Converged News Packages Pay Off for Students in Media Relations :: Other Programs Should Try This

I have believed, for some time now, that media pitches / releases need to become full packages, when possible. Recently, a project we’re working on, paid off for one student with a story that was picked up and turned into the cover story for the print edition.

This semester, we’re doing an experiment with The Corner News, a local print and online paper associated with our larger local paper, The Opelika-Auburn News, a Media General paper. 

The students are divided into two groups. Each student posts a story with video to The Corner News blog every other week.

Student\'s blog post picked up for print edition\'s front page cover story.This week, Elizabeth Toney (right photo) had her story on Outdoor Auburn adventures on a budget picked up for the front page of the print and online editions of the paper.

Auburn summers are perfect for outdoor adventures. Hot, sunny days are great for lying by the lake, river, pool or creek. Yet, with the price of everything increasing so dramatically, here are some ideas for cheap outdoor adventures around Auburn.

Chewacla State Park is located just past Interstate 85 on College Street. It is a great place to play by the lake or relax by the creek. The park, located near a quarry, is filled with small rock cliffs for climbing and trails for hiking.

Elizabeth, along with all the students in Style & Design, are posting to The Corner News blog – Loveliest Village. This is an extension of our class social network project, The Loveliest Village.

I used the term “converged” in the title. When papers began going online, the term convergence was a buzzword that essentially meant bringing together the paper’s editorial and marketing efforts in the online edition. See Convergence Defined from USC Annenberg’s Online Journalism Review.

Today, I’ve seen the term used to refer to the combination of text, photos, graphics and video in online presentations of news. Whatever term we use, these packages offer public relations practitioners a particularly good opportunity to place stories in medium to small publications. Let’s remember – most PR is local. Most practitioners are focusing on local publications. So, preparing students for these opportunities is important.

It may also be possible to place such offerings in larger publications. Certainly, many papers are now offering blogs to anyone that wants one. So, these packages could be placed in the paper’s online presentation without having to go through editors for placement.

I like this as a class project for many reasons. It offers the students to put all aspects of a digital media class into one project. And, they get the payoff of online links to refer to for future internship and employment opportunities.

So, what do you think? Are you like me and believe that these types of media relations packages are at least one path to the future? Couldn’t this type of project be undertaken by just about any PR academic program? If nothing else, all programs could launch their own local initiative like The Loveliest Village.

I’m just sayin’. 😉

Here’s the associated video. Eh’ – I’d agree it is not the best of all the videos we’ve had created this semester. But, it led to the idea for the story and eventually the front page story for Elizabeth. So, it is a learning process and Elizabeth is getting some good payback for her efforts. Don’t you like it when students see some outside reward for their in class activities? I do.

Find more videos like this on The Loveliest Village

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