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THE FINAL: 10 Most Important Things I Learned in Public Relations COMM 4333

May. 4. 2010.

Ten Most Important Things:

I learned that in order to create traffic on your blog, you must understand the power of writing consistently. Blogging inconsistency shows laziness and a lack of passion. The same goes for blogs that contain posts like spam mail. Some blogs are inconsistent in the area of substance. There are posts that “wow” you from time to time. However, in-between those gems are pointless, mindless posts that I really thought should have been left out of their blog. Consistency means more that writing a lot.

I learned that the average day for a PR person is very busy and hectic. Everyone deserves to have their time respected, but I after taking this class, I feel like they do even more so. I also learned that you should never hassle them about using your stories, not use first-class mail, or take them out to lunch and other events without being prepared to discuss a possible news release or an upcoming event. It is also really important to be short and to the point in e-mails to them. When we had a guest speaker, he brought up an interesting point: write a detailed subject line.

number 3

I learned the commercials on the radio actually have some thought put into them. They are written to be timed to the second. Surprisingly, they also have their own personal writing style.

number 4

Being accustomed to MLA format in high school, AP style was also something introduced to me. I learned how to properly abbreviate, use correct grammar, and how to be concise in my writing. AP style is really helpful in the world of public relations. I also learned that it is helpful for everyone to be writing the same format (at least, in the formal world of PR). An editor knows that there is only one way to spell or use a certain word, so they can easily proofread it. The rules really help readers. Because most newspapers follow AP style, many readers are familiar with writing that follows it.  It makes sure writers are consistent in their use of abbreviations, capitalization, numbers, punctuation, and words. With an expanded explanation of how to use, it helps writers choose the right ones to write clear sentences and paragraphs that make sense to their readers.

number 5

When that same guest speaker (mentioned in #2) came into class, I also learned that relationships matter in Public Relations. The most successful PR professionals know that the main focus should be on creating relationships. They understand to be engaging with others and creating real connections through conversation can be helpful. It is not always about getting your story out there. Having the right relationship has the potential to do that for you.

number 6

I have developed a new sense of awareness in overused words. In an article I wrote about in one of my PR connections, I learned that the three words “excited,” “thrilled,” and “honored” are three words that should be banned from the world of Public Relations. It really is true. People can be lazy in their vocabulary and settle with one of those. I know I want my writing to be more engaging for my readers, so I have made an effort to be more conscious when using words like good, fun, or nice. It has been my PR Resolution.

My favorite avenue in Public Relations is the World Wide Web. I love blogging and reading on-line articles. In the article “Visual Appeal Helps Retain Traffic,” the author writes, “you don’t get a second chance to make a good impression.” They also further give some statistics. “According to Consumer Web Watch, the factors shoppers use to judge website credibility are; 46.1% judge credibility by “Website Design Look” (ie; the way your site looks) and 28.5% judge credibility by “Information Design” (ie; the way your content looks).” The visual appeal of a Web site is very important. A blog is a silent presentation. It is there presenting itself, but no can speak for it. I take great lengths to make sure that the quality of my blog’s visual appeal gives readers an introduction to the quality of my writing.

number 8

I learned the difference between libel and slander. The AP Stylebook calls libel an injury to reputation.” Slander is when a statement is made to a third person, but it was not broadcasted or printed.

number 9

I learned the format of a News Release.

number 10

I also learned that every business, no matter, how big or how small, should have a Contact List. In my band, we actually use the contact list that I created for class. It is so helpful for when we have to call someone at a moment’s notice.

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Contact Etiquette with a PR Person

April. 30. 2010.

When dealing with a reporter or anyone involved in public relations, it is important that you know and understand the rules of what I call contact etiquette.

It is important that you do not:

  1. Call at odd hours of the night or morning. Be sensitive to time zone differences.
  2. Refuse to know their preferred means of accepting pitches.
  3. Call to ask about when the story will be used.
  4. Place vague subject lines in e-mails or other documents.
  5. Disregard their time.
  6. Launch your pitch without asking, “Is this a good time?”
  7. Initiate chatter or small-talk.
  8. Meet with or talk to them unprepared.
  9. Wait to return a phone call.
  10. Send anything out to the media without checking.
  11. Contact reporters during deadlines.
  12. Be too informal. Calling them by their first name without a relationship is rude.
  13. Be late.
  14. Be early. This one confused me at first. However, I was lucky to stumble upon Ginny Richardson explaining it further for me by saying, “If you send a press release or press kit months ahead, it simply is not news yet to the reporter. It will then languish on a desk top and move to the bottom of the pile. Your news must be compelling from a timing perspective.”
  15. Let your story die in vain. If you give them a pitch and the reporter is interested, follow up on that! Don’t leave them hanging. Start making those phone calls, get those photo sessions schedules, find out who will e the subject of that interview. Be productive!
  16. Argue or get upset with them if they are not interested in your story or news release.
  17. Forget to say thank you.

