Alicia's Blog

News: Wants vs. Needs

In my journalism class, we recently took a poll based on news organizations. The poll question stated:

Should news organizations give its audience what it wants to know OR what it needs to know?

Before I answered this question, I took the time to think about current news organizations and how some are more biased toward political, economic, and pop-cultural news over others. During this instance I thought about large-scale global events that have taken place in the past 5-6 years and how those were portrayed on one news organizations compared to another news organization. Of course there is the bias conservative/liberal agenda presented on each organizations reports of current events. But whether or not this information is needed or wanted is a whole other topic to be discussed.

Should news organizations give its audience what it wants to know?
This question is not easily answered. Many people enjoy variations of news stories instead of  stories related in only specific areas of interests. For instance, women are more interested in learning about news that relate to their beauty and fashion needs. If you pay attention to morning news stations like “Good Morning America” or “The Today Show” there are sections that are for advertisements of certain products or dinner ideas for the house chefs of today. This is a want in news reporting. These topics are soft news stories in the fact that they are of human interest and not necessarily of human necessity.

Should news organizations give its audience what it needs to know?
People, whether they like it or not, need to know about medical advances, new policies, economic turns, and global issues. This is hard news.  These stories are rapidly evolving and changing every second of every minute. They are the first things reported on every news station and the first headline that we read when we open a newspaper. Although the earlier example of morning news shows reports of personal interests, the headlines are constantly rolling across the bottom of the screen.

Thus, in my opinion, it is most important that news organizations report what its audience needs to know. This is the first rule of good journalist writing anyway and all too often the hard news is suppressed by soft news. Even with the importance of getting what we need to know from our news organizations, the stories are spun to portray particular issues in particular ways so it is vital to be open-minded about news and opinions that are reported. Luckily, most of my classmates seemed to agree with this choice.



TOW: 10 Ways PR People Drive Journalists Crazy

There are a couple of habits that PR professionals have that journalist just cannot stand. These few things can help keep you on your toes when working with journalists. It is good to be aware of the differences in your professions this can make your job much easier and allow you a chance of more success.

1. Leave Out the Excessive Hype
Don’t hype things up. If they are interesting than enough hype will be generated on its own.
2. Not Doing All of the Work
Be and expert… do your homework!
3. Don’t Be a Nuisance
Be professional and collaborate with others.
4. Refrain from Over-sending  Messages
5. Be Easy “Spindoctor”
Don’t spin your stories in the bad direction. Just don’t spin them.
6. Being Biased
Everyone has their own opinion. Embrace their ideas.
7. No Availability
You are a real person, not a computer.
8. Too Persistent
Be persistent, not annoying.
9. Not Cooperating
Work with others… this is easy and you’ve been doing it your whole life.
10. Not Answering Questions
Say what you can but not too much. But give an honest answer.

PRConnection: Jimmy Herring Band


Jimmy Herring is a well-known musician and guitarist. Playing amongst friends like the original members of Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Widespread Panic, Herring has easily become one of the best musicians of the day. He is currently touring with his self titled band and is playing in south Georgia this weekend. Tonight, Herring will be performing in Macon. He’ll be in Athens tomorrow night and then heading down to Savannah on Saturday. At $20 bucks a ticket, you can’t beat a great show.

I bet that there will be a few surprises during the show or maybe we should call them treats. Derek Trucks, long time friend of Herring, will probably step in for a few songs and jam for a bit. We’ll see!

Chapter 15: Giving Speeches & Presentations

Chapter 15 of Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques covers the basic etiquette of speeches. Depending on the type of speech that you are trying to give, and the message to which you are aiming to convey to your audience, the speech’s format will vary.

Make sure that you are well-informed about your topic. If you are not an expert the there is no sense in trying to change people’s opinions because you, yourself, do not have enough information to really be convicting in their speech.

The basics are easy…
1. Structure the message for the ear. 
2. Tailor remarks to the audience.
3. Give specifics.
4.Keep it timely and short.
5. Gestures and eye contact are vital to a speeches success.

Keep your audience in mind…
1. Know your listeners.
2. Use their language.
3. Use visuals.
4. Use humor carefully.
5. Watch your facts.
6. Focus on the benefits.

 Visual aids can enhance learning, productivity, and message absorption.
– Sight accounts for 83% of what we learn.
– When a visual is combined with a voice, retention increases by 50%.
– Color increases a viewer’s tendency to act on the information by 26%.
– Use of video increases retention by 50% and accelerates buying decisions by 72%.
– The time required to present a concept can be reduced by up to 40% with visuals.

Always remember to end your speech strong. You must be confident with your deliverance.

Final Project: Social Media News Releases

           For my final project in Professor Barbara Nixon‘s PR Writing class, I chose to blog about multimedia news releases, also known as a social media news release (SMNR). An SMNR is a vital component to a successful public relations campaign. As an electronic news release, it allows a public relations professional to embed a typical news release with pictures, hyperlinks, graphics, video, and audio recordings. The original press release was written with the term “press” in mind, but as the world of public relations turns to the online community, it is important to reach those journalists, bloggers, and the public at large through a constantly accessible form of communication. 

