Public Relations Writing: Lesson #7 - p. 2

"Writing for the Ear" (continued)

22 minutes of airtime = one-fourth of a newspaper page. Think of all that room that is waiting for you in the pages of your daily newspaper -- and all the options you have for placement -- in the main news section, in the business news, among the features. Compare that to the narrow sliver of time available in each half-hour block of a broadcast station's airtime. It's pretty grim.

If that weren't bad enough, consider how much time the stations give to "information" as opposed to "entertainment" Take away the advertising element and just focus on the non-ad content of print and broadcast. Another study shows that broadcast content is very heavily weighted toward "entertainment," rather than "information" -- almost the mirror opposite of newspapers:

Medium Information Entertainment
Newspapers 80% 20%
Broadcast 10% 90%

As the table shows, newspapers have a lot more room for the information you want to provide. On the other hand, radio and TV outlets will look for entertainment value even in the "straight news" you send them... it's just the way the different media do what they do.

Bottom line: it's harder to get a story on the air. Not only are you in heated competition for valuable broadcast exposure -- you're fighting over a very small pie, compared to newspaper placement.

To survive this competition, and get your PR messages on the air, you'll need a special set of skills. You're already halfway there if you've learned how to craft a clear, compelling, concise message as part of your pre-writing on the press release. Now you'll have to learn a few additional skills to translate that craft to broadcast news.

In this course we are going to concentrate on four different types of broadcast PR writing. We'll start with the first two this lesson, and then devote a separate lesson to each of the other two:

  • Broadcast release: A news release written for the ear, with the specific needs of TV and radio in mind.

  • Public Service Announcement: The PSA is more like advertising copywriting than most public relations writing, and yet it is a responsibility of the PR writer.

  • Video News Release: Increasingly, PR writers are packaging their messages in a ready-for-prime time digital format -- for both television and radio.

  • Interview: Some of your most effective public relations message delivery takes place on talk shows and other media interviews. PR writers learn how to shape the messages despite the free form of such programs.

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