Chapter 4: Making News

In the book, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, chapter four discusses some ways for PR practitioners to find and make news. The information PR practitioners actually get into the media or published is known as publicity. Publicists need to know three things to be effective. First, they need to know journalistic news values. Second, they need to know where to find the news and how to give it an angle that will be the most interesting. Third, they need to be problem solvers and be able to be creative.

Publicists need to know factors that makes news. The author identifies the factors that make news in the chapter. They are timeliness, prominence, proximity, significance, unusualness, human interest, conflict, and newness. One of the factors that make the most sense to me timeliness. Is the story current? There are certain angles that can make the stories seem more timely. One angle is to make the story relate to an event or situation that is in the news already. When I read this part of the chapter it really made sense to me. The first thing I thought of was natural disasters and how almost immediately after they occur there are all these fundraisers or events to help benefit the victims. A lot of companies make news after these disasters because they are helping with recovering efforts. Their events and benefits are newsworthy and get into the media because they immediately relate to what is going on in the news.

Another factor mentioned that makes news is human interest. I also thought this point was important because I usually like to read or hear about real people that can humanize stories for me. I think that when companies use human interest to get into the news they are making a smart move because people really do like to hear about other people. When companies reach out to individuals and help others in need it makes me want to know more about that company or makes me at least want to pay attention to the product a little more.

The author explains that there are ways to create news such as special events, contests, special appearances, or awards. Some major special events listed are anniversaries, new product launches, or grand opening parties.

The special events section was extremely exciting for me to read about because I would like to work in event coordinating at some point inmy career. The book lists tips for PR staffs to consider when planning an event. One tip is to think about how the event will reflect on the brand identity and the message it will send to the consumers. When I read this tip I thought it was important because you want to make a good impression on the attendants of your event.  You want to make sure your event makes them glad that they are your client and you want it to be something that they will remember and rave about. If they have a good experience they will think good things about your brand. Another tip given was to create fun visuals for the media so it will look good on camera. The last tip was to make sure you give the media a clear idea of what the visuals will be before the event. I think all three tips are great but the first one is obviously the most important to consider and should always be considered when planning the event.

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Chapter 3: PR and Legal Hassles

In the book, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, the author Dennis L. Wilcox states that persuasive writing must be within the law. False product claims in news releases will cause a lot of problems for the client and the PR practitioner. Chapter three discusses the importance of knowing the laws dealing with defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright, and trademark when you are a PR practitioner.

The book explains that defamation is the collective term used for slander and libel.  There are ways to avoid defamation such as watching your language and avoiding unflattering comments or accusations about competition.  As a PR practitioner it is also important to know the areas of invasion of privacy. For example, if a journalist asks you about a client you can only provide basic information. If you provided information such as salary, home address, or job performance you could be in a lot of trouble.

Copyright laws were also discussed in chapter three. The U.S. law is life of the creator plus 70 years for individual works and 95 years from publication for rights held by a corporation.  This is known as the Mickey Mouse law because the character Mickey Mouse rights would have expired in 2003 under previous rights. There are some materials that are considered public domain because of the age like Shakespeare’s works.  The internet copyright laws are the same as print laws for downloading and uploading materials.

Trademarks show quality for consumers. Consumers would spend more money for a product just because they believed brand qualities is more important than price. That is why trademarks such as iTunes, Frappucino, Academy Awards are all protected by law.  Trademarks are increasing by rapid rate.

There are regulatory agencies that make sure companies and individuals are not violating others rights.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Securities Exchange Commission.  FTC ensures ads are not misleading or deceptive. They have jurisdiction over product news releases and product publicity. PR practitioners can be held liable if their clients are producing ads that are misleading or false. It is important to be careful and make sure information is accurate for your client and for yourself. Many words spike FTC interest such as reliable, first-class, exclusive, perfect, etc.  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) monitors financial affairs of publicity traded companies and protects the interests of stockholders.

There are legal departments that will know more about the laws than you and will help to ensure you don’t violate them.  But it is important to be aware of them yourself for the most part.  It will help the legal department and PR department to get along better if you take responsibility of knowing this information for yourself.

This chapter had a lot of information that will be important in working in the PR industry and working without violating the law.  The information I think is extremely important is the copyright section especially because it is so easy to violate these days with the internet being so popular.  It is so much easier to find information we need now because of the web and  it is just a click away most of the time.  It is important to know what can be used as public domain and what is not allowed to be used.

Ch. 1 PR Writing Preparation

In our text, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, chapter one and two discusses the importance of being a good writer for a Public Relations practitioner.  The text points out that many positions in the PR industry especially at corporations or firms are at a technician level.  This means that many of the positions are for technical services such as writers for news releases, graphic specialists, or event coordinators.

Chapter one also points out the differences in PR writers and journalists.  They have different objectives, audiences, and channels.  For example, journalists only have one channel where PR writers may use a variety of channels to get their message out for their client.  It also identifies different tools PR professionals will need to have to be successful such as computers, references, style books and databases.

Chapter two discussed ways to become a persuasive writer.  First you need to understand the basics that there are four elements to communication process: sender, message, channel and receiver.  Theories are important to use when trying to persuade.  For example, the Gratification theory explains the communication process is interactive and people are selective to what they listen to so the communicator needs to be able to motivate and inform the receiver so they stay entertained.  Chapter two also identifies ways that writing can be more persuasive through statistics, surveys, examples, emotional appeals and human interest.

After reading the first two chapters I believe that the part at the end of chapter two about always being ethical when using persuasion is important.  Although Public Relations practitioners are being paid by a client to motivate or sway the public to a particular product or service they need to make sure that they are telling the public honest and accurate information.  As a PR professional they have obligations not only to their client but to the public.  They are advocates in the marketplace of public opinion as the book says. So it is their job to be persuasive by using techniques that are truthful.  The five questions for the Ethics Test for Public Relations is a good use for me and other students when thinking of how to persuade yet also be ethical doing so.