Getting the message across: Effective writing for PR
Christina Maroudias, Bulldozer Group, Group PR & Communications Manager offers her thoughts on the PR industry in the Middle East.
The main purpose of writing in PR is to gain positive exposure for its clients or brands, and to send their news to the general public. This makes up a huge part of the PR service, including the craft and development of press releases, pitches, opinion pieces, features, blog posts, and digital content.
In PR, good writing can be measured on its ability to attract attention, engage audiences, and effectively portray brand messages. In a persuasive business where the majority of communication is written, how well messages are delivered are paramount to their success. Writing is an invaluable part of the PR industry, so why is it often overlooked?
In Dubai, an 80% expatriate population has inevitably led to a few language barriers and altercations when it comes to the written word, but there’s no reason for this to continue. In fact, the international audience and reach opportunity should give us even more reason to make our brands sound as good as possible.
As writing is a skill, it can be easily enhanced or improved through regular practice and by paying attention to detail. Here are my top-tips for creating clear, concise copy that resonates.
- Ready, Set, Research
Before starting any written work, it pays to do a little research. If you have a new venue opening, product launch or celebrity sighting, make sure you know what else is going on in the industry, and how your news will affect it. Try to ensure there are no obvious clashes with news stories, so that your announcement has maximum impact.
When it comes to bylines, advertorial copy and blog posts, researching the topic before you put pen to paper, will provide you with a greater understanding of the subject matter, appropriate vocabulary and invaluable insights. Now, with the rise of digital media and AI, research has become easier than ever with information available at the touch of your fingers, or even at the sound of your voice. (Siri? Alexa? The girls are there to help.)
Social media can help assess how popular your particular topic is; online articles and a good old-fashioned Google search will build an understanding of popular opinions, and; if your research skills are top-notch, you will also be able to find scholarly reports and statistics to build your case.
- Authenticity is key
In such a dynamic market, nothing speaks louder than authenticity. This goes for us as individuals, our written work, and most importantly for our brands. Embracing transparency through all parts of communication is becoming increasingly important in today’s industry.
Stay true to the brand, find the factors that make it stand out, and focus on the most compelling parts. By putting ourselves in the readers shoes, we can focus on their interests and needs, which helps create concise and engaging copy. In the long run, clear and direct communication can really boost a brands reputation, creating a reliable and trustworthy reputation.
- Style means everything, as does tone
Not limited to your wardrobe, your writing style and tone should be adapted to reflect each individual brand you write for. Every brand, be it a restaurant or dating app, must find its own voice, a tone that matches its personality and the services it provides. For example, a premium dining restaurant will most likely sound a little more reserved and refined than a food-truck, in order to reach and relate to the right audience.
This is arguably the most important aspect of writing for PR. Editors and journalists have a duty to write in a style that suits their reader and publication, whereas PR practitioners must change their writing style per brand or client, in order to portray them in the most efficient and appealing way. Although subtle, the language style, vocabulary, tense and tone used throughout each PR material shapes the identity of the brand, and keeping this aligned is intrinsic to its success.
- Proof, proof, proof
PR is by no means a leisurely job, but even with pressing deadlines and multiple projects, it is so important to proofread your work. I have seen a shocking number of seemingly small typos and grammar mistakes throughout my career. I’ve made a few too, but I’ve learned from them. Sadly though, it really does look careless and leaves an unprofessional impression. Make sure you’ve read through a printed copy of your work before sending it out, read the text out loud to help with sentence structure, and if you really don’t have time, ask a colleague to help.
Proofreading also gives you the opportunity to evaluate and improve your work. When you’ve been writing for hours it’s easy to get stuck on the same vocabulary – try to mix it up a little. I’m not ashamed to say that Thesaurus.com is one of my most used websites, and I love a good spell-check.
Ultimately, taking the time to practice and develop excellent writing skills can enrich the offering of PR agencies and in-house communications teams across the region, and enhance the reputation and proficiency of the PR industry in the Middle East.