Creating compelling public relations – Global Homework Experts

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Public Relations Major
Style Guide
© QUT
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Contents
Tools……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
English grammar…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
Public Relations Writing……………………………………………………………………………………… 5
Annual Financial Reports………………………………………………………………………………… 6
Backgrounders………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7
Blogs……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8
Brochures……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Brochure template………………………………………………………………………………………10
Facebook ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 12
Fact Sheets…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13
Feature Story ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 14
LinkedIn ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 16
Media Alerts………………………………………………………………………………………………….17
Media alert template…………………………………………………………………………………… 18
Media Release…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19
Media release layout rules and conventions ………………………………………………….. 20
Format of quotes in media release……………………………………………………………………21
Single string……………………………………………………………………………………………… 21
Double string ……………………………………………………………………………………………..21
Three/Four string (with paraphrase) …………………………………………………………….. 21
Media release template #1………………………………………………………………………….. 22
Media release template #2………………………………………………………………………….. 24
Media release conventions ………………………………………………………………………….. 26
Media release checklist ……………………………………………………………………………… 28
Pitching to the media…………………………………………………………………………………….. 29
Newsletters …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 31
Speeches……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 32
Speech Template………………………………………………………………………………………. 35
Twitter………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 36
Website Copy………………………………………………………………………………………………. 37
Handy Hints……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 39
Key messages ………………………………………………………………………………………………39
Style ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 39
Tips from the Associated Press Stylebook……………………………………………………….. 40

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Numbers and Money …………………………………………………………………………………. 40
Ages and Dimensions………………………………………………………………………………… 40
Directions and Addresses…………………………………………………………………………… 40
Tips to improve clarity………………………………………………………………………………………. 41
Affect/Effect ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 41
Aboriginal ………………………………………………………………………………………………….41
Active vs. passive voice……………………………………………………………………………… 41
Capitalisation……………………………………………………………………………………………. 42
Contractions …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42
Difference between e.g. and i.e…………………………………………………………………… 42
Eliminating wordiness………………………………………………………………………………… 42
-ible vs. -able ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 42
‘I’ or ‘me’?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42
Inclusive Language …………………………………………………………………………………… 43
Organisational Voice………………………………………………………………………………….. 43
Paraphrasing ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 43
Plurals …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 43
Possessive ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 44
Punctuation ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 44
Possessive Apostrophe……………………………………………………………………………… 46
Tautology…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 46
Tense ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 46
Then/than ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 47
Their, There and They’re
……………………………………………………………………………………… 47
Stigmatising Language………………………………………………………………………………. 47
Summarising ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 47
Words commonly misspelt………………………………………………………………………….. 48
Your turn………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 48

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Tools
Creating compelling public relations messaging is important however you must also
ensure your work is easily read and understood. Writing is a skill that can be developed
over time with practice. These tools will assist on your journey.
English grammar
Writing well is a core skill of a public relations practitioner. To write well means that you
know and can apply the rules of English grammar. The Australian Government Style
Guide is recommended as a bookshelf resource for all public relations practitioners, and
a number of online English grammar books are available online at
QUT Library.
Style manual for authors, editors and printers by Snooks & Co
2002, 6th ed.,
ISBN 0701636483, x, 550 p., viii p. of plates
This sixth edition provides guidance for anyone faced with the task of
preparing material for publication.
English Grammar by O’Sullivan, Nuala and Woods, Geraldine
05/2010, Workbook., ISBN 9780470688304
Annotation English Grammar Workbook For Dummies, UK Edition is
grammar First Aid for anyone wanting to perfect their English and
develop the practical skills needed to write and speak correctly.
Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty
Grammar Girl is an online guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and
development in the English Language.
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammargirl
Grammar tests can be taken online
www.examenglish.com/leveltest/grammar_level_test.htm
The Punctuation Guide
Comprehensive Guide to punctuation.
http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/
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Public relations writing
QUT public relations units bring the real world into the classroom. By mastering public
relations writing you will be able to build a portfolio of work to demonstrate your skills
and potential to employers.
This style guide shows you the different types or genres of writing we cover across our
units, and demonstrates the expectations we have of the form and content of these
items.

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Annual Financial Reports
Overview
Annual financial reports and half-yearly financial reports are a regulatory requirement for
companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. Many companies today – even
those who do not have a regulatory requirement – take the opportunity to produce the
document as a company communication tool.

order now
Audience Shareholders, Australian Securities Exchange, media, customers.
Goal of
Communicati
on
To inform publics of the company’s activity and financial
performance.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Managing the concept and design phase
Write/edit Chief Executive Report
Write/edit Chairman Report
Write/edit Board member biographies
Manage photography
Important to
remember
The Annual Report for a listed company must be:
Lodged with ASIC 3-months after year end
Sent to members by the earlier of four months after the year
end or 21 days before the next AGM (three months if a
registered scheme)
Format Online (webpage, PDF or flip book)
Printed (fewer copies printed compared to five years ago)
Links Listed companies reporting requirements (Australia):
www.asic.gov.au
Example Novozymes Annual Report (cool online summary of a well-written
report)
https://report2017.novozymes.com/
Suncorp Annual Report on their superannuation plans:
http://www.suncorp.com.au/super/sites/default/files/fm/pdfs/documen
ts/suncorp-bs-eds-sesp-annual-report-2018.pdf

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Backgrounders
Overview
Backgrounders provide enough information so that readers can grasp ‘where’ an issue
came from, but must select and condense so as not to overwhelm. They must be
thorough, factual and neutral. Backgrounders present a historical overview, present
circumstances, and potential developments. Backgrounders are NOT intended to be
persuasive, emotional, rhetorical, or personalised.

Audience Customers, residents of geographic area, those involved in an
issue, Australian Securities Exchange, media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide background-depth information related to a topic. It
must support news release by providing additional background
information about the organisation, event, or issue.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Writing and editing, i.e. communicate how an issue
developed, how it may develop in future, and what the
organisation’s likely action will be
Providing a concise and interesting summary of the
situation
Researching content
Distributing via email or posting online
Important to
remember
Can be:
Used in a media kit, and/or as a link in an online news
room
Emailed to media accompanying a media release
Identified as a link in a media release for journalists to
access more in-depth information
Format Have a heading ‘Backgrounder’
Presentation style:
o Presented on letterhead or a page with a logo
o Is longer than a fact sheet – i.e. two to four pages
o Usually focused on one topic
o Can include headings, subheadings, bullet points
o Must include references
Example Canine influenza
https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine
Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx?PF=1

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Blogs
Overview
Blog is short for ‘web log’ and is a type of website or part of a website that is usually
maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events,
or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in
chronological order, with the most recent items at the top of the page. Blogs are a form
of social media and can provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others
function as more personal online diaries.

Audience Customers, social media followers, media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide readers with interesting and engaging content
that supports the organisation PR communication goals.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Writing and researching topics
Identifying appropriate guest bloggers
Responding to readers who leave comments on the
blog that need follow up
Important to
remember
There are lots of guides on how to write a good blog post
out there, but the steps below cover many of the ideas
raised:
Step 1: Craft a headline that readers can’t resist
Step 2: Write an introduction that grabs and seduces
Step 3: Deliver advice that’s easy to consume and
impossible to ignore
Step 4: Close with a motivational bang
Step 5: Polish your post so it’s smoother than a slip ‘n slide
https://smartblogger.com/how-to-write-a-blog-post/
Format Most blog entries are a combination of:
Text
Images
Links to other blogs
Links to web pages and other media related to its
topic.
Example Virgin Australia Blog:
https://blog.virginaustralia.com/

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Brochures
Overview
Brochures are written in brief or abbreviated copy to persuade or inform. Due to the
limitation of space there is a heavy emphasis on ensuring every word and graphic is
optimised.

