Writing Boot Camp Agenda


One– and Two–Day Packages Available

Attend PR News’ Writing Boot Camp and get the how-to’s from expert trainers in writing SEO-optimized and shareable press releases, crafting email pitches that cut through the clutter, developing effective social media content, applying storytelling concepts to your PR messaging and much more. We look forward to seeing you on Feb. 4, 2014—and bring your laptop or tablet for a day of interactive learning. One lucky attendee will receive a Microsoft Surface Pro at the Writing Boot Camp!


What We’ll Cover:

Effective PR writing is the bedrock of a successful PR career. It underlies all of your individual efforts and all of your team efforts. Effective PR writing powers successful email pitches to journalists, internal memos and emails, client pitches, press releases, social media campaigns, blog posts…the list goes on. These sessions are geared to help you cut through the clutter with razor-sharp, must-read written content.

Detailed Schedule

7:30 a.m. 8:25 a.m.

Registration & Networking Breakfast

8:25 a.m. 8:30 a.m.

Opening Remarks

8:30 a.m. 9:00 a.m.

How to Spot the Jargon, Cliches and Catchphrases in Your Own PR Content

You have mere seconds to grab the attention of journalists, influencers and customers with your written content. Learn how to identify your own empty jargon, overused catchphrases and clichés that cloud your intent and, often, mask a loose grasp on the product or service you’re promoting. We’ll give you a fast-paced rundown of rules you can almost always write by, and habits to avoid.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid “padding” such as needless adjectives, hyperbole and overused, empty catchphrases
  • Determine the business reason for a document before typing a single word
  • Simplify your language and avoid the use of complex or vague industry jargon
  • Manage edits from clients and colleagues that compromise the quality and effectiveness of your PR writing


Doreen Jarman
PR Manager
Tableau Software
Matt Flegal
Senior Manager, Communications
9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m.

How to Write News- & Share-Worthy Press Releases

Potent, well-written, useful press releases continue to be an essential PR tactic to deliver news to journalists, bloggers and other media outlets. They also provide shareable, informative content that spreads your brand message online to anyone who might be interested in your company or industry. As reporters and editors find themselves increasingly forced to do more with less, your well-crafted press releases can make their lives easier—and advance your company’s communications strategy. Our trainers will show you how to craft search-optimized and shareable press releases for the age of downsized newsrooms and media-savvy consumers.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Write killer, search-optimized press release headlines and leads that grab readers’ attention
  • Turn the executive quote from a generic placeholder into a powerful brand messaging tool
  • Craft releases that go beyond just “what, where and when” to “why” and “why now”
  • Include key supporting material that does journalists’ jobs for them
  • Focus on the benefits to the reader of your product or service in your written materials, instead of on its features and internally perceived uniqueness
  • Research target keywords and implement them to gain better visibility and increase brand exposure on search engines


Taylor L. Cole
Director of Public Relations and Social Media
Oppel_Myra copy
Myra Oppel
Regional Communications Vice President
Pepco Holdings Inc.
10:00 a.m. 10:15 a.m.

Networking Break

10:15 a.m. 11:45 a.m.

Writing Clinic I: The Press Release and the Craft of Revision

Our trainers Taylor Cole and Myra Oppel will assist you as you and your fellow attendees revise a sample release selected from those sent in advance by Boot Camp participants (all Boot Camp participants will need to bring a laptop or tablet). Work with your peers to shape an effective release—and have it evaluated by our media experts.


Taylor L. Cole
Director of Public Relations and Social Media
Oppel_Myra copy
Myra Oppel
Regional Communications Vice President
Pepco Holdings Inc.
11:45 a.m. 12:00 p.m.

Networking Break

12:00 p.m. 12:45 p.m.

Luncheon & Keynote Presentation: Broadcasting Your Message & Your Talent

For those in the business of media relations and communications, the challenge to get heard amid the media din is ever more daunting. How do you stand out when success is your goal? In his keynote address, Kraig Kann, who spent 25 years in front of the camera, started a media consulting business and now serves as chief communications officer for the LPGA, will coach you on putting your native communications talent to work. He spends his days preaching the importance of having a relative message before chasing media for exposure and selling the idea that the media is an opportunity and not an obligation. He’ll share views on the power of creative communication, and why connecting with key media and your key audience is more critical than ever.


LPGA Q School
Kraig Kann
Chief Communications Officer
12:45 p.m. 1:00 p.m.

Networking Break

1:00 p.m. 1:30 p.m.

Be an Influential Writer on Social Networks Now

You’ll get smart tips and case study examples that will show you how to write tweets, Facebook posts and even Pinterest descriptions and Instagram comments that make an impact on your target audience. Each social media network has its own set of limitations and user expectations, and you’ll learn how to use those limitations and expectations to your advantage and create concise, influential messages that are likely to be shared.

In this session you’ll learn how to:

  • Write tweets that cut through the clutter and are likely to be retweeted
  • Get creative in your use of Twitter hashtags
  • Find a good balance between using sometimes mystifying Twitter abbreviations and straightforward writing
  • Write short Facebook posts that are likely to stimulate engagement
  • Write Pinterest descriptions and Instagram comments that increase the likelikood that your visual content will be shared


Megan Maisel
Director, Integrated Media Communications
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m.

How to Craft Emails for Media Relations Success

Journalists who’ve spoken at PR News events have admitted to deleting email pitches in batches of 20 with barely a cursory glance at the subject lines. It’s a fact of life for PR pros—and that’s why you need to learn how to write subject lines and pitches that will make a journalist or blogger hesitate before hitting the delete button. You’ll learn how to craft subject lines that scream “Open me!” and pitches that are designed to make the lives of journalists and other influencers easier and, in the process, build relationships with the influencers that matter most in your market.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Write concise, focused email subject lines
  • Avoid subject lines that tease but aren’t backed up by the email’s content
  • Determine prime times for sending email pitches
  • Confine your entire email pitch to one paragraph
  • Write in a format that maximizes journalists’ ability to perceive value for the audiences
  • Provide specific information and insights to journalists who are increasingly generalists on smaller staffs
  • Think like the journalists and bloggers you’re pitching


Michael Smart
2:00 p.m. 2:15 p.m.

Networking Break

2:15 p.m. 3:45 p.m.

Writing Clinic II: Craft an Email Subject Line and Pitch

Here’s where you get to test your expertise in crafting great email pitches. Our email pitch writing trainer Michael Smart will lead you in an exercise where you’ll develop a winning subject line and pitch and present it to our panel of journalists, who will give you their real-time (and sometimes frank but always good-natured) on-site feedback.


Michael Smart
Caleb Garling
Business Reporter
San Francisco Chronicle
Michelle Quinn
Michelle Quinn
San Jose Mercury News
Katherine Ann Rowlands
East Bay Metro Editor
Bay Area News Group
Betsy Mason
Senior Science Editor
3:45 p.m. 4:15 p.m.

Make the Leap to Storytelling With Your PR Messages

Our trainer will show you how PR pros can use storytelling tactics for their companies and clients as an alternative to the standard media pitches and press releases. You’ll learn how to deliver exactly what your customers want to hear; effectively ensure that tactics used will tell your brand’s story in the best possible way; create content that aligns with your storytelling concepts; and effectively use storytelling to lift your pitches above the hard-sell fray.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Spot opportunities within your organization for brand storytelling
  • Tell your brand’s story through social media
  • Understand how effective storytelling relates to PR
  • Unleash your verbal and written storytelling skills
  • Bridge the gap between good writing and effective storytelling


Christopher L. Hammond
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications
Wells Fargo
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