News Americas editor, Felicia Persaud, back row, 2nd from right, was among the panelists at the during the International Writing and Public Relations Seminar held on Tuesday, March 26 at the UWI Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay. Other panelists were L- R- Johnson JohnRose, Barbara Ellington, Melanie Reffes, and Irwine Clare, at far R. In the front row are Janet Silvera, Karesha Allen and Odette Soberam Dyer of the UWI Western Jamaica Campus and organizers of the event.
News Americas, MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Fri. March 29, 2013: More than a hundred Jamaicans, including journalism students and public relations officers in the tourism sector, packed into a Montego Bay conference room this week and welcomed the first ‘International Writing and Public Relations’ seminar from the University of the West Indies-Mona, Western Jamaica Campus with rave reviews.

Caribbean Tourism Organizations’ communication specialist and multiple award-winner, Johnson Johnrose, led the seminar on March 26th, which focused largely on standing out with a public relations message in a crowded marketplace.

“You have to be different,” said Johnrose. “Find creative ways to stand out from the crowd and get noticed.”

The CTO media executive also urged the public relations professionals gathered at the seminar to “think like a reporter!”

“It means being able to separate real news about your company from promotional puffery; being able to deliver a sharp story angle that will be of real interest to the news reading or viewing public and being able to deliver this angle in a professional, courteous way,” he advised.

Johnrose then welcomed four other media professionals to probe the topic: ‘Writing for Tourism’ and ‘What Gets Thrown in File 13.’ The Gleaner’s corporate affairs editor, Barbara Ellington; New York City radio talk-show host, Irwine Clare; Montreal-based freelance writer, Melanie Reffes and CaribPR and News Americas’ founder, Felicia Persaud, each weighed in on the topic, offering valuable tips to the seminar participants on what not to include in press releases.
Ellington cautioned public relations officers to avoid sending the same press release to varied editors at the newspaper and sending photographs that tell no story.

Clare shared an insight into the radio market in the Caribbean American community of New York City, telling those gathered that press releases will not work with this group unless it’s an infomercial.

Reffes cautioned PR practitioners against use of terms such as “iconic,” “opening later this year,” “for the first time ever” and “soon.”
“Buzz words have no news value,” said Reffes.

Persaud, for her part, urged seminar delegates, to know their audience – both the media and the audience that media reaches – before sending out media releases.
“Geo target,” she said. “There is no one size fits all rule! Each media is different and each media market is different.”

The NYC-based journalist turned media entrepreneur, also urged PR representatives to also learn to write for the digital era, ensuring their press releases are search engine optimized and adding external links to press release headlines and leads to increase rankings.

The seminar was organized by UWI students Janet Silvera, Karesha Allen and Odette Soberam Dyer for the project ‘Forging New Paths in Education’ and sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Sandals Resorts International, Caribbean Airlines, Glamour Destination Management and the Jamaica Tourist Board.

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