Public Relations Writing - Lesson #3 - p. 1

Pre-writing and Planning your Message...exploring the message planner... outlining, clustering, organizing the information... "Why," "How," and the Key Ideas... where do quotes come from? ... Types of lead paragraph: the "delayed lead" ...

Top Ten Takeaways for Lesson Three

  1. The Message: The most important element of PR Writing is your message. Being able to cut through a flood of facts to get to the heart of your story -- that's a skill you can learn. Review my Lesson Two discussion of Message (especially page 3).
  2. The Message Planner is a tool that will help you work your way to that message at the heart of your story. The Message Planner will also help me diagnose problems that may be slowing you down.
  3. How we edit PR writing assignments: You have already seen (I hope) from my edits of your "Evita" assignment, what an edited page looks like. Often my comments will include links to various lessons, or examples of formatting, etc.
  4. How we evaluate press releases: In the lessons I give you clearly stated criteria for evaluation, beginning with the Press Release Checklist, a summary of the highlights of this course, and continuing through the rubrics at Evaluating Press Releases.
  5. News style seems to be a problem for many students, including some of my best writers. That's because Journalism and Public Relations are governed by conventions that take time to learn. The A.P. Stylebook helps, but the best way to internalize News Style is to read newspapers -- every day -- lots of them.
  6. The Five W's are fundamental to Journalism. "Who" & "What" are the spine of your story. "Where" and "When" are just as important because here is where editors determine whether the story is local and timely -- here and now
  7. Is it newsworthy? -- That's what editors want to know. You may think your story is interesting, or your cause is just -- but the editor is the gatekeeper, and if she doesn't think your story is newsworthy, it stops dead at her desk.
  8. The value of a good quote: Every release should include at least one good quote, crafted to make a powerful, personal impact within the organization of your message. You write the quotes -- which your client or supervisor might change -- as if you were a speechwriter.
  9. Different types of press release call for different techniques. The most common are announcement releases -- like the "Evita" opening, or the "Westland" food drive -- when you have control of the release timing. Among different types, The most demanding are those that respond to crises and fast-breaking news.
  10. The Feature Release, like the Product Release (we'll get to that later), are different varieties of announcement release. In fact, the Feature Release will be the subject of your next assignment . . . 

    Your third assignment is to write a feature press release, with message planner, about a festival in the Lowden Park neighborhood of Turtle Bay. They are trying to promote a neighborhood festival so you're writing for a Chicago audience, to help increase their tourist activity, by wooing Chicago families to make the drive down. Here are links to the press release format and the message planner -- put both in the same file: PRW-yourname-Feature. Experiment with one of the delayed leads. Here's the link to the facts of the story

When you have viewed and absorbed the links in the "Top Ten Takeaways," click on "Continue" below for your Lesson Three assigned reading, before beginning this week's writing assignment.