Maggiecrowley's Blog

Bloggers Advice

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on July 14, 2010

Greetings PR students and future bloggers!  Beginning as a novice blogger myself, I am proud of the progress I’ve made and the amount I’ve learned from blogging in the past several months.  I cannot say that I am an expert yet, but I’m confident that if you look back at some of my earlier blogs (circa January 2010) you will see some major improvements!  If you are looking for some quick and dirty tips from a mediocre blogger, like myself, you’ve come to the right place!

Here I’ve compiled a short list of 10 clues that may help you beginner bloggers:

  1. Concise, short, succinct.  For social media, it is best to entice readers with smaller paragraphs.
  2. Set a goal- why not decide how much time you are willing to put into your blog? How much do you want to write? What do you want to write about?
  3. Themes can be catchy and cute, but don’t over do it, buddy! When a page gets overcrowded it will be hard for the reader to focus on the most important part: your words.
  4. Speak you heart (but not too much). It is possible to relay what you want to say without being vulgar, wordy or fussy- even though it may take some extra time.
  5. Always use some kind of citation or link if you use others’ words, pictures or ideas.  It’s very easy to do.
  6. You can dress up a semi-boring post with a picture or graphic!  Whether it’s an assignment or personal, pictures can brighten just about anything with color and animation
  7. Don’t just blab- try to write about things that you care about. If you do not care about what you’re writing, no one else will either.
  8. Think outside of the box! Blogs are fun because they are so versatile. You can change its appearance and depth as quickly as you change your mood and mind.
  9. If you are having trouble getting started, try looking at other blogs for some inspiration. There are millions of blogs existing in the outer space of the word wide web- surely there is one that can grab your attention.
  10. Have fun!!! Blogging can only benefit those who enjoy and appreciate it. Hey, why bother, right?

How to Drive a Journalist Crazy!

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on July 6, 2010

Public relations professionals share a tight-knit relationship with journalists. Media relations are an important part of working in PR.  PR people rely on journalists heavily, but the dependency is mutual because journalists need PR professionals, too.  Here is a list of common discrepancies between PR writers and journalists, followed by a solution to the problem, or how to avoid it altogether.

  1. The problem:  Hype and News Release Spam.  Journalists receive hundreds of e-mails everyday and are dulled by the hype words attempting to bribe them to a story.  Due to the constant flow of spam and overrated news releases, journalists often conclude that many publicists and PR writers are incompetent.

A different approach:  In order to catch the attention of journalists without bugging them by sending e-mail after e-mail, PR professionals could try sending an actual hand-written letter to journalists. If the letter doesn’t prompt a response, PR writers may try catching up with journalists in person to talk about upcoming events or stories.  By meeting up with journalists in person, PR people can get a feeling for what the journalist is interested in writing about or publishing instead of the hit and miss technique that is adopted when constantly sending e-mails about what they find interesting.

2. The problem: Name Calling.  When journalists and PR professionals don’t get along, the bitter relationship can quickly go from bad to worse when the name calling begins.

A different approach:  To completely avoid the phenomenon of name calling, public relations writers should go out of their way to ensure a respectful and professional relationship with journalists.  To do so, a PR person may consider offering a small promotional item, or some kind of sincere gesture to the journalists to start things off right.  Because of their mutual dependency on one another, name calling is just one more unfortunate down side of the relationship between the two that should be completely avoided.

3.  The problem:  Sloppy reporting.  Sometimes when journalists publish a story, it doesn’t turn out the way that we hoped. Instead of getting mean or even, the PR pro should remember the necessity of a good relationship between journalism and PR.

A different approach:  Instead of getting mean or seeking revenge, the PR professional should step back, take a breath and try to understand what happened.  Why would the story turn out the way it did? How can we prevent misunderstandings like this in the future? Is this someone you should really be working with to begin with?

4.  The problem:  Advertising influence.  Often, published stories are the works of paid advertising. Sometimes, only paid advertisements make the story. Because PR tries to avoid paid advertising, there can be some resentment if that’s the case.

A different approach:  In order to avoid the negativity that comes with not being able to share information with audiences because of the journalists, PR professionals could try other media outlets.

5.  The problem:  Tabloid Journalism.  Some outlets of journalism do not require the highest standard of ethical and fair reporting and some journalists do not mind sensationalizing headlines and stories, just to sell the issue.

A different approach:  Instead of stopping service to journalism altogether, PR professionals should try to avoid the muck of flab journalism.  PR people could try talking to the reporter to before offering information to find out their real motives to publishing the story.

6.  The problem:  Lack of preparation.  On either side of the fence, when someone or something is not prepared for an interview, story, deadline, etc. it can cause problems to everyone.

A different approach: In order to avoid this problem, take every means necessary to prepare yourself for upcoming deadlines, events, stories, etc!!! If you are the one being outed when another individual is unprepared, you can try to avoid working with them in the future, or try to give reminders to ensure that everyone stays on tasks.