Audience Customers, shareholders, Australian Securities Exchange, media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide readers with easy to follow information in a visual
format.
PR Writing
Component
The basic steps in the creation of a brochure are:
1. Define its purpose
2. Develop the concept
3. Write the content
4. Design the presentation of information, including format and
the use of type, visuals, paper, space and colour
5. Produce the brochure, including the selection of a method of
reproduction
6. Distribute the brochure (Newsom & Haynes, 2005, p.354)
Important to
remember
Brochures can be costly to produce. Consider the life of your
brochure, i.e. if some content will date quickly
A brochure is not a book
Chronological organisation doesn’t work – don’t arrange
content along a timeline
You must NEVER have ‘continued on page x’ in a brochure
Each panel must stand alone
Information is presented in self-contained ‘chunks’; these
also stand alone
Consider the order in which panels unfold; create a logical
pathway which leads the reader from each chunk to the next
Software such as Publisher is good for helping you through
this part of the process.
Format Standard Size – Double-sided A4 folded into 3 – producing 3
panels (see template overleaf)
Example CBA Brochure:
https://www.commbank.com.au/personal/international/download-printed
forms/Travel_Money_Brochure.pdf

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Brochure template

Panel 5
Teaser Panel
Teases the reader to continue with
intriguing information, snippets of ideas,
anecdotes, or quotes.
Often sets the theme or tone of the
brochure.
Panel 6
Back Panel
Must have a ‘kicker’ and a call to action.
Contains contact details
Panel 1
Hook (front) Panel
Contains information header or visual that
attracts readers’ attention.

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Panel 2
Content Panel
The inside structure carries the text load of
the brochure – but it must not be text
heavy.
Text can flow between all panels.
Panel 3
Content Panel
However, individual sections should not
cross panels.
Lines should not end with hyphenated
words.
Panel 4
Content Panel
Headings and subheadings are important.
You can use bullet points if you wish.

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Facebook
Overview
Facebook is an important communication and engagement tool for business. A Facebook page has
many potential uses for public relations practitioners, such as making it easier to engage in dialogue
with stakeholders. While some of these benefits are similar to having a website, a number are unique
to Facebook.

Audience Customers, shareholders, Australian Securities Exchange,
media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide followers with timely and relevant information.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners will assist by ensuring:
The company Facebook page is monitored
All PR communication is updated on Facebook
Reviews and comments are managed and responded to
Important to
remember
Share video and photographs
Remember the 30/30/30/10 rule when you are posting:
30% business
30% product
30% general industry 10% other
Format Ensure your content is error free and easy to read
Keep it short. Around 100 words should be your maximum,
and some experts suggest as few as 70
characters can be
effective.
There are no specific templates for this genre as it’s all about
the words.
Include a hashtag if appropriate.
Asking questions – especially open-ended ones – can be
effective, as can techniques such as inviting readers to fill in
the blanks on a phrase, or using quote images to stimulate
engagement
Publish consistently, at least once a day.
Respond to feedback.
Try to link your content (meaningfully!) to trending topics on
Facebook.
Make it sound like a mini feature story.
Spelling and grammar matter.
Links Facebook for Business:
https://www.facebook.com/business

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Fact Sheets
Overview
A fact sheet provides detailed facts to help a journalist or blogger write a more detailed story. A good
fact sheet anticipates the facts needed. Fact sheets provide facts that are accurate and support the
news angle of the media release – they do not contain opinion or direct quotes.

Audience Customers, shareholders, Australian Securities Exchange, media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide readers with additional facts and information.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Writing and editing
Researching content
Managing photography
Designing content
Distributing finished material
Important to
remember
Elaborate on media release, don’t repeat it
Fact sheets might cover:
Organisations
o Explain the organisation, identify organisational objectives,
main business activity, size, revenue, products, key
executives
Events or community festivals
o Information about the upcoming event, time, place, special
guests, product details, participating organisations and
sponsors, history of event
Specific topics or issues
o Explain the topic in layperson’s language
o If dealing with an illness, describe symptoms and cure/s
Format Organise by
o Key topics (in bold or dot points)
o Key headings
o Phrases – as short sentences
o Questions and answers
One to two pages
Present on letterhead or on a page with a logo
One and a half or double line space
Have a heading ‘Fact Sheet’
Example Tourism Australia
http://www.tourism.australia.com/en/about/our-campaigns/factsheets
and-campaign-media-releases.html

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Feature Story
Overview
A feature story goes into greater detail to describe a person, event, product or place. Unlike a news
story it is generally not time sensitive. Types of feature stories – include case study, application story,
research study story, background story, personality profile story and historical piece.

Audience Customers, shareholders, Australian Securities Exchange,
media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide readers with an extended story which provides
greater details.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Writing and researching content
Interviewing subject matter experts and relevant
spokespeople
Distribution/placement of finished collateral
Important to
remember
Quotes
Use direct quotes to add colour and interest to your
feature story
You might need to interview someone to get these quotes
You should present them verbatim (word for word) as far
as possible, as this gives the quotes – and therefore your
story – a feeling of authenticity and credibility
Within paragraphs
Write a sub-heading in the margin next to each paragraph
which says what it’s about (delete these in the final edit)
Remove any sentences which don’t belong
Condense any sentences which say similar or related
things into one sentence
Use list format
Put the paragraphs into order of importance
Within the story
Are you writing what readers want to read, not what you
think they need to read?
Is the major point in the first par?
Are the sentences short and simple?
Is each par less than seven lines?

Continued…
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Format Components of a feature story
Headline
o Use the same rules as we used in writing a media release
Lead
o Hook
Body
o Must contain key message/s
o Organisational objectives must be met here
o Use direct quotes from interviewees to add colour and interest
Feature story format isn’t too important as it will be changed to
accommodate images. Just make sure it is legible. Use 12-point font,
1.5-line space, and paragraphs as the flow of the story dictates (i.e. not
single sentences).
Conclusion/summary
o Summarise and conclude; repeat key points. Often a circular link
back to the beginning ‘hook’
Photos/graphics
o Infographics
Example Local Government Association of Queensland
http://lgaq.asn.au/feature-stories-john-brent-20-years

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LinkedIn
Overview
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service which allows organisations to share content
and interact. LinkedIn allows companies to create business pages which individuals can then follow.
Followers then receive company news updates.

Audience Customers, shareholders, Australian Securities Exchange,
media.
Goal of
Communication
To ensure your organisation utilises this communication
method.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Updating content
Sharing and liking relevant content page
Tracking opinion in the industry
Writing/managing the LinkedIn Company Blog
Important to
remember
Update content regularly
Ensure you communicate key company messages
Format Short and sharp content
Approximately 400 words
Links LinkedIn:
https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/company
pages/best-practices

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Media Alerts
Overview
A media alert (also known as media advisory or – in certain practice areas – a medical call) is written
and issued with the purpose of inviting the media to attend a media event (media conference, product
launch or photo opportunity). The alert must convey the newsworthiness of the event and provide
enough detail so news directors and editors can make a decision about sending a journalist and
camera operators/ photographers to the event.

