Friday, December 14, 2012

Tips for the Next Class (from the last class)

Laura - ALWAYS double check the spelling of names for any story

James - Try to watch a news broadcast in addition to reading the Post so that you can an idea of what a broadcast article should sound like.  It may give a better idea of how to write them in the future.

Contributed by Caitlin:

Nicole - Be sure to actually read the comments on your revised writings, whether it was graded or not. If you don't you might continue making the same small mistakes over and over again, like forgetting the -30- (which is a silly way to lose points). 

- Create a Writing for Comm folder in your email and after you read over the revisions, put the email directly in the folder. They are a really good reference tool for tracking your improvements as well as very useful to look back on before the midterm and final. 

Sean - My feedback to incoming students: Read Professor Piacente's feedback and read it carefully. This man has been in the business for a long time and he knows what he is talking about.

Kelsey - Practice makes perfect! If you find you are having trouble with the writing, don't hesitate to ask for practice stories to help fix those pesky problems you might be having. May be extra work, but it pays off on assignments, midterms, and your final! 

Arielle - Never miss a deadline. Ever. 
- Always review corrections given by Prof. Piacente and remember them.
- Prof. Piacente enjoys a good play on words every once in awhile. Read the names of the people in the practice stories out loud. 

Caitlin: Don't forget to reread your article every time, preferably out loud. Remember to double-check your formatting and make sure everything you wrote actually makes sense and is needed BEFORE you send in the story.

Sarah M: Make sure to review old stories with Professor Piacente's feedback before completing the next piece of writing.  His comments are really helpful and you're almost guaranteed to improve your grade on the next assignment if you take his corrections into consideration.  Similarly, be sure to review those stories before the midterm and final as well--it will give you a leg up when you get the fact sheets.


Just the facts, Jack. Don't get too fancy with your writing, especially at first. Make sure your facts are correct. Read Associated Press wire stories to see how to write print news. Then listen to local and national TV or radio news (CNN, WTOP) to help conquer broadcast writing. Remember: a lot of what you'll learn -- use active verbs, get to your point quickly, say things clearly, read your writing out loud -- is applicable in other classes and will improve your writing overall.

Listen to the guest speakers. They're all interesting and funny, but most importantly they're experts in their field. It's rare to have the opportunity to learn from and interact with so many accomplished people, let alone all in one semester.

Prof. Piacente makes the class fun and interactive, so speak up. Take advantage and enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A tip for writing:

Pay attention to formatting each story (the -30-, inclusion of a headline, etc.) Those little points off can really knock down your grade, and are easily fixable mistakes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Notes from 12-6-12 by Sarah Messenger

Last night, we had two guest professors from GSA, Greg and Judy.  They facilitated discussion and gave advice regarding how to present yourself in an interview and how to write well for personal success.
When discussing resumes, they reiterated that every word counts, and that it’s important not to use any extra language and to get your point across succinctly.
We watched a short YouTube clip on “What not to do in an interview,” and discussed afterwards.  In an interview, always be able to think on your feet, even if a question catches you by surprise.  Also, no cell phone use and dress to impress.  Be sure you are able to tell your interviewer why you want the job at their company, and don’t have an arrogant attitude and walk in assuming you are going to get the position.
As a class, we went around the room and shared our talking points and gave helpful feedback.  Some overall tips that were shared were:
·      Use words with positive connotations (ex: instead of saying you are direct, say that you “cut to the heart of the matter quickly”)
·      Make your flaws positive flaws
·      Say flip side of your negative attributes so the interviewer left with positive thoughts about you
·      Be able to follow up your talking points with examples and stories when they ask
It is important to separate political life from reality—government employees that have social media sites must be careful to never say anything about their position so that the people in the media don’t misconstrue your opinions as being representative of where you work (i.e. GSA).  Along with that, keep in mind that:
·      Employers are going to Google you: if you provide your twitter handle or FB or anything else, they’re going to find you: KNOW WHAT IS ON YOUR SITE
·      Flip it: use the company’s information on social media sites to know more about them
·      If you feel like something is invasive on social media platform , then it shouldn’t be there
Make sure to research and do your homework before you get to an interview, it will get you a leg up on other applicants.  Know who the company’s clients are, or their new initiatives, etc. so that you are able to ask good questions at the end of the interview, and show that you really want the job.

