Erika Brewington’s Blog


A Hidden Message

We did a fun exercise in my PR class today that showed the importance of punctuation. A letter was given to us without any punctuation or grammar. Half the class had to turn it into a love letter and the other half had to turn it into a hate letter. Here is the letter the exact way it was given to us:

Dear Tom I want a man who knows what love is all about you are generous kind thoughtful people who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior you have ruined me for other men I yearn for you I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart I can forever be happy will you let me be yours Sheila

I had to turn the letter into a love letter, and this is what I came up with:

Dear Tom, I want a man who knows what love is all about! You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you! I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can forever be happy! Will you let me be yours? Sheila

Can you turn it into a hate letter?? Give it a try!

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Check Out These Blogs!

Here are some blogs that I’ve read, found interesting, and commented on…check them out for yourself!

Jcam19 – I commented here: http://jcam19.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/prssa/#comment-18

Antonio Bivins – I commented here: http://antoniobivins.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/fallujah-video-game/#comment-31

Sdrury1 – I commented here: http://sdrury1.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/how-am-i-supposed-to-explain-this-to-my-future-employers/#comment-23

Marilyn Lintel – I commented here: http://marilynpr.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/celebrity-spotlight/#comment-16

Sarah Kemp – I commented here: http://skemp1.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/911-scare-or-air-force-one-publicity/#comment-30

Happy McCullough – I commented here: http://jmccull.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/turkeys-away/#comment-17


Campaigning for Real Beauty

Dove wants to free women everywhere from beauty stereotypes. Across the world, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is encouraging women to embrace all definitions of beauty. The campaign includes a website, billboards, events, a Self- Esteem Fund, and much more.

A National Report on the State of Self-Esteemshowed that 7 in 10 young girls believe that they are not good enough or do not measure up; 75% of girls with low-self esteem admitted to negative activities including disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking and drinking; 57% o young girls admit they have a mother who criticizes her own looks.

The DOVE mission: to make more women feel beautiful everyday by widening stereotypical views of beauty.

Find support and make a difference at campaignforrealbeauty.com


Dissecting a PR Press Release

This week in my public relations class, we are working on writing in public relations. Specifically, Professor Nixon chose to  focus on press releases in a lecture that she titled A Baker’s Dozen:: The Anatomy of a News Release. We were given a news release that we thoroughly dissected, discussing the importance of each part. Although I have seen news releases before and could recognize specific things that must be included, there were many parts that I did not realize were so important, or even served a purpose for that matter. This lecture was presented in a fun way, and was very helpful and interesting as well! Here are the basics of what we discussed..

As the title hints, there are 13 important features that news releases will include:

  1. The Letterhead and Address– although the organization’s full name and address is part of the basic format, it is very important for contact information.
  2. The Word “News Release”– this automatically tells the editor, journalist, or reporter what it is and by stating it clearly, they will know exactly what to do from there.
  3. For Immediate Release or Embargo– this will tell the editor, journalist, or reporter whether the information can be released to the public immediately, or if they have to wait until a specific date..if it is not included or forgotten, it is automatically assumed as immediate release!
  4. Media Contact Information– this is contact information disclosed to the media outlet that allows them to contact the PR practitioner for any reason regarding the release.
  5. Headline and Sub-headline-boldly states the topic of the release and what the information is regarding
  6. Dateline-states when and where the news release is from in order to see how recent it is.
  7. Lead-the first paragraph in the release that pulls the editor, journalist, or reporter in right away with the most important information.
  8. Quotations-gives the release credibility by using statements from prominent figures.
  9. Body– the remaining segment of the story that gives additional information about the event.
  10. Page Slugs-words at the end of a page that indicate there is an additional page with more information.
  11. Additional Contact Information– gives the editor, journalist, or reporter additional information of contacts that can be reached regarding the information.
  12. Boilerplate-indicates that the information has to be printed as written.
  13. End Sign-used to signal the end of the press release.

Additionally, Professor Nixon also discussed with the class the importance of using the Bcc line when sending news releases via e-mail to more than one reporter. This will increase the chance of coverage for the organization and also keep the distribution private.


