PR Writing - Lesson 2

If you have not yet completed Lesson One, click here.

By now I should be reading your first "benchmark" release on the student project at Westland College, "From the Heart". I made that assignment to see where you are as a PR writer. It may interest you to know that of my 30 online students this semester, only five are PR majors. So I am not assuming any familiarity with the concept of a press release, and I see it as my challenge to equip my students, regardless of their major, with the essentials of (self) promotion -- and skills of message focus and delivery.

But regardless of major, you are all, in a sense, writers. That's what I learned from the other assignment I gave you -- to write letters to parents and faculty describing "From the Heart." I had you write a somewhat less formal letter to your family, and a somewhat more formal letter to the faculty, so I could see two styles of writing from each of you. Now the challenge is make PR writers out of each one of you.

The first assignment was the "10 questions exercise" -- referring to the 5 W's -- because I wanted to get you thinking about storytelling, which is the essence of news writing. The important take-away there (and we'll have plenty more to say about this) is that every story needs a Who -- someone or some entity that is doing something that will make news, the "hero of the story" ... and every story needs a What -- the newsworthy activity or accomplishment .

In this lesson we're going to concentate on how to plan your writing to make it easier. The first order of business is how to coordinate the three main elements of a press release lead:

  • 5 W's (main points of the story)
  • news angle (what the editor needs)
  • message (your client's requirement)

Pay close attention to your introduction to these three elements. You will save yourself a lot of trouble later, if you take the time to get this right during Lesson Two.

Meanwhile, I'll be looking over your first press release, to get some idea of where you're coming from. Don't worry, these press releases will not be given a letter grade.

Go on to Lesson Two -- unless you have not yet completed Lesson One.

Keep up the good work,

Important: If you haven't completed Lesson One, click here and make sure you have done all your Lesson One assignments before proceeding. 
Alton Miller