Category Archives: Writing for Public Relations

PR Professional Interview

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I had the honor of interviewing a fellow classmate who works in Public Relations. Her name is Katie Reilly and following Q&A below are the interview questions I asked her and her responses.

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Katie Reilly at Graduation

1. Me: How did you know you wanted to pursue PR? When did you decide that that is what you’re going to pursue in college?

Reilly:  Honestly, I didn’t really decide I wanted to pursue PR. I wasn’t really aiming to do so. I’m more of a journalist/writer, so the reason I’m pursuing a Journalism/PR degree is more for the journalism than the PR. However, last semester when I actually started on campus (previously I had been taking online classes) I applied for a job in the Advancement Office, working under Dana Davis. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into, I knew I’d be writing for Southeastern’s alumni magazine and I figured that it would be great experience. At first it was mainly just writing articles and such, but as I’ve done more office work I’ve been taking on more jobs and tasks that are more PR related. These past few months especially have been pretty much devoted to all sorts of PR work and I must admit that I have enjoyed it quite a bit, despite it not being what I expected. So, even though I’m still really focusing more on Journalism, I have definitely gained more appreciation and interest in PR as I have worked this job. And I wouldn’t mind continuing it even after I graduate.

2. Me: What is the day in the life of a PR professional like?

Reilly: I work for Dana Davis in the advancement office here at Southeastern. Advancement office is basically a fancier way of saying PR department (I’ve come to realize). I do things like help promote events, help organize events, write press releases, edit thank you letters, help make sure that when there are important guests visiting that all their needs are met. There was one point where I was making quite a few phone calls trying to see if local churches would help promote the Forum. Also, there have been times where I have helped with alumni relations, such as visiting an alumni, so that they keep good connection with the university and maybe even support it. That is actually one of the reasons why the alumni magazine was started, to keep alumni in the loop and to help them feel like they’re still part of the SEU community. So, I write articles for that as well as do editing for it. There really is a lot of fostering relationships. And a lot of the jobs (including some little ones that people don’t really think about) are done with that focus in mind.

3. Me: What’s you’re favorite responsibility of what you do now and what is the worst thing about being in the profession?

Reilly: I honestly probably like writing the articles the most. I really am a writer at heart. However, it is kind of fun to help keep the events on track and just run errands so that everything runs smoothly. (that’s writing the articles for the alumni magazine.) I really enjoy what I do and the only downfall I can think of is how time consuming all the writing can be. Otherwise, it’s great!

4. Me: What do you hope do with your PR/Journalism degree when you graduate here?

Reilly: To be honest I’m not entirely sure. I do want to do freelance work because I like the freedom and think I would work well with that. However, I wouldn’t mind continuing work with Southeastern, maybe even become a permanent part of the advancement team, not sure if that would actually happen, but I wouldn’t mind that.

5. Me: How did you get where you are today? Is there anyone/ anything from SEU that has helped you as you move toward your PR degree?

Reilly: Dana Davis, my boss, has actually been a huge help. She has taught me so much, both in regards to PR and writing. She is an excellent editor and really is a go getter. It has been a learning process for both of us since she was relatively new at this as well, but I have learned quite a bit about what all is involved in PR from her. She really has been a great role model for me.

To read some of Katie’s work or get in touch with her, visit her blog at http://applyingpublicrelations.wordpress.com!

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Crisis In The Kitchen: Crisis Management Example

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"Kitchen Trouble" by Kenny Louie

“Kitchen Trouble” by Kenny Louie

This past June, things heated up fast in the kitchen of celebrity cook, Paula Deen, as Food Network arranged plans to discontinue her contract after her involvement in a ‘racist’ scandal.

Some of the elements to the crisis included the racial discrimination lawsuit against Deen and her brother from a former employee as well as other acknowledgements of Deen’s participation with derogatory remarks and slang.

As described by Matt Wilson, “specifically, the suit alleges one incident in which Deen supposedly described her dream ‘Southern plantation wedding’ using racial slurs and remarking about how she wanted black waiters to ‘tap dance around” like in the “Shirley Temple days'”.

