10 Powerful Tips to Improve Your PR Writing Skills
Writing is at the very center of what we do as PR professionals.
Excellent writing skills are also essential when it comes tolanding a great job that has an actual impact. Many PR businesses depend ontalented wordsmiths that are good at what they do.
People often mistakenly assume that this niche is like anyother, yet it has its own peculiarities and underlying principles. In thisarticle, we’ve compiled a set of 10 powerful tips that will help you strengthenyour PR writing skills in no time. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
1. Explore Imperfection
There are certain things that are meant to be imperfect. I’mtalking about the first draft. We often invest too much work in the firstversion of a text.
There is a great quote that allegedly belongs to Hemingway thatsounds something like:
The first draft of anything is rubbish.
The best way to work on a text is to “bleed out” all the wordsfirst and then take your time to trim and edit it to perfection.Taking the other route can often defeat the purpose of creating a compellingpiece.
2. Don’t keep it to yourself
Reading your text aloud is a common practice that can help youassess how it actually sounds. There are many disciplines related to writing, wherereading your text back to yourself is absolutely imperative — a notable exampleis UX Writing.
UX writers often even delegate the reading to robots just tohave a more impersonal attitude towards the text they hear. NaturalReaders is an excellent tool for that. It’ll allowyou to objectively assess how natural your wording is.
3. Be careful with deadlines
When estimating the amount of time we need toproduce a piece, many of us make mistakes. Always give yourself the rightamount of time to review your piece.
If you’ve worked on a 500-word piece for, say,two hours, take a break and revisit it. Take at least another hour to edit andimprove the copy. At first, you’ll find it excessive, but eventually, you’llbecome accustomed to spotting stylistic and grammatical mistakes on the fly.
Just give your copy some time to breathe.
4. Search engine optimization
One of the few rather technical aspects ofmodern PR writing is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Nowadays, it’s essentialto be at the very least acquainted with the best SEO writing practices, inorder to make sure that your press releases and other types of texts can beeasily found on the web and rank high in search results on Google, along withother major search engines.
Here are a fewbasic principles that will help you optimize your press release:
- Usenatural anchors when linking or citing sources
- Don’tuse too many links
- Ensurethat your text is 100 plagiarism-free
- Usemedia when possible
5. Embrace criticism
After you’ve taken the time to diligentlyproofread your text, give it to someone knowledgeable to review it for you. Therule of thumb is not to accept answers like “Yeah, it’s alright” or “It’sokay.”
Always look for a thorough review of your work and only ask people that have an eye for subtle mistakes.
6. Opt for a succinct copy
In PR writing, brevity is critical. Always try to optfor strong explicit verbs rather than phrases. Limit your use of adverbs anddon’t use too many adjectives. It is commonlyknown that journalists or editors often dedicate less than 10 secondsbefore deciding to discard your press release altogether. This is why it’sessential to keep your press releases short and sweet.
Naturally, this begs thequestion: What is the optimal word count for a press release?
It is commonly recommended to opt for 300-400 words. Going beyond the 500-word limit will probably dilute the text and make it less impactful and dense, which is slightly problematic if you’re a beginner and you want to make sure that your press release will be noticed.
7. Ditch jargon
Technical or professional jargon isn’t bad initself. However, it is problematic when used in a text directed towards anaudience that lacks specialization. Using advanced terminology isn’t exactlybad writing, as many critics assume, but rather an assumption that your readeris versed in a particular field as well as you are.
Always choose to go with plain and simpleEnglish. This will prevent you from alienating a considerable portion of yourreaders.
8. A strong opening
PRcopies need to engage readers, to some extent, this is one of itsessential functions. You need to grab a reader’s attention so that they arecompelled to read the entire thing. To have a strong opening, you need to bebrief and emotional (don’t go overboard).
Similarly,your text needs to suggest that by reading it, your reader will gain value fromit. It’s crucial to provide your readers with as much insight on the topicand the events you’re about to cover so that they can immediately feelinitiated in the topic at hand.
A great way todo this is to apply the “5 Ws” principle so commonly used injournalism. It stands for “who, what, where, when, and why,” and it allows toplace your reader in the right informational field and set the tone for thetext they’re about to go through.
9. Keep an eye on readability
Readabilityis an essential component of an engaging piece. People are commonlydisinterested in reading a text that isn’t visually adapted to the currentstandards. Nowadays, the most common way of measuring readability is the Flesch-Kincaid Score.
To ensure that your text scores high on the Flesch-Kincaidscale, follow these recommendations:
- Keep your sentences under 25 words.
- Keep your paragraphs short as well. Large chunks of text will often dissuade people from reading. Keep them at 3-4 lines to make them less intimidating.
- Use transition words like “however,” “nevertheless,” “furthermore,” and others. This ensures that your text will be more cohesive.
- Avoid passive voice if you can.
10. Fact-check everything
Whatever claims you make — you need to backthem. Baseless claims is a mauvais ton when it comes to PR writing andjournalism. Always support your writing with facts.
The reason whyfact-checking is especially important in this day in age is the sheer amount offake news and misinformation that is being spread by journalists both willinglyand unwillingly. The issue of fake news has never been more acute in Western mediathan it is today, which on itself should dissuade you from contributing to it.
We hope you found these tips useful. Byapplying these principles on a regular basis, you’ll be able to continuallyimprove your PR writing skills. Good luck!
Lori Jones is a passionate journalist, dedicated to traveling andteaching people to lead a better life. She’s curious about a host of topicsranging from marketing to SEO writing. Lori is currently an editor for Studicus.com