Writing and PR: Like Peas and Carrots

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Public relations, like many things in life, is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. Many people have a misconception of what we do (even our family). Writing is something that is a part of a PR pro’s daily hourly duty. PR isn’t about rubbing elbows with celebrities and throwing extravagant parties for clients. But, I’m speaking to the choir on this.

Any PR pro knows the importance of honing their writing skills. It’s a must. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be anywhere in the PR world. Not only do we have to craft the perfect pitch for media, we have to write compelling press releases and blog posts people find interesting. 

What one-person finds interesting, another may find extremely boring. There is a fine line between mass appeal, and a flop. Have I ever written something uninteresting? Absolutely. Did I learn from it? You bet. Writing is one of those tricky things you have to be constantly working at. If not, you will fall behind the pack and left in the dust.

Be Different
When breaking news hits, everyone will be writing about it. What can you bring to the table? Have I read a ton of articles on how to write better? You bet ya, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn something new.

Try coming to the subject from a new angle. What HASN’T someone reported? If you don’t have access to inside details, do some research. You are smart, put your two cents in. No one is born an “expert.” You have to position yourself or client as one. Be different, it’s okay.

Format for Skimming
Do you read every word of a post? I don’t—even if it’s a great one. We all learned in PR 101 to have your most important information at the beginning of the article. That is still true, but bold headings help as well.

For example, in this post, you can get all major points from the bolded headings. This way, you can decide what is worth your time to read fully, and what points are most important if you don’t have time to read the entire post.

Fast Doesn’t Mean Forget
Sometimes we only have an hour to get a press release written. This doesn’t mean you should forget your facts. When you get in a hurry, or know you’re on a tight deadline, you can start to stress yourself out. This is just natural, but it doesn’t mean you should throw out everything you know how to do well.

Make a checklist if you have to. I know what mistakes I tend to make when I’m writing fast. As a result, I have a checklist I keep on my desk. This reminds me of what to look out for when I’m self editing.

Have someone else read your release, article or anything else going out for the public to read. We know what the copy is supposed to say, and sometimes our brain reads what it should say, and not what it really says.

Be Concise
Do you need every word in the sentence you just wrote? Keep it short, simple and to the point. You don’t have to tell the reader what your going to say, then say it. Just say it—we are all busy get to the point. Your copy will be better for it, and your readers will be appreciative as well.

Avoid Large Words
You’re smart, but it doesn’t mean you have to use large words. They are harder to read, and make it more difficult to skim. You can sound smart without using a 10-letter word for smart, when you can just say smart.

What Helps You?
These are just a few things that help me when I’m writing. What helps you? We all have our own techniques for great writing. Share the knowledge!

Shannon Evans Suetos is an online marketer living is San Diego, and the owner of What’s Your Two Cents?  WYTC is a blog dedicated to reporting the latest trending news topics to spark a conversation among readers. You can also follow Shannon on Twitter @ShannonEvansSM.

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  • http://twitter.com/John_Trader1 John Trader

    Nice post Shannon, thanks for the reminders of some foundations for effective writing.  What helps me to write well is to be inspired.  Being inspired sometimes requires me to do things off the map like wander around a museum, read a magazine that I normally would never pick up, watch a movie from the 1940’s.  Off the wall stuff that keeps my creativity sharp.  It often helps me to craft an edge to my story or pitch that I otherwise would not have thought of.

    • http://twitter.com/ShannonEvansSM Shannon Evans Suetos

      Glad you enjoyed the post John! Those are great points you bring up. Sometimes doing off the map things can really inspire a great post. 

  • Lightbourne Creative

    Shannon, your comments are very good, especially about asking someone else to proofread your work before submitting it…I stress this to my students all the time. Typos are like pickaxes that chip away at the solidarity of our credibility. I see so many more typos in articles, textbooks, and other professional materials these days than I’ve noticed in decades past (especially in these blogs). Speed is one problem, but I imagine that lack of attention to detail and precision is the main issue. PR professionals today no longer know how to spell or how to proofread, and they rely far too heavily on spell-check programs. Sure, it takes longer to make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed, but our clients expect us to provide the highest quality possible.

    All that said, take a look at your paragraph with the “Be Concise” heading, second line down. I’m not trying to be smug (I’ve certainly had my own share of typos), but I encourage all writers out there to exercise more diligence in writing precisely. We elevate the entire profession when our writing is interesting, factual, and well-edited.

    • Lightbourne Creative

      Hi again Shannon…

      Just wanted you to know that your comments sparked my
      interest in pursuing what’s really important in writing for today’s
      culture.  I’m going to share your blog
      with my PR students because I think your ideas are on target for producing writing
      that is thoughtful, creative, and to the point. Keep up the great work on your
      blogging…you’re on the right track!

      But I do have to apologize to you publicly for my earlier
      message…I’m afraid it did sound smug (or as we say in the South, a little “tacky”),
      which was not my intent. Please forgive me, and chalk my comments up as another
      example of “you oughtta read that again before hitting the submit button.” But
      that’s a whole different subject for blogging….  Best wishes!

      • http://twitter.com/ShannonEvansSM Shannon Evans Suetos

        I just now came across your comments. Sorry for the delay! I’m glad you are going to (or have) shared my post with your class. I didn’t find your previous comment smug, I like when I get corrected. Also, if you are going to write for the web, you need thick skin. I’ve gotten worse comments then that. :)

        Have a great week!
        Shannon 

  • Brynne10

    Great topic! How do you find inspiration when the topic you are writing about is bland?