Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Critical Reflection: Writing for the media (WFTM)

I have been given a set of questions to answer for this essay. I am staring at them and it completely blows my mind that I have done a year of university already. Writing for the media had always struck me as a pretty self explanatory module and it did pretty much what it said on the tin, as the saying goes. I now know how to craft a press release, where the information needs to go and that tone is important, I know the basics of a good article and I can even write full features for a magazine spread.

Although at the beginning of the course I wasn’t sure what to expect further into other modules I learnt just how much a PR is expected to write, such as booklets of information and etcetera, yet we hadn’t covered this in WFTM. The closest we came is the newsletter project, but that has different criteria to an information booklet.

I was glad when we came onto doing the photography project but it seemed so rushed and it was not as enjoyable as I thought it was going to be. I was quite disappointed with it but it could have been my depressive state at the time of completing the project that restricted my involvement with it.

The course covered many different outlets which it seemed to do as a reaction of the ever differing media out there. The course does try to keep up and I feel it achieves its goals, even if and when the students themselves fall behind.

When thinking of personal development I realise public relations means so much more to me now. When I applied I had thought it the opposite side of the coin to journalism, when a journalist went out to hunt for news it was we the PR who would be sending it out. Almost nine months on it is similar, but now I have to create this news, I have to tell the journalists not only what to hunt but where to hunt and also convince them why they should hunt it. It is much more of a game than one could realise, and that isn’t an analogy. People tend to joke about it is who you know and not what you know to get to the top of the career ladder but it could not be truer for public relations. As much as this scares me; for who could know if they are strong enough to enter this dog eat dog and scratch each others’ backs world, it energises me to try as I want to be a part of it.

Degrees are strange as the first year does not necessarily count towards anything but personal achievement, but I have improved my attitude over the year that will really affect my degree positively in the future. At first I was very nervous about having to contact anyone outside of who I knew to do work, but the best work doesn’t always come close to home unless you are repeatedly lucky. It was just this week when I realised that the courses’ knowledge has increased my confidence when researching and interviewing people. I had to go see some acquaintances of a contact I know in the town, whom I had never met, but I was able to ask a lot of clear questions I had formed an hour or so before (I had only arranged the interview then) and get all the information I needed to create a genuine press release. Later in the day I received information from my contact the people thought I was very professional for the student and gave impressed reviews of my conduct. I couldn’t have done this before without WFTM.

The unit professed to gain students “key practical media production skills... necessary for professional practice.” During the year we have completed tasks that forced us to use different mediums so the group was able to learn the media production skills, but so many in a year does not create quality. However we did learn the vital aspect of PR where it our responsibility to know people who can do practical production with high quality, therefore we don’t need technical knowledge, just enough so we can say exactly what we want.

To consider if I achieved the learning outcomes that I wanted is a difficult question as I came onto this course very open minded. I had most of my experience from journalistic backgrounds so coming onto the public relations course was an intriguing challenge. Despite the challenges I have had on the course it has been enjoyable and personally, I feel that I understand what is expected from a PR practitioner now, only practise and time will show if it really is what I can be.

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