7.  The problem:  Disrespect.  When anything goes wrong in the media, a scape goat is often sought after to blame.

A different approach:  Instead of blaming a journalist of co-worker, try to find the root of the problem and fix it before a new problem arises.  Blaming is the beginning of an unhealthy and disrespectful relationship.

8.  The problem:  Bribery.  Journalists and PR professionals alike have all been bribed to print a story, or support a cause that they don’t necessarily believe in.

A different approach:  When bribery takes place,  no one wins.  While promotional items are commonly used, bribery takes the competition out of the game by winning someone over with money and gimmicks.

Multimedia Storytelling

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on June 30, 2010

According to NewsUniversity’s online course instructor, Jane Stevens, there are “5 Steps to Multimedia Reporting”.

Take a look at the course here:  5 Steps to Multimedia Reporting

The course explains how multimedia stories are built by guiding us through a case study about the dancing rocks of the Racetrack Playa.  The 5 steps include:

  1. Choosing a story
  2. Making a storyboard
  3. Reporting with multimedia
  4. Editing for the web
  5. Producing the story

As a novice writer, I’ve really never written for multimedia- unless Facebook or WordPress count! One important tip I learned from this online course is that when choosing a story, it’s very important to write about something that you are interested in.  If that’s not the case, then the story will be boring to everyone that reads it, just like it is boring for the writer.  Having never put together a storyboard before, I found it to be a very interesting and a little surprising  that the approach to brainstorming ideas for media placement is so broad. As for producing a multimedia story, there are many differences compared to the traditional approach,  one of the most important being that the content needs to be extremely organized and easy to read.

In all, the case study of the dancing rocks was a great example of a creative and fascinating multimedia story. In order to learn more, I feel like the next step for me would be to attempt my own example of a multimedia story.  One concern for me would be not being internet savvy enough to produce an extensive and impressive story with all the glamour and glitter of the example. But, the best way to learn is try, right? This NewsUniversity course has been one of the more helpful and interesting that we’ve taken this semester. I have really enjoyed it! To take a look at the case study of the moving rocks of the Racetrack Playa, click here: The Dancing Rocks of Death Valley.

The Power of the Pod Cast

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on June 26, 2010

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a podcast as, “a program (as of music of voice) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet”.  Podcasts can be found all over the internet; today, they are very common and readily available for listeners.  Anyone can listen to a podcats, and they can be found on most any topic, based on the listeners interest.  There are sports, news, comedy, and cooking podcasts, just to name a few.  Podcasts are an easy and cost-effective way to obtain new information or entertainment.

Personally, I’ve subscribed to a few free podcasts- but I don’t have much experience. In the past, I listened to poetry podcasts and a few music and movie podcasts just for entertainment. Most recently, I have listened to several podcasts from The Creative Career.  This unique website offers many podcast interviews hosted by Allie Osmar.  The podcasts are aimed to offer information to college students who are making the transition from college to the public relations work place.  And there is a plethora of information! Here are a couple of the podcasts I found most interesting:

More Tips for Networking Events – an Interview with Author, Sandy Jones-Kaminski.

Can listening to podcasts be beneficial to public relations students?  Absolutely! With the abundance of social media and internet dependency that is present today, podcasts are just another outlet for reaching large groups of people easily.  You can find a podcast on just about anything that you want to listen to. There are so many to choose from! According to it is estimated that more than 270 million people will own portable entertainment devices. With all of these iPods and MP3’s out there, it makes sense why there are so many podcasts. Podcasts are an easy and convenient way to provide entertainment and information to millions of people.

One Week of Twitter

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on June 17, 2010

Follow me on

I will admit, when I began tweeting in January for a different PR class, I was not enthusiastic. At all! Now, however, my opinion has changed. I am warming up to Twitter! After learning how to use Twitter a little more , and actually having people to follow me, and people who are interesting to follow, Twitter is more fun, more useful, and more effective.

As of today, I am following 94 Twitter profiles– the better news is that 43 people are following me! To me, this is really exciting because until recently I had about 3 followers. In the beginning it was difficult to get involved with Twitter because I felt like it was pointless to be tweeting to no one. In fact, I was reluctant about tweeting at all. Initially, I didn’t like the idea of letting everyone on the internet in on all the details of my day.  Who cares what I ate for breakfast, or even how I did on a test? I think I’m finally getting the hang of Twitter though because now I realize that I was right to begin with. Not many people, unless my mom has just joined Twitter, care about those things. So, tweeting must take some thought and consideration.  Posting links, sharing important news, and educated opinions are all things that are appropriate for Twitter. Letting people know my intimate life details like what I am watching on TV or relationship trivia are not what people really want to read. So learning how to use Twitter has been crucial to my tweeting experience.

