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Additional online resources for public relations
Last updated: 13 December 2003
Fairly or unfairly, public relations writing is often stereotyped as jargon-laced, overblown, pompous and self-aggrandizing. This site simulataneously reinforces and undermines this stereotype by displaying some of the worst examples of public relations writing, presumably so others will learn not to duplicate them. You might get a laugh or two and, at the same time, pick up a tip or two about things to avoid in your own writing.
The site was developed by four writers from different national magazines who became fed up with the news releases and other messages they received from public relations people. In an article posted on the TJFR Group's Web site, Amy Trilling says the site's "mission is to stop the use of buzzwords" and that it "has become required reading for public relations firms hoping never to be the target of its wrath." Daniel Roth, one of the site's co-founders, says the site is educational, but Trilling responds, "the pedagogical method the site uses is shame, and the site is, to put it mildly, obnoxious. It is also, however, quite funny, and no doubt at least somewhat effective."
Both of these are business sites intended to attract new clients and convince them to use the vendor's services. They don't offer how-to advice, but they do provide clear, basic explanations of some of the kinds of services that are available to help public relations people be more effective in doing media relations. As a prospective public relations practitioner, you should know that such services exist and have some idea of how much they cost.
PR Web; The Free Wire Service
PR Web which came into existence in 1997, just few years after the World Wide Web, serves public relations practitioners and journalists by offering an Internet-based distribution network for news releases. PR people submit their releases to PR Web, and PR Web distributes them directly to some or all of the 60,000 media companies and individuals who subscribe to the service. If you visit the site, be sure to check out the link that compares PR Web to some of its competitors.
News Broadcast Network
The News Broadcast Network (NBN), a long-time leader in providing media relations help to those who want to tell their story via radio or television, is continuing to grow and expand. It just recently acquired TVN Communications Group, another large New York-based video production company that had been doing audio and video news release work for more than two decades. In addition to serving more clients and reaching more-geographically dispersed media, the services these companies provide have expanded and become more sophisticated as technology has advanced. NBN now offers direct satellite distribution of VNRs as an alternative to dubbing and delivering tapes and it offers Web-casting and other alternative ways of helping clients get their messages out via the Internet as well as conventional broadcast and cable media.
Springboard Public Relations
This is the home page of Springboard, a relatively young New Jersy public relations agency that specializes in handling high-tech clients involved in software development, Internet operations, and telecommunication. The added value its site offers students and others who are neither current nor potential clients are on-line articles written by staff members and addressing various aspects of public relations, including tips on developing and using a press kit and how to choose a public relations agency. Most of the articles have a much broader application than high-tech companies and could be of interest to anyone interested in public relations. Reach the articles by clicking on the "Ideas & Strategies" heading on Springboard's home page.
This is a particularly relevant source to mention this week because of Springboard's emphasis on careful and effective public relations planning, both in the work it does for clients and in the articles its staff members have written and posted on the Web site.
If you're trying to identify someone to serve as a source for your third source report, the home pages of the following local public relations firms might be helpful. But, don't wait until the day before the assignment is due and expect to get an interview; you need to plan ahead and realize that whomever you call may not make an appointment without two or three days advance notice.
Dan Pinger Public Relations
Dan Pinger Public Relations is the largest public relations agency in Greater Cincinnati. There are larger multi-service agencies, such as Northlich, that do advertising and marketing as well as public relations, but Pinger remains the largest "pure public relations" agency in town. Its web site includes staff profiles that provide a perspective on the kinds of people who work there, including a number of NKU alums.
HSR Business to Business
HSR is one of Cincinnati's most envelope-pushing, computer-literate, on-line communication agencies. Originally a small marketing consultancy, it's grown to local and national prominence with several major clients and is now a full service integrated marketing communication agency that primarily specializes in Internet business to business marketing rather than consumer marketing. The company has been in business for 20 years but was known as Hensley Segal Rentschler until January 2000.
Northlich is now one of the largest full-service communication agencies in Cincinnati, and its evolution reflects the changes that have swept communication industries nationwide. It used to be known as Northlich, Stolley and LaWarre and was primarily an advertising agency, During the 1990s it gradually broadened the scope of services it offered until it was doing full spectrum marketing, and then it added a public relations division. A few years ago it completed the evolution by shortening its name to Northlich and began aggressively presenting itself as a full-service communication agency with "a host of specialized capabilities, including marketing public relations, media relations, public affairs, crisis management, special events, media training and many other services."
The Publicity Club of Chicago
This home page represents a somewhat different type of professional organization than the PRSA or IABC or one of the local chapters of these organizations. The Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) is a stand-alone organization of professional communicators in a single metropolitan area and is not affiliated with a larger national or international entity. Consequently, the scope and tenor of its home page seems less bureaucratic and organizationally focused than some of those larger organizations and it seems to place a greater emphasis on networking and participating in upcoming activities. Although it's not local in the sense of being based here in Greater Cincinnati, and you're unlikely to participate in any of its events, it has some very good general content and helpful links that can be found in the "Contents" and "Resources" sections. Many of the reports on speakers who made presentations at the club's meetings are excellent and very informative. Even some whose titles appear too Chicago-centric to be useful elsewhere have very good insights on working with editors or talk show guest-bookers that should prove useful almost anywhere.
