Posted by: loveleigh | April 30, 2009

Punctuation 101 and How not to do publicity promotions

love-hate1Yesterday in Public  Relations class, we started off class editing a “Dear Tom” letter using only punctuation marks. Professor Nixon divided the class in half; the first half of class was told to edit the letter as if they were in love with tom, and the second half of the class was told to edit it as if they hated tom. We were not allowed to change any words or take any words out of the letter.  It was an interesting assignment, but being in ‘hate tom’ group I began to see how to arrange punctuation marks to create a mean letter. The two groups then read their letters out loud and saw how punctuation can influence tone. Both groups had the exact same letter with the exact same words, but by adding in some periods, commas, question marks, and exclamation marks we came up with two completely different letters. Here is my punctuated ‘hate’ letter, see if you can figure out how to make it a love letter…

Dear Tom, I want a man who know what love is. All about you are generous, kind, and thoughtful people who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior! You have ruined me for other men I yearn. For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? Yours, Sheila

wkrp2For the remainder of the class we learned a lesson in publicity promotions or more accurately we learned how not to do publicity promotions. Professor Nixon had us watch an episode from the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati. In this episode a clueless radio station manager tries to put on his own publicity stunt that involves throwing live turkeys out of a helicopter. So needless to say the promotion went horribly wrong. You can watch this episode for free on Hulu.


After watching the show we discussed what we learned about how not to do a promotion. This list is also available on Barbara Nixon’s blog:

  1. Communication with your entire team is a must.
  2. Doing research is very important!
  3. Get permission before doing a promotion and reporting it.
  4. Know and understand your market and what is considered news to them.
  5. Always brainstorm ways the promotion could go wrong beforehand.

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