            According to Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, these releases were pioneered by major electronic distribution services such as Business Wire, PR Newswire, and Marketwire. Their intentions lie with best serving their client and the SMNR has done just that by expanding the audience beyond its traditional media outlet. Michael Lissauer, executive vice president of Business Wire told PR Weekly, in Wilcox’s book, “The most important thing to our clients is seeing their news release on these search engines… If they write a news release effectively, they can bypass the gatekeepers, the journalists, who always had the opportunity of interpreting the release how they wanted.”

            There are many advantages to the social media news release, as Lissauer highlighted one. The most obvious being that it is accessible by new technology and has fully integrated itself into the social media stream offered through this. This SMNR is generally seen as refreshing because of its innovation through the incorporation of various aspects of the release. Generally, hyperlinks are embedded throughout the release, along with multiple different visuals to allow the consumer to see the whole picture. Jennifer Laycock blogs that, “It’s obvious that not all types of media need to be included with every release and not every outlet covering the story will use all of the included multimedia. Nonetheless, the inclusion of a content in a variety of formats will help make inroads with bloggers and reporters that prefer to gather (and deliver) their information via more than one medium.”

            Although the SMNR can be successful, it has its disadvantages as well. First off, it is essential that all information in the SMNR is accurate. If a publicist fails to meet this criterion then the journalist or editor will most likely be turned off. There a couple of reasons this could happen besides just inaccurate information. For instance, poor picture, video or audio quality with low resolution or a slow loading time may inhibit your chances of getting the SMNR where it needs to go. These must be fully prepared for release with exceptional quality found in all aspects. With the clock constantly clicking, journalist will not have time to fix your mistakes. Another disadvantage is overloading your release with hyperlinks. The links can be distracting and will eventually be detrimental to your SMNR if it distracts them from the original release by leading them toward another site. And the most obvious problem is when the release is dressed up to hide the fact that it lacks content. These should be solid pieces of work, not anything that is thrown together last-minute. After all, this is your campaign you are trying to promote, not hurt.

            SMNR’s are not to be used at all times. Most commonly, these releases are used for major events and product introductions. This is why it is also important to know what should be included in each release based on the type of campaign you are running. Brian Solis, who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media, offers some tips for creating a successful social media news release. CopyBlogger also offers some insight on creating a SMNR. While conducting some research, I found a great example of a social media news release by NVIDIA that I think really meets the standards of the SMNR for the specific product that this company is launching.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when creating an SMNR…

  • Create blogs so you can receive customer feedback.
  • Use hyperlinks to your advantage.
  • Make sure all photos, audio and video are high-resolution & have great quality.
  • Place important terms in key positions like headlines and first paragraphs.
  • Keep your tools limited, too many will clutter your copy.
  • Use bullets to convey key points.
  • Distribute releases through a service that carries hyperlinks to downstream sites.
  • Stick to the basic rules of writing that you would use in a regular news release. AP Style, short sentences, and specific terms.
  • And don’t forget to include your contact information!

Be sure to refer to sources to make sure that you are following the general rules of an SMNR. Be creative and best of luck!

1. Barbara Nixon: Public Relations Matters Blog

2.Dennis L. Wilcox: Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques

3. Jennifer Laycock

4. Brian Solis

5. CopyBlogger


Chapter 14: Writing E-mail, Memos, and Proposals

Chapter 14 of Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques covers the importance of following the basic guidelines of clarity, completeness, conciseness, correctness, courtesy, and responsibility in all of your writings.

E-mail was invented in 1971 and was widely adopted in the late 1980s.  In 2008 the average number of corporate emails sent and received per person on a daily basis was 142.  The four different purposes of email are to:

1.      Reduces the cost of employee communications
2.      Increases the distribution of messages to more employees
3.      Flattens the corporate hierarchy
4.      Speeds decision-making

Memorandums are brief written messages, usually a page or less in length.  Today the standard method of delivery is by e-mail for routine methods and on occasion they can be distributed in hard copy if they contain important information about employee benefits, major changes in policy, or other kinds of information that an individual should retain for his or her records.  The purpose of a memo is that it can serve almost any communication purpose.  It also can ask for information, confirm a verbal exchange, ask for a meeting, schedule or cancel a meeting, remind, report, praise, caution, state a policy, or perform any other function that requires a written message.

Public relations firms usually get new business through the preparation of a proposal offering services to an organization.  A typical public relations proposal might include a few sections such as: background a capability of the firm, client’s situation, goals and objectives of the proposed program, key messages, and basic strategies and tactics.  The purpose of a proposal is to get something accomplished, and to approve and authorize some important action that will have a long-lasting effect on the organization or its people.

A position paper, or “white paper” gives the organization’s perspective on a particular trend or industry. They should begin with an “executive summary” or an overview, so people can read the highlights in a few seconds.


Chapter13: Producing Newsletters and Brochures

This chapter of Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques provides us with information about the production of newsletters and brochures because they are tools that companies use to inform employees and external audiences about important information happening with the organization that may or may not affect them.