One aspect of Twitter that I would help me become even more involved is being able to tweet on the go.  I don’t have wireless capabilities on my phone, so I have to remember to make a point to tweet when I’m on my laptop or at work. Tweeting for a mobile phone or device would increase the amount of times I tweet and my involvement. It would be cool to be able to post pictures of funny or interesting things that I experience in a day. I think that while I will continue to tweet (even though the Week of Twitter is over), I would be tweeting even more if I could do it on the go. It just makes it that much easier.

Overall, Twitter was an engaging and enlightening experience. I have enjoyed learning about social media and I know it will be useful in the future.

NewsU Lead Lab

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on June 10, 2010

Check out this link to a class I took online!

As an assignment for class, I was asked to take a class via Poynter’s News University. The class, titled, The Lead Lab, helps writers and journalists, at any level, improve the leads of the stories they’re writing. The class took about an hour to complete and allowed students to refresh the basics of lead writing, read leads written by others, and improve leads submitted to the program.  Although I had my doubts when I began the class,  it actually turned out to be pretty helpful!

In the class, I learned several important things worth noting. For one, in the lab, there is an item that can be clicked to reveal the myths of lead writing. One myth I found especially helpful is that a lead should never be more than 3-4 lines long. Growing up, we are taught that leads are short, sweet, and to the point. Another lead myth that is mentioned is the fact that leads should summarize the entire story. If this is true, then why do we need to read the entire story?

Altogether, I was surprised at how helpful and timely this online course turned out to be. Students can really benefit from the course because of the unlimited amount of practice and information available. Unfortunately, when I think of classes like this one, I instantly assume that is it busy work that the instructor has assigned. The Lead Lab was a great surprise in that I found it very helpful.

What do I want to know more about? The first idea that comes to mind is that I need more practice to improve my leads even more. The good thing about that is that I now know one resource that I can use over and over from now on! In order for journalists and writers to become successful we need to be good at our job. There are hundreds of writers out there, and the competition is tough. For writers to succeed we need to continue learning and improving our skills. Kudos to the NewsU Lead Lab for helping me do just that!

Blog Comments

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on June 3, 2010

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a blog as, “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.”  As part of social media, blog comments are one of the most important parts of blogging! As a novice blogger myself, I am still adjusting to blogging on a regular basis and finding people who share some of my interests to comment on my blog.  Honestly, right now, the only comments I’ve received are from my mom, ha ha! Reciprocally, I rarely find myself commenting on others blogs. While I have begun to regularly post blogs on my own page, I am now interested in  reading others blog more. So, in order to become a more involved blogger, my new  plan of action is to begin commenting on other blogs and attentively respond, should someone comment on my posts.

To gain the whole experience of blogging, comments are an  integral part of the entire blog process. After all, what is the point of sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions on the internet if no one else is reading it?  So far, as I’ve been blogging, I feel as though I’ve yet to really benefit from the experience because it has been a one-sided conversation with myself.  Comments allow readers and bloggers to respond and further communicate about common interests, or differing opinions.  When fellow bloggers write comments, it turns the entire situation into more of a conversation than a monologue. Comments on blogs can help develop relationships between strangers and open minds in everyone.

So, with my new resolution, I’m looking forward to furthering my education and involvement in blogging. I hope that eventually, even after this class is over, I can blog regularly. That said, I also hope that I can entice readers with clever and meaningful conversation, and reply with comments that spark interest and thought.  Comments can turn blogging as a chore, to a something fun and enjoyable!

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on May 29, 2010

Grammar Girl is a hoot! If you haven’t looked at her site, go ahead and laugh out loud, I have!

She is clever, hilarious and Grammar Girl has some seriously dry humor. And she’s also really really good at grammar. Although I began reading her posts and blurbs for class yesterday, I have since gone back and read most of her entries dating back to several months ago. Grammar Girl has some great tips for novice writers like me. One of my favorite Tips she’s posted is “Hey, That’s Not Grammar Girl!” In this post she responds to recent questions asked by her readers. Anything from questions about word choice to spelling, Grammar Girl has an answer. And it tends to be pretty harsh. For example:

“(click) OK, another e-mail about the “color” versus “colour” debate, and if you didn’t hear the “u” in the second, British spelling it’s because it doesn’t belong there. If you really want to get your writing noticed, dot your lower case i’s with ninja stars.  British spellings belong in Britain where they can be cynically and dryly be over-pronounced through a thick handlebar mustache.”

Jokes aside, this woman knows her stuff when it comes to writing. She is the expert! Grammar Girl can differentiate and fully explain the differences between “who” and “whom”, “affect” and “effect”, “lay” and “lie”, and just about every other common writing error known to man. Although I consider myself to be a decent, semi-educated writer, I learned a handful from Grammar Girl in about five minutes. And I learn something new every time I read a post. She is not writing for the Average Joe. She’s writing for people who write and for those of us who care about writing. Grammar Girl is the bomb and I plan on continuing to read her page. Maybe one day I can think of a grammar questions to stump her… I doubt it!