Simply Shelley

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Reading Notes category.

ch. 14 key points

This week I read chapter 14 from Dennis L. Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, 6th Edition. It was all about writing e-mails, memos, and proposals. I really enjoyed this chapter because I always need more helpful tips on how to write e-mails appropriately. Because right now, I am using mostly e-mail, this was the part that was very interesting to me, but I know that in the future I will most likely be using memos and proposals when I get a “real job” someday! I am just going to lay out a few facts that I read that I think you will think is interesting or helpful!

  • Email (1) reduces the cost of employee communication, (2) increases the distribution of messages to more employers, (3) flattens the corporate hierarchy, and (4) speeds decision making. Sounds like a good idea, right?
  • When using email manners, use language that falls halfway between formal writing and spontaneous conversation. I had always thought that you had to use formal writing, but I guess that is not so.
  • Messages should be brief.
  • I thought this was the best idea ever… count to 10 before hitting the send button! You do not want to regret the emails that you send, especially to co-workers!
  • Email is not a substitution for face-to-face communication. I completely believe this because you cannot make an impression through an email that you can make standing in front of someone.
  • Email is short for electronic mail and it was invented in 1971, but was not really adopted until the late 1980s.

That is all for now! I hope this is helpful!!


Ch. 12 key points

This week I read chapter 12 from Dennis L. Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition and it was all about tapping the web and new media. It talks about how important the internet is to the work done by PR professionals and how we could not do a lot of it without the internet because it is so easy to use and accessible. I mean if you really think about, we spend a ton of time on the internet. Between facebook, myspace,, twitter, blogging, technorati, youtube, flickr, wikipedia, digg, and second life, we have enough to take up our entire day, but that is a whole different story. I am getting off of my soap box, I promise.

So here are a few things that I learned from chapter 12:

  • New media is characterized by (1) widespread broadband, (2) cheap/free, easy to use online publishing tools, (3) new distribution channels, (4) mobile devices and, (5) new advertising paradigms.
  • The internet adds an interactive option that has not been offered before and it offers an unlimited amount of space!
  • When writing for the web, think about these things. (1) write the way you talk (2) limit each page to a single concept (3) use a lot of bullet point lists (4) make sure that each page provides the context readers need (5) limit the use of italics and boldface (6) don’t overuse hyperlinks within narrative text (7) make sure your hyperlinks are relevant (8) provide feedback options for readers.
  • You must have a VISION to create an effective website.

That is all for chapter 12, hope it was informative! Here is the link to our textbook…

Ch. 11 key points

This week’s chapter from Dennis Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition was all about how public relation professionals can better get along and work with journalists. Media relations is extremely important when working in our area and it is considered the number one job responsibility of public relations staff in a majority of companies. The past has taught us that journalists and public relations professionals have had a love/hate relationship. And no, this is not always the case, but it is a lot of the time. This is because they need each other but the trust level is not always where it should be to make the other feel comfortable. So in sum, the media needs PR people and PR people need the media. The areas of friction that go on include hype and news release spam, name calling, sloppy/biased reporting, tabloid journalism and advertising influence.

As a PR professional, you should consider some things when working with journalists:

  • the importance of media interviews
  • news conferences
  • teleconferences and webcasts
  • media tours
  • previews and parties

This was interesting to me that you need to review this media relations checklist to make sure you are in line…

  • know your media
  • limit your mailings
  • localize send newsworthy information
  • practice good writing
  • avoid gimmicks
  • be environmentally correct
  • be available
  • get back to reporters
  • answer your own phone
  • be truthful
  • answer questions
  • avoid off the cut remarks
  • protect exclusives
  • be fair
  • help photographers
  • explain
  • remember deadlines
  • praise good work
  • correct errors politely

Sorry for the long list, I thought that it was important to review again.

