Writing a Media Release.

The advantages of using a media release are abundant and it has become the most popular and accepted way of communicating with the media. If written in the correct style, the release may be used word for word in local or trade media. It makes the author actually think about what should be said and to check their facts, a good media release should always be truthful. A media release also allows circulation between a number of journalists, reporters and publications simultaneously (Tymson, Lazar & Lazar, 2006).

Media releases should be written with the media in mind, not just your client’s interests. It is especially important to be clear, concise and to the point when issuing a media release. By sending a journalist irrelevant information or something that is not quite newsworthy, will not only waste of their time but yours as well.

‘Different media report stories in different ways. For example, look at the same story reported in the Australian Financial Review and Melbourne’s Herald Sun and you will clearly see that the tone, placement and angle is quite different’ (Tymson, Lazar & Lazar, 2006).  Additionally, pursuing the correct media for your story is necessary for a successful release. A story may be extremely well written and informative but if you are targeting the wrong audience, it is often bound to fail.

A media release should be structured in the following order:

  1. Headline – Summarises key points and be catchy and strong.
  2. Lead – Includes the who, what, when, where, why and how.
  3. Body – Prioritise information, beginning with what is most important. Use short sentences and paragraphs and always write in third person.
  4. End – Summarise essential background information of the subject of the release. Conclude with the word “ends” and display contact details for further information.

Badlanguage.net has constructed a list of 62 Ways to Improve Your Press Releases.

Emailing is readily active in our lives, almost like second nature and allows public relations practitioners to be able ‘to deliver the right story to the right media outlet efficiently and cost effectively like never before’ (Tymson, Lazar & Lazar, 2006). In saying this however, there are also many cons of using emails to deliver a media release as it is not uncommon for an email to become lost, filtered or ignored. Although journalists like to be pitched in their own individual ways and it is important to build and maintain relationships with them to find out exactly how. Some prefer phone calls, some hate phone calls and only accept emails and others prefer a combination of the two.

The Bad Pitch Blog offers countless examples which highlight bad pitches. Also I have discovered a plethora of blogs about bad press releases.

References:

Tymson, C., Lazar, P., & Lazar, R. (2006). Writing a Media Release, In The New Australian and New Zealand Public Relations Manual (5th ed., pp. 528-540). Manly, NSW:  Tymson Communications.

Image sourced from:

http://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/85371824/Photographers-Choice

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New Media and Asian Public Relations.

It is not surprising that ‘new media is cited by practitioners and scholars as one of the biggest challenges facing the public relations profession’ (Dougall et al. 2001; Weaver et al. 2003; Zerfass et al. 2007 as cited in Chia & Synnott, 2009).

The dawn of new media has had a vast impact on the communication environment, with the increase of internet access on a global scale. Those who use the internet to blog, tweet, tube and so on, become constructers of meaning and can share their information and opinions on across the world.

As a result, this gives more opportunity ‘for publics to organise around a common issue, regardless of geographical location, time zone, or resources’ (Fitch, 2009). An example of this is the activist organisation website for PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals).  The site embodies low cost communications and is also abundantly interactive, allowing the user to passionately partake in animal activism across various networks worldwide. This of course becomes an implication for any individual or organisation that is being targeted by PETA and a judicious response is not always available immediately (Fitch, 2009).

Evidence of this is shown though a number of examples on the PETA website, such as ‘Urge L’Oréal to Pull Cruel Monkey Commercial’ and ‘Ask Australia’s New Prime Minister to End Mulesing Mutilations‘.

On another note like Western public relations, Asian public relations does not employ just one singular theoretical model or context. ‘Economics and politics play important roles in the dynamics of public relations development, but the subtleties of difference are less evident than are the sociocultural and sociolinguistic differences that force situational variable analysis’ (Howell, 2009).

References:

Fitch, K. (2009). New Media and Public Relations. J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 333-357). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Stanton, R.  (2009). Focus on Asian Public Relations Management. J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 357-385). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

An Issues Crisis Perspective and Reputation Management.

Public relations is often associated with managing and maintaining the reputation of a particular organisation, cause or individual. If a crisis averts, you can be sure that there is at least one public relations practitioner on the other end, trying to do whatever they can to protect the reputation of the organisation they are representing.  Even a small incident when magnified under the media microscope can become a major disaster for everyone involved, leaving nothing behind but a tarnished reputation and the distrust from various publics. Often if an organisation is part of a blunder, they will always be remembered for it. In any situation, crisis is never a good thing and it’s often very difficult to bounce back from.

