Thursday, November 5, 2009

When I Grow-Up!

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a "baby doctor." I liked babies, I liked going to the doctor, (I know, I know, how weird was I?) so logically I wanted to be a baby doctor. I wanted to be a pediatrician, all the way until I started taking medical classes years later. At that time I realized how terrible I was with blood and pain. I couldn't STAND seeing others in pain, and blood made me pass-out. Neither of those things go with being a doctor.

So, I went through other options. A teacher? A chef? A full-time student?

Well, as of now, I am a full-time student. I've been one for the last eight years. Seriously. I just couldn't make up my mind, so I've been through every option possible.

And now, you ask?

Now, I am five classes away from being in the field of communications, public relations, to be more specific.

I found, through trial and error that I can talk like no one's business. I write semi-well. People tend to respond well to me. I have a "great personality," so I am told. And I love to write! I love it! LOVE it!

So, here I am, finally figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. I'm in my next to last PR class, which is why I have this little blog. As a part of an assignment, we had to create a little ditty and include THREE blog entries. Not too bad, considering my OTHER blog has over 600 entries (yea, I had to whip out the calculator to figure that out! See, I am much better with writing than I am with *logical* things.)

This class has been interesting. I have enjoyed learning about the various types of PR writings and learning how to effectively create those writings. I will get more in depth about those types of writings, in my next two entries. Until then, enjoy the shameless plug, for my other blog! :)

Spending Time with Silly People: How to Interview

I had the opportunity to spend some time with a fantastic person, as part of this class. I had the pleasure to interview my daddy, for an assignment on writing personality profiles. My dad, Ohio's own Giant Eagle chef, was gracious enough to allow me to hassle him and a few of his co-workers, as apart of this assignment. Now while I knew a lot about my dad, already, I didn't know a lot about his profession or the people with whom he works. And I honestly hadn't interviewed many people in my time (outside of interviewing people for jobs, when I worked in management), so this was a new experience for me. And honestly, I think I was MORE nervous, because it was my dad! I think the most challenging aspect of the assignment was preparing, beforehand! So, I am offering up some advice on how to properly PREP for an interview.

Prepping for an Interview:

1) Do your research! Know what you're talking about (at least a little) before going into the interview.
2) Use sources: go to the library, use the internet, public records, etc. Anything to help give you a little background on the person and subject matter.
3) Prepare your questions in advance! It's ok to come up with more, based on the answers received. But- make sure you have base questions BEFORE the interview.
4) Have a small notebook and plenty of pens and pencils. A smaller notebook is easier to handle than a large clunky one.
5) Bring a tape recorder, if necessary! If you feel like you're going to forget something or not have the ability to write it all down, bringing a recorder along is useful. Make sure you ask the interviewee if recording him/her is ok! :)
6) Take notes. Lots of notes! It's helpful, when writing about the interview, to comment on more than JUST what the interviewee said. Comment on what he/she is wearing or mannerisms.
7) Have fun! If you're having fun, they are having fun! :)

Ok- so get out there and interview someone! You know you want to!

Writing a Feature Article

So you want to be a writer? And you want your reader to "like" you? Well, fat chance there... There will always be SOMEONE who doesn't like you. I know, hard to believe. Anyway. So how do you make a feature article newsworthy, appealing to your audience, and just plain AWESOME? Here are the four steps, I would take:

1) Define FEATURE article: When you learn how to write a feature article, you are introduced to several steps that will lead you in the direction of a well rounded piece that is enjoyable for your audience to read. A feature expands on the facts. It can interpret the news or add some depth to the story. It can entertain or educate the audience as well..

2) Know your audience and publication: This one is probably one of the hardest to nail down. It's hard to say who is going to be reading your article. However, you can know your audience, based on the content of the article and the type of publication. (i.e.) Generally speaking, a local newspaper is generally read by the local community. And if you're writing for your local community, you would have a better grasp on the type of content appealing to those in your community. So, write based on the audience and the publication.

3) Controversy Sells: The best titles are both informative and intriguing. Essentially, this is your headline and it should be designed to engage the reader to make a purchase or other commitment to read the story. Do not copy another author's title, but learn how they made you want to read the article. If you are a golfer, the title "Why Your Sand Wedge Isn't Just For The Bunker" may drive you to learn more about this assertion.
And we all know controversy sells, right now! Think about the top headlines in the news, right now. I guarantee the majority of them contain some sort of controversy.

4) Keep your reader engaged: Despite a great topic and headline, your efforts may still fall flat unless your language sparkles. Humor and controversial points of view keep readers engaged and coming back for more. And if the readers want more, you can be sure their publishers will keep you at the top of their lists next time they receive your call or query letter.

Writing a feature article is challenging, but can be fun and rewarding! Follow the steps above, and you'll have a fantastic start to a winning feature article!