Journalism Public Relations and Public Service Announcements
PR PEOPLEResponsible for press releases, which is news about an organization that the PR person wants to make known to a wider audience- The press release is sent (free of charge) to print and broadcast media in hopes that it will be used.- Increasingly, press releases are submitted in a video format or a printed article will include photos, audio clips, PowerPoint slideshows and spreadsheets.- A PR practitioner has multiple audiences to serve including employees, customers, potential customers, community neighbors, government officials and others, depending on the nature of the organization and its mission- What this means is, throwing together info and sending it to print and broadcast media is not an effective way of getting your message used.- So, what does that mean for you as a journalist?
THE JOBAs a PR practitioner, you may be responsible for writing press releases.How to write a press release:First, your information must be newsworthy. Remember the news values? Timely, local interest, unusual nature, etc. You want press releases to have news value, particularly for local residents. You do not want press releases to be attempts to get free advertising or gain publicity of a non- news event.Second, the information must be written as news. Follow AP Style. Write in the inverted pyramid form with an eye-catching lede. Answer the 5W and 1 H. - This is especially important: write one version of the press release for print, another for radio and still another for TV. Get to the point quickly! Keep in mind your press release has the life expectancy of about 10 seconds if it’s poorly written, contains stylistic errors or just isn’t news.
THE JOBThird, think visuals. Photos, charts, graphs, video footage. Use it to accompany the press release. Make it as easy as possible for the editor to use what you are presenting. The more work you make the media do with your release, the less likely they are to use it in the first place.Fourth, make sure the form of your news release is journalistic. Keep it short; two pages or less. Double space all copy and print on only one side of the page. If you have to carry over to a second page, make sure the word “MORE” is at the bottom of the first page. Make sure your organization’s name is on the front sheet along with its address and a contact person. - Usually, it is “For Immediate Release” is added to the top, or “Hold for release until 2 p.m. Friday.” - Allow lead time so send your release in advance of a publication’s deadline, which means you must know the deadlines of the print and broadcast media that you serve.
THE JOBFifth, make sure the news is timely. Taking a leisurely approach to deadlines is FATAL. Reporters cannot file a story several days after an event occurred. Neither can a PR practitioner.Sixth, check your release for spelling and make sure it adheres to the AP style for print and broadcast (which I will discuss in a minute.) It is stupid to send a newspaper press release to a broadcast news outlet. They are not going to re-write your press release in order for it to be easily read on-air.Seventh, stay away from label ledes. This is one of the most common mistakes that PR practitioners make. What is a label lede? It is the lead paragraph in which the emphasis is on either the organization or the boss’s name and NOT on the most newsworthy aspect of the press release. - For example: The governor’s office announced today… - Or: Frank Todd, president and CEO of Apple, proudly made known today that his organization has developed a new iPad mini. Find other ways to suck up to your boss than writing a press release like this. Label ledes tell the editor immediately that the writer does not know news and does not understand the editor’s needs.
THE JOBEighth, can your news release be trusted? It is your job to check for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Trust also applies to how media people view you and your PR organization. If you can be trusted and your office has a reputation, then your copy is more likely to be used.Ninth, have you purged your news release of PUFFERY? All too often, PR people lard their releases with laudatory words like famous, distinguished, well- known, wonderful, informative, and the like. Stay away from them. Stick to the facts just like a journalist! And avoid platitudes and vague generalities such as the political statement “to work for the community to promote its growth.” What does that even mean???Tenth, if you really want to have a distinctive press release, include human touches, even those that may not flatter your organization. Press releases rarely contain these, BUT these are the touches that bring news alive. And build respect with your print and broadcast friends. (Example: describe a new plant opening but including that the grounds people were really busy at the last minute raking up leaves and planting bushes prior to the opening ceremonies.)
PSASMessages that radio and TV stations will broadcast without chargeStrictly for noncommercial and nonpolitical adsFrom 15 to 60 seconds in lengthShould be written in broadcast style, which includes double spacing, short sentences, using three dots instead of commas, and being presented in all caps, (more on that later), and including the date and time of the event you are promoting.Remember that broadcast material is measured by the time is takes to present it.Therefore, you must time your PSAs by reading them aloud and timing the reading. Cut words until the PSA can be read at a normal speed in the time allowed. Make sure that editing does not destroy the meaning of the PSA.
MEDIA KITS- To promote your organization’s products or activities- Decorative folders are used- Inside info includes press releases, feature articles, photographs with cut lines, artwork and graphics, fact sheets and, sometimes, samples of the organization’s products- Just like in journalism, words like “the employer” are used rather than “you”- Heavy on weasel words: perhaps, maybe, if, possibly, sometime soon, etc.How to prepare a PR proposal or media kit: - Write the following: I want to tell you that…Then, answer by writing, “This is necessary because…” This will help youfocus on the main issue to be described. This should be the lead sentencein the press release.
WRITING THE PSAIt’s just like drafting a news story:First, do your research. Put the main topic in a circle of a blank piece of paper. Add released ideas or points in terms of importance and number them. This is called mapping.Organize the order – write: “I believe that…” followed by the word “because…” and complete this focus sentence with the points you earlier identified as first, second, third and the like.Use the inverted pyramid with strongest points first.Keep the info in perspective by continually asking yourself what the reader knows already and what is new. Keep previously known stuff to a minimum.Write a strong conclusion – summarize but don’t repeat your lede.Check your verbs: make sure they are strong, action words. No TO BE verbs.