Print Matters: How to Write Great Advertising/Cases in Public Relations Management

By Reilly, Hugh | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Print Matters: How to Write Great Advertising/Cases in Public Relations Management


Reilly, Hugh, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


* Hines, Randall and Robert Lauterborn (2008). Print Matters: How to Write Great Advertising. Chicago, IL: Racom Communications Inc. pp. 223.

* Swann, Patricia (2008). Cases in Public Relations Management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies. pp. 388.

A few months ago my local newspaper laid off more than fifty employees. It is a trend we have seen repeated across the country. Print advertising, and specifically newspaper advertising, is facing a crisis unlike any it has seen in decades. Despite all the doom and gloom, Randall Hines and Robert Lauterborn make a strong argument that print advertising has never been more relevant. "Why print?" Hines and Lauterborn write:

Because it's the purest form of advertising - an idea given power visually and crafted to move people with words. If you don't have an idea, it shows. If you can't write, people know. You can't hide emptiness behind a mesmerizing glare of glitzy TV production or trade on the familiar voice of a spokesperson to make a connection for you. It's just you and the reader (p. 1).

Hines and Lauterborn argue that technology has allowed us to skip or bypass TV ads. They state that print ads require our attention and that we use a different part of our brain when we read rather than when we simply observe. "Readers are active participants in the communication process, while TV viewers are passive" (p. 3).

The book's chapters are arranged in a progressive fashion, with each new chapter's focus building on the preceding chapter. The chapters cover specific areas such as how to use visuals, use of headlines and sub heads, and how to select the proper font. Chapters also detail designing ads and developing ad campaigns as well as a chapter on legal and ethical issues. Each chapter ends with a brief recap and suggestions for further reading. The authors also have inserted throughout the book a series of brief copy blocks they call a "notepad." These notepads offer interesting advertising trivia, point out Web resources, or suggest exercises that can help students better understand the material.

The writing style is clear, concise, and persuasive. The authors include examples of print ads throughout the book to illustrate their points. The book even includes a handy glossary of advertising terms at the end, plus a collection of classic "How To" essays by famous writers.

Print Matters could be used as a supplemental text in a principles of advertising class or as a primary text in an advertising copywriting class. Its breezy, readable style should make it appealing to students. Most important, it should help professors reinforce the continued relevance of print ads in the ever-changing world of advertising.

One of the emerging themes in advertising is the increasing emphasis on integrated marketing communication, combining traditional advertising methods with public relations and other persuasion tactics and techniques. Perhaps the most successful way to introduce students to public relations is through the use of case studies.

A common challenge in teaching a public relations case studies course is that most textbooks feature only studies on successful cases. While learning the correct way to conduct a public relations campaign is important, an argument can certainly be made that we can learn even more from our failures than our successes.

Patricia Swann, in Cases in Public Relations Management, presents both successful and unsuccessful public relations campaigns. Students are able to see the errors made by professionals and how each decision has consequences.

Professor Swann writes in an accessible style sprinkled with spot on observations about the management responsibilities of public relation professionals and their crucial role in the business world. The book's opening chapter defines the role of public relations and how it relates to other disciplines.

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