Audience Media
Goal of
Communication
To invite media to organisation’s event/launch/activity.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Writing the media alert
Preparing a media kit
Identifying media/bloggers targets to invite
Organising the event (seating, catering)
Managing photography
Important to
remember
Consider timing of media event (for news deadlines)
Distribute advisory the day before or the day of, the
event
Consider access and parking for invites
Dietary requirements
Manage RSVPs
See the template overleaf
Format Sent via personalised email
Posted via social media – Twitter or Facebook
Example Australian Tourism Exchange
https://www.medianet.com.au/releases/158213/

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Media alert template
Logo of organisation
Date
MEDIA ALERT
Headline (similar to a media release headline)
Lead paragraph: The lead paragraph highlights the news angle or frame and includes details of the
event. The lead also has as many of the 5 Ws and the H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) as
possible. However, this paragraph should not be a repeat of your media release lead as the alert is
about highlighting the news angle/value of the event. This helps an editor or journalist to decide
whether to attend or not.
Body paragraph: Include any background information that supports your lead in a few brief
sentences.

WHAT: Insert details of the event and its purpose here
WHO: Insert the names of key organisations and attendees here
WHERE: Insert the event location here as well as any special instructions regarding access
(parking, other transportation details)
Insert day, date and time of event here – clearly specifying start and end time as well as
additional details
WHEN:

Specify interview opportunities and describe vision or photo opportunities and any specific timing of
these.

RSVP:
phone/email)
To RSVP or for further information please contact: (PR contact, name and position and

Insert any hyperlinks relevant to the organisation, media news room, or alert.
ENDS

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Media Release
Overview
A media release (also known as a news release or press release) is a written or recorded
communication directed at members of the news media/journalists to announce something that has
news value or make a statement on a newsworthy topic. Media releases contain mostly favourable
information and can be used for crisis management, announcements, events, marketing, promotions
or even new product launches. The most important elements of any media release are that it has a
strong news angle, is well written, and follows the news style accepted for news articles or feature
stories written by a journalist.

Audience Media, Australian Securities Exchange (for ASX listed companies).
Goal of
Communication
To inform (raise awareness and interest) the media and publics about the
organisation’s activity, product, service, financial results or issue.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Identifying the news angle
Researching the content
Writing the media release
Formulating quotes (to be approved/amended by the spokespeople)
Interviewing spokespeople
Identifying suitable photo opportunities and interviews
Formatting/editing the media release
Important to
remember
Use Medianet to create your media list and distribute
Follow genre rules of writing and formatting
Format Online (often shared on social media), PDF, printed (less copies printed
compared to five years ago)
One to two pages in length
You need to be able to fit at least the first 4 – 5 paragraphs on the first
page.
See the template overleaf
Links Media Net – accessible via the QUT library website
Example Queensland Government – Ministerial statements
http://statements.qld.gov.au/

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Media release layout rules and conventions
Letterhead/ Logo: Present on letterhead or plain paper with a company logo. A letterhead identifies
the organisation easily and provides legitimacy.
Spacing: 1.5 line spacing and 2 cm margins
Font: 12-point font [Times New Roman]
Paragraphs: Single sentence paragraphs. Do not split paragraphs over two pages
Length: Usually 1-2 pages in length
Pagination: all pages
Boiler plate: Contains corporate information. Always final paragraph
ENDS: to appear after end of release but before contact details. Indicates end of reportable release.
Contact details: Notes media contact, title, position and mobile phone number – should always be
PR contact (not spokesperson)
Interview/ photo opportunity: Always offered
Digital links (embedded content): e.g. links to video, bio and images of speakers, corporate news
room, images, fact sheets, etc etc.
Order of content: A release focuses on a single topic. Use inverted pyramid to prioritise content
(most important/newsworthy to least important/newsworthy. Move from general to specific.
Fact vs Opinion: Facts go in body copy – opinion is used in quotes
Punctuation: (Mr not Mr.) – see below on how to punctuate direct quotes and paraphrasing
Capitalisation: Capitalise
proper names of people, places and specific titles but not parts of titles – e.g. Brisbane City
Council (the council).
special days and festivals – Anzac Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas.
historic names, events and periods – the French Revolution, the Depression.
government ministers only when referring to the incumbent – the Treasurer, the Foreign
Minister etc.
government when referring to a particular and incumbent government – the Federal
Government and thereafter the Government.
Release structure
Headline: Seven words – must contain a verb. Sentence case (not capitals). Reflects content
of the release. Gains attention
Lead paragraph: contains most of the wwwwwh. Most important paragraph. No more than 30
words. Active voice
Second/ third paragraph: contains remainder of wwwwh. Next most important. One sentence
per paragraph. No more than 25 words per sentence.
Body: Contains mix of facts (in body copy) and opinion (direct quotes /spokesperson)
Spokespeople: Paraphrase all spokespeople before first direct quote
Example 1:
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said today Myriad
2020 will showcase Australian technology and expand its reach even further across Australia
and the Asia Pacific.

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“We are looking forward to welcoming investors to Queensland, who will no doubt be seeking
the next great start-ups and technology,” Ms Enoch said.
Example 2:
Behaviour Innovation Chief Executive Officer Dr John Pickering said cane growers were
determined to set the record straight.
“The cane industry has a rich history of innovation and they are using their knowledge and
experience to address the latest challenges they face.
“We are working with cane growers to tell their story and demonstrate the changes they are
making on their land,” Dr Pickering said.
Format of quotes in media release
Single string
CEO Alan Joyce said the 12-hour route takes Qantas’ long history of serving China into a new era.
“With the new China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, China is on track to become the number one
source of visitors to Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
Double string
RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said the annual research asked members to rate the most
annoying driver habits, with motorists following too closely regarded the number one pet peeve.
“For the second consecutive year, tailgating has topped the list as Queensland’s most irritating driver
behaviour.
“Leave at least two seconds between vehicles, because travelling closer increases the risk of
crashing if the car in front stops suddenly,” Ms Ritchie said.
Three/Four string (with paraphrase)
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said the training guide will assist
Queenslanders train for the 5km or 10km walk or run.
“When our bodies and minds are healthy, we feel better, we look better, and have more energy,” Dr
Young said.
“That’s what makes training for the Bridge to Brisbane a great way to get more out of life.
“Whether it’s a 5km walk or 10km run, taking part will motivate you, your family, and your friends to be
more active.
“The eight-week training guide will get you started on your fitness journey and help prepare you for
one of Brisbane’s favourite events,” Dr Young said.

