Tips for Writing Good Blog Posts

23 02 2009

I came across this post by David Caolo about writing good blogs. His post contains 6 tips which are very helpful. My favorite tip was “be prepared.” Caolo mentions that great ideas can come to you at anytime and you have to be prepared to notice them and make a note of them. This is something that I really need to work on. I will think of something to write about and never write it down. When I go to actually sit down to write the post, my idea is lost in space. I really recommend reading this post. I found it very helpful. You can also see my comment on it.





Comment on “A grim look at PR refuted”

23 02 2009

Fellow classmate, Erin Martin, came across a very interesting article published in USA Today.  You should definitely read her post as well as the article.  My favorite part of the whole article have to be the first few lines: “Sleazy. Disingenuous. Scumbags. These are all words used in U.K. newspaper coverage of the public relations industry.”  I think this pretty much sums up the rest of the article.





Feature Writing and PR

21 02 2009

This week in Dr. V’s PR class we discussed feature stories and their importance in PR. We also had a journalist come to talk to the class about writing features. We decided that feature writing not only is an important skill for journalists, but also for PR people. PR people need to know how to write features so they can pitch to journalists more effectively. Also, features appear in internal media within a company or organization. Feature writing can be applied to news letters and also blogging.

In my intro to journalism class in Spring 2008 we used Tim Harrower’s book, Inside Reporting ,to help us learn the ropes of journalism. I highly recommend this book. Below I have summarized the different styles of features that are described in his book.

Styles of Feature Stories

  1. Personality Profile: Is about a person. This story combines facts, quotes and descriptions to talk about a subject.
  2. Human-interest story: This is a story about real people. A situation that is tragic, funny, odd or inspirational.
  3. Color story: You write this when you are asked to attend an event. Interview people and describe what you experience.
  4. Backgrounder: This is an analysis of an event or issue in the news. You tell the 5Ws of the story.
  5. Trend story: These are stories about things, places, people that are affecting today’s culture.
  6. Reaction piece: This provides a sampling of opinions about breaking news or a controversial topic.
  7. Flashback: These are commemorative stories that combine photos, facts and interviews to describe something that happened in the past and why it is important.
  8. How-to: This teaches reader how to do something. Often contains bulleted lists and diagrams.
  9. Consumer guide: This is a story that rates a place or product. Tells readers the good, the bad and the ugly.
  10. Personal narrative: A story told in first person about something that you experienced.




There is WHAT in my peanut butter?!

12 02 2009

A couple of days ago I received an email from Food Lion involving the recent Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak in peanut products.  I thought the email, copied below, was a great example of PR in a crisis.  Food Lion makes sure to let its customers know that they are working with the FDA to stay updated on products that may contain Salmonella.  Food Lion also assures its customers that all peanut products sold at the store have been approved.    They also have a section of their Website dedicated to recalls.  All foods that have been recalled and why are listed on the Website.  Food Lion also guarantees full refunds of all these products. 

 I think that keeping an organization’s publics informed is the most important thing to do in a crisis.  Food Lion’s Websiteand email are both excellent examples of effective means to inform an organization’s publics.  These two tools make customers feel valued and also better establishes a relationship between Food Lion and its customers.  After all, information keeps people calm in a crisis and also makes people feel like the organization cares about them.  What other tools could Food Lion use to handle this crisis?

EMAIL:

Dear valued customer,

As you may be aware, the FDA is continuing their investigation into
the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak caused by the Peanut Corporation
of America (PCA), which manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste.
We recently communicated some information regarding this recall to
you and we wanted to give you an update on this issue.

Over the course of the last few weeks several products have been
recalled. Since this is still an active investigation, there may
still be additional products recalled.

We would like to assure you that Food Lion, LLC (including Food Lion,
Bloom, Bottom Dollar, Reid’s and Harveys stores) is diligently
working in cooperation with the FDA to pull all products that may
contain contaminated peanut paste as an ingredient. The safety of our
customers is our utmost concern. A number of products containing
peanut butter or peanut paste have been recalled, including a fe w
from our stores, however, peanut butter sold in jars at our stores is
not affected. The peanut butter being recalled is sold by PCA in bulk
packaging to distributors for institutional food service industry
use. None of the peanut butter being recalled is sold directly to
consumers through retail stores. Information regarding the ongoing
recalls can be found at the FDA web site:
http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/salmonellatyph.html

Also, we are updating our web site, http://www.foodlion.com/recalls,
with all products we have pulled. If you have purchased any of the
recalled items, you can return them to a store for a full refund.

Thank you





Interview with the Executive Editor of The Post and Courier

4 02 2009

My first assignment in Dr. V’s PR class this semester was a media relations project.  It included creating a media list and pitching to a specific journalist.  I thought that there was no better way to learn how to pitch to a journalist than actually talking to one.  I emailed Bill Hawkins, Executive Editor of The Post and Courier, to ask him a few questions about news releases and pitches.  His advice to me was as follows:

  • The trick to useful and effective news releases is getting them directed to the right editor or department.
  • Know the name of the person you are trying to reach.  Go to the newspaper’s Website and look for a list of editors/reporters.  You can get their contact information from there.
  • A targeted email allows for an easy follow-up.  Remember to use the subject line.
  • The information should be broad enough for the general public.
  • A news release is not an advertisement.  Mr. Hawkins said that the number one reason they throw away news releases is if they merely are pitching a product that should be an advertisement, not a news release.
  • Press releases should be to the point and brief, timely, and complete with contact information.

I hope you find this information useful.  Media relations is a very important part of PR and we need to know how to properly communicate with the media.