Read Don’t Skim

By Nick Singer, Account Coordinator, straight shooter, widely respected on both sides (shout out to Jon Lovett)

Are you already skimming my outstanding blog?!

One of my resolutions for 2017 is to read more in depth news stories to become a better PR writer. PR writing is different from other forms of writing because it requires an in-depth knowledge of what journalists are looking for and how they write.

We are all guilty of skimming; getting the most basic facts of a story and then spurting them out as though we are experts on the topic – classic coffee table banter. My goal with this resolution is to read one in-depth piece a week, to see how these stories are constructed from beginning, middle to end and to be more informed than the headline skimmers.

One of the first hefty pieces I read this year was “My President Was Black”, a history of the first African American White House by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This article, while captivating and easily one of my favorite of the past year, is not a great example to make my PR writing better. However, I could connect the dots on how, throughout multiple interviews, Coates was able to form his story.

A better piece for PR writing is, “A Peer Recovery Coach Walks The Front Lines Of America’s Opioid Epidemic” (an extension to the original story on NPR’s All Things Considered). The article follows a recovered opioid and heroin addict in Lima, Ohio who used his own life experiences to become a peer recovery coach for other addicts. From a PR perspective, you can see how this story was made and what was required to give the journalists the nitty-gritty details for an article people will remember.

What are some of the best in-depth articles that you have read recently? Tweet me at @nicksinger91 or leave a comment below.

8 thoughts on “Read Don’t Skim

  1. Reddit is really bad for skimming and drawing conclusions from a title alone – I often go straight to comments before reading an article that was posted. Fortunately, often the top comments have picked out the key paragraphs to ensure people like me don’t get misled!

  2. Aren’t we all guilty of skimming…especially since the news is given to us in 140 characters? That’s why I like to read Salon or Slate or The New Yorker or even Vanity Fair…good places to dive deeper.

  3. I agree and there’s another side to this. Great writing often is shorter rather than longer – at least in business-oriented communications. The reality is that with digital communications and devices, we are digesting more information – actually more bits of information, than ever before. The point is make a point, create an impression, inspire some action and leave it at that.

  4. Hi Nick,

    I not only agree with your sentiments, but I also think we need to become better listeners. I just read an opinion piece in the San Francisco Examiner in which the writer laments about how we oftentimes pay more attention to what we read in Facebook Messenger than what is said to us face-to-face. Social media is a powerful tool and we all need to work hard to ensure we don’t prioritize it more than it deserves. That’s one of my new year’s resolutions, for sure.

  5. Nick, couldn’t agree more. Skimming instead of really reading is partly what contributes to fake news and the perpetuation of half-truths. It’s important – not just in PR, but in real life – to make sure we analyze information, read it thoroughly and draw conclusions not just from one news source but a comprehensive variety of sources. Great blog! Cheers, David

  6. Nick – a great goal for 2017. I’m willing to read a long article if it’s something I care about or that I’m interested in. I find my favorite long form stories are usually in The Atlantic.

  7. Great topic, Nick. We are all guilty of this practice, but it is important to consider the importance of in-depth reading as content can sometimes be misunderstood and ultimately lead to false conclusions.

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