Writing Email, Memos, and Proposals

Chapter 14

Book: Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (sixth edition) by Dennis L. Wilcox

The Challenge of Managing Communication Overload

  • Public Relations Writers not only communicates to a broad audience, they communicate through personal things, such as emails, memos, phone calls, and face-to-face communication.
  • A smart writer follows the basic guidelines which are clarity, completeness, conciseness, courtesy, and responsibility… these things should be in all writings.

Memo’s should be on one page or less and state the key message immediately. A memo has five components: date, to, from, subject, and message.

Email is rapid and cost efficient. It is not, however, a substitute for personal one-on-one communication. Email is less formal than a letter, but more formal than a telephone call.

Increase the effectiveness of email by:

  1. Providing key information in the subject line
  2. Keeping them to 25 lines or less
  3. Using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation

NOTE: Keeping things simple, short and to the point is a great way to reduce information overload.

Click this link for more detailed information on Chp 14 (in presentation format)


Public Relations & Journalism

Chapter 10: Distributing News to the Media

Book: Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (Sixth Edition) by Dennis L. Wilcox

  • Selecting the right channels of distributing to the media is key to guarantee that your work is reaching the correct media and the correct audiences.

Media Databases vary but they do have five things in common that provides essential information:

  1. Names of publications and broadcast stations
  2. Mailings Addresses
  3. Telephone & Fax numbers
  4. E-mail Addresses
  5. Names of key editors and reporters
  • Editorial Calendars– where trade publications and business periodicals tend to operate.
  • Tip Sheets– is a way to find media personnel who might have an interest in your material
  • “Online news rooms are part of the organizations website, which is now a primary source for journalist seeking late breaking news and other information about an organization.”
  • Key words are important with search engines optimism(SEO). Publicist must use key words that is helpful in use to search for information.
  • Camera ready features are widely used by newspapers and other media outlets because they reduce staff cost and fill spaces.

Chapter 11- Getting Along with Journalist

Public Relations professionals and journalist have had a long love-hate relationship. With this in mind, two-thirds of journalist do not trust public relations people, but there is also the realization that they are mutually dependent on each other.

In a sense, media depends on public relations professionals.  In most mass communications, reporters and editors spend most of their time processing information and not gathering it.

Fun Fact

PRWeek conducted a national survey of Journalist and found that almost 60 percent used news releases “all the time” or “often.” Thirty percent acknowledged that they relied more on public relations sources than they did 5 years earlier.

The purpose of public relations is to inform, to shape opinions, attitudes and motives.

Giving gifts such as coffee mugs or T-shirts are Gimmicks that reporters and editors does not easily enjoy receiving.

The major complaint about journalist is that they are sometimes sloppy and they aren’t accurate, nor take the time with their homework.

The bottom line in effective media relations is being accurate, truthful, and providing outstanding services.

NOTE: Don’t irritate reporters by asking, “Did you get my news release? Also, don’t ask to see an advance copy of the story or when a story will be published.

For related information on PR VS Journalism: Take a look at 10 ways that PR people can sometimes drive journalists crazy.

Writing for Radio & Television

Writing for Radio & Television

Book: Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques (Sixth Edition) by Dennis L. Wilcox

Radio is not the first mass medium when it comes to advertising for campaigning, events and etc., It lack the glamor and visual fun that television offers.

According to Michelle Wallace, She says, “Radio is the medium the demographics of age, gender, economic standing, and Ideology.”

Radio is based upon sound. So, every radio release must be written for the announcer to easily pronounce and also for listeners to easily comprehend.

Differences between a news release and a radio release are:

  1. In radio release’s, you have to use all caps is the standard way of writing with a double-spaced format. Indicate length of announcement.
  2. News Release’s you have the standard format but not all caps. Also, you do “not” have to indicate the length (30 or 60 sec).

Television is a great way of communication because it gives and shows great elements for sight, sound, motion, and color.

Key Terms

Audio New Release (ANRs) – are more interesting because they include soundbites, music, and sound effects.

Public Service Announcements (PSAs)– are short broadcast announcements used by nonprofit groups and public agencies.

Radio media tours (RMTs)– are a cost-effective way to reach many stations with an exclusive interview over a wide geographic area.

Video news releases (VNRs)– are widely used by TV stations and cable systems

Satellite Media Tours (SMTs)- are widely used in the broadcast industry. For setting up interviews at locations to reinforce a story.

Selecting Publicity Photos & Graphics

Chapter 8- Selecting Publicity Photos and Graphics

Book: Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques- Sixth Edition
By: Dennis L. Wilcox

In this chapter, you can explore the elements that make a good publicity photo or graphic and it also will help explain how to prepare the material for media consideration.

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.

The adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture in a newspaper or magazine often takes the same space as a thousand words, but it has much more impact.

Digital cameras are now used for publicity photos; such photos can be taken and distributed almost instantly.

