Category Archives: Chapter Notes

Chapter 14: Writing E-mail, Memos, and Proposals

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox 

The Challenge of Managing Communication Overload:

  • You should follow basic guidelines”
    • Completeness
    • Conciseness
    • Correctness
    • Courtesy
    • Responsibility


  • Purpose:
    • Reduces the cost of employee communication
    • Increases the distribution of messages to more employees
    • Flattens the corporate hierarchy
    • Speeds decision making
  • Format:               
    • Subject line
    • Salutation
    • First sentence or paragraph
    • Body of message
    • Closing


  • Purpose:
    • Can serve any communication purpose
    • Public relations firms require a memo to be written whenever there is a client meeting or telephone conversation.
  • Content:
    • Specific and to the point.
  • Format:
    • Date
    • To
    • From
    • Subject
    • Message


  • Purpose:
    • To give information, to ask for information, to motivate, to answer complaints, to soothe or arouse, to warn, to admit, or to deny
  • Content:
    • Most important part of a letter is the first paragraph
  • Format:
    • Should be written on standard business stationery
    • Should have the name, address, and telephone number of the organization
    • Body should be about four or five paragraphs
    • Proofread, proofread, proofread


  • Purpose:
    • To get something accomplished – to persuade management to approve and authorize some important action that will have a long-lasting effect on the organization or its people.
  • Organization:
    • Show a need
    • Satisfy the need
    • Show benefits
    • Call for action

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Chapter 12: Tapping the Web and New Media

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox 

The Internet: Pervasive in Our Lives:

  • Traditional Media:
    • Is centralized
    • Expensive
    • Staffed by gatekeepers known as editors and publishers
    • Features one-way communication with limited feedback channels
  • New Media:
    • Widespread broadband
    • Cheap/free
    • New distribution channels
    • Mobile devices
    • New advertising paradigms

The World Wide Web:

  • Can update information quickly
  • Allows interaction
  • Researchers can find more about their interests
  • Great amount of material can be posted
  • Cost-effective
  • Reach niche-markets and audiences
  • Users can reach your organization information within 24 hours

The Basics of Webcasting:

  • One survey found that more than 90 percent of public companies use Webcasts for everything from employee training to briefings for financial analysts and news conferences launching a new product.
  • Be aware of (1) quality, (2) computer capabilities of the intended audience

The Rise of Social Media:

  • Blogs are the most dominant manifestation, but social networks such as MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube are also a major presence in today’s world, even more social networks are being created almost daily.
  • Conversations can’t be controlled, so organizations and their public relations staffs must get used to the idea that everything an organization does is more transparent and fair game for comment.

The Explosion of Blogs:

  • Although the vast majority of blogs are still the province of individuals who post their diaries and personal opinion, they are now widely recognized by business and public relations personnel as an extremely cost-effective way to reach large numbers of people.
  • Corporate Blogs
  • Employee Blogs
  • Third-Party Blogs

The Continuing Role of Traditional Media:

  • July 2008 an estimated 220 million Americans had Internet access at home or work, and 73 percent of them went online in May.
  • Internet has no space or time constraints.

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Chapter 11: Getting Along with Journalists

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox

The Importance of Media Relations:

  • Public relations personnel are the primary contact between the organization and the media.

The Media’s Dependence on Public Relations:

  • Although many reporters deny it, most of the information that appears in the mass media comes from public relations sources, which provide a constant stream of news releases, features, planned events, and tops to the media.
  • Public relations materials save media the time, money, and effort of gathering their own news.

Public Relations’ Dependence on the Media:

  • The purpose of public relations is to inform, to shape opinions and attitudes, and to motivate.
  • Reporters and editors make independent judgments about what is newsworthy and what will be disseminated.
  • Today, public relations professionals are less dependent on the traditional mess media to reach large audiences, because, for the first time in history, an organization, or even an individual, can literally reach billions of people, bypassing traditional mass media gatekeepers.

Areas of Friction:

  • Hype and Hews Release Spam
  • Name Calling
  • Sloppy/Biased Reporting
  • Tabloid Journalism
  • Advertising Influence

Working with Journalists:

  • Media Interviews
  • News Conferences
  • Teleconferences and Webcasts
  • Media Tours
  • Previews and Parties
  • Press Junkets
  • Editorial Board Meetings

A Media Relations Checklist:

  • Know your media
  • Send newsworthy information
  • Be available
  • Be truthful
  • Protect exclusives
  • Explain
  • Correct errors politely

Crisis Communication:

  • A good working relationship with the media is severely tested in times of crisis.
  • Guidelines:
    • “No comment” fuels hostility
    • Always try to be helpful
    • Be familiar with print and broadcast deadlines
    • Got to know the journalists in your area before a crisis hits

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Chapter 10: Distributing News and the Media

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox

Reaching the Media:

  • Various methods can be used: e-mail, online newsrooms, electronic wire services, feature placement firms, mail, and faxing.
  • Finding media, their addresses, and the names of editors would be nearly impossible if not for the existence of media databases in print and electronic form.
  • Media Databases:
    • Essential Information:
      • Names of publications and broadcast stations
      • Mailing addresses
      • Telephone and fax numbers
      • E-mail addresses
      • Names of key editors and reporters

Distribution of Materials:

  • E-mail – the oldest feature of the Internet
  • Online Newsrooms – vital necessity because it’s often the first place journalists turn to for basic information about the organization, its products, and its service.
  • Electronic Wire Services – many organizations regularly distribute their news releases and other publicity materials through this.
  • Feature Placement Firms – distribute features and other information that is relevant over a period of several months.
  • Photo Placement Firms – Ex. – newscom and featurephoto
  • Mail – often referred to as snail mail
  • Fax – a quick as a telephone call and has the advantage of providing information in written and graphic form.

