or service or how another organization has used the product or service to improve efficiency or profits
  • Application story- focuses primarily on how consumers can use a product or service in new and innovative ways
  • Research study- surveys and polls, as well as scientific studies;
  • Backgrounder- Several types including: 1)focusing on a problem and how it is solved by an organization or a product 2) explains how technology or product has evolved over the years
  • Personality Profile- written by journalists with a strong assist from public relations personnel who 1) SELL the idea of a profile 2) make executive available 3) provide background information and 4) even arrange photo shoots
  • Historical Piece: anniversaries, major changes, and centennials; Significant milestones may present an opportunity to report on the history of the organization, its facilities, or some of its people.

Parts of a Feature

The Headline- Either informational or one that uses a play on words, alliteration, or a rhyme to raise the curoisty of the editor or consumer

The Lead- Purpose is to attract attnention and get the reader interested enough to read teh entire article

The Body- needs to include direct quotes from people, concrete examples and illustrations, basic statisitics or research findings, descriptive words that paint mental pictures, and information presented in an entertaining way

The Summary- The core message that the writer wants to elave with the reader

Photo and Graphics – used to give it more appeal

All information in this post can be found in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition


Chapter 6: Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches

Filed under: PRCA 3330,Reading Notes — amberlaurin @ 2:45 pm

Chapter 6: Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches

Fact Sheets: often accomponies a news release or a media kit.  It is a list of facts in outline or bullet form that a reporter can use as a quick reference when writing a story

  1. You can write one for an upcoming event
  2. Corporate profile: one-page sheet giving key facts about an organization
  3. A summary of a new products characteristics

Media Advisories: they tell assignment editors about upcoming events that they might be interested in covering from a story, photo, and video perspective.

Media Kits: Usually prepared for major events adn new product launches.  Its purpose is to give editors and reporters a variety of information and resources that will make it easier for the reporter to write about the topic.

Tips for writing the “perfect” pitch:

  1. Find out what the reporter covers and tailor your pictch accordingly
  2. Find out how the reporter prefers to be contacted – paper, fax, or email
  3. Make sure you’re pitching news or a new trend
  4. Offer help on stories even if your client or employer isn’t the focus
  5. Don’t call during deadline unless you’ve got breaking news
  6. Don’t send slips of other stories about your client
  7. Don’t call to find out when or if the story has run
  8. Relationships are everything. If you get the trust of the reporter, don’t abuse it
  9. Don’t lie.  Advise your clients or employer not to either.

All information in this post can be found in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition