Marilyn's Life From East to West

Chapter 14- News Releases, Media Alerts, and Pitch Letters
April 29, 2009, 3:29 am
Filed under: Reading Notes

Seeing as how this was the last chapter that we were able to get through, it seems very appropriate.  Why? Well, because all three of these things are a MAIN part of public relations, especially news releases (which is what I have heard the most about).

A news release is also known as a press release, and was originally created by Ivy Lee.  The basic purpose of a news release is to cover the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When, Why.  These questions are answered and then sent out to a publications such as a newpaper or broadcaster.  They are typically a page long and to the point, never too wordy otherwise the editor will toss it (they do not have a lot of spare time).  Here are some tips from the text when writing a news release:

  • Use short headlines and subheads to get to the point.
  • Don’t use generic words such as leading provider, be more SPECIFIC
  • Tell the news and the announcement at hand- nothing irrelevant
  • Critique your writing by asking “who cares?”

Those are just a few to keep in mind that I though were helpful.  Also be sure to check out the powerpoint that I posted from Professor Nixon; I found it to be very helpful.


Media Alerts are also known as media advisories and they are meant to alert the media about upcoming events and media opportunities.  They are typically short with a headline and bullets explaing the 5 W’s.  Fact sheets are another important tool that are distibuted to the media in order to give them additional background information on a product, person, service, or event.

Pitch Letters are given to the editor to try and catch their attention for a certain project or event.  Here are some tips from the text:

  • Use a succinct line to tell the editor what you have to offer!
  • Keep the message brief; no longer than one screen.
  • Do NOT include attachments.
  • Establish an E-mail relationship.

These three aspects should all be fully understood because writing is a critical part of public relations and knowing the manner or doing so will increase your chances of being successful.  I hope that this summary could help everyone a little!


Chapter 13- New Technologies in Public Relations
April 29, 2009, 2:54 am
Filed under: Reading Notes

One of the reasons that I find public relations to be so interesting is because of the constant use of technology.  Coming into this class I knew how to use the Internet and watch the news on TV, but most people my age do.  The best part is that public relations uses all types of media outlets to spread information to the public whether it is on the radio, television, or Internet.  Technology is the leading trend in public relations, which is great because it continues to keep up with the times.

Computers are a great research tool because they can be used to both research and report.  More times than not, the Internet is used in all of these processes.  Not only are there endless secondary sources and information, but it can come from so many different places.  With the Internet, there is Google, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites, RSS, podcasting, brochureware, and e-mail.

Some specific examples from the text about how the Internet can relate to PR are:

  • Organizations create their own websites that supply information and breaking news for the public.
  • Many companies offer answers to many typical questions that a user might have.
  • Medical information or other material relating to a certain organization and its users will be available to help with any concerns.

Here are some key aspects about the Internet from the text:

  • The reach of a message is worldwide, giving almost everyone access to it, which can cause different reactions to the intended message
  • The content is virtually uncontrolled, meaning there are few gatekeepers
  • Issue tracking is more thorough and immediate

As for the future and present, there are many new technologies that are beginning to sprout:

  • Hybrid surveys- enable random sample and tracking of participation for response rates
  • Online focus groups
  • Online experiments
  • Online theater research


Even news releases are becoming heavily based electronically, which is a major part of public relations along with videoconfrencing.  I think that the Internet will continue to expand because at this point is seems that there is nothing that can’t be done with it.  It also serves a great help because all of the information for an organization of client can be gathered from one medium for the most part making it more likely for the public to access the information.

Chapter 12- Public Relations and the Law
April 29, 2009, 2:31 am
Filed under: Reading Notes, Uncategorized

As I think most people can agree with, public relations tends to observe many run ins with the law.  Many a times these cases are with big name celebrities or major corporations.  It is crucial to understand what is accecptable and what is not because no one wants to end up in the big courthouse.  Especially when writing news releases and other public information, it is important to make sure that it is all accurate.

One area of liability is called conspiracy. This can be used when a person does something such as bribing an official or covering up information of vital interest to public health and safety.  Also when they counsel or take part in an illegal activity.  Basically if he or she is participating in any activity that could be considered illegal; let’s say that it is best just to stay out of it.

Libel and defamation are two other sorts of misdeeds that are carefully monitored.  Libel is essentially a verbal staement that is false.  Defamation is a false statement about a person or organization that gives a negative and false understanding.  This can include:

  • communication through print, broadcast, or electronic media
  • the person is identifiable
  • there is injury in money loss, loss of reputation, or mental suffering (basically anything that can cause significant damage to the victim).
  • The person making the statement has malicious intentions

Invasion of privacy is another sensitive subject that can at times have a very fine line.  Public relations must be careful to information provided or insinuated in:

  • employee newsletters (newsworthiness is key)
  • photo releases (someone might contradict the accusing information)
  • product publicity and advertising (companies usually want a signed release to make sure that their product is advertised in the right light)
  • media inquiries about employees (do NOT provide personal information such as address, marital status, or salary)

These were just a few points that I found to be the most interesting a general because inderstanding the law will always be important in public relations.  This is because a lot of the information this field uses in public (hence the name) and it is important not to cross the line and end up in a court house.  Knowing your rights and others will allow everyone to at least be aware of what is acceptable and what is illegal.


Chapter 11- Reaching a Multicultural and Diverse Audience
April 29, 2009, 1:56 am
Filed under: Reading Notes

This chapter was definately one of my favorties because diversification is something that I find to be extrememly important to create a world of equality where everyone can feel important.  This is what makes the public relations field more of a challenge because there is much more than one audience that is trying to be reached.  For the United States this is especially important because there is diversity among history, ethnicity, religion, economy etc. so reaching just one audience would not make an organization very successful.

