Public information officers

The editor behind the Embargo Watch web site draws upon more than three years of experience in compiling a list of 10 rules for institutions that want to control when and how their news gets out to the public. Several of the rules could be boiled down to one simple piece of advice: Be consistent. "And as one public relations executive said recently, 'Every manager here has a different set of rules about embargoes,'" Oransky writes.

Gini Dietrich writes on PR Daily about a novel approach for getting attention from journalists — a "response campaign" of commenting on stories by targeted writers: "If you are consistent and post intelligent comments once a week, you'll soon develop relationships with journalists who call you when they need someone to interview. Yes, it takes some time. Yes, it's hard work. Yes, it requires you to keep up with your reading. But it works 100 percent of the time."

Few things get less attention in a busy newsroom than a typical press release. Yet clients often insist on them, Denise Graveline writes: "It may seem as if the only thing your clients request is a press release, regardless of intended audience, media interest, likelihood of coverage or content issues." She lists other options, "all of which can be used to prompt a discussion about the intended audience and whether, in fact, a release is the right tool for the job."

Andrew Hindes at PRNews asks three editors what makes a good headline and puts their tips in this blog post. “Avoid fluff or padding,” says Lisa Horowitz, copy chief at the L.A. Weekly. “Don't put the entire story in the headline — one of the main goals of a headline is to entice the reader, without spelling out everything the story has to offer.” The journalist should know just enough from reading the headline to determine if the story might be of interest.

For starters, don't pitch a new year story two weeks into January, writes Denise Graveline on her Don't Get Caught blog. She lists examples both good (a pitch to Andy Revkin at the New York Times) and bad ("Want to make sure I got your email? I got it. Want to see if I need to speak with someone? If I need to, I’ll ask.") Plus how to pitch infographics and how to avoid becoming a spammer when sending out press releases.

One was escaping from a long-ago recession. Another wanted more pay and better benefits. Those were among the responses Denise Graveline got when she posted this Twitter-hashtagged question on her "don't get caught" blog: "How did you get started in #PR or #communications?" Don't miss the post from a longtime NASW member who began her account with the brief but spellbinding sentence: "Newspaper had fleas." (Just fleas? We've seen worse.)