Reading Notes: Chapter 14

Notes from Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics 9th Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron

Media Releases, Media Alerts, and Pitch Letters

  • News release/press release is the most commonly used PR tactic; it is a document with information to mass media such as newspapers, broadcast stations, and magazines
  • Reasons media rely on news releases:
  1. reporters and editors spend most of their time processing information, not gathering it
  2. staff is not big enough to cover every single event in a community
  • Planning  a news release:
  1. what is the key message?
  2. who is the primary audience
  3. what does the target audience gain from the product or service?
  4. what objectives does the release serve?
  • A news release follows the journalistic approach to writing called the “inverted pyramid” where the first paragraph beings by summarizing the most important part of the story followed by the details.
  • 3 reasons why the inverted pyramid is used:
  1. editors will cut a story if they don’t find it interesting within the first 3 or 4 lines
  2. editors cut stories from the bottom
  3. readers don’t always read the full story
  • Electronic news releases/e-releases can be e-mailed to journalists, posted on an organization’s Web page or news room, and distributed by electronic news services
  • Factors to consider when selecting photos for media use:
  1. quality
  2. subject matter
  3. composition
  4. action
  5. scale
  6. camera angle
  7. lighting
  8. color
  • Mat feature releases are sent in mat form ready for the printing press; a feature angle is used instead of a lead that gives a key message
  • The most common format of media alerts/advisories is short, bulleted items rather than long paragraphs
  • Media kits are usually prepared for major events and new product launches; gives editors and reporters a variety of information and resources
  • Basic elements of a media kit include:
  1. main news release
  2. news feature about the development of the product or something similar
  3. fact sheets
  4. background information
  5. photos and drawings
  6. biographical material
  7. basic brochures
  • Pitch letters are short letters written to the editor in order to grab their attention; this is also referred to as making a pitch
  • News releases, photos, and media advisories are distributed in 5 major methods:
  1. mail
  2. fax
  3. e-mail
  4. electronic news services
  5. on-line newsrooms

Sharing S.O.U.L

Tonight, the Singers of the United Lands (S.O.U.L.) preformed at Georgia Southern University. The quartet of young-adult professional singers travels across the U.S. and Canada in hopes of spreading cultural awareness through music from around the world. The group consists of Rory, who is from Chile, Corrine, who is from Kenya, Martins, who is from Latvia, and Subi, who is from South Korea. Each of the members was dressed in their traditional garments, and sang native songs from their countries using a variety of instruments. S.O.U.L. is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to sharing cultural diversity through song. 


Twitter Update

I have really began to enjoy using twitter throughout this semester. Although I wasn’t too crazy about the idea at first, I will admit that its hard to resist getting on my blackberry during class, on the way to class, while I’m studying, when I should be asleep-well you get the point-to check my twitter updates. I have grown with the craze of twitter, and I love turning on the TV and seeing how popular it is everywhere and thinking, “wow, and this started as a PR assignment for me.” You can find me on twitter @erikabrewington

My second experience with twitter was definitely a lot smoother than the first! I didn’t really have any questions about how to use my account, and I think this had a lot to do with why I enjoy it so much more. It was hard to get the hang of things the first time around, but I’ve overcome my twitter anxiety and I will certainly continue to use it.

Twitter is a social media networking service that I wouldn’t be familiar with at all, if it were not for my Public Relations professor. She introduced us to the service in class, and actually made an assignment out of it by having us create and use our own personal account. I think it’s safe to say I’ve never done anything like this for class before, but I can already see the benefits I am receiving from twitter. It has connected me with my class mates, professors, and PR professionals, which will be very helpful in the near future. I am very surprised that twitter has been so beneficial to me and I will continue to use it for my networking purposes.

One thing I would like to become more familiar with as I continue using twitter, is the different applications you can upload to your twitter account. There are so many and I would like to learn more about them.

While using twitter, I have managed to find very interesting people with a lot of helpful information redarding the PR, marketing, and mass media profession.