Due to the prominent rise of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and various blogging sites, customers and consumers have the opportunity to be able to share their opinions online. If something or someone has gained a bad reputation for whatever reason, the news always spreads like wildfire. This is why it’s important to maintain good relationships and be aware, active participants of social media. By doing this it can ensure the best the organisation you are representing. ‘The most important issue faced by public relations professionals is maintaining control of the message in the public arena’ (Howell, 2009).

A bad reputation can result in loss of trust, loyalty and credibility from various publics and stakeholders. ‘So-called greenwashing is a prime example of how this can occur. Greenwashing involves the companies proclaiming their environmental credentials while actually behaving very differently’ (De Bussy, 2009). In early 2010 Nestle set up a Facebook ‘fan’ presence, which ended up doing more harm than good. Countless visitors to the page were quick to criticise the company’s environmental, ethical and operational credentials and exploit their use of palm oil from deforested areas in Indonesia. In response to this Greenpeace posted a video on YouTube which exposed Nestle’s ‘continued use of palm oil sourced from Sinar Mas, an Indonesian company accused of illegal deforestation and peatland clearance. Nestle petitioned YouTube to remove the video citing copyright infringement – Greenpeace had doctored the Kit Kat logo to read as “Killer”’(Lee, 2010). However it was too late, the word had already spread and had attracted a large number of anti-Nestle followers.  The real issue commenced when these anti-Nestle followers began to boycott their products and a Facebook event was created entitled ‘An Anti-Nestle Easter’.


References:

De Bussy, N. (2009). Reputation Management: A Driving Force For Action. J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 222-248). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Howell, G.  (2009). An Issues-Crisis Perspective. J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 270-299). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Lee, J. (2010). Handling bad PR turns sticky for Nestle. Retrieved September 20, 2010 from http://www.smh.com.au/technology/enterprise/handling-bad-pr-turns-sticky-for-nestle-20100326-r0t2.html

Public Relations Management in Organisations.

In my first blog (Theory plus a catwalk controversy) I discussed the importance of theory and how it is essential in practice to aid in making decisions and choices. The systems theory is one of the key guides of Public Relations theory and practice, which is active within managing organisations.

As an example we can apply the systems approach to an ecological system, such as the Great Barrier Reef. By doing this we are able to see that as a whole, the reef is made up of various parts which interact and rely on one another for function. Marine life and coral are intertwined with river systems, farming trends, ocean temperature, tourists and divers and radical changes in these types of systematic interactions can potentially damage the beauty of the reef. The existence of the reef is heavily reliant on the surrounding environment (Mehta & Xavier in Chia & Synnott, 2009). Similarly PR literature identifies a system as ‘a set of interacting units that endures through time within an established boundary by responding and adjusting to change pressures from the environment to achieve and maintain goal states’ (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2006 as cited in Chia & Synnott, 2009). By being aware of events and occurrences in the environment, we are then able to see how changes may affect organisational goals and can adapt to effectively suit the needs of stakeholders.

In 2006 Star City’s employee opinion survey found that only 59 per cent of staff viewed the company’s communications as satisfactory and almost half saw it as inadequate. In aim to overcome this issue, Star City’s Public Relations team implemented, given the task of discovering innovative new ways to improve communications – and deliver key messages to staff. The main challenge was to get employees involved in communications which would ultimately make them feel more a part of the business.

The Public Relations Department at Star City liaised with the key business units to develop a strategy which addressed the communication problems among staff. This was achieved by:

  • ‘Giving every employee access to the Managing Director to demonstrate that their views and questions are not only welcome but encouraged
  • Devising interactive communication sessions where staff would actually enjoy learning about key issues
  • Introducing a new reward program to recognise excellence – both inside and outside the workplace – to encourage superior customer service

This approach was most effective because it would engage employees from the outset – and from the highest level in the company – and involve them in every step.

The campaign proved that, by meeting the needs of employees for better communications, we were able to boost staff knowledge and improve customer service to record levels’ (Golden Target Awards, 2006).

References:

Golden Target Awards. (2006). ‘Star City: Interactive Internal Communications’. Retrieved September 12, 2010, from http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/gta/?page=show&id=615

Mehta, A., Xavier, R.  (2009). Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity. In J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 248-270). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Image sourced from:

http://www.printingandpackaging.com.au/images/star_city.jpg

Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity.

As I have learned over the past couple of weeks, strategy is such an important part of public relations practice. To put it simply strategy is a plan or preparation which enables an organisation to attain and accomplish a particular objective.Research is significantly notable in forming a strategic public relations plan and both the internal and external environments must be made aware of to know how to best construct the proposed meanings.The three core concepts which have an effect on public relations strategy are the ‘contested space, international representation and intended meaning’ (James, 2009).

