The Evolution of Press Releases

April 26, 2011 at 11:52 pm (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

What is so great about a social media news release?
A social media news release is a tool to help the journalist to sift through the “fluff” that Public Relations professionals like to doctor up their press releases with, and find the hard facts so they might use the data. The value of the social media news release is naturally increasing in value because many professionals are beginning to take a look at capabilities and the results that they develop.(Information was taken from this webinar) Great thing about this, is that it cuts the work in half for those who choose to cover your story. What is good for them is certainly good for you.

The biggest disadvantage of using the internet for news releases, is that not all of your targeted audience is internet savvy, and if they are, then they might not prefer to read their news online.(quality press releaser) This is a shame considering how effective social media press releases have been. It is important to evaluate your market and cater to their needs.
The information you include in a news release about your organization is not meant to be a detailed narrative that paints a picture for the journalists. We all know that the number one complaint from journalists is a bunch of persuasive writing in press releases. It’s the journalists’ job to spin the information in whatever way fits in their story, not PR professionals.
I would like to identify the main goal of a social media news release is the same of a normal press release, with an addition of broadcasting the content to the social media scene in an effort to reach out to the new wave of tech savvy audience. It’s important to imbed content onto blog posts and to link to pages with more information about your topic. This is the best way to use all your information to craft the perfect story for your target audience.

Tag away!

(Taken from the infamous Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!)
Help out the reporter to gather more information about your topic than given in one particular news release and tag like crazy in your news release. Tag recent share price, founders, first quarter revenues, analyst quotes etc.  The great thing about tagging information is that there is no way for a PR professional to spin the story because they are tagging pure facts about the topic. This is one reason why journalists and bloggers are more apt to cover your story. When we quit trying to sell our idea, they’ll actually pay attention (when done right).

Have a try at it

Here are a few tips on how to create your own social media news release.

  • You want to give your audience the ability to click on your links to get more information, be able to watch useful videos, have access to extra contact information in the boilerplate, click on external media links, subscribe to the RSS feed etc. Have this information in the news release to cover all your bases.
  •  Offer a “Sphere It” link. Sphere offers readers a chance to look at related news from the blogosphere and mainstream news sources. (taken from this website)
  • There are many names for the social media news release including media press release, social media release etc. Instead of trying to appeal to a journalist to get your content covered, the social media news releases are geared toward journalists, bloggers, podcasters and most importantly consumers. Your content needs to make sense to all of them. (This information was very helpful taken from this website)
  • There is a lot of room for change in the template for the social media news release. There is no guideline that things need to be in any particular order, format, color scheme etc. However there are some suggestions such as using bullet points to help to quickly identify main information, or using pictures to give your readers an idea of what you are portraying.
  • Also, be very careful about what you put out there. A great idea could backfire and turn into negative publicity because you may have misrepresented yourself. Make sure to read your audience very well and reposition your content so that it appeals to the greater public.
If you need help try this template, or this template. To create your own social media news release visit pitchengine or realwire. You’ll find ways to distribute all your interesting information through these two websites. It’s great to link, but whenever possible just embed images and videos on the social media news release. Use your best judgement on overcrowding.
If you would like to check out one of Apple inc. social media news releases check out this link.
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10 tips on how to be a terrific blogger (for newbies)

April 8, 2011 at 5:01 pm (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

When I first started this blog, I had an immediate headache. I’m not particularly computer savvy, and I get frustrated pretty quickly when I do not understand how to accomplish a task. Then I learned that it’s not too difficult. What I really would have appreciated, was someone getting me set up for success, and then learning along the way. Start simple, and then master the art of blogging into to something much more complex. I have compelled a list of 10 things you should do as a new blogger to get stated and find your way in the blogging world.

  • 1. Pick a blog theme that you know a lot about.

You’ll want to WANT to write on your blog. Nobody likes visiting a blog that never gets updated. Have a single topic or theme that interests you to the point of elaborating and diving into that subject frequently to keep your readers happy.

  • 2.  Explore your blogging website.

Learn the ins and the outs of whatever site you choose to blog though. It can be confusing to figure out the categories, and the pages. Choose your widgets wisely, and pick out an appropriate theme. You’ll begin to feel better when you see a finished product.