Always wrap up your interview with two things:
1.    “Ask for the sale:” reiterate that you want that job and why you are a great fit
2.    Thank the interviewer for their time, and say something like “I really hope I have the opportunity to see you in the next round of interviews”
HW due next class:   Study for final 
·      Review blog, review edits on all past assignments, and email Prof. Piacente with any questions. 
·      Final will consist of writing a press release and a broadcast story from different fact sheets. 
·      You may use any materials you want for the final. 
·      Current event quiz next week.
Posted by: Sarah Messenger

Friday, November 30, 2012

Notes from 11-29-12: Sarah Pachter

Class Agenda
·      Storify presentations
·      Practice press release and broadcast
·      Guest speaker – Mike Edson - Smithsonian

·      We have 2 more classes until our final on December 13th!
·      Professor Piacente is offering two last rounds of feedback on anyone’s work for whoever wants it before the final
·      The Final Exam will consist of 2 parts: one long broadcast story and one press release (both from fact sheets and we will have the whole class period to complete it)

Storify Presentations and Critiques
1.     WWII Memorial Storify
            Critique – make sure the materials we use in our stories follow the headlines
2.     Washington Monument
            -had trouble finding social media on site but lots of images
            Suggestion: research on web and not on Storify for more information and      then copy/paste link into Storify account
3.     The National Mall 
      As we prepare to watch a YouTube clip about the National Mall Professor      Piacente wonders why people put play buttons over people’s faces on    YouTube, to which a student answers that you CAN format it on YouTube. So            yes, you can avoid covering people’s faces.
4.     Library of Congress
      We learn Haley loves Disney
      Critique – be careful of WIDOWS  (headlines that have one word running     onto the next line)
      e.g. Plane Ordered to Land on Quiet Suburban
              Lane << widow
5.     Mt. Vernon
·      Critique – too much text loaded into the beginning of story. Professor advises to space out story with more photos and other media between the text.
·      We learn that Whiskey was made on Mt. Vernon’s plantation after the Revolution since tea was boycotted and Americans were feeling pretty anti-British after the Revolution. Since rum was a British product, George Washington claimed Whiskey for all.
6.     Lincoln Memorial
·      We learn the Obamas screened Lincoln in the Big WH
7.     Botanical Gardens
·      Critique – again, there should be more media (photos and links etc.) between text. Inclusion of googlemap good
8.     Vietnamn Veteran Memorial
9.     Jefferson Memorial

What other uses are there for storify?
·      Time capsule of important events to have for later-on sharing
·      a simple way to make a coherent story
·      a public narrative of a subject
·      a time line (ex. Benghazi story – we can track the story’s progression and audience response
·      term paper uses – create a storify not for publishing but for personal research

10. Naval Observatory
·      We learn the Vice President lives on the Observatory’s grounds
·      In 2012 the observatory announced it was the year 2000 instead of 2012.

Next Week’s Homework
·      We will be talking about going out on a job interview
o   come up with 3 talking points about self to help get job
o   take your bio/resume and rewrite it as an engaging one page story (Professor will send us a link with more details)
o   Do NOT e-mail the story, bring a hard copy to class and be prepared to share.
o   The class will be acting as the interviewer

       Mike Edson – Guest speaker
·      He is the Director of Web and New Media Strategies
·      Twenty- two years old
·      Was a liberal arts major
·      At first he cleaned Plexiglas at Smithsonian
·      He grew up in the decade when technology started happening in humanities
·      In 2003 AMA worked on its installation and new media strategy implementation
·      In 2009 he and others crafted a New Media Strategy for Smithsonian
·      Edson talks about “Walmart’s Music Store” – audio producers need hits because they sell however people figured out with introduction of online retail that you could have virtual inventories in which companies found the sum of the onesies/twosies items all sold and were a greater profit than the “hits.”
·      In the old days (broadcast era) people could only think about one audience but with digital technology, organizations can have niche audiences like the Smithsonian, which has different facebook, twitter, Flickr etc. accounts for the different Smithsonian institutions. Ex. a person who is interested in Asian art may not want to hear about cheetahs.
·      Edson talks about organizations’ struggles with targeting an audience or even knowing who their audience is.
·      Edson heatedly responds to JV’s question about big PR scandals by talking about their silent reaction to a viewer’s response to an AIDS exhibit at AMA. – Edson is bitter about how the Smithsonian Institutions chose not to respond when their mission is to provoke and engage in discussion of worldly matters.
·      Edson also touches upon how older directors of organizations from the broadcast era rarely see their model or way of doing things as “old” until its too late – e.g. Sears
·      He says 70% of organizations lack urgency to keep up with times and fail, while 30% are urgent organizations who change with the times and usually succeed.
·      Edson concluded his visit saying that if an institution doesn’t have new ideas they’re going to die and that every organization needs a little bohemianism.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Notes from the 12th Class

Broadcast Review:

Broadcast News Movie Clip
(Discussing the conflict between print and broadcast journalists)

Is news entertainment?
- Not a new issue -- even used to be an issue in print media.