Karen Friedman Enterprises
Karen Friedman Enterprises was founded by a former TV news reporter who now specializes in training news-makers, organizational spokespersons, and others who may have to answer reporters' questions, appear on television, or speak in other public venues. The Web site is clearly a business-oriented site that tries to attract new clients who are able to pay for "customized on-camera training sessions," but it also includes a wealth of wonderful, and free, information about media relations, interviewing, targeting publics with key messages, and other public relations techniques. There's loads of information available on the site if you just keep clicking on all the internal links, inlcuding "Monthly Tip, Tips, Articles," and "Dear Doc." The latter is a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about media relations that are much too short to serve as a basis for a class source report but which could be extremely useful as a quick refresher for anyone who is about to be interviewed by a reporter.
Having introduced the Public Relations Society of America's Web site last week, I though you might be interested in two other PRSA-affiliated sites. One is aimed specifically at public relations students and the other aimed at the needs and interests of Greater Cincinnati public relations people.
Public Relations Student Society of America
The PRSSA, the student-oriented subsidiary of the Public Relations Society of America, operates its own Web site to more specifically address the needs and interests of students who are contemplating careers in public relations. Many of its links and supporting pages are mirror sites of PRSA Web pages and/or other professional resources. It also includes many specifically student-oriented tips and suggestions for finding internships, taking the most appropriate course electives to round out your education, thinking about graduate school, and getting ready for your first professional job-hunt.
PRSA's Cincinnati Chapter
This is a good example of the home page of a local chapter of a major, national organization. Its Web site includes links to the PRSA's national site and description of national activities as well as providing information about things happening here in Greater Cincinnati.
These are the home pages of the two largest professional organizations for public relations practitioners in the United States. They offer a wide range of general information about public relations and links to other public relations resources, as well as information about the organizations themselves. Some of their information is available to anyone who wants it, but other sections of their sites are password-protected and only for dues-paying members.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
PRSA prides itself on being the largest organization exclusively for public relations professionals in North America, although it seems to be getting increasing competition from the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). During the last decade PRSA has been trying to become more global in scope and has started chapters in Latin America and South America. Despite some long-standing impressions to the contrary, it is open to and includes all types of public relations practitioners who work for all types of organizations, not just those who work for public relations agencies.
IABC is one of the largest and most well-known organizations for public relations practitioners worldwide, although it prefers to use the term "business communication" instead of "public relations" because it considers the former broader and more inclusive than "public relations." It is truly international in scope with members in more than 100 different countries. Membership material and the monthly magazine are available in several different languages, and its annual conference is often held outside the United States. Compared to PRSA, IABC tends to have a lower percentage of members who work for public relations agencies and a higher percentage of members who do public relations or communication work, including employee publications, within other companies and organizations.
Institute for Public Relations
The Institute for Public Relations, originally known as the Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education, is often erroneously believed to be part of PRSA, but it is actually an independent, non-profit organization based in Gainesville, Florida. Its mission is to promote academic and professional excellence in public relations by sponsoring lecture series, publications, and workshops and by funding a wide-range of research that assesses the effectiveness of public relations tactics. It also monitors current professional practices to identify and report on new trends and problem areas.
This Web site contains a wealth of excellent material -- research reports, speech scripts, articles, etc. -- that can be read on line or downloaded. However, a casual Web-surfer or first-time visitor may not realize just how much there is or how to access it. The design, which gives an impression of having been done by a publication designer rather than a Web designer, does not always clearly identify hyperlinks. Many of them -- especially article titles and section headings -- do not initially appear to be underlined, nor are they a distinctive color. You only realize they're hyperlinks when your cursor passes over them and the underlining and associated URL appear.
PR Week home page
PR Week started in England as a printed trade journal offering weekly updates on the practice of public relations throughout Europe. Some time later an on-line version was established. About four years ago, PR Week began a separate US edition focused on American public relations news and developments. And, even more recently it added additional regional editions, a European edition published in German, an English language Asian Pacific edition published in Hong Kong, and a China edition published in Chinese. They're available in subscription-only both hard-copy form and as free on-line versions. However, the hard-copy versions continue to be much more complete and more desireable both in terms of the number of stories and the level of detail they include.
This is the home page of the entire company and includes links to all on-line editions plus subscription information and other general content. It also includes links to the company's International Worldwire which is an additional service for those who subscribe to one of the printed editions or who pay for the service.
Current U.S. edition of PR Week
The on-line United States edition, the company's claims, "carries the latest news, in-depth analysis, top columnists, and reviews of campaigns - plus the best selection of job opportunities for PR professionals across the US."
Public Relations Basics
This Web page is a gateway to a fairly extensive collection of public relations materials that includes a library of articles on various aspects of public relations. Some of these articles were written specifically for this web site while others were originally published in professional journals, trade magazines, or general circulation publications. The site also has links to numerous other informational sites dealing with public relations and to the home pages of dozens of public relations agencies, organizations and consultants. It's hosted by About.com, a company which maintains numerous high-quality sites devoted to a wide variety of subjects. For several years it operated with a slightly different title and moderator. Then, in early 2003, it was reconfigured and made part of a larger and broader "master site" called "About Advertising." When this happened, it did shed some of its former content, but it remains a valuable resource for public relations students and professinals.
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