Here is the textbook link…

Ch. 10 key points

Chapter 10 of Dennis Wilcox’s textbook Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition is all about how to distribute news to the media and eventually, the public. To be honest, this chapter was not the most exciting, but I still feel like I learned a lot from it. This chapter talks about media databases, editorial calendars, and tip sheets. It also talks about means of distribution such as e-mail, online newsrooms, and electronic wire services. Feature Placement Firms and Photo Placement Firms are both types of firms that specialize in distribution through two different means. And of course, you cannot forget about the original “snail mail” and the use of fax when distributing information. These things are all covered throughout the chapter and talked about thoroughly. Here are a few more specific things that I learned from the chapter:

  • For many weeklies in small towns across America with limited computer servers and Internet accessibility, daily mail delivery is just fine.
  • A fax is as quick as a phone call and has the advantage of providing written info and graphics. A fax also gets more attention than an email because an email can be easily deleted and a fax cannot.
  • A photo placement firm specializes in the distribution of publicity photos and captions.
  • A feature placement firm specializes in preparing columns and features that are distributed as entire layouts, complete with headlines, photos, and graphics.

That is all for now, I hope this is helpful!

Here is the link to the textbook…

Ch. 9 key points

This weeks reading from Dennis L. Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition, was so interesting to me! A few semesters ago, I took a mass communications course and learned a lot of the facts that were in this chapter. All of chapter nine talks about how to write for radio and television. The reason this is interesting to me is because I think that I could see myself writing radio or television commercials for whatever company I end up working or interning for. If you can’t tell, I get really excited when I talk about a future job!! From what I have learned in our PR Writing class, I can tell that I really like to write so this could be right up my alley. Here are a few things that I learned from chapter nine:

  • Even though radio lacks the glamour that television and the popularity of the Internet, it is a lot less expensive, so if a company is on a lower budget, radio is the way to go.
  • In a radio news release, the focus is on short, strong sentences — not long, drawn out sentences.
  • A public service announcement (PSA) is an unpaid announcement that promotes the programs of the government or nonprofit organizations that serve the public interest. I actually did not know that it was only for government or nonprofit agencies, I guess you learn something new everyday!
  • PSA’s are supposed to be made as simple and to the point as possible.

That is all for chapter 9!

Ch. 8 key points

In this week’s chapter from Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition, I learned all about selecting publicity photos and graphics. I personally liked this chapter because I love taking pictures, so it is already something that I am interested in. I would love to be a good photographer eventually instead of simply taking pictures to post on Facebook! Publicity photos are so important because they can add variety and meaning to your news releases and feature stories as well. Here are a few interesting points that I learned from the chapter:

  • The components of a good photo are: technical quality, subject matter, composition, action, scale, camera angle, lighting & timing, and color.
  • Graphics do not only have to be photos; they can be charts, diagrams, renderings and scale models, and line drawings and clip art.
  • Surprising fact … digital cameras are now used for publicity photos! This is because the photos can be taken and distributed almost instantly.
  • Photo captions are short, use present tense to describe the actions, and provide context to the reader.
  • Photos that are informal and include action are more fun to look at than planned, posed shots.
  • Large group shots are out! A publicity photo should not have anymore than three or four people in it.
  • Publicity photos are not published if they are not high resolution and if they do not appeal to media gatekeepers.

Here is the link to the textbook Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques 6th Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox

Ch. 7 key points

After reading chapter seven of Dennis L. Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, 6th Edition, I have realized that I personally like writing feature stories better than regular news stories. This chapter was very exciting to me and it also has helped me in my News Reporting and Writing class that I am taking this semester as well. I prefer a feature story because it can provide “fun” facts that a news story does not. Compared to a news story, a feature story can provide background information, generate human interest, and create understanding in a more imaginative way. In my opinion, I would much rather prefer to read a feature story than a news story, because it is fun and takes more creativity to write. Here are a few facts that I thought were good to know:

  • A proposal should include: tentative title of the article, subject and theme, significance, major points, and description of photos and graphics that are available.
  • Types of feature stories include: case studies, application stories, research studies, backgrounders, personality profiles, and historical pieces.
  • Feature stories include many parts : the headline, the lead, the body, the summary, and photos and graphics.
  • There are many placement opportunities for writers. These opportunities are newspapers, general magazines, specialty or trade magazines, and internal publications.
  • A term that I had never heard before but read about in this chapter was an “op-ed”. The purpose of an op-ed is to present a variety of views on current news events, governmental policies, pending legislation, and social issues. This was really cool to me because it does not only provide one view of an issue.

