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Go Easy on the Journalists (tow-13) April 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in Uncategorized.
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     An unfortunate aspect of working in public relations is having to avoid disagreements with journalists. Although both professions are very similar in practice and often work with the same types of media outlets, journalists have slightly different objectives than PR practitioners. The authors of Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques point out that much of the friction between journalists and those in PR comes from the issue of improper advertising influence, among other things. The book also cites some ways in which journalists can be rubbed the wrong way:

  1. Receiving hundreds of spam releases every day. A PR practitioner should make certain that releases are news worthy and relevant.
  2. Dodging questions or giving misleading responses in media interviews.  You should always decide if you are qualified to answer the questions given in an appropriate manner.
  3. Wasting reporters’ time by calling interviews short. Make sure that reporters get the amount of time you promised them to ask their questions.
  4. Not doing enough research or being unprepared to give useful information. Research is one of the steps in the PR process and shouldn’t be ignored.
  5. Creating an excessive amount of spin for a story. Journalists want the straight facts so they have the freedom to report on the subject their own way.
  6. Using social media to undermine or compete with journalists.  Public relations relies heavily on social media, especially blogging, which is often times mistaken for journalism.

          It’s crucial that PR practitioners learn how to get along with journalists.  Although their motives differ, they still rely on one another to get their jobs done.

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Selecting Publicity Photos & Graphics (week 11 notes) April 26, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Reading Notes, Uncategorized.
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     If a picture is worth a thousand words, then photos and graphics should be a vital component to public relations activity.  A good photo and caption could be what makes a story stand out and be selected by editors. Chapter 8 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques offers several great pointers for selecting publicity photos and graphics.

Components of a Good Photo:

  • Technical Quality: Make sure the resolution is acceptable
  • Subject Matter: Whenever possible, show action
  • Composition and Scale: The photo should contain some element of known size
  • Camera Angle, Lighting, and Timing

Ethical Considerations:

  • Avoid images that alter reality
  • Make sure the image is not deceiving in any way
  • Don’t violate copyright laws

Other Graphics to Consider Using:

  • Charts (pie, bar, or line graphs)
  • Diagrams showing how something works
  • Scale models

All information is paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, 6th edition.

Social Media News Releases April 23, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in Uncategorized.
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     The role of a public relations practitioner has undergone several changes over the past decade.  Newspapers and various other print publications are slowly being ushered out by the digital age and the advent of new Web 2.0 technologies.  Everyone seems to be jumping on board with this shift, and if there’s one thing that a PR practitioner should know by now, it’s that social media is here to stay.  Many firms are catching on to this idea, abandoning the traditional news release for a more interactive medium: The Social Media News Release (SMNR).

     The authors of Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques refer to SMNR’s as “smart” releases, and rightfully so. A standard press release pales in comparison to one that is embedded with high-resolution graphics or videos.  In most cases, the additional components are available to be downloaded from the release. Ford Motor Company is one of the best known firms to adopt this approach. Many of Ford’s releases contain the use of  soundbites and downloadable graphics and fact sheets.

     The advantages of a social media news release seem rather obvious.  The incorporation of photo, video, and audio components makes reading the release an interactive experience.  SMNR’s also provide the perfect opportunity for online exposure.  Most electronic distribution services work with the top search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, in regards to search engine optimization, which is vital for online exposure. Sites like PR Newswire offer SEO services, as well as providing tips on how to to get the most out of your SMNR. 

     There is a major disadvantage to the social media news release.  Some people might be unable to download the extra content due to compatability issues.  This could be very frustrating and possibly lead to the person ignoring your release altogether.  In her Writing Matters blog, Marilynne Rudick cites another problem with SMNR’s: Figuring out how to release them. She suggests using multiple distribution channels and announcing the release via social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.

     When should a PR practitioner use a SMNR?  It depends a lot on the audience.  If you are dealing with a public that is known to be technologically savvy, then the added features of a SMNR would be appreciated.  Also, when you want to get maximum exposure from a news release, an SMNR provides many opportunities to link to other sites, thereby improving search engine optimization.

     Creating a social media news release is much easier than it sounds.  Shift Communications, the public relations agency that helped popularize SMNR’s, provides a great range of services for creating releases.  They provide templates, SEO assistance, and several tips for drafting your first social media news release.  Pressitt is another site that offers help with with SMNR’s and specializes in sharing via social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

     When putting together a social media news release, you need to be sure to link to pages where key words and phrases from your message are reinforced. Additionally, it is a good idea to distribute releases through wire services that provide the maximum amount of exposure.  What you don’t want to do, according to the authors of PR Writing and Media Techniques, is to use low-resolution images or too many links (which can draw focus away from the message).

     Marilynne Rudick gives a few more important tips for creating a SMNR in Writing Matters:

  • Write SMNR content for online readers. Use bulleted lists and effective headlines.
  • Use keywords to maximize search engine ranking. This has been said before, but it’s important to repeat keywords in headlines and subheads.
  • Use attractive visuals. Logos, maps, charts, and videos go a long way in explaining the product/concept to your audience.
  • Incorporate interactivity.  Encourage comments and questions.

     Put simply, SMNR’s are now an essential tool for PR practitioners.  The standard, old-fashioned press release may still be widely used (and still effective), but the evolution of social media presents a need for a new format. Check out this article by Aaron Uhrmacher to see some recent examples of social media in action.

Hello world! February 9, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in Uncategorized.
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