Is there a writing style for PR?
PR writing style tends to be more journalistic than editorial. It’s more informative than salesy.
However, since PR is now going into the realm of content marketing, writing for PR is beginning to encompass different types of writing. This includes blogging, web copywriting, and even writing for video.
But I believe the foundations for good PR writing remain. No matter what medium you’re using, when you’re writing for PR, you strive to be direct to the point, factual, interesting, clear and credible.
Things to Remember for Good PR Writing
1. The inverted triangle still applies
You may be familiar with the journalistic style of writing in an inverted triangle. That is, the most important elements of your article are in the beginning, while the smaller details are left for last.
This still applies, because journalists and their audiences are still as busy as ever. In fact, media consumers have more information at their fingertips and no longer have time to read an entire piece. So it’s still necessary to put your main point and the basics – who, what, where, when, why and how – up top.
2. Make your piece scannable
Short paragraphs are better than long ones. Break up your article into sections and add sub-headings to distinguish one sub-topic from another. Use numbered lists or bullet points when appropriate. This makes it easy for the reader to get your main points just by scanning your article.
3. Good writing is still good writing
The basic principles of good writing apply to PR writing. These include, for example, using the active voice instead of the passive. Compare the following:
Passive: The new community
Active: The mayor launched the new community centre.
The active voice has more power and punch.
Another principle of good writing is specificity. It’s better to be specific than vague, and to be concrete rather than abstract. Again, compare:
Vague: Acme Company increased its revenues last year.
Specific: Acme Company’s revenues increased by 45% in 2012 compared to the previous year.
Abstract:Testers said their complexion improved.
Concrete:After 3 weeks of using Berry Eye Cream, testers reported:
- 56% had reduced puffiness
- 87% had fewer lines
- 49% had lighter undereye circles
4. Write for your audience
Your writing will improve if you remember to write for your audience. Who will read, hear or watch the piece you’re writing? Imagine one person from your audience, and write for him or her. Your audience will determine your choice of words, tone, and angle.
Using this guideline, your style will be different if you’re writing for potential corporate funders, vs university-age consumers, vs eco-conscious parents of children below 12.
5. Use a strong headline
Headlines sell newspapers. Even in today’s social media age, headlines can still make or break a piece. Learn to write powerful, compelling headlines that make people want to read or listen to what you have to say. Start looking at your favorite newspaper or magazine and see how they write their headlines and see if you can apply it to your content.
For more details on PR writing style, consult the Associated Press Stylebook.
How’s your PR writing style? What are your writing challenges?
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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