EFFECTIVE & INEFFECTIVE WORD USAGE CRISIS COMMUNICATIONSNEWS RELEASES & ADVISORIES WEEK 5 - OCTOBER 1, 2012
COMMON WORD USAGE MISTAKES When crafting pitch letters, press releases, email correspondence or social media outreach, a public relations professional must be mindful of using words that can sabotage their efforts with the media, clients and consumers COMMON WORD BLUNDERS • Stationery vs. Stationary • To vs. Too • For all intents and purposes • Who vs. That • Illicit vs. Elicit • A lot vs. alot • Irrespective vs. Irregardless • There vs. Their vs. They’re • Affect vs. Effect • Principle vs. Principal
COMMON PUNCTUATION & GRAMMAR MISTAKES“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.We are the ones weve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”President Barack Obama. When quoting an individual in a press release, a comma or period should be included inside the quotation marks (not outside). Titles of books, magazines and newspapers are italicized Titles of television shows and movies should include quotes Do not end a sentence with a preposition (ie. with, of, at, etc)
Why Quotes Become Memorable Simplicity “Read my lips. No new taxes.” George Bush, 1988 Presidential campaign Visual & Aspirational – In times of crisis: “The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will not forget them, nor the last time we saw them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” President Ronald Reagan, January 28, 1986
BEWARE OF USING THE WRONG WORDS Far worse than making a spelling or word usage mistake is making a statement that includes words the media could use in a negative way. Word blunders, Politicians & Public Figures: Richard Nixon – “I am not a crook.” (On the Watergate scandal) Rush Limbaugh – advertisers pull their support after incendiary quotes about gays and women. (2012) (links to derogatory statements in week 5 folder. Todd Akin: “Legitimate rape victims rarely get pregnant” (link to video available in week 5 folder)
CORPORATIONS AND CRISIS Former Chairman and CEO of GE Jack Welch said it best when discussing how corporations should deal with employees and the media (Words that Work):“Simplify, simplify, simplify – too many messages are just internal gobbledygook.” Silence = Guilt It’s human nature for audiences to regard silence as a tacit admission of wrongdoing. A company’s communication with the public must be proactive, consistent and ongoing.
HOW INDUSTRIES REDEFINE THE PUBLIC’S PERCEPTION THROUGH WORD USAGE By utilizing descriptive words that are more positive in tone, a corporation or industry can effectively alter the public’s perception.1. Gambling vs. Gaming industry2. Liquor to Spirits When crafting a description of a company, industry or organization, think visually rather than verbally. Use aspirational words, but keep it simple in tone.
COMMUNICATING WITH UNION OFFICIALS Most employees start with an anti-company, pro-union bias. Therefore, the corporate side needs to be the first to provide employees with answers to their questions – preferably in writing. Never let any union communication go without an immediate rebuttal Tough questions: Real Answers – a company that is responsive to the “tough questions” has an advantage.
COMMUNICATING WITH EMPLOYEES Use of aspirational, truthful and informative messaging. To win over your employees, emphasize the need for more information, facts and an honest approach that addresses their concerns. Employees want security of knowing that their job, paycheck and benefits will be there when they need it. Being valued transcends dollars and cents.
COMMUNICATING YOUR MESSAGE WITH THE MEDIA: NEWS RELEASES NEWS RELEASE GUIDELINES: PURPOSE: To deliver a strategic message to the news media—in hopes the media will publish or broadcast the message. AUDIENCE: Journalists,broadcast producers, bloggers (for social media) MEDIA: E-mail, paper, website postings, digital satellite transmissions and more.
NEWS RELEASES -- CONTINUED Three styles of traditional news releases: Announcement – A company announces a new product, service or response to a newsworthy event that involves their brand. Feature – A story driven press release which gives you an understanding of the people behind the brand. Hybrid – an announcement which includes a story driven approach to the company’s success.
FORMAT OF NEWS RELEASES FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE should appear above the headline Headlines are boldface and in newspaper style Journalists often prefer images that are embedded in the e-mail message rather than connected by a link. Some e-mail news releases have standard templates (similar to paper news release stationery). (Refer to examples in Strategic Writing book) Include approved company boilerplate (description of company) at end of release “-30-” or “###” appears after the final sentence but above the contact information “For More Information” or press contact data appear at the bottom of the news release.
MEDIA ADVISORIES & ALERTS Media Advisories Purpose: To quickly deliver the what, who, where, when, why, and how of a story to journalists Audience: Journalists seeking news relevant to their audiences – typically tied to an event One page single spaced Key to success: Conciseness, details, timeliness Include ### and relevant press contact info. at the end of the media alert
CRAFTING A STATEMENT TO THE MEDIA SIMPLE, CONCISE & FACTUAL If you do not respond to media, the story will inevitably be unfavorable to your company or organization. If you arrange an interview with a corporate head, craft talking points and approved statements so that they do not veer off the messaging even if a reporter attempts to probe further. Do not release a statement to the media until it has been approved by your supervisor and by the client.
ASSIGNMENT 5A - INSTRUCTIONS 5A -- Identify a negative news story involving a business or corporation (ie. bad 4th quarter earnings; a tragedy happens within the company; company goes public and the stock plummets). Craft a statement to media that the company would want to share with the press in order to respond to negative comments. Post in Assignment 5A area as a Word document by midnight, Oct. 4. (20 points)
ASSIGNMENT 5B – NEWS RELEASE 5B – Based upon your statement to the media, write a press release about this news as well. (350 words). Post in Assignment 5B area as a Word document by midnight, Oct. 6. (15 points)
PERSONAL FINAL PROJECT Re-cap – engagement of your company’s involvement with its community via social media. Assignment 5C: Develop outline that illustrates how the company is currently engaging with employees, stock and shareholders (if applicable) and the media. Once the outline has been drafted, you will follow this outline in order to provide a more thorough investigation of how the company and/or organization engages in all of these categories. Each category should also include a “brainstorming” section where you will provide creative ideas that the company can be utilizing in order to effectively engage both with others both internally and externally. (15 points)
GROUP PROJECT DISCUSSION -- WIMBA We will be using the group chatroom on wimba to determine project leaders and responsibilities for all group members. The following critical elements will be required for the group project: PR Strategy Plan that outlines your group’s objectives and includes creative ideas that will be implemented in order to achieve your client’s deliverables (ie. Media placement goals). Timeline outlining the length of time to execute the PR plan or event. Media Kit – containing press release, fact sheets, innovative packaging, bios, etc.
GROUP PROJECT – MEDIA KIT GUIDELINES Purpose: To deliver to journalists or bloggers more information than a news release could supply Audience: Journalists and bloggers Media: Websites, CDs, DVDs, USB Drive, paper Other traditional documents: News release, backgrounders, fact sheets, photo opportunity advisories, photographs or videos Key to success: Focus on one core news story and supply extensive supporting, supplemental information Format: Innovative packaging. Product samples and press materials to be found on a USB drive along with a folder containing a print version of all background information
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