Category Archives: 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

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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.

Becoming a better writer

By: Josie Bobeck

becoming-a-better-writer

Photo created by Josie Bobeck using Canva

I love writing, and I love that I’ve found a career path that will allow me to do something I enjoy doing and be creative. Writer’s block is a real thing, though, and it can really suck sometimes. For instance, I had absolutely no idea what to write for this blog post. It takes a certain spark of motivation for me to get it into gear. Over time, I’ve found that there are tips and tricks to become a better writer.

Write down all your ideas. It doesn’t matter what they are, but just do it. That way you can go back and reflect. You might overhear a snippet of a conversation or hear a song lyric or quote that inspires you, and that can really help later on.

Read more. Back in high school, I took AP Literature and Composition, and that class forced me to read some classic pieces of literature that stayed with me. The more you read, the more you’re introduced to different styles of writing. The more you know about the different styles, and the more cultured you are, the better your chances are of finding your own voice.

Write, and write often. You won’t get any better at something if you don’t do it often. The more you write and revise your work, the more likely you are to catch your mistakes and be confident in your work.

Right click. Your thesaurus is your best friend when it comes to expanding your vocabulary. Keep a list of words in your documents so you can refer back to them later.

Don’t be afraid of criticism. If you want to become a better writer, part of that process includes making mistakes. That’s OK. You’re supposed to. You’re not going to be a perfect writer overnight.

Don’t put it off. Even writing essays for class can improve your writing. Don’t wait until the last minute to write that three page paper. Put 100 percent into it and your effort will show.

It’s possible to become a better writer and to enjoy it. All it takes is some practice. It may not come easy, but in the end it will be worth it.

Josie Bobeck is a junior majoring in public relations with a minor in psychology. This is her first semester serving as vice president of member relations. She hopes to one day work in nonprofit PR. Josie enjoys spending time with her two dogs, her cat, and her family. Josie can be reached on Twitter @josephine3laine or via email.

 

 

Tips to improve your writing speed

By: Katie Gerweck

Source: psychologytoday.com

Source: psychologytoday.com

It happens to everyone. You sit down, determined to write a great press release or blog post. But as much as you try, the words just won’t come out the way you want them to, and you struggle to organize your thoughts into a coherent message. It can be hard to write quickly, which is a problem- especially in public relations, where the turnaround on papers can be very short. Luckily, there are ways you can improve your writing speed and get the words flowing.

1. Get your ideas on paper

Too often, we’re so caught up in writing the perfect sentence or paragraph that all we can do is stare at a blank Word Document. When this happens, it can be helpful to simply put all of your thoughts on paper, even if it isn’t perfect yet. Getting all of the half-formed ideas and phrases out of your head and out in front of you can make it easier to organize your thoughts and gives you something to build on. Which leads us to…

2. Outline

An often-suggested method to improve writing speed is outlining your ideas. Having a framework for your ideas makes writing easier because you won’t have to stop after a paragraph and ask yourself where you’re going with it- you’ll already know, because it’s written down. Outlines also help keep your papers to-the-point and flowing smoothly.

3. Practice!

The most obvious way to get better at writing quickly is to write often. The more you practice, the more naturally writing will come, and the faster you will get. You can even set a timer to force yourself to work on a deadline, and see how quickly you can type up a press release- then try again to beat your old time. (You’ll be happy you did when you’re asked to do a timed writing test at a job interview!)

If you don’t overthink it and can organize your thoughts, you’ll find that putting a paper together becomes much easier and with practice you’ll be able to write much more quickly and efficiently.

Source: 10 Simple Ways to Double the Speed of Your Writing … Right Now

Katie Gerweck is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in journalism. She is the editor-in-chief for EMU PRSSA, and also works as a copy editor for the Eastern Echo. She was the copy chief for the Echo during the summer of 2015.

Tips to get writing experience

By: Katie Gerweck

We all know that in public relations the ability to write clearly and concisely is key. It’s important that, as students, we gain as much writing experience as possible so we can sharpen our skills. Although we get a good deal of practice in the classroom, there are other places we can get experience as well.

Internships

Internships are great for many reasons. You get real-world experience, make connections, and learn new skills. You also get a fair amount of writing experience. Beyond the typical press release, you’ll likely have the opportunity to work on writing projects that you normally wouldn’t cover in the classroom–  like writing Tweets for a business, or working on its blog. (Not to mention it’ll give you some great pieces for your portfolio).

Blogging

Blogging allows you to establish a presence online, and have some fun, too. With blogs, you can write about the things that interest you, and can design it to match your personality. Maintaining a blog keeps your writing skills sharp but gives you more flexibility in the topics you cover. You can start your own blog on free platforms like WordPress or Blogger, as well as be on the lookout for other blogs who allow guest submissions.

School Newspaper or Other Publications

You don’t have to be a journalism major to write for your school newspaper, and it’s another great way to get writing experience. Whether it’s a hard news story or a more feature-y arts and entertainment story, writing for the paper will help strengthen your skills. Like public relations practitioners, journalists use the AP stylebook and often have short deadlines.

However, you can write for other publications as well. Whether you want to write essays, poems, or non-fiction, there’s a place you can submit it, and hopefully get published. You can either do your own research or start with a list of publications, like Newpages.com’s Young Authors guide. (Although this guide includes many publications that only accept submissions from kids, there are also some for young adults/undergrads).

Regardless of which method or methods you choose, it’s important to keep practicing and strengthening your writing. Let me know how you get writing experience in the comments below!

Katie Gerweck is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in journalism. She is the editor-in-chief for EMU PRSSA, and also works as a copy editor for the Eastern Echo. She was the copy chief for the Echo during the summer of 2015.