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Media release template #1
Letterhead/logo of organisation
MEDIA RELEASE
Date
Headline headline headline headline
Lead par
Body copy
Paraphrase /introduce speaker before direct quote
Main quote
Main quote
Body copy
Body copy
(MORE OVER)
Page 1 of 2

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Body copy (possible a second quote could go on this page either by the same speaker or a second
speaker. Remember to intro new speaker before direct quoting). Note, keep quotes to a maximum of
two sources (speakers).
Quote/body copy
Body copy
Boilerplate (organisational key message and hyperlinks to any additional corporate information)
ENDS
Hyperlink
to corporate news room (media kits, images etc.)
For further information please contact: (notice this section is single spaced)
Your name/Name of second contact person (if in same organisation)
Position
Organisation
Mobile:
Or
Name of person
(this will normally be where your client contact goes)
Position
Organisation
Tel:
(Note that a media release is usually no longer than two pages. Also note that if your media release
is only one page, it must include the further information section. Please do not just have further
information on the second page.
)
Page 2 of 2
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Media release template #2
Organisational letterhead or logo
MEDIA RELEASE
Date (e.g. 24 July 2020)
Interesting active headline to capture attention
(Headline must contain a verb – do not put abbreviations or acronyms in a headline – no
exclamation marks – length is no more than seven words – sentence case used)
The lead must be written in active voice and comprise no more than 30 words,
incorporating some of the 5W and H (who, what, where, when, why and how).
Each paragraph should contain one sentence only, with the second paragraph building on
and extending the lead.
QUT lecturer Dr Anne Lane said it was important to introduce the first speaker by the third
paragraph, paraphrasing in past tense.
“Remember to always correctly attribute comment or claims,” Dr Lane said.
“You should include interesting and meaningful quotes that incorporate your key
messages.
“Opinions are always presented as quotes, while facts are presented in the copy of the
release,” she said.
Direct quotes by a spokesperson are always written in present tense, but body text is
written in past tense.
QUT tutor Jenna Edwards said a new speaker should be paraphrased before being
quoted to avoid confusion about who is talking.
(MORE OVER)
Page 1 of 2

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“The inverted pyramid writing style means that the most important information goes first,
followed by the least important toward the end,” Ms Edwards said.
“This allows for the editing process and ensures the key information in the release is
retained when the copy is cut to fit the space available in a newspaper.”
The second page of a two-page media release also needs to have at least three
paragraphs of copy.
Links to corporate websites, newsrooms, images, or relevant information can be
hyperlinked in releases.
The organisation’s “boilerplate” appears at the end of every media release, and is a
sentence that captures the key information about the organisation.
ENDS
List additional information for a journalist after the ‘ENDS”. This could include interview
opportunities, photo opportunities,
hyperlinks to image library, bio or organisational
websites are listed here.
For further information:
PR person contact name, position/ title
Name of organisation
Phone: 0123 456 789 (mobile)
(Second person – only if relevant/ required)
Other person contact name, position/title
Organisation
Phone: 0123 456 789
Page 2 of 2

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Media release conventions
Basic layout requirements
Present on letterhead, or plain paper with a company logo
Use 1.5 line spacing and 2 cm margins
Use 12-point font that is easy to read such as Times New Roman or Arial
Use pagination on all pages
Use single sentence paragraphs
Do not split paragraphs over two pages
Preferably one page, but can extend to two pages if more detail is needed
Content
All content must be written in news style following inverted pyramid format
Headline
Should inform the reader of the content of the release
No more than seven words
Must contain a verb
Must gain attention and capture interest
Lead
No longer than 30 words
Should build on the headline
Should contain some of the 5 Ws and the H ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’
information
Must gain interest through news value/angle
Must be interesting


Body
Must be clearly written

Flows from lead and follows inverted pyramid for information (makes it easier for journalist
to cut information if required for space constraints) – remember, remainder of 5Ws and the
H should be included by the end of the first 3 paragraphs
No longer than 25 words
Uses verbs rather than adjectives
Uses quotes from relevant sources to offer opinions (paraphrase first, then quote)
Provides reader with relevant facts
Uses appropriate language with correct grammar and news style punctuation
Sequence of ideas
Use inverted pyramid to tell story
Move from general to specific (“A Brisbane man” – “John Smith, 32, of Capalaba”; “Statewide flooding” – details of flooding in Grafton, Lismore, Coffs Harbour)
Develop themes through groups of paragraphs
Use direct quotes to document statements or add vividness
27
Transitions
One-sentence paragraphs (fact-based rather than idea-based) mean linking devices
(transitions) are particularly important
Repetition (“Mr Abbott” … “Mr Abbott”)
Hyponymy/synonymy (“The Prime Minister” … “Mr Abbott”; “A Brisbane man” … “John
Smith, 32, of Capalaba”)
Pronouns, articles and demonstratives
Transitional expressions (but, and, also, then, another, by contrast, consequently etc.)
Writing style
Active voice where possible
Simple, direct language and sentence structure
Omit unnecessary conjunctions/relative pronouns (particularly “that”)
Verbs of utterance – ALWAYS AND ONLY “said”
Objective stance (avoid opinion or emotional content expressed through connotative or
“value-judgement” words)
Quotes
Different types – direct, indirect (paraphrase) and partial
Use double quotation marks “…….” not single ‘…….’
When quoting over two paragraphs, do not close quotation marks. Use to reopen and close
at end of quote
Always identify source/new speaker before direct quote
Must paraphrase first before starting a direct quote
Paraphrase to introduce message/s
Use past tense – said, not says
Use ‘said yesterday’ – not yesterday said
Avoid partial quotes.
28
Media release checklist
Content
Format
Is the release newsworthy – does it have a good angle, does it have impact, and does it
contain newsworthy elements of emotion/conflict / innovation…?
Is the release interesting – is the information supported by facts, statistics, research
(identify all sources) or expert opinion?
Is the release timely and current, with relevance for the media ‘today’?
Does it have a local angle – have you linked the information to a local context using
local comparisons, spokespersons or impacts?
Is the person(s) quoted appropriate to be commenting on the information? (generally
one, sometimes two people quoted if required)?
Are strong verbs used with minimal use of adjectives?
Is the release written in a news style?
Have you avoided clichés, discriminatory language, or vague statements?
Is the language you have used active, positive and precise?
Is your message tailored to your audience?
Is the release identified as a MEDIA RELEASE?
Does the headline contain a verb or action word?
Is the lead paragraph strong – will it excite or interest the reader?
Do the first two to three paragraphs contain the essential ‘who, what, when, where, why
and how’ of the information?
Is the layout of the release technically correct, with 1.5 spacing, date, ends, contact
information, single sentence paragraphs, correct sentence length etc.?
Is the release on letterhead – to clearly identify the organisation disseminating the
release?
Are words capitalised only when necessary?
Have you checked spelling, grammar, punctuation, and expression?
Simplifying the complex
Have you researched your subject thoroughly?
Do you understand the complexities and the precise meanings of the terms you have
used? (because if you don’t, how will anyone else?!)
Have you used plain language and avoided unnecessary jargon?
Have you fully described the technical terms you cannot avoid?
Have you used familiar ideas to explain unfamiliar concepts?
Have you identified the central points you want to make?
Remember, a media release that is vague, uses redundant language, or is highly technical (and
sent to general news media) is likely to be discarded.

