“You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.” Doris Lessing
In addition to traditional writing assignments (news releases, feature stories, etc.) in our PR Writing course, all students in my PRCA 3330 classes at Georgia Southern University will also create and maintain a blog as part of the course. This post explains the types of content I expect you to write about in your blog for PRCA 3330. (For information on how to start your blog, see Getting Started with WordPress.)
Please add a category for each type (listed below), and make sure each post is categorized appropriately. Each post for this class must have the category of “PRCA 3330” along with at least one additional category. (If you do not categorize your posts with the name of the class, it will be much more difficult for me to find them, and you cannot earn full credit.)
1. Reading notes – brief notes or key ideas from the reading assigned for that week’s class. Jot down 3-5 ideas that you believe are the most important & wish to remember. Be very brief, but write enough so someone who can’t read your mind understands what you mean and I am convinced that you actually did the readings. Remember to cite your source(s) when you paraphrase or quote materials from the readings; use a hyperlink to the book (either at the publisher’s site or at a bookseller like Amazon.com). Though these weekly assignments are due Friday at 11:59pm, many students prefer to do their Reading Notes before they take their weekly RATS (Readiness Assessment Tests).
2. Topic of the Week – Starting the second week of class, you will have a specific topic related to public relations writing to write about. You will have seven of these before the end of the semester. See our TOW list (which will be updated weekly).
3. PR Connections – commentary, reflections and opinions about PR issues/examples that were not addressed in class. These can be responses to other PR blogs you read, links to interesting posts or articles, embedded YouTube videos, etc. You should write at least five of these during the semester, with the first two complete before the end of May, and the remaining three before the end of the semester.
4. Blog comments – whenever you comment on someone’s PR blog (whether it’s a PR professional or a PR student), add the comment to ONE post that you update throughout the semester so I can assess your online participation. You will need 15 comments during summer semester. Do this only for PR-related blogs. See Tracking Your Blog Comments for Nixon’s Classes for more information, including specifics on the formatting.
5. Personal – optional category. Use it for any posts not related to public relations.
You may add other categories and sub-categories of your choice. Please keep in mind that when I evaluate your blog I will pay special attention to the categories listed above, but I will not ignore other posts. I will perform a wholistic evaluation of your blog, looking for:
- professionalism: Clear, correct, thoughtful writing
- frequency: Sufficient posts in categories 1-3, posted throughout the semester. There will be at least two blog checkpoints during the semester.
- linking: Identify other PR blogs (use PR Open Mic or my blogroll in my Delicious bookmarks as starting points) and link to them. Respond to others’ posts. Become a part of the blogosphere. Blogging should not be lonely.
- readability: brief & concise writing style, use of white space, bold characters, images, bullet points
SUPER-IMPORTANT: In order for you to get credit for your blog, I need to know where it is. Tell me your blog address by completing this Google Form; do this no later than May 24.
Questions? Just let me know.
NOTE: Many thanks to Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu at Purdue University, who allowed me to use her blogging guidelines from her PRinciples class. They were so well-written that I made just a few tweaks for my own class. Dr. V knows that Blogs Matter.
I found out, despite the fight I put up getting one, that Twitter is not as bad as I thought. It can actually be a quite helpful tool for getting information about events and simply networking with people. Twitter is a good way to get your name out there for people to see. Another thing it is good for is increasing your visivbility on search engines. Things like Twitter and PROpen Mic can help you boost your name to the top of the list.
“Keep your eyes and ears on the news. Reading and watching it can help your write for print and broadcast, not to mention it’s just a good idea to know what’s going on in the world. The podcast “Wait Wait!… Don’t tell me!” and it’s lightning round revealed to me how little news I’m actually aware of!”
“Invisibility: Many of the things you write may not be published under your name. Your goal is to be published and get your name out among clientele networks, but the public may never know a piece you’ve written. Knowing this, you should write in a manner that keeps your identity hidden.”
“The importance of editing and checking your work before publishing or posting. I now realize the importance of editing and checking your work. It looks really bad to post or write anything that has spelling and grammatical errors. I also realize that it is so important to make sure you have all your facts right, before writing or posting anything! Nothing will ruin your career as a writer faster than posting inaccurate information. People will discredit you, and it’s really hard to bounce back after that.”
“E-mail subject lines should be STRAIGHT to the point. Journalists have a lot to do in their every day lives. They get sent so many stories a day and do not have time to fiddle with spam in their e-mails or other things that may waste their time. So it is important to have a catchy, short subject line. This way, you can grab the attention of the journalist, and they do not delete your e-mail before even reading it.”
“Contact List: I was given an assignment within this class called a Contact List. As I was putting all of it together, I realized the amazing benefit this could have for you and your company that you are working with. This helps organize and create a specific list of important media contact within the area that is relevant to your company. In case something happens all of the information is ready to go at you fingertips!”
“Twitter- I created my first Twitter account and learned some of the proper ways to use Twitter. Contrary to what I previously thought, Twitter is supposed to be used for so much more than status updates. It can be an extremely valuable source of information, whether that be breaking news,helpful articles, or upcoming events. There are even resources to help people find jobs and network with others in their area. The most important things that I learned with Twitter is that it is all about who you follow. If you follow interesting tweeters, professionals in the field you hope to go into, and people who have generally interesting tweets, you will have a good Twitter experience. If not, it will probably be less than par.”
“The most important thing that I’ve learned in my PR class is that networking is everything in PR. The more connections you have and the more your name is out there the better off you will be. PR is a lot about building relationships and the bigger your networking circle the more people you will have to help you out when you need it.”
“Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!!!- You can never proofread too much. Look over your releases, and articles ten times, and then let someone else look it over as well. If there are mistakes, you will lose credibility, and confidence in your co-workers and the community. You never want to look stupid just because you didn’t take the extra time.”
“Always provide follow-up. After you meet a potential client, or have an interview, send a handwritten note. This shows high character, integrity, and will set you apart from the rest.”