Sources:

Ten Things NOT to Do in the World of Media Relations by Ginny Richardson 

PR Etiquette by Darcy O’Neil

Generate More Publicity by Practicing ‘PR Etiquette 101’  by Diana Laverdure

The Visual Appeal of a Blog

April. 30. 2010.

I would compare a blog to a silent presentation. It is there presenting itself, but no can speak for it. Does it really mater what your blog looks like if you write about fascinating topics already?  I believe it does. I have visited blogs that are very insightful, helpful, and informational; however, they lack that “wow” factor in the looks department. I compare these types of blogs to ugly boys with great personalities. The saying goes, “Looks aren’t everything.” But we all know they count for something!

The visual appeal of a blog does not just mean how “pretty” it looks. How easily accessible is it to post a comment on the page? Is there a search function for the blog available? Is the font at a reasonable size? Is the font readable? Do the colors make it difficult to read? Does the author have an appropriate profile picture (if necessary)? Is the “About Me” section appropriate? Is the blog title easy to remember and explain the blog’s purpose? Do they incorporate hyperlinks, photos, videos, and music? Does the blog look like it has been proofread? Believe it or not, accuracy is also linked to how someone feels visually about the blog.

There is also a need to make sure the layout of your blog serves the main function of your blog. This pertains more for video blogs, photo blogs, and music blog.

In the article “Visual Appeal Helps Retain Traffic,” the author says, “you don’t get a second chance to make a good impression.” They also further give some statistics. “According to Consumer Web Watch, the factors shoppers use to judge website credibility are; 46.1% judge credibility by “Website Design Look” (ie; the way your site looks) and 28.5% judge credibility by “Information Design” (ie; the way your content looks).”

So consider carefully how your blog looks!!

How to Attract People to Your Blog

April. 30. 2010.

Blogging is increasingly become a means of online promotion, informing, and writing. The idea “Write they will come” does not work here. To have a regular set of people reading and interacting with your blog:

1. Write Posts That People Will Want To Read

  • If you write posts that people are actually going out of their way to read, they will return the favor by coming back to your blog regularly.
  • In Priya Shah’s article How to Build Traffic to Your Blog she says to, “Make your posts conversational, pithy and topical. Keep them short and stick to one topic per post.”

2. She also says to Ping The Blog Services

  • “There are a number of services designed specifically for tracking and connecting blogs. By sending a small ping to each service you let them know you’ve updated your blog so they can come check you out.”

2. Write often and regularly so that both readers and search engines visit your blog more often.

  • If I see a blog that has been last visited by its author a month ago, I won’t return to it. It should be evenly distributed.

3. Optimize Your Posts for Search Engines

  • Some people look up blogs on the Internet to see if there are blogs that will interest them. To make sure they find your blog using certain keywords, Shah says to:

* Make sure your blog URL contains the primary keyword you want to optimize for

* Use your primary keywords in the title of your post

* Use your secondary keywords in the body of your post

* Use your keywords in the anchor text of links in the body of your posts

4. Create Buzz About Your Blog

  • What makes it more special than all others? Why should I devote my time to reading it?
  • Is your blog highly controversial?
  • Do you have bumper stickers and the merchandise that will attract people to your blog’s URL and tagline?
  • Do you have a press release about something newsworthy that ties in with your blog topic.

T.O.W. #16: My Top Ten List for New Bloggers

April. 29. 2010.

My Top Ten For New Bloggers:

  1. PROOFREAD: Enough said.
  2. VISUAL APPEAL: I would compare a blog to a silent presentation. It is there presenting itself, but no can speak for it. Does it really mater what your blog looks like if you write about fascinating topics already?  I believe it does. I have visited blogs that are very insightful, helpful, and informational; however, they lack that “wow” factor in the looks department. I compare these types of blogs to ugly boys with great personalities. The saying goes, “Looks aren’t everything.” But we all know they count for something! Make sure the posts have a reasonably sized font that is easy to read. In the article “Visual Appeal Helps Retain Traffic,” the author says, “you don’t get a second chance to make a good impression.” They also further give some statistics. “According to Consumer Web Watch, the factors shoppers use to judge website credibility are; 46.1% judge credibility by “Website Design Look” (ie; the way your site looks) and 28.5% judge credibility by “Information Design” (ie; the way your content looks).” So consider carefully how your blog looks!!
  3. If you have a video blog, photo blog, or music blog, choose a layout best serves the media’s purpose.
  4. WRITE POSTS THAT PEOPLE WILL WANT TO READ: If you want people to go out of their way to read your blog, go out of your way to be interesting and unique. Make it an experience for them. In Priya Shah’s article How to Build Traffic to Your Blog she says to, “Make your posts conversational, pithy and topical. Keep them short and stick to one topic per post.”
  5. BE CONSISTENT:  People underestimate the power of writing consistently in their blog. I have encountered the awkward encounter of blog-following. I also use Tumblr, so when a person asks me o follow them, sometimes I am reluctant. This is because I go to their blog to consider it and I am turned off by the fact that they write in it every one or two months. I don’t know how other bloggers feel about that, blogging inconsistency shows laziness and a lack of passion. The same goes for bloggers that create posts like spam mail. Some blogs I have stopped following because they were inconsistent with posts of substance. They have this “wow post once a month and in between the good ones were pointless, mindless things that I really thought should have been left ut of their blog.conistency means more that writing a lot.
  6. BE HONEST: No one likes to be lied to or misinformed. Make sure you research your information.
  7. PROMOTE YOUR BLOG: Be involved with other bloggers and create tags for search engines that will make it easy for people to find your blog.
  8. CREATE EASY COMMENT ACCESS: Make sure your blog is easily accessible to post a comment on the page.
  9. CREATE A SEARCH BOX: Insert a widget or layout that has a search function for your blog posts.
  10. CREATE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION: Sometimes, before someone even visits your blog, they are introduced the blog title and your profile picture. Make sure that you have an appropriate “About Me” section and that your blog title that is easy to remember and explains the blog’s purpose.

Chapter 15: Direct Mail and Advertising

April. 28. 2010.

Public Relations: Writing and Media Techniques

by Dennis L. Wilcox

 

The Basics of Direct Mail

  • Direct Mail: letters and accompanying material mailed to large groups of people is a form of marketing
  • advantages:
  1. targeting your communication to specific individuals
  2. personalization
  3. cost-effectiveness
  • disadvantages
  1. its image as “junk mail”
  • 5 basic components:
  1. mailing envelope
  2. letter
  3. basic brochure
  4. reply card
  5. return envelop

 

The Basics of Public Relations Advertising

  • Advantages
  1. audience selection: specific audiences can be reached with advertising messages on the basic s such variables as location, age, income, and lifestyle
  2. message control: you can be sure your message is reproduces in the exact word you choose an in the sequences you have planned
  3. impact: you can make your messages as big, frequent, and powerful as you choose
  4. timing: advertising can guarantee your message will be timely
  • Disadvantages
  1. cost- paid space is expensive
  2. credibility: advertisements are generally less believable than publicity that appears in the news columns or on broadcast news shows
  3. poor defense strategy: running an ad is a frequent reaction to crisis that is usually too late

 

types of public relations advertising

  • image building
  • investor and financial relations
  • public service
  • announcements
  • advocacy/issues

 

Creating a print ad

  • deadline
  • text
  • art work
  • layout

 

Other advertising channels

  • billboards
  • transit panels
  • buttons and bumper stickers
  • posters
  • t-shirts
  • promotional items
  • product placements

Social Media News Release: Into the Hallway

April. 27. 2010.

Into the Hallway From Left to Right: Dustin, Jeremy, Steven (Dani not present)

  “Doctor, Some CPR Malfunctioning Seems To Be Occurring!”           

Lakeland, Fla. — Is there need of a sudden rush to the Emergency Room? Rumors of CPR’s Dustin, Dani, Steven, and Jeremy leaving the band have been swarming around Southeastern University’s Campus. In this past April, the four have already performed 12 shows in Florida going by the name Into the Hallway. Their most recent show was Friday, April 23. Titled Fuego, this was a benefit concert toward the support of Haiti, Honduras, and Peru. After performing more shows in a month than CPR has in the past four months, it has made a lot of Southeastern students really curious as to how this “mini band” even formed. So a group of them asked them questions at the Fuego Benefit Concert.         

“It all started with that one concert on our campus at Southeastern…the Haiti benefit concert?” Dustin reminisced. “Rich, Ashley, Michelle, Brock, and Megan were all unavailable at the last minute to do it. It’s a good thing I did a fair share of leading a worship band in high school and that Dani can play keys as she sings.”        

