Tracking the journey of PRCA 3330

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After a lot of thought, I decided to write a list of helpful hints for anyone looking to PRCA 3330 with Professor Nixon in the future. I wish I had some advice before taking the class, so I hope this helps!

1. STAY ON TOP OF YOUR ASSIGNMENTS! Generally speaking you are able to set your own pace in online classes. This is not the case with this course. There is a schedule put in place for YOUR benefit. Setting your own pace often leads to waiting until the last-minute to complete classwork.

2. Look to your classmates blogs for ideas. You are all in the same boat and can be each others best resources.

3. With that being said, don’t get too personal. A blog should be interesting and informative without being a tell all about your life.

4. Cite your sources! The internet makes it way too easy for people to claim work on their own (even on accident). Do yourself a favor and record where you get your information from. WordPress makes it so easy! Take advantage of it!

5. Be conscious of your spelling and grammar when blogging. It is easy to fall into the habit of using slang when you’re posting online, but it makes it really hard for your readers to follow what you are saying.

6. Blog about things that happen to you throughout the course of your day on campus. Chances are, your classmates will know what you are talking about and comment on your post!

7. Follow people outside of your class as well. Experienced bloggers will be able to give you helpful hints about how to make your blog better.

8. Do not bash other people’s posts. If someone took the time to write it, you need to respect their opinions and beliefs.

9. Make sure that your theme allows for easy reading. No one wants to squint to read your posts!

10. Have fun with it! This assignment can be fun if you let it be!

Traditionally PR professionals have released information using press releases, but because of all of the different forms of media online, the changing needs of the end consumer, and increasing ease of use for the media, a new format for releasing information was needed. Journalist Tom Foremski also pushed for a new form of releasing information with his now infamous blog post titled “Die Press Release, Die Die Die.” No longer were PR professionals targeting just journalists; but they were pitching to journalists, bloggers, publishing companies, and the general public. To fill this need, a new format of releasing information dubbed the Social Media News Release (SMNR) was created.The SMNR can be traced back to around 2006 when PR Squared released their first template for PR professionals to use (see the original SMNR 2006 Template here).

A SMNR contains graphics, videos, audio and hyperlinks pertaining to  the information in the release and  or links leading to more in-depth  information. SMNRs are versatile enough that information can be displayed in the “traditional narrative” style or displayed so that the core facts, quotes, contact details and boilerplate are all separate and allow for users to easily highlight the information they need.

According to a blog posted by Real Wire, the use of the SMNRs as opposed to traditional news releases results in achieving around double the editorial coverage and up to four times as much on blogs. This video from Real Wire highlights key features of a SMNR and talks about the advantages offered by an SMNR.

The benefits of SMNRs to PR professionals are far-reaching. A social media news release has the ability to be published on search engines allowing for increases interest and feedback.  Social media components can also be incorporated into SMNRs.  Facebook, Twiiter and RSS components can be a part of the SMNRs.  RSS feeds can allow people to follow the press releases on either the same topic or ones released by the same company/organization. I had a hard time finding any serious disadvantages to the SMNR aside from the time it takes put one together well.

SMNRs are really versatile and can be used in many different situations. Any time that you are preparing to pitch an idea that would benefit from multimedia coverage it is best to pitch with a SMNR as opposed to a traditional press release.

In a blog post by Brian Solis you can find out how to make sure your SMNR is properly indexed by search engines, you can view a simple example of how your SMNR should flow, and learn how to make a SMNR work the best for you

Another great post to read when researching SMNRs is Copyblogger’s How to Write A Social Media Press Release. There you can find the following alternate strategies to make your SNMR stand out from the pack: a sure-fire headline structure, a strong opening that uses an anecdote that paints a relatable picture, and content that utilizes all the laws of persuasive blogging.

A lot of work goes into writing a social media news release. For first timers the task can be a bit daunting. Websites like PitchEngine have been created as a tool to help grasp the concept step by step. For great examples of SMNRs I looked to LiberateMedia. They have an entire post dedicated to showing examples of exemplary SMNRs.

Before I wrap it up, here are a few last helpful tips to remember when creating your very own SMNR.

  • While links can be helpful, don’t go overboard. Too many links can confuse readers and distract from the key messages.
  • Place terms in important positions like headlines and first paragraphs.
  • Use low-resolution images, but high-resolution multimedia.
  • The message is the most important and everything else is supposed to enhance and add to it.

The world of SMNRs, much like all other aspects of public relations, is constantly changing. You can never stop learning and improving your techniques. There is so much information available today that you can always make your work better.

NewsU University’s Clean Your Copy was a really informative course. I really liked that the course began with a quiz. It was helpful to realize my weaknesses in copy writing before I took the course so that I could fully appreciate the lessons.

The style section of was the most helpful one to me. AP Style is something I’m constantly becoming more familiar with, but there are many differences from the formal writing style I learned in K-12 classes, so it has not been the easiest adjustment. The areas that trouble me most are those of addresses, interstates, and time. The online course gave specific examples that made the rules more clear than they appear in the AP Style Handbook. The exercises that followed the rules reiterated the points well.

I also feel like I benefited from the grammar section of the course. Because grammar is something I learned so long ago in school, a refresher is always a great thing. Who/whom has always been a rule that has given me trouble, but the course made it seem simple by breaking it down and providing shortcuts.

NewU’s Five Steps to telling a Multimedia Story was a less than exciting review of how to tell a multimedia story. Generally I look forward to taking NewU courses, but this one did not live up to the expectations past courses have set. The text that accompanied the course was long and dry which made it hard to read.