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Chapter 9: Writing for Radio and Television

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox

The Wide Reach of Broadcasting:

  • Radio reaches about 94 percent of adults over the age of 18 on a daily basis, with a total estimated audience of about 225 million.
  • Television news attracts about 150 million viewers on a daily basis, with an average family watching about 7 hours of TV daily.


  • Radio lacks the glamour of TV and the popularity of the Internet.
  • There are approximately 13,500 radio stations on the air in the US.
  • PR practitioners should study each station’s format and submit suitable material.
  • RNR – Radio News Release
  • ANR – Audio News Release
  • PSA – Public Service Announcement


  • TV is the primary source of news, information, and entertainment for most Americans.
  • There are almost as many TV stations (1,500) in the US as daily newspapers (1,532).
  • VNR – Video News Release
  • SMT – Satellite Media Tour

Personal Appearances and Product Placements:

  • First method – study the station and descriptions of its shows in a broadcast database.
  • Directory listings can tell you program format, types of material used, and the name of the director or producers.
  • Second method – watch the program or feature and study the format.

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Chapter 8: Selecting Publicity Photos and Graphics

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox

The Importance of Publicity Photos:

  • Photographs and graphics are important components of news releases and feature stories.
  • They add interest and variety, and they often explain things better than words alone.

Components of a Good Photo:

  • Publicity photos are not published if they are not high-resolution and if they do not appeal to media gatekeepers.
  • Components:
    • Technical quality
    • Subject matter
    • Composition
    • Action
    • Scale
    • Camera angle
    • Lighting and timing
    • Color

Working with Photographers:

  • It is important to use a skilled photographer with professional experience.
  • It will cost more money to hire a professional but it is worth it.
  • Consider:
    • Contracts
    • The photo session
    • Cropping and retouching
    • Ethical considerations

Writing Photo Captions:

  • Caption – the brief text under the photo that tells the reader about the picture and its source.
  • Written in active, present tense
  • Two to four lines long

Creating Other Graphics:

  • Charts, diagrams, renderings and models, maps, line drawings, and clip art are all widely used.
  • Charts:
    • Pie chart
    • Bar chart
    • Graph

Maintaining Photo and Art Files:

  • Without properly indexed photos and illustration files, negatives, digital images, or artwork can be lost for future use.
  • Necessary pertinent data:
    • The date of the event
    • When the photo was taken
    • The location
    • Releases from people portrayed
    • Complete names and titles of people shown
    • The name and address of the photographer, including any restrictions to use the picture

Distributing Photos and Artwork:

  • First approach – simply e-mail a news release or an advisory to a specific journalist or editor and let them know that you have photos and artwork if they are interested.
  • You can offer four different formats:   
  1. A thumbnail
  2. A slightly bigger preview image
  3. A low-resolution version
  4. A high-resolution (300 dpi) one
  • Second approach – mail a media kit that includes a CD that contains at least two files.

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Chapter 7: Creating News Features and Op-Ed

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox 

The Value of Features:

  • Feature Story – can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and create understanding in a more imaginative way.
  • News release writing requires left-brain skills emphasizing that logical, analytical, and sequential development of ideas.
  • Feature writing requires right-brain skills, such as intuition, image-making, and creativity.
  • Features are considered “soft-news” rather than “hard-news.”
  • Feature stories have the potential to:
    • Provide more information to the consumer
    • Give background and context about organizations
    • Provide behind-the-scene perspectives
    • Give a human dimension to situations and events
    • Generate publicity for standard products and services
  • Service Journalism – the concept of publishing consumer tips and “news you can use”
    • Can demonstrate how a reader can:
      • Save time
      • Make more money
      • Save money
      • Get something free

Planning a News Feature:

  • You have to conceptualize how something lends itself to feature treatment.
  • You have to determine if the information would be interesting to and useful for a particular audience.
  • You must be sure that the feature helps achieve organizational objectives.
  • A proposal should include:
    • Tentative titles of the article
    • Subject and theme
    • Significance – why is the topic important and what should a reader know about it?
    • Major points
    • Description of photos and graphics available

Types of Features:

  • Case Study – in feature writing, a story that demonstrates the value of a product or service by detailing how it works and by providing specific examples that are often supported with statistics or customer testimonials.
  • Application Story – in feature writing, a story that tells how to use a new product or how to use a familiar product in a new way.
  • Research Study – in feature writing, a story that uses information derived from surveys, polls, or scientific studies to garner reader interest and to demonstrate the value of a product or service.
  • Backgrounder – a compilation of information about an organization, a problem, a situation, an event, or a major development. It is given to media to provide a factual basis for news to be published or broadcast.
  • Personality Profile – in feature writing, a story that focuses on a person of public interest to stimulate reader awareness of that person and/or the organization, product, or service the person represents.
  • Historical Piece – in feature writing, a story that stresses the continuity between past and present to garner reader interest.

Parts of a Feature:

  • The headline
  • The lead
  • The body
  • The summary
  • Photos and graphics

Placement Opportunities:

  • Newspapers
  • General magazines
  • Specialty/trade magazines
  • Internal publications

Writing an Op-Ed:

  • Definition – opposite the editorial page. A page that contains the views and opinion of individuals who are not on the staff of the newspaper.
  • Concentrate on presenting one major ideas at a time.
  • Don’t ramble or deviate from your principal points.

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