Public relations


PoynterVision: Transitioning from newspapers to corporate communications

After working for 27 years in newspapers, Butch Ward, senior faculty and former managing director at Poynter, left his final newspaper post at The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2001. Eight months later, Ward joined the Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia as the vice president for corporate and public affairs, putting him “on the other side of the wall” with journalists. Watch the video to hear how Ward navigated the transition.

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Computer keyboard keys used CTRL, C and V for copy and paste. (Depositphotos)

Getting digital attribution right, Part 1

Control+C, Control+V.

These two simple keystrokes — copy, paste — have created a culture that makes it easy for online publishers to share others’ content and use it in their own work. Much of this sharing and reuse is done appropriately, but sometimes the way a work is credited may not meet traditional standards for attribution.

Most people agree on a definition of plagiarism: It’s a verbatim republication of work that was originally published elsewhere, without clear attribution to the original publication. But ask how to apply that definition to practices and things get murky. Some say any use of more than seven words should be attributed. Others say attribution becomes necessary when more than two sentences are used. Applying that definition to the online publishing world introduces even more gray areas. Read more


Cost of a decent press release? $7,500

Business Wired

The requirements for a press release have changed since 2007, when Business Wire estimated a good press release would run $5,000, Fred Godlash writes. “The biggest change, in just 6 years, is the focus from pitching to media outlets to making a press release that is written for everybody.”

In today’s world the press release may be picked up by anyone that will write about your company – not just traditional media outlets, but bloggers, consumer groups, advocacy groups, social media users and more.

A press release today would take about “150 hours of collective work,” including “Hiring staff for keyword optimization, content creation, research, analytics, multimedia, embed codes for tracking, and legal fees for regulatory compliance,” Godlash writes. The total cost, he figures, would be up to $7,500. Read more


Journalists land at Cisco, other brands as ‘corporate reporters’

Digiday | PRNewser
Former Businesweek reporter Steve Wildstrom has worked as a “corporate reporter” for Nvidia and Cisco, Giselle Abramovich writes. Those are people who “who work inside the company and produce media like blog posts, videos, webinars and more,” she writes.

The twist is this path isn’t exactly like public relations. Brands are realizing, to a degree, that if they truly want to be publishers they can’t just have people churning out corporate boilerplate. They’re loosening the reins a bit in a bid to attract actual reporters.

Wildstrom says he was worried how his colleagues would react, but “Cisco’s editorial policy is to forbid its writers from covering the company or its competitors,” Abramovich notes. Wildstrom, who covers tech, tells her he steers clear of pieces he can’t report honestly: “That’s how I have chosen to handle it. Read more

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Public relations association says it’s not plagiarism to use material from press releases

Public Relations Society of America
Gerard Corbett, chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, says using a press release without attribution isn’t plagiarism. Corbett made his point in response to the controversy surrounding Steve Penn, who was fired from The Kansas City Star last July for lifting material from press releases. Penn has since sued the paper.

Attribution is “recommended,” Corbett writes, when journalists use direct quotes, facts or figures from press releases, but not when using dates, times or other general information. He pointed out that public relations professionals like seeing their releases published.

After all, those words found their way onto the paper through a meticulous and often grueling process of drafting, editing, re-drafting, reviewing and approving, all intended to present a company’s or client’s news in the proper light.

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Florida editor responds ‘honestly’ to press release about Ten Commandments

MediaWire memo
Joe Conn, communications director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, sent the Dixie County Advocate in Florida a news release objecting to a Ten Commandments display in front of the local courthouse. The editor of the Advocate, a small weekly, responded:

From: Katherine McKinney
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011 9:45 AM
To: Joe Conn
Subject: Re: Dixie County Commandments Display

Honestly, speaking for the people of Dixie County, we don’t give a damn what you think.

Kathy McKinney
Editor, Dixie County Advocate

Perhaps Conn should have expected the response. In July, the Advocate posted this to its Facebook wall: “ALERT!! STUPID federal judge says Dixie has 30 days to remove the Ten Commandments from the Courthouse…. Post your reactions here for the paper.” Read more


Commercial Appeal: Grocery chain’s PR woman lied to us about sale of Memphis stores

Memphis Commercial Appeal
The Commercial Appeal tells readers today how it was deceived by the Schnucks grocery chain — specifically, communications director Lori Willis, who denied on August 25 that a deal was in the works to sell Schnucks’ Memphis stores to Kroger. “Typically, we would not comment on rumor and speculation, but I will acknowledge these rumors have gotten to a point with the media where I feel I need to tell you there is no truth to those rumors,” Willis told reporter Tom Bailey Jr. “There is no deal regarding any sale or purchase with regard to the Schnucks company.”

Eight days later it was announced that Schnucks was leaving Memphis and selling most of its stores to Kroger. Hundreds of employees will lose their jobs. Read more


Why journalists don’t always make the best PR pros

Having started my career in journalism, I know all too well the love-hate relationship PR professionals and journalists have with one another. We need each other, except when we don’t. It often seems we coexist just to rant about the other’s follies.

This perception prevailed until the Great Recession. Then, something curious happened: a surge of laid-off journalists began careers in public relations. The U.S. public relations industry grew in revenue by 4 percent in 2008 and 3 percent in 2009, while American newsrooms shed 15 percent of their workforce, losing 8,300 reporters and editors, according to ASNE. Suddenly, PR looked like a promising career for someone with great contacts and the ability to tell compelling stories.

Call it the great journalism-to-PR migration.

What could be wrong with that? Read more


Why journalists make the best PR pros
New York radio veteran Debra Caruso, now in media relations, says “the most successful PR people are those who think and act like reporters.” They have the news judgment to know what stories to pitch; their press releases will be clear, compelling and accurate; they understand deadlines; and they have media connections. Given the choice between someone with a PR degree and someone with newsroom experience, Caruso says, “I would prefer a seasoned journalist.” || Previously: PR industry fills vacuum left by shrinking newsrooms || Take the poll

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‘What qualifies you to be press secretary for the mayor of the third-largest city?’

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
That’s what 55-year-old Chuck Goudie — “one of Chicago’s toughest investigative reporters” — asks 25-year-old Tarrah Cooper, who is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s press secretary. The 2008 Missouri Journalism School graduate and former MTV intern “is beginning the job of a lifetime, even though she doesn’t have much life time behind her,” writes Goudie. (Cooper worked in the Department of Homeland Security public affairs office before joining Emanuel’s team.) In his column for a suburban Chicago newspaper, Goudie lists the questions he sent Cooper and and never got answered, including:

• Does your youthfulness and lack of experience symbolize what seems to be administration focused on hiring managers under 35?

• Is there a set of written guidelines or protocols that you are working from in dealing with reporters and news organizations?

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