Ecologne's Blog
words tend to linger


Our teacher showed us an interesting video today in class about creative techniques concerning public service announcements. PSAs are generally all the same, so it becomes more effective when you use a new approach as in this video from U.K.

The test in this video is a bit tricky, so see if you have what it takes to pass:


Recently, we had a man familiar with the real world of public relations come speak in our class. Jeff Houck, contributor to the Tampa Tribune, stopped by for a little discussion.

He was a lively character with a lot of useful information for any question the class had to offer him. Hearing him provided a great perspective for what a path in public relations can look like after college. I think having a guest speaker from the aspired profession is a crucial addition to any college experience for all majors.

Mr. Houck gave insightful tips for how to get the attention of a targeted recipient. I did also note how agitated PR practitioners can make a writer due to specific habits, along with how Mr. Houck specifically does not favor receiving embargo dates on news releases. But above all, he stressed the easily forgotten human element in the public relations world. Establishing a connection with an individual may consist of business relations, but we should not only approach people just to get what we need from them. That’s advice worth heeding beyond any profession.

Jeff Houck’s blog can be reached through the Tampa Tribune.


This is a quick link to a Social Media News Release sample for those who are looking to create one. It doesn’t seem to be too difficult to make:


Lengthy, run-on paragraphs and sentences, intellectual terminology, foreign concepts, and loads of information thrown all at once– it can all be very intimidating when trying to take in specific facts away from an expository piece or presentation. What is an easy way you can leave a presentation discarding all the irrelevant information and certain you have the right statistics, numbers, or results down? One answer is through the use of Infographics.

This is a simple and effective method to communicate specific information to an audience that people have used in various forms for years. All it really is is a visual depiction of the information or data that needs to be relayed in order to educate the key elements or concepts of a subject. These infographics take on several forms: pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs, etc.

Public Relations professionals can greatly benefit from the use of inforgraphics, especially for those with limited time and a lot of information to share. It can be effective in sharing information about a client in a clean, professional, and simple way. Giving a user-friendly presentation will allow your target audience to be at ease during your presentation rather than struggling to understand the relative points or information you want them to take away when they leave.

A simple way to create infographics, that is also available to just about everyone, is through the use of computer software such as Microsoft Excel. This is one of the easiest programs to use for this purpose. For Mac users, programs such as Numbers (provided with other iWork programs) has an extremely user-friendly interface that allows you to input data and create stunning infographics for your clients with ease.

Infographics are some of the simplest methods to make an effective presentation that an audience can easily retain.

Below is an example of a simple to understand infographic of the Washington D.C. Metro Map:

image provided by Wikipedia


Are you a Public Relations student or practitioner? Are you one of the thousands of Facebook addicts? Wouldn’t it be convenient for PR prospects to be connected with other professionals to learn the ropes?… Enter PROpen Mic.

This is a social networking site designed specifically for people interested in the field of public relations. It’s not only a place for students to be mentored and come to a better understanding of the public relations lifestyle, but also a place for well-seasoned veterans to get together and further their own horizons in this global community we find ourselves in.

Though not quite the same, PR Open Mic has a similar feel to the way Facebook is run (profile information links and an IM chat feature). On this site you can sign up with your email for free, just as you would many other social networking sites, and begin looking for and inviting friends immediately. This can be done by simply searching for individuals or by uploading contacts from other address books you have stored in different websites. After you initiate that process you can begin customizing your page (something Facebook limits).

One of the most beneficial, and practical, features available with PR Open Mic is the page dedicated to providing PR seekers with job and internship links. We all know how difficult the economy is and how difficult it can be to compete in the job market to begin with. The worse things get, the more apparent it becomes that landing a job isn’t always based on your qualifications or skills, but on the people you know. As frustrating as that may be, it is what we’re left with. Thus, getting connected with other professionals within the field through these various mediums becomes a way of getting your face in to be known in the crowd, and may lead you in the direction to the right job for you.


From Public RelationsWriting and Media Techniques:

Significance of Feature Stories:

  • Gives Information
  • Gives Background About Organization
  • Provides Behind-the-scenes Look at Organization
  • Generate Publicity

What Makes Up A Feature:

  • Headline
  • Lead
  • Body
  • Summary
  • Photos and Graphics

Common Features:

  • Case Studies
  • Application Stories
  • Research Studies
  • Backgrounders
  • Personality Profiles
  • Historical Pieces

From Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques:

Fact Sheet Contents:

  • Name of Event
  • Sponsor
  • Location
  • Date and Time
  • Event Purpose
  • Expected Attendance
  • List of Prominent Attendees
  • Unusual Facts About Event

Organization Fact Sheet:

  • Name of Organization
  • Products or Services
  • Annual Revenues
  • Number of Employees
  • Top Executives
  • Markets Served
  • Position in Respected Industry

Product Characteristics Fact Sheet:

  • Production Process
  • Pricing
  • Availability
  • Convenience
  • Service to Consumer
  1. Press Releases (now also referred to as News Releases)
  2. Different Kinds of News Releases
  3. • Announcements
    • Spot Announcements
    • Reaction Announcements
    • Bad News
    • Local News

  4. What makes up a news release
  5. • Letterhead
    • Contacts
    • Headline
    • Dateline
    • Lead Paragraph
    • Body of text
    • Boiler Plate


From Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques:

What makes news:

  • Timeliness
  • Prominence
  • Proximity
  • Significance
  • Unusualness
  • Human Interest
  • Conflict
  • Newness

How to Find News

  1. Internal News Sources
  • Papers
  • Periodicals
  • Clipping Files

2.  External News Sources

  • Op-ed
  • Sound Bites

How to Create News

  • Brainstorming
  • Special Events
  • Contests
  • Polls and Surveys
  • Top 10 Lists
  • Product Demonstration
  • Stunts
  • Rallies and Protests
  • Personal Appearances

Before anything else, I have to say: if you’re a new journalist, have been in journalism for longer than you have the ability to remember now, or have any interest in the field of journalism, I advise you to check out The Poynter’s Institute online training courses at NewsU. It is filled with tons of free, and some not so free, courses for aspiring journalists in just about any area a journalist would need, such as The Lead Lab.

For this week’s Topic of the Week, we in the COMM 4333 class had to participate in NewsU’s Lead Lab. In short, it is a free, interactive online training course on the basics of crafting the lead to any story– taught by visiting associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Chip Scanlan.

When you begin the course, there’s an explanation of what a lead is and what it means and does for the story you are writing. Usually that part is self-explanatory. The course then goes into a full breakdown of the different types of leads used for different kinds of stories. For example, a hard news lead is going to be quicker and to the point; it will be direct and is aimed more toward an audience who just wants the news. A soft news lead may be more delayed in giving all the facts right away and is aimed to the audience with a little more time and who is looking for their news with a story. Let’s review that to make it clearer:

2 Types of Leads:

  1. Direct: “Tell me the news”
  2. Delayed: “Tell me a story” (typically used when the reader already knows the story)

Well constructed leads will always inform the reader of the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How (the better ones will make clear the “So What?”).

Through taking this course, I learned a little more about the different Direct and Delayed lead approaches and even got to try writing my own lead that I submitted to NewsU at the end. The do-it-yourself segment at the end is the most helpful because you are set up to craft both a hard news and a soft news lead based on a real story given by the course complimented with professional journalist notes.

It is certainly a course worth taking your time with, if not for the factual education on the leads, then for the hands-on experience at the end.