Deen soon made attempts to resolve the crisis by releasing multiple ‘apology’ YouTube videos. Within one video, Deen states, “Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is or what gender a person is, it’s what’s in your heart and in your head that matters to us”.

The Food Network reacted with image control management tactics as well and released the following acerbic statement to the press:

“Food Network will not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of this month”.

"Paula Deen Butter Jokes" by absoluteabstraction.tumblr.com

“Paula Deen Butter Jokes”
by absoluteabstraction.tumblr.com

The Food Network is known for having made Deen a star in 2002 and 2008 with two hit cooking shows for which she became known for loving to cook with butter.

A few months later, things have ‘cooled off’ and Deen is now rebuilding her image by introducing her new cooking show on EQUAL.

This crisis is an excellent example of the need for a PR plan to rebuild and refocus one’s public image. Both Deen and The Food Network would benefit from utilizing a PR strategy.

Can you think of any other examples that need PR crisis management plans? Please comment down below with your thoughts.

For more information, the full story is available here.

Corporate PR Question #1

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I love the way this blog, Prowl Public Relations, defines the main function of corporate public relations. As a means “…to connect with various publics using means such as press releases, social media, products and events to facilitate the building and managing relationships”. Just as with other PR ventures, corporate PR has the same objective of connecting with people within the company’s audience/ market.

But what is the state of corporate PR in America today?

Most companies continue to utilize PR to reach out to their audiences in order to improve their public image and relationship with the public by promoting or reporting positive events. However, I feel as if PR as it relates to the corporate world has become more of a means to manage mistakes, scandals, and other mishaps that can occur within a company rather than a means to report news or positive affairs.

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The Corporate Image’s Logo

To illustrate, The Corporate Image, a popular corporate PR service which specializes in “strategic corporate communications”, cleverly lists their services on the front page of their website. The list reads:

Crisis Response

Internal Communications

Media Relations

Strategic Communications

Social Media

Crucially, “Crisis Response” is at the top of the list– strategically symbolizing The Corporate Image’s acknowledgement of the demand for corporate crisis management within the corporate PR industry.

It’s almost impossible to not think of instances where companies have had to utilize their PR team to dissolve or distract attention from a scandal or media crisis. (Please feel free to comment below any big ones that you can remember!)

I do believe that crisis management is an important component within the corporate PR world. Businesses are vulnerable for imperfect circumstances to occur since they have to much attention drawn upon them. However, as an upcoming PR professional, I see it as necessary for those within our industry to redefine this ever-growing and ever-changing field. Let us make it more about focusing on the good rather than trying to cover up the bad!

In my corporate PR class last Monday, we discussed this topic further and some students described what they believed. Many agree that corporate PR has transformed into a means to ‘cover-up the bad’. One stated that it has been and continues to be the fastest growing field within its industry and thus the industry with the most potential for change. “We can’t control the news, but with corporate PR… we have more tools to”.

What do you believe is the state of corporate PR in today’s America? Please feel free to share your opinions below.

Writing A Social Media News Release

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Social Media News Releases.

Ian Capstick, a progressive media consultant with MediaShift, broadly defines them as “a single page of web content designed to enable the content to be removed and used on blogs, wikis and other social channels. In practice, social media releases (SMRs) feature multiple embedded links (a YouTube video, Flickr slideshow, SlideShare presentation etc.) and blocks of text similar to those found in traditional releases (spokesperson quotes, boilerplate and contact information).”

Thus, a SMNR is so much more diverse than a regular print press release. Because SMNRs can incorporate so much more multimedia, they’re not only more interactive, but they’re more visually appealing as well. And, naturally, everyone loves visuals more than print. Eyes are just more drawn to image stimuli than they are to print stimuli.

If you’re itchin’ for a more in depth definition, check out this video by realwirefromwebitpr on YouTube.com:

That being said, SMNRs are beneficial to an organization for multiple reasons:

"People Are The Network" by Joe Pemberton

  • Encourage Social Interaction
  • Reach more People Through More Channels
  • Better Customize Your Approach
  • Cost Effective When On A Low Budget
  • Track & Promote Dialogue
  • Conversations Happen With & Around the News
  • Spark Conversations About Your Topic All Over the Web

So far, SMNRs seem pretty fool proof, right? Well, there are some disadvantages to using SMNRs.

by opensourceway

Gina Poirier, of Demand Media, describes that anytime one uses social media to market their information there will be controversies with privacy issues.

