What I Learned from Jeff Houck

Last Tuesday we had a guest speaker in my PR writing class. His name is Jeff Houck and he’s a journalist for the Tampa Tribune. He talked about his profession and gave us tips about writing. He also gave us valuable information, advice, and insight to the world of journalism and public relations. Here are about ten things I thought were really interesting, and things I think everyone should know.

1) Form relationships.  This is probably the biggest thing I took away from his whole speech. Get to know people, because they could be a connection to a future job/story/interview in the future. Also don’t just form professional relationships with people you work with, actually befriend them. Jeff said to go out to lunch with them, or call them up and talk to them about something completely not work related. The more you get to know someone, the easier it will be to work with them.

2) Don’t put embargos on stories, it makes journalists mad.

3) Make pitches short and sweet. Your headlines should be less than 30 words, and your pitches should not be titled “For Immediate Release.”  This is what Jeff prefers anyway.

4) Always be open to finding a better story, but always have an idea of a story before an interview or before you do any research.

5) Not everyone you talk to is going to be honest.

6) Don’t try to sell a journalist your product, sell them your story!

7) Try to give journalists about two weeks to write a story. They are busy and have other deadlines and stories they’re working on. 99% of the time you are not going to get your story written and published a day or two after you give them the information.

8) Don’t make errors! Always double and triple check your work! Errors are unprofessional and make everyone related to the article/ story look bad.

9) Make it easy for a journalist to do something with the information you give them. Give them organized and complete information!

10) Whatever you write about, make sure you are passionate about it!

11) Write as if you would say it. Don’t use complicated sentence structures or expansive vocabulary.

I thought these points were really interesting and good to know. I feel like I learned a lot from Jeff, and I definitely enjoyed hearing his prospective on Journalism and PR.

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~ by necottom on April 11, 2010.

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