ch.9 : newswriting

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This chapter lays the foundations for writing for the media, specifically writing news releases. There were two important takeaways I received from this chapter about writing a news release. Both in this chapter and in class we have discussed determinants. Determinants refer to printed releases that meet some basic news criteria. (231) There are seven “classic” determinants; timeliness, relevance, proximity, prominence, rarity, trendiness and human interest. These are important to keep in mind for your news release if you want it to be picked up by the press. The second and possibly more vital takeaway was the template for media releases on page 247. It explains how to create an effective lead and what to include in subsequent paragraphs. The first paragraph following the lead the who, what, where, when, why, how questions are answered. The second a quote, third and fourth more detail on the subject, fifth another quote and sixth you include contact info. This I feel is an informative template because it lays out how specifically to organize your release. It states in the chapter that it is not uncommon for an editor to cut off parts of the release. With this inverted pyramid you ensure that the crucial aspects of your release are kept intact while the extras are subject for omission instead of the other way around.

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ch.3 : ethics

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I found chapter 3, Ethical Influences on Public Relations Writing, to be particularly informative. A lot of times public relations professionals are stereotyped as “spin doctors”, or less than truthful to say the least. However this chapter goes into great detail on all of the ethical organizations for the public relations field. I enjoy learning about theories in general, so I found the theories of ethical action especially appealing. While I respect all of the theorists and their findings, I feel like Kant’s categorical imperative philosophy leaves me with too many questions.

In the theory, Kant states that “what is right for one is right for all”. (59) In my experience, I find this to be false. I feel individuals have different expectations and hopes for any one given situation. Therefore, I don’t know how it is possible to state that what is good for one person will necessarily be good for any other person. Furthermore, say there is a person with a substandard ethical conscience. What that person would consider right for themselves would probably not be right for all. I believe this theory leaves quite a bit to be interpreted as well as desired. 

ch.10 : features and newsletters

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Chapter ten describes in detail how to write for a “controlled media”. (260) A feature, for example, is a publication used to entice readers. On first thought, writing a feature seems like an easy enough task. However, the more I learn about the public relations field the deeper I see the thought process for each work goes. In order to create a successful, seemingly rudimentary, task much research and planning is needed. To construct a “simple” feature, the writer must research the subjects, have an appropriate structure and a complimentary style. The same multi-step process holds true for newsletters and web letters all with specified qualifications per medium.   In the chapter I learned that most feature stories are not published in the mass media. (260) That is an example of the complexity involved in writing for the media and taught me that there are guidelines aspiring public relations professionals such as myself must learn.

Turning of the Tide

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In August of 2010 I joined the SIUE community and shortly after, the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. A hop, skip and what feels like one blink later I am sitting in Fall 2013, my senior year. Each year I have been on this campus I have participated in some form of sorority recruitment; in 2010 as a potential new member being recruited and now I’m preparing for my third year as an active member recruiting.  I’m very pleased to say the SIUE Greek Life is making exciting new changes.

For starters, the Collegiate Panhellenic Counsel (CPC) sorority counsel stayed true to sorority fashion and took abbreviating to the highest level, dropping the deadweight Collegiate and gaining points in brevity by renaming themselves the Panhellenic Conference (PanHel). The change to PanHel came after representatives appeared at a nationwide conference and seeing that SIUE was the only Greek community in attendance that used the CPC title.

This comes at a perfect time as the counsel is adding a fourth sorority, the firs new sorority on campus since 1997. The new sorority is Alpha Xi Delta. Beginning with my class of recruited members and each fall semester since the sorority’s have gained an upwards of fifty new members through recruitment. This has led the three established sororities on SIUE’s campus, Alpha Phi, Alpha Sigma Tau and Delta Phi Epsilon to have around 100 active members at all times. On a relatively small campus that is a lot of members to manage. I’m excited for Alpha Xi Delta to not only continue the growth of the SIUE Greek community but also to be able to better handle the large number of women joining up each year for sorority recruitment.

This fall there are now six fraternities in SIUE’s Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC). The Kappa Sigma fraternity colonized during the late Fall 2012 semester, they were later chartered officially on the SIUE campus in the spring.  Previously the Inter-Fraternity Council included Alpha Kappa Lambda, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Pi and Sigma Tau Gamma.

ch.2 : flair

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Chapter two was full of informative practices that public relations professionals need to be mindful of to write effectively. The subtitle of the chapter, Writing for Style, Flow, and Credibility, does a great job communicating the characteristics each professional needs to maintain in every written document. I think of the combination of style, flow, and credibility to be each professional’s unique writing flair. Flair in individuals personalities, like a writer’s flair, leads some people to be considered influential, well-received, and enjoyable while lack of flair leads others to be received as forgettable or misunderstood altogether..

The chapter mentioned that while there are additional styles, there are four fundamental styles (house, industry, media and personal) a public relations professional must be able to adhere to.  Aristotle wrote that establishing the speaker’s character as the most important persuasive approach. (30) This relates to credibility. You want to be seen as credible by the publics so they have faith in your messages. This done through correct grammar, transparency, and details and sources you include in your work. The way I think of it is how technically sound is your work. Flow refers to the tempo of your work. The text states that “The four key attributes of flow are rhythm, transitions, parallel structure, and headings.” (38) The chapter makes it clear that in order for your messaged to be received as intended, these skills must be mastered.

Start from the Beginning

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I have always favored writing as a creative outlet so I figured a blogging assignment would be a piece of cake. I could write about anything I want? Great! That will be easy, right? Wrong. What muse inspires me and motivates me to write? Writing for class, you see, I do not find as favorable. I often feel pressured and stressed and very critical of myself, which then leads me to be unsatisfied with that I come up with. For this blog I thought about the idea of a theme, and immediately thought I would like to have some sort of unified theme not just random picks each week.

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Delta Phi Epsilon is an international sorority founded in 1917. I became a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority in fall of 2010. I consider joining the organization the best choice I’ve made in college. Through Delta Phi Epsilon I have grown as a scholar, woman and philanthropist. I am glad that I have the opportunity to document my last year with an organization I am so proud to be a part of and continue my growth as a scholar while showcasing the activities and events that I am involved in through Delta Phi Epsilon. Each week I will pick either an event or aspect of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority to write about or perhaps practice news releases the events.

ch.1 : theory

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A major take away from chapter one was the section “Theories of Behavior and Attitude Change”. This section discusses seven theories pertinent to a Public Relations Professional. These different theories help explain strategies that a professional can use to guide the publics to receive a message. I never thought of the public relations profession as a field where such psychological tools would be used. The truth of the matter is much research goes into a not only what message you want the campaign to convey but what types of messages your target audience would respond to on a psychological level.

I find psychological dealings fascinating. I view these theories as a form of ethical, necessary manipulation. While the term manipulation has a negative connotation and can be considered a malice action, I believe the theories describe a positive way to look at manipulation as something of a reward for thoughtful research. Professionals study the clients, audience and themes and have to decide what plan to implement for a successful campaign, before they have began to create it. I look forward to putting these theories into practice.