Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Top 10 PR Writing Tips

This semester I'm teaching two special courses: event planning and social media. I usually teach at least one public relations writing class. I miss it. So, I've decided to share my top 10 public relations writing tips. Perhaps, my blog readers will enjoy and learn from them. They go from generic writing tips to specialized PR tips.

1) Remember the rules your elementary school teacher taught you. - If most of us just remembered basics grammar rules, we'd be great writers. Don't be afraid to dust off your English 101 grammar book.

2) Be concise. - The more concise you write the easier it is for your audience to understand your message. Reread each sentence to see if you can cut words or replace a few words with one that means the same thing.

3) Read and write as much as you can. - Start to view writing as a sport. If you want to excel, than you need to engulf yourself in everything involving writing. The more you read the more you'll learn tricks and tips from other writers, and the more you write the better your skills will become. Practice makes perfect.

4) Edit. Edit. Edit, again. - Always proofread your work for spelling and grammar errors. In addition, check and double check your facts. Don't stop until you are sure you have everything right. If you are "too close" to your work, ask someone else to read it for you.

5) Don't be embarrassed to fix a mistake. - Everyone makes mistakes. I don't know a single entry level PR person who hasn't made the dreaded "pubic relations" error. Don't worry. Simply fix the problem, regardless of how much time, energy or money it might take to do it.

6) Learn to take constructive criticism. - If you don't have thick skin, get some. You should be willing to learn from those who know more than you. Just remember to take the advice and use it on your next project.

7) Take your writing seriously. - When you write, it should be done with care and precision. A lack of concern or a desire to quickly finish will cause you to make simple mistakes.

8) Know the tool. Know the rules. Know the medium. - Each public relations tactic is used for a specific reason, and each one has specific rules, including the appropriate writing style and content. For example, you don't include the same information in a OP-Ed piece that you'd include in a brochure. Further, you must know the best medium - U.S. mail, email, mass media - to deliver your tool.

9) Have a purpose. Stick to it. - You should have a specific goal or objective for each tool. Don't stray from your key message or strategic plan.

10) Know your public and write to them. - Be sure to include the information your audience will want to know. Anticipate questions, and answer them. Use proper language, proper calls to action and tone.