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Public Relations Writing

Top Ten Takeaways for Lesson One


(This is a summary of all you need to know to meet your deadline Tues., May 30. Click on each link below and read for further instruction. Then click "continue" for more information. This first lesson is the only lesson that will have such a long due date, as I know my students need time to learn how to navigate the lessons.)

  1. PR Writing is "formal" writing: it uses journalistic style, which requires some practice.
  2. The 5 W's are the basic facts of the story. This is where you cast your movie -- Who is doing something newsworthy? What is it they're doing that might interest the editor? Click on this link for a complete summary of Message Planner highlights.
  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, you're telling the reader (I mean the "end-reader")* the facts of an interesting story.
    • Second, you're writing for your client or employer, who's looking over your shoulder to make sure you're promoting her, or him.
    • Third, you're writing for one cranky customer, who is the gatekeeper -- if he doesn't think your story is any good, it's dead on arrival -- I mean the editor.
    • Of these three, the most important is the editor. Seriously, if he kills it, it doesn't matter how good it is, it's dead.

      * The end-reader is the guy who's reading the newspaper

  5. PR Writing is a skill that dominates the Information Age waiting for you after graduation. 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 resources you will create for yourself at Columbia College.
  6. That's why PR is at the heart of the Columbia College mission. PR Writing goes beyond journalism -- not merely reporting facts, but attempting also to persuade or advocate. Even more than journalism, storytelling is crucial to good PR writing.
  7. Your Lesson One 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
  8. For content (what's the release about?) click here
  9. For requirements of the message planner click here to learn more about pre-writing.
  10. For how to name your work, click here for more information.

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