Cornelius Foote has worked at The Miami Herald, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News and the Tom Joyner Morning Show. In addition to being a newspaper reporter, Foote has led advertising sales teams, helped develop strategy and launch websites and developed and managed public relations for Tom Joyner and his media company. President of Foote Communications LLC, a Dallas media consulting firm, Foote is also chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Serving North Texas, president of the National Black Public Relations Society, Inc., past chairman of the National Association of Minority Media Executives, and a longstanding member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Has public relations writing become easier with the rise of social media or harder?
Public relations writing has gotten harder. You must now learn how to tell your clients’ stories in multiple ways. You’ve got to learn as many facets of the story to develop pitches that will resonate in print, in broadcast, on the Internet and in social. You now need to think through headlines, sub heads, leads and keywords to hook readers—and to cater to search engines. In addition to being a strong writer, a public relations professional today must know how to take that 600-word press release and convert it into a Facebook and Twitter campaign. Good PR professionals suggest ideas for posts, tweets and hashtags rather than relying on the social media team.
How is new technology helping or hurting the quality of writing you see from new graduates and young practitioners?
What I’ve found is that it’s hard for many students to think critically and write long articles or essays because they’re so used to writing for the moment. The lack of critical thinking has stunted curiosity for many who are only thinking about what’s in front of them— literally—their smartphones! In other ways, technology is enabling these new graduates and young practitioners to use their devices to help their clients—and co-workers— understand the importance of creating and producing content that’s mobile-friendly.