Archive for January, 2011

25
Jan
11

The art of writing a press release

As a Public Relations MA student one of the skills I am required to have is to be able to write the perfect press release. Hopefully I will have required this skill after my MA.

During my work experience at De Montfort University I have been drafting press releases for the press office. When I was writing one about lingerie today some questions popped up in my mind.

How do you write the perfect press release? There are so many different ways Public Relations practitioners write them. But is there a perfect press release template anywhere that can be used for all press releases? Or is there an international or even global way of how we should write them?

There is a difference in the way that I was taught to write a press release during my BA and work experience in The Netherlands to the way I have been taught to write one here in the UK during my MA.

In Amsterdam I was used to writing WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY in the introduction because  journalists don’t have time to read a whole press release. You have to make is easy for them and put all the important information in first so they can decide if they want to read on or contact the PR agency.

During my MA and my work experience here in Leicester I was taught to write a very short introduction with a maximum of 20 to 30 words. I thought this was very short and didn’t understand why. Because we also learnt that journalists have less time now then they used to. So why would you then not make it easy for them by adding all the important facts to the introduction?

Seems strange to me, but I have adapted my style of writing and writing a press release now has become easier.

When I googled writing the perfect press release I came across 3 rules PR’s have to stick to when writing one:

  1. Is your press release really necessary?
  2. If you were running a story based on this release, what would the headline be and does the first sentence fit into less than 15 words? If no, or the first sentence is ‘Mrs Miggins plc announces…’, go back to Q1.
  3. If you got Q2 right, why are you changing the wording for a press release?

The first question is very important because I’ve had to write some press releases while thinking: why would this be interesting for anyone in the world?

Apparently a press release is still the most popular way of contacting a journalist. So it is very important that we get this right.

This image shows you the way I have been taught in The Netherlands how to write a press release.

This is the exact template that I would follow. But I feel like the way I have been taught now is exactly the other way round.

If we turn this figure upside down that would sum up the way I feel like I have been taught how to write a press release here in the UK.

I’m interested in how you write your press releases and what you think is the most effective template for this.

Let me know what your views are on this topic.

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16
Jan
11

‘Shameless’

All this uproar about the Suit Supply ‘Shameless’ campaign. Don’t we all know that sex sells? This campaign might be a bit shocking and too revealing for some but isn’t it great that there are still companies out there that dare to be different and dare to provoke people?

I think the campaign is great. It has started a major discussion. I think that was the whole idea behind this campaign and to sell suits of course. This basically means that everyone that is complaining is just playing into Suit Supplies hands.

It was obvious when this campaign came out that there was going to be a lot of negativity surrounding it. Especially in the UK there have been negative comments. Mums worrying their small children seeing the posters and woman being disgusted by the vulgar and demeaning way the blond lady is being shown.

Here are a few pictures of the campaign so you know what I’m talking about.

Come on people don’t be prude, it isn’t as if it’s the first time we have seen a boob or underwear in campaigns, right? We have all seen the Sloggi underwear campaigns. It’s not as if men really think that if they wear a Suit Supply suit or any suit for that matter that they can just look under your skirt or touch you in private places (well some might, you never know).

The photographs have been shot by a well know photographer and you can’t really say that they don’t look amazing. Very provocative and you have to use your imagination with some of them, it is a very challenging campaign. But did we expect any less from Suit Supply? Not really.

This company has brilliant campaigns that just hang on the edge of not being too much. Like their ‘Start Smoking’ campaign to sell more smoking jackets. So clever.

The way Suit Supply has reacted to the complaint has been very impressive as well.

This company just keeps surprising us with provocative campaigns and I think we should not complain about them but appreciate them. There are enough dull and annoying campaigns in the world. This campaign is like a breath of fresh air. There are still companies out there that are creative and don’t care causing some uproar in the world. And why not?

There is just one photograph that I think could have been a bit more classy. This is the one where the blonde lady is lying over the kitchen work top. I can imagine this picture causing a bit of an uproar but all the other ones are great.

Here is a link to the Guardian that posted a story about the campaign and some of the complaints: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/nov/17/dutch-fashion-firm-racy-window-display.

Let me know what you think about the campaign. Too provocative or vulgar? I am very curious about your opinion surrounding this campaign.

10
Jan
11

DMU Events work placement

During my MA Public Relations course one of the requirements is to do a work placement in January. I found a placement and am now helping the De Montfort University Events team for four weeks.

I have done an internship before at a company that did some event organising but not to the extent that the Events team of DMU does, wow. The details that have been thought about and how well the events staff know the companies they work with is very impressive.

My first week was all about getting to know the staff, how they work, what each of the staff work on, reading up on all the upcoming events, how to work with certain programmes and of course had to go through the very thorough and important health and safety check (this was no doubt the highlight of my first week). There is a lot of admin work involved during this internship but I didn’t really expect anything else as it is only for four weeks.

The way of working, how all the time plans and event plans are put together and how detailed they are has really amazed me. If every event company had these plans and worked thinking as detailed as the DMU Events team does, I don’t think any event could ever go wrong.

There are some very interesting lectures coming up this year organised by the DMU Events team. I will be helping on two of them this January. Liz Kendall, Shadow Health Minister on January 20 and Xudong Zhao, Professor of Low Carbon Society on January 27 are the distinguished lecture and professorial lecture I will be helping on. I will put some more information about these lectures on my blog soon and will let you know how my second week was!




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