29
Pitching to the media
Media pitches can be emailed or delivered over the phone. As most journalists receive hundreds
of pitches every day, it is important that what is being pitched has high news value, is relevant to
the journalist and their outlet, and is engaging.
To prepare for a pitch, consider the following points:
Is your pitch newsworthy (does it have a clear and strong news value)?
o Does it have a unique, relevant and newsworthy angle?
o Does it feature a story angle or idea – and not just information?
o Is your media release suitable for the outlet you are targeting?
o Have you considered appropriate interview spokespeople, image or vision options?
Have you researched the journalists and outlets you are targeting?
o Do you know about their reporting style, previous articles and social media
channels?
o Have you considered the outlets readership/viewing/listening audience (and how
your story meets their needs)?
Have you tailored your pitch to the journalist?
o General pitches rarely work. Do you name the journalist (professional) in your pitch
(email)?
o Have you tailored your pitch to personalise it to their needs?
o Do you refer to their outlet and how the pitch is suitable e.g. refer to previous
articles/interests they have covered?
Does your pitch concisely and succinctly communicate the news value?
o A pitch email should be no longer than three to four paragraphs
o The subject line should be like a headline – and clearly communicate the news value
o The appeal should be based on news value, and not on any other reason.
30
Example of a pitch email
Outlet targeted: The Townsville Bulletin
The Townsville Bulletin is published from Monday to Saturday. The Townsville Bulletin is
circulated over a substantial part of North Queensland, from North to Tully, South to Proserpine
and as far West as Mount Isa. The Townsville Bulletin also features online content. The outlet is
read by the key demographics of farmers and farm workers, rural users of quad bikes, and key
North Queensland stakeholders of RFDS.
Target journalist: Jackie Sinnerton – local Townsville journalist with history of reporting on rural
and health issues.
Email content:

To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
Subject: RFDS supports quad bike safety in Queensland
Dear Ms Sinnerton
Quad bikes are a leading cause of unintentional death on Australian farms, and account for nearly 50%
of all non-fatal on-farm injuries. As the rate of serious incidents is increasing in FNQ, the RFDS is forging
a state-wide effort to improve quad bike safety. I have attached a media release launching this initiative,
along with details of a photo opportunity.
This would make an ideal follow-up piece to the story you wrote last month on the need for increased
health services in rural areas and will be of interest to the many farm owners and workers who read the
Townsville Bulletin.
Royal Flying Doctor Service CEO Mr Nino Di Marco (QLD) and local Townsville banana grower and quad
bike user, Mr Gordon Rems, are available for interview. Mr Di Marco will discuss the key risk factors and
a lack of consumer and public awareness on the dangers of quad bike use on farms and properties. Mr
Rems will highlight the challenges for quad bike safety on farms and the need for education in
Queensland.
I will call you on Tuesday at 2pm to follow up. If you would like more information in the meantime, I can
be contacted on 0433 123 123.
Thank you for considering this opportunity.
Ricky Smith
Media & Communications Manager
Royal Flying Doctor Service, QLD Section
0433 123 123
R.sm[email protected]

31
Newsletters
Overview
A newsletter is an information tool, issued periodically, to present information to employees,
contributors, stockholders, or the like, and often to the media and public. A corporate newsletter
article contains some similarities to a media release and should follow the inverted pyramid with
the most important information at the beginning. Media release headline, lead and quote rules all
apply to corporate newsletter articles. Newsletter articles should also use simple, concise
language. However, unlike a media release, a corporate newsletter article has much more
flexibility in writing style, tone and layout.

Audience Employees, customers.
Goal of
Communication
To provide readers with simple, concise, and engaging content
that tells a story.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners will need to know:
Who is the intended audience (who will be reading my
article)?
Where will the newsletter be distributed and how?
What is the tone and style of newsletter? Is it chatty,
academic, serious, corporate, comical, etc.?
Important to
remember
Corporate newsletter articles can be written in first or
third person, depending on the style guide of the
organisation, the purpose of the newsletter and its
intended audience
Unlike media releases, opinion doesn’t need to be
attributed in newsletter articles
Newsletter articles have much more of an organisational
slant. Articles do need to have a news value, but the
body copy of an article doesn’t need to be as objective
as a media release is
Articles need to be interesting and informative and
engage readers from beginning to end
Format Newsletter story paragraphs should be short, but do not
have to be single sentences
Tools can be used to break up text in an article and on a
page. These include lists, pullout quotes, side-bar
stories, pictures and graphics. Corporate newsletters
also have much more flexibility in story length
E-Newsletters use online systems
Example Online Newsletter Software:
www.vision6.com.au https://madmimi.com

32
Social media content calendars
Overview
One of the strengths – and challenges – of social media (SM) is that they frequently and regularly
need fresh content. Social media content calendars or planners are a useful tool to help
practitioners prepare content in advance. Used properly, these calendars mean SM deadlines are
never missed, and content preparation is never rushed. Social media content calendars are
designed to help practitioners time the release of regular messages, rather than respond to
sudden issues or crises.

Audience The calendar itself is for public relations practitioners; the
content is for an organisation’s SM consumers, including
customers/members, and the media.
Goal of
Communication
To promote organisational engagement with stakeholders by
providing a regular supply of fresh content across all SM
platforms.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners:
Identify when they need to release SM messages for
maximum impact (day and time)
Create original content for each SM platform, tailored to
their specific genre requirements
Ensure the messaging is consistent across all platforms
– but do NOT simply copy and paste content!
Set up automatic release of Tweets
Important to
remember
Watch out for differences in time zones if that is relevant
to your organisation and/or its audiences
Calendars can be used to plan for weeks or even months
at a time
Apps can provide templates for social media content
calendars that include auto-post options
Format Most social media content calendars are based on Excel
spreadsheets
Each SM network (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
etc.) should have its own spreadsheet, accessed by a
tab at the bottom of a multi-spreadsheet workbook
(
https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33415/The
Social-Media-Publishing-Schedule-Every-Marketer
Needs-Template.aspx
); or its own section if you prefer to
work with just one spreadsheet
(
https://www.smartsheet.com/social-media-templates
Plan your SM activities for each day, using spreadsheet
columns headed “Day” “Date” “Time”. You might also
choose to add a column with details of any holidays
(major or minor) that fall on that date, which you can
potentially use as inspiration for your content.

33

Include your message content, links, and instructions
about any images you want to include.
Example See above. It’s hard to find examples online as they can contain
commercial in confidence information, and/or be products for
sale.

34
Speeches
Overview
A speech is a scripted monologue performed in front of an audience. Speeches are often written
by speech writers or public relations professionals to be delivered by someone else. It is vital
writers know who is going to be giving the speech. It is also vital speech writers know the
audience’s self-interests. Understanding how to engage and appeal to their interests is considered
the key to a good speech. There have been many notable speeches given throughout history that
employ a number of devices for effect and impact.

Audience Customers, shareholders, Australian Securities Exchange,
media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide listeners with an interesting speech which
incorporates organisational key messages.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Writing the speech
Researching the topic
Fact checking
Assisting with speech rehearsal
Liaising with audio visual technician prior to the event
Important to
remember
Speeches have an introduction, a body, and a
conclusion
Start off with an attention-grabbing statement, question,
or anecdote: NOT ‘Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for
being here…’
End with a clear and powerful call to action that links
back to the opening
Use repetition and triads
Include your key message/s
Format See speech template overleaf
14 pt font: double line spaced, three columns (one large
central one, two smaller side ones)
Leave a large margin of approx. 10 cm at base of page
(so reader’s chin does not double or go too low)
Page numbers in upper right corner
Place instructions for reader in left hand column in
CAPITALS but keep these to a minimum. The content of
your speech should guide the speaker in their
presentation without needing separate instructions
Example Speech:
See for example
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/features/speeches/

35
Speech Template

Page 1 of x
Instructions
to speaker
Speech Instructions
to audio
visual
USE
CAPITAL
LETTERS
Use large font (14 or 16 is best) and double line spacing. USE
CAPITAL
LETTERS

36
Twitter
Overview
Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read 280-character
messages called “tweets”. Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can
only read them. Tweets allow you to share information with followers. Like a good headline, a wellwritten Tweet will grab people’s attention and compel them to act.