  • 3. Add photos and videos

These little eye catching treasures are going to entertain your readers in between all that text. We know you have something important to say, but if you want to hook the readers to stay tuned, you’ll want to stimulate them with photos (with photo credits if they are not original)

  • 4. Be brief

Make a point and try to keep it short. An interested reader may not be so interested after a few pages.

  • 5.  Read other blogs

Stay up to date with fellow bloggers. Learn some tips on how to format your blog in a more appealing way.

  • 6. Comment on other blogs

You love when someone comments on a recent post right? Then by all means, pay the dues of a blogger and comment when you agree or disagree with someone else’s post. Don’t just say “Great post!”, actually put thought into a comment. This is one of the best rewards a blogger can receive.

  • 7. Always try to link your findings in your posts

Finding interesting information is always a delight, especially when you direct your readers to the source. This often proves your point even more, and it reinforces your credibility.

  • 8.  Let it all roll off your shoulder

Be able to take criticism. Sometimes people are not going to like your opinion. Learn to refrain from firing back with a hard heart. This is a marketplace of free-flowing ideas, and you are entitled to your opinion as much as anyone else. Remember this when you get your first bad experience.

  • 9. Develop your own writing voice.

Without being mean, write in your own way. This draws a following of people who enjoy your take on a subject.

  • 10. Be open minded

Leave room for conversation. There are rarely situations where there is a total right or total wrong way to view something.  Have a backbone and take a stance on some issues, but leave room for others with an open ended writing style.

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PR/Marketing Podcasts

April 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

For this week I decided to first begin listening to the For Immediate Release podcast. After about eight minutes of that I was so bored that I moved on to another podcast that appealed to me because it was made by students. PRStudCast was much more lively like a conversation going back and forth between the student interviewee and two PR and Marketing professionals. I feel that I learned way more from listening to this podcast than I did with the first.

I choose to listen to the new year’s podcast because it was the longest, and the most broad of a topic to discuss for this assignment. The professionals happened to discuss their new year’s resolutions. One had expressed that they wanted to find more time to increase learning activities instead of having uncreative experiences with peers through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. She also expressed that she needed to find a limit to where she knew it was time to step away from social media because it is easy to get burnt out of these networking sites.

Both professionals agreed that it was their ultimate goal to make sure the different industries understand the importance of PR. For this reason, it is incredibly important to improve existing relationships and new relationships in an effort to reach out these companies.

After listening to these podcasts, I have really gained a new understanding of the importance of a constant stream of communication from both parties. Most of the PR podcasts have to do with brainstorming on how to have better communication with clients and each other in the workplace.

I would like to stumble upon a PR/Marketing podcast concerning how PR professionals ended up in the field they are in and what exactly is the every day life like. I would like a wide variety of jobs and an explanation of how it is perfect for them. I feel uneducated in the different field options that a communications major has. This would be very beneficial to me.

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The wonderful world of infographics

March 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

About 60% of people are predominately visual learners, and because of this seeing statists and data is much more helpful than just reading them from a book. This is why infographics are so handy. Infographics are visual representations of data that is usually displayed by pictures which appeals to those visual learners.

These are extremely useful in representing large numbers. They allow you to make your point in a fun and easy way. One picture could represent per thousand items. An example would be an infographic that displayed one strawberry per thousand strawberries that were consumed at the local strawberry festival, or one flower for every thousand flowers that were sold in the U.S. on Valentines Day.

Infographics are meant to be fun, not boring. They take the place of bar graphs, pie charts, etc. This generation has short attention spans and does not want to see a shaded area of a graph to represent how many strawberries were consumed at the local strawberry festival.

I stumbled upon this great website that was useful in creating your own inforgraphic. They can be large, small, colorful, vibrant, classy, or simple. You can appeal to your client’s needs by crating an infographic that will simply display the information that they need to read. The best part about infographics is that they sort out a large amount of information and make it fun and effortless for the client to understand.

Infographics help us to see the “big picture” of date and figures. We may read about the amount of people who use the internet in each country in the world, but that doesn’t give us the visual aspect of exactly how large that number may be as compared to smaller countries with fewer numbers.

I chose to leave an example of a coffee infographic because I love coffee, and I work for a local coffee company. Nobody seems to know how to order their coffee correctly so along with a great example of an inforgraphic, it satisfies a part of me that wants to set it straight.

