BY: GILLIAN ZUCKER:
As public relations and communications professionals, having strong writing skills is essential to our craft. It isn’t uncommon to apply for a role in the industry and be expected to provide a portfolio of samples or to complete a timed writing task even before scoring the coveted interview. On the job, as I’ve learned from previous internships and from networking with my peers and professionals, it’s paramount to be able to create engaging yet concise pieces, such as media pitches, press releases, and media advisories to increase buzz and coverage surrounding an event (essential to the role of any professional in the media).
Being a senior, as I look back on the classes I’ve taken here at UD, I can say with full confidence that one of the most valuable and highly recommended for sharpening my writing skills was COMM311: Public Relations Writing, taught by the brilliant Adjunct Professor Jon Buzby, who serves as the Director of Media Relations and Program Innovations of Special Olympics Delaware, a Sixers Insider for ESPN 930, Sportscaster for Fox Sports 1290, and a Sportswriter for the Newark Post. From day one, we learned everything from the essential elements of strong public relations pieces (such as the aforementioned press releases, advisories, pitches), recorded our own public service announcements, and even worked on a hypothetical crisis situation to test our skills with responding to negative press and emergency scenarios.
Overall, I can’t thank Professor Buzby enough for not only teaching me the tricks of the trade but also for inspiring in me a greater passion for writing and for the non-profit sector of public relations. In an effort to inspire our PRSSA-UD members to strengthen their writing skills for the future, I planned and held our skill slam workshop on Monday, March 4th, focused around an overview of public relations writing, from the structure to the applicable uses in real-world scenarios. After giving everyone a background on each piece and sample templates, we launched into our media pitch contest, much like how our class activities in Jon Buzby’s class ran. For the contest, members split into groups of four, devised a pitch based on a real-world scenario, and then emailed their completed work to me as if I were a journalist for the Newark Post. After the skill slam, I was delighted by all the positive feedback I received, as members told me they truly felt that they could bring the night’s experience to a future opportunity.
In all, I hope that future public relations professionals remember how important these writing skills are and that they can always be learned in the classroom setting if one lacks prior experience and of course, refined by taking on publishing opportunities (such as writing for the PRSSA-UD blog).