“Trust the process.”
While basketball fans (remember sports, everyone?) seeing those words may immediately think of enigmatic Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid and his team’s signature catchphrase, they should hold a special place in communications professionals’ minds. Whether its for attention grabbing press releases, engaging social media content or even internal memos, following the writing process – pre-writing, drafting, revising and editing – is a tried-and-true practice. Saying that’s all there is to good writing, however, doesn’t really explain what makes the content you produce from that process good or, in far too many cases, fodder for a newsroom’s recycling bin. That’s why a deep dive into each step of the process can help novice and veteran writers alike to improve their communications.
Improve (or refresh) your writing skills with these four simple tips.
The 5 Ws Still Work for a Reason
Knowing who, what, when, where and most importantly why something is happening as well as why someone should care about it is the backbone of all solid writing, public relations-related or not. If you have written copy that doesn’t answer for or, at the very least when teasing an event, make your audience have a desire to know these five things, you’ve already lost.
Remember, a surprise party is only a surprise to the person that is being celebrated. Every guest in attendance knew the date, the time, etc. – that’s why they showed up. Similarly, telling people when something is happening but forgetting the details to make them care is bad. Very, very bad. This should be covered in the first one or two paragraphs of your release. If you make an already overworked assignment editor work to find this information, chances are they won’t.
Know Your Audience
Would you talk to a 6 year-old the same way you’d talk to a CEO? Probably not. Thus, when writing, consider who your audience as one size (or in this case, style) copy doesn’t necessarily fit all. Got a cut-and-dry editor to approach? Cut out the extra details. Know an editor with an affinity for pets? Re-write and play up all the cute four-legged friends that will be in attendance. Many people love a good giveaway…but if you don’t mention the giveaway until paragraph eight, there’s a chance you lost them before they ever got there. The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) has more helpful tips you can explore here.
Don’t Just Tell – Compel!
Why is the new restaurant any different than any other? If it’s not any different, what compels this one to be newsworthy? Having solid, detailed intriguing answers to these type of questions helps make your client’s new business, event or idea stand out. The 5 Ws mentioned above give the knowledge, but remember you need to you sell the idea versus just “talking” about it in order to make your event/business one not to miss (or at least know there is an audience we serve that will feel that way).
Edit – Then Edit Some More
You know what you meant to say…but did you say it? Writing all the time can make even the best writer susceptible to mistakes. Therefore, take a breath and return later as good writing is more akin to a marathon than a sprint. Having someone else review your copy never hurts, either, to make things more concise. This post was originally 906 words (you’re welcome it no longer is).
Enhance Your Style
Like unwanted emails for pills consistently bombarding your junk mail, there is a plethora of information available online that can assist you in the writing process. A simple Google search for PR writing tips will bring up easily digestible features such as Forbes’ list of nine strategies that can enhance your communications. Likewise, organizations such as the aforementioned IABC and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) have great resources covering many professional development topics.
Remember: trust the process – you don’t have to be a NBA star to have people excited that you did.
About Scooter Media
Scooter Media is a full-service communications agency in Greater Cincinnati specializing in public relations and social media.