PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 10-11 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

This week I read chapters 10 and 11 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox.

Chapter 10: Distributing News to the Media

  • Media lists and e-mail addresses should be updated regularly because journalist frequently change jobs.
  • Create a tip sheet. A tip sheets lets publicists know what kind of information a certain publication or broadcast station is seeking for a particular purpose.
  • E-mail is now the popular way to communicate with reporters and editors.
  • Keyword are important for search engine optimization (SEO)

Chapter 11: Getting Along with Journalist

  • The most common complaints journalists have about public relations people are:
  1. lack of familiarity with editorial requirements and format
  2. poorly written material
  3. too many unsolicited e-mails and phone calls
  4. lack of knowledge about their product or service
  5. repeated calls and follow-ups

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 9 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 9 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled, “Writing for Radio and Television.”


Radio releases are similar to press releases, but have more concise writing and have a conversational tone. Most radio news releases are 30 or 60 seconds long.  Timing is very important because the reader must fit the message in the allocated time frame.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines a public service announcement (PSA) as an unpaid announcement that promotes the programs of government or nonprofit agencies or that serve the public interest.

A radio media tour (RMT) is another way to use the radio to your advantage.  RMTs are low cost and convenient. The spokesperson just calls in to the radio station and gives an interview that will play on the radio live or be recorded for future use.


A video news release (VNR) are similar to radio news releases but contain audio and visual elements like graphics, slides, or video. VNRs have an advantage becasue they can be used by numerous stations on a regional, national, and even a global basis.

Talk shows are a great opportunity to reach mass and specialized audiences. Talk shows also allow you to tell your views directly to the public without the filtering of journalist and editors.

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 8 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 8 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled, “Selecting Publicity Photos and Graphics.”

Photos and graphics are very important to a news release and feature story.  They add appeal and can increase interest in a story.

Tips for taking a publishable photo:

  • photos should be sharp, clear, and high contrast
  • make the photo as creative as possible
  • the setting should be realistic
  • take at least two photos, one vertical and one horizontal
  • every picture should have a caption
  • action photos are better than stiff, posed shots
  • keep the number of people in the photo to three or four people
  • never send the photos in an attachment

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 7 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 7 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled, “Creating News Features and Op-Ed.”

A feature story can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and create an understanding in a more imaginative way than a basic news release. Features are considered “soft news” rather than “hard news.”

A feature story usually:

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

There are many different types of feature stories. The most frequently used features are:

  1. case studies
  2. application story
  3. research studies
  4. backgrounds
  5. personality profiles
  6. historical pieces

A feature is formatted similarly to the news release.  The parts of a feature include:

  1. the headline
  2. the lead
  3. the body
  4. the summary
  5. photos and graphics

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 6 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 6 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled, “Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches.”

A fact sheet often accompanies a news release or media kit. A fact sheet is a list of facts in outline or bullet form that a reporter can use as a quick reference. There are several different kinds of fact sheets but one for an upcoming event may include:

  • the name of the event
  • its sponsor
  • the location
  • the date and the time
  • the purpose of the event
  • the expected attendance
  • a list of prominent people attending
  • any unusual aspects of the event that make it newsworthy

A media kit, or press kit, is prepared for major events and new product launches.  A basic media kit includes:

  1. a main news release
  2. a news feature
  3. fact sheets on the product, organization, or event
  4. background information
  5. photos and drawings with captions
  6. biographical material on the spokesperson or senior executive
  7. some basic brochures

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 5 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 5 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled, “Writing the News Release.”

The news release is the backbone of almost every publicity plan. However, between 55 and 97 percent of all news releases sent to the media are never used.

Since different news releases are trying to accomplish different goals their are five basic types of news releases.

  • announcements
  • spot announcements
  • reaction releases
  • bad news
  • local news

The traditional news release has six basic components:

  1. letterhead
  2. contacts
  3. headline
  4. dateline
  5. lead paragraph
  6. body of text

A multimedia news release, also called a smart media release (SMR), is often used for major events and product launches.  It usually includes the traditional news release but includes photos, video, and audio. Hyperlinks can also be embedded into the text and link are made to social media networks.

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 4 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 4 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled, “Finding and Making News.”

A major purpose of many public relations programs is to provide information to the media in the hope that it will be published or broadcast. This coverage is called publicity but is not an end in itself.  It is a means to help achieve organizational goals and objectives.