The month of April had to be a rough one for CPR, for it to be an adventurous one for Into the Hallway. Newly engaged band leader Rich and his fiancée Ashley (who joined the band in February) are recording their original single, “You Stay the Same.” Yes, Rich’s heart-throb career (stated in his recent Personality Profile) was short-lived. The couple plans to have it officially released this summer so that they have time to make wedding plans. Keyboardist Michelle’s herniated disk has prevented her from playing this month. Brock, electric guitarist, had surgery three weeks ago for a tear that was discovered in his colon. At first, it was mistaken for his Crone’s disease and left unattended. Luckily, they were able to operate in time. Megan has been spread thin as she doubles up her singing with a Spanish worship band called Adoración.        

“We never meant to actually form a band,” drummer Jeremy explains. “It just turned out that way. We were lucky enough to have the meat of a worship band: a male and female vocal duo, synth, electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums. Rich is alright with the fact that we accept the gigs that the rest of the band isn’t able to do. He’s swamped with preparing a life with Ashley.”        

“The band name Into the Hallway started at our first gig without the rest of CPR,” Dani laughs. “We were the most unprepared band ever! Dustin didn’t print out any chord charts and Steven’s going ‘Wait…what songs are we playing?’ We found out a half hour before the show that we were the main band of the night. We freaked out! We only had three songs practiced and were already attempting to wing another one…Then Dustin went, “Into the hallway!” We literally brought all of our unplugged instruments into this carpeted hallway and practiced three more songs there. I pretended to hold out chords on the keyboard. Jeremy was playing the drums and beat-boxing to give us a feel of the song. It was great! And the guitarists—even Steven on his bass!—were strumming away.”        

The April gigs for Into the Hallway, have been quite successful. They were the headlining concert in a show in Ocala, Florida. The band that they preceded was the new screamo band Hope for Tomorrow. “I feel like we are feeding off the popularity of CPR,” Steven said. “But we’re adding a whole new flair with this quote-on-quote mini band.”         

With new role as band-leader, Dustin proved to have a phenomenal stage presence. He not only won the crowd with his quirky personality, but surprised us all with wide-range vocals. We were also introduced to his originality as he played keytar that night. “I have been under Rich’s leadership for a while, so it was a very awkward feeling at first to do it again—especially over the same people he leads. I was a bit unprepared with making sure everyone had chord charts. The first gig should have been a train wreck, but God pulled through. I’ve learned my lesson…Now I know why Dani is CPR’s Band Administrator. She’s so good at calling event coordinators, scheduling practice times and rooms, making copies of charts, and even signaling the rest of the band on stage when I forget to. It’s more of a duo-leading than anything.”      

       

Their set list for Fuego opened with Dani singing “Let God Arise” by Chris Tomlin. Dustin led the next two David Crowder songs “Everything Glorious” and “Forever and Ever.” The keytar on the latter song mesmerized the crowd. After what was supposed to be the last chord of the song, a cry for an encore erupted from the crowd. The majority of their stage time was spent on their last song, “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan.      

       

“I know for a fact that tonight was the most freely I have ever sung in my entire life,” Dani squealed after the concert. “It was all God, because the key that was the easiest to transition into made me sing a lot higher than I am comfortable with.” With its incredibly low and poetic verses and high chorus, “How He Loves” was a perfect song choice for Dani’s voice. She sang the highest and strongest she as has ever sung in her singing career. She evoked the passion that made the crowd desire to dive into the deep love of God. Thus, adding six more minutes to the already 8-minute long song. Makes us wonder why she doesn’t belt out those high notes more often…      

       

Despite their success, Into the Hallway assures us that they will never really pursue a career as a separate band—unless God calls them to, of course. These series of events for CPR may not be a call into the ER; rather, they should go off into the hallway and pray about it.   

Into the Hallway is, for the time being, directly affiliated with CPR. CPR is an Lakeland, Florida based worship band company that provides music to appropriate venues, churches, and events. Since 2009, CPR has consistently committed to “Revive the Heart of Worship.” For more information on CPR, please call 631.903.9224 or visit their Facebook Page at CPR.   

Disclaimer: Jeremy and Steven planned on performing at the Fuego concert, but were unable to make it. Dustin’s friends from Ocala (Robert, Brad, and Biggers played with Into the Hallway). Into the Hallway has only played 2 official events). And the website listed above has not been authorized yet.