  1. Scott Stratten is a virtual marketing “Jedi” as he refers to himself. He has made 60 online movies and combined, they have pulled in over 60 million views. He knows exactly how to target an audience! Find him on twitter @unmarketing
  2. Alisa Agozzino is a PR Professor at Ohio Northern University. She is a social media lover, and often has information regarding the PR industry twitter updates, which are usually interesting and beneficial to anyone interested in PR. Find her on twitter @alisaagozzino
  3. Mark Ragan is the CEO of Ragan Comms and the creator of MyRagan.com from Chicago. He often has information regarding social media on his twitter that will benefit every student studying communications. Find him on twitter @MarkRaganCEO

Interested in twitter? You can create your own account at twitter.com


How to Write…PR Style

Today in my PR class, we talked about the importance of writing in the PR profession. This lecture was based on Chapter 14 in our book Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics 9th Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron. Professor Nixon gave additional information regarding this chapter and it was so much easier for me to grasp the concepts that are discussed. Here are some points that Professor Nixon stressed in class that I found most helpful:

The first PR council was created by Ivy Lee, who is often referred to as the first PR practitioner.

Press releases are more commonly being called news releases, because “press” refers to “newspaper,” and there are many different mass media outlets being used today to relay messages to editors, reporters, and journalists. When writing a news release, it is the hope of the PR practitioner that it will be published by means of a mass media channel, including television, the Internet, radio, or newspaper.

Reporters rely on news releases because the information has already been gathered by the PR practitioner. This saves the reporter time because it is impossible for them to cover every event that is newsworthy at one time. Although the news release contains all of the information the reporter needs to write the story, it will most likely be changed to avoid advertisement and other information that is not needed, and the author of the news release is never guaranteed any type of recognition.

When writing a news release, the PR practitioner will usually being by using the inverted pyramid writing approach which contains the most important information at the top (who, what, where, when, why, and how), followed by all other details.

A fact sheetis created so editors, journalists, and reporters can easily write or research the organization. Fact sheets may resemble cliff notes, and will almost always include:

  1. The organizations full name
  2. The products and services offered
  3. An approximate annual revenue
  4. The organization’s position in relevance to the industry (i.e.  #1 in the flooring industry)
  5. The number of employees
  6. Information on top executives; including biography
  7. What markets the organization serves

Media kits or press kits are prepared by the PR practitioner for major events that an organization holds. Media kits and press kits will almost always include:

  1. A story (using the inverted pyramid)
  2. A fact sheet
  3. A feature story (usually longer and read for enjoyment)
  4. Basic brochures
  5. Background information on the event
  6. Photos
  7. Biographies on the spokesperson(s) or celebrities that will be in attendance

A pitch is an attempt by the PR practitioner to convince and persuade the editor, journalist, or reporter to use information on an organization by selling that it is newsworthy. This is usually done in a letter and is more personal.

At the end of the lecture, Professor Nixon stressed the importance of ALWAYS saving any work that you do in several different places to assure that you always have another copy. This lecture was very helpful because Professor Nixon was able to give us first-hand experience. Also, I was able to understand what I read in the chapter much more as she described these writing tools to our class in detail.


Dealing with a Difficult Group Member

Why do professors make us do group projects? They’re time consuming, it’s hard to make everyone happy when scheduling meetings, most of the time they’re pretty pointless, and there’s always that one little issue of the SLACKER that doesn’t pull their own weight. How can you possibly cope when you have a million other things to worry about? I found this article pretty helpful, and I’ll know how to address the situation next time instead of letting someone else take the credit for my hard work. Find out how to deal with difficult group project members so you won’t get frustrated the next time your professor drops the dreaded group project on you.


My Miss America

Last night in the Miss America pageant, Miss California took first runner-up, after answering what could possibly be the most controversial question ever asked in pageant history. For those that don’t care, or don’t understand why these beautiful women get on stage and put themselves out there for ridicule in the first place, I’m sure it takes more courage, dignity, and talent than you have to understand. I can agree that the question asked is a fair question, but the way Perez Hilton handled himself after the pageant is what gets me. She answered the question perfectly by staying true to herself, and not being fearful of standing firm in what she believes…both of which sound like qualities that are valued in a strong young woman, right? Why would you want anything less for the woman that represents our country? Granted, her views may be different than yours, but when was the last time every single person in this county agreed on an issue? Exactly my point. Not to mention the fact that she was exercising her right to the First Amendment, doesn’t that make Perez look like a BIG UGLY HYPOCRITE because all he cares about is making it known that he’s gay? His ignorance doesn’t bother me…the fact that a gay man isn’t treating  people who have different opinions with the respect is what does. In my opinion, this is a BIG step back for the gay community.