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PR WRITING IT’S KIND OF A BIG DEAL
But first, some news… From the Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report: • Twitter was boosted by 81 percent in the last year; Facebook by 30 percent • 73% of nonprofits allocate half an employee’s time to manage social media, 43% do not provide any budget whatsoever • A Facebook “Like” is more expensive than securing a Twitter follower; the average value of a Like is worth $214. 81/year • Top 3 factors of success: Strategy, Prioritization, Dedicated Staff And from the Wall Street Journal: The Short Life of a PR Fiasco
PR Writing It’s kind of a big deal. Why? You will, in many cases, be the voice of the organization/company or leader. It’s critical for a message to be heard, understood, and therefore, persuasive. Just trust me.
Writing for the Eye and Ear Writing for the Eye – A reader can scan, jump ahead, review, fact-check… In many cases, it is immortalized and therefore, endures the toughest scrutiny. Writing for the Ear – A listener only gets one chance to hear and comprehend. You have to capture them quickly.
Fundamentals of Writing The more you write, the better you will become. Period. The idea must preceded the expression. 2. Don’t be afraid of the draft. 3. Simplify, Clairfy. EDIT. 4. Writing must be aimed at a particular audience. 1.
Flesch Readability Formula The fundamental principle – which I have been saying to you all along – write like you speak. But like totally within reason, y’all. Some suggestions from Rudolf Flesch: Use contractions such as it’s and doesn’t Leave out the word that whenever possible Use pronouns such as I, we, they, and you When referring back to a noun, repeat the noun or use a pronoun. Don’t create eloquent substitutions. Use brief, clear sentences Cover only one item per paragraph Use language the reader understands
Cornerstones of Corporate Writing Be specific. “Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract. ” – E. B. White, Rules of Style Use more words. Find better verbs. Pursue to active voice. Omit needless words. Embrace simplicity and clarity. Tell a good story. Find interesting voices. Take chances. Rewrite. You can always cut it down by 10 percent. – Lindsey Bickel Burgess Everything can be improved. Rewrite. And then rewrite again. – The Gods of Prose
The Old Inverted Pyramid THE MAIN POINT = 5 W’s + HOOK Lead paragraph – Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and a HOT START! Additional Essential Info/Details Less Essential Details This could get cut by your editor and your story would still make sense.
The News Release First recorded news release issued in 1906, by Ivy Lee, dubbed a “Statement from the Road” offering explanation from Pennsylvania Railroad about that month’s crash that killed 50 people. The NYT printed it verbatim. PR people swear by the release; some editors/reporters swear about it. PR Newswire – a paid wire service – issues more than 1, 000 news releases by day.
The Purpose of the News Release To persuade a publication to write favorably about the material discussed To make an announcement To inform
Editors/Reporters Hate Releases Because… They are poorly written. Releases are rarely localized. Releases are not newsworthy.
News Value If dog bites man – it’s not news. If man bites dog, you’ve got a story on your hands. Have a reason for sending the release Focus on one central subject Consider context, industry, community Provide facts and include specifics Include a boilerplate Must be objective
Style When in doubt – look it up! Capitalization – use sparingly Abbreviations – months with dates – yes; when day is not used, months should be spelled out. (Dumb but true. ) Numbers – zero through nine. Punctuation Spelling
News Release Essentials Engaging Headline WHAT’S NEW? SO, WHAT? FACTS QUOTES Supporting Details Company Description
Case Study: Bad Taste News Release Situation: In 2001, The Washington Post Magazine took PR firm, Porter Novelli, to task for what the paper called a “tasteless news release. ” VS.
The release said… “Although the last few weeks have been a challenging time for everyone both personally and professionally, I know that we are all striving to return to ‘normal. ’ In the coming weeks, as you begin to return to your regular areas of focus, I want you to be familiar with Chef America, makers of HOT POCKETS brand sandwiches. ”
The Post said… “This release cannot possibly be tasteless because it issues from no less distinguished a source than Porter Novelli International, a company that is, to quote its website, a ‘world leader in the field of brand building and reputation management. ’ People don’t buy HOT POCKETS because they are grateful to the manufacturers for their humanitarian gestures. They buy HOT POCKETS because they are scared of Osama. ”
PN’s response… “We were not trying to capitalize on the terrorist attacks but rather trying to introduce the product to different people, and after September 11, less people are eating out. ” Question: Whose side are you on – Porter Novelli or the Washington Post?
Your assignment Find a really bad press release Tell me why it is bad Rewrite it Due: In class, Tuesday, April 10 Questions?
Unsolicited Advice #11 Make friends. Use them as editors.