The course broke story telling into 5 basic steps:

  • Choosing a story- be sure to look for a story that is multidimensional and can be portrayed through video, graphics, audio, and photographs
  • Making a storyboard- make a storyboard to organize your ideas and define your resources; this will help to define the limits of your story and identify any thing you may be missing
  • Reporting with multimedia- be sure to go out in to the field fully prepared; a multimedia story needs to be well planned out and not thrown together
  • Editing for the web- once you have finished shooting, compare what you acquired with your intended storyboard; use only the best quality media you obtained; try to use the different varieties of media evenly
  • Producing the story- make use of a web designer as your editor

Overall the most helpful section of the course was “Reporting with Multimedia”. The interactive activity helped you plan what to pack when going out into the field. The two sections were broken up into technology and basic needs. I would not have thought to bring items like plastic bags to act as a rain jacket for the lens if it were not for this activity. Having a well prepared pack ensures that you can capture all of the media you need in the moment. Often times there will not be an opportunity to make-up for anything you’ve missed.

 

PR Professionals and Journalists work together on a regular basis. For both parties, it is important to have a good relationship with those of the other profession. As a PR professional it is crucial for your company’s well-being to have the press on your side. Here are a 10 things NOT to do to keep the lines of communication open and thriving (based on my opinion and with the help of opinions of Loose Wire Blog).

1. When PR professionals don’t do their research concerning a reporter’s credentials it comes across as rude and insulting. With the amount of technology at our disposal it is VERY important to know about a reporter’s background. Do your research before asking easily avoidable questions.

2. It is only natural to be curious about what a journalist thinks about your product or when your story is going to be released, right? Often times PR professionals give in to that urge and bother journalists with questions before they are finished. After you have given your product to the reviewer or submitted your news release to a journalist, the ball is in their court or you run the risk of annoying them and hurting your company.

3. It may seem like a good idea to mention to a journalist that a rival publication has covered your story, however it is not. If a journalist wants to cover your story it will be for their own reasons, not to cover something that has already been published.

4. While you may be concerned that a journalist may not portray your story in the exact manner, you MAY NOT ask to review their copy before it goes to press. Aside from being tacky, it makes the journalist feel like you don’t trust them… and that is no way to have a good relationship with the press.

5. Automatic or generic e-mail responses are a quick way to solve the problem of an overflowing in-box. However, they are also a quick way to hurt your relationship with a journalist(and your mother, for that matter).

6. It is easy to fall into the habit of contacting journalists when you need a story covered. Maintaining a good relationship with your journalist contacts year round is more beneficial.

7. While you may think your story is newsworthy, a journalist may not. If a journalist declines your story do not take offense or hold a grudge.

8. It is a PR professionals responsibility to get information out to the public. But it is important to remain tactful when doing so. Releasing the same information to multiple journalists WILL come back to bite you in the butt.

9. You may think you are doing a journalist a favor by keeping the amount of information you send them brief, but beware of giving them too little information. If a journalist does not have everything they need to write a story, they won’t.

10. PR professionals write in a specific manner that differs from the journalist’s style of writing. Do not credit yourself with being able to write a news story. Give the journalist the information they need to write the story and let them do it.

According to our text by Wilcox an infographic is computer generated artwork that attractively displays simple tables and charts. They are often used to make an article more appealing to the public and explain figures and charts in a simple, easy to understand manner. A simple infographic can be created using a Microsoft Office application and programs like Indesign are used to create more complex ones.

There are three questions that need to be answered before creating an infographic:

  • Why? Why are you creating an infographic? What purpose will it serve? Once you’ve answered these questions you will know what kind of data to collect for your graphic.
  • How? How will your graphic display the data you are trying to relay? How are you going to refine your data?
  • Does it work? Does your infographic fulfill your original goal?

For further details about designing an infographic, I recommend reading this entry on the IntryShift blog.

In between answering the questions above use these 5 steps to Creating an Infographic to make sure your visual is as appealing as possible.

  • Create a skeleton and flowchart- Have an idea of what you want the infographic to look like before you begin.  a skeleton is almost like an outline for an infographic.
  • Devise a color scheme-Color schemes can make or break an infographic.  Assign colors for certain purposes before beginning the design.
  • Decide between using a theme and a reference graphic
  • Research and Data-Information in the visual should be backed up with facts.
  • Knowledge- A good infographic should be informative to all readers and should relay the most important of information.

Here are a few examples of infographics that I thought were neat!

This week we’ve been asked to look at our blog’s statistics… And I’ve got to tell you, the results are dismal at best. I’ve got a VERY small following at this point. And more than likely they are only my classmates. It is funny to see how much more traffic my page gets as blog checkpoints near… However, I am in no position to judge. Maybe my low number of readers is because my blog is all class related information. I just find it hard to believe that anyone would want to read about my day-to-day activities in Statesboro, GA.

I can easily see how helpful the statistic section would be to a PR professional in reference to a company’s blog. WordPress can break down the visits to your blog and tell you which days people view your blog, which posts are the most viewed, what words people use to find your blog via search engine, how many people subscribe to your blog, and so many other helpful things. As a PR professional it is always better to know more about your publics.

One of the most helpful things the stat page does is tell you how your viewers have found you. As a PR professional that could be a great way to help you gear your target audience in other projects. It can also show you what areas you are not reaching, and is overall a good way of gauging your companies outreach within the community.

A blog is a great way to share information about the company to publics who want to know more. Shareholders and loyal customers can learn information easily and at their own convenience. At the same time you do not have to waste company resources on distributing information to people who are not interested. I cannot tell you how many times I have thrown brochures and pamphlets about companies away.

With all of the media outlets that exist today PR professionals have numerous ways of reaching a wide audience. A blog with WordPress is a great way to reach publics with minimal effort and you can immediately see the results of your time and labor.


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