Has technology changed the game?
-Being able to communicate faster may NOT be better.

Now there are a myriad of different places to get news. You can find the specific news you'd like to hear at a pace that you're comfortable with.

Does media cater to audiences?
-Danger comes when news is no longer factually accurate.
-Danger with a limited perspective you're only exposed to one viewpoint.

Value of journalism is to inform.

Parts of newspaper is supposed to be slanted in opinion and editorial pages.

Ombudsman is not protective of paper.

Mechanics of Broadcast Writing:
-present tense
-use "officials say" to get back to present tense

Stefanie at Sea

Revisiting the story:
-sentenced to two years in federal prison
-Elayne Smythe "phony terrorism" isn't a joke
- 120 agents $275,000 spent on search
-Quotes from passengers

UPDATE: Stefanie has fled town


Sunday, 5 pm 
Update Stefanie story to include:

Stefanie was arrested at a small town called Oroville in Washington state near the U.S.-Canada Border. She was with her boyfriend, Karl Magnuson. “All we wanted was to be together,” she told reporters as she was led off in handcuffs.

Magnuson told reporters he broke up with Stefanie. “I can’t have a girlfriend who’s stuck in jail for two years,” he said.

Write a broadcast story on this latest development that includes any necessary background so that story makes sense to viewers.

This assignment will be graded. 

Thursday, 11/29
Storify- present in class and provide links via email

Storified stories must include: 
- Headlines (with active verbs, past or present tense)
-Brief narrative at beginning (Think PR writing -- convince someone to come to your attraction)
-Stories (features, analyses, etc.)
-Social media (tweets, fb posts)

Quiz will be on Washington Posts's from black friday 11/23 to 11/29.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Notes from the 11th Class

  • Review from last week:
  • Most important about broadcast lead
    • present tense verbs
    • present tense verbs stress the immediacy of the news
    • Remember to provide the "when" of the story
      • When did the story happen?  In broadcast, this is usually 'today' or 'tonight'
    • ALWAYS include the information that is the most important/newsworthy in your lead, and make sure this it is clear

  • Guest Speaker: Angie Goff 
  • Began college as business major, but changed to communications 
  •  5 different internships, including
    • radio
    • broadcast TV
    • print journalism
  • Internships led to first job at Entertainment Tonight
  • First broadcast job in Iowa
    • Professor Piacente then stressed the difference between hard work, and working smart
  • Acquired job in DC as a traffic reporter
    • At this job, she began to take her opinions online
      • She began her blog
        • Her blog gained popularity, and was picked up by marketing and promotions, and they gave her a commercial
  • Through her job as a traffic reporter, she was given a three-minute segment, where she covered:
    • news generated by social media
    • hyper local news
    • entertainment
  • Her tips for success in broadcast
    • Be able to bring your personality into the mix
      • she did this with ad libs on air
    • Find the urgency in the story you are reporting, and communicate that to your audience
      • This is important because you are competing with social media, which is extremely quick/instant
      • People that are watching television are constantly searching for a reason to change the channel --> grab their attention!
        • Essentially, you are telling your audience, "This is what you need to know RIGHT NOW."
  • She then discussed how to find a balance between work and home/family life
    • Broadcast journalists move from city to city often times
    • Always have a supportive network of family/friends, and be willing to ask for help when you need it
    • It is a stressful lifestyle
    • She then said, "If you love what you do, it'll be worth the sacrifice."
  • She then discussed the importance of using technology tools strategically
    • It's important to be internet savvy
    • Make sure you know the language of the technology or social media you are using
    • She encourages learning some coding
    • Social skills and being able to engage with other people put you a step ahead of the game
    • Be able to share content effectively to your audience
    • Remember that there are different methods for different mediums
    • Get a step ahead, and don't wait to use a social media platform until it becomes "cool"
    • Build your own brand
    • A quote that has stuck with her: "You have to be the CEO of your own career."

