Saturday, February 20

Writing For Public Relations: What Makes News

I never learned how to pitch a story like a public relations professional. I learned the hard way, sending query letters to editors in the hope of an assignment.

Sometimes the letter was more important than a contract. Without one, it was harder to secure interviews. And even with one, you knew the story had to be good. Stories written on speculation were only bought if they were really good or great. If they weren't bought, you would have to rework the story and try to peddle it elsewhere. If they were great, editors were very open for more.

When I was asked to write my first news release, it never occurred to me to write one much differently than a news or feature story (with the exception of following an inverted pyramid lead for those familiar with the term). Writing format aside, I always believed that if editors paid writers for news stories then there was a chance they would accept some for free.

The above deck is one of the teaching tools I'm using this year for Writing For Public Relations at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The intent is to teach students how to find news within their organizations rather than resort to pitching into the wind. Enjoy.

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