Tag Archives: public relations

AP Style, The Mother Tongue of Journalism

A couple of recent experiences here at CBR reminded us about the importance that journalism training plays – or should play – in public relations careers.

The first was a post on Ragan.com noting changes in the 2013 Associated Press Stylebook. That brought back a vivid memory for me from my days as a freshman journalism major.

On day one, our wizened journalism department dean gave us one assignment — memorize the AP stylebook. He was the first of many instructors and editors to refer to the stylebook as the journalist’s bible. Of course, that would be bible with a lower-case “b”. The word Bible is capitalized only when making reference to Scriptures in the Old Testament or the New Testament — it says so right there on page 31 of  the AP Stylebook (2011 edition).

The newest stylebook edition, published May 29, 2013, tells us, among other things, that it’s now okay to use numerals for all references to distance and dimension, e.g. a 3-mile stretch of road, a 9-pound hammer.

So why should the public relations industry care about such minutiae?

The answer is as simple and fundamental as anything we do. In order to communicate our clients’ key messages effectively, we must connect with our target audience. Just as we must learn the ins and outs of effective social media communications, we also must learn to speak the native language of the newsroom, and that’s AP style.

Reporters and editors often look for any excuse to spike (trash) a news release, and finding a glaring AP style mistake provides an easy one.

The second thing that got us thinking about the symbiotic relationship between journalism and public relations was our realization that some college public relations programs do not require a journalism course as part of their core curricula.

We’re back to basics on this one, too. Despite the ever-changing media landscape, there is a set of standards and ethics at the core of the journalism profession that defines news and drives day-to-day operations at every television news station and newspaper. Public relations professionals must have a working knowledge of those core standards and ethics.

As Florida’s premier media relations firm, we understand that public relations professionals — new and old — benefit from knowing as much as possible about the journalism side of the equation. Providing newsrooms with what they are looking for — timely, newsworthy, relevant, quirky items — written in their language improves our chances of getting our clients’ stories told.

It’s an integral part of our job here at CBR and one we do well.

Robert Perez is vice president at CBR.

Landing a Job in Public Relations: It Takes More Than an Internship

Someone once told me that, to get a job in public relations, you need to have an internship. But to get an internship, you must have experience. It’s a Catch-22. So, how did I overcome it, and how can you? Let me tell you…

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of speaking with some PR students from Rollins College at the annual professional networking roundtable hosted by Communiqué, a student chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA).

(Pop Quiz: Do you know which university CBR CEO Lori C. Booker graduated from? You guessed it! Rollins. Lori was the first person to graduate from Rollins with a degree in PR.)

There are a few nuggets of information I want to share with you and ones that I hope the students walked away with Tuesday. I think you’ll find some of these apply to the PR professional as well as the student.

  • Get involved. Orlando is unique in that the area has two, strong public relations organizations – FPRA Orlando and PRSA Orlando. There are a wealth of resources right at your fingertips – whether a student or PR pro looking for a job. My point to you is to get involved and then get involved at a higher level. Yes, it’s great to be a member, and it does look good on a resume, but I guarantee you will find more benefit in actually getting involved on a board or committee. Don’t have time? Offer to write a press release for your church or a school organization. It’s only a couple hours of your time and will be something to put in your portfolio. I think this especially applies to those who may have already graduated but have not found a job yet. Volunteering will help keep your skills up and show a potential employer dedication and commitment to your profession.
  • Be passionate.  Love what you do because if you don’t, it will reflect in your work. If you’re passionate about your job, clients will feel it and so will reporters. I have heard reporters say that if a PR pro comes to them with a story idea that they are genuinely passionate about, the reporter is more likely to listen and write a story.
  • Enjoy college. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to hit the books, but it does mean don’t stress about the little things (i.e. getting your G.P.A. up from a 3.8 to a 3.9.). Grades are important, but potential employers will be looking for more than just your G.P.A. Enough said.

So, how did I get the experience needed to get an internship to get a job? I got involved with the PRSA student chapter at the University of Florida, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It truly was an honor to sit next to some of my fellow PR pros and speak with the students about their future careers. If you want to learn more about a possible internship or job with CBR, visit our Careers page.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

Musings from the IPREX International meeting in our Nation’s Capital

Coyly and with a bit of arrogance that is indigenous to some top journalists worldwide, the bureau chief of a Washington news bureau proudly told a room of 50 PR agency CEOs from around the world that she daily deletes all emails she receives without reading one.  She monitors FOX news and MSNBC but only quoted Wolf Blitzer.  When asked what major story she personally broke and how, she proudly announced that she broke the “surge” story after getting a tip at a bar after work. (We tried to pry the name of her hangout, but like all good journalists she protected that source as well.  Good thing, because we were all sitting at attention ready to search its location on our iPhones.)

She admitted that she only takes phone calls from people she knows and who have built credibility with her news rooms.  This punctuates my policy that CBR’s newsroom contact lists are hard earned, preciously guarded and never shared.  We are entrusted with direct numbers, private email access and yes, home numbers of reporters such as at CNN who know from experience that we only call if we think it’s worth their time.

I’ve been tossing this around in my mind the past day as I have been participating in the 2011 International IPREX Conference with esteemed colleagues from all over the planet.  In between these musings I am struck anew at the caliber and camaraderie of these fellow firm leaders and how it has enhanced my citizenship in the world.

I think back on when our American servicemen were detained on the ground in China, prompting me to send an email to my colleague in Beijing and together we commiserated on the unexpected rise in tensions between our leaderships.

On the morning of 9/11 emails between all our agencies flew around the world offering assistance to those impacted by the attacks.

Right now I am sitting next to my colleague from New Orleans remembering our firm-to-firm communications before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.  CBR had survived four back-to-back hurricanes and offered sage advice that only true hurricane veterans can offer.

But yesterday’s meeting showcased the importance of IPREX as a demure diplomatic community of key influencers.  While the Washington bureau chief gave a detailed minute-by-minute report on the unfolding of the bin Laden story that occurred just days before, I looked around the table and watched how our representatives from the U.K. (ally), Brussels (NATO HQ) and yes, Pakistan, received the story and was fascinated by the discussions that emerged.  It was a microcosm of the world, but populated with news-savvy communications experts.  Like the bureau chief, I don’t disclose all that observed, but I can tell you that I slept well last night.

Lori C. Booker, APR is founder and CEO of CBR.  She served on the International board of directors of IPREX for nearly a decade, and has been a member of the consortium since 1994.