Much of what we do as public relations professionals consists of writing: blogs, press releases, articles, emails, etc. No matter what it is, the point is simple; we spend a majority of our days writing, so it is important that we are good at it.
Here are a few tips to easily improve your writing, and ensure it hits the mark.
Keep it short.
Can you name one time you came across a long article or email consisting of straight text and were excited to read it? There may be a few exceptions if the content was truly interesting, but most of the time, especially in the world of PR and marketing, keeping it short and simple is the way to go. You have about three seconds to grab the reader’s attention and if you don’t, they bounce or all your hard work goes in the trash.
Being specific is crucial. Don’t leave the reader with questions. You want to give them all the information they need, especially if your reader is a journalist. Journalists want everything they need to write the story. This means including quotes, photos, videos and all the pertinent information in one succinct document. Using links is a great way to provide more information without more text, so the journalist can drill down if they want to.
Use simple words.
Having an extensive vocabulary is a great tool, but loading up a press release with big words is not going to be the deciding factor to a journalist looking for a story. Journalists are going to look for the press release that has the best story, not the best vocabulary, so put your thesaurus away and get your point across quickly using the simplest terms possible.
Read it out loud.
Reading out loud is a great way to make sure that what you’ve written will make sense to a third party. Much of the time when we write, we omit information because our brains subconsciously fill in the blanks. We forget that a completely unbiased, uninformed person could be reading this. Reading out loud helps your brain look at it from a different perspective.
Edit. Edit again. Then have someone else edit.
Of course you will already have someone put fresh eyes on your work to proof it – typos are unacceptable! Aside from ensuring grammar and spelling are correct, editing is the most important step of the writing process. Tighten things up, get rid of redundancies and clichés, and make sure you are getting your point across in a clear, concise way. Take some time away from the piece and then come back and edit again. This helps you pick up on things you missed the first time around. Having someone else edit helps to ensure what you are saying is relevant and clear to your audience.
As a public relations professional, it is important that your writing gets your message across quickly and clearly, because your readers are looking for information. They will give it a quick skim and if something doesn’t catch their eye, you’ve lost your chance. These tips, along with practice, will help to give your writing what it needs to be noticed.