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PR Writing - Lesson 4

      This lesson deals with feature writing, product releases and related matters. We'll also talk a little bit about grades -- it's natural that students want to know how they're being measured.

      While I'm thinking about it, don't neglect to go back to the Student Conference Area and read my reply to the discussions: "Who do we write for?", and "What's the Message?" -- there are pointers there that will help you in your assignments, including your rewrites. And there's another question for you to ponder.

      You should already have received edits on your "Evita" assignments, (unless your assignment was completed after the deadline, in which case it will go to the end of the queue for editing.) My comments are always provided with links directly to the relevant lesson material – so as you read your edited assignment online, you can link directly to that part of the lesson that deals with that element.

      You should apply the same comments to your "Westland" release. The learning curve for each student is different. For some, it's enough to read the lesson material; for others, my comments make the difference, along with trial and error. If you're in the first group, you are already getting the hang of it -- you're already meeting the criteria I outlined in the Feedback link last week. But don't worry if it's taking you a little longer. With comments and links right in the text of your draft, I'll refer you back to the lessons until it sinks in.

      Use those links to get it right. You will save yourself a lot of time later, if you take the time to gain an understanding of the problems. This is not a course that you can master by going quickly through the material at the last minute. Try to cut corners and it will be reflected in your grade – not because I'm trying to penalize you, but because you will not be able to fulfill the requirements of good PR writing.

      The grading criteria are completely transparent. You know exactly what I'm looking for when I assign a grade. I even have a separate page called "How I Grade a Press Release." Coming up with meaningful grading criteria for writing courses is not easy – it can be very subjective, and therefore confusing to a student. That's why I go to such pains to put numerical values on each critical aspect of the work.

      The grade you receive for first drafts is almost never your final grade. When you have done a rewrite, you will receive a new letter grade. Now pay attention: Your new grade always replaces your old grade – it is not averaged in. The only grade that is locked in is your final exam.

      Notice that the message planner alone can cost you two or even three grade points. The message planner is worth 30 percent of your grade on a press release. That is how important pre-writing is.

      All your releases will be rewritten -- PR writing is PRE-writing, Writing, and RE-writing. But wait a little longer. You will learn additional things in the next few lessons that will help you with this rewrite. Instead, concentrate on the new assignments.

      Now let's go on to Lesson Four

Keep up the good work,

Alton Miller