A public relations writer should be familiar with the elements of good publicity photo: quality, subject matter, composition, action, scale, camera single, lighting, and color.


Action is important because it projects movement and the idea that something is happening right before the reader’s eyes. Photos with action and informality are more interesting than rigid, posed shots.


  • Caption all photos sent to the media need a caption.
  • Photo news releases-(PNR) a photograph with a long caption beneath it that tells an entire story
  • Clip art line art and other graphic designs that can be used in public relations materials. Clip art is available on CD and online.

Know that:

Crop photographs to remove clutter and get a tighter focus on the main subject.

Photo captions are short, use present tense to describe the action and provide context.

Charts, diagrams, maps, etc., should be simple, colorful, and uncluttered.

Creating News Features and Op-Ed

Chapter 7: Creating News Features and Op-Ed by Dennis L. Wilcox

Book: Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques – Sixth Edition

Feature Storyprovide additional background information, generate human interest, and create understanding in a more imaginative way.

Features are considered “soft news” rather than “hard news.”

Feature stories come in all shapes and sizes which all have the potential to:

  1. Provide more information to the customer
  2. Give background and context about organizations
  3. Provide behind-the-scenes perspective
  4. Give a human dimension to situations and events
  5. Generate publicity for standard products and services

The concept of publishing consumer tips and “news you can see” is referred to as service journalism.

Camera ready news releases and features already formatted in column format. Editors insert the material into the layout and prepare the page for offset printing. Camera-ready copy also is called a repro proof.

A Proposal Outline that explains why the magazine should publish the entire article, should include this: 

  • Tentative title of the article
  • Subject and theme
  • Significance. Why is the topic important? Why should readers know about it?
  • Major points.
  • Description of photos and graphics available.

Case study– frequently used in product publicity. They often tell how individual customers have benefited from a company’s product or service or how another organization has used the product or service to improve efficiency or profits.

Application story– focuses on primarily on how consumers can use the product or a service in new and innovative ways.

Research Study– about some aspects of contemporary lifestyles or a common situation in the workplace.

Backgrounders– compliance 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 profiles– 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– is a 200-word feature distributed by Fisher Nuts title “The Humble Peanut Has History as Essential Food.”

THE LEAD: News releases usually have a summary lead that tells the basic facts in a nutshell. The name of the organization is in the lead, and readers will get the key information even if the summary is all they read.

Infographics- computer generated artwork used to display statistics in the form of tables and charts.

Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches

Chapter 6- Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits, and Pitches

Link to Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox

  • Facts Sheets area brief outline of an event, an organization, or a new product. The purpose is to place basic and supplemental information at the editor or journalist’s fingertips.
  • Media Kit– frequently called a press kit, contains a variety of materials, such as news releases, fact sheets, and photos.
  • Public relations professionals also need to know how to create a media advisory, also called a media alert, which is used to let assignment editors know about a newsworthy event or an interview of opportunity that could lend itself to photo or video coverage.
  • Pitch– making an appeal to an editor or journalist to do a story on your product or service.

Advisories are also called media alerts because they tell assignment editors about upcoming events that they might be interested in covering from a story, photo, and video perspective.

  • EPK’s, or e-kits, are also more versatile than traditional printed media kits, because they can include multiple pieces of information in a variety of formats .

The purpose of a pitch letter is to convince editors and reporters to cover an event or do a story

Finding & Making News

Chapter 4

Link to Book: Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques

Author: Dennis Wilcox

The Challenge of Making News

  • Many purposes of public relations programs is to provide information to the media in the hope that it will be published or broadcast, the resulting coverage is called publicity.
  • Publicist– public relations writer who writes and places stories in the media.

Effective publicist need to know three things:

  1. They must be thoroughly familiar with traditional journalistic news values.
  2. They must know where to find news and how to select the angle that will be most interesting to journalists and the public.
  3. They must be problem solvers and come up with creative publicity tactics that effectively break through a forest of competing messages.
  • Media gatekeepers– they decide what information is newsworthy and what is not.
  • Hometowners– stores custom tailored to a particular newspaper or broadcast station by focusing on the local angle in the first paragraph of the news release.
  • Judging Significance in making news: You must know not only how many people will be affected but also who will be affected.
  • First step in finding news is to become familiar with the organization you represent. The Public Relations Campaign Strategies; this involves looking at variety of sources, including the following: Important papers, periodicals, clipping files, other published materials.
  • Pseudoevent: to describe events and situations that are created primarily for the sake of generating press coverage.
  • Public Relations firms such as Ketchum generate creative ideas by conducting brainstorming sessions.
  • Soundbites– a statement or quote from an individual, which is inserted into audio and video news releases.
  • SMT(Satellite Media Tour)- is essentially the process of placing a spokesperson in a television studio and arranging for news anchors around country to do a short interview via satellite.