Audience Customers, members, media.
Goal of
Communication
To provide followers with timely and relevant information.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by ensuring tweets:
Motivate Twitter followers to click on a link within your
tweet to take them somewhere else on the web
Convey information
Respond to a Tweet from another person
Support organisation i.e. business incentives and
fundraisers
Share information and resources.
Important to
remember
Five tips for how to write a good tweet on Twitter (Samson,
2010):
1. Interaction is key – engage your audience or encourage
them to do something
2. Provide information that is relevant to your client base
3. Get to the point, don’t be cryptic and don’t lie
4. Keep your Tweets short – 280 characters is a lot, and
you don’t have to use them all. Like a good headline,
you can only really convey one point in each Tweet
5. Don’t write a flood of Tweets
Format 280 characters maximum
Posted via twitter.com
Organisation: then tweet on a new line
Example Fight the post-Masterchef blues with a hot fare. Check out our
“Everyone’s a Winner Sale” – up to 50% off fares!
http://ow.ly/2grvv

37
Website Copy
Overview
Unlike printed documents, which usually have a table of contents and logical progression, website
pages can be read in any order, with any page as the entry point. In addition, people spend more
time reading printed documents. All of this impacts on how website copy is written.

Audience Customers, employees, media, competitors – anyone with
access to an Internet-connected computer!
Goal of
Communication
To provide readers with content that is that is rich in content
and provides a clear call to action.
PR Writing
Component
PR practitioners may assist by:
Ensuring organisational key messages form the basis of
website copy
Using the inverted pyramid, as used in news writing, so
that the most important information is covered up front
in case readers only skim the content and don’t read
past the first paragraph
Writing catchy headings/sub headings to break up copy
on a page
Including keyword-rich headings that not only assist
readers to understand the content, but also help to
maximise search engine returns
Writing in terms of benefits, not features
Important to
remember
Tips for writing for the web include:
Spelling, grammar, punctuation, and expression still
matter!
Keep tone consistent across the site
Write in an active voice
Use language that is appropriate for the audience
Use language that encourages action
Make sure links are descriptive (not just click here)
Keep your information up to date and relevant to your
business
Write for your audience. Do not overcomplicate e.g. if
you are writing website copy for a law firm do not
overuse legal terms that your clients will not understand
Use attention-grabbing words
Keep your website copy short and to the point. Do not
waffle
Use keywords in your headings, page names and links
for search engine optimisation

Continued…
38

Format Limit paragraphs to one idea only.
Keep paragraphs short, with clear linking, good
headings and bullet points to make it easier for readers
to scan.
Example Energex: www.energex.com.au

39
Handy Hints
Key messages
A key message is a short, concise and memorable sentence or two used to convey an important
idea that organisations want people to know about the organisation, its products, or its position on
an issue.
Key messages should contain as many of the 5Ws and H as possible.
Organisational key messages should be used consistently in all written and spoken public
relations material, including media releases, speeches, brochures, and website copy.
Key messages should be tied to the overall business strategy of the organisation. They aren’t
advertising taglines or slogans, but instead should be bite-sized messages about the organisation
and/or its products.
Engaging, useful, and important key messages can be used in media interviews, which means
they are quoted in the media more, and are misquoted less.
Style
Key messages can be written in second or third person, depending on the organisation’s style and
personality and also the subject matter the messages refer to.
Key messages can be informative or persuasive.
How to write an informative key message:
1. Decide exactly what you want target publics to know
2. Summarise that information into a simple, brief sentence
3. Limit each message to one information point (Mahoney, 2013, p.74).
How to write a persuasive key message:

Persuasive message = Required
change
+ Reason
to act
(Mahoney, 2013, p.77).

 

Call to do
something
Because

The ‘Because’ part of a key message is intended to persuade the message receiver to undertake the
required behaviour. It might use any of the rhetorical appeals (logic, character, emotion) singly or in
combination.
This is just ‘one’ formula for writing key messages. In practice, key messages can be written in a number
of different ways. The most important thing to remember is that your key messages must follow the
criteria mentioned at the top of this page.
KEY MESSAGE – Examples
Informative
Smoking is bad for you.
Eating vegetables is good for you.
Persuasive
Stop smoking or you will suffer a range of health complications, and it might even kill you.
Eat at least five serves of vegetables each day to improve your health and well-being.

40
Tips from the Associated Press Stylebook
Numbers and Money
Numbers less than 10 are spelled out – one, two, three
Use numerals for 10 and greater – 13, 109, 252
Spell out ordinal numbers less than 10, unless the number is part of a formal name (e.g. 1st
Ward vs. first base)
Try to avoid starting a sentence with a number. If you have to, numbers at the beginning of
a sentence should be spelled out, even if that number is 10 or above. Calendar years are
an exception (e.g. 2008 was a good year). References to numbers as part of a casual
expression should be spelled out (e.g. Thanks a million)
When writing about money, always use a dollar sign and numerals, even if the monetary
value is less than 10 (e.g. She gave me $1)
Monetary values less than $1 should be expressed in numerals and the word “cents” (e.g. It
costs 50 cents)
Use numerals, even if the monetary value is less than 10, and spell out the word “percent”
(e.g. a pay increase of 3 percent)
Ages and Dimensions
Use numerals and spell out “inches” “feet” etc. (e.g. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall). Use hyphens
if the dimension is being used as an adjective (e.g. The 5-foot-6-inch man)
Ages also are expressed in numerals, even if the age is less than 10 (e.g. She is 8 years
old). Use hyphens if the age is being used as an adjective (e.g. The 8-year old)
Directions and Addresses
In general lowercase north, south, east, west, etc. Capitalise the compass directions when
referring to a region only. (e.g. A storm system developed in the Midwest)
When referring to addresses, abbreviate “Street” (St.) “Avenue” (Ave.) and “Boulevard”
(Blvd). All other street types should be written out in full: Road, Drive, Circle, etc.
The above rule applies only when numbers are used as part of the address. If no numbers
are used, do not use the abbreviations for “Street”, “Avenue”, and “Boulevard”, e.g. 50
North St. vs. North Street.

41
Tips to improve clarity
Accept/Except
There is often confusion over the words accept and except. They sound similar, but their
meanings are very different.
Accept is a verb with several meanings:
1. To hold something true
2. To receive something willingly
3. To answer yes
Except is most commonly seen as a preposition and has several meanings:
1. Apart from, not including or excluding (preposition)
2. But (conjunction)
3. To exclude (verb)
Affect/Effect
Affect and effect are examples of homonyms – words that sound the same but have different
meanings.
Affect is a verb. It means to produce a change in or influence something:
Her actions did not affect my decision.
Effect is a noun that be used as a verb. It means a change that occurred. When an ‘s’ is added it
means personal belongings:
How fast you drive will have an effect on your fuel consumption.
Aboriginal
The Koori Centre recommends the use of the term ‘Indigenous Australians’. If a writer wants to
distinguish between the descendants of the original inhabitants of Australia or the Torres Strait
Islands they can refer to ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’ or separately ‘Aboriginal
people’ (or ‘an Aboriginal person’) or ‘Torres Strait Islanders’.
Indigenous should always be spelt with a capital ‘I’ when referring to Indigenous Australians;
when being used generically (for example, to discuss the indigenous peoples of the world) a lower
case ‘i’ is used.
The use of the word ‘Aboriginal’ as an adjectival noun should be avoided, but it is acceptable to
use it as an attributive adjective such as in the Aboriginal Education Unit or an Aboriginal student.
Aboriginal when referring to the Indigenous people of Australia should always be spelt with a
capital A.
Active vs. passive voice
The active voice is when the subject of sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in
the
passive voice the subject receives the action.
Active: The dog bit the man.
Passive: The man was bitten by the dog.
Active: The candidate believes that Queensland Government must place a stop on spending.
Passive: It is believed by the candidate that a stop must be placed on spending by Queensland
Government.

