Friday, February 24, 2017

2/22/ Class

         We began class with a discussion about the differences between journalism and public relations. We  looked at the differences in being a reporter and working in PR. After that, we read a handout on PR as a class and discussed its key points.

Things to remember:

What is PR?
- Public relations is all about information and image
- PR is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support, and influencing opinion and behavior. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain good will and mutual understanding between a business and its public.
- Make sure the headline in a press release contains an active verb!
- "If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying Circus Coming Saturday, that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flower bed, that's publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations."

Key points for Journalism v. PR:

- Because journalists serve the general public, they structure their news stories to be as fair and complete as possible
- PR specialists serve organizations so their messages are structured to be as beneficial to their clients as possible
- The ultimate goal for a journalist is to inform the public
- The ultimate goal in PR is to generate good will toward the client
- journalists control all the information that goes into their stories
- PR practitioners provide info to journalists but can't control how they use it

After this discussion, we practiced writing a press release where we had to announce the decision of the cosmetic company, Glamour, Inc. to build a lipstick plant in Clarksville, Tenn. that would provide jobs in the community.

After our break, we met Dan Kolko, our guest speaker. Dan Kolko is a sports reporter for the Washington Nationals. He shared with us his experiences with the players both on and off the field and re-emphasized the importance of being able to write and communicate well.

-  Always keep in mind the 5 W's (Who, What, When, Where, Why)
- Ask probing questions
- Stay away from asking more than one question at the same time because it gives whoever is answering an opportunity to dodge the question
- Building relationships is key
- Do your research and stay informed. This will allow you to ask probing questions and to feel prepared during an interview
- Think before you tweet!

HW for 3/1:
- Watch 3 stories by NBC4's David Culver and have two questions prepared
- Write an opinion piece assessing whether Sean Spicer is doing a good job as president Trump's press secretary (350 words maximum, bring a hard copy to class, and be ready to read them aloud). You will be graded on clarity of message, conciseness, and grammar. Don't waste space with a lot of background material.
- Do the worksheet on wordiness

Have Fun!

Posted by: Natalie Ravis

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2/15 Class

We began class by swapping our AP take home quizzes with a partner and grading each other's sentences. After that, we continued our classroom discussion on anxiety and how to relieve stress.

Strategies we discussed included...
- Positive visualization
- Rehearsing what you will say
- And the importance of being prepared

Following up the importance of being prepared, Professor Piacente showed the class two videos. The first one was a woman interviewing John Cusack who thought he was in the movie American Beauty. The second video was a high school student interviewing his state senator. In this video, the student grilled his senator on an education bill and why he voted the way he did. Not being able to take the heat, the senator got up and left the interview. These two videos exemplify the importance of being prepared regardless of the situation.

After this, we were put to work and given a story to write about two psychiatric patients that initiated a fight over a Pictionary game. After a said amount of time, Professor Piacente told us to stop writing and gave us new information to add to the story. He also explained the importance of always making sure that your story uses the most up to date information.

After our break, we met Christa Davis, our public speaker for the night and introduced ourselves with our fun facts. Christa is a development concern officer for Project Concern International (PCI) and mainly focuses on Women Empowerment. After answering many of our questions, Christa also engaged with us about the importance of strong communication skills and personal branding.

Among all the great advice and stories she shared with us, the most important takeaways are...
- Your writing is usually your first impression
- Strong communications are helpful in all careers
- Know the importance of getting to the point
- Take public speaking classes if possible
And the most important concept to remember,

Homework for next Wednesday as on the Syllabus...

- Pictionary Stabbing Story (with new lead and information) due by Friday at 5 pm
- Read Chapters 11-12 in textbook
- Read Writing to be Heard (pages 214-216)
- Read Characteristics of Writing  (pages 233-235)
- Do radio story (page 243) "Historic Document"
- Read broadcast chapter and list top three takeaways

Good Luck!

Friday, February 10, 2017


We started the beginning of class by getting to know Craig Cannon, a graduate student in SOC studying Broadcast Journalism who works as a writing coach for SOC. He introduced himself and answered questions about writing news stories.

Then we learned about public speaking and in general, the way in which we conduct ourselves. We started off with a quote from Mark Twain, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” For public speaking, at any level or capacity, it is important to:

            - Be prepared, so you will be more confident and sure of what you are saying.

- Repeating what you are going to say and how you are going to say it

- It is important to take deep breaths and imagine that your stomach is a closed fist when you breathe in and as you breathe out it is a circle of light. This will slow down your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed.

- It is also important to visualize what you will look like and act like while you are speaking. See yourself succeeding rather than messing up!

-               Lastly, the communication pyramid breaks down the importance of word choice (7%), voice tone (38%) and body language (55%) when speaking. These should be in alignment to ensure your words are heard clearly.  

We then learned about personal brands which is composed of our character, our values, the work that we do and who we associate ourselves with. We filled out a worksheet where we answered questions about ourselves, our brands and if we do we have a brand (because we do!) The takeaway: take charge of your personal brand!

We reviewed common grammar mistakes such as misplacing commas and using commas with quotes.

HW for 2/15
            -Complete AP quiz given out in class
            -Read Chapter 15 on Public Relations

-Go to Project Concern International (PCI) and read two to three articles by development officer Christa Davis and prepare three questions to ask when she comes to speak to our class next week.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2/1 Class

We started class by reviewing the Joy Baker story. Feedback was given and questions were answered.  Some takeaways from this are:
- Use the quotes if they are unique or uniquely said. If they are, then use the whole quote. If they are not, then paraphrase the quote. Do not change the meaning of the quote.
- Continue to refer to the AP Stylebook to assure you're writing correctly.
- Keep stories concise and relevant. Put the strange aspects of the story towards the beginning.
- Avoid factual errors.
We received multiple handouts. We discussed what makes something newsworthy. There are six core news values:
1. Unusual
2. Immediacy
3. Conflict
4. Prominence (prominent figures in the community/celebrities)
5. Impact
6. Proximity
For the second half of class, Taylor Shapiro, a writer at the Washington Post, came in and told us how he started and what he does. He started at Virginia Tech; he was a writer for the newspaper when the VA Tech shooting happened and got one of the first interviews from a survivor. He also covered the "gang-rape by fraternity at UVA" story. His advice to us was to cover both sides and to be a trustworthy reporter so that people are willing to share their stories with you when they may not be with others.

Homework for next class:
-Go through your daily life and come up with five headlines about things you see
-Write a lead for the Scott Forsythe story (handout)
-The Ali Rhami (Georgetown University student) story is due Thursday at 5:30

Have a nice rest of the week!
-Joie Graves