New This Week | Syllabus | Examples | --> 5 W's Worksheet | Quotes | Assignments | How I Grade | Final Portfolio

The Message Planner

[Message Planner image]
    Download a PDF copy of the Message Planner, "analog version." (But remember, you can prepare a simpler document using the Digital version).

The Message Planner is the PR writer's principal pre-writing tool. It is also a good way for a PR professional to keep track of work for various clients. 

  1. After you've identified your client, the project you're working on, and the date you began, specify the objective of this PR writing -- that is, what do you want people to do, once they've been successfully targeted by your message?

  2. Link here to "Press Release Basics"
  3. Then list the 5 W's -- who, what, where, when and why/how -- the basic information of your story.

  4. Why/how will lead you into a consideration of many Key Ideas... list as many as you can think of, here and on to the back of the page.

  5. What's the angle? Think like an editor -- what makes your material newsworthy? The "6th W" is "So What?"

  6. Now take your first shot at lining up the points you'll make, paragraph by paragraph. Don't worry, this is still preliminary -- after you're clear on your message, you'll sharpen these points.

  7. Think visually. If your story plays on TV, what is the picture you want people to get? Knowing that image will help you paint a verbal picture in the words of your release.

  8. Finally, What's the message? Start by asking yourself, What's the headline? Then go on to draft the 20-second soundbite you will want people to carry away from this news item.

Remember, there's nothing mystical about this process. You can do it in any order -- message first, or angle first, whatever works for you. The idea is to get you jump-started. Just make sure you touch all the bases.