Writing About Complex Subjects

By Jen Tedeschi of Buchanan Public Relations, our PRGN partner based in Philadelphia

As a PR practitioner, I have a few not-so-shocking confessions to make: I’m not a lawyer, nor am I an accountant. Additionally, I have never attended medical school, and I haven’t had a chance to get much experience in investing, either.

Yet it’s often my job to take highly complex topics and break them down into succinct pieces for the mainstream media. This task can be quite daunting, especially when you aren’t an expert in the subject.

If you find yourself feeling stuck when writing about a topic you don’t completely understand, fear not. Here are some tips for writing content on intricate subjects:

Use varying sources for your research. I know this tip may seem obvious, but it’s still important to address. The best way to learn about something new is to gather insights from a well-rounded group of sources. Don’t just limit yourself to different websites, either – it can be helpful to check out webinars, relevant message boards, social media accounts and, yes, even print books, as well.

Ask questions. If you still feel like you don’t have a grasp on the topic, going to an expert in that field can provide more clarity than a Google search. However, make sure you do your research before approaching anybody with your questions. Whether it’s your friend, or your client, having some previous knowledge on the matter can help guide the conversation and get you to the answers you’re looking for.

Avoid going down the research rabbit hole. Although compiling thorough research is crucial when learning about a new subject, spending too much time looking up information can leave you feeling more confused than you were before. To avoid this, try drafting a short outline with points you wish to make, or set a time limit for yourself. That way, you’ll be able to quickly sift through all your resources without getting distracted by other, less-pertinent details.

Have any other tips for writing about an unfamiliar topic? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @LandisComm.

This blog was originally published by Buchanan Public Relations – see it here.

6 thoughts on “Writing About Complex Subjects

  1. In my time at LCI I feel like I’ve become an “expert” in a range of subjects, from Alzheimer’s to real estate crowdfunding! Thanks for the great tips Jen.

  2. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for this informative post. Though I consider myself a pretty strong writer, I sometimes encounter writer’s block and have difficulty getting started. Whenever this happens, I simply take a deep breath and write out a quick outline of my thoughts. This helps me see the full picture before I dive into the nitty gritty.

    David C.

  3. Great tips, Jen. I can certainly relate. At a previous PR firm, I represented several law firms and was constantly breaking down complicated legal matters. Sometimes quoting the attorneys was my best option – the last thing you want to do is twist the facts.

  4. Jen, great blog. I think as PR professionals we are in a unique position to take what our clients say – and make it understandable. It’s especially true in our neck of the woods where so many tech startups take great pride in speaking their own language. Often, this isn’t really helpful to their product or service. I remember many years ago, my esteemed lawyer, Maryann Dresner, said the same thing: namely, that she took pride not in using flowery language but in being clear in her communications. As PR pros, we should strive to do the same. And I agree with you: asking questions is the best way to get to the point. Cheers, David

  5. Digging deep for information always makes me feel like a journalist. They, too, write about many obscure topics to get to the bottom of a story. Great tips. Thanks, Jen.

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