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Month: April, 2013

Ethical and Legal Issues in Public Relations Writing

Every public relations practitioner hopes that his messages will be received and accepted by the audience that he is trying to reach. Ethical and legal standards have been set to guide those within the public relations practice in a way that will keep professionals honest so that they remain accountable for information they release. In return, these professionals may win the public’s trust.

Ethics, which are not exercised punitively as law is, is the foundation of trust between PR and its audiences. Often, the public does not trust messages that include persuasive techniques, because it prefers cold, hard facts. Therefore, PR professionals must be cautious to not employ unethical techniques such as fallacies, which are used to intentionally misguide people. Ghostwriting, or writing something for someone else that will be presented from that person’s own point of view (this technique is often used by speechwriters for the President, who has little time to write his own speeches), has often fallen under heavy criticism as being unethical.

Finally, there is law. Everyone (professionals and public audiences) takes law seriously because those who do not are punishable. In the field of public relations, the following are prominent aspects of law: defamation, privacy, copyright and trademark. These protect the subject of a message from having his rights infringed upon.

— Zoe


Chapter 11: Writing for Web and Social Media

Web 2.0

The Internet provides a new way of communicating with audiences, creating a two-way conversation between brands and their consumers. With this new opportunity comes the challenge of utilizing a new writing style in order to effectively communicate. Web writing requires that you know your audience and be concise.

Social Media

A few things to remember about social media:

▪ Be authentic

▪ Anyone can say anything about your brand

▪ Generate quality content to be shared and discussed

Blogs are a relatively new medium for marketers and PR professionals to connect with their audience. Much different from a press release, blogs are more informal and to-the-point, should be easily scanned, and feature the lead in the beginning.

Twitter, (a micro-blogging platform) is an extremely helpful tool for all organizations that wish to generate online conversations.  In Bridie Jenner’s blog post about using Twitter effectively, she states that brands using Twitter should utilize the “80/20 rule – 80% interaction, 20% advertising and promotion.”

Evolution of the Press Release

Today, the standard press release helps reporters and bloggers build their own stories based on yours. The best releases are outward-focused, reflective and short—between 400 and 500 words or less. A common approach is to develop the “elevator pitch,” which is how you would describe the story to someone on a 30-second elevator ride.

Additional press release formats include search engine optimized releases and social media releases, which call for a newer, more innovative way of relating information to the public.  A way for a company to compile all of its information is through an online newsroom, “the media’s front door to the company.” When providing information through any one of these channels, it is crucial to remember to keep your information clear, concise and simple.