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The 5 w questions revisited

At its heart, good PR is storytelling.  But PR’s who rigidly follow the ‘5 w’  inverted pyramid approach for writing press releases can end up putting their organisation’s story into a straightjacket. The structure is too regimented.  And it can restrain the writer, leaving the story nowhere to go.

Why are PR’s encouraged to write news releases by highlighting the key who, what, where, why, when (and sometimes how) questions in the lead paragraph? This practice was born in an era when a release could be printed and cut from the bottom if space was limited.

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Channel hopping for PR

Whilst running a course on strategic communications last week, I was reminded how the word ‘channel’ has come to mean the medium or media channels that PR’s use for communicating with chosen audiences. Deciding what channels to use is key to good PR planning. But it’s no longer relevant to segregate them in terms of print, online and broadcast because everything has merged in this digi-mobile era.  I look at them in terms of whether the media is earned, owned or bought as well as non-media communication channels.  The reality is that we often end up compromising in our choice of channels because of a lack of time, budget and ability to measure impact.  But here’s a simple list of their pro’s and con’s: Read more

Storytelling through PR video

The PR world can get too obsessed with using the written word as a communication tool. A good PR video is what gets me excited.

I agree with Steve Olenski that “Mr. & Mrs. Brand, prefer to ‘see’ rather than ‘read’ when it comes to the deluge of information they are bombarded with,” so learning how to story tell through video is an important skill for today’s PR’s.  But how long should a PR video be?

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Writing a feature for PR

pic courtesy of Free Digital Photos
pic courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Feature writing is a craft many PR’s have to grasp.

Perhaps you have to write a feature for your organisation’s website, staff newsletter or company brochure, or an editorial piece in a consumer or trade magazine?

Don’t let it throw you off guard. It’s quite liberating when you don’t have to follow the strict structure of news release writing.  But it can be bewildering too.  Where do you start? Read more

How to be a pro at food writing

pic courtesy of Digitalart
pic courtesy of Digitalart

Food is something that has to be experienced, so the job of the writer is not just to visualise, but to engage every sense so that the reader can imagine how it looks, tastes, feels.

For PR’s who write about food, the skill likes in finding the right words.   But I often see the same words used again and again to describe food in press releases, websites and other PR material.

Does anyone know what delicious tastes of?  What does appealing look like?  And how tasty does something have to be before it becomes appetizingly good?

The secret of great food writing is to make the reader taste the food in your words and here are a few tips to help: Read more

Top blogs for PR professionals

Pic courtesy of Stuart Miles
Pic courtesy of Stuart Miles

My PR students and learners are always asking me to recommend free sources of information to help them in their work and study. Blogs can be a great way to keep informed and here are some of my favourites:

Digital media and PR – a blog from Shel Holtz’s Holtz Communication and Technology. Favourite post ‘In the ero of pageview journalism, the pitch doesn’t end when the story is  published.’ – a blog from well respected new media expert and author, Brian Solis and his research firm. Recommended post ‘Calculate the ROI of social media.’ Read more

10 must do’s for food PR’s

Pic from Free Digital Photos
Pic from Free Digital Photos

I work in the food and drink sector and thought I’d share some of my tips on how to achieve successful publicity:

1. Build fans by engaging with them early

Use social media to conduct research, build a base of opinion formers, journalists and fans and involve them in your product development, tasting, refining and packaging.  I did this years ago when I worked with Sharwood’s by asking journalists for feedback on product concepts before they were finalised  and it forged  really close relationships.  More recently, this idea has been used by many other brands including Waitrose with its food club and Walkers crisps launched a whole campaign – ‘Do us a Flavour’. Read more