  • HW FOR NEXT WEEK (11/15/12)
  • Study the Smithsonian’s social media policy and do a one-page analysis of why it’s either effective or not effective, in your opinion.  
  • Look for things like how the content is presented, whether posts generate comments, and number of visits. Consider whether the language is clean and simple, or full of jargon.  
  • The starting link:  
  • Bring hard copy to class. 

  • Friday, November 2, 2012

    Notes from the 10th class

    ·         In press releases with headlines, don’t treat the lead like the second sentence of a story
    o   Include all of the important and necessary information in the lead, even if it was already stated in the headline
    ·         Advertising vs. Press releases
    Press Releases
    Picked up by media
    Don’t have to tell the whole truth
    Should cover issues with more depth
    Tailored for TV or radio (or other media outlets)
    Written the same way for any media outlet

    ·         “Mad Men” scene
    o   Don Draper used very few words, lots of emotion, and perfect imagery
    ·         Writing for print vs. broadcast

    Writing for print
    Writing for broadcast
    Written for the eye
    Written for the ear
    Past-tense verbs
    Present-tense verbs (when accurate)
    Attribution can go before or after quote
    Attribution must go before quote
    Titles can go before or after someone’s name
    Titles must go before people’s names
    Inverted pyramid style
    Oval format (beginning, middle and end)

    ·         Tips for broadcast
    o   Still should be concise
    o   More freedom to be creative or funny
    o   Lead doesn’t have to contain all 5 Ws
    o   Should be easily spoken
    o   Don’t confuse leads with headlines or tenses
    §  Correct: “A Bethesda fire captain has landed in hot water after using a city fire truck to water his own lawn.”
    §  Incorrect: “Bethesda fire captain lands in hot water.” (VIDEO AT 11!)
    o   Paraphrase direct quotes, or use “…he said – quote – I’m not responding to that garbage – unquote.”
    o   Use short, simple sentences
    o   Use active, not passive voice
    o   Avoid numbers whenever possible, and round off when you can
    o   Don’t use abbreviations
    §  Spell our state names
    §  “N-double A-C-P” not “N-A-A-C-P”
    o   Audience is in a hurry, get to the point quickly
    o   Active and present tense verbs get and maintain audience attention
    o   Avoid jargon
    o   Must be easily understood
    ·         Handouts: “Honorary Degrees” press release
    ·         Homework for 11/8
    o   Read Ch. 9 (on broadcast journalism)
    o   Pick two stories from this semester and rewrite the leads as broadcast leads. Bring in hard copy.
    o   Google Angie Goff; watch at least two of her news videos. Bring in hard copy of two questions related to her work being a broadcaster. Try to think of questions she won’t naturally cover when she speaks to class.

    For fun, the video we watched in class:

    Friday, October 26, 2012


    By Kelsey Granlund

    Crisis Communications

    How to correctly respond to anything that is deemed a “crisis” to the media and general population is critical. Advance planning and brainstorming is necessary before going out and addressing the public to avoid any sense of a cover up or a bad imagine. Remember the video in class of the Exxon CEO? That was pretty bad communication. Here’s the checklist of key points to remember about crisis communication:

    -       Break your own bad news first.
    -       Be aware of all the fact before speaking
    -       Have a strategy for each audience
    -       Develop factual message that are understood by everyone
    -       Don’t neglect the employees, it doesn’t look good to have your own employees find out the bad news through the media.
    -       Discuss the solution to the problem and how it will be done quickly and as openly as possible. Being honest is key, if anything is hidden it will be discovered and it will destroy a reputation.
    -       Use all tools at your disposal such as a web site, public relations service, and social media.
    -       Be consistence in communicating with the general public.
    -       Learn from experience and always plan for future scenarios

    We also had a guest speaker for a half of the class, Danielle Piacente, who is PR manager for the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. She gave us a good insight on what I was like to work for PR for a good event.

    -       Have a sort of “cheat sheet” with you that helps keep everything in order so you don’t forget a certain event or such.
    -       Be sure to not delay in getting information to someone who needs it.
    -       Be creative in how to promote an event and having certain back up plans in case of a problem.

    Write the press release for the polar bear story and email it in by Sunday at 12:00
    Do exercise #3 on the same hand out