By Ali Cupelli
We hope you didn’t miss last week’s PR bootcamp session, but in case you did, here is recap of session two:
Session two was about news writing. Now, as an aspiring PR pro, you might think, “wait, do I actually need news writing for public relations?” But in reality, it’s actually extremely important information for the public relations industry.
The night kicked off with Dan Mulvey, Briagenn Adams and Kerry Tuttle discussing common writing errors and AP style mistakes. Some key errors mentioned were the usage of “they” and “their.” Some common errors with “they” and “their” are when you are using a gender-neutral, singular pronoun. For example, the sentence, “This person has updated their profile,” is incorrect. The correct usage would be, “This person’s profiled has been updated.” Now, saying it might sound a little funny, but editors of press releases and pitches will thank you later.
The next topic was AP Style mistakes. Some of the big things to highlight were the use of numerals and time elements. Some rules to be kept in mind for numerals are to spell out zero through nine and then use figures for 10 through 999,999. After you go past 999,999, you can use a combination of numerals and figures. For example, you would use “1 million” instead of spelling out the entire numeral or writing down the figure itself. In terms of time elements, the time stamp on a press release or news story changes depending on when the information is to be published. With that, use only the day of the week when the story happened or will happen within seven days of publication. For example, you would write, “The first class met Monday. The first assignment is due Friday.” Another rule with time elements is that if the event took place, or is expected to take place more than a week beyond publication, then you would write the month and date. An example of this would be, “Fall break is scheduled to start Nov. 23. The last day of final exams will be Dec. 14.”
To complete that portion of PR Bootcamp, the attendees worked on a tangible worksheet that required students to correct writing errors and AP Style errors.
To close off the evening, guest speaker, Haylee Pearl, copy chief of The Post, talked about the inverted pyramid and headline do’s and don’ts. The idea behind the inverted pyramid is that the most important information in a story goes first and then other information trickles down. Some headline do’s that she mentioned were to contain a subject and verb, make them accurate, make them concise, make them interesting and include as much information as possible. Some don’ts were to not make a headline boring, obvious or vague, don’t steal from the lead, don’t be passive, and don’t include unnecessary words such as “the” or “and.” One student asked what a journalist would like to see in a pitch from a PR professional. Haylee shed some light on the matter and said, “We want to see information that is exclusive, something that has never been seen before and we want pitches to be well-written and professional.”
Coming from a journalist’s perspective, you can well imagine how important it is for PR professionals to grasp the concept of proper writing etiquette and avoiding AP Style mistakes.
The next PR Bootcamp session is this evening in Ellis 111 at 7:00. The session will be about social media. If you’re looking to gain more experience with social media in a professional setting, then PR Bootcamp is where you should be tonight!