Top Ten Takeaways for Lesson One


(This page is all you need to know to meet your Sunday deadline.
but don't wait till the weekend to start on this assignment
Click on each link below and read for further instruction.)

  1. PR Writing is "formal" writing: it uses journalistic style, which requires some practice. Click on that link to familiarize yourself with that concept.
  2. The 5 W's are the essence of journalism -- the basic facts of every story. This is where you cast your film -- Who is doing something newsworthy? What are they doing that's newsworthy?
  3. The "inverted pyramid" along with the 5 W's are key concepts in both PR writing and journalism. The most important stuff goes up front. Second most important follows. Chronological order is out! Order of importance is what counts.
  4. PR writers serve three masters:
    • First, the reader who wants facts that tell an interesting story. -- the 5 W's.
    • Second, you're writing for your client or employer. A PR writer is always working for someone (a client) or something (a cause).
    • Third, you're writing for the editor, who is the gatekeeper -- if she doesn't think your story is any good, it's dead on arrival.
  5. Also, you have a higher calling -- to help "shape the publicís perceptions of issues and events," to use the language of the Columbia College mission. If you don't do it, who will? You have an ethical obligation to put to good use all the tools and skills you have learned at Columbia College. Today, more than ever, our society calls for leaders like you who can put their intellect and energy to work serving the common good.
  6. Persuasive writing is a skill that dominates the Information Age waiting for you after graduation. Strong writers become powerful communicators, and develop strategic skills that mark them out for leadership in every career field.
  7. Whether you intend to be a PR professional, or choose instead to manage and promote a career in the arts or sciences, your ability to grasp the essence of a story and then tell it persuasively will be one of the most important lessons you'll learn at Columbia College.
  8. Your first assignment is to write a press release about a student food drive, to help provide free meals for the homeless of Turtle Bay. For sample press release format, click here
  9. For content (what's the release about?) click here
  10. For a sneak peek at the message planner (not required yet, but you might as well say hello,) click here to learn more about pre-writing.
    For how to name your work, click here for more information.

    In a few days I will post additional lesson material here, for you to read during the week. This first week is a rare one for you -- only one writing assignment. I allow more time because every learning curve is different. But you will need to get started so you're ready for what's yet to come!