  • One majorly diverse group is different age groups.  Kids who are 10 are most likely not going to be interested in the same material that a 30 year old would be interested in.
  • Youth and Young Adults: spend equal time with friends in person and online and they will be more reserved in social skills.
  • Baby Boomers: grew up in proseperity and do not have as many spending concerns and tend to get involved with a cause.
  • Seniors: less easily convinced and demand value in purchases.  Extremely health conscious.

There is also significant importance in understanding cultural values because there are unique characteristics to all cultures.  A strong community relations program is a way to entice cultural audiences.  Figuerdo gives some examples on a communications campaign for multicultural audiences.

  • Organize a team with an understanding of the values
  • Understand that these groups respond more to messages that are culturally relevant
  • Consumers of diverse cultures become loyal to the products and services that they use
  • Use primary language
  • Use a spokesperson who represents the audience

There are also many other communities that are up and coming such as the gay/lesbian cmmunity, women, disability community, and other religions.  Recognizing these differences and being able to use them in a positive way will lead to the success of more organizations because diverse groups are more likely to feel a connection to what they are hearing and seeing.


Chapter 10- Conflict Management
April 29, 2009, 1:33 am
Filed under: Reading Notes, Uncategorized

As we know, conflict is a daily issue out in the workforce.  Many times public relations is the occupations that deals with these issues because they are dealing with the public every day.  In order to be successful when resolving these conflicts it is very important to have good communication skills that work towards the benefit of the organization and the people.  The idea for public relations is to help honest conflict that will result in what is best for the economy.  There are many different components of conflict management that can be used:

  • Strategic: purpose of acheiving popular objectives
  • Management: planned, deliberate action
  • Competition: striving for the same goals as others
  • Conflict: sharp opposition resulting in a threat over an attack from another entity

Public relations has a significant role in conflict known as crisis management in which the actions taken are dependent on the escalation of the problem.  There is also a system known as the “it depends” system.  There are two basic princples behind this system.

  1. Many factors determine the position of an organization when it comes to dealing with with conflict and threats against the organization.
  2. The public relations stance for dealing with a particular audience is dynamic because it changes constantly.
  • The two factors form the basis of the contingency theory
  • Factors of the contingency theory are:
  • external threats, industtry-specific environment, top management characteristics, and internal threats. (Those are both internal and external)

It is also important to understand the conflict management life cycle.

  1. proactive phase: activities and though processes that can prevent a conflict before it has begun
  2. strategic phase: the conflict has emerged and needs immediate action
  3. reactive phase: the issue has had a significant impact on the organization and the PR professional must use external communication
  4. recovery phase: after the crisis has become high profile, the organization must take actions to fix its reputation.conflictmanagement1

It is important to understand the cycle and solutions to conflict because more likely than not, it will become an issue in everyone’s workplace and knowing how to assess the situation will most likely make these conflicts either be prevented or run smoother.

Chapter 9- Public Opinion and Persuassion
April 28, 2009, 2:02 am
Filed under: Reading Notes

This chapter stood out to me because I think that public opinion is critical to our democracry.  Public opinion can be interpreted many different ways.   Public opinion could range from a social group, self-interest, or an opinion based group.  Once someone has satified their self-interest, opinion is difficult to change.  With opinions there are leaders.  After watching Seth Godin’s tribes, the idea of opinion leaders let me to think a little differently, meaning that anybody can be one.

However, opinion leaders tend to hold a very significant role among the groups they are involved with.  These leaders tend to be active in the community, have a college degree, make higher incomes and have a high level of participation.  These opinion leaders help promote a certain idea that they believe in and pass in on to opinion followers.  I can notice in my life that I tend to be both a leader and a follower depending on the subject.

There are many theories that give ideas on how the public receives and holds on to information.  One example is the two-step flow theory in which results showed that the media had little influence on people’s electoral choices but that opinion leaders were very predominant in person-to-person communication.  Also, that opinions are formed most strongly by those who sift through information and evaluate it before expressing their opinions to others.

The role of mass media continues to conflict because some believe that the media has a strong clasp on public opinion whereas other believe that the public make up their own mind and media just reinforces it.  I think that the persuassion the media has relates back the the audience members knowledge and already formed opinion on the subject. I am more influenced on matters that I am not familiar with and then I will begin to do my own research.

Chapter 8- Evaluation
April 28, 2009, 1:12 am
Filed under: Reading Notes

Evaluation is the fourth step in the public relations process.  Why is evaluation so important?  Well, that’s what this chapter is all about.  Evaluation put shortly is a measurement of how well everything went according to the planning process.  Many times it is the audience that contributes to the evaluation.  Their awarenss, attendance, atiitude, etc are all vital to the programming.

Based off of what I just said, message exposure is key.  If the audience isn’t at least hearing the message, then there will be little if no impact.  Media impressions are the audiences reached by a mass media accding to Wilcox and Glenn from Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics. This seems very obvious that the evaluation would be measured on the audience, but there are many other variables in the mix.  The way that the message is exposued via mediums and messages, and the way that the audience absorbs the message.

One way to measure audience awareness is to do a day-after recall.  This is a good idea because by catching someone the day after they have seen a news story or movie, it is easier to observe what the most memorable points were.  In order to measure audience attitudes, a baseline study can work very well.  The breakdown of this study is to see how the audience member’s views change throughout the course of the message.  Then, audience action can be measured to see what effect the message had.  This needs to be observed because the objectives set by the public relations team needs to be met.