42
Converting sentences to active voice
In Microsoft Word select ‘Grammar and Writing Options’ and turn on ‘Identification of Passive
Voice’.
Capitalisation
Use capitals for:
titles of people, places or things
days of the week, months of the year (but not seasons), nationalities, trademarks
Queensland University of Technology. Do not capitalise other references to the university,
such as ‘university procedures’, and ‘the university’. Note: Some official names capitalise
definite articles (such as ‘the’), for example, ‘The Prince Charles Hospital’, and ‘The
University of Queensland’
Contractions
A contraction is a shortened form of a word. For example, ‘do not’ becomes ‘don’t’; ‘will not’
becomes ‘won’t’; ‘cannot’ becomes ‘can’t’. Contractions should be avoided when using formal
language (unless directly quoting someone).
Difference between e.g. and i.e.
e.g. means ‘for example’.
i.e. means ‘in other words’ or ‘that is’.
Eliminating wordiness
Eliminating wordiness is a key element to improving writing clarity. Here are some examples.
Bad: She dropped out of the course on account of the fact that it was necessary for her to help
support her family overseas.
Good: She dropped out of the course to support her family.
Bad: It is believed the new train schedule will be announced by Queensland Rail within the next
few months.
Good: Queensland Rail is likely to release its new schedule in the next few months.
-ible vs. -able
Words ending in –ible and –able are commonly misspelled. Here is a list of correct spelling.
personable
fashionable
remarkable
horrible
inedible
possible
contemptible
eligible
‘I’ or ‘me’?
The two personal pronouns I and me are often used incorrectly. An easy way of making sure
you’ve chosen the right pronoun is to see whether the sentence makes sense if you remove the
additional pronoun and adjust the verb:
Examples:
Bill and me are going for a run.
Take out ‘Bill’ and adjust the verb to singular.
Would you say ‘Me is going for a run’? No!

43
Therefore ‘Me’ is not the correct pronoun to use.
Bill and I are going for a run.
Take out ‘Bill’ and adjust the verb to singular.
Would you say ‘I am going for a run’? Yes!
Therefore ‘I’ is the correct pronoun to use.
Me and Jane are working late tonight.
Take out ‘Jane’ and adjust the verb to singular.
Would you say ‘Me is working late tonight’? No!
Therefore ‘Me’ is not the correct pronoun to use.
Jane and I are working late tonight.
Take out ‘Jane’ and adjust the verb to singular.
Would you say ‘I am working late tonight’? Yes!
Therefore ‘I’ is the correct pronoun to use.
Using the word ‘myself’ is becoming more common, but often because people don’t know whether
to use ‘I’ or ‘me’. It is not good to use the word ‘myself’ in organisational writing.
Inclusive Language
Use language that is non-discriminatory and inclusive, i.e. language that does not exclude any
particular group of people on the basis of gender, sexual preference, race, ethnicity or religion.
Always use a capital ‘i’ for Indigenous when referring to Indigenous Australians. Use ‘people with a
disability’, not ‘the disabled’ or ‘handicapped people/the handicapped’.
Organisational Voice
A language style selected by the organisation to ensure consistency across all channels of
communication.
Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing means rewriting a given sentence in your own words. Paraphrasing means you must
not use three or more consecutive words from the original material. You should also acknowledge
the original source, and in academic writing this means using the proper citation format.
Examples
Original sentence:
The Weather Bureau has just released a statement saying that a cyclone is heading our way so
we will need to cancel tonight’s event.
Inappropriate paraphrase:
A cyclone is heading our way so we will need to cancel tonight’s event.
The inappropriate paraphrase has repeated too many words that make up the original sentence. It
cannot match the source word for word.
Appropriate paraphrase:
We are cancelling tonight’s event following advice from the Weather Bureau.
Plurals
Most plurals are formed by adding an ‘s’ or ‘es’ to the singular noun such as book(s) and bus(es).
Many words ending in ‘y’ change to ‘ies’ such as ‘babies’. In compound nouns, the principal noun

44
takes the plural, for example ‘Directors-General’. Subject/verb agreement is when the subject and
verb must agree in number: both must be singular or both must be plural. For example, ‘The
student is well behaved’ (singular) and ‘The students are well behaved’ (plural).
Possessive
In singular nouns, an apostrophe is followed by an ‘s’. For example, ‘the lady’s hat’. In plural nouns
with an ‘s’ ending, the apostrophe follows the ‘s’. For example, ‘the ladies’ hats’. An apostrophe is
not used in plurals such as ‘the 1990s’ and ‘GPs’.
Punctuation
Apostrophe
The apostrophe has two primary functions:
• to indicate a contraction
• to indicate possessive case
Contraction:
‘It’s’ is short for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.
For example, ‘It’s hard to find parking at Kelvin Grove campus’. Note: Not to be confused
with ‘its’ when showing ownership, for example, ‘Does QUT have its own bus service?’
Contractions of verbs always use an apostrophe. For example, ‘can’t (cannot)’, ‘I’ll (I will)’,
‘didn’t (did not)’, ‘let’s (let us)’.
Possessive (also see above):
In singular nouns, an apostrophe is followed by an ‘s’.
For example, ‘Mary’s shoes’. In plural nouns with an ‘s’ ending, the apostrophe follows the
‘s’.
For example, ‘the ladies’ hats’. An apostrophe is not required where the sense is more
descriptive than possessive.
For example, ‘this masters degree’. Time can be given a possessive apostrophe if it takes
ownership (and is singular).
For example, ‘today’s news’, ‘last year’s courses’. See ‘Possessive apostrophe’. An
apostrophe is not used in plurals such as ‘the 1990s’ and ‘GPs’.
Colon and semicolon
Full stops rather than colons should be used after an introductory statement that is a complete
sentence. You can use a colon to introduce a listing. Do not use an en dash or an em dash (see
below) in place of a colon.
For example, QUT has student exchange agreements with partner institutions in three countries:
Austria, Brazil, and Canada.
The semicolon ‘;’ is used to indicate a more distinct separation between parts of a sentence than
indicated by a comma. Semicolons are often used to separate detailed lists of items or ideas
within a sentence.

