Friday, October 23, 2015

Writing for Communications-10/22/15

Hello everyone! Yesterday's class focused primarily around writing for PR, but we also, of course, worked a little more on print writing. Below is a recap of the class, which I have split into sections for your convenience. I also love bullet points, so have fun trying to get through them. At the bottom is the homework for next week.

Part One-Review

  • We started class by reviewing the Pictionary story from last week 
    • Don't tell the story chronologically, especially if there were as many new developments as this story had. You don't have to tell the story chronologically, only tell the most important, relevant details.
      • It's okay to start from scratch and write a story over in order to make judgements about what's important. 

Part Two-More Work on Leads
  • We watched a scene from The Shipping News
    • Total non sequitur but I read the plot summary of this film on Wikipedia while I was writing this post, and it's really messed up.
    • Anyways, the point of the scene: to help you write the lead, find the center of your story, and your lead is the center. 
  • Zoo story
    • We were given a fact sheet containing information about a gorilla who had given birth at the National Zoo after 10 years of no new gorilla births at that particular zoo, and were asked to write leads from the information.
    • Center of the story: "For the first time in 10 years, a gorilla at the zoo has given birth."
    • After we wrote our leads, we typed them on the computer, projected them, and discussed how each one could be improved.
    • Remember:
      • All numbers 10 and over are written as numerals
      • When there's a way to minimize comma usage in a sentence, do it
      • Always write the day (Thursday), not "today" or "tomorrow"
      • Be specific and concise
        • Write "gave birth" instead of "gave birth to a baby"
      • Capitalize proper nouns (National Zoo)
Part Three-Introduction to PR Writing
  • What is PR?
    • PR is about communication goals in a way that will further an image
    • Represents the clint instead of informing the public
    • PR is fluid and always evolving through "brand journalism" and social media
  • Press release formatting
    • There must be an active verb in a headline
    • Headline cannot go over one line
    • Don't capitalize prepositions, capitalize everything else in a headline
    • Remember to write as the company, not for the company
    • No more than two sentences in subsequent paragraphs
    • Give quotes their own paragraph
    • AP Style
  • Press release fact sheets are distributed
    • We are writing as Midland Zoo, after their oldest polar bear was found dead in his exhibit. Two other animals have also recently died--a gazelle from renal failure, and a giraffe after it broke its neck after getting its horns stuck in a part of its cage. 
    • What's important?
      • Start with the fact that Homer (the bear) died
      • That he was the oldest polar bear
      • That the zoo will miss him
      • Don't know the cause of death
      • Information about other bears
      • We were ultimately required by Prof. Piacente to include the information about the other animals who had also died
      • Due Monday by 5pm
  • Exxon Valdeez
    • Massive oil spill off the coast of Alaska of approximately 11 million gallons
    • Largest human-made environmental disaster until 2010
    • We then watched the 1989 interview with the CEO of Exxon 
    • The PR people had not done their job as the CEO came off as condescending, combative, argumentative, and unapologetic
Homework and Announcements
  • Press release assignment is due on Monday by 5pm by email
  • Watch some broadcasts from David Culver, and come prepared with questions for him
  • Practice sheets that were distributed in class are a good way to practice your print writing, and practice is the only way to guarantee that your writing will get better. You can write some for practice and email them to Professor for feedback, or make an appointment with Sarah Baker to go through them. Both are optional. 
  • Final Exam
    • Will take place the last class of the semester and will consist of 2 stories
    • One print, and one broadcast with 2-3 prompts for each 
That's all for today, have a great weekend!

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