“One of the controversies with social networking is that some claim that advertising violates users’ privacy policies. Different social networks have different policies, but in general they must release some of users’ personal information in order to provide them with targeted marketing. While many people don’t mind personalized advertising, they agree to it when they sign up to use these websites and some social networks keep the released information anonymous anyway, there is nonetheless much debate about whether the practice is ethical or legal.”

However, because of the great amount of benefits, SMNRs are quite popular amongst various organizations. Check out some at the links below:

by JD Hancock

Abu Dhabi

Winter on ITV2

Cisco Connected Life Contest

Southwest Airlines

4G Broadband Success Launch

So, when should you use a SMNR?

There are many instances that give the opportunity to take advantage of the SMNR and its benefits. The most popular for small business clients, however, tends to be when “your strapped with a small advertising budget”, as said in How to Write a Social Media Press Release by Lou Dubois, and you want to get attention towards your business.

Thinking about assembling a SMNR? Here are just a few tips to get you started:

"Typpity Typpity" by amanky

  1. Research  and create goals for your news release– Do Your Research and Have Measurable Goals
  2. Become familiar and research your target audience
  3. Write in active voice
  4. Use bullet points -they’re popular online, but not common to the traditional press release
  5. Link to other information throughout the release
  6. Embed videos, images, and other multimedia to make your release interactive and interesting
  7. Use a “Grabbing Title” to grab the attention of your audience
  8. Don’t be overbearing- don’t make your release sound like a sales pitch

If you’re serious about writing a SMNR, definitely get as many tips, pointers and view as many examples as you can!

For more information, check out the websites linked above as well as this blog post How To Write a Social Media Press Release.

Not-So-Secret Google Tools

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"Google Logos" by La Ignorancia Mata

Google sure has a universe of tools available to its users. But Adam Vincenzini of PR News Daily describes 10 that most people probably have never heard of in his post here.

Most of these tools I had never heard of either, but some of them (based on their description) seem like they would be extremely useful for a Public Relations Professional.

1. Google SketchUp– I love graphic design, but I have never heard of this free tool! Apparently, one can create anything in illustration form into a 3D illustration. This would be a great visual addition to company websites or blogs.

2. Google Correlate– This tool enables its users to discover patterns in sample data, which would be very helpful from a Marketing perspective of locating target audiences, enhancing an email marketing campaign, discovering complimentary products/services, etc.!

3. Google Sites– This tool enables its users to create a website that groups can communicate through, which speeds up the older process of phone-trees and call lists to spread news and communicate within a group of people.

4. Google HotPot– This tool provides rates and reviews of places/ businesses and its users can get recommendations from others. As a marketing/ PR student, it seems like it would help me see how public opinions develop, change, and what attracts large groups of people to certain products/ services.

To find out more about these tools and learn about other lesser known but seemingly useful ones, visit Vincenzini’s blog link above!

A “Site” For Sore Eyes

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How many screens do you find yourself looking at on a daily basis? For how long?

A study posted in the NY Times states that most people spend up to 8 hours a day staring at screens (NYTimes.com)!

At first, I found this hard to believe, but after thinking about it I realized that my eyes are sometimes incredibly sore at the end of a day. This article by Kevin Allen of PR News Daily provides an infographic that describes some helpful ways that one can help reduce eye fatigue otherwise known as “computer vision syndrome” or CVS.

"Computer Eye" By IRPC

My favorite tips are as follows.

1. Take Breaks– Use the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

2. Avoid CRT Screens– Low radiation from CRT screens can cause eye irritation. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens (typically flat screens) are better for eyes than CRT (Cathode Ray-Tube) screens are.

3. Download an Eye-Care App– Eye Apps are capable of doing great things to help one monitor their eyes because they can signal the user when to take breaks as well as scan the users eyes to see if he/she is near or farsighted. They’re a great tool to have if one’s experiencing eye fatigue or if one wears contacts.

