Public Relations Writing: Lesson 15 Final Exam & Final Portfolio
During Week 14 you should have scheduled a time to take your final exam -- if not, do so immediately. You should be able to complete the exam in two hours, but you may take up to three hours if you like. The exam is open book, open notes.
Your Final Portfolio is due, in hard copy, in the Marketing Communication Office, no later than noon Friday The final portfolio must be delivered in hard copy, not as online attachments. Be sure to keep copies of everything in your final portfolio, as your work will not be returned to you.
Here is a press release checklist that includes some (but not all) of the most commonly overlooked details that can cost you when it comes to grading the work in your final portfolio.
Format correct? Including white space above the headline, headline caps (not bold), no subhead, no dateline, two-inch indents, double-spaced, correct headers and footers on both pages, no broken paragraph at the end of page one. Don't lose 5 points (half a grade point) just because you didn't follow simple instructions. Take another look at Lesson 3, p.2 and the release format info.
Strong lead? If your message is good, your lead should reflect it. The liveliest, newsiest, most interesting fact(s) should be right up in front. Don't bury your best stuff. Because few editors ever get past the lead, the lead by itself is worth more than all the rest of the release.
"When" and "Where"? Not on your message planner, but in your release -- make sure your lead doesn't focus on something a month from now. When a play begins rehearsals in March for an opening in April, make sure the editor will be able to tell it's a March story, not something that should be held for next month. If it's a national story then it's also a local story, so stress the local angle.
News style? Don't describe a play as something "you won't want to miss." This kind of hype is okay for ads, but editors are looking for news. You must let the facts speak for themselves -- just be sure you focus on really interesting facts. The best way to get into a mindset for journalistic style is to spend ten minutes reading a full page of newspaper stories before you start your writing assignment.
Quote? Every release should have at least one quote. But handle with care. If you're not sure about quotes, go back to Lesson 6, page 8; and Lesson 3, p. 4. Use a release to deliver one of your principal points -- don't just fluff things up with an empty quote. Remember that a strong quote is also a good way to end a release by reemphasizing your message.
Spelling and grammar? A misspelled word tells the editor that you are not a professional. It signals that you are careless about details, so why should s/he trust the other details you are providing? And a misspelled name can get you in big trouble with your client. Any single misspelling automatically drops your overall grade on that assignment by one grade point.
These are some of the most common mistakes. Review the Press Release Checklist for more detailed discussion of these and other requirements of your PR Writing assignments.