Learning From the Associated Press; Celebrating APR Month

April 2024
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We marked the start of our third year of Strategies & Tactics Live earlier this year. The monthly livestream on LinkedIn takes readers behind the scenes of a story or subject in the paper, offering further insights and takeaways with interviews with contributors and other special guests.

Strategies & Tactics Live has featured various thought leaders and top-of-mind topics, including AI, DEI, crisis management, issues management and storytelling.

Guests from our 27 episodes have included Linda Rutherford, chief administration and communications officer for Southwest Airlines; Jen Hartmann, global director, strategic public relations and enterprise social media, John Deere; Mary Osaka, vice chancellor for strategic comms, UCLA; Jim Joseph, U.S. CEO and global CMO, Ketchum; and Chris Perry, chair, Weber Shandwick Futures. 

For the past year, we’ve recorded extra footage with our guests after the live session and posted it to the online version of S&T on PRSA’s website. This member exclusive provides even more insights from our guest speakers.

I want to share some of the bonus content that my February guest, Ted Anthony, director of new storytelling and newsroom innovation at The Associated Press, provided.

In our taped conversation, we discussed how finding compelling stories to tell about the companies or brands communicators represent can be a challenge. To uncover interesting stories, “treat reporting within the company like a news beat,” he said.

“You want to get to know the people doing interesting things… to establish relationships with people,” Anthony said. Those connections “feed your curiosity about things to discover.” 

To find story ideas about your organization, “go to coffee with someone you’ve never met before who has a job title that interests you,” Anthony suggested. “Find out about them.” Doing so “will open up new worlds and new story ideas to you.”

He advised against pursuing preconceived story angles. “Writers often choose the story they’re going to tell, and then they go forward with that narrative,” Anthony said. “But there are often things that relate to the story or the [broader] culture that you can bring in, that add texture to your story.”

In most cases, “If you have tunnel vision about what the story is, you miss opportunities to talk about other things that would reward your readers. The more you create a collage around this topic, the more you have an opportunity to interest and engage people who aren’t necessarily inherently interested in the topic.”

Editing your own writing will make it better, he said. “Writers tend to get deeply attached to their babies, their turns of phrase and quotes. To be your editor and put a critical eye on your work, ask yourself: ‘What is great in this story? What needs to stay, and what is good but can go?’”

Meanwhile, join me on LinkedIn on April 18 at 1 p.m. ET for the next episode. Gini Dietrich, CEO and founder of Arment Dietrich + Spin Sucks, is my guest.

Observing APR Month

April is PRSA Accreditation Month (Learn more here). In the video below, I talk with Tara Smith, APR, co-chair of the Accreditation Marketing Committee. She is director, M.A. in Strategic Communication Program at the University of Delaware.

Here, she discusses how the APR has benefitted her career and offers guidance for communicators thinking of pursuing Accreditation.

Return to Current Issue Professional Growth | April 2024
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