To find out more about Eye care, visit the above link to Kevin Allen’s post on the PR News Daily website.

My Top 10 Tips For New PR Students

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As the semester comes to a close, I have been reflecting on all of the things I learned from my Public Relations classes, as well as all of the things I wish I had known coming into them. I literally jumped head first into PR without knowing anything about it other than what I heard about it being a great minor to pair with a Marketing Degree.

So, in the spirit of “Paying it Forward”, here are 10 tips for any new PR students out there that are about to dive “head first” into this subject knowing little about it too.

"Peekaboo" By Lili Vieira de Carvalho

1. Don’t be shy! Before taking PR classes, I had never blogged, never tweeted, nor I had ever wrote anything for internet journalism/ marketing/ public appeal other than some amateur newspaper articles in high school. I was so nervous to start writing because I though that I was going to be so bad at it and fail the class just because I had never written a blog before. If that’s you, I suggest to shrug off your fears and jump into it! If you’re stuck, brain storm ideas onto the page because it’s easier to work with something than nothing at all!

2. Ask Questions! If you don’t know or understand something, please do not hesitate to ask your professor or your peers. In my classes, there were a lot of “snooty” students who came off as really experienced PR people. That really intimidated me to ask questions in class because I didn’t want to seem dumb and make a bad impression. If that’s you, ask your professor through email or after class; never miss the opportunity to learn!

3. Get to know your peers! Networking is an important aspect to anyone’s career and establishing relationships with your fellow PR students is a great place to start (especially if you don’t know anyone).

"Sorry, you have to queue like everyone else" By linh.ngan

4. Get Involved! Professor Nixon always had assignments that encouraged us to either reach out and meet people or stay within our bubble and research to find answers online. Don’t be a lazy bum with all of similar assignments/ projects you get though! Use these challenges to meet people and find out, first hand, how things are done in the real world. Learn how to contact and communicate with people to get what you need!

5. Read, Read, Read! Learn from other PR students, other bloggers, and especially other Professional bloggers by reading their posts. See how they do things and try to mimic the aspects of their blogs posts that are done well.

6. Follow the right Format. It’s a shame that so many PR student bloggers neglect AP Style. If you’re serious about your writing, invest in a AP Stylebook and adhere to it! Memorize as many grammatical rules as you can and dog ear or mark the pages that have the rules that you use the most on a daily blogging basis so you can reference them quicker.

7. Be Genuine. Blog about topics that actually interest you or, if your assigned a boring topic, turn it into an interesting one. Otherwise the tone of your writing becomes robotic and stiff and no one wants to read a paraphrased textbook answer. Make your blogging assignments unique because anyone could be reading your posts, even future employers!

" Embraced By Words" By Robbert van der Steeg

8. Learn Your Blog’s Program. My professor made the class that she was going to use to discuss “how to use Word Press” optional to the students. In turn, there were maybe three of us who actually attended class that day. But, you know what? …Those three that attended that class were continually mentioned by her in person as three of the most well done blogs of the class. So, I advise to attend those classes and learn all you can about the website you are using to write your blogs on because it will enable you to make your blog more interesting, interactive, and you’ll feel more comfortable writing them.

9. Actually do the News University Courses! News University is such an amazing tool for journalists. If you fully complete the courses and engage in the lessons, you’re skills will benefit exponentially. My favorites were the ones that dealt with leads,  grammar, photography, copyright laws, and persuasion. But I advise you to complete all the ones you can. Learn while the learning’s good!

10. Embrace the Class. Before you know it, the class will be over. Embrace every assignment and learn as much as you can while you can. “Just getting by” and being lazy about your writings will teach you little and impress no one. Put your best foot forward in your work and you’ll reap the benefits before you know it.

Overall, my PR classes were probably two of my favorite classes I’ve taken so far while in college. They were so valuable to me in that they opened up my knowledge and skills which helped me coin 2 internships, in both of which I love what I do!

If you enjoy the class while you can and be thorough with your work, you’ll go far!