As I close the book on my Public Relations Writing course, I wanted to take a moment to share my key takeaways with my fellow communicators. To put it simply, our job is to create and deliver newsworthy content. While messaging and audiences will vary from role to role, all communications professionals must know how to craft a newsworthy story and how to effectively deliver stories to target audiences. Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
Creating Newsworthy Content
Clear and concise writing is always the expectation. You must address who, what, where, why, when and how in short sentences and concrete language. The Wall Street Journal successfully demonstrates these elements as well as the importance of a solid story hierarchy. The articles present information in digestible chunks, leading with the most important information and filling in additional details as the story unfolds. Note your flaws and work on them. I have a tendency to bury the lead in attempts at a vague but enticing introduction. This may suit my interests, but not the interests of my readers.
The course also reinforced the importance of consistency with regard to proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. One will rarely get the mechanics right on a first pass so all writing should be set aside and reviewed with a clear mind. Grammatical inconsistencies within publications or communications can distract and confuse audiences as well as question the credibility of the author.
These proper mechanics should be layered on a strong story line, which appeals to the different interests of target audiences. Each story has different approaches to be explored, including local, human interest, trend or cultural angles. Of course, development of the story is going to depend upon the chosen vehicle.
Delivering Newsworthy Content
Prior to this course, my experience beyond traditional announcement and press release formats was limited. I am now exploring the value of fact sheets as well as audio and video clips to engage audiences and support story delivery. Along with sharing production-ready materials, you must personalize your pitches. Review each journalist’s work, understand their interests and foster relationships so you’re not just popping up out of the blue. Twitter has made this networking much easier.
The latter point may be directed toward PR professionals, but the idea of catering content to interest should resonate across audiences. This brief review is the result of what I affectionately call my 10-week writing boot camp. These rules helped get my writing in shape, but it is by no means all inclusive. Did I miss any fundamental writing rules you follow? Please share your advice in the comments below.