That is all for chapter seven! I hope this is helpful! Here is the link to the textbook …

ch. 6 key points

So… I know that we are going to need to know everything for chapter six from Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, but I honestly had a hard time making it through the whole thing. The focus of this chapter was preparing the publicity tool kit. It involved fact sheets, media advisories, media kits, and pitching a story. So here are a few facts that I took away from the chapter.

  • Even though I am a PR major, I am just starting out so I did not know what all of these things really were. A fact sheet are one page background sheets about an event, product, or an organization. A media kit or otherwise known as a press kit, contains news releases, fact sheets, and photos. A media advisory or media alert is used to let assignment editors know about a newsworthy event.
  • A good pitch has three phases that are researching the publication or broadcast show, writing the email or letter and making the calls, and following up.
  • There are three rules of pitching: brevity (less than a page or a screen), sharpness (clean sentences, correct spelling), and it should have an enticing lead!!
  • A pitch should raise curiosity RIGHT AWAY! Don’t be boring!!
  • You are not asking a favor when giving a pitch, you are offering good, newsworthy material that is directed to a decision maker.

I hope this sort of outlines the chapter for you, chapter seven will be coming soon!!

here is the link to the textbook …

Ch. 5 Key Points

After reading Chapter 5 in Wilcox’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th ed), I realized that in my opinion this was the most interesting chapter that I have read this far. I think that it was so interesting because news releases are a big part of what we, as s”oon to be” PR practitioners, do. I have talked before in my blog about being a very organized person and I think that is one reason why I did appreciate this chapter. It sets out a clear image of what your news release should look like and what you should and should not do. Here are a few facts from this chapter that I thought were important to know as “soon to be” PR professionals.

  • Between 55 and 97 percent of all news releases sent to media outlets are never used! This shocked me and it shows how competitive this business can be.
  • When writing a news release, you should think about the benefits and rewards that the reader will get. I thought this was neat because its not all about your client or company, it is about who is reading it as well.
  • Fax or regular mail – double spaced, via email or internet – single spaced. This is a neat little fact that is so minor but it probably does make a big difference.
  • Even though this chapter talks about using -30- or -###- at the end of your news release, I would still love to know where that came from. It is really random but I feel like it is unique to the “PR world”.

Link to textbook…

Ch. 4 Key Points

I really enjoyed chapter 4 because it made me start to think about the kind of action that should be taken when dealing with a client. It is so weird to think that within a year, I will be trying to find a real client to do this with. But I kind of have a feeling that all of us, as PR majors, are thinking the same way about that, so that makes me feel better.

I liked that the chapter began with some obstacles to generating coverage in the news media like…

  1. media gatekeepers
  2. incredibly shrinking news hole
  3. the reality that the traditional mass media is now fragmented and it is no longer possible to reach the larger public through a single media
  4. information overload

In our chapter, it also pointed out eight key points about making news. These eight are timeliness, prominence, proximity, significance, unusualness, human interest, conflict, and newness. These are all important factors when it comes to making news for your client.

There was also a lesson on how to create news. These consisted of first and for most, brainstorming, then special events, contests, polls & surveys, Top 10 Lists, product demonstrations, stunts, rallies & protests, personal appearances, and awards. These were all great ways to get started thinking about how to make our client happy by getting them in the news.

I am glad that I had to read this chapter and I am looking forward to reading about writing a news release in chapter 5! Here is the link to our text book…