Speech writing requires a different type of writing talent. You might not be aware of it, but we don't write and speak the same way. The challenge for the speech writer is capturing the other per son's speech patterns and speaking style. A successful speech has to be informative, interesting and, when possible, humorous.
An experienced public relations representative prides himself on this information sources. Once you know how information can be used to best advantage, you then have to have outlets for the information. A junior public relations worker can expect to spend a couple of years developing information sources and contacts. He quickly learns that preparing and gathering the information is only the first step. The next step is putting that information to work.
Let's go back to the harried public relations workers at International Widget. In the process of getting ready to launch the super widget, the PR staff outlined a media strategy. First, releases and product sheets describing the new widget were written. While this was being done a list of key media people at newspapers, trade magazines, and radio and TV stations was prepared. Names were picked carefully. They were contacts who were most likely to read the material and give it publicity.
You can have the greatest story in the world but if you don't have an outlet for it, or vehicle for telling the world about it, it's useless. No matter what aspect of public relations work you're involved in, you have to be very creative when it comes to finding the right information sources that can do the most good.
An exciting aspect of public relations work is that there is no patented way of gaining publicity for a product or client. There are many options open to a PR worker, and it's up to you to find the most effective communication channel.
A skilled public relations representative can often get immediate exposure for his client or product by merely making a single telephone call. Let's say your client developed a new flashlight that has unlimited life and, if properly promoted, could revolutionize the entire flashlight industry. Prior to sending out press releases to all the appropriate media channels, you call an old friend who hap pens to be editor in chief of one of the most influential national electronics trade magazines. Instead of telling him about the ex citing new product over the telephone, you suggest meeting for lunch to discuss an exciting story that might interest him. Naturally the editor is curious and agrees to meet you for lunch.
Over a two-hour lunch, you carefully and diplomatically outline the story and its ultimate effect on the electronics industry. As expected, the editor's curiosity is aroused. While you describe the new product, he busily takes notes and asks questions. Convinced that it is a first-rate story and thankful for the exclusive, he promises to give the story a full page in the next issue of the magazine.
As you can see, PR workers understand the media. They realize that the heart and soul of any publication, whether it be consumer or trade, is reliable, new and interesting stories. Magazines and newspapers will go out of their way to get their hands on that special story no one else has - an interview with a famous person who has never granted an interview, or news of a product or drug that will have a major impact on an industry. Public relations workers are aware of this and know which media outlet will deliver the best results. And equally important, they know whom to call to get the fastest possible results.
A seasoned public relations worker has a battery of information sources he carries from job to job. Very often your contacts and information sources can be crucial in determining whether you qualify for a job. If you're applying for a position as a PR writer with a chemical company, for instance, and you have a number of important chemical industry contacts, your chances of getting the job are a lot better than if you had no contacts at all.
Aside from having contacts and information sources, you also have to know how the media works, and how long it takes to get in formation to the public. For example, a daily newspaper can release a story within 24 hours after receiving it, whereas monthly magazines work with a 90-day lead time. By the time a story is published, it's already old news. It's dated and no one cares. As a hardworking PR worker, you're faced with the challenge of finding the most appropriate media avenue.
Along with skillfully handling information, public relations workers are often involved with coordinating and arranging special events. This could be anything from a press conference, dinner, tour or demonstration to a parade.
Let's say you work for a large automaker that just automated 25 percent of its assembly line with robots - a big event warranting publicity. Working closely with the executive staff, you arrange to invite key media representatives to the plant for a guided tour and demonstration of the facility by the company's chief product engineer.
Your goal is to publicize the event, informing the public that your company is using the latest in advanced technology to produce efficient and cost-effective automobiles.
Or, if your company is scheduled to attend a convention, you'll be responsible for setting up a booth where your company's pro ducts will be on display. Again, planning and coordination are necessary. Prior to the event, you'll have to arrange for delivery of the products to the convention site, along with appropriate back-up literature. And at the convention, you'll have to meet with members of the press in order to tell them about new product developments and plans for the upcoming year.
In coordinating special events, you'll have to plan on doing some traveling. The extent of your traveling in any given year will largely depend upon your responsibilities and the type of company you represent. If you're the public relations director of an international conglomerate that sells its products around the world, it's safe to assume you'll be doing quite a bit of traveling. If a new plant opens or a new product is developed by one of your subsidiary companies, or you're arranging for the president of the company to visit all of the North American subsidiaries, you'll be expected to make all the necessary arrangements and see that everything proceeds on schedule.