LCI Account Executive Heather Platisha here with another installment of ‘Backtalk’.
When it comes to writing for public relations, everything you learned in all those college English courses you can pretty much throw out the window. At least, that’s what I learned in Bulldog Reporter’s ‘Power PR Writing Workshop’ that I attended last week with Independent Communications Consultant Michael Smart. Smart demonstrated that writing for PR is a unique art form, one that requires the writer to capture the audience’s attention and communicate client messages while avoiding sounding like a salesman.
I have to admit, I could have used a week’s worth of workshops with Mr. Smart as the exercises he developed are awesome tools to retrain the brain to think and look at writing differently. It doesn’t have to be a scary task. Writing can be fun! I have compiled a list of my favorite tips, to help someone out when facing your own writing demons.
My top 10 “Michael Smart” writing tips:
1. When developing an email pitch subject line, think magazine covers. Tease the reader with numbers, a ‘how- to’ or ask a question.
2. There are 5 types of leads for a press release:
· Summary lead (pick the 2 most relevant who, what, where, when, why)
· Emphasis on the familiar (pop culture references, celebrities or prominent executives, holiday or time elements)
· Solution found (people struggling with X will be different thanks to solution Y)
· Anecdotal (open with a funny or gripping story ONLY if more interesting than the impact of the news and use sparingly)
3. Press Release Quotes:
· Conveys something the writer can’t: strong opinion, emotion or humor
· Factual information can be asserted or paraphrased
· Should sound like the way people actually talk
4. The writing process:
· Form a routine: same place/environment
· Just write: don’t worry about punctuation, grammar or sounding smart
5. Avoid overused words:
6. Cut meaningless modifiers:
7. Avoid the clichés. They lose meaning.
8. Be creative. Evoke imagery, engage the reader’s senses by “showing” what they would see, hear smell or taste if they were there.
9. Change your voice. Ditch the formal more corporate style and try one of the following voices:
· child’s point of view
· elementary school teacher
· street slang
· sarcastic or ironic
10. And finally…The more you read the better you write.
Here’s our Buzzworthy list for the week:
*Follow Michael Smart on Twitter: ‘michaelsmartpr.com
*Visit Bar Crudo’s new location in the Western Addition and be sure to try the lobster and heirloom tomato salad.
*Be sure to check out the King Tut exhibit at the DeYoung. The exhibit runs through March 2010.
*For home décor and design ideas, check out: www.apartmenttherapy.com.
*Love music? Then check out Oakland band ‘The Lovemakers,’ who are playing on Friday, July 3rd at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.
3 thoughts on “The Wonderful World of PR Writing:”
Heather – well put. As I always say in PR (or journalism), “Less is more!”
I love these tips! It is so different than what you learn in school. I love number 4, when it says don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. That’s the first thing that goes through my head when I write. Instead, I need to flip it around and first write than think about grammar. Good tips!
I think it’s a great tip to write pitches in different “voices” or styles than one would typically use. It takes effort to write with a refreshing perspective that captures the reader’s attention. Becoming a skilled PR professional requires more than conventional writing skills. It’s just as important to be personable, engaging, and confident in writing as it is in personal encounters. Thanks for the useful information here.
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