Nov 18 2010

Joanne Taylor PR: Solid public relations pros think like journalists

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 George Packer, The New Yorker

I just read “George Packer’s 5 Tips for Reporting on Anything,” from Steve Myers at Poynter. George Packer is a reporter for The New Yorker—a favorite weekly read at boise-based Joanne Taylor PR. Meyers asked Packer how he enters unfamiliar territory to report on complex subjects. I couldn’t help but liken this to the approach public relations pros take when preparing to launch a new product or service.

I’ve long thought that former journalists, or those who have trained themselves to think like journalists, are the best PR people. This article helps demonstrates why. We are familiar with Packer’s methodology, and we use it when we take on a new client, company, product or service.

I listed Packer’s five tips below and added to each one a similar practice that PR pros use on a regular basis. See if you agree with my analogies. If not, or if you have something to add, please leave a comment.

Don’t go in cold
We research the companies we plan to represent, as well as its products and/or services, its business objectives and sales goals, the competitive landscape, industry landscape, industry trends, related news and anything else that is relevant.

Find a guide to show you around
We ask product managers and sales guys to give us their pitch. We ask about target markets and the messages used for each one. We look at demos of the product and/or service, and ask questions. If there’s a manufacturing or shipping facility, we ask to see it. We also ask to be introduced to the people who work there. We talk to them and ask questions. Guides give us story angles.

Go in with a guiding question
What is it about this company, product or service that sets it apart from its competitors? Is it the first? The best? Is there something different/trendy about the way the company does business or the product is made? Who are the employees? What are their stories? Any of these can serve as guiding questions. We use them all the time, and often the answers provide news hooks.

Capitalize on your outsider status
As outsiders, we see fresh what insiders have been studying for weeks or months. We’re not tainted by company politics or hierarchy, emotional idea attachment or any of the other things that can sometimes turn a good communications plan to bad. We get paid to tell company executives what we think, so we do.

Capture those fleeting thoughts
Like journalists, we carry a notebook—a practice that is good for much more than capturing fleeting thoughts.


Aug 20 2010

AP Stylebook to news writers what butter is to cooks

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According to the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, website is website. Not Web site or web site or any other combination that you’ve seen in print.

E-mail, by the way, remains e-mail and Internet continues to require capitalization, says the book.

If you’re wondering what the AP Stylebook is, and you are a writer of any sort, I recommend that you consider buying it. If you write news releases, story pitches or any other kind of communication aimed at journalists, and you do not own a Stylebook, you need to get one right away. They are a requirement at Boise-based Joanne Taylor PR.

The AP Stylebook is to a news writer what butter is to a cook–an essential ingredient. It is the usage guide for most newspapers and pubic relations offices throughout the U.S. If you can’t afford the book, use Google or Wikipedia. Most of the guidelines can be found through search. Also helpful is AP’s online Ask the Editor FAQ.

Once you start using AP style guidelines, you’ll see improvement in your work. So will those who read it.