Category Archives: Professional Writing

Creative Writing in Public Relations: What’s the Big Deal?

By: Brandon Hardy

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 9.00.46 AM

hotcoursesabroad.com

Writing intensive professions are among some of the most flexible and malleable disciplines in the job sphere. If logistical, organizational and communicative necessities are required in business, there will always be a requirement for having proficient writing skills. Many individuals who enter college tend to understate the value of literary proficiency, usually looking to focus on allocating their skills in the STEM fields to gain more sought after majors from accounting to engineering. It would make sense to seek out a major that immediately pays dividends in the working world, but it would be uncreative to assume that these are the only methods to obtain marketability in today’s job climate. Writing offers a lot of value into the business world, especially when looking at public relations. The element that makes writing such an important element of PR is the fact that you are taught to know your audience, perform adequate research and to synthesize and evaluate information from various sources. Writing teaches you how to formulate new ideas and how to effectively communicate them, which is well and good, but what about creative writing?

Creative writing, as an offshoot of the typical writing discipline, involves thinking outside of the normal conventions of regular straightforward prose. It involves experimentation, inspiration, and artistic expression; these disciplines rewire the actions involved with standard prose and add a stylistic flair that is used to communicate ideas in a unique way. These different forms of communication are typically present in narrative prose and poetry. They center around creating an idea and communicating it, like regular writing, but the focus of this discipline centers around the ‘how’. What is the best way to communicate these ideas? How can one make this essay more entertaining? What is the most compelling way to grab the audience’s attention? This is where we start entering the realm of the creative process. This process is centered around spending time analyzing what one wants out of their piece of work whether it is hapless self-indulgence or popular art.

Poetry tends to focus on using rhythm and tone to express a feeling or idea. With poetic writing, the mundane can be entertaining, the depressing can be inspiring and the upsetting can become enthralling. It is a practice of painting pictures with words. This type of skill appreciates word choice and structure, something that is immensely important in the business world. In the blog post: “5 Things Everyone Should Know About Public Relations” the author and public relations professional, Robert Wynne, mentions how a simple spelling error could ruin credibility and harm the outward appearance of a company, imagine how effective poetic/stylistic writing could be when implemented in a similar format? Being able to effectively paint a company in a positive light is valuable, finding ways to tease out all sorts of valuable insights and descriptions from the history, mission statement, and business practices is something that can serve to completely turn around the perceptions of an association and help in building sympathy and relatability.   

Another element of creative writing is narrative prose. All sorts of different genres come out of this concept with the broadest ones being divided between fiction and nonfiction. Narrative prose integrates focusing on persistent variables associated with literature and storytelling: creating a thematic resonance with the audience. There is a genuine flow associated with creating and selling a story. There is a beginning, a rising action, a climax, a falling action and a conclusion. These narrative troupes can be sewed into any canvas. Most companies use these types of structural troupes, humanizing their business by detailing the rigorous challenges that they are undergoing, being transparent and creating a physical narrative that their audience can follow. One of the most important elements of narrative prose would involve making you care. Nonfiction will generally focus on describing an idea, persuading you of its value, and detailing how you can implement that idea into your life. Fiction focuses on a grand theme, a lesson or idea that can be found within the struggles and goals of its characters and uses that to create a connection with its audience.  The biggest strength of fiction is that its wide variety of settings and struggles can communicate a lesson of human condition; in worlds that are far removed from the naturalistic setting of our own, it is the characters who can bring people into these worlds and through them find connections and similarities to their own. Public relations professionals make it their business to make the audience care, and to sell an idea through a narrative stream and flow, whether that is the impetus of the company’s inception or the current plans, difficulties and details occurring with the company in the present time.

Poetry and narrative prose puts a great burden on knowing your audience and being able to find interesting ways to communicate an idea or message to them. When dealing with hazardous climates, a focus on word choice and seaming in a well thought out narrative can change the paradigm of a company’s public image, and can offer the resources to reverse and reshape that image as necessary. In this regard, I find the disciplines associated with creative writing to be an underrated and equally invaluable compass for navigating the stormy waters of public relations maintenance.

Brandon Hardy is a Biochemistry/Toxicology major entering his Senior year of college. His current interests center around extensive reading and creative writing, taking on various projects from novel writing to maintaining a functional blog site. Brandon hopes to be able to combine his love of writing with his love of chemistry in future job settings. May take up creative writing as a major for this year and is looking to join the PRSSA as well.  