For different organisations and causes, alternate strategies must be implemented in order to achieve their individual goals. For example, the strategic planning for a government election would be extremely dissimilar to the planning of a music festival such as Big Day Out. As the target audience varies, so do the ways that the message being sent out is interpreted. Things such as generational gaps and cultural differences can also have an effect on how a certain message is communicated and received. A difference of opinion is what makes the world turn but strategies should generally maintain ethical elements in order to suit a variety of groups and to generate a positive image.

When developing a strategic public relations plan, it is necessary to follow nine essential steps in order to be most successful. These are:

1.    Research

2.    Analysis

3.    Goal setting

4.    Setting objectives

5.    Identifying publics or audiences

6.    Developing strategies

7.    Devising and implementing tactics

8.    Monitoring

9.    Evaluation

(James, 2009).

Earth Hour began in Sydney March 2007, in aim to increase awareness about global warming and its affects. Widespread print, television, radio and online media coverage encouraged participant involvement and action to be taken by people across all levels of society. The amount of media attention that Earth Hour gained was part of a strategy which was critical to the project’s success.  The simplicity of the event was stressed in the fact that to participate in Earth Hour, all that was needed was for a household to switch off any unnecessary electricity for one hour. ‘Polling company AMR Interactive surveyed nearly 1000 Sydney residents, finding 57 per cent participated in Earth Hour by switching off lights, turning off computers , televisions and other household appliances’ (Earth Hour: Sydney sends message to the World on Global Warming, 2007). The enthusiasm and success of the first Earth Hour in 2007 has followed through and continued through to the present with major partners encouraging and facilitating the event globally.

References:

Golden Target Awards. (2007).  ‘Earth Hour: Sydney sends message to the World on Global Warming’ . Retrieved September 6, 2010, from http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/gta/?page=show&id=663

James, M.  (2009). Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity. In J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 248-270). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Image retrieved from:

http://keetsa.com/blog/eco-friendly/earth-hour-the-world-responds/

Engaging With The Media.

Working with the media takes much skill and creativity. Workable relationships are built from a wealth of knowledge including how to communicate with the media, how the media operates and how they can have affect on your organisation. As a media relations person it is crucial to always meet your deadlines, failing this will often result in a missed opportunity and will wear as a stain on your professional credibility.A significant role of the Public Relations practitioner relies on positively presenting the face of an organisation to the public. This is essentially achieved through attaining mass media coverage and by publishing newsworthy stories that will support the organisations objectives. These stories should aim to boost public awareness, develop community relations, draw crowds to an event or to minimise apprehension if crisis averts (McLean & Phillipps, 2009).

When I think of a gatekeeper I am instantly reminded of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings as he famously declares “You shall not pass”. However, in Public Relations and the ‘real world’, gatekeepers hold a vital part in determining how successful your media campaign will be and decide on whether or not to accept or reject your story. They are the editors, directors of news, or chiefs of staff who select from an array of media releases, news tips, emails, web diaries, or blogs. The stories chosen will appeal to them based on criteria and their news values which will vary from one individual to another.

“Media releases are the key tool in media relations, but to be effective they must contain real news, not hype. After gatekeepers give them a quick scan, many media releases are consigned to the waste basket because they contain nothing the gatekeeper recognises as newsworthy” (McLean & Phillipps, 2009).

Clara Zawawi (2001) undertook an Australian study which analysed articles in leading metropolitan newspapers the Courier-Mail, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Zawawi found that 47 per cent of these articles were the direct result of public relations activity. ‘Often there is no time for the reporter to go out and chase news…Public relations people are ready and willing to fill the gaps’ (McLean & Phillipps, 2009).

There are many keys to success in the Public Relations field, the most golden of those being to under-promise and over-deliver. It is also vitally important to build relationships with journalists and editors. Working with the media takes much skill and creativity. Workable relationships are built from a wealth of knowledge including how to communicate with the media, how the media operates and how they can have affect on your organisation. As a media relations person it is crucial to always meet your deadlines, failing this will often result in a missed opportunity and will wear as a stain on your professional credibility.

Furthermore, this link provides an article including some interesting and thoughful Public Relations Trends for 2010.

References:

McLean, H., & Phillipps, R.  (2009). Engaging With The Media. In J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 299-331). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Images sourced from:

http://www.cicsworld.org/blogs/nmulkarat/2009/12/keys_of_success.html

Procrastination and Social Media; Like Honey to a Bee.

So my exhilarating Saturday night has summed itself up to be an evening of pondering the thoughts of essays, blogs, case summaries and so forth. A few trips to the kitchen for chai tea didn’t go astray either. Being a bit of a YouTube addict, I stumbled across this amusing clip about a rappers’ addiction to social media. It cheered my night up faster than you could say ‘new friend request’.