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FSU PUR 3000 - Chapter 15: Public Relations Writing

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Chapter 15: Public Relations Writing• The “Nigerian bank scam” or “419 Letter”- named for the Nigerian Penal code that addresses crime schemes- scam in which the sender promises to send you a large sum (of money) in exchange for your personal financial information. This has become an Internet staple. Writing for the Eye and the Ear• A reader has certain luxuries a listener does not have; a reader can scan material, study printed words, dart ahead, and review certain passages for better understanding. • To be effective, writing for the eye must be able to withstand the most rigorous scrutiny• Listener gets only one opportunity to hear and comprehend a message. If the message is missed the first time, there’s usually no second chance. Fundamentals of Writing1. The idea must precede the expression. Ideas must satisfy four criteria:I. They must relate to the readerII. They must engage the reader’s attentionIII. They must concern the readerIV. They must be in the reader’s interest-The trick in coming up with clever ideas lies more in borrowing old ones that in creating new ones.2. Don’t be afraid of the draft.3. Simplify, clarify. -Shop talk, Jargon, and “in” words should be avoided. 4. Finally, writing must be aimed at a particular audience.Flesch Readability Formula• According to Flesch, anyone can be a writer• He suggested that people who write the way they talk will be able to write better- straightforward writing is the only approach.• Flesch gave seven suggestions for making writing more readable:1. Use contractions such as it’s and doesn’t2. Leave out the word that whenever possible3. Use pronouns such as I, we, they, and you4. When referring back to a noun, repeat the noun or use a pronoun. Don’t create eloquent substitutions 5. Use brief, clear sentences6. Cover only one item per paragraph7. Use language the reader understandsYlisela Cornerstones of Corporate Writing• Jim Ylisela- a journalist and organizational writing instructor• Claims the reason most corporate writing is dull, uninspired, and convoluted is because writers, themselves, are “fearful” to express themselves forcefully. This is tragedy because “What value is the corporate mission if people don’t understand it?”• The secret according to Prof. Ylisela is to make the words count. Here’s how:1. Be specific. 2. Use more words. (expand vocabulary)3. Find better verbs (Action-oriented verbs drive sentences, so use them)4. Pursue the active voice. (Subject/verb/object)5. Omit needless words (count the words in any document, print it, and then cut it by 10%)6. Embrace simplicity and clarity. 7. Tell a good story. (use examples, illustrations, anecdotes, and personal experience to make points)8. Find interesting voices (quote people who are interesting and say interesting things)9. Take chances10. Rewrite (everything can be improved, so rewrite)The Beauty of the Inverted Pyramid• Begins with summary lead• Adds facts in a descending order of importance• Done in this way so that story can be edited to fit available space by cutting of the end of the story. Nothing of significance will be lost. • Climax of a newspaper story comes at the beginning (opposite of a novel)• ‘Newshole’= how much news can we put in the paper today. Amount of space the paper has, after all advertisements are accounted for. The News Release• It’s the granddaddy of PR writing vehicles. • The first recorded news release was issued by Ivy Lee in October of 1906 as a “statement from the road”. It offered an explanation from client Pennsylvania railroad about that month’s crash that killed 50 people. The release was published verbatim by The New York Times. • Releases have one overriding purpose: to influence publication to write favorably about the material discussed. • Most news releases are not used verbatim, rather they stimulate editors to consider covering a story.• Why do some editors and others describe news releases as “worthless drivel”, the answer according to researcher Linda Morton of University of Oklahoma’s Herbert school of journalism is threefold:1. Releases are poorly written: found they are written in a more complicated and difficult-to-read style. (could be because of pressure from administrators)2. Releases are rarely localized: the more localized a news release is, the more chance it has of being used. Morton found that practitioners may not want to do the additional work that localization requires. 3. Releases are not newsworthy: so what determines if something is news?o Impact: major announcement that affects an organization, community, or even society.o Oddity: an unusual occurrence or milestoneo Conflict: a significant dispute or controversy o Known principal: the greater the title of the individual making the announcement-greater the chance of the release being usedo Proximity: how localized is the release or how relative is is to the news of the dayo (Human interest stories which touch on an emotional experience are regularly considered newsworthy.)News Release News Value• Traditionally, journalists said that when “dog bites man, it’s not news, but when man bites dog, that’s news”.• In general, news releases ought to include the following elements:o Have a well-defined reason for sending the releaseo Focus on one central subject in each releaseo Make certain the subject is newsworthy in the context of the organization, industry, and communityo Include facts about the product, service, or issue being discussedo Provide the facts “factually” –with no puff, no bluff, no hyperboleo Rid the release of unnecessary jargono Include appropriate quotes from principals but avoid inflated superlatives that do little more than boost management egoso Include product specifications, shipping dates, availability, price and all pertinent info for telling the storyo Include a brief description of the company (boilerplate) at the end of the release- what it is, and what it does.o Write clearly, concisely, forcefullyNews Release Content• The ‘Cardinal rule’ in release content is that the end product must be newsworthy.• The summary lead: answers who, what (usually most important), when, where, why, how. (sometimes no why or how)News Release Style• News release style is subjective and ever changing, however a particular firms style must be consistent from one release to the next.• Typical Style rules:o Capitalizationo


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