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Ten Takeaways for PR Campaigns
See the "Lesson Schedule" for suggested rewrite deadlines. (rewrites are optional and you may choose to simply include your final drafts in your Final Portfolio.)
- Everything you've learned about developing a message comes into play when you're planning a PR campaign. Once you've mastered the Message Planner, you're already halfway there. As you plan your campaign, you will discover the need for a campaign message or theme. One of America's foremost experts on PR campaign communication, John Davies, says every campaign starts with a message that is Clear, Powerful and Passionate:
- Clear, because normal people are not normally paying attention to you. They have a life and you're not in it, until you manage to break through the info-clutter.
- Powerful, because once you have their attention, you have a very brief window of opportunity to make your point. First impressions are all-important if you are to sustain the impact you make.
- Passionate, because people respond strongly to heartfelt personal connections rather than abstract ideas. most effective persuasive communication is not head-to-head, but gut-to-gut.
- Even for the most straightforward PR campaign like the publicity for "Evita," you can make use of these steps as you develop a clear, powerful, passionate message. As you will see, they are generated from the message planner as your platform.
- What is your current concern about the issue? Why are you concerned? Why right now? You need to have a personal connection to the issue. What's your personal involvement? Why does it matter to you?
- What personal values are related to the issue? What do you believe? What ideals or principles are moving you? So it's not only why does it matter to you, but also why is it important for everyone else?
What will be your clear call to action -- what do you want people to do about it? This relates to the Objective in your message planner work. It's important to a PR campaign that you're clear on what action or behavior you want to inspire.
The Message: what do you want the "buzz" to be about? By now you're very familiar with the concept of a message. This exercise, however, is a little more pointed. It does not ask what the message of any single story should be, but rather what the overall message of the PR campaign should be. It's like a step-down transformer: you will develop an overall message for the campaign... then you will develop a series of themes to embody that message. Then each theme will be the basis of a message of an individual story that you develop in the news media.
- The bumper sticker: Can you come up with an 8-10 second slogan or tagline? A slogan helps to focus the campaign efforts, and can also serve as a headline for one of your press releases, for fliers, brochures, even billboards and bumper stickers.
As you'll see in the pages that follow, you can put the principles of a PR campaign to work in as local an issue as "From the Heart," or the festivities in Lowden Park. Read further and allow yourself to imagine a PR campaign with yourself in charge. Keep in mind, however, that you are not required to do any of the assignments mentioned there, or postings to the student conference area. We are going to focus your five-week writing intensive experience on the work you need to earn a good grade the rest is available to you at any time, including beyond this semester.