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Month: January, 2013

Writing for Public Relations

What is Public Relations? Is it a means to an end, or a means to a beginning? Is it a verb, an adjective, or a noun?  Can we even define it? Do we need to? The answer to these questions: YES. Public Relations is an umbrella term for a myriad of different functions, and activities, that keep a company in and out of the publics’ scrutinizing eye. Public Relations is found everywhere from small non-profits to large government agencies. Often mistaken as a universal term, “Public Relations” by law is not used as a synonym for its various sectors. For example, Press agentry is used when the goal is media exposure, promotion is used when media exposure and persuasive techniques are used, and Public affairs is used when PR activities involve the community and government.

John Grunig and Todd Hunt proposed 4 models to help further differentiate Public Relations. The first is the Press Agentry Model, the practitioner acts as a one-sided propaganda specialist, focusing more on gaining media attention for a specific purpose. The antithesis of the Press Agentry model is the Public Information model, which gives the title of journalist to the practitioner, their man concern is finding and providing facts. The Two-Way Symmetric model has the practitioner take the role of a “Scientific Persuader”. They employ research to better understand their public and tweak their messages accordingly. Finally, they created the Two-Way Symmetric model, which puts the practitioner in the role of mediator between communities, Agencies, Regulated Business, etc.

Public Relations should never be considered a job, but rather a passion for those whose creativity and knowledge transcends even the most mundane of tasks. Technicians and managers, and I use these terms loosely for one can act in the role of the other, submit writing through controlled and uncontrolled media. It’s best to think credibility vs. assurance when trying to differentiate these terms. “Uncontrolled media” is forfeiting control over all publications that are submitted by a company; however, the public tends to give publications more credibility when it has gone through a second party source. On the flip side, “controlled media” gives the company a guarantee its publications are published for a specific time and medium. Both have their advantages and allow the desired audiences to be informed and/or persuaded.



Chapter 1: Writing for Public Relations

Public relations is, to my understanding, an umbrella term for a job that helps a company or organization maintain a relationship with its publics or audiences and help them mutually adapt to each other. Public Relations involves a range of jobs such as dealing with media, settling disputes between a client and the public, advocacy, and so on. Although there are many terms within the profession, there are a limited number of actual functions in these roles. Four models were proposed by Grunig and Hunt of public relations that seem to stand true: press agentry/publicity, public information, two-way symmetric, and two-way asymmetric. PR duties can also be divided between being a communications manager (elevate PR campaigns) and communications technicians (provide support through writing). Although the technician is generally the writer, that doesn’t mean that there is no writing involved in communications managing—employers want people who can write and communicate well.
Public Relations writing is meant to establish a positive relationship between an organization and its publics. This can be done through either uncontrolled (information that is in control of the outlet it is sent to) or controlled (information you have total control over) public relations writing. Though there are pros and cons to both, using a combination of both information types is best. There are many public relations tools a professional can use, from news releases, PSAs, annual reports, speeches, and so on. These tools, however, are only effective when used with experience, research, and intuition. No matter what method, all public relations writing must be written well and relate to the purpose, strategy, medium, and format of the subject and task at hand. Typically, PR writing is used to inform or persuade, and the strategy depends on the specific purpose. The medium used effects the format of the writing, intermingling all elements of public relations writing.


Speeches & Presentations

Communicating effectively is vital for someone who is looking to enter the field of public relations or advertising. Without excellent communications skills, the message you are trying to send your audience may get lost in all the clutter. So, this is why knowing how to give an amazing presentations and speeches is vital in this busy communications world. Knowing your audience is the most important part of giving a speech. Without them, you are just talking to yourself. You must use the appropriate language and resources that will connect with your target audience. They are the entire reason you are even making a presentation, so your focus should be on them the entire time. Audiences love eye contact, without it, they will not be interested in what you are saying.

The other very important part of giving a presentation is to be calm. There are many different ways you can achieve this. Some people are naturally just confident speakers. They don’t need a preparation routine or someone to calm them down. If this is you, count your blessings. For everyone else that gets a bit of stage fright, there are ways to overcome this. The first way is to practice, practice, and then practice again. The more you go over the information, the more confident you will be in presenting it in front of an audience. The next way to become more confident in your presentation is to have some sort of flash card or a set of notes to keep you on track. These can be used as reference points for when you get stuck at a certain point in your presentation or freeze up. The final way to overcome stage fright is to just fake it. If you appear confident, you will look confident to them even if you aren’t. And never apologize to the audience for being nervous! Confidence is key to a successful presentation and speech.

18 Tips for Killer Presentations