Public Relations Writing: Lesson #1 - p. 3

I started by making the point that people like to hear stories. There is plenty of evidence that this is very basic to human nature -- you might almost say it's how we think.

In any case, certainly it's how we communicate. Whether exchanging gossip or clarifying serious ideas, stories work because people are always interested in finding out "What happened next?" -- or, "What's going to happen? "

The news media have built an industry on that concept. People are so hungry for information -- in the form of stories -- that they will page through a newspaper more than half-filled with advertising just to see if there are any good stories there. Or they'll watch a half-hour of TV news (which is actually over eight minutes of commercials) because they want to hear and see stories.

Editors and publishers know that. So they're always looking for good stories. As a PR writer, you are going to make their job easier. There's a natural relationship there -- if you can write a good story.

PR writing is much more than writing press releases. As you read your text, you'll be introduced to a wide range of public relations writing -- and we'll cover most of those topics over the next fifteen weeks.

But the press release is the best platform for all other public relations writing, as you'll learn. And that's why we focus on getting you to write a good press release.

Who do we write for? When I ask students to consider some of the different publics that we write press releases for, I get a wide spread of answers -- "the media," your client or boss, newspaper readers, reporters, editors, employees or other interested parties, "myself" -- and a number of other good answers. But there's only one right answer to that question as far as I'm concerned. What do you think it is? Give me a short answer via email, with an explanation of why you think you've got it right.

The second section of this week's lesson will be online on Friday, Feb. 16. Be sure to email me your assignments before then. I'm looking for four different things from you:

  • From page one, an email discussing the WBEZ story...

  • From page two, two letters (via email) discussing the "From the Heart" program

  • From page three, your idea of the target of our PR writing.

  • The fourth assignment is mentioned in the syllabus, which you read, right? This is a good time to acquaint yourself with the "Assignments" link on the navigation bar.

See you on Friday!

Alton Miller

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