Image Credit: Playpen

 

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HARO

March 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

Peter Shankman, inventor or HARO (help a reporter out) has successful created a tool which allows reporters and sources to happily unite! It all began in 2008 and is one of the fastest growing social media services in North America.

Maybe its too soon to say that the days of pitching a story in 60 seconds is over, however this website is a step in the direction of the  “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” idea.

HARO creates free publicity for sources to appeal directly to the targeted journalists. This helps out not just the reporter, but the source. So, in all reality HARO should be HARASO (help a reporter AND source out).

This idea is genius! I can’t imagine how much time is saved by using a source such as HARO. Deadlines are kept, client’s needs are met and reporters are happy.

I can imagine as a PR practitioner my client will get the upmost coverage of their events locally and possibly nationally. I could be more efficient in landing coverage because I am appealing directly to reporters who are interested in my content. Although it is important to keep a contact list, with HARO it is less of a necessity because the program allows you to directly connect with reporters who are just as desperate for stories as you are to have them covered. It’s a win-win situation. No more out of date contacts!

Over 75,000 journalist inquiries have been published and 7,500,000 media pitches have been forwarded to prospective journalists. Journalists now have professionals and experts at their fingertips to narrow down the contacts they need to efficiently cover a story. Above all, it’s free, easy to use and independly owned and operated. Check it out today at http://www.helpareporter.com/.

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Guest Blogger- Angela Ghaly

March 15, 2011 at 11:40 am (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

Turn off the lights, water, TV… and the Intenet???

In the dead of night on Friday, January 28, Egyptian officials disconnected the Arab country from the rest of the world.. Both Facebook and Twitter reported problems in that region. Beginning in major cities such as Cairo and quickly enforced across the nation, citizens were to abide by a curfew from 6 in the evening until 7 in the morning.

What sparked these seemingly extreme measures to control the nation? Protestors. Riots. Demonstrators. Angry mobs. Violence. Upheaval of peace. This is just to name a few reasons behind the government unplugging the country.

In an interview between the Lookout, a Yahoo! news blog, and Michele Dunne, Dunne was asked why protestors were so angry, how this might affect the U.S., and how likely it is that the President Mubarak’s regime will end.

According to Dunne, the country is facing issues financially and politically. Unemployment among the youth as well as human-rights violations have added to the already tense atmosphere in Egypt. The people are railing for free elections to be institutionalize.

While there is a possibility that an end will come to Mubarak’s rule. Dunne explained that if internal security fails and the army is summoned, that is when Egyptians could begin to hope to see a power shift because “armies generally don’t like firing on their own civilians and sometimes will choose keeping the loyalty of the population over defending an unpopular ruler.”

If there is a power shift, Egypt might distance itself from the U.S. because the U.S. has been reluctant in responding to previous complaints from Egyptian citizens; this has caused much resentment towards the U.S. The U.S.’s proximity to Israel also gives reason for Egyptians to be unwilling to trust the American government.

Meanwhile in the U.S., President Obama gives his view about the recent on-goings in Tunisia and, now, in Egypt. The President urges Egyptian officials to allow peaceful protests to occur for the public to be able to voice concern and see change take place.

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NewsU courses

February 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

I just recently took a NewsU course called “Writing for the Ear“.  I learned the basics of how reporters refine their speech when trying to pitch an idea to their company, or to the public. The course gives great tips on how to research a topic in order to have great leads. Also, the course teaches how to explore the topic even further to brainstorm possible outlines to the broadcast or printed story.

Interviews are important, and recording the interview may be very beneficial for you to do especially if you would like to leave the interview available for others to hear online. Writing for the ear gives some great advice on what kind of questions to ask and what kind of natural background noise is acceptable.

Although reporting is what takes up most of a reporter’s time, revising is crucial in order to tell a good story. There are many ways that a reporter can approach a piece in an effort to revise it. One technique that I took from the course was the art of mouth editing. This is to ensure the sentence or two sounds good to the ear.

I want to add that I am not particularly fond of the NewsU courses because I prefer to learn visually. Either shadowing someone who is performing the editing, or personally taking a stab at it myself is the best way for me to learn. Textbook learning is not effective for me, so unless you can truly learn best by reading about how to improve your writing skills instead of trial and error, I would say to get out there and do it yourself. Learn by making mistakes and figuring out your own style.

I would like to learn about interviewing more. We are taught that the only way someone is to improve their interviewing skills is to practice, and practice is what a reporter gets. This is truly how we can refine our work to write for the ear.

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Poynter

February 16, 2011 at 9:16 am (Comm 2322 Topics of the Week, Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

Want to learn how to get ahead in the fast paced world of social media and public relations? Then check out Poynter‘s website and learn all about what is going on today.

One of my personal areas of Poynter is the Latest news tab. I love current events and I like to keep myself updated on what is happening around the world. Most of the news topics are on journalism, marketing and PR subjects so that even when you are keeping up on current events, it will always relate to your profession somehow. Not only does this section cover current news events, but it also includes interesting and helpful features that are blogged or reported involving writing for any type of media.

Another area of interest is the training tab. This section of the website focuses on helping those who are interested in taking initiative in their careers and  learning how to broaden their horizon in their field by using new programs. Students can learn in person by attending workshops for a fee, or they can learn for free by taking the online classes for free. This section also helps current businesses achieve goals within the company to keep costs down and activity up. There are many ways that Poynter can inform the company, and the individual.

There is also a section on the website that lists jobs that are available. Prospective employees can view available  jobs and leave their resume for employers to view and pick through. This is great because all information needed is in one convenient spot for both the employee and the employer that are trying to meet their needs.

Poynter is a valuable tool in the communications business, and is a great home base to refer to whenever you are dealing with struggles with learning to use the Associated Press style , beginning to learn how to market toward a particular age group or even looking for a new job.

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Plagiarism

February 8, 2011 at 12:13 am (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

I know it’s become such a huge issue in recent years. Copying and pasting is only a few clicks is what it takes to cite a blog without giving the source proper credit. If this was to ever happen to me, I would handle the situation responsibly and professionally.

First, I would contact that person and ask them to cite my organization’s work. I would email them the first time, asking for the text to be taken down in 24 hours. If I did not get feedback in a day or so, I would call the person who scraped my information and passed it off as their own. If a phone number is not available, then go ahead and try to get ahold of the website manager or the administrator. Don’t become hostile because it could be an honest mistake. Forgetting to properly source a blog opinion is fairly common and often just a heads up to that person is all that is needed to correct the issue. After all, your opinion must be valued if others are picking up on your work.

After all routes have been sought, and nothing has changed then I would take legal action. This is incredibly unfortunate, and quite a headache to deal with, however it means a lot to me that my companies’ opinion remains appreciated in whatever field that opinion took place.  I would get a business lawyer and make a case against the specific person who stole the work. If we needed to make a case against them, be sure to gather the screenshots of the writing, and copy any emails that were exchanged.

My PR company needs to maintain a reputation of producing first hand information and opinions. It is important that if there is someone stealing our words that they need to cite my company’s work, or they need to take it down.

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AP What??

February 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm (Comm 4333 Topics of the week)

AP style is the journalist’s way of writing. This style is used because in newspaper writing, ever inch of text is another inch of text that could have been used for advertising. It is important to shorten and abbreviate whenever possible and by doing so, you are saving the company money. This style became an journalism industry standard in an effort to have a clear and consise way of writing across the board.

Let me tell you, this is a headache and a half. AP style is always changing due to new lingo and phrases being introduced every year. Social media has shortened a lot of words to adhere to the changing english language. The AP stylebook has been a helpful tool to go to whenever you are in doubt about a word, or punctuation. Once you get used to AP style, it’s a breeze.

One of the most difficult part of AP style is the rules for numbers. Whenever you are typing an address or telling an age, always make sure to type the digit instead of spelling out the number regardless if the number is fewer than nine. This is confusing because in any other case, the a number fewer than nine is to be spelled out.

Another very confusing rule in AP style would be the names and titles. I am farmilliar with using a person’s first and last name the first time they are referensed in an article, and then using the last name only after that. Where it gets tricky is when formal and academic titles are introduced into the story. Also, it’s hard to refrain from commas. AP style changes some normal english rules when listing items. The last comma is now removed due to saving some room during publication. I am a writer who loves commas and I use them as often as I pause in speaking.

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