Editing a sponsored publication has been described as something pf a high-wire act because it must be produced to advance and promote managements organizational objectives and simultaneously provide information that isn’t boring to the audience. Mission statements are essential to any newsletter and brochure. These are about 25 words and cover the publication’s general content, its audience, and its strategic role.

Newsletters, essentially, are messages from the organization to various publics who want the news and information. Magazines are usually a bit more detailed in their presentations.

It is important to use catchy leads for all articles in the newsletter and magazine. Bill Sweetland, writing for, believes that leads should do one or more of the following:

  • Establish suspense by sparking curiosity
  • Tell a story with strong human interest
  • Avoid abstraction and vague, general terms, buzzwords, and clichés
  • Establish the possibility of conflict or drama
  • Use narrative to draw readers into the rest of the story
  • Answer the what, why, when, where, who, and how with imagination
  • Quickly establish the idea or them that the writer wants to convey

You should always plan your brochure before you write for it. Writing requires research and the putting the information together. From here, you should focus on the format, paper, fonts and ink and color.

Desktop publishing is now widely used for preparing newsletters, magazines, and brochures. This requires the preparation of extensive electronic files that show the links between copy, graphics, photo, headlines, and layouts.  



Chapter 12: Tapping the Web and New Media

Chapter 12 of Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques offers information about new media and how the internet has been a gateway of creation for such devices. Thus, the mediasphere and the blogosphere have been created which are characterized by the following:

1. Cheap/free, easy-to-use online publishing tools
2. New distribution channels
3. Mobile devices
4. New advertising paradigms

The World Wide Web allows you to update information quickly, without having to reprint brochures and other materials. This interactivity where viewers can ask questions about products or services, download information of value to them, and let the organization know what they think, allows for a better relationship between client and business because of the accessibility of resources. Online readers can dig deeper into subjects that interest them which also allows them to link to information provided on other sites, and articles. Another great quality is that the world-wide web is cost-effective and a great amount of material can be posted here. You can reach niche markets and audiences on a direct basis without messages being filtered and accessed 24 hours a day, like other important information as well. 

One of the most important parts of site maintenance is tracking visitors to your site.  One main term is called hit which describes the number of requests a Web Server has received.  Two other terms are called page view or page impression which refer to the number of times a page is pulled up.  Another term that is rarely used is called  Unique visitor which refers to the first-time visitor to a site.

Myspace and Facebook have established early leads in popularity among social networking sites and have experienced astounding growth rates.  In 2008 alone over 500,000 people joined these two sites on a daily basis.  Currently 70 percent of Americans ages 15 to 34 are currently actively engaged in some form of social network.


Chapter 11: Getting Along with Journalist

The eleventh chapter of our  Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques textbook is called Getting Along With Journalists. This chapter contains many ways in which public relations professionals can improve upon their professional relationship with journalists; after all the text explains that:

“One survey of 539 large companies by the Public Affairs Group (PAG) found that media relations was the number one job responsibility of their public relations staff. A survey by PR Week found that media relations was the number one activity performed by corporate public relations departments. Similar surveys have indicated that media relations is the primary activity of public relations firms.”

Here are several areas of friction that every PR practitioner should try to avoid when it comes to working with journalists:

  • Hype and news release spam
  • Name calling
  • Sloppy reporting
  • Tabloid journalism
  • Advertising influence

PR professionals in turn have some problems with the ways in which journalists interact with them and do their work; the most common complaint is that journalists can sometimes be sloppy in their accuracy and often don’t take the time to do their homework.

When working with media relations, take note of the following:

  • Know your media!
  • Limit mailings
  • Localize
  • Send only newsworthy information
  • Practice, practice, practice good writing
  • Avoid gimmicks
  • Be available
  • Answer your phone
  • Be truthful
  • Answer questions with one of the three acceptable answers found in the book
  • Be fair
  • Explain
  • Praise good work
  • Correct errors politely

It is important for PR professionals to use proper and polite media etiquette.  Crisis communication is a test of excellent media relations. It’s important to have a healthy and positive relationship with media, especially in a crisis.


TOW11: Infograhics

Infographics are defined by those at Noupe as, “visual representations of information, data or knowledge.” The graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as on signs and maps and in journalism, technical writing and education.” Infographics or “information graphics” combine text, images, and data to illustrate information that would be too broad in text form.

 Using infographics can be extremely helpful in a story for a client especially if you’re trying to get a point across quickly. When creating an infographic it is important to display a clear vision of what you want your audience to see. Infographics should be clear, to the point, and easy to understand. The main purpose of an infographic is to express an idea in a simple way. Therefore, instead of having to elaborate so much on the story, one can visually grasp the concept and then elaborate where it is needed.

The infographic should be easy on the eyes of your audience member.  Although many infographics include charts and graphs, make your infographic appeal to people by using your artistic side. Noupe offered some awesome examples.
Pinkfloyd in Stunning Infographics and Data Visualization

Genealogy in Stunning Infographics and Data Visualization

Visit Noupe for more information about infographics. I found it to be the most reliable site out of the ones I looked through.