Publicists should understand the basic news values of:

  • timeliness
  • prominence
  • proximity
  • significance
  • unusualness
  • human interest
  • conflict
  • newness

Some tactics to generate news are:

  • special events
  • contests
  • polls and surveys
  • top 10 list
  • stunts
  • product demonstrations
  • rallies and protests
  • personal appearances
  • awards

Generating news requires creativity, so think outside the box, and problem-solving skills to get noticed.

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 3 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 3 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled, “Avoiding Legal Hassles.”

The AP Stylebook defines libel as an injury to reputation. Words, pictures or cartoons that expose a person to public hatred, shame, disgrace or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person are libelous.  Slander is similar to libel but involves an oral communication, such as a speech or a broadcast mention. Today, the courts use the term defamation collectively.

Juries award defamation damages if the following can be proves by the injured party:

  1. the statement was published to others by print or broadcast
  2. the plaintiff was identified or is identifiable
  3. there was actual injury in the form of monetary losses, impairment of reputation, humiliation, or mental anguish and suffering
  4. the publisher of the statement was malicious or negligent

Corporations are considered “public figures” by the courts for several reasons:

  1. they engage in advertising and promotions, voluntarily offering products to the public for purchase and even criticism
  2. they are often involved in matters of public controversy and public policy
  3. they have the resources for regular access to the media that enables them to respond and rebut criticism
  • A main key point to remember to avoid defamation suits is to “watch you language.”‘

This chapter also discusses copyright laws. Copyright means protection of a creative work from unauthorized use.  A work can by copyrighted if it’s a:

  • literary works
  • musical works
  • dramatic works
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works
  • motion pictures
  • sound recordings

A trademark is a word, symbol, or slogan, used singly or in combination, that identifies a product’s origin. The three basic guidelines for using trademarks are as follows:

  • Trademarks are proper adjectives and should be capitalized and followed by a generic noun or phrase
  • Trademarks should not be pluralized or used in a possessive form
  • Trademarks are never verbs

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 2 Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

Chapter 2 in Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox is titled “Becoming a Persuasive Writer.”

The basic communication process has four elements:

  1. Sender
  2. Message
  3. A channel
  4. A receiver

The diffusion process explains how people acquire new ideas using these five steps:

  1. Awareness- the person discovers the idea or product
  2. Interest- the person tries to get more information
  3. Trial- the person tries the idea on others or samples the product
  4. Evaluation- the person decides whether the idea works for his or her own self-interest
  5. Adoption- the person incorporates the idea into his or her opinion or begins to use the product
  • The public relations writer is the most influential at the awareness and interest stages of the process
  • A person does not necessarily have to  go through all five stages

This chapter also discusses persuasion and propaganda. Propaganda is the deliberate and systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.  The different techniques used in propaganda are:

  • Plain folks
  • Testimonial
  • Bandwagon
  • Card stacking
  • Transfer
  • Glittering generalities

PRCA 3330 Reading Notes Chapter 1 Monday, Apr 26 2010 

My textbook for my public relations writing class is Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques, 6th ed. by Dennis L. Wilcox.

This week I read chapter 1 which is titled, “Getting Organized for Writing.” Here are some main points that I think are important.

Public Relations is composed of four core components:

  1. research
  2. planning
  3. communications
  4. evaluation
  • Public relations writing is part of the communications component.

The ability to write well is essential for work in public relations. John Beardsley, chairman and CEO of Padilla Speer Beardsley, quoted saying in The Strategist, “In our business, everything involves language, more so than almost any other activity.”

Before beginning any writing assignment, ask yourself these six questions:

  1. What is the desired communication outcome? In other words, what do we want our audience to do or not do?
  2. Who is our target audience? Defining your audience in terms of age, gender, and educational level helps set the framework of the message.
  3. What are our target audience’s needs, concerns, and interests?
  4. What is our message? Do you want to inform or persuade?
  5. What communication channel is most effective?
  6. Who is our most believable spokesperson?

Once your purpose is clear here are some tips to remember:

  • Sentences should be clear and concise. Sentences should also vary in length, with the average sentence being about 15 to 17 words.
  • Short paragraphs are better than long ones.  The average paragraph should be about six to eight lines.
  • Be conscious of word choice. The general public can read at the fourth- to- sixth grade level so consider that when writing.
  • Use action verbs,  active voice, to make a sentence more direct
  • Write in the present tense

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