45
For example, ‘Caboolture offers undergraduate degrees in business, education, and nursing; and
first-year studies in creative industries.’ The semicolon is also used when joining two independent,
but closely related, sentences without using ‘or’, ‘but’ or ‘and’.
For example, ‘Stuart catches the bus to uni; Jess gets a lift with her mum’. The semicolon is also
used where a conjunction, such as ‘however’, joins two independent clauses. For example, ‘Stuart
catches the bus to uni; however, Jess gets a lift with her mum’.
Comma
A comma is generally used to separate clauses.
For example, ‘If you are interested in studying overseas, you should go to the information
evening’. Paired commas used to set off coordinate phrases and clauses can usually be omitted
without losing sense.
For example, ‘The Registrar can, at her discretion, withhold examination results’; or ‘The
Registrar can at her discretion withhold examination results’.
A comma used before a conjunction in a list (known as the Oxford comma or serial comma) avoids
confusion. For example, ‘The faculties of Health, Science and Engineering
, and Law’.
Dashes
An em dash ‘—’ is sometimes used instead of a colon in a sentence to expand on a point. It does
not have spaces either side. (Do not use a hyphen as a dash.)
For example, ‘Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove campuses are linked by free shuttle buses—intercampus travel is easy and cheap no matter where your course is based’.
An unspaced en dash is used for spans of figures, time and distance. It often replaces the word
‘to’.
For example, ‘QUT Open Day runs in the period 9am-11am’. Note: If using the word ‘from’, the
word ‘to’ must be used instead of an en dash.
For example, ‘QUT Open Day runs from 9am to 11am’. You can find the ‘en dash’ and ‘em dash’
by opening Microsoft Word and clicking on ‘Insert’ in the tab menu, followed by ‘Symbol’, then
‘Advanced Symbol’ (or ‘More Symbols’ for PC users), and select ‘Special Characters’.
Direct Quotes
Always use double quotation marks when directly quoting someone.
For example, “I love studying at QUT—it’s been a life-changing experience,” said Susie.
For example, Susie said studying at QUT was a “life-changing experience”.
Ellipsis
Ellipsis points are used to indicate a pause in speech or to signify an omission of words in a direct
quote and are represented by a succession of three dots with a space either side.
For example, what Professor Stuart actually said is
“QUT is a university for the real world in the heart of Brisbane offering students diverse career
choices.”

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If we change his quote, we have to show this by using ellipses.
“QUT is a university for the real world … offering students diverse career choices.”
You can find the ellipsis symbol by opening Microsoft Word and clicking on ‘Insert’ in the tab
menu, followed by ‘Symbol’, then ‘Advanced Symbol’ (or ‘More Symbols’ for PC users), and select
‘Special Characters’.
em, en dashes See ‘Dashes’.
Exclamation Mark
An exclamation mark ‘!’ is a punctuation mark used after an exclamation (an outcry, strong
emotion, to express surprise). It is very rarely used in formal writing.
Full stops
Full stops are used at the end of a sentence. Full stops are not used:
• after initials, for example, ‘SY Smith’ or abbreviations, for example, ‘BAppSc’
• in abbreviations, for example, ‘USA’, ‘Qld’
• after contractions, for example, ‘Dr’
• in time, for example, ‘9am’, ‘5pm’
• within bulleted lists except at the end of the final item.
Hyphens
A hyphen is used to avoid ambiguity. Hyphens are used:
in compound adjectives, for example, ‘decision-making process’, ‘fee-paying students’, ‘limitedterm appointment’, ‘well-known book’
in compound designations, for example, ‘Director-General’, ‘Auditor-General’
in compounds with ‘well’, ‘ill’, ‘semi’, and ‘non’ when they precede the noun, for example, ‘wellqualified’, ‘well-serviced’, ‘ill-experienced’, ‘semi-skilled’, ‘non-award’
to avoid awkward juxtaposition of the same letter, for example, ‘re-enrol’, ‘re-examination’, ‘parttime’, and because of this, ‘full-time’.
Adverbial compounds ending in ‘ly’ are not hyphenated.
For example, ‘the beautifully dressed woman’.
Note: Not all ‘ly’ words are adverbs; these will need a hyphen.
For example, ‘That is an ugly-looking cat’.
Possessive Apostrophe
The possessive apostrophe causes confusion for many people who often use it instead of a plural,
as in ‘lychee’s for sale’ instead of ‘lychees for sale’. The possessive apostrophe conveys
ownership or possession. It should be inserted before the ‘s’ in a singular common noun as in ‘the
lady’s hat’, and after the ‘s’ in plural common nouns ending in ‘s’, as in ‘the ladies’ hats’. See
‘Apostrophe’.
Tautology
Avoid unnecessary repetition in a sentence (when words provide the same meaning). For
example, ‘falls down’, ‘new invention’, ‘7pm at night’, ‘real facts’, ‘fatally killed’.
Tense
Use present tense when possible as it provides immediacy (describes the action happening now).
The present tense is more direct and clear. For example, ‘We need to include a section for more

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information’; not ‘It seems we would need to have included a section for extra information’.
Documents such as annual reports are written in the past tense.
Then/than
Then – refers to a different time.
Than – refers to a comparative. Something is bigger/smaller/faster/greener than something else.
Their, There and They’re
A common mistake is confusing There, Their and They’re in written English.
There is the opposite of Here. It means ‘in that place’ not here.
Their is a possessive adjective which is used before a noun. It shows possession, that something
belongs to someone.
They’re is a contraction of they are.
Stigmatising Language
It is important to identify appropriate language in communication and avoid the use of stigmatising
language which can include:
Demeaning Language
Using inappropriate colloquialisms or slang to refer to a person with a mental illness in a
derogatory way.
Victimising language
Refers to someone with a mental illness as a ‘victim’, or is ‘suffering with’ or ‘afflicted by’ a
mental illness.
Lack of context
Suggests a suicide might be the result of a single factor or event – for example, a job loss
or relationship breakdown. Many people who die by suicide have a mental disorder, a drugrelated illness or other familial or social risk factors. It is also inappropriate to refer to
someone as ‘committing’ suicide. This is a value judgement, implying the act of suicide was
sinful or wrong.
Summarising
A summary is a brief statement or account of the main points of a text. The main aim of
summarising is to reduce or condense a text to its most important ideas.
Example from Purdue University Online Writing Lab
Original sentence:
“The movement toward education by computer is developing fast. Massive Open Online Courses,
called MOOCs, are changing how people learn in many places. For years, people could receive
study materials from colleges or universities and take part in online classes. But such classes
were not designed for many thousands of students at one time, as MOOCs are.” (MOOCS Are
Moving Forward, Voice of America, learningenglish.voanews.com)
Inappropriate summary:
Voice of America website:
“Computer education is growing fast. MOOCs are influencing how we study. People received
materials from universities for a long time to be able to take classes online. MOOCs are the only
ones thousands can take at a time.”
The inappropriate summary is almost as long as the original text. A summary needs to be concise.
Appropriate summary:
According to a Voice of America article, a fast-growing MOOCs movement allows thousands to
take online classes at once, changing how we learn.

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The appropriate summary keeps the original main idea and it is much shorter than the original text.
Words commonly misspelt
The following are examples of words that are often spelled incorrectly. We would particularly
welcome your suggestions for more examples in this section.
accommodation
believe
conscious
changeable
definite(ly)
embarrassment
liaison
similar
familiar
specific
Your turn
We have created an online wiki where you can add your own content to develop future versions of
this resource. Let us know what issues of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and expression you face
in your work, and provide tips and hints to help your student colleagues overcome these issues.
You can access this wiki by going to The PR Portal, which is a Blackboard (BB) site created
especially for QUT’s public relations students. To find this site, go to your BB home page and
scroll down until you see the link to The PR Portal in the Communities section. Click on that and it
will take you through to one of the most valuable resources you can use during your time as a
QUT public relations student.