Unlike writers in more forgiving disciplines, though, public relations writers work to simplify complex ideas, define client positions in white papers, or develop persuasive language for creative campaigns – all while facing strict deadlines.
Indeed, few of us have the luxury of hours spent writing alone, organizing captivating stories and crafting perfect sentences. How can we write more strategically and effectively under pressure?
Identify Vital Messages
Writing in PR News, Julie C. Lellis, associate chair in the School of Communications at Elon University, recommends stepping back from the immediate task of writing a document to first reflect on the most important things your audience needs to know about your client. “Use this as a guiding voice,” Lellis writes. “No matter what you say, it will need to be uniquely like you and only you. Remind readers of who you are.”
She adds that the best way to begin is to make a list of the most important questions your key audience must have answered – then write what they need to know from your informed point of view.
Hire a Great Editor
When a news release is riddled with errors, a sloppy email to a reporter lacks clarity, or a business memo fails to communicate a key point, it becomes apparent that Spell-check alone does not a strong writer make. Good writing is a skill that takes time and practice. Rewriting is one of the most demanding parts of the job.
Someone on your team should serve as your editor. Identify strong writers who have a discerning eye and track the changes they suggest so you can understand and address your writing weaknesses.
Don’t Rush Your Message
Your writing is best when it evolves over the course of a few hours or even a few days. Come back to the piece and you will always find it needs polishing. Try to spot the weaknesses in your language, the missing transitions, the vague ideas – and recast, rewrite and rework. You’ll find that the second draft is much better than the original you thought was just fine.
So What’s Next?
Take your writing seriously. Read good writers every day. Expose yourself to new ways of storytelling. Craft something interesting every day. You’ll find that with practice you will write more succinctly, tell stories more persuasively, and communicate more clearly. As you write, you’ll discover the ways it disciplines your thinking. Ultimately the act of writing will become less tedious for you – and more effective for your clients.