Writing for the Ear

I recently completed the NewsU Course entitled “Writing for the Ear,” which taught me how to write more effective audio narratives.

The five-part module covered:

  • Introduction to audio stories – How audio stories are different from their print counterparts and examples of great audio stories
  • Picking and pitching stories – Generating story ideas that work well in audio form and pitching stories and sharpening their focus
  • Writing the story – Everything you need to write effectively at the story, scene and sentence levels
  • Revising the story – Strategies for applying the tools of revision to audio writing
  • Voicing & special topics – How to perform an audio story and other topics, such as “translating” a print story to audio form

I’ve mostly written for print, so I definitely learned a number of new things regarding journalistic writing from a broadcast perspective.

It was interesting to view the necessity of picking and pitching your story. Selecting and pitching your story will have a big impact on your writing. They can make your job a lot easier ― or harder ― when it comes time to report, write and voice your story. So I learned how it important it was to pick if you want to use audio or not in your story.

Evaluating how to pitch the story was some of which I learned already in regards to writing story. The writing process begins with story selection. It involves reporting, tape logging and drafting. After a draft’s in place, a story still needs to be revised and voiced.

Revision is probably where I learned the most from this course. How do you revise an audio story?

While the tight, succinct writing that is done for listeners is good writing no matter where it is used, there’s one critical difference between writing for audio and writing for print: Audio writing is more conversational. Even the best writers slip into clunky, multi-syllabic, adverb-dense prose, and it takes careful editing to get rid of that heavy language. You want to write like Ernest Hemingway, with jabs. Some of the best radio writing isn’t even full sentences. But the writing sounds good, which, of course, is what matters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this NewsU course because it gave perspective on a form of writing I am not too familiar with.

There’s More to Poynter

I’ve used Poynter for the past two years now. Most of my experience from this website has come from the NewsU courses, which have coached me through effective journalism and public relation’s techniques. However, there courses are just a small portion to everything Poynter has to offer to media students and professionals.

Here is a brief overview of what Poynter has to offer:

Latest News

Under the “Latest News” tab, Poynter offers media industry news and commentary through “MediaWire,” the latest news about media through “Top Stories,” accuracy, errors and the craft of verification through “Regret the Error,” news about mobile and its applications for media through “Mobile Media,” news about social media that matters to journalism through “Social Media,” and media business news through “Business News.”

How To’s

Under the “How To’s” tab, Poynter offers tips for reporting and telling stories with traditional and new tools through “Newsgathering and Storytelling,” tips on managing a website, from measuring traffic to understanding new platforms for news and information through “Digital Strategies,” tips on leading people and organizations through “Leadership & Management,” and tips on crowdsourcing, user-generated content, managing comments and other ways of connecting with communities through “Community Engagement.”

Chats

Under the “Chats” tab, Poynter offers chats with Joe Grimm and other experts about managing your career through “Career Chats,” and chats bi-weekly with Roy Peter Clark about writing through “Writing Chats.”

As you can see, Poynter offers so much in just media news alone. Try exploring the Poynter website and experience something new today!

Email Overload

Time is everyone’s most valuable resource. By using smart and effective communication strategies for email, we can free up more time to be productive or do the things we want to do.

I recently read an interesting article in regards to using our time efficiently when handling our e-mails.

For me, personally, I have experienced first-hand the time consumed simply in dealing with e-mails. Reading and replying to e-mails takes up a good portion of my day. E-mails have become an important means of communication in my day to day agenda.

So if this form of communication is so important, shouldn’t I be a better steward of that time spent with it? If I am studying to become a “professional communicater,” shouldn’t I know the best tactics with tackling even the simplest of communication efforts?

Matt Spaulding from PR Daily provided some helpful tips in his article “Email overload?” Here are a few of them:

1. Include a strong subject line. Be concise, and use compelling words to get attention. Your email’s worthless if no one opens it.

2. Use numbers or bullet points. This is essential if you’re covering multiple issues; doing so will help the recipient address each one individually.

3. Watch the clock. If you take more than 15 minutes to write an email, it’s better to condense it and augment it with a phone call or in-person meeting.

4. Be careful when forwarding. If you’re forwarding an email chain and there is something of importance in that chain, don’t just use “FYI below” and expect the recipient to see what you’re hoping they see. Point out what they should pay specific attention to.

5. Get closure. Include calls to action and deadlines.

6. Avoid multiple sends. Wait for your recipients to respond before sending out another email on the same topic.

7. Wait if you have doubts. If you’re second-guessing your email, there’s probably a good reason. Listen to that voice in the back of your head. Remember: You can’t “un-send” an email. Better to keep it in your draft folder and think about it for an hour than to regret your haste.

Pinterest Hits New Highs

It’s beautiful, it’s addictive, and now Pinterest is having its glorious hockey stick moment.

The rumors are true, pinterest has broken new records. The question is: where will they head next? With its fast popularization, should they seriously look into how to monetize their “pinning?”

Josh Constine of the Huffington Post tells us what they think here: Popular Pinterest Breaks Record 

Copy Cats

Give Credit Where Credit is Due.

This is a rule that we have famliarized ourselves with in and outside of the classroom. Yet, there is still complications that have arised from it.

Growing up, teachers stressed the importance of crediting our sources, explaining what plagirism looked like and teaching us the proper ways of citation.

However, I have never personally encountered  plagiarism or have had friends that got in severe trouble with plagiarism. I have only encountered what plagirism looks like in academia but not in a professional field.

So I must ask myself: how would I deal with plagiarism in the field of public relations? I mean, plagiarism has to reside in blogs more than ever before. Content is easily accesible and easily attainable to use and abuse.

If infringement took place in my work environment, the best way, I believe, to go about it would be to target the source. I would contact the infringer and explain the area where they have stolen from our company. I would request a cease and desist letter, requiring that the infringer take down any content that was not theirs, and request that they notify viewers that the work was not originally theirs…referencing the original source.

The best way to deal with situations like this is to simply have the right knowledge of infringement laws. They are constantly changing, and adequate background-knowledge will give you the skils to handle it in a professional manner.

Here is a great site that keeps you up-to-date on content theft, copyright infringement and plagiarism:  PlagirismToday

 

 

Pro Comments

1. Title of Blog Post: “12 easy steps to get your life organized (finally)” by Sharon Greenthal
Blog: PR Daily
Date: 2/12/12
Comment: “Thanks for this article. I believe that being organized is crucial in order to succeed i any aspect of life. I especially like that this list wasn’t only reserved for being organized in your work space but also your home environment. I often find myself restless in either area if I do not keep with either form of organization.”

2. Title of Blog Post: “Is Twitter the Death of Writing?” by Ben Stevens
Blog: Relevant Magazine 
Date: 2/12/12
Comment: “I love this post! I agree that journaling is crucial for a number of reasons.I’ve been journaling for most of my life and I feel like I would not account memories as well as I do without writing it down and recording it by some form. However, I do feel like my writing as condenseed significantly because of various social networks. ”

3. Title of Blog Post:”Email overload? Here are 13 tips to help.” by Matt Spaulding
Blog: PR Daily
Date: 2/17/12
Comment: “This is a great article! I think it’s important to remember that even the simplest task such as checking your e-mail is crucial time in your day. It’s important to set time to do so and evaluate the immediacy needed to attend to certain e-mails. I think all the tips you provided are simple and highly effective! Thanks for sharing this.”

4. Blog Post:”Why writers and editors make simple, preventable mistakes” by Laura Hale Brockway
Blog:PRDaily
Date:2/22/12
Comment: “Errors always occur in writing. No matter how hard you attempt to proofread what you have read, we are human and we are bound to screw up. Even in the process of this comment I have probably left numerus mistakes already. I think for me, I am prone to mistakes because of time. Its so easy for me to rush through proofreading without double checking what I have read. I believe being attentive to your reading and revising is crucial to good writing.”

5.Blog Post: “Warping the Message” by Jeff Goins
Blog: Relevant Magazine
Date: 2/25/12
Comment:”I agree. Our society has become rather dependent on technology to feed the void of silence we have become so foreign too. We limit our interactions in person have become more comfortable interacting with a person over the computer. There are definitely cons and pros to this. Our advancement in technology has advanced how much work we are capable to completing in a day. We are able to communicate with others more efficiently and effectively causing our work to reflect the same. The issue comes with balancing the two of these. Finding a medium in the midst of two extremes.”

6. Blog Post: “Four Tips for Great Storytelling” by Slash Coleman
Blog: PR News Online 
Date:3/11/12
Comment: I agree, great stories allow the storyteller to connect with the listener in some way, and that happens best when stories are true and personal. We shouldn’t limit our writing in comparison to someone else’s we believe has already achieved success. The best storytelling comes after we’ve found our own voice, instead of pursuing someone else’s. This is a great post  and I agree with all of your tips.

7. Blog Post: “Facebook Timeline Reveals the Future of Sharing” by Charlene Li
BlogCharlene Li
Date:3/12/12
Comment: “It’s crazy to see how much social media has left an impressionable mark on today’s society. We are constantly staying connected even right after we step away from the computer thanks to smart phones, iphones, ipads, etc. I feel like this is good and bad. It’s important for the field of social media to be in constant communication but I would be afraid of losing the personal interactions if we grew too dependent on technology which we already have.”

8. Blog Post: “Facebook Timeline Reveals the Future of Sharing” by Charlene Li
BlogCharlene Li
Date:3/12/12
Comment: “It’s crazy to see how much social media has left an impressionable mark on today’s society. We are constantly staying connected even right after we step away from the computer thanks to smart phones, iphones, ipads, etc. I feel like this is good and bad. It’s important for the field of social media to be in constant communication but I would be afraid of losing the personal interactions if we grew too dependent on technology which we already have.”

9. Blog Post: by Shonali Burke
BlogWaxing Unlyrical 
Date: 4/13/12
Comment: “I like how you say that the field of public relations is “not for the faint hearted.” I think this is a great lesson the speaks to all PR professionals. It’s important to stay balanced in the field. Time management is definitely key. I’m a student right now and I know that it’s crucial to manage my time wisely to succeed and I’m sure in the professional field it is even more apparent to do.”

10. Blog Post: “PR is the second-most-caffeinated-profession” by Michael Sebastian
BlogPR Daily
Date: 4/15/12
Comment: “I feel like I could see this study being a little skewed since it does not include energy drinks as well. But it is shocking to see that PR professionals drink more coffee than doctors and nurses! I’ve also read how PR has become one of the highest most stressful jobs. it would be interesting to read on the correlation of those two.”

Is Twitter the Death of Writing?

Is the day of journaling dead? Do we depend more on twitter to chonicle our lives?

These are a few crucial questions Ben Stevens brings up in his article “Is Twitter the Death of Writing?

Overall, this article debates the necessity journaling has in our daily lives.

Journaling:

  1. Adds RAM to your brain
  2. Helps build emotional intelligence
  3. Makes prayer easier
  4. Let’s you see what God sees

Being a fellow journaler, I was intrigued with this article because I participate actively in both journaling and twitter. However, can one be substituted for the other? Are we so consumed in a culture of instant gratification that we’ve put simple journaling on the back-burner of our daily agenda? I firmly believe that

[journaling] is a discipline which has the capacity to help deepen you personally, intellectually and spiritually

But tell me what you think about this article!

Peer Blog Comments

1. Title of Blog Post: “Work What You Have: Finding New Perspective on the Usual” by Jillian Reid
BlogThrough My Eyes
Date: 2/9/12
Comment: “I loved the post and I loved that you wrote about something you’re passionate about! Your tips are really helpful. I really enjoy photography too, and I agree that perspective is what adds that extra element to your work! And I don’t know what you’re talking about … from what I can see, you’re an excellent photographer. Thanks for sharing your tips, as well as your own photography!”

2.Title of Blog Post: “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus” by Daniel Barcello
Blog: Adventures in PR
Date: 2/9/12
Comment: “It’s crazy to see how fast this video has spread online! I am a huge fan os spoken words and of using field such as film to glorify God…especially when its done excelletnly like this. as Christians, we are to perform with excellence in all we do. That’s how God’s beauty turly shines through. All truth is God’s truth. It’s important to remember that we are representing Him in all we do! Thanks for this post! ”

3. Title of Blog Post: “Kisses from Katie” by Sera Menubans
Blog: Seravirgina
Date: 2/12/12
Comment: “I’ve never gotten around to read this book yet but I recently heard about this girl too! She spoke at Catalyst ’11 and I was brought to tears by her story. It’s so encouraging to hear about woman of God who are so selfless enough to give up their plans for God’s plans. Can you imagine being a mother of that many kids alone, that young and in a completely foreign environment? She is simply incredible. I wasn’t aware she had a blog, so thanks for sharing this! I am going to bookmark it now!”

4. Title of Blog Post: “Social Media” by Molly Dodd
Blog:Good Golly Miss Molly
Date: 2/16/12
Comment:”Thanks for sharing your post! And also thanks for all your work you do maintaing the school’s twitter and Facebook! I bet that is a huge load to carry but how fun you get to integrate what you’re learning into a job already! I also use the same social networks both for personal and professional means and I see the benefits and disadvantages of both. I had not heard of klout before so thanks for sharing!”

5.Blog Post: “DIY:Melted Crayon Art” by Liz Colburn
Blog: Randomly Ravishing 
Date: 2/16/12
Comment: “I love this project! I’ve seen it blow up ever since it first hit Pinterest! My friend Christine did a painting in chapel of this and someone bought it for $200! It’s definitely an eye-catching project from the colors to the originality. Pintrest seems to provide a lot of great ideas like this and more! Thanks for sharing this!”

6.Blog Post:”The Evolution of Public Relations” by Mylon Bunce
Blog: Trial & Error in PR 
Date: 2/22/12
Comment:”This is something I often struggle with: finding a definite definition for public relations. I feel like it’s such a broad spectrum of beliefs and I can understand how people not directly related to the field would see confusion as well. So for me, personally, I would say that I do not have a strong grasp on what public relations really means. But through my experience with PR, I’ve realized that the most important aspects are fully knowledgable about what you represent and adequately communicate that.”

7. Blog Post: “Social Bookmarking” by Beth Telg
Blog: Eliza Says 
Date: 4/05/12
Comment: “I actually haven’t heard much about social bookmarking so this is really helpful. What an easy and convenient way to stay not only organized with your blogs but connected. I love that others can read your post as well. I am going to have to explore realm of social bookmarking. I actually have Bloglovin’ opened in another tab right now.”

8. Blog Post: “Thank you, thank you!” by Molly Dodd
Blog: Good Golly Miss Molly
Date: 4/12/12
Comment: “I love thanking you notes…giving and receiving! I never actually thought about sending a thank you notes after an interview. However, that is such a great idea. What better way to make yourself stand out than through a simple act of kindness. These tips are really helpful as well.”

9. Blog Post: “Kony 2012” by Sera Menubans
Blogseravirginia
Date: 4/12/12
Comment: “I can honestly say this is probably one of the best responses I’ve seen in regards to the “Kony 2012″ video. I like how you gave insight of the positives and negatives of the video, and related it to the effectiveness they used in regards to PR. I believe you summed up your response perfectly by saying “A lesson we can learn with Kony 2012 is to educate ourselves about issues, instead of believing everything we see.””

10. Blog Post: “One Big Night” by Jillian Reid
Blog: Through My Eyes
Date: 4/10/12
Comment: “So excited for this event. I think it’s going to be one of the best events of the year. And I agree this year has definitely been a year of first for the university, so what better way to end it then with a big celebration done like never before. You guys have done an incredible job planning and marketing this event. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.”

Get on board with AP Style

Within the sphere of social media, it is not uncommon to encounter a number of grammatical errors. Social media is a fast-paced occupation; it is always on the move. In the midst of these everyday advancements, businesses have adopted their own methods when it comes to dealing with gramatical issues.

The exciting part of social media is that it is flexible. Social media allows room for change and innovation. It is creative and vibrant. However, there must be a balance between two. AP style has provided this flexibility.

“The first Associated Press Stylebook came out in 1953. It was 60 pages, stapled together, distilled from a thousand suggestions and ideas, a stack of newspapers and big dictionary.”

Since then, AP books have changed it’s style but not it’s relevancy. AP has stayed a loyal companion for journalists and PR practitioners. It remains dedicated to “its original concept: to provide a uniform presentation of the printed word, to make a story written anywhere understandable everywhere.”

So why is AP style important to us as journalists and PR students and professionals? Well … for the main concept it was originally made for: uniformity within the written press.  AP style has contributed to making the field of journalism and PR a more refined art.

As fellow journalists and PR practitioners, we are all fairly familiar with this book. We have learned a number of spelling, puncutation and dateline rules. However, I still find myself stumbling over some of the simplest of rules. I am fairly certain I am not alone in this dilemma.

So here is a list of some of the most common mistakes made within AP style:

  1. Commas in a sequence: This is a highly common mistake. When writing a list, do not include a comma before the conjunction in a series. Meg went to the store and bought pepperoni, apples, eggs and toothpaste. However, put a comma in front of the conjunction if an integral part of the sequence contains a conjunction. Sammy had salad, roast beef, and macaroni and cheese for dinner.
  2. a.m. / p.m.: This one gets me more often than I would like to admit. I think to myself, “it’s just two little letters after the time–is it REALLY that critical?” And yes. There is a rule in place for time. So the next time you are pulling together a quick briefing sheet, remember that you are meeting with the press contact at 10 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. If an event takes place on the hour, such as 11 a.m., it is not necessary to include a colon followed by zero.
  3. Datelines: Datelines should contain a city name, written entirely in capital letters and the city is frequently followed by the state, county or territory where the city is located, e.g. PORTLAND, Ore. However, certain cities do not need to be followed by the state or country since they are nearly synonymous with the state or country in which they reside, such as Atlanta, London, New York, Paris, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego and Tokyo. For a complete list, refer to your AP Stylebook.
  4. State abbreviation: Things would be so much easier if all state abbreviations were treated the same. But alas, we are not so lucky. That is why AP-appropriate state abbreviations are different than zip code abbreviations. Here is a quick refresher: Ore. rather than OR, Wash. versus WA and Wyo., not WY. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah are never abbreviated.
  5. Its/it’s: This is one of my favorite grammar rules, regardless of what stylebook I am using (Yes, I have favorites. I also enjoy reading the AP Stylebook in my free time. Nerd alert!) When using it’s as a contraction for it is, by all means use it’s. However, it does not possess things. Therefore if a company announces its new product, leave the apostrophe out, lest you be scorned by the AP gods. And your supervisor.

Don’t be afraid to admit your flaws. Don’t let weaknesses with grammar hinder your voice in your writing. That’s where AP Style can help aid you along the way.