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Walkouts at the New York Times

By Josie Bobeck

Image result for the new york times

Source: deadline.com

The New York Times is one of the most well known newspapers in the world, if not the number one. And if you know anything about how newspapers work, you know that it takes a village from start to finish to get a newspaper to the public.

Earlier this week the New York Times announces plans to cut back on the news paper’s copy editors. Copy editors are super important in the world of journalism – without them, publications would be filled with typos, grammar mistakes, and missed punctuation.

Image result for copy editing

Source: lynettenoni.com

Executive editors said in a statement that by laying off editors, the newspaper would be able to hire as many as 100 journalists with the money.

Copy editors aren’t the only people in fear of losing their job – the role of public editor, around since 2003, is also said to be eliminated.

So why is this relevant to public relations?

PR professionals work very closely with journalists, and it is crucial that publications are well-written and clean. A simple typo could be very bad for a company. Copyediting is more than just proofreading – it’s a valuable skill that could help give you an advantage in the world of media.

Eastern Michigan University offers a Copy Editing class (JRNL 307). In this class you will learn more about AP style, grammar, and how to improve stories overall.

Josie Bobeck is a senior majoring in written communication and minoring in communication. She is currently the VP of Public Relations, previously serving as VP of Member Relations. Josie hopes to one day work in a creative environment in a big city or for a record label doing publicity. Connect with Josie on Twitter at @Josephine3laine or by email at jbobeck@emich.edu.

 

Straight from the Recruiters Part 1: Resume Writing

By: NinaMaria Badalamenti

writing-computer

Source: lilpickmeupdotcom.wordpress.com

I recently attended Global Team Blue’s “The Dirt”. This was an inside scoop of what GTB is and what they do. We got to listen to many members of the agency speak and also got to ask them some questions of our own. For one of the sessions we got to hear from the recruiters of GTB. We got to hear what they look for directly from them. We all know the general do’s and don’ts of resumes and interviews but the recruiters gave some insightful tips that you don’t hear every day. To summarize the highlights of this insightful session here are 3 tips to follow when writing your resume to get an interview straight from the recruiters of GTB.

  • Include additional skills that may or may not specifically pertain to the job description.

Adding in your hidden or not so hidden talents can give you just the boost you need to stand out. Things like being well rounded in Excel, Photoshop, or Google analytics, or even having experience in photography or graphic design can be helpful working in this field even when it doesn’t apply to the position your trying to get. Having these other skills is always useful and recruiters will note that you have useful skills that others might not. This doesn’t mean you need to study up in these programs if you don’t know how to use them but if you have the skills, flaunt them.

  • Don’t be afraid to give your resume a splash of color.

Adding some color to your resume will make it physically stand out and be more memorable to recruiters. Sticking to the traditional black and white is safe but bland. This doesn’t mean be flashy but just adding some simple, tasteful color on the sides or maybe an elegant design can do just the trick to give you some edge.

  • List ALL of your experience.

Even if you don’t have any experience in the field that doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience at all. The experience you have in life counts! Experience from previous jobs, schoolwork and volunteering count. Include it! Just because you don’t think your experience applies to the position doesn’t mean the recruiters won’t. They may see something you don’t. Also, be sure to use projects from class that might be relevant to the position. Don’t forget volunteering is great experience. Just make sure you explain how the tasks you did apply.

Bonus tip: Cut out the objectives section of your resume. This isn’t an important part of the resume and takes up space. The exception to this is if your degree doesn’t match the position you are applying for. In this case, it is helpful to show that you are dedicated to the new field. In addition to this, a cover letter is very crucial to explain your passion for the new position.

NinaMaria Badalamenti is a senior studying Communications. This is her first semester serving as VP of External Relations for EMU PRSSA.

 

 

3 rules when pitching a story

By: Hope Salyer

clearly-label

Source: Janet Murray

Public relations specialists have to keep up with the latest trends and news going on around the world in order to better serve their clients. They also have to stay current on the latest trends in the PR industry.

One big trend in the PR field that has been going around recently is the importance of knowing how to pitch a story to journalists. This has always been a struggle, but with the ever-growing social media platforms, journalists are now sharing the mistakes that PR practitioners often make when trying to pitch a story. Here are three rules to follow to help you pitch your next story to a reporter:

  1. Know the reporter and his or her target audience.

As PR specialists, we are always told the importance of knowing our target audience. We think about who we are writing a story to, what language we should use for that audience, and even what pictures to include that the target audience would find helpful. We oftentimes are so focused on our own target audience, that we don’t think about the target audience of the reporter we are pitching.

When sending a pitch email or tweet to a reporter on your upcoming story, be sure to do some research on what topics that reporter covers. You don’t want to send a pitch about Kanex’s new GoPlay Series of portable gaming controllers to a reporter who covers the beauty industry. You have to know what that reporter is going to want to cover, and what is going to benefit him or her as much as it will you and your client, otherwise you are wasting everyone’s time.

  1. Know whether your story is actually newsworthy.

PR practitioners spend so much time trying to help build a client’s visibility that they can sometimes get caught up in seeing their client in the news. You have to keep in mind whether your story or pitch is actually newsworthy. Not everything that your client does is going to be important. It might seem that way in the moment, but PR practitioners have to be able to decide what matters to reporters and what doesn’t.

If you are constantly sending pitch emails to the same reporter, he or she is going to get sick of seeing your name in his or her inbox. You have to focus on building a mutually beneficial relationship between you, the PR practitioner, and the reporter.

  1. Know how to send a pitch.
tim-soulo

Screenshot by Hope Salyer

Numerous journalists have been posting photos online of pitch emails from PR specialists. The reporters are unable to tell what is being sent by a PR practitioner, and what is a spam email. Pitch emails that follow the spam format are oftentimes deleted within seconds of opening them because journalists don’t know what email is going to help them cover a story and what email is going to give them a virus.

Pitch emails that begin by saying they saw a link post from the reporter and have a similar story at this link are suspicious to journalists before they even begin to read the email. Try to keep from linking out too much in emails. One link to the story is fine, but you don’t need to link to the reporter’s story from last week.

These are my top three tips for pitching a story, but I want to know what yours are as well. Leave a comment below on what your “Golden Rules” are for pitching a client story to a reporter.

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

The importance of telling a story through writing

The kick-off speaker this semester, Nick Synko from Synko & Associates LLC, gave many words of wisdom that were relevant to not only public relations students, but to anyone that is seeking excellence in their career field. He also gave motivational stories and shared helpful hints that would be useful to any scholar looking to transition smoothly into the work force. However, one tidbit of information seemed to resonate as I sat and listened to his lecture.

The kick-off speaker this semester, Nick Synko from Synko & Associates LLC, gave many words of wisdom that were relevant to not only public relations students, but to anyone that is seeking excellence in their career field. He also gave motivational stories and shared helpful hints that would be useful to any scholar looking to transition smoothly into the work force. However, one tidbit of information seemed to resonate as I sat and listened to his lecture.

“You’ve got to be able to find good stories,” Synko said.

This is incredibly true for all public relations practitioners. The skill of being able to find a way to tell the story of a company, organization, brand or individual is absolutely imperative. This can give the public an in-depth look at what is relevant about your client. However, there isn’t just a need for proper grammar, format and style.

Writing is a skill that is essential for any PR practitioner, and developing a sense of what will cause a lasting impact in the minds of readers takes practice.

But, how do you know if your angle will be relevant for your target audience?

There was a phrase one of my professors liked to commonly repeat to her students as they told her ideas regarding classroom writings. “So what? Who cares?” she would insistently ask. This is always a good place to start when concocting a press release, email pitch or feature story. Why would anyone care about this story? Why is this important to the audience that is supposed to be reached?

Source: publicrelationsblogger.com

Source: publicrelationsblogger.com

A good story will always be able to easily answer these questions, and the writer should have an inclination as to what will be well-received by their target audience. Research and an awareness of the clients’ market will greatly assist with these aspects of providing a solid piece of writing.

Public relations students should start honing their craft of using their writing to reach people. There are many opportunities for Eagles to practice this skillset, and any portfolio should be equipped with bylines and published works. Blogging for PRSSA, writing for the Eastern Echo or any other platform that allows for a story to be shared should be heavily considered by any student looking to excel in the world of public relations.

Good writing is not something people are born with. Having the ability to skillfully put words on paper takes practice, and there is always room for improvement.

Having an empathetic outlook is underrated in the world of PR. Being able to know what would catch the attention of the public is not always an easy task, but it’s a necessary skill for this career. Also, if a PR student is still writing at the novice level upon graduation, they are simply not ready for a job in this career field.

Synko emphasized the need to find good tales that need to be told. Would you be ready to complete the task of finding a feature story about the company if your boss asked you to? Take the time to prepare yourself in college, because there’s no better time to learn and make mistakes than right now.

This is incredibly true for all public relations practitioners. The skill of being able to find a way to tell the story of a company, organization, brand or individual is absolutely imperative. This can give the public an in-depth look at what is relevant about your client. However, there isn’t just a need for proper grammar, format and style.

Writing is a skill that is essential for any PR practitioner, and developing a sense of what will cause a lasting impact in the minds of readers takes practice.

A good story will always be able to easily answer these questions, and the writer should have an inclination as to what will be well-received by their target audience. Research and an awareness of the clients’ market will greatly assist with these aspects of providing a solid piece of writing.

Public relations students should start honing their craft of using their writing to reach people. There are many opportunities for Eagles to practice this skill set, and any portfolio should be equipped with bylines and published works. Blogging for PRSSA, writing for the Eastern Echo or any other platform that allows for a story to be shared should be heavily considered by any student looking to excel in the world of public relations.

Good writing is not something people are born with. Having the ability to skillfully put words on paper takes practice, and there is always room for improvement.

Having an empathetic outlook is underrated in the world of PR. Being able to know what would catch the attention of the public is not always an easy task, but it’s a necessary skill for this career. Also, if a PR student is still writing at the novice level upon graduation, they are simply not ready for a job in this career field.

Synko emphasized the need to find good tales that need to be told. Would you be ready to complete the task of finding a feature story about the company if your boss asked you to? Take the time to prepare yourself in college, because there’s no better time to learn and make mistakes than right now.

Ken Bowen
President
EMU PRSSA

How to write like a professional

Ever feel like you don’t know what it is you read in that letter you just received or that e-mail your boss just sent you?

As an Eastern Michigan graduate student it is an everyday surprise on how most professionals lack professional writing skills.

Not only am I astonished by the lack of professionalism in the work place but also the lack of professionalism that they are supposed to teach us in college.

I have learned that writing a simple work email to writing a very important letter is rather rough in most professional settings, unless you have that one person who really knows what they are doing.

I have been an intern for the University for a year and a half now and have had the opportunity to work with outstanding leaders and professional role models.

With the experiences I have had I have also learned how your writing can be a communication tool or it can be just another, “trash filler.”

Source: Jon Donley Media

Source: Jon Donley Media

Working in a professional setting I have read important letters that make no sense, don’t get to the point fast enough or have more typos then anyone cares to read.

Of course we have all made this mistake as beginning professionals. So what are some ways to change your email or letter to something actually worth reading?

Professional Letter Tips:

  • Take the time to research and see who it is you need to contact. Having their name on the letter makes it much more personal. (“Dear Mr. Smith” vs. “Dear Potential Sponsor”)
  • Put your main point in the opening paragraph. Most readers won’t stick around for a surprise ending.
  • Be organized with your writing. Most important to least important and make sure each paragraph has a point.
  • A letter is to give someone a brief explanation on why you are contacting them, don’t give them every detail. However, make sure you put your contact information if they need more information and let them know to contact you if they have more questions.
  • Always be consistent whether it be the name of something or a format of something
  • Always have more than one person proof read important emails!

Professional E-mail Tips:

  • Always fill in the subject line with a topic that means something to your reader. Not “Shirts” or “Important!” but “Deadline for New Shirts.”
  • Put your main point in the opening sentence. Most readers won’t stick around for a surprise ending.
  • Please avoid talking like you are texting (abbreviations and acronyms): you may be ROFLOL (rolling on the floor laughing out loud), but your reader may be left wondering WTH (what the heck).
  • Always proof read what you are writing even if it is just a quick e-mail. Typos and errors can leave someone wondering what you are talking about or lead to miscommunication. Does it make sense to you?

Professional Writing Tips by Professional Writers:

  • Ernest Hemingway: Use short sentences and short first paragraphs. These rules were two of four given to Hemingway in his early days as a reporter–and words he lived by!
  • Samuel Johnson: Keep your writing interesting. “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”
  • Stephen King: “Read a lot and write a lot.” Reading and understanding different styles is integral to finding your own style.
  • George Orwell: Orwell offered twelve solid tips on creating strong writing, including an active voice rather than a passive one and eliminating longer words when shorter ones will work just as well.

As these are just a few tips to take account for while writing, they also seem to be areas that are forgotten about the most.

As summer is coming to an end and the new school year is approaching us fast let’s remember to always practice professionalism in our writing even if it is just a quick e-mail here and there.

Lisa McClees
Vice President of Special Events & Programs
EMU PRSSA