Archive | Writing RSS feed for this section

I’m spinning around

2 Feb

Issue 15 of Behind the Spin (the public relations magazine for students and young practitioners) has been published. Thank you to all our contributors.

The next issue will appear in May. Ideas and articles should be sent to John Hitchins (JHitchins[at]], preferably on one of the following themes:

  • PR for environmental causes
  • Adventure travel experiences of PR students and graduates

Remember, remember fifteenth of December

1 Dec

Contributions are arriving for the next issue of the UK PR student magazine, Behind the Spin (copy deadline 15 December).

This is a public reminder for those who’ve promised articles but have yet to submit them. And a reminder that there’s still time to come forward with new ideas, particularly if they relate to our two main themes:

  • PR for fashion and beauty
  • The public relations consultancy business

Articles are welcome from students, practitioners and academics. The editorial contact for this issue is me: r[dot]s[dot]bailey@leedsmet[dot]ac[dot]uk

Read-write challenges

3 Oct

We’ve heard Colin Farrington’s views on blogs: they’re badly written. (He’s the director general of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.) For the record: I agree, yet this criticism misses the point.

Now he’s using his member magazine column to attack public relations academics for ‘writing in a style that bars the way to busy working people’. Once again, I do agree (though as a public relations lecturer who blogs I might be feeling a bit defensive by now.) It’s not dumb to be clear, nor is it clever to overcomplicate.

I started the PR Books wiki to bring together the best of academic and practitioner texts in some recommended reading lists. And the sources cited are not just books: they’re newspaper articles, web pages and, yes, blogs.

Public relations practice is challenging on many levels, but it’s above all an intellectual challenge. So we need to be open to ideas and receive them from many directions, books and blogs included.

Novel thinking

26 Sep

What are you reading? My question to new students on our courses has been met with a mixed response. There were some surprising answers (could they have known the question was coming?) – but too many blank stares.

Here’s the challenge. If you won’t read, then I can’t help you to write. If you don’t read, then you won’t be equipped to cope with senior public relations roles. Don’t believe me? Then check out the references in Andy Green’s latest book, Effective Personal Communication Skills for Public Relations. The author’s a PR consultant, not an academic, but he reads widely and voraciously around science, business, literature and psychology.

What am I reading? In fiction, I’m in a campus novel groove. Zadie Smith’s On Beauty mixes race, intellect and academic rivalry in a US campus. Before that Tom Wolfe’s massive I am Charlotte Simmons, ostensibly about sex and elitism in a top US university, seemed to me to be a morality tale about a declining civilisation.

You may think fiction has nothing to teach us. Consider this: Zadie Smith’s first novel, White Teeth, first published in 2000, depicted a group of disaffected non-white young men in north London. Their organisation: the Keepers of the Eternal and Vigilant Islamic Nation (KEVIN). The group was more menacing than this satirical name suggests, and in the five years since 9/11 every newspaper and magazine has written about this phenomenon.

Dot comma entrepreneur

17 Sep

Her zero tolerance approach to punctuation runs counter to current trends in education. But she’s right – and she’s been vindicated by the success of her books. Now Lynne Truss is taking her message straight to young children. Good luck.

Casting a spell

4 Aug

Poor spelling puts off employers, according to a Hertfordshire University study reported by the BBC. Work experience and a good work ethic were the factors most highly rated in job applicants.

Her master’s voice?

2 Jun

Style_guideI need help. I stress the importance of writing in public relations at the start of our course.

On the upside, this leads to some spectacular early ‘hits’: letters in national newspapers, feature articles in Behind the Spin, blogs etc.

On the downside, it often makes me feel like an alien visitor from planet grammar struggling to explain myself to generation text. That’s why I need help.

I most often receive it from employers. Now here’s support from a graduate student Stacey Dickens, who’s in her first job – as a public relations copywriter.

She’s updated a style guide for her employer, North Lincolnshire Council. It’s an impressive piece of work. Fun, too: she advises against using ‘stakeholder’ as this could be assumed to mean ‘someone who is nervous around vampires’. But it’s not just about words and grammar: it’s about the importance of clear communications to an organisation’s mission.

Get your byline here

12 May

It’s good to blog (good for your profile and good for your Google PageRank; though in some circumstances it can be bad for your career…). But it’s even better to have a magazine article with your own byline and photo on it (my students show them to their mothers). It’s much better even than seeing your first news release in print.

Behind the Spin magazine is written by and for UK PR students. It now has a blog thanks to Philip Young. I’m guest editing the next edition (October 2005) and I’m seeking contributions from PR students, academics and practitioners.

I’ll listen to any suggestions, but am proposing three themes: finding work in PR; health promotion campaigns; and the May 2005 election. You can contact me via the email link on the right, or leave a comment below. Suggestions soon; articles by the end of July…

When to exclaim

14 Jan

It annoys students when I prohibit the use of exclamation marks in public relations writing. They feel it removes impact from their copy. I feel that exclamation marks should be reserved for phrases you exclaim, such as Help! or Stop thief!

I’ve used them in the previous two post titles. Rachael uses six in her final paragraph. I don’t want to cramp her style, but I should have a quiet word with her.