First day of grad school at Newhouse

Geoff Campbell / S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Geoff Campbell / S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Geoff Campbell / S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Today I attended orientation at the S.I. Newhouse School for Public Communications. Despite being an uncomfortably hot summer day and being herded through buildings for photos and speeches (including an interesting talk by Sean Branagan on creating a start-up), it was a great  day to start what I’ve heard is an incredible eleven month program.

I met the 33 other (predominantly female) PR students  in my year. Highlighting just how intense and short the program is, our new program head Maria Russel spent much of the class discussing internships. After completing our final course and cumulative exam in May we’re finished on campus but must complete at least eight weeks of full-time work in a PR-related department in order to receive our degree. Eleven months from now my goal is to have a full-time job, as opposed to an internship which has become more and commonly the entry-point for recent graduates in the field.

Tomorrow my graduate education begins with four hours of PRL 604: PRL 604: Writing for News and Public Relations. We’re going discussing creating our mock media kit and then listening to Professor Reff’s lecture on

What is News?  Soft vs. hard; News writing: structure of a news story; leads/conclusions, using quotes, writing from a speech/press conference/press release, writing for the web; Writing exercises; Present subject of individual media kits.  Assignment for 7/9:  Bring one question about news writing for guest speaker Professor Bob Lloyd.

Below is the schedule for the rest of the week for any prospective students. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Public Relations Master's "Boot Camp" Schedule at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Public Relations Master’s “Boot Camp” Schedule at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Media Kitproject for PRL 604: PR Writing

Writing and Reporting the News as a Story - Robert Lloyd and Glenn Guzzo
Public Relations Writing: The Essentials of Style and Format

Public Relations Writing: The Essentials of Style and Format, a required text for PRL 604: Writing for News and Public Relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Today I received my first assignment for PRL 604: Writing for News and Public Relations with Professor Caroline Reff at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

The major project that we will work on throughout the course will be taking a real non-profit organization and a real corporation and create a fictitious special event which they jointly hold. We’ll be creating a media kit with two bios, a news release, fact sheet, backgrounder, sample blog, pitch letter, and media alert. We’ll be receiving the detailed syllabus shortly but for now I can share with you the generic PRL 604 Writing for News & Public Relations syllabus below. I’m very excited to begin this course, get a good handle on PR writing basics, and improve my writing overall.

In order to succeed in our profession, public relations practitioners must become
good writers and communicators. This includes mastering grammar, punctuation,
form and style, but more importantly, understanding the dynamics of each intended
audience and identifying the key message or messages for every communication
vehicle you compose. PR people must know how to write clearly, concisely,
effectively—and more often than not—under the pressure of deadlines. Becoming a
good writer comes with practice, lots of practice, and in PRL 604, you will begin this
journey by producing writing assignments covering a wide range of communication
forms. Within the context of these writing assignments, we will discuss message
research, development and communications methods; the implications of audience
segmentation, diversity, and the techniques of writing for internal and external
audiences; as well as ethics, credibility and newsworthiness. Students will also learn
about the legal aspects of public relations writing, including defamation, privacy,
copyright and trademarks.

In the beginning of class, students will be introduced to the basic fundamentals of
news writing, and will learn about the needs and expectations of the news media that
are part of their communications world. Students will learn to think like journalists,
weighing news values, making decisions on the importance of facts, and asking the
right questions to get the right answers in interview situations.
Next, students will assume the roles of public relations practitioners and will learn
how to research and write various communications forms that are considered “the
tools of the public relations trade”. Highlights of the semester will be the creation of
a complete, portfolio-quality media kit for a fictitious event sponsored by a real
company and a real non-profit organization. The class will vote on the two strongest
media kits and then form teams to prepare and stage a press conference. PRL 604 is
a three-credit academic course and is a mandatory requirement in the public relations

Course Goal: To achieve the proficiency in written communication that is expected
of entry-level public relations professionals, along with the basic understanding of
how the media research, write and report the news.

Learning Outcomes:
• To understand the needs of the media and various audiences;
• To be able to write clear, concise copy that is logically organized and
• To learn how to find and use reliable information;
• To understand the requirements of different forums and formats of writing;5/14/2012
• To explore and gain an understanding of the nuances and requirements of
writing within the realm of diversity and multiculturalism, taking into
consideration gender and ethnicity;
• To learn to understand the needs of the client in preparing written materials
and communications; and
• To develop a sound working knowledge of the rules and guidelines of the AP

Required Texts:
Writing and Reporting the News as a Story, by Robert Lloyd and Glenn Guzzo
Public Relations Writing: The Essentials of Style and Format, 7th Edition by Thomas H.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, 2011 Edition; Christian,
Jacobsen and Minthorn, Editors.

Suggested Text:
